Joshua got his high-white belt in karate this evening. He did very good showing off what he's learned in the past three months. Before the test, the school put on a few performances where older students (grade school to young adult) did karate moves choreographed to music showing all sorts of skills like flying kicks, flips, breaking wood panels, nun-chucks, and wood poles. Joshua really liked the performances.

I have good news to report I have a job interview on Tuesday! It's the first job interview in over five years. My last employment job wasn't a typical interview but will prepare me for the meeting next week. In my last job at SAMCO Capital Markets, I came in boldly announcing they needed a new service to provide clients and they needed someone who could do it right and on the cheap and could effectively compete with a guy they hated. Once I got their attention, I brought on my manager and a colleague into the meetings. We made an agreement and thus my job began. THIS job also isn't for a particular posted position. Nobody else is competing with my resume. I need to convince the number two guy that I can bring something great their firm. I won't be proving that I'll get work done, not be late, have computers skills, etc, I'm creating a position. I'm a little nervous because I really really want to work here. I'm sure things will work out fine, but until then I'm going to be obsessed about it.

Rusty is back from working in California the week. I hate that he sent me a picture of his peach mojito one evening because I wanted to be drinking a cocktail on the patio of a nice restaurant overlooking a beach. Putz. But the boys were good to me. They hardly got into trouble, no meltdowns, only one broken bulb, crayon on the wall was washable. Things went smoothly despite not having my usual backup.

Tomorrow we're watching a marching band perform in the neighborhood. The kids will LOVE this!

Tonight is quiet except for the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher all doing my work for me. The kids are in bed and Rusty is on an airplane going to Pasadena, CA for work this week. I'm jealous he gets maid service, to eat out, sleep in a little and do non-domestic stuff for a few days. I know he's busy working in the day but... I'll get over my jealousy. Maybe I'll take myself out on a self-date next weekend. Just me and a movie ticket.

Meanwhile I've got quick healthy meals planned for the week, stuff to work on, a few shows recorded for the evenings, and a whole bed to myself. Maybe things won't be so bad.

Nel called this evening while I was driving Rusty to the airport. I hesitated whether to answer or not but decided to take the call. I wish I hadn't since it distracted my driving and cut into my last minutes with Rusty before his flight. She was feeling sad about my dad again. She just wanted someone to talk to. I told her I'm seeing a counselor to help deal with my grief and suggested she consider that, but I doubt she will. She gave me two excuses which tells me it's not her thing for whatever reason. She refuses anti-depressant drugs and refuses professional help. I hope she realizes she's not going to get a gold medal for toughing this out. Anyway, she sobbed for a bit telling me how hard it is, that she misses him, that she had no idea it would be this hard, that they had a good thing for a while. She said, "I don't know how you can be so calm. You just don't get it." She means I don't understand her loss, and she's right. I told her she had a passionate love for my dad and I did not. I had a familial love. It stands to reason that her grief will be so different, so much more intense. It also helps that when she calls I happen to be thinking of other things at the time (like driving) and not dwelling things like she is. I have no doubt that if Rusty vanished from my life that I would crumble inward much like her. The difference though, or so I speculate, is that I would seek help from all directions and find some purpose in life to keep going, like raising our children.

Her children are grown, so without professional help or medication or some new purpose, I'm at a loss for suggestions for her. So I just listen, taking it all in, offering words of comfort and hope I don't miss my exit.

Heartburn is my excuse for ice-cream tonight. :-)

Rusty is feeling under the weather this evening so I got a good double dose of kids this evening. I didn't feel like taking Joshua to karate class with Elliot in tow so we hung out at home watching Penguins of Madagascar before a bubble bath. Most of the siblings at Josh's karate class are either much older than the 3-6 year range or they're babies. Elliot is neither. He wants to be active and there's no play place at the karate school. And it's too hot to hang out outside the whole time. One of us will take him on Saturday instead to make up the missed day. He's doing good in the class. He now has five stripes on his belt, knows most of the moves and has a very good attitude in class. He is, however, very easily distracted and gets called out for that frequently. He's also smart and knows when to behave before the instructor has to reprimand him.

Elliot, my calm charmer, continues to have a language explosion. He's now using two word sentences and repeats new words and sounds constantly. He can say 'bubble bath' and 'up please' and 'go out'. He can also scream MINE! which tells me his brother is trying to take away something. But his favorite word this week is 'cookie'. I think he just likes the way the word sounds and that saying it sometimes results in a treat.

I hear thumping upstairs despite it being an hour past his bedtime. I guess there'll be no TV for me tonight. But tomorrow night, I'll be glued for two hours watching the new season of Project Runway- the only reality show I'm interested in.

I've been going to counseling for over a month, as some know, to overcome what I once thought was depression that turned out to be "complicated grief". I opted for counseling over the drug that my doctor prescribed, which is another story I'll get into another day. Counseling has opened so many wounds. Anger, grief, disappointment, frustration, self reflection and understanding all mix together in the discussions. Sometimes, like today, I come away exhausted, overcome by the emotional out pore. Other sessions are seemingly more light-weight, depending on the topic. I'm thankful my insurance company is covering these sessions. I don't know what the goal is, at what defining moment I'll be done. I just know that getting it all out to someone, someone who can interpret with a professional view, someone who is impartial and without personal history, is exactly what I needed. While I am usually very private about matters like these, I decided to leak it into my blog. I decided a few well intending people might want to know I am taking care of myself and (hopefully) growing from the ashes of my father's death.

A friend emailed to a group of mom friends this query:

We are finished with potty training but I was reading an article and don't really understand this. Can someone explain?

Discipline the lazy child. If your child gets busy playing outside, doesn't want to take the time to come in and go to the bathroom, then wets his pants and says he "forgot to go," stick to Dr. Leman's rule that "everyone only gets to use one pair of underwear per day." That means your child won't be able to play any more outside for the day. Then, the next time he'll remember to listen to his bladder.

So, what happens next? They come inside and be naked? Certainly, you don't put the diaper back on?! That makes it way too easy to not pee in the potty.

To which I replied:
We have a rule similar to that. Our limit is one change per day. If he wets his pants, he can have one more set of undies and shorts, plus no more TV or outside time. However, if he wets the second pair of clothes, we either had him go around pant-less (with undies) or put him pajamas early, depending on the time of day. In addition to no kid's shows and no more outside time, I also remind/instruct him to try to potty more frequently like every 30 minutes or hour. At our house, we no longer refer to peed-in pants as "accidents". And I'm flexible in that if his underwear is a little wet but not his shorts then he can keep his underwear if he wants (or trade for clean ones) and there's no penalty. I had to draw a line so he knew exactly when he was in trouble and when it was ok.

This technique gives intentional peeing a very undesirable outcome. On the positive, and because we got desperate, we began praising the good days (and halves of days) with verbal praise, high fives, smiles, shouting woo-hoo!, and even doling out treats like yogurt with candies mixed in, mini chocolate bars, and scoop of ice-cream. When he does good with potty training, he gets a sweet treat, TV, lots of praise and the option to play outside. And when he messes himself, he loses all that (except for praise on all other attempts throughout the day).

I'm happy to report that it seems Joshua has turned a corner and now takes himself more frequently and has fewer wet pants. I'm not sure if it's b/c of our rules or his maturity or physical awareness or some combination, but I am very glad he's finally improving! yay!!

To take it a step further, we also praise him and give a treat for going all-day with no pee in his pants. He loves getting a special treat and the praises that go with it. For a moment, it's all about him and something good he's doing. And I tell him frequently I'm proud of him.

I am helping my father in-law raise donations to the American Heart Assoc. This follows his own brush with a recent heart attack and stroke. Luckily he's fine, no major medical drama, however it's opened his eyes (and mine) to the importance of living healthy and supporting research and programs to help others experiencing heart conditions. I plan to walk and I've set a goal to raise $375. You can donate too (even as small as $25) by going to:

Thank you!

This may be a record stretch of time between posts. A month! So much has happened and so quickly so let me start from the beginning.

July 3rd we packed up the kids' stuff and set them up at the grandparents' house. Then I packed up for an evening in Addison to watch fireworks. We also had a friend over for dinner beforehand. David, Minister of Invisibility, joined us from dinner all the way through Kaboom Town. He was so handy! I loved the extra set of hands and eyes and comic relief he brought. I highly recommend getting a Dave if you can find a good one.

Both kids really loved the fireworks. They especially loved playing in the fountain area near the center of Addison Post.

After fireworks, we managed to knock out both kids asleep in the car, transport them to their beds at the grandparent's then sneak away without incident. woo-hoo! Vacation begins!

The next morning, Rusty's dad takes us to the airport. Our flight is on-time, no incidents, we land safely, wait forever for our checked-baggage, get a metro-card. w00t!

While waiting for our first bus ride into the city to catch our first subway ride of our trip, we are asked by two people for directions and reassurance that our bus line connects to the subway station. Grinning to each other, we loved that we didn't look too much like tourists.

From here, I'll skim the surface of our trip because let's face it, I slept a lot, drank a lot, walked a lot, and forgot a lot already. I was nerdy enough to jot down every place we ate at as an informal guide of do/don't based on our trip. Of course we climbed the Empire State Building (104th floor!), saw the remains of Ground Zero, walked through Battery Park, caught a few movies, FAO Schwartz, Central Park, The Apollo in Harlem, got lost a lot, got sore feet, sunburned and moderately well rested. So here it is, our trip from a diner's perspective. :-)

July 4th - Day 1: Check in at our hotel then walk towards the Hudson River to discover lunch at Half King. I had the Shepard Pie- delicious! On the other hand, maybe it's because I han't eaten anything and was ravished that this pie was so great. Anyway, it has a nice patio and hours before fireworks, you'll be swarmed by cops. I think NY has at least one cop for every three people. Fireworks were something to behold. Six barges shooting same-time. y entire peripheral view was filled with a fantastic fireworks display. Later I grabbed a drink and snack at Hounds Tooth. I don't recommend them. My mai tai wasn't right and their MSG Strawberry was retched. Jake's Saloon near our hotel gave me a Blue Island martini which washed away the awful taste of the other place.

Day 2: Near the Guggenheim, we found EAT on Madison Ave. This was my most memorable meal of the entire vacation. I ordered a tomato goat cheese quiche w/ a small side salad. The quiche was awe inspiring. I must find a way to reproduce this at home for myself. Moving on, that evening we accidentally found a sushi place that was recommended to us: DooZo. Just a block from Washington Square, it was understated from the outside but the food was shockingly good. I loved their Mango Tongo so much I went to a table of patrons afterward and recommended it to them before they ordered. The magic of this place is cheap food, good quality, quaint atmosphere. Nuf said.

Day 3: Petite Abielle had the benefit of being next door to our humble Chelsea Inn. I loved this place for breakfast though it got pricey in the menu and choice were limited. But the place was cute, had a patio in the back and great service. While touring Coney Island, Rusty was anxious to eat a Nathan's Famous hot dog. It's a hot dog. I failed to be moved. On our way back into lower Manhattan, we happened upon Crumb Bakery. Ah yes. I got an obnoxiously large cupcake. That night we noshed at Harvest Brewery where I had a great veggie burger and Rusty had a stack of appetizers. And we both had beer.

Day 4: Lunch at Boom Cafe near Wooster and Spring Street, where real Italians eat. The servers are family and speak at least English and Italian, probably French and German too knowing European standards. Rusty was brought nearly to tears at his lasagna. It WAS amazing and I was a bit jealous that I ordered a mere pizza. That evening we boarded a dinner cruise boat the Bateaux. It's a smallish cruise ship with a glass roof, dance floors, decks, and bilingual waitstaff catering to your every need. We got great pictures of the Brooklyn bridge from below, the Statue of Liberty at sunset and of course a sparkling New York skyline with a full moon rising. After the cruise, we wandered toward Times Square again then slowly walked back to our hotel.

Day 5: I think I ate at Petite Abielle again for breakfast. Then Patsy's Pizza for lunch. The pizza here isn't New York style street vendor goodness. It was upscale cuisine and so yummy! I recommend this place BEFORE you do through Dylan's Candy Bar across the street. We spent three hours wandering through MoMA (which wasn't enough time) before pit stopping at the hotel. Now, let me diverge a moment and touch on alcohol. We went to Tailor on our way to find dinner. This trendy bar is worth a visit. They experiment with alcohol making foods and drinks that no other bar does. I came out feeling toasty and happy. Dinner was at Baluchi's, Indian food. Definitely worth a mention, this place was very good food, reasonably priced and progressive atmosphere. Before catching a comedy show, we grabbed drinks at Olive Tree and Caffe Reggio, home of the original cappuccino since 1927.

Day 6: I don't remember breakfast (c-store egg sandwich?) but I do recall Katz Deli for lunch (ya know, where Meg has her fake orgasm) for some authentic New Yorkness. People rushed, the place was packed, there was just enough service to keep you happy, oh and the pastrami is like nothing you'll get anywhere else. And the pickles. We also grabbed some dessert sweets from Russ & Daughters a few doors down. After walking miles and miles, discovering China Town and making one last run through the SoHo/NoHo strip, we had dinner at a sushi dive. Rusty had seen people lining up outside of some sushi shop called Satsuko. Don't bother, it wasn't very good, the place was cramped and nothing original on the menu. Move along people, nothing to see here! We finished our night exploring the area neighboring our hotel and stopping in a bar/restaurant for drinks. I wished the night would not end.

Day 7 We left for Dallas sad that our cool temped days would be harshly replaced by scorched Earth. No more eating at cafes, diners, and fine restaurants. No more waiters, discoveries of interesting foods and meals prepared from scratch for ME. No more $50 lunch bills, I don't miss that. No more hidden treasures and local legends and unique dining. No, we were headed back to Dallas where all coffee is homemade or Starbucks, food is almost always made at home or cost $50 for all four of us at dinner maybe once a week. Back to our normal lives. *sniff* I'm so glad we went to New York City and will forever cherish my memories.

Check out pictures and commentary captions here.

This concludes my marathon NYC post. I'll resume to normal regularly posted blog entries.



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