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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

For those who are fortunate enough to have your Mother around this Mother's Day, give her an extra hug.

Lilacs were my Mom's favorite. We had several bushes in the backyard, where she could enjoy them while she was hanging out the laundry to dry. There's nothing like the smell of laundry dried outdoors and the smell of Lilacs. Last year I planted several Lilac Bushes in front of my porch. They're still kind of small, but they are blooming this year. Sitting on the porch, drinking my coffee, breathing in that wonderful smell takes me back. For some reason, Lilacs and Coty Airspun Facepowder are the smells that most remind me of my mother. I recognize both instantly and it takes me back.
In honor of Mother's Day, I am re-posting Lola's Diner - Today's Post Is Dedicated To My Mother.

March 7, 2010, she would have been 80. She passed away 26 years ago. I was 22 at the time and I was devastated. It was completely unexpected and sudden.

My Mother was Italian. She was the youngest of 4 girls. Her Mother died during childbirth. The 4 girls were put in orphanages. My Mother was adopted and raised by a childless couple. Her father remarried and had another 2 girls and a boy. I believe it was in adulthood that the siblings reconnected and remained close. We always had holidays at what would have technically been my step-grandmother's house.

I am the oldest of 2 girls. My parents were married 11 years before they had me. My Mother was 36. She had 2 miscarriages prior. They were beginning to think they weren't going to have children. My sister was born 17 months later.

I was very close with my Mother. I would sit and watch her make spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes from the garden or clean huge fish that the neighbor boy brought over from his fishing trips with his Dad. I was always watching her when she cooked, no matter what it was. Whether it was simple fried pork chops, cube steaks, Sicilian steak, lasagna or bracciole. I was always there watching. I'm sure my love of cooking was cultivated in her kitchen.

I also am a perfectionist at ironing. Every day I watched my Mother iron my father's shirts and his handkerchiefs after school while we watched Leave It To Beaver in the living room. I would always ask her why she bothered ironing the handkerchiefs, especially considering they would get wadded up in my father's pants pockets right after he took them out of the drawer, but she insisted they had to be ironed. It was the 60's and that's just what wives did.

My Mother was my best friend and she was the Mom of our block. True, there were other stay at home moms on our block, but they didn't have the patience or compassion that my Mother had. Our house was the 'go to' house whenever any of the other kids on the block were having a bad day at home. Sometimes the kids would wait until late afternoon when my Mother would sit on the stoop, other times they were bold enough to ring the bell. My Mother always had a treat and a hug and a kind ear for all of them. I must admit that I was a bit jealous of the attention they got and I would always tell my Mother how she was being so taken advantage of because all they came for was the cupcakes, brownies or candy bars. Of course now I've come to realize that wasn't really true. Some of them just came for the hugs. For them, the treats were the icing on the cake. We had one neighbor with 5 kids and their Mom was always hollering at one or all of them for something. If I heard her hollering, I could count the minutes until one of their kids showed up at our door. Another neighbor had 7 children. Same thing. Yet another neighbor, the Mom started drinking beers at 10am and had her children clean house for her and get dinner ready while she sat back and watched her soaps. How did I know this? Because our friends always complained about the chores and if we ever tried to go to their house before their Mom let them out after chores, she would answer the door with a brewski in her hand.

Four years before my Mother passed away my sister and I threw our parents a 30th Wedding Anniversary Party. I rented out the local bar that had a hall that our relatives always used for occasions. I conspired with my Mother's sisters and her step-mother. Somehow I managed to cook all of the food at my mother's house on the sly. I made barbecued beef and took it to her step-mother's house and put it her their freezer. My sister and I purchased all the other necessary items and ordered salads from the deli store. One of my Aunts had sent them an invitation for a Wedding Anniversary for one of her sisters. My parents had no clue the party was for them. My mother even purchased a card and a gift. When they came to the hall and we all yelled "Surprise!" my poor mother turned around and walked out. Her sisters had to chase her down. She was embarrassed by all the fuss. After a few minutes she came back to the party and we all had a really great time. It was the first time I'd seen my Mother have more than 1 drink. If it's possible, she was even more sweet than usual. After the party my sister and I loaded up our cars with the leftovers and took them back to my parent's house. I sat up with my Mother for hours and she just talked and talked.

A few years later on New Year's Eve I didn't have any specific plans. I drove to my usual haunts and found nothing going on. I could have hung out anyway, but I kept thinking how my Mother was home alone. My Father had gone out to the bar he hung out at on Friday nights and my sister was out as well. After driving for awhile the guilt of her being home alone got to me and I stopped at PDQ (similar to 7 Eleven) and got a bottle of Cold Duck, a can of cheese spray and a box of Triscuits. I know it sounds funny, but hey, I was in my twenties! Besides, beggars can't be choosers when the only thing open was PDQ. My Mother and I drank the Cold Duck and had our cheese spray and Triscuits and rang in the New Year with Dick Clark. My Mother and I talked and laughed until my Father and my sister came home.

My Mother died suddenly the morning after my sister and I came back from a weekend in Madison. I'll never forget when my supervisor came up to me and said my Father had called and wanted me to go home right away. My sister was working with me at the time. I took my car and we drove home. Neither of us looked at each other. Tears streamed down our faces. Somehow, even though our Mother was never ill a day in her life, somehow we knew she was gone. When we pulled into our subdivision and saw the police squad in the driveway, we knew for certain. One of our friends drove us to the hospital, but she was gone before she left in the ambulance. A valve in her heart burst. Nothing could be done.

I don't remember what happened the rest of that day, other than I never slept. The next day our Father made us go with him to the funeral parlor. He told us that we had to go so we would know how to handle things when he passed. He was right of course, but that didn't make us feel any better about going there. When my Father did pass 6 years later I just went to the same funeral home and told them to just do it all up the same and I signed the papers. I really didn't need to go through that experience with my Mother to do that, but I think my Father had the idea that I was the oldest and that I had to know how to do that sort of thing. Surprisingly I did remember all the minutiae of the process, my sister of course did not. I don't think I slept for an entire week. I had never drank coffee before my Mother passed away, but I started drinking it after and I pretty much lived on it that entire week. My Mother had always said coffee was for grown-ups and had always looked down on youngsters drinking coffee. I guess with my Mother gone I suddenly felt like a grown-up. I still drink coffee to this day.

I think I cried the hardest the night of the funeral as people were getting into their cars and driving away from our house. I walked one of my friends to her car and it suddenly hit me that I never gave my Mother grandchildren. She so loved children and she often babysat for some of the other families on the block. Eventually I did have children, kind of late like she did. I'm hoping she's looking down from heaven and watching over her 2 beautiful grandchildren.

Lola's Diner©2008-2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review and GIVEAWAY - The Financial Crossroads The Intersection Of Money And Life

I received 2 copies of "The Financial Crossroads The Intersection Of Money And Life" by Jim Stovall & Timothy J. Maurer, CFP.
Jim Stovall is the international best-selling author of "The Ultimate Gift". Timothy J. Maurer is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) practitioner and a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

About the book...
"What is the common denominator of virtually everything you do in life? life? MONEY! It brings out the best—and the worst—in us. But what what is it actually worth? Nothing more than what you, or someone else, is willing to believe. It is the tool used by great philanthropists to to ease the suffering of millions, but it is also the number one cause of of divorce and relational strife, and the driving force behind the drug trade and many forms of terrorism.

What does money mean to you? Do you control it, or does it control you?

There are an endless number of books that tell you what to do with your money. There are even more books that books that tell you how to, and how not to, live. Why is it that these two things that are so inseparable—money money and life—are only addressed separately? This book addresses the intersection of the two.

This is not another financial how-to book, nor is it a collection of philosophical rambling that is hard to apply to apply to daily life. It is the Timeless Truths of personal finance. Many of these have been forgotten, destining destining so many into financial hardship, but they are the essential foundations for your successful financial future. We also offer Timely Applications, giving you the opportunity to apply these Timeless Truths to your your daily life.

Your financial plan is part of your life, so we never lose sight of that as we address each of the primary elements of traditional financial planning. But instead of dry discussions on goal setting, budgeting, insuring, insuring, investing, retirement, education planning, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning, we’ll we’ll address topics including:

• How to write your own Personal Money Story
• How to spend $1 million at Starbucks
• What dogs can teach us about investing and taxes
• Why you should ditch your retirement plan

The Great Recession has left all of us at a Financial Crossroads. Which path will you take?"
The book takes you through developing your "Personal Principles & Goals" and a number of other helpful tools to assist you with analyzing your cash flow, creating a budget, examining your debt/debt elimination; and insurance, retirement and legacy planning. All the tools are in the book, and templates are available online for download for you to complete.
"What you believe about money will determine what you will do for and with it. This is the driving ideology throughout The Financial Crossroads: The Intersection of MONEY and LIFE. Unlike most personal financial books, this book not only educates, but strives to enlighten, empower and enrich the reader. Enlighten the reader to the reality of what money is and what it is meant to do. Empower the reader to take control and not let money be the driving force in their lives. Enrich the reader by providing clearer thinking and a better understanding of the importance of relationships."
I will be giving away 2 copies of "The Financial Crossroads The Intersection Of Money And Life" by Jim Stovall & Timothy J. Maurer, CFP and will announce the winners on May 12, 2010. Winners must contact me within 48 hours of the announcement, or I will draw new winner.

To enter:
1. Simply leave a comment. If your email address is not in your profile, please include it in your comment so I have a way to contact you if you win.

2. For an extra entry, leave an additional comment if you are a follower of Lola's Diner. (If you're not already a follower, become one.)

Lola's Diner Disclaimer: I was given this book to review and giveaway. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

Lola's Diner©2008-2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Ok, so I've been saying I need a vacation for forever, right? Even if it's a weekend getaway. I have literally spent the last 2 days...until the wee hours searching for a hotel that fits the bill, within a modest drive from where I live. Certain destinations were ruled out because my girlfriend and I wanted someplace neither of us had been. We decided we wanted certain amenities, so that ruled out a lot of hotels/resorts. Also, price ruled out most resorts. Some were completely outrageous! We also wanted a smoking room. That seemed to be the thing that caused the biggest issue. We were willing to begrudgingly compromise on the amenities, but not that. It seems most hotel chains have now gone 100% non-smoking. Planning a getaway should not be so difficult! Arghh! Finally I found a place, actually very close that fit all of our requirements and wasn't outrageously priced. Hallelujah!

Not to cause controversy, but this new Arizona law just boggles the mind. For one, aren't we all descended from immigrants? And secondly, isn't this just going to turn into either racial profiling or what the seat belt law became? At first the seat belt law was they can't just stop you to check your seat belt, they have to have another reason for the traffic stop, like speeding, running a red light or tail light out, or whatever. Now most cities have checkpoints on the weekends/holidays and "supposedly" stop cars randomly to check for drunk drivers...and failure to use a seat belt. Is Arizona going to expand their weekend/holiday checkpoints to check for citizenship papers? It just doesn't seem right. And frankly, I'm surprised I'm taking this position on this issue, because when Chicago had the first immigration march a few years ago, I took the exact opposite position.

Maddux went for his pre-surgery physical Monday. The vet was running very late and we ended up waiting about 40 minutes in the exam room. I let Maddux out of his cage upon entering the room. He walked around and investigated the exam table and counter area, then began climbing on my shoulders just like he did when I first brought him home from the shelter. After awhile I guess he got bored and just laid out on the exam table. All relaxed. I took photos with my camera phone, but I can't get them on here, sorry. He laid on the table until the vet finally came in. As soon as he saw the vet he crawled up my shoulder again. The vet ended up doing the exam with him perched on my shoulder! We were both laughing our asses off. After the exam was finished, the vet explained the procedures in detail and let the vet pet him. Maddux behaved totally opposite of Irish (aka our Diva). When Irish goes to the vet they have to take her in the back room, put on gloves, grab a blanket and call for back-up because she freaks. Maddux is just a laid back dude I guess. He's having his surgery today and will be coming home on Wednesday.

Lola's Diner©2008-2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Top Commenter Winners!

1st Place - 3 Week Free Ad.
2nd Place - 2 Week Free Ad.
3rd Place - 1 Week Free Ad.
Here are the results:
1st Place - Lin @ Duck and Wheel With String 3 Week Ad spot.
2nd Place - Jen @ Redhead Ranting 2 Week Ad spot.
3rd Place - Harriet @ Harriet And Friends 3 Week Ad spot.

Congratulations to the winners! Ads will be up shortly.

Just a reminder to everyone that my Top Commenter Contest will be running in May, so now is your chance to stake out your spot at the counter or grab a booth.

Feel free to copy this contest and link back to me to give me credit for it!

Lola's Diner©2008-2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

No longer a young party animal...

OMG! I am no longer a young party animal. I confess...I am an old fart!

This whole weekend has been a weekend of opposites to my norm. My gf came out late Friday night, as she was unexpectedly without kids. Saturday morning when Anastasia came with her new partner to pick up the kids for a fun day, they spent more than a half hour trying to fix the kid's basketball hoop. While this was going on...I boldly walked up to her new partner, held out my hand and introduced myself.

Saturday night my gf and I went with our group to the nightclub. They had live band karaoke. What a fun time! No, I didn't get up on stage, but just about everyone else at our table did. Some of the people from the crowd were actually quite talented singers. Others...well, they were clunkers, but it was still fun to watch. (Nothing like a train wreck. lol!) I had more than a couple adult beverages and was very grateful for sunglasses and heated car seats this morning. (Oh my aching back!) I can't even remember when I've had this much fun, or stayed out so late. I remember back in the day, Saturday nights like this were the norm. In fact...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday nights like this Saturday were the norm. Yes..I'm officially an old fart. There...I've said it.

I am not so grateful for Drummer Boy/aka Metallica-head. For the last 2 hours he has been wreaking havoc on an electric guitar. He has not even played part of a single song. It's just crap! (Oh wait...I recognize Judas Priest...but he only played the beginning. Arghhh!) Note to Drummer Boy...if it takes longer than an hour to tune your electric guitar, you may want to consider getting a new guitar or...another that requires no musical instruments!

I gotta get the heck out of dodge. If I have to listen to this guitar crap any longer...I can't be held responsible for my actions!

So how was your weekend?

(This may very well be the post with the most ellipses I've ever done. lol!)

Lola's Diner©2008-2010
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