He Goes to 11

Mim holding a fish he caught at cub scout campDear Mim,

Eleven. Really? Wow!

It’s been quite a year of travel for you. We went to Anaheim and San Diego last summer and saw Disneyland and had a blast at the NOAH conference.  Later in the summer and into the fall, we played tourists in our own backyard and saw Attitash, Mount Washington, and the Kancamagus Highway.  In November you went to Williamsburg with Grammy, Grandpa and Vern and had the tie of your life. In January you, Trisha and I made our second trip to Smuggler’s Notch and skied while Dad was in Vegas. MAN was it cold, but the skiing was great. The icing on the cake was our family trip to Hawaii in February. You sure get around kid!

Your tenth year has been a year of growth and maturity. With help, your focus has improved, your impulsivity has calmed and your frustration threshold is much higher. You’ve had a great year in 5th grade with Miss L. Your Exhibition project on the impact of video games was excellent. You are excited about Middle School but at the same time you aren’t really looking forward to leaving elementary school behind. Can’t say I blame you on either front.

Mim 11 - 1

In November, you earned your junior black belt in karate. You took a little break to focus on ski club and then went back to it and are doing very well. You received your Arrow of Light award in Cub Scouts and have moved up to Boy Scouts. You are enjoying your new troop and all the outdoor activities they participate in. In April you rode 23 miles on your bike and you had a blast at the spring camporee. Minecraft is still your thing, and when I kick you off the iMac, you go upstairs to play Clash of Clans with your classmates. Your imaginative play offline is in depth and detailed. You also still really like to read.

Mim 11-2

Lately, you’ve been sleeping a little later and starting a little slower. You’re still a morning person, but not quite as quick to start as you once were. I’m endlessly grateful for all the “I love you mom” ’s and the hugs.

Eleven will be a year of change, but I’m sure you’ll meet it with your trademark grin and boundless energy.

Mim 11-3

Happy Birthday!

Love, Mom

15

Dear Fish,
IMG_043815.
Wow.
FIFTEEN years.
That’s a long time!

It’s been quite a year. You are discovering so much about yourself, your strength and weaknesses and what you want out of life. It’s exhilarating and exhausting and I’m only WATCHING.

You completed 8th grade wrapping up what you described as some of the best years of your life and made the decision veer from the beaten path that the majority of your peers followed. Your choice to attend a science and technology focused charter school IMG_1110_2was a good one. The environment suits your independent mindset and your self-motivated learning style. By all accounts, you are keeping your teachers on their toes as they strive to challenge you. Your grades reflect your commitment to learning and being the best you can be. We still need to get you to ask for help sooner rather than later, but that’s a work in progress (I know pot meet kettle).

Thank you for talking to me, for sharing your fears, your concerns and you dreams. I know for sure I’ve been helpful in some cases. In others the jury is still out and I’ve definitely made mistakes, but I will continue to listen and try to answer your questions and address your concerns as best as I can, even when they make me squirm.

IMG_2619You’ve had some challenges this year, but you’ve faced them head on and are working to find your new normal in an ever-shifting landscape. You’ve also had some major successes. You managed food and sunscreen at 2 weeks of Girl Scout camp and you biked 102 miles! Here’s to another active summer! In November you were promoted to junior black belt in karate and you continue to develop your skills. As previously mentioned your grades are great, and you are getting a lot out of your regular volunteer work at the elementary school. You’ve had your bioptic for a few months and I think it has broadened your world, but I’m looking forward to seeing you use it more.

We’ve traveled in New Hampshire and afar to San Diego and Hawaii. You are truly a pleasure to travel with. You handle yourself well and you are curious about new places. I’m looking forward to new adventures!

IMG_1595You’ve entered the world of social media and while this is a tad bit unnerving for me, I truly enjoy your posts. Your passion and sense of humor come through. Your passions this year include all things Grey’s Anatomy (Team #MerDer FTW!), equality for all and music just to name a few.

I love your style, it’s all your own and it works for you. Keep on rockin’ it girl!

I can’t wait to see what fifteen has in store for you.

Happy birthday!

Love,

Mom

IMG_1466_2

An Open Letter to the Market Basket Board of Directors

WeAreMarketBasketDear Market Basket Board of Directors:

I’ve been a loyal Market Basket customer for the last eight years. I shop Market Basket because the prices are low, the employees are friendly and the selection is decent.

I can get 90% of my groceries at Market Basket. My daughter has food allergies so there are some specialty items I must purchase at Shaw’s or Hannaford’s (although I’m thrilled that Market Basket is adding more of these items each month). I’m in the other stores a couple times a month. I know their prices are higher on things I buy every week. I know their employees are nice, but they aren’t as friendly as those that work at Market Basket. Sure, it would be easier, to do all my shopping in one place, but I am loyal to Market Basket.

I recognize that companies are in business to make money and that the grocery business has a very low margin, but I want to do business with companies who care about me as a customer and companies that treat their employees fairly and with respect. Up until now, Market Basket has been that company. It is a profitable and successful business. Why mess with a good thing?

The Demoulas family has been fighting about the stores for decades. It’s time to end the feud and truly focus on the success of the business. I am in awe of the employees working together for the greater good of the company. Look at what they’ve accomplished working together, perhaps it’s time to take a page from their book.  I stand with the employees and management and encourage you to work with them to resolve this issue and resolve it quickly.

I want my Market Basket back.

Sincerely,

Lee
Regular customer of Market Basket Store #35

10

A collection of closeups from Mim's 9th yearDear Mim,

Did you know that today you turn 10? We did. You may have reminded us a time or two over the last few days. A decade. Double digits. Wow!

This has been another year of growth and maturity for you. You are much more in control of your energy levels and you are more aware of what is going on around you. You’re almost done with Swing for the Stars (OT). We’ll miss Ms. Meghan, but she’s given you lots of tips and exercises to keep building your fine motor skills and your core strength.

In karate, you went from green belt all the way to first degree brown belt (3 promotions). You completed another year of Cub Scouts and are officially a Webelos 2. You’ve had a great year at school and every day we see behavior that shows you are able to handle more responsibility. It’s a wonderful thing.

By far, the highlight of your 9th year was the Disney Cruise we surprised you and your sister with last August. You will happily recount your adventures with anyone who is willing to listen. It was a wonderful trip. We also went to Ohio and you reconnected with cousins we don’t see that often. For you it was as if time hadn’t passed at all.

This year you spread your wings a little and tried chorus at school. Despite your extremely outgoing personality, you ultimately decided you didn’t like performing in front of people. You’ve expressed interest in possibly trying an instrument next year, but we’re still talking about that.

You’re still a bundle of energy but you are much better at managing it. You’ve discovered the outdoors is a really fun place to engage your imagination and work out the wiggles. You are still a morning person although lately you’ve been splitting your time between imaginative play and reading on the love seat with me.

This year as been full of experiences around making and keeping friends. I see in you many of the same struggles I faced. It’s hard when you feel things so strongly, but you have a good heart.

Your first decade has been full of joy and boundless energy I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!

Happy 10th to my baby boy!

Love,
Mom

46

My Dad and I. Photo Credit David Ryan http://www.jdryan3.com/I once thought 46 was “old”. I don’t anymore.

I don’t feel old. Ok, so I need more sleep than I used to, and I can’t burn through calories like I used to, but I don’t FEEL old. My tolerance for B.S. is significantly lower than it used to be but at the same time my level of acceptance that many things are beyond my control is much higher. I’m more able to let go of the stuff that just doesn’t serve me. I still get irked about stuff, but I’m much better and stepping back and saying, “this isn’t my bag, I’m not carrying it.”

I’m almost 10 pounds lighter than I was last year.

I can jog for five minutes without feeling like I’m going to die. Then I can walk for a minute and a half and jog for another five. Walk again and jog (slower this time) for yet another five minutes. Some days, it’s a slog, but it’s more than I could do five weeks ago (thanks Cammy).

I’m writing and actually getting paid for it. I’d like to write more and get paid more, but I’m optimistic that will come.

The wayward cows and sheepI’m not so cynical that the unexpected doesn’t phase me. Yesterday a neighbor posted to Faceboook asking if anyone local had lost four cows and three sheep. It was a legitimate question, not a prank. It’s moments like these that make me come up short. Dear Lord I live in the country. How on earth did I get here? Of us four college roommates, I was headed to live in the city. Probably not it an high-rise, but definitely not on a dirt road in a town where people raise cows (that was going to be Melissa) and definitely NOT a mother to thirty chickens (Melissa again) and yet here I am.

Husband & crazy kidsLife is crazy hectic. There is my husband who commutes three hours a day and travels semi-regularly, and kids who are active in karate and scouts. There is homework, work, volunteer commitments, family and friends.

But, life, it is good.

My marriage is strong, my kids are healthy and awesome (I’m not biased at all). I’m blessed with strong family ties and wonderful friendships (too many to name). We live in amazing town filled with good people (again too many to name).

Is it perfect? Nope. Never will be either, but I’m grateful for all that I have been blessed with.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my village.

FanDamily Vertical.jpg

 

In the Wind

*Deep Inhale*

It’s spring. The air is fresh. The trees are green and after such a long cold winter, it’s time to enjoy the warmer temperatures before it’s miserably hot and I melt like The Wicked Witch.

My husband has a jeep and this time of year, it turns even mundane errands in to a fun experience. It’s a 2008 Wrangler, and right now, the doors are off and the only thing it’s sporting is a bikini top to keep the sun off the driver and the passenger.

The jeep in shadow as we drive down the road

A trip to buy chicken supplies and chewing gum (the gum is for the kids, not the chickens), turns into some grown-up time. We make a stop at Starbucks to procure beverages. The wind is blowing and the tunes are cranked. There’s no deep meaningful discussion, just much needed time spent together enjoying each other’s company.

Errands completed with a 50% success rate (we got the gum), he says “Where to?” The responsible adult should say “home.” It’s late in the day and dinner needs to be concocted.

I abdicate “You’re driving, you decide.”

He heads away from home and I know we’re headed for some mud. The next town over has trails. He knows most of them by rote from childhood hijinks. It rained quite heavily earlier in the day, so this promises to be fun.

The trails do not disappoint. I’m sure that diehard mud enthusiasts wouldn’t be impressed, but I’m happy with our little adventure. It’s like mother nature’s own roller coaster ride/water park.

We’re back on pavement and the sun is setting, so it really is time to head home. I make him stop at the ice cream stand so I can ruin my dinner with my annual soft serve cone, a vanilla and chocolate twist with chocolate jimmies.

He was in Miami last week and this week he’ll be in San Antonio. There’s karate, Cub Scouts, homework and work deadlines but for a few hours we are “in the wind” and I am at peace.

I first heard the phrase “in the wind” on the TV show Counting Cars , Danny Koker from Count’s Kustoms  frequently talks about being “in the wind”, referring to riding his motorcycles. I’ve been a passenger on a motorcycle once and I really enjoyed it. I have NO desire to own or drive a motorcycle, but I do enjoy being “in the wind”.

Audience participation in the social media age

Social Media is a big part of my life. I rely on my Facebook friends to give me the important details about a school event when the monster that lives in my son’s backpack gets hungry and eats the important papers (aside: why can’t they ever lose the unimportant papers???). Twitter is an excellent source of breaking news and where I find most of my book recommendations. Effective use of social media comes down to finding trusted sources and forging relationships. When it’s done right, it’s wonderful way to build a community. Some of whom you’ll never meet in real life, some of whom live right down the street.

Intelligence cast l-r Marg Helgenburger, Meghan Ory, John Billingsly, Josh Holloway, P.J. Byrne
Photo Courtesy of @MargHelgen

Social media is also a wonderful way to connect with others who share your interests. In January, CBS premiered the show Intelligence, a procedural featuring Josh Holloway (of Lost fame) as Gabriel Vaughn, a U.S. Intelligence agent with a microchip in his brain. The chip allows him to access any information that is in the cloud. With a mere thought he could access DMV databases, satellite feeds, and well, social media. The show was timely, and in my opinion, well written and produced.

The show had it’s own Twitter account (@IntelligenceCBS) which I followed and from there, I was able to connect with other fans, the executive producer, the writers and three actors who starred on the show. They shared behind the scenes photos and interesting trivia about the production of the show.

Several episodes were live tweeted. Michael Seitzman the Executive Producer, at least one of the writers and a couple of the actors. They would add commentary as the show aired on the East Coast. Normally, I record shows on our DVR and watch them as I can. I took to watching Intelligence live to take advantage of the live Tweet stream. One comical event happened when Seitzman was sabotaged by his three year old.  He was watching a DVD copy from his home outside L.A., when his 3 year old son advanced the DVD. He had to tweet to find out where in the show those of us watching in real time were.

I felt more connected to a TV show than I ever had in the past and not because of some marketing campaign. Because the people behind the show, genuinely interacted with the fans. The cast and crew were great about answering fan questions. The day Seitzman responded to one of my tweets I felt like a total rock star. That community made watching the show more fun.

Slated as a mid-season replacement, they only shot thirteen episodes, so the first season ended mid-March. Those of us who were hooked were left on pins and needles waiting for CBS to announce that the show had been renewed.

I enjoyed the show so much that I purchased all 13 episodes on iTunes, a first for me. As we waited for a renewal announcement, I made sure to share my passion for this show with my social media circles at least a couple times a week. I wanted to show the powers-that-be at CBS that I REALLY wanted a second season to get to know these characters better. We would know for sure one way or the other no later than May 14th.

Last Saturday, Michael Seitzman tweeted.

Cancelled

Seriously? I am so disappointed! Yes, I realize that it’s just a TV show, but there’s so much crap on TV and they ignore this gem? My fellow fans on Twitter were quick to respond with our displeasure (the producers and the cast kept it classy and stuck to expressing gratitude to the fans).

After twelve hours of brooding and stewing, I decided to take the bull by the horns. Intelligence was a joint production between CBS Television Studios and ABC Television Studios. I figured if CBS doesn’t want it, it’s time for ABC and their parent company Disney to get THEIR return on investment. So I did what any social media savvy fan would do. I started a new conversation and launched a new hash tag. Instead of #IntelligenceCBS, I started #IntelligenceABC. I reached out to a few of my fellow fans and encouraged them to spread the word.

Seitzman was quiet for a few days after the announcement. When he did return he had good news and bad news. The bad news: he said it was unlikely that the show would be picked up by another network. The good news: he’s working on a new show.

I’ll tune in for sure.  Now, if we can just find new roles for the show’s actors. Hmmmm

#CastJoshHolloway

#CastMeghanOry

#CastMargHelgen

#CastMichaelRady

#CastPJByrne

#CastJohnBillingsly