Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Living on the Edge

I have always prided myself on being smart with my money and always maximizing a dollar. So when shopping for a house, we have always strived to live on the edge of a really nice town. The cheaper edge that is. In Florida, it worked out perfectly, we lived on the border of Boca Raton, one of the nicest areas in south Florida. I was able to take advantage of all the great shopping, beautiful parks and great schools, without the high dollar zip code. I would sit in traffic jams surrounded by Jauguars, Mercedes and Porshes and chuckle to myself thinking about what they paid for thier cars.

When relocating to Atlanta, I did my research, I wanted the best schools and the lowest possible taxes, but also great sports, parks etc. We started looking in the "better" part of town and realized there were lots of fees and strict rules that come along with living there. We went just a mile down the road, found a much bigger house on a huge lot, with no rules and even lower fees. And just like before, we get to enjoy the assets of the affluent town.

There is only one drawback, who are my children friends with? Children who are handed a set of keys to a beautiful car on their 16th birthday, children who go on cruises for spring break and ski every winter, children who get the latest gadget the minute it debuts! And now children who can go to high-dollar colleges. As an adult I don't have trouble with the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality, I know the full picture. But what ends up happening is as a parent it seems you can never measure up. I know it is better for my kids to learn fiscal lessons, earlier in life, that you can be happy with less and living on a budget is reality. But this time of year my mind is always blown by what some of their friends receive as gifts. I have a feeling these children will be surprised when they go out on their own someday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supporting Role

Well the "Glory Days" of the great football season are behind us, now it's back to reality. Jim and I need to help Bryan weigh all his options and help guide him to the next phase in his life, inching toward adulthood. It is a thankless job, most of the time, the satisfaction that you are doing the right thing definitely has to come from within, because teens aren't known for appreciating guidance from their parents.

We have the cap and gown ordered ($100!) the Senior portraits are taken, the calls from recruiters are coming in, many of his friends have been accepted to the college of their choice. The wheels are in motion! The tests have been taken and retaken, trying to get the scores he needs. Nothing ever goes easy for him!

There is a lot more to do and time is ticking away-- the tap dance between nagging and letting him figure it out on his own is where we are at right now. Once a decision is made, then we get to access how we are going to pay for it all--intimidating stuff! It seems like just yesterday, I was teaching him to walk, now we are starting to nudge him out of the nest!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Painful Perk

I have a great arrangement at work where I have access to a low cost massage once a month , this is a good thing since I have chronic back and neck pain from 25 years of sitting in front of a computer.

I have a love/hate relationship with this process, it feels indulgent since the massuese is awesome and knows my back problems very well, she is methodical and so knowledgeable, and one hour of peace and uninterrupted attention is so nice. But oooh does it hurt, during and after, the next day I feel beat up, but I know it is a necessary part of unlocking my tight muscles, I will keep going back for more!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Difference Between Mom and Dad

I was chatting on my phone last night when Chris picked up the house phone, "Bryan needs to talk to you Mom. " I am waving him off because I am in the middle of a conversation, so Jim grabs the phone.

I hear, "Hmm, well that stinks, figure it out," and Jim settles back on the couch and continues to watch TV. After I hang up I ask "What was that all about?"

"Bryan locked his only set of keys in his truck"

I immediately start to get up, he says "just sit down he needs to figure this out on his own."

I was ready to call AAA or hop in the car and rescue him (sorry can't help the mommy instinct). This never even occured to Jim.

A few minutes later we hear the truck pull in the driveway, Bryan comes in the house all smiles, him and his buddies found a way in and they hoisted a smaller kid in the back side window that won't lock.

That's why boys need a Mom and a Dad, Jim gave him a good lesson in self-sufficiency.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mom's Taxi Got a Makeover

I am a happy girl — traded in the "bus" for a much more fuel efficient and sportier crossover vehicle, since I only cart around one boy these days, I was ready to downsize! I just love it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Family History Shared

It didn't start out on the best note, after 6 full months of anticipation and years of a plan in my mind, we were finally doing it--I was going to have my father give my boys his personalized tour of Notre Dame. Surely a memory they will never forget

My industrious husband found a connection to the near impossible--6 tickets to a Notre Dame football game, we chose the weekend carefully, wanted fall in full bloom and of course it had to accommodate Bryan's football schedule. We were able to get the tickets for his Bye week. All the stars had aligned on this and it was going to happen!

We approached Bryan's coach and explain he will miss just one practice, granted our whole year has revolved around his grueling schedule, which starts in January, monopolizes our entire summer etc., this would truly be the first time he is missing. The coach was furious and decided to punish Bryan by not letting him start for his last home game, I was crazy mad and in disbelief. Bryan being the mellow soul that he is was not that shaken up by it.

As we are driving up in the car we hear a headline come over the radio "Tragedy on Notre Dame Campus". A student was killed in a freak accident and the campus was in mourning. A very sad story for sure. I wondered how it would affect the festivities we were looking forward to. They cancelled the pep rally and coaches luncheon we were planning to attend, at least they didn't cancel the game.

When we arrived the campus didn't disappoint, it is spectacular so rich with history and music at every turn.

My father recounted his days to his grandsons, showed us where he stayed, and how drastically things had changed, he attended 50 years ago, with lights out at 10 pm, dining jackets worn in the cafeteria, no girls on campus and tution, room and board costing $1,900-- now its $52,000!

The highlight of the trip was the marching band--300 best and brightest young musicians in the country -- you have to have some serious chops to be in this band, it was awesome and they really engage the fans. My Dad had been a drummer in the ND band back in the day and that impressed the boys.

A real connection to our family history was made and I couldn't be happier, what a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It has been an amazing season, Bryan's team is 8-1 and last week they won the biggest game of the year against their rival. We have been waiting for this since 3rd grade. I even remember sitting him down in front of the TV as a toddler explaining 1st down, etc. to him and cheering on our favorite teams together. Now my boy is out there on the field making us proud and he is having the time of his life, we are counting down the weeks, only a few left, hoping it is not the end of the line. Hoping he will get a call from a college recruiter. . . to be continued.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Yesterday was one of those days I can't believe I made it through. My creative mind kicked in and came to the rescue.

I enjoy order and neatness in my life (the designer in me) but hate to be constrained to a strict routine (the artist in me) If I start to feel my life is controlling me I push back.

I seem to do my best designing when I just get started and follow where it leads me, I go into it with an open mind.

Yesterday was one of those days when I had to follow where life was leading me: I rushed home from work with a loose idea of what dinner I was going to prepare, I had to quick get it in the oven before I head off to teach Rel.Ed. I discover I am missing some of the ingredients, so I stand in the pantry assessing what raw materials I have to work with.

I pulled out a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and some squiggly pasta. Over to the fridge, roasted chicken, red onions, mushrooms, garlic, mozzarella cheese, things were looking up. None of this was expected, but it whipped up into quite a creation by the time I was done! Deilish!

While cooking, the phone rings, it's my co-teacher , she will not be assisting me with the 18 unruly first graders, I start to panic. I pull out the curriculum for the days lesson and it says "Open" just great, I was hoping for a real long lesson to keep the monsters occupied, no such luck. I survived just barely, did a 15 miute lecture on the Rosary, found a videotape for them to watch and ended with a game of Hangman using an angel instead of a man in a noose.
I sure slept soundly last night!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I am officially a GLEEk!

Chris and I have a real connection through music, the other night while taking a walk we started a duet of a song we had seen on Glee and went back to the house sat down at the keyboard and tried to figure out the melody, then I downloaded the sheet music on the computer. And played the real song on iTunes, no waiting for the song to come on the radio.

I thought back to the "old days" when I used to have to save up and then walk or get a ride to buy sheet music at the music store, if these kids today only knew how much the world is opened up to them!

Back to Glee, it has a racy undertone that is not appropriate for an 11 year old so I dvr it and we watch the musical parts, which are amazing!

I went to a high school with an AMAZING show choir and music director Ms. Renaletta, who is still wowwing audiences in NY, I went to a show a couple years ago and was blown away by the level of production, costumes and musical talent, they even built a performing arts center at the school and sell tickets to their performances!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Left My Heart . . .

Just got back from a whirlwind 4 days in San Francisco area. Here are some highlights:

Celebrated my parents 45th wedding anniversary with them.

Met the new baby Julianne and celebrated Kira's 8th birthday.

Kira gave me a tour of Pier 39, she knows all the hot spots like Chocolate Heaven!

My brother Jon hooked us up with 6th row tickets to a SF Giants game!

Headed down to Cannery Row, beautiful historic area on Monterey Penninsula:

Then took an unbelieveable ride down the 17 mile drive, the Pacific Coastline at its finest:

Packed a lot into 4 days, I miss them all already!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Boy!

I had a nice "Mom moment" on Sunday. My 17 year old went to his first concert (Brooks & Dunn) with his girlfriend. I had told him for years I used to go line-dancing when I was pregnant with him and one of our favorites was a routine we did to "Boot, Scoot 'n Boogie." When B& D started playing it at the concert, he called me so I could hear it, very sweet, he said that was the highlight of the concert!

Goin' to Meet My New Niece!

I'm on my way to Northern California to meet the newest addition to the Kuppinger clan, Julianne Rose. I would like to have her all to myself , but my parents will be meeting her for the first time too! She will get lots of love in the next few days--GUARANTEED!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time Marches on . . .

The candles have been blown out:

And the school year has begun:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just what we needed . . .

After a horribly hot and very busy day last Friday we ran out to a new campground by the lake and were thrilled to find it had a private beach! My friend and I left the kids with the Dads and took our inner tubes and went down to the beach where we floated and chatted --for 2 hours--under a full moon, it was divine all the stress of the day melted away. We were both wound tight when we first dipped in and couldn't believe the difference after a while. Of course, they finally came looking for us and our peaceful time ended quickly...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Local Knowledge

I always have a craving to go somewhere I have never been before, but I am also basically a chicken. So whenever the "wanderlust" strikes, I venture to a new place that is home to a friend or family member. Luckily my family and friends have chosen some pretty awesome places to call home.

Thanks to a dear friend (and hopefully someday) relative we just returned from an amazing vacation, she was a great guide and had lots of needed local knowledge. Thanks Rebecca! And thanks to her Dad who guided us down the Nantahala River.

Thanks also to Jon and Laura for great tours of San Francisco; thanks to Stephanie for a blast in Boston; thanks to Paul and Sonia for the highlights of Phoenix; thanks to Wendy for my NYC get-away and Karla for a tropical paradise vacation I will never forget. Thanks to Darlene for planning our trip to Ireland that came complete with a local priest as our tour guide! Julie and Dani were tour guides supreme making reservations in spectacular places in Spain.

Coming soon will be a great guided tour of my Dad's alma mater University of Notre Dame!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weddings: An Education

We attended my sister-in-laws wedding last weekend. We had a nice time, it was good to see family, some that we hadn't seen in more than 3 years. The special thing about it? I realized it was the first wedding Chris had ever attended, there hasn't been a wedding in our combined families in 10 years!

The whole thing was fascinating to him, for the rest of us veteran wedding-goers, everything was very traditional, no suprises, so it was nice to see it for the first time through his eyes.

First he got a dance lesson with mom to a slow song, "hand on my hip, other hand up, step side to side" complete with a disapproving look from his cool teen-age brother. By the end of the night , he had the Electric Slide, Macarena and Jitterbug under his belt, he was loving it, the grand finale was YMCA that everybody even the Dads joined in on, which the boys will ever forget.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Diva Dog

This past week, Jim and I had the fortunate coincidence of having both kids gone for 4 days, Chris visiting family in Florida and Bryan at a UCF Football camp. Free at last, I thought. I guess I wasn't thinking about the fact that we still have 2 clingy Dachshunds! They are truly under foot all the time, if I'm in a chair, they are on my lap, if I am cooking in the kitchen, they are standing directly under me to catch any slip-of-the-hand that may occur, nothing ever lands on the floor in my house, it is always caught in mid-air.

The latest addition we have had for just under a year, she is adorable and silky and cuddly but "dumber than a box of rocks". We are still having trouble with house breaking her and she is a destruction machine, each day we find one of her little "projects" She is kept in a crate during the day, I don't know when she manages to seek and destroy.

My older dog is so "with the program" she fits right in, I wish she could impart her wisdom to the younger dog, but I think she enjoys being the good girl, when the diva dog strikes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Brush Cut Kids

When I was growing up every summer we used to go to "the mountains" for a vacation. Now there were us normal people from the burbs who went up to the mountains for some R &R and then there were the types that lived up there pemanently through the desolate and cold winters. One of these famililes had a litter of boys there had to be at least six. They all sported brush cuts, which back in the shaggy-haired 70's looked pretty strange to us. So they were dubbed the "brush cut kids" they ran wild and free.

I never thought anything of it until recently when Bryan came home from workouts with a brush cut, the guys in the weight room had a bet going and he was the shaggiest kid in the room so he lost a bet and they shaved his head. Well it turned out to be a real favor because he loves the freedom of no hair to worry about.

So I had to buy some clippers to keep up with the maintenance --I was certainly not going to pay a barber every 2 weeks to shave him down! Well now Chris and Jim have joined in and I have my very own set of "brush cut kids." It sure cuts down on the barber bill, which I suspect is why that mother back in the 70's was shaving her boys. I just line them up and shave them down, it's like shearing sheep! Now everyone is cool for their summer sports and I have extra money to buy that expensive shampoo I love when I go to the salon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Freedom

Well summer got off to a rocky start, the first night of Bryan's 'summer of freedom' with his own wheels ended in a lapse of judgement in a 16 year old brain.
He was hanging out with friends he checked in as required at 11 p.m. and says"I'll be home in half an hour." I agree and tell him I am going to sleep. I wake up around 12:30 in a panic he isn't home yet! I assume something terrible has happened, since he has been really good about his curfew up to this point. My stomach churning and heart pounding, I call him, he casually says "Oh I decided to spend the night and didn't want to call and wake you up to tell you" I was so furious I couldn't sleep the rest of the night! I suppose its impossible for him to realize how scary this whole thing is from my perspective.

Needless to say, he is having a very boring first week of summer break.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Road worthy

Last month my taxi duties were cut in half (or so I thought) Bryan passed his road test and the 1984 Bronco we have been restoring is now road worthy, even though it has cost about double what we anticipated. I was thrilled to be able to catch an extra 30 minutes of sleep. That was until the parking Nazi at the school decided she couldn't be bothered issuing him a parking permit for the last month of school. Bryan pleaded with her, I called and tried, she won't budge. So there sits the Bronco with a "16-year-old boy insurance rate" being paid on it and no where to go. Luckily school will be out soon and he can park at the school this summer for his early morning workouts.
It was a great father-son project and they logged many, many hours getting it just right.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Tough Week

Last week, was one of those life experiences you never want to happen. One of Bryan's friends at 17 years old decided life wasn't worth living and ended his life violently. I think everyone who ever knew this only child and his single mother just cringes in pain. Senseless. Bryan attended the funeral by himself, he didn't want his blubbering Mom with him I guess, I am sure I would not have been able to hold it together, I was already in a melancholy mood since my sister's birthday was the day before the funeral.

I was so touched to hear about all the young men who came to comfort their friend's poor mother, they all really stepped up and tried to help her through this. Not an ordinary scenario for boys on the verge of careless Summertime days. A true life-changing event in their lives.

Rest in Peace, Connor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day Tradition

Mother's Day 2006

Mother's Day 2010
Camping out on Mother's Day has become a tradition for us , the weather is always crisp and it is a nice time to spend unplugged with the kids. I came across this picture from 4 years ago and am marvelling at what a fine young man my son has become, he has grown a few inches along our journey together too, no I am not getting shorter! Hopefully he will always take time out of his busy life for dear ole' Mom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Girl Power

I am so crazy about my nieces! I had a great visit this weekend with them and was so impressed with their joy for life! They are beautiful and smart, Elizabeth is an amazing reader, and very thoughtful, Emelia (the younger one) is the life of the party! It was so fun to have girl time and fuss over our hair and dresses. Love you girls and can't wait to see you develop into young ladies.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Last night I took Chris to his first Broadway production, we saw South Pacific a good G-rated oldie, it was really fun. I wanted him to experience something like this before it is not cool to see a musical with your mom. He hugged and thanked me several times after the show. He said it was better than he expected. I didn't know how a child of the technology age would appreciate a live orchestra and painted sets, but I am happy to report the magic of live theatre must still be alive and well. The Fox Theatre is magnificent, it opened in 1929 and seeing a show there is like a walk back in time.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


No, this is not a scene from an episode of Hoarders, this is what is usually waiting for me on Saturday mornings. Four feet deep and eight feet wide! I am not the type to keep up during the week, there is just no time so it piles up until the weekend. It is so daunting when I start, but I have to say, there is a sense of accomplishment when it is all clean and fresh and the dressers are all restocked. It is an easy mindless duty, I have it down to a system, one basket for each person, and I am training the kids to help. Someday they will be hanging out at a laundrymat like I used to in college, and will probably long for the days when mom used to take care of it all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In the Clutch

Last Friday night, the weather was finally right for baseball, sunny about 65 degrees, perfect. We have been sitting through freezing temps for weeks now, for some reason they start baseball in February in Georgia. The season has not been going great Chris's team had yet to win a game and now they were down 6-0 in the 4th inning. Suddenly their bats came alive and they got the score to 6-5. In the last inning the opposing team put in their best pitcher, two players got on base, then he struck out the next batter, and the next and I see Chris walking up to the plate with 2 outs and the game on the line. Oh great I thought, I was out of my seat and pacing around behind the bleachers I couldn't watch. Jim and I shot each other a bad look -- Chris is going to experience what it is like to blow a game for his team, after this great comeback. It reminded me of a scene from that movie "Mr. Destiny" where the main character's entire life hinged on one strikeout, if he could only go back and change it...

Both sets of bleachers were silent, it was win or lose. Chris got up to the plate and blasted one to the fence which scored 2 runs and the game was over -they won! It was high-fives all around, he was the hero for a night! They presented him with the game ball. We were so proud, all the parents in the stands know how great that feels, when its your kid who comes through in the clutch. What a night!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Forgotten

I am usually ultra-reliable, if I say I am going to be somewhere I am there, no doubt.
Well last week I messed up, Chris has joined the school chorus (yeah!) thus adding another obligation and scheduling wrinkle for me. So when I was at my work desk engrossed in my latest project, I was totally caught off-guard when my phone rang and the sweet voice on the other end said "Mom, where are you?" OMG I had forgotten to pick him up, he calmly said "its okay Mom just hurry." It was a full half hour past when he was supposed to be picked up. I flew out of the office and over to the school, they were not happy, they handed me a bill for $12 for aftercare. At this point my calm, cool and collected child burst into tears in front of his classmates. I felt terrible! He was mostly upset because they were penalizing me for forgetting.

I have rarely experienced this type of scenario, like I said I have never forgotten him before! I just kept apologizing, no excuses, just plain forgot.

How do I mend this, I thought. I needed to stop at WalMart to pick up some things, so I let him pick out whatever it was he wanted (within reason) I needed to fix this fast! He chose Flaming Hot Cheetos.

Probably not the textbook version of how I should have handled it, but on the way home he said "I am feeling better now Mom." Thats all I needed to hear.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No Prom Here

I am bummed- my son has opted to skip the Prom!, He didn't really give it much thought (as far as I know). I was shocked, it was such a big deal back in my day. I guess it is more of a "girl" thing to get excited about getting dressed up for a night on the town. His school is having it at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, can't believe he will miss it!

No photo-op for Mom. Maybe when he is a Senior, I can always hope.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Job I Love

There has been a lot of talk lately in our house about career choices, higher education and the like. Mainly because my eldest son is starting to map out his future. It all starts with the questions when you sign up for the standardized testing... what colleges would you like your scores sent to? Well heck if he knows where he wants to go or what he wants to do with his life, he would be content to just hang out in the basement and play x-box.

Jim and I have different plans for him...

I am ready to sign him up for the military, oh except there is a war going on, not as enticing!

He often notices that my job doesn't pay anywhere near what I would like it too (REALLY)! But I can't let him lose the lesson that I, in fact do exactly what I love to do , it is convenient for my mom duties etc., so I compromise, no exotic vacations, or trips to the salon, but also no dread when I get up in the morning, to fight traffic to get to a job I find boring either.

Here is the website to the magazine I design, click on the covers and you can check it out. I did not design the website itself however.

I hope he can find a career that is interesting, the path to it over the next several years will indeed be interesting and expensive, no doubt.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Why can't I get off the couch?

I am fully aware that my couch dwelling will be paid for with hours sweating at the gym. My clothes are tight, and I am feeling lazier by the day. Of course the dogs are thrilled I am spending so much time on the couch, they settle in, one my lap, one usually up by my neck. We are in a warm huddle buried in a heavy afghan. I can't possibly disturb them and get up go out in the cold and wind to exercise! They are accomplices in my lazy behavior for sure.

We finally got a real good snow, it was awesome for the boys, Chris said it was the best day of his life, and it was the most snow he had ever seen. Bryan and his teenage buddies weren't too cool to have fun in the snow either. Jim helped Chris build a big snowman, but I stayed in, I thought making hot cocoa was a much better idea!
Of course, we do live in the South and the next day the snow was just a memory.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lessons from Teaching

Many times when I leave work early to go teach a religion class I am muttering under my breath, why do I bother, this is such a hassle etc. but last night made it worthwhile.

One of the little boys in class, 7 years old with a distinct lisp, had a night to remember. We were having a class competition, sort of a Jeopardy game about what we have been learning all year. I was totally impressed with how much these children have learned in my class. It came down to a tie and for the tie-breaker we asked if anyone could recite the Act of Contrition, a prayer they have been studying, with many difficult words in it, I even have trouble remembering it. Well little Riley stood up and shyly started to recite it in front of the class, it was so cute and as he got closer to the end and realized he had done it he put his arms up in victory, all the kids on his team cheered, it was so precious! When his mom got there to pick him up he was on top of the world, he said I am the hero of my class. I thought, this may stick with him for life, I am so glad I got to witness it! It certainly made my day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Commute Time

I spend as little time as possible in my vehicle, I am blessed with having and unbelievably short commute (less than 5 minutes) when the roads are not washed out.
However on Wednesdays, I make the long (don't laugh) 30 minute commute with my younger son to religion class. It has become a really nice uninterrupted time for us to talk about faith and his philosophy on things from a 10 year old's standpoint. Sometimes he has to do his homework reading so he will read it to me and I have to admit I usually learn something about the Bible I didn't know. Then we discuss what it all means.

Someone once told me Chris was an "Old Soul" --I had never heard that term before but I think it does apply to him. Last week he was thinking deep thoughts about Heaven and dying. He told me he could not go on without me if I passed away. I told him "you would be suprised what you can do" and that I never thought I could stand being on this planet with out my little sister, but you somehow adapt. I reassured him that he will be able to handle anything that life throws at him.

The stolen half-hour there and half-hour back we have together is a really nice thing hopefully he will remember when he gets older.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snow Day!

The big "blizzard" of 2010 is over. It was actually more of an ice event. You can't see it in the pictures, it was very icy and we all did end up slipping and falling on the ice at one time or another. I have to admit I stayed in the house all day on the worst day because I was more concerned about the other inexperienced drivers out there! Jim witnessed many accidents when he ventured out.
The South truly can't handle winter weather.