Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Christmas Eve Tradition

It started about four years ago when Wally and I had yet another failed cycle, and I felt I couldn't face anyone except him on Christmas Eve. It was just too hard for me to sit around with a smile plastered on my face while others shared in the merriment. I knew I had to do it for Christmas but two days in a row was just torture - I can only be so fake. That Christmas, I asked Wally if he wouldn't mind if it could just be us. He agreed knowing the pain he and I were both in at the time. We went to a later mass (7:30 pm) where I knew there weren't going to be many children present. What I failed to realize is that after the Eucharist, the lights are dimmed and Silent Night is played. Well, I cried and cried and cried but the thing is I still do even after Benjamin has come into our lives -- dimmed lights and beautifully moving Christmas music gets to me every time. After the mass, we decided to get something to eat with very little choices we got Chinese at Hunan Taste. We ate duck and had champagne then headed out to see some Christmas lights. After the lights, we headed back home and waited for Santa to arrive.
Not much has changed, we did go to mass earlier this year. With Benjamin having a breakdown and the Assumption being packed to the gills, I was the only one that remained until the end of church to hear Silent Night. Wally and Ben picked me back up 20 minutes after I called him. As the time approached 20 minutes, I started to walk home in rain crying thinking something horrible happened to Wally and Ben. When I finally saw our Tahoe high-beaming me in the middle of the street, I got in the car and burst into tears. I cried, "I thought you feel and were knocked on conscious and Benjamin was sitting there trying to wake you up, crying in the rain." While I sobbed, my beautiful son from the backseat said, "ba ba it's ok, ba ba it's ok." It took a glass of champagne at Hunan Taste to finally calm me down. And because we went to mass earlier, there was a huge wait at the restaurant. We made it through apps but Ben had enough so the duck and Seafood Country Style was wrapped to-go. We saw a few lights and headed home to wait for the arrival of Santa. And our Christmas Eve tradition continues.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Your Typical Grandmother

You would never put my Grandmother in the "sweet, little old lady" category. Not that she isn't sweet. It's just that she isn't your typical Grandmother. Yes, she knits and reads bedtime stories but she also says and does some pretty outrageous things. Let's put it this way at my third grade "Grandparents Day" my Grandmother came in on roller skates and announced to the class with arms wide open, "I AM JENNIFER BAKER'S GRANDMOTHER!" I think she also bowed too.
Needless to say, holiday get-togethers with Granny tend to be interesting. Need examples? Here are two of my favorite. For some reason, the subject of funerals came up (not sure why). Grandma proceeded to tell her daughters and grandchildren that she would like a Viking Funeral. What is a Viking Funeral? It is when you send the deceased out on a wooden raft surrounded by fire kindling and from the shore line your fellow Vikings (or in our case friends and family) shoot flaming arrows at the raft so the raft and deceased burn and the ashes are spread in the Ocean. You think, "oh she must be kidding." She's not. So guess who is probably going to have to find the permit for this when she dies.
Perhaps my all time favorite, everyone thought it would be nice if Granny took a picture with all her many grandchildren. So as we gathered to take the picture someone commented, "boy there sure are a lot of us." Just so you have a frame of reference my Grandmother had 7 children. At that point my Grandmother says, "well, if I didn't like sex so much none of you would have been here." Need I say more.
This year was no exception, apparently she commented how she would really find an adult bib useful. So my Aunt Chris had one made up for her. Was my Granny insulted no, she actually loved it and asked could she get more.
People may call her crazy and some others have said she has started to lose her wits about her but I say I would rather be considered crazy than boring - it makes life more fun. However, I think Wally said it best on the car ride home that night, "Boy, I love your grandmother. People may say she is losing her wits about her, but I say the people that claim this don't have any wit themselves." You couldn't be more right Wally.

Choo Choo!

While Santa might not have been a hit, the train ride certainly was for Benjamin. From the moment the train started to chug from the station, Benjamin was mesmerized by the scenes flashing by the window. He sat for almost an hour straight on his Dad's lap glued to the happenings outside. Along the way, he would call out the sites he saw like cars, digger trucks, Frosty, trees and birds.
The Kamienski Family gives the Santa Train a big "thumbs up" (minus the Santa) !

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Benjamin's Thoughts on Santa...

As I have been told by countless Moms, there is always a year when your child just isn't that into Santa. Don't get me wrong they love the gifts but if you try to sit them on Santa's lap or put your child in the arms of Santa an uncomfortable scene usually follows.
The Christmas of 2008 is Benjamin's year to feel this way. It started when I was shopping in early December and Santa must have been on a break and was headed back to the "set-up" North Pole in the middle of the mall. I motioned to Benjamin to check out Santa and I knew right away this was the year. My usually friendly son gave Santa a look that said, "don't think of coming too close big man." But in my optimistic parenting mind I thought, "maybe this will pass."
A little more than two weeks before Christmas, we booked a ride on the Santa Train at the Whippany Rail Museum. My thought was in a setting that Benjamin enjoys maybe he would warm up to Jolly Ole' Saint Nick. Wrong. While Benjamin didn't kick and scream like I have seen other children meltdown when faced by with being put in the arms of Santa, he did hide his head and cling to me.
So family and friends this is it, this is Benjamin's 2008 picture (see above) with Santa. I did admit to my Mom I felt bad that I didn't get the traditional mall photo with Santa and Benjamin. Maybe I should have tried but the thought of standing in a LONG line only to be disappointed and aggravated at the end didn't seem to be fun for anyone involved. My Mom agreed, "why torture him Jennifer?" Of course, there is always 2009 but I still love this picture because it has my favorite boy in it. Sorry Santa maybe next year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

While my birthday was back on the 9th of the month, I just wanted to thank my husband for a very lovely day. As I have mentioned to a few, the day started off a little shaky but it ended up being one of those perfect days. From getting a beautiful picture with my son in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to taking a stroll in Central Park with my family, the day couldn't have been any better.
Yes, I am getting older and yes I would have loved the gift of Botox for my birthday but I also think I am getting wiser (think is the operative word in the sentence). I realize now it isn't about the gifts (while the gifts are still cool) having such incredible family and friends to share it with are what makes birthday's special. Thank you to all my friends and family for making me feel so special each year and every day of the year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

We Got A Christmas Tree And So Much More...

A few weeks ago, in fact the first weekend in December, we purchased our Christmas tree. It was a Saturday morning and the family was eating breakfast at our favorite spot, the Minuteman. We had already decided that after some nourishment we would be heading out to a "cut your own tree" farm. While I was reading Wally the birthday game (what is the bday game? the bday game is when you try and guess the ages of the celebrities birthdays of that day) from The Star-Ledger, I noticed an article about a Christmas tree event in Ringwood New Jersey at the Audubon Society (there is an official name but I can't remember -- Wally can you?). Anyway, since we didn't have any idea of where one of these Christmas tree farms were located, we thought this would be a great option. Not only could you purchase a Christmas tree with the profits, literally, going to the birds, there were a host of fun activities to partake in, and boy, did we ever take advantage of the "free" activities.
When we got there, we realized we wouldn't be chopping down any trees. I guess I misread but that seemed to ok with the Wally and Ben. Going early to pick up a tree, we got the pick of the liter -- a rather tall, shaped like a triangle, douglas fir. Benjamin was happy, Wally was happy and I was happy with the choice (I've been known to cry with a bad tree choice). What usually takes us about 15 minutes or more to pick out a tree, take about a minute. Our tree was the first we looked at that day. The bird folk said they would tie the tree to the car while we enjoyed the activities.
Our first stop, to check out the hawk. We had to keep a bit of a distance out of fear of Benjamin trying to pet the bird, but we got the great picture below. Next, we made a bird feeder and ornaments (no pictures but the feeder is in a tree outside and the ornament is on the tree inside). Following the craft projects, we headed in for cocoa and apple juice. And it doesn't end there, after the refreshments, Benjamin got his face painted for the first time with who else but Frosty! Finally, Benjamin got to pet a few snakes all this when getting a Christmas tree.

Santa Claus Comes to Morristown

If you look very closely in the background, you will see Santa (if you can't, just imagine -- believe me he is there).
For the past 100 years, Santa has arrived in Morristown on the roof of Century 21 (the former Macy's) then brought down to the adoring masses via a fire truck. This year, the Kamienski Family members were present for his arrival. While Wally and I cheered, Benjamin was looking to head back in doors where it was a bit warmer. I don't really blame him - it was mighty chilly out that night. Ben seemed to be more interested in the fire truck than the big guy in the red suit. Having gauged his level of interest, we decided not to wait in a long line to see him but rather go to visit Santa when the crowds died down. (P.S. We still haven't visited Santa in The Green -- maybe this weekend).

Let Me Tell You About My Morning...

It started out as a regular Monday until we heard a knock at the door. Wally and I were getting ready in our dressing room and Benjamin was still fast asleep. We first heard a normal knock. It raised our curiosity who was knocking on our door at 8 am but we thought nothing of it. Then someone started banging very loudly on the door that's when Wally started getting angry and I started getting nervous. I then looked at the window as Wally yelled down, "I'm coming!" What I saw was a cop car and yelled down to tell Wally so. As Wally answered the door, I threw my robe on to find them asking Wally to step outside. The second cop stepped inside the house asking me if there was a problem? I was shocked, what exactly was going on here. I then heard the cop saying to Wally, "you seem agitated." Wally responded, "yes you are practically busting down my door for no reason." I asked my cop what the issue was and he told me someone called in a serious "issue" happening at our house. I know what you are thinking, were Wally and I in a heated fight? No, in fact, we were both in a pretty decent mood that morning and didn't utter an ill word towards each other. Not once was a voice raised this morning. I then asked what the issue was that was reported. Now hold on to your hats. I was told by the cop the dispatcher received a call that there was a woman with a knife harming a child. I looked the cop in the eye and said, "you must have the wrong address." The cop called the dispatcher and dispatcher confirmed the address and story. This is when I heard "murder" and "knife". The cop then asked me if I was "nervous" or "hiding anything" "did my husband hurt me". I told the officer "nothing of the sort had happened here that morning and they better check their source out."
After giving our names, Wally and I were "released". We were then given "the speech" of how they have to consider all calls like this serious, blah, blah, blah.
Now, I was scared. What if there was a murderer in the neighborhood wielding a knife? Wally decided to wait until they checked the situation out with the neighbor that called in the false claim. Turns out we have a senile old woman living next door who claims that she saw a child be harmed in our residence. Good to know we have a crazy lady living next door -- who thinks we are harming children.
If that wasn't enough, Wally went to start the Saab this morning and it wouldn't start. Happy Monday to The Kamienski Family!

We Can't Let This Bank Fail...

As you sit around the dinner table for your holiday meal please try to keep in mind that not everyone can enjoy such an opulent meal as you can. I consider myself blessed and fortunate that my family can afford to have a decadent meal on Christmas day but there are families that can't afford to feed their children today and it is something that just shouldn't be!
Today more than 100 New Jersey bloggers have banded together to help raise awareness of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which is in dire need of our help.
Here's what you can do to help:Make a monetary contribution: Visit Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry. Click here to find a food pantry near you: Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD. Help "Check Out Hunger:" Look for the "Check Out Hunger" coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small! Remember the reason for the season!
Check out these sobering facts:
  • More than 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, either live with or are on the verge of hunger. - USDA, Household Food Security in the United States, 2006
  • The number of families coming to churches and food banks trying to get help to feed their families has increased approximately 20 percent. - National Anti-Hunger Organizations, 2008 Blueprint to End Hunger
  • According to a recent survey, 6 percent of Americans said they or someone in their immediate family has gone to bed hungry in the past month because they could not afford enough food. - 2008 Hormel Hunger Survey
  • One out of every five New Jersey families does not earn enough to afford the basic necessities – housing, food and child care – although 85 percent of these households have at least one family member who is working. – Poverty Research Institute, June 2008
  • In New Jersey alone, an estimated 250,000 new clients will be seeking sustenance this year from the state’s food banks. – “No Food on the table,” By Judy Peet, The Star-Ledger, Oct. 23, 2008
  • At the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), requests for food have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. - CFBNJ
  • Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism. - CFBNJ

Help a family today!

Here is the full list of participating Bloggers for “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” campaign. Visit their blogs and show some love.

1) JerseyBites2) RedBankGreen.com3) Jersey Girl Cooks4) Simply Sable5) John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey6) Padma's Kitchen7) Chefdruck8) Life Lightly Salted9) My Italian Grandmother10) Cook Appeal11) Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars12) Mommy Vents13) This Full House14) Paper Bridges15) Motherhood Avenue16) The Kamienski Chronicles 17) Down the Shore with Jen 18) Fits and Giggles19) House Hubbies Home Cooking20) Nourish Ourselves21) Partybluprints.com22) 23) Off the broiler 24) Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby 25) 26) 27) HistoryGeek.com28) Savy Source Newark29) Momlogic New Jersey 30) SurvivingNJ.blogspot.com32) 33) Best of Roxy34) Citizen Mom.net35) Lynetteradio.com36) Jersey Beat 37) Pop Vulture Phil38) JerseySmarts.com39) LongBeachIslandSummers.com40) 41) Mike Halfacres Blog 42) Somerset08873 43) Family, Friends and Food44) KateSpot.com45) NewJerseyMomsBlog.com46) JCRegister.com47) New Jersey Real Estate Report48) Riverviewobserver.com49) More Monmouth Musings50) Man of Infirmity51) Another Delco Guy in South Jersey52) SweetNicks.com53) Average Noone54) Cleary’s Notebook55) Welcome to my Planet56) The Center of New Jersey Life57) Sharon’s Food Blog58) Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate59) Midtown Direct Real Estate News60) New Jersey Real Estate 61) BlowUpRadio.com62) LazlosDen.com63) The Ridgewood Blog64) Book a Week with Jen65) Banannie66) Cartoongoddess.com67) Matawan Advocate68) Take Back the Kitchen69) The Joy of Toast70) Route 5571) Montclair Kids.com72) SaveJersey73) Stompbox74) Joe the Blogger75) Environmental Republican76) Stacey Snacks77) Subversive Garden78) New Jersey Pathfinder79) Cooking With Friends Blog80) Triple Venti81) Read All About It82) Rich Lee on Media83) Likelihood of Success84) Cape Cuisine85) The Business At Hand86) NewJerseyTaxRevolution87) Figmentations88) MiddletownMike89) Caviar and Codfish90) A Day in the Life91) Mack’s Journey Through Life92) Alice’s Restaurant93) Tiger Hawk94)Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog95) The Food Chain96) Henson’s Hell97) Cranbury Conservative98) Baristanet99) New Jersey: Politics Unusual100) Jersey Shore Blog101) Plainfield Today102) Beacon Bulletin103) Journal Square Jersey City 07306

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Love a Parade ( better this year)!

Each year, since Coyne PR (my current employer) has had an office in Times Square, Tom has generously thrown a party to enjoy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Wally and I decided last year to take Benjamin in and invite the Valentin family as well. Last year, we ran into a bit of trouble and thought we would never make the parade. We got in the city just as they closed 42nd street to pedestrians and we had to take a subway to Grand Central walk down to 45 street and beg a cop to let us down the block to get to the building. This year, we promised not to make the same mistake and repeat the stressful episode.
We picked up my Mom at around 7:45 and made our way into NYC. We parked right on 42nd street and started to make the journey through the masses to our building. While my heart was still beating rapidly thinking we were not going to make it again, we had no problems whatsoever! We met the Valentin Family again in front of the building and made our way up. And this year, it was PACKED! We found a not so crowded office that Benjamin could squeeze by the window and watch the parade go by. As I was preparing to take a picture of Benjamin by the window, I noticed my battery was dead so sorry no pictures to accompany this blog (you will all just have to visual the moment). I wasn't sure how he was going to react to the parade if he would get bored in a minute or two but he actually watched the parade and helped point various details out to me including spotting Cookie Monster in a window of a float (the kid has good eyes).
Eventually the office got way to warm and our group made our way downstairs to the street, Wally put Benjamin up on his shoulders to get a better view of the action. Ben yelled with excitement each time a new balloon passed. At one point, he did want to get down and run around but with Mom, Dad, Grandma and Aunt Kristi around he wasn't getting a step away from the circle we formed around him.
We headed back up after Michael saw the Pokemon balloon. We also didn't want to miss the visit from Santa. As we settled in upstairs, the arrival of Santa was announced and we headed to the elevator banks to greet him but the joint was crammed with wall to wall kids. I made my way up with Ben in my arms as close as possible. As we waited for Ben's gift, I guess Ben got, literally, tired of waiting because in the midst of the mayhem he fell asleep.
Benjamin slept but woke up while waiting for our car but was pleasantly surprised to see a new dump truck gift from Santa. We all piled in the car and headed back to Jersey every one having enjoyed the parade. What a difference a year makes!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cow Books

While I was off the week of Thanksgiving, Benjamin and I made our first visit to the local library. Instead of taking the stroller, we decided (that would be me) to walk since the Morristown library is only one block away. Benjamin walked most of the way but he started to tilt a little backwards as the hill got steeper so I thought it best to pick him up at that point before he tumbled over due to gravity.

We headed in and made our way up to the new (well pretty new about 2 years old) children's section of the library. As soon as we entered, he yelled BOOKS! While Benjamin does watch his share of television, I have created a balanced environment for him which includes reading him LOTS of books. Benjamin is read so many books he actually asks for books by name now including "ni-ght ni-ght oon" or better known as Goodnight Moon.

After yelling books, he began running around the library. At that point, I had to try to contain the level of excitment. So I asked him to use his inside voice, which I'm not sure he gets the concept yet, and asked him to pick out a book with Mommy so we could read a new story at the library. He wasn't digging the books Mommy picked out so I asked him what book he wanted to read and he told me, "cow books ba-ba." So we started our search for some cow books but trying to look for a cow book while trying to control a toddler was nearly impossible. My solution, of course, ask the librarian. Benjamin and I went to the librarian and I asked Benjamin to tell the librarian what he was looking for and he told her too, "cow books." And cow books, we got! From Click, Click Moo to No Milk!, the librarians were able to find us a wonderful selection of cow books to read. Armed with a pile of books, we got a library card and checked out. It was then I realized why people carry around book totes. How was I going to get six hard covered books home (without a stroller) and Ben? While it was probably the toughest one block I have ever walked, balancing books and a child in my arms (oh yes and purse), we made it home safe and sound. Ready to read our books!

Benjamin has fallen so in love with his library books I am afraid to return them but the beauty of the library is that there are whole new set of adventures waiting to be discovered. While he will miss his cow friends and asks for them by name now (I may have to buy Click, Click Moo), he'll learn to love a new set of friends. Maybe it will be pigs this time?

Benjamin's First Sentence

Here is Benjamin's first sentence:
"More milk please and cookie too"
Guess what Benjamin got...

The Story of Benjamin's Tree

Before there was Ben, a majestic old tree stood in the corner of the yard. When Wally and I bought our house almost ten years ago, the tree, while old, still had some life left in it. About four years back, we went away on a weekend road trip, we returned to find an enormous tree limb was laying in the middle of our driveway. Our majestic tree was dying. The same exact scenario happened yet again and the tree stood with one limb, we knew it had to go (and also before it ruined a car or seriously injured a passerby). The tree came down and there was a void in our yard.
Around the same time the tree was dying, Wally and I were struggling to have a baby. The corner of the yard wasn't the only empty place for us at that time. When we finally received the news that we were indeed having a child, we knew how we wanted to commemorate the occasion, we would plant a tree for our first born -- new life for new life.
Just like Benjamin, who was only a small peanut when we brought him home, Ben's tree barely reached the top of the fence now it soars. This fall, we took a picture of Benjamin with his tree and I was in awe of both. Our Benjamin is now a little man becoming a funny, loving soul. While our tree is something that brings us beauty and wonder in our yard -- my how they have grown.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Does John Gogarty Hate Me?

Here is what a, supposed, friend wrote to me right before Thanksgiving...
What are the chances that I will shortly be reading a blog entitled: “A lot to be Thankful For…”

- Looking at ben enjoying stuffing and how much you love stuffing
- Your mom sharing the secret baker recipe for gravy
- Your dad showing walter how to carve the turkey
- How ben loves stuffing and how cute it is that he calls it tuffing!
- Thankful that JB is back from iraq
- Seeing your son with Walter watching football – the two most important men in your life
- And then … I cried.
- Boo boo boo…

Why the anger?

NJ Moms Blog - I've Been Cross-Posted and Syndicated!

As most of you know, I started writing for NJ Moms Group and it has resulted in some great news lately. The following post on my struggles with infertility must have struck a cord because SVMoms Group cross-posted it to all their other sites:
And most know this already because I had to shout out to the world, but my post on telling white lies to Benjamin was picked up for syndication:
If you get a chance stop by the blog and check out some of the other fantastic writers!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Where is Max and Ruby's Mommy?

"Max and Ruby, Ruby and Max, Ruby and her little brother Max"...ahhhh and so the song goes. If you have a child between the ages of 1-4 (yes, I know if you have a one year old they shouldn't be watching any TV but I am realist and TV lover), you will probably know who I mean when I mention the names Max and Ruby. And if not, for a brief synopsis, they are the lovable brother and sister bunnies on Nick's pre-school channel Noggin.

As Max and Ruby played in the background, Wally said that him and his colleague were just talking about the bunny siblings. My first thought was "oh how much my life has changed that my husband is conversing about cartoon rabbits" then my second thought was "is there a special on for the holiday season I don't know about?". It was neither but it was something that has been bugging me as well. His colleague said, "do you notice they never show Max and Ruby's parents?".

Now yes we do often get a visit from Grandma but the key word there is a "visit". Grandma doesn't live with Max and Ruby. In fact, I recall a recent episode were these two crazy kids got on a bus to visit dear ole' Grandma. Who is raising these bunnies? I know they get some parental guidance from Ruby's Bunny Scout Leader but where are the parents I ask you? Neither Mom nor Dad are involved with Bunny Scouts -- is it too much to ask for them to be a den leader? I guess it is since they don't even help poor Ruby bake a cake for Grandma's birthday they leave the girl to bake her own cake while watching out for mischievous Max. Also what is wrong with Louise's (Ruby's best pal) parents that they let her come over all time without any parents in site to watch out for them?

Another question, is Ruby raising her little brother without parents? Are they orphans? It looks so to me. And if that is the case, why hasn't Grandma taken them in? So many questions...why, why, why? Though, I have to take my hat off to Ruby you are doing a fine job of raising your little brother and yourself with little or no help from your parents. Well done Ruby, well done.