Category Archives: Florida

Autism and Water


Hayley LOVES water!  It is both a good thing but also a bad thing.  Any kind of water will do.  She likes to swim, jump, splash and dive into water.  It is the one thing that will pretty much keep her occupied and calm. Hayley has many sensory issues, so I think whether swimming in the ocean or in the pool  it is relaxing for her.  When we go to Florida, Hayley could spend hours on the beach.  The problem is that she is fearless while I am fearful.  Hayley has no concept of the danger of the ocean.  She loves jumping into and under the waves.  I am not a strong swimmer so Dave usually is the one out in the waves with her.  Also, Hayley tends to bolt from the beach into the water no matter how rough it is.  She is so fast, it is hard to catch up with her and she just will not listen when you call her or tell her to come out of the water.  It is like Hayley is in another world. Another thing Hayley likes doing at the beach is lay on the beach with her ear to the sand at the ocean’s edge.  She becomes mesmerized.  I think Hayley likes the sound of the waves crashing on the shore,  as well as the vibrations.

We opened our pool on Monday, April 28th.  I know, it is early, but we have always opened it in April yet didn’t use it until the end of May. We like to look at it and listen to the waterfall.   Not this year!  Hayley and Hunter has been in the pool 5 times already!  We put the heat on and the temperature got up to 77 degrees (I don’t go in the pool unless it is 85 degrees) and they were in.  As long as the water is somewhat warm, they don’t care about the air temperature.  I am so happy they have been in the pool because it is exercise but more importantly swimming makes Hayley sooooo happy (unless I giver her the wrong color ice pop).  Hayley’s school has a swimming program so she has learned how to swim and dive into the deep end.  This past Saturday Hayley literally dove/jumped in the pool for 2 hours straight!  I was exhausted just watching her.  Hayley loves to be underwater because I think she likes the pressure on her head and ears.  Even when she takes a bath, Hayley will for most of the time lay and keep her head under the water just past her ears again, for the pressure.

Since today it is supposed to get up to 75 degrees outside, I have already started the heater in the pool.  After the kids get home it will be off to the pool.  I will make sure I have the right colored ice pops and my book so I can somewhat relax for a while.  The only thing is, being in the pool does not stop Hunter from talking……………..


Weekly Gym Update – 4/28/11


Weigh in day again.  I was a little nervous about the weigh in because of being in Florida last week.  I didn’t go crazy eating and I did exercise, yet anytime I am away, I usually gain weight.  Plus, I must admit there was a little indulgence on Katie’s and my part.

First, I weight trained for 30 minutes with my trainer. She really worked me.  I am still sore from my Tuesday weight training session so watch out tomorrow :).  Then the weigh in. My trainer set the scale to what I weighed two weeks ago.  I took a deep breath, stepped on the scale, and found out……. I lost 1 lb.!  I thought that was fabulous since I hadn’t been to the gym for two weeks and I vacationed some.

I was going to ride the recumbent bike for 15 minutes today after the weight training.  But, I was so happy and uplifted, I wound up riding for 40 minutes!  Boy, do I feel good about today.

The picture above was taken this Easter.  I am 32 lbs. lighter.  If you compare the picture above of me with the picture  (the WORST ever) on my blog “Another weekly weigh in at the gym 🙂 Lost 3 lbs. for total loss of 22 lbs.” you can see the difference.

I am marching forward and am not going to look back.  I am feeling much better then I did before and want to continue on.  My goal is to lose another 30 lbs.  I know I will achieve this, I have no doubts.

PS.    Did I tell anyone I asked for a punching bag for Mothers’s Day?

The Four Fs – Florida, Food, Fun and Fitness

View from 1st floor deck

View from 2nd floor deck, underneath Master Bedroom
View from my bedroom deck

Florida, Food, Fun and Fitness, the four things I encountered last week.  From April 19th to the morning (very, very early morning, I got up at 3:30 am to catch my flight) of April 23rd I was in Florida. It was a two-fold visit.  Visit Craig by day and Katie by night. We have a house on Amelia Island and I hadn’t been there since Christmas.  It was a really nice break for me, I had a great time.  When I first got there the afternoon of the 19th, I was greeted by my most favorite “white pets” in the world.  Little Nova was crying and jumping like crazy, while Bernie Mac kept rubbing around my legs.  Once I gave them kisses and hugs and got untangled from them, I brought my suitcase to my bedroom and immediately took my book, sat on the deck and while over looking the ocean, read.  It was quiet except for the waves hitting the shore, pure paradise.

Katie came home from work about an hour later, and of course I was happy to see her.  She got changed and we decided we were too tired for a walk.  I had asked Katie to keep me accountable as far as my exercise goes, but it had been a long day for both and decided to start the next day.  We relaxed and caught up on things.  We popped the cork on the wine and proceeded to have wine, cheese and crackers.  It is always great talking to her, we tend to talk over each other and often have to stop and say “you go”, ‘no, you go” 🙂  That night we looked at magazines, watched Biggest Loser Couples, Housewives of New York City and Bethany.  We pretty much talked through all the shows but we did throw our eye on the tv once in a while.

On Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, I went to visit Craig (he will be in Florida for a while) during the day.  Friday, Katie met Craig and I and we went to Craig’s favorite restaurant “The Olive Garden”

Wednesday afternoon was another reading time (I read The Pack by Jodi Picoult – excellent), I just love rocking in the rocking chair reading and looking at the ocean.  Nova loves it too, she always comes out and sits with me.  After Katie got home she said “that’s it, we are going for a walk”.  So we took Nova and we walked 2 miles on the beach, it felt good, plus the weather was gorgeous.  That night we ordered Chinese food from Lucky Wok for dinner.  We watched American Idol, Glee, Bethany and Harry Potter-Deadly Hollows while we ate and of course had wine.

Thursday went the same, after reading and then a 2 mile walk, Katie and I went to the Historic Town on the Island and we ate at an Italian Restaurant named Gennaros.  It was delicious!  Katie and I split fried calamari for appetizer and then we had salad with bread.  I had Lobster Ravioli which was wonderful and Katie had Maryland Crab Ravioli which was delicious as well.  Katie chose a nice Chianti to go with the meal. We were too stuffed for dessert.  We stopped at the Redbox and rented “Splice” it was about a scientist couple that used human DNA in their work of splicing animal genes.  Disturbing but good none the same.  After that we watched various tv shows.

Friday after Olive Garden, Katie, Nova and I once again took our 2 mile walk.  We rented two movies from Redbox for the night.  The first was “Rabbit Hole” which was about a couple and how they each differently handled the death of their child, Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart were in it – excellent.  The second movie was “Grown-ups”  which was about 5 childhood friends who won a basketball championship in 1978 and how they came together thirty-two years later and rented a lake house with their families and had a rematch with the losing team.  Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider starred.  It was pretty funny.  I wouldn’t buy it or go to the movies to see it but for $1.00, it was good.

The next morning I flew home to David and the kids but I really, really enjoyed myself.  It is great seeing Craig doing so well and of course visiting Katie which always involves laughing.  We are both ridiculous and found out we both park our cars the same way – angled to the left…………………………………

OOPS! Gym update from last week – 4/14

I really don’t know where this past week has gone.  It has been a rough and tumble week, all kinds of things going on for good and for insane.  Hunter and Hayley have certainly been keeping me on my toes.

Anyway, the week preceding the gym went very well.  In addition to going to the gym, I continued walking on my treadmill at home.  I watched what I ate and felt pretty good.  When I got to the gym on Thursday, Jess said “we” needed to take it to another level.  This means more weight on the machines and a more intense workout.  Wow, I felt like I was training for a triathalon!  Whether it was lower body or upper body, she kept piling on weights and I thought I was going to die.  By  the time I got to the last reps, my limbs were literally shaking, I didn’t think I would finish. I was dripping in sweat and felt muscles that I didn’t even know I had.   Now it was time for the weigh in.  I marched into the room with the scale figuring “oh I bet I lost 3lbs”.   Jess set the scale to what I weighed last week, I got on……..O lbs lost.  I was shocked, it couldn’t be! I had been consistently loosing EVERY week!  Once I calmed down, Jess explained to me that yes, I had been loosing consistently but there will be times I  will not lose anything.  She told me not to give up and not to go home and binge or anything like that, just keep doing what I have been doing and I will continue to lose weight.

I have been fine since then. I have watched what I consumed and was able to do my treadmill twice.  I am unable to go to the gym this week which has me a little nervous.  I am leaving for Florida today and will be back on Saturday.  Although the trip isn’t primarily for pleasure, I can do some damage while I visit with Katie at night  🙂  Hopefully she will hold me accountable!! I plan on taking a walk on the beach each day and am looking forward to doing that.

Who know what this next week will bring but I plan on giving it my best shot.  Losing 30 lbs. is tremendous for me and I don’t want to blow it.  I am confident that once I get back on my regular schedule the pounds will continue to “melt” off 🙂

The Writing Room…

As I have said in previous blogs, my son Kevin’s old room has been transformed into a guest bedroom/my writing room.  I LOVE it in here.  It is so nice and quiet on this end of the house. There is a bathroom next to this room and I can shut and lock a door that separates me from the rest of the house.  It is like I am in another world.  Even if others are in the house, I can barely hear anything.
Now mind you, I CANNOT be in this room if Hayley is home, her Autism does not allow this.  Oh she would probably love for me to be this far away from her.  It would enable Hayley to spray water all over the kitchen, dump all the soap she could find, rub cream all over her body and in her hair, raid the food cabinets and refrigerator, get the picture?

When I say others, this really means Craig and his multiple friends.  His friend Andrew has been living here for months which has been good for Craig.  But, Craig has many more friends that may as well move in because they are here so much.  Hence,  the peace and quiet I crave.

Back to the room itself.  We bought an antique dining room table that is called a “slide table”.  On either end there is a leaf that sets directly under the main table.  If you want the table to expand to 90 inches, the leaves slide out and push up to extend the table size.  We put the table in front of double windows that looks out on a beautiful view.  We live on a mountain so our house is high up.  I can look down on my other neighbors properties and in the winter I can see the tennis center and bank all the way down on Route 31. 


For years, various people said I should write a book because of all the unbelievable things our family has been through.  We have experienced, good, bad, mediocre and not so great things over the years.  I don’t know if I am capable of writing a book.  Last year Hunter, Hayley and I went to Florida over Easter break to visit Katie and Bill.  One night we all went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants “The Surf”.  While there, the topic of me writing a book came up.  I told Katie and Bill I didn’t know if I could do this.  They suggested I start writing stories of each event rather than an ongoing book.  It was a good idea, yet I know how limited my time is and of course didn’t follow through. This past December while visiting Florida once again, Katie said she and Bill were going to blog and why don’t I consider it.  I did and thought at least a blog isn’t formal, yet I can write short stories  on it.  I have been plugging along slowly but surely.

Since Kevin and Devon (my son and his girlfriend) knew of the possibility of me writing of a book of short stories, for Christmas they gave me a big box full of goodies.  They copied and framed six various pictures of the family and wrapped them, gave me a beautiful leather journal to write my story thoughts in, an ink and quill writing set, and finally a small water feature to put on my desk to sooth my mind and let me think.


 I brought up a chair, put nice yellow comfy pads on it and added a blue cashmere wrap in case I got chilly.  There is a bed in the room for when I want to take a nap in the afternoon (NOT)!  Pencils, pens, paper and not to forget……my computer.  I have enjoyed writing, it is like a stress reliever.  Whether the blogs are read or not, the writing is therapeutic for me. I just have to squeeze writing in when the kids are at school or occupied.

I type on my laptop, so this is on the desk as well.  I do need a printer/scanner there as well, but this will come in time.  The first day I sat down at my laptop in my special room, I knew I had to pick the “perfect” screen saver.  I did, and as I sat there I thought “it doesn’t get better than this”! 



Jersey Shore



Something about Maddie…….


Whew, this is going to be a hard one.  Madison who we often called Maddy was our first Golden Retriever.  In November 1993, Katie was 8, Kevin 6, Craig 4 and Tracey 2.  At that time we had a 6 yr old cat named Paw-Paw and a 10 yr old dog named Penny.  Paw-Paw was very elusive and would disappear when the kids were close by and Penny who was a Lhasa Apso was NOT kid friendly, so in essence the kids really didn’t have a pet they could play with.  They would ask for another dog from time to time, but Dave always said no way.  On Election Day, November 1993, when Christie Whitman was elected as Governor of New Jersey, Dave got home from work about an hour late.  When he got home, he told me and the 4 kids to go sit on the couch in the Great Room and close our eyes.  We ran into the room and sat on the couch from oldest (me) to youngest (Tracey). Dave came into the room and made sure we all had our eyes shut, when he said ok open your eyes, THERE was the most beautiful reddish Golden Retriever puppy that he had placed on the floor. All of us jumped up screaming, clapping and arguing who was going to hold her first. I actually got the pleasure, I picked her up and hugged her,  she was the softest most sweet-smelling puppy with heart melting eyes. It was instant love! I then passed her on to Katie, and as the kids were laughing, holding and playing with the puppy, I asked Dave why did he get he,r and his excuse was that Penny was getting old so he didn’t want something to happen to her and then the kids did not have a dog. For his tough exterior at the time, he really was a softy.  Now came the hard part. As the puppy was sleeping on the floor, we needed  a name.  We each threw a name out here and there, Goldy, Red, Brownie etc.  All of a sudden, Dave yells “I have the perfect name”!  Me and the kids altogether said WHAT………he said ” Old Yeller”….. yes that’s right, Old Yeller. The kids and I sat dumbfounded as he stood there beaming, obviously very, very  proud of himself for thinking up this name.  We as a family had just watched the movie Old Yeller a few nights previous so we guessed that is where the name came from.  I knew I had to tread carefully on this, I just calmly said, “it would be a good name except for the fact that this puppy isn’t a Yellow Labrador Retriever but a GOLDEN Retriever. Katie in turn (being Katie), said very loudly, “IT IS THE STUPIDIST NAME I EVER HEARD OF”!  There were also grumblings from Kevin and Craig, Tracey really was too young to care. Dave insisted it was a GREAT name and what difference did it make if they were different types of Retriever, a Retriever is a Retriever! After giving the kids the evil eye (particularly aiming it at Katie), I suggested we sleep on it.  The next day, Dave came up with the name, Madison.  Dave’s business is in Madison so therefore it was what she was named after.  We all LOVED the name, no one heard of it before and as a matter of fact, it was several years later that the name Madison became a popular girl’s name.

Madison, Maddie, Maddie-mc-faddie, Madsden, Faddie, She, Her, the dog answered to all of these names over the years. She was the best dog in the world. Great with kids, teens and adults. Maddie could never have been a guard dog, she loved people way too much.  Whenever we mentioned we were ordering pizza, Madison would wait at the door because the pizza delivery man always brought her treats. I think Madison would have given the whole house away for food of any kind.  Although most of her life she was strictly on dog food, we would once in a while sneak something to her. I remember one time when Madison was about a year old, she was hanging out in the kitchen with me as I was making blueberry muffins. She was sleeping contentedly  on the floor when I took the muffins out of the oven and set them on a baking rack on the center island. The phone rang so I went into the Library to answer it, it was my sister Linda calling.  We were chatting away when I walked back into the kitchen, I was leaning against the counter when all of a sudden I realized the WHOLE muffin tray was empty!!  I thought I was going crazy, I kept saying to my sister, what happened to the muffins, this is so weird, I know they were there.  I happened to glance over in the Great Room and instantly Madison popped up with her paws on the back of the couch and an empty muffin cup hanging from her mouth.  It was like she was saying “muffins? muffins? did someone mention muffins?  I was shocked, how could one dog take 12 muffins, I guess one at a time, eat them plus the paper excluding the one in her mouth, in less than 10 minutes? I walked into the Great Room and there wasn’t a crumb to be found, the only evidence was the muffin cup in Madison’s mouth.

Madison loved socks and would steal them whenever whe could. We would find mounds of them in corners or under furniture. The kids could lay on Madison, hug her and dress her up.  When Madison was 3 yrs old, we bred her.  To our great surprise, she gave birth to 15 puppies!!  There were so many puppies that the kids and I had to help with the feedings. No way could Maddie feed them all her self (nor did she want to). The kids and I  fed the puppies with eyedroppers and even had to set our timers and get up in the middle of the night to feed them.  Madison was very ambivilent about the puppies, the mothering kind she was not. Once the puppies were fed, she was out of there.  During this time in order to build Maddie’s strength back up she was fed, london broils, chicken, fish, hamburgers, hard boiled eggs, etc.  She was living the high life (which ended as soon as the puppies were weened). We wound up keeping two puppies, giving two to family and friend and sold the rest (but that is for another story).

My dad died 3 months before Madison had her puppies.  He LOVED Madison!  Because she was very red in color, my dad called Madis0n “the big red lobster”  and spoiled the crap out of that dog as he did the grandchildren.  When my dad was over, he always let this huge dog sit on his lap.  If I questioned this, his response was, leave her alone, she wants to sit here.  There was always something about Maddie everyone loved.

The years went by, there are too many stories to share.  Madison was the best dog every, not that I didn’t love my other pets, but there was just something about Maddie. Every meal I had, she would sit very, very quietly next to me with her nose on my leg, hoping I would share something with her which I usually did.  I always felt Maddie new when I was happy or sad and she would always layed quietly be by me.  In September 2006, we found out she had mouth cancer.  For the next 3 months she developed leg sores and had a hard time walking. We thought we would have to put her down in November of that year but she perked back up, Dave began feeding her like a queen and it was like having the old Madison back.  We totally spoiled her.  Months went by, Madison travelled with us to Florida, ran around the yard etc.  But, all of a sudden the middle of June 2007, the cancer was spreading, her sores were getting worse and it was getting very hard for her to get up.  The one thing was she was still a voracious eater!  One day I got up and she was sleeping on her bed in the kitchen, I made her steak and sat on the floor beside her.  She looked at me with those very loving eyes and then turned her head away……she could not eat.  I tried to get her up but was unsuccessful.  I called the vet who we had been going to for 20 years and she said it was time, Madison was 14 1/2 yrs old, never sick, was the best dog and that we owed it to her to let her go.  We waited until the next morning so we could spend as much time with her as possible.  We put Hayley and Hunter on the bus (Dave stayed home from w0rk), My vet and her assistant came to our house to put Maddie down.  We all sat on the floor, Maddie on her favorite blanket, we hugged and kissed her, told her how much we loved her.  She still weakly wagged her tail.  So with my arms around her and her head on my lap, we let her go………………….

Madison’s passing was an end to a very important time period in my life.  Homeschooling, raising the older kids, my dad, puppies, other animals etc.  I really hate change yet I know it is inevitable, Maddie was a tie to so many happy memories.  We all loved her, but I can say for myself  Madison held and still holds a very special place in my heart.  I will always love her and never forget her because, you know, there was always……somesthing about Maddie…..   xoxo

Maddie with puppies

Pop-pop and The Big Red Lobster

At the airport

Finally through check-in and security. Hayley is really not a happy camper. The airport is always challenging. While getting something to eat Hayley likes the echo so she is screeching very loudly which shocks everyone around us and of course the staring starts. Then a mini meltdown because she wants Mac and cheese……screeching continues to our gate, I get out the barbies and although the loud vocals continue on and off, hayley is playing nicely. Hunter of course is complaining about Hayley like usual. hunter being his dramatic self puts his chin on his chest and says “why in the world is my life such a nightmare?” I do remind him of all that he has and all that he gets to do. In response to me he says “well maybe not a nightmare, just a bad dream.” 🙂