Sometimes Summer Isn’t All That Bad

I am admittedly a terrible blogger.  I wish that I could say I have been going on awesome vacations or have been going through life-changing events.  Nope. My best effort at an excuse is that we only have air conditioning in our bedroom so the intense heat saps me of any writing ability when I get home from work.  Strangely I always have enough energy to open a bottle of wine.

Speaking of wine, I have been up to some fun summer-ish events that have been making me almost not hate the summer so much. The first of which was the Back Mountain Wine Festival held yesterday.

That item around my neck would be my new wine holster, a handy contraption that allows you to wear your wine glass as a necklace and have two hands free for other activities such as creeping the internet, doing laundry or taking the dog out.  Obviously I these crafty gypsies had me at hello and I purchased one for the event.  And to wear around the house.  These hot ladies who incidentally enjoy wine more than the average human joined in on the fun with their significant others:

Hot women with wine holsters.  What more could a man ask for?  What’s that you say? A sober girlfriend?  You’re funny.

Last weekend J$ and I attending a Phillies game.

We had decent seats, Cole Hamels was pitching and the game went into extra innings.  The baseball gods hated us that day because the Phillies lost by one and then the gps got us lost in New Jersey when we politely asked it to go home so we ended up at this diner, angry:

I wish this was not the one and only time that J$ and I have left the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania together.  But it was. Over the course of three years.  (The man hates to leave the county, let alone the state.)

Other activities of interest this summer included making bacon and burger wrapped hotdogs (and subsequently dying):

Taking Lola camping:

And taking advantage of the hotter than appropriate weather to dry clothes on the line:

Now I must go reapply aloe on my sunburn and think about how awesome the fall (and football season) will be for my skin and electric bill.

This is what summer should look like.

I have been MIA lately. Too busy being outdoorsy.

Funny Flirting Ecard: I'm outdoorsy in that I like getting drunk on patios.

But really. I have been enjoying the following:

And grilling fun things:

Go drink more wine and get off the internets. Do it.

Lessons From My Mother

With the thought of the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday in mind, I have been reflecting on the wisdom imparted to me by my own dear mother.

I feel like everyone has a few stock words of wisdom that were standbys of their own mothers.  These are a few that I now realize at 26 years old are valuable lessons to keep in mind:

1. “Go to school, you’ll feel better.”

I may have had the fewest absences of anyone in my high school class.  If I woke up and had a headache, was tired, had cramps or felt it was too cold to stand at the bus stop, I was told to suck it up and go to school.  It would take my mind off of it.  I had to be legitimately sick with a fever, vomiting or bleeding from the head to have her call me off sick.

And 99% of the time, she was right. I went to school and either forgot about it or suffered through and made it home alive. I had awful allergies every spring.  I took tissues and sudaphed with me in my backpack.  I did not die.

I still hear her voice in my head every morning that I wake up and think “Ugh I cannot breathe today, damn tree pollen… I do have 12 vacation days…” And then I man up, drag my ass out of bed and get to work.  Because a stuffy nose does not equal death.  I go in, get my work done and either feel better or deal with it.  Being at work and having to go through a box of tissues or a few advil is better than allowing a massive pile of work to build up to greet you the next day.

No, you lazy cat. Go to work.

2. “If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t say it at all.”

This was my first lesson in being a bigger person and keeping my trap shut on gossip and passing judgment.  Clearly my mother didn’t realize the types of characters I would encounter in the future who would make this so darn difficult.  Just kidding. She is right.  I need to start doing the Christian thing and tell people what’s wrong with them to their faces.

3. “You can tell how a man will treat you by how he treats his own mother.” 

This one is pure motherly advice gold.  I have yet to find an exception to this rule.  Men who treat their mothers as their slaves do so to their wives.  On the alternate side, men who have excellent relationships with their mothers and are able to communicate with them will be open to communication in romantic relationships.  Men who resent their mothers treat women like trash and objects to get back at their mothers.

Usher loves his mama; therefore would make a lovely husband. Fact.

4. “When at the dinner table, never discuss money, religion or politics.”

Personal preferences are just that. Personal.  Keep your preferences to yourself in the office, on a first date or at a dinner with, oh say, your future in-laws.  Talking about money is tacky, religion always offends someone and your own personal politics are your own business.  Think up other interesting topics to discuss.  Like the fact that Jessica Simpson finally gave birth. Something like that.

That being said, vote for Obama or we aren’t friends anymore.

**************************************************************************************************

Obviously there have been many more golden nuggets of wisdom that I have learned from her.  Be on time. Actually, be early. Always have more food than guests. Mail your taxes with certified receipts. Write a personal message in greeting cards; it means so much more to the recipient.  Chose family over social events/work every time.

She is a super-smart lady and I am lucky to have her to answer all my questions from “how long should I cook this chicken” to “what kind of vacuum should I purchase.  I hope that this Mother’s Day everyone thanks their own mothers for all of life’s lessons that we have been fortunate enough to receive.

(Don’t hit on the Good Humor man.)

Saturday Night Bingo: A New Low

It is 10:00pm on a Saturday and I have spent my evening playing Bingo.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the bingo was played on a facebook app.  This is a new low.  Also, I have not showered today or changed out of sweat pants.  Please schedule my intervention now.  Pencil in J$, too.  He’s spent the past 4 hours on xbox.

This couple has a more active life than we do.  We’ve never even seen the beach together.

In other news, baby Peyton is doing well, work is hectic and Lola is still a demanding diva.  Whats that? You would like to see another photo of Lola?  

Hey girlfriend.

Oh, and here is a photo of me and J$ from two years ago, before we lived together and we still went nice places, like concerts in Philly. And I still took care of myself by showering and applying makeup.  (For my family members that may read this – this is clearly a joke.  Obviously I wear makeup and shower or I would have been fired from my job by now for scaring off clients and vendors.)

 

Valentine’s Day, 2010. A distant memory.

Peace out homies, I gotta go check Words with Friends!

Babies.

So yesterday my niece Madison was induced into labor. You may recall her baby shower.  She went in at 9am, received the meds at noon. It is now 7:30am and she only recently got the epidural.  These babies like taking their time.

This means that I am currently in York, hanging out with two small children that my mother watches during the day and crying because there is no ketchup in the house.  Seriously, who doesn’t keep ketchup in the house?

Hopefully I’ll have some photos of the little baby soon.  Or of me and the dog.

In the meantime I will watch some quality children’s cartoons. Hopefully Arthur comes on.  I love Arthur.

Events

We are the individuals that we are today as a result of events which occur in our lives.  Events shape us. Job offers. Births. Deaths. Graduations, or lack thereof.  These events define us as people.

I am who I am as a result of an extremely particular string of events. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this is the first time I have ever described said events publicly, much less on the internet.  When it comes down to the honest truth, this is a blog about my life.  Many bloggers skip the past, undesirable stories and focus on the present “point-and-shoot” happy moments to capture and share with the digital world, proving to that world, and often times themselves, that everything is as ideal as it should be.  I assure you, I am not one of those bloggers, I am not one of those people.

There are my events.

I was born to a sixteen year old unwed high school student.  My father was a twenty-one year old truck driver.  Coming from an extremely Catholic family, my birth mother went through with the pregnancy and put me up for adoption via Catholic Social Services. I was born on November 22, 1985 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. During the second week in December, 1985, I was given up for adoption to Eugene and Lynn Lattari of York, Pennsylvania.

Gene and Lynn, both being born in the 1940’s, were slightly older than the “traditional” parents.  They were in their 40’s and unable to have any more children than the two girls previously born to them in the late 1970’s – Shay and Reagan.  Lynn was a diabetic and was told that she was medically unable to have any more children as a result of her condition.  Because of this, they resorted to adoption.

Adoptions were awarded to the financially comfortable.  Gene was an engineer, Lynn was a speech therapist for special needs children. They earned a good living, were able to send my siblings to private Catholic schools.  They built an in-ground swimming pool in the backyard the year that I was born.  We lived in a four bedroom home in a nice suburban neighborhood.  Any social worker or adoption agency would clearly pick these two as the ideal Catholic family to raise a Catholic baby.

Then certain events began to occur.

As previously noted, Lynn’s health was not in peak condition.  She was diabetic and received insulin daily.  When I was 2 years old (1987), she became seriously ill after contracting the Strep virus.  A normal immune system would be able to battle this illness.  Her’s was damaged and she died on May 16, 1987.  I was 2 1/2 years old and without a mother.

I moved past this, young enough to be emotionally resilient.  I have faded memories of the funeral, relatives in and out of the house.  It was not until I was in preschool and kindergarten that I realized I had something “missing.”  I was different from the other children, both being adopted and experiencing the death of a parent (an event typically reserved for those in their 50s and older).

A few years after this event, my father lost his job.   I think I was six.  It may have been earlier.  This left him a widower and jobless, when he had the unfortunate responsibility of providing for 3 girls.  He had no idea what to do, where to turn.  He was floundering.  During this time, our babysitter, Karen, had continued caring for me since the death of Lynn, as I was still a small child in need of constant attention, discipline and guidance.  She took the courageous role of parent when no one else was able to.  In the summer of 1993, she married my father, an event that I have decided forever ensured my success as a human.   When no one else was there, she stepped in.

My father fell ill in the summer of 1996, noticing pains in his abdomen.  He had recently gotten a job working in the dairy section of the local grocery store.  It wasn’t much, but it provided him with health insurance.  Which, it turns out, he was in dire need of. My father was in the advanced stages of pancreatic, lung and liver cancer.  I was at the tail end of fourth grade when this was discovered, around memorial day. He began aggressive treatments of radiation and chemotherapy.  I was eleven years old and witnessed my father, the man I loved and looked up to my entire life, be literally weakened and destroyed by a disease and the treatments which accompanied it. We sat by him in the hospital on the cancer floor receiving his chemo.  I watched him become emaciated because he couldn’t eat and then gain so much weight that his clothes were unable to fit him as a result of the steroids for his lungs. I personally witnessed him vomit so violently from the chemotherapy that he broke a hip and was unable to walk. I was there for when the oxygen tanks were delivered to the house to allow him to breathe.  I experienced the hospice nurses coming to our home, not yet aware of what “hospice” was, or what was actually going on around me.  I sat on the front porch while the attorney came to the house to have my father grant Karen, my stepmother, as mine and Reagan’s legal guardians.  I was taken to my neighbor’s house when the ambulance brought my father to the nursing home, as Karen did not want me to have to live in that house, knowing what inevitably was going to happen.

I visited my father in the nursing home twice that week.  One time he was hallucinating, seeing people who were not there as a result of the extreme pain medication.  The other time was a short visit, just to say hello. I remember hugging him, letting him nap as he was exhausted.

On May 17, 1997, I went grocery shopping with my mother and Reagan.  Shay and my grandmother were at the nursing home with my father.  I remember coming home and seeing their cars in the driveway, knowing that this was odd.  I remember taking some of the groceries to the basement and staying down there as my grandmother broke the news to my mother and sister.  I remember thinking to myself “If I stay down here forever and don’t let them tell me, it won’t ever become real.”  I went upstairs.  My father had passed away on Saturday, May 17, 1997, ten years and one day after the passing of Lynn Lattari.

This story is not meant to garner sympathy or illicit feelings.  While unique, I was raised after this point by a wonderful woman who gave all she had to make sure that I became a person of character and faith.  I want to honor my father, and note that his death, while tragic and unfair and untimely, was an event that shaped who I have become, and that is something to recognize.

The lessons that I have learned from this event are that I, under no circumstances, should ever take my family or life for granted.  Life is a gift.  Daily stresses are just that, daily, common and mostly trivial.  We are given one life and should do our best to make our family members, living and deceased proud of us.  I ask myself everyday what things would be like if my father would be here, not with regret or anger, but as a test for myself.  Am I using my intelligence to my full potential?  Am I making the right decisions.  I know without hesitation that my father would love Justin.  There are so many similarities between the two of them and I take comfort in that. I only regret that Justin was never able to meet my father, or understand the special place that oatmeal patties and spearmint leaves have in my heart.

Events shape us. And so do people.  People shape us.

Eric Chuch Weekend!!

So Friday was The Big Day! The Eric Church & Brantley Gilbert show!! Justin and I are hardcore fans.  In the 2 1/2 years we have been together we have seen Eric Church three times.  Once in Philly, once in Scranton and now in Reading, PA.  These concerts are more exciting to us than Christmas, birthdays, Valentines Day and anniversaries combined.  Not even kidding.

I took a half day from work to get everything ready and be set to leave when Justin got out of work at 3pm.  The ride there was actually really quick, we only hit a little traffic outside the Reading/Allentown area.

We stayed at the Abraham Lincoln in downtown Reading, PA, which was conveniently located 2 blocks from the Sovereign Center where the concert was held.  The hotel was historical and had a very ornate lobby but the upper floors and our room was what I like to refer to as “nursing home warm.”  No amounts of AC blasting could remove the humidity from the place.  It was strange.

Anyways, after pre-gaming with a bottle of Brambleberry and getting ready at the hotel, we walked to the Sovereign Center which was packed with plaid and camo hillbillies.  My people.

Brantley Gilbert opened the show.  He was phenomenal.  Most people aren’t aware that he is the writer of the majority of Jason Aldean’s music and he performs those songs at his shows so much better than Jason Aldean does (Adrienne and I saw Aldean a year ago in Wilkes-Barre.) His bad is pretty metal/badass.

Eric Church came on and sang all my most favorite songs.  I was blown away by his performance.  His enthusiasm was so genuine, you could tell he was having an awesome time on stage.

Per usual, all the cowboys raised their boots during “These Boots.” It’s an interesting sight to see.

Eric played my favorite “Springsteen” on piano.  Everyone in the crowd “fired up their lighters” aka raised their cell phones.

That was the closing number.  After the show we stumbled out onto the streets of Reading in search of J$’s friends from high school and an acceptable bar to drink.

J$ and the Reading Railroad, just like the Monopoly Board.

And then this happened… For the record, we only had one drink in here. The DJ was playing the Cupid Shuffle and we were searching for his friends still.  We finally located them at The Ugly Oyster.  Brantley Gilbert’s band was also at this bar, so naturally I had to be a pain in the ass and request a photo with the awesomely mohawked Ben Sims.  He politely obliged. This got fuzzy after this point.

Saturday was rough.  Sunday was gorgeous out so we took Lola for a hike at Frances Slocum State Park.  She liked it.

And now it’s Monday. Sigh.

Back Porch Sitting

The back porch has quickly become my new favorite place to relax after work. I may never watch TV again.  Ok, that’s a lie, a new episode of  Sweet Home Alabama is tomorrow and you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be DVRing that shit.

bamabubba

Bubba is every woman’s soul mate, not just Paige Duke’s.  If she doesn’t pick him I am writing her a letter.

Last night I sat on my back porch in those awesome soccer mom chairs, not the makeshift boat seat.  This was almost as white-trashy.

Why yes, that IS  hot pocket with ranch dressing and a Solo cup of Hazlitt Brambleberry wine. I know, I am the definition of refinement and class. So is J$ in those hawt PJ pants.  This happened at 8:30pm when I realized that I had been home from work for 3 1/2 hours and hadn’t eaten dinner but had consumed an entire bottle of wine.  These things happen.

Anyhow, there was some sort of domestic dispute/shouting match going on in the house behind of ours, the cops showed up, yelling ensued.  It was a fantastic.  I then proceeded to work on my March  Madness bracket and tell J$ that I was psychic and knew who was going to win.  Also that my strategy was to pick the “Jesus-y” schools because God is on their side.  I then played “Teach Me How to Jimmer” on repeat.

I hope this year’s tournament has another Jimmer.

Oh, and here is a photo of Lola.

She blinked!!

Have a good one today, and BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH.

Funny Friendship Ecard: Just a heads up that I have no intention of stabbing you 23 times on the Ides of March.

And now I will show you how to be a hillbilly

Step 1:

Live with this man:

The end. Those are all of the steps required.

Sometime our loud neighbors are out and we are the types who enjoy avoiding small talk with people we are forced to live alongside, so to enjoy some peace and quiet and play with Lola outside, we will sit on the back porch.  I made the comment that I wished I had a lounge chair or something more comfy than the small bench or the steps to sit upon.  J$ quickly went inside and emerged with his boat chair (please note that he does not own a boat) and promptly attached it to the bench.

It was a proud moment.

Lola could not have been less interested.  She was concentrating on freeing herself from her chain to go and play with the angry Boxer in the next yard.

That awful patch of gross grass will grow back into green during the summer and our yard will look less white-trashy.  (The boat chair/bench was immediately removed.)

And that is how we enjoyed our lovely afternoon outside.

Baby Shower!!

This past weekend I went home to assist with and attend my niece Madison’s baby shower. (She is due April 9!)

Home = York, PA. This is 130 miles away from the Wilkes-Barre area (about 2 hours by car) so if I go home, I usually stay overnight.  Driving there and back in one day is too much.  Especially when I have Lola riding shot-gun.

Lola has her own seat belt attachment to allow her to ride in cars.  She sits in the front seat because she is a spoiled little jerk.

Also included in my trip home was a stay in the guest room’s twin bed.

My sister got home before me and claimed my old room and my former, more spacious full bed.  This is fine, though.  I did not mind the twin.  Reminded me of my youth.

The baby shower was pretty normal as far as baby showers go.  There were games:

Gifts:

And way too much food:

My sister made all the cookies and cupcakes from scratch.  She is really talented and creative.  Those diaper pin cookies had fondant accents. I mean, come on.  My skills include knowing every state’s capital and being a Notary Public.

Oh, and obviously there was a cake:

Oh and someone else who is a far more creative person that I made these centerpieces.  They are baby buggies made of diapers and have baby wash cloths inside of them:

When I finally made it home last night I was too exhausted to even move off the couch.  It took legitimate effort to get upstairs.  And now I feel like I missed out on a weekend.  Someone please do the rest of my laundry.  And fill out  my college basketball bracket for work.  I’m so tired, I may just pick Lehigh to win it all. Tiny Pennsylvania private universities F.T.W.

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