Soap Operas & Modern Times

Flashback to March 4, 1997; North Shore University Hospital in Long Island. I wake up (I think wake up) in a recovery ward somewhere. Everything is a blur. I hear voices around me, talking about something… me? There is one and only one voice I recognize. That voice says “Mag her”.

Mag her? I realize the ‘her’ is me. The voice I know is Dr. Seaman. All jokes aside, he is my OB/GYN.

As my mind comes around, I remember I am in the hospital and had a scheduled cesarean section earlier. I was 100% conscious during the procedure per medical standards. My then beloved husband stood dutifully alongside me watching the medical team help bring our first born breach baby son Thomas into the world.

More than 22 years later I can’t tell you whether or not I was fully conscious the whole time… but the memory I recall is that my BP sky rocketed and I was in the high risk maternity ward where I remember hearing this “Mag her” phrase.

The ‘’mag’ was magnesium. Until this day I have no idea why or what for- but I do completely and 100% remember the TV show that was playing in the recovery room.  It was NBC daytime and Kristin DiMera had a baby as well on the day time soap Days of Our Lives.

In my murky state of mind I was strangely intrigued by this story line. I watched in a beguiled state. I wanted to see my son. I only remember a little bit of him being put on my chest and some camera flashes. He was nowhere near me. I was in a lot of pain. And the show was a pleasant distraction.

Fast forward about a week or so. No sleep and a lot of pain. The days were initially filled on the couch with my husband and I taking care of a newborn. At some point the TV was on in the background when I noticed the same characters and thickening plot from the recovery room days before. It’s Days of Our Lives. My husband is about to change the channel- but I ask him to wait. I want to see someone else with a newborn.. and some baby switch.. and whatever plot lines are taking place at the time.

And there begins the love affair with Days of our Lives (DOOL).

Since, through the years I’ve watched the show. At first daily as much as I could live on TV. When Thomas was an only child I watched the show on days off ath home with while a cook in the US Coast Guard. When I got out of the military and was a military wife and reservist, I would put Thomas and his younger sister Gabby down for their afternoon naps around 12:45 pm, then make popcorn and pull out a Diet Coke over ice to cozy up with DOOL.

In 2002 I started working full time. Out came the VCR tapes. Even though I was no longer at home during the day, I wasn’t ready to give up Days! Most days I caught some of the show in the evening while making dinner. Sometimes I bundled up on a Friday night while my ex worked the night shift and the kids were in bed to catch up. And other times weeks may have gone by where I didn’t catch an episode – but they were always there when I wanted them, and because of the pace of soaps; it very easy to catch up when I had the time.

 

More years went by. I switched to DVR. And in modern days I just watch it on the NBC app, as every episode is just there- waiting for me when I’m ready.

 

The characters are like family. The Hortons, Bradys, DiMeras… The actors/actresses and the extended families are relatable. The traditions seem as important as my own. The baked goods the motherly and grandmotherly characters make, the town square, the Brady pub and their comforting dishes, the holiday traditions. The upscale bars that open. The seedy port in a shady area. The mansions and apartments that are used through the years. The town of Salem is my home away from home.

 

It’s bittersweet. Some of the characters that passed away in real life and were celebrated/mourned on the show after their death, make it a very large extended family of DOOL watchers all over. Many actors/actresses spent many years of their lives on the show. The show is their family as well as a pseudo family to the viewers.

 

Jack and Jennifer were getting divorced around the same time that I was. I skipped the show for a few weeks while in a very blurred and semi-depressed state. Even though I initiated the divorce, in many ways I felt like a failure because I couldn’t make it work. Then one day while making dinner I put one the latest DVR’d episodes on in the background, and to my surprise Jack and Jennifer were getting divorced! Silly as it may be, I felt better. If Jack and Jennifer couldn’t make it, how could I? They are back together btw, but not the point!

 

Just two years ago after spending a month in a mental health outpatient treatment facility I took another extended, yet unintended break from Days; and when I put it back on, JJ was struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. It was comforting.

 

When Kate had cancer on the show, I was able to relate and felt better about the reactions around her after watching my own mother and grandmother struggle with it (only they didn’t survive).

 

Just yesterday watching Maggie, Brady, and JJ in an AA meeting with Eric as the facilitator – helped me to feel more normal about my own struggles with addictive issues. They fall off the wagon. Even Maggie who was sober since I started watching the show a few decades ago and known as the rock that brought so many to AA for the betterment of their lives fell off the wagon last year. She is back now, better than ever. The show humanizes issues that we all face, whether or not we want to admit them.

 

Yes, yes, yes… there are ridiculous story lines too. Marlena possessed by the devil, brain switches and characters who come back from the dead. Just like all the jokes about soaps – there is always someone in the hospital (usually in a coma), an illicit affair, a baby switch…. There are the characters who talk to themselves with raised eyebrows only to be accidentally overheard. And speaking of “over hearing”, there are one too many people skulking around listening in on conversations, intentionally and unintentionally learning things they shouldn’t.

 

Soaps are campy and melodramatic. It’s what they are known for. In between all the scheming and constant trips to the hospital, there are real current day stories well woven in. Days has covered police shooting issues, same sex marriage issues, suicide, bullying, racial issues, depression, loss of children, addiction, job decisions that affect relationships, to mention a few.

 

It’s a comfort to know that it’s not abnormal for these things to happen. It is abnormal that people wake up looking like they stepped out of a fashion magazine – that is always stumping! But when you see a beloved (or not so beloved) character struggle and then overcome a problem, and have the support of people around them either during or way after the issue has passed is very encouraging. Time does heal anything that plagues you at the moment.

 

I took to writing this because a few days ago the show jumped ahead by a full year. That is not a normal thing to happen, so I went to google to see if it was for real or someone’s dream sequence.

 

It turns out the time jump was real, but I also learned the show took a hiatus from taping, but is already taped eight months ahead. All the characters were let go from their contracts. There is a lot of speculation on the future of Days. It’s future seems uncertain. No known decisions about the show at the time were made.

 

Modern Days soaps are perhaps not what they originally were. They cover serious relevant contemporary topics that the world faces. I can attest that it’s not just the lonely housewife with nothing to do in the middle of the day. Sometimes at work around noon I’ll walk through a waiting area at the hospital where I work at and see veterans in their 60s and 70s watching the show. I’ve heard two patients once a few years back softly arguing both sides of same sex marriage while Will and Sonny were up on the screen.

 

Maybe the ratings have dropped. Or maybe it’s impossible to capture how the audience watches these kinds of shows. It’s not all just silly fluff, bubble gum and characters who never seem to age. It’s a family for the actors/actresses as well as the viewers. It’s stability for the audience when the world seems unstable. And even when the fictious town of Salem is unstable (like when a serious killer is on the loose or Stephano comes back from the dead again), it’s truly a comfort to know that is how the world works on and off screen. Days is the crazy family and town you can relate to.

 

I do hope it does not go off the air. It would feel like a major loss to my life. Like sands in the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

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What I loved about living in my home in Cheshire CT – and will Miss!

There are SO many things, not in any particular order – this is what I’ve left in the home for potential buyers that are considering the area and our house to live. 

 

Cheshire School District

  • Connecticut ranks #3 in the country for the best public schools overall, and #2 in quality (Forbes).
  • Cheshire Public Schools are in the top 10% of the state at #17 of 170 per the 2020 Niche report.
  • For college prep, Cheshire High School is ranked 1284 in U.S., making it at the Top 7.45% of schools in the country according to the 2019 U.S. News and World Report.
  • Other reports may show slightly higher or lower numbers, but the school has consistently been in this range.

 

 

LOCATION, Location, location

Around the corner .2 miles from the front door on Dundee Drive is one of Cheshire’s Land Trust nature trails. It is a great place to walk either solo, with a partner, or with your four-legged walkable companion. In the winter it’s a great place to Cross Country ski.

 

Just 1.2 miles away is the Farmington Canal Trail. The trail itself is 84 miles long and extends from New Haven, CT to Northampton, MA. We’ve often jogged or walked to the trail, but there is parking at this entrance (as well as every few miles along the trail itself).

The portion of this trail that extends from Simsbury to New Haven (Cheshire is part of that if you are not from the area) is part of the East Coast Greenway that extends from Maineto Florida. This trail will likely be the most missed feature of living right here.

 

In addition we loved that we were:

  • minutes from Waterbury, Prospect, Southington and Plantsville
  • 8 minutes to the center of town
  • 5 minutes to the I-84 corridor
  • 10-15 minutes to I-91
  • 20 minutes to I-95
  • 20-25 minutes to New Haven and Hartford
  • 2 hours from Boston and NY City

 

Electric fence

If you have a dog or dog(s) or plan to get one, there is an electric fence installed underground.

 

Outdoor hanging out areas 

  • Front porch
  • Back deck
  • Under the deck… perfect area for when it’s raining and you want to spend time outside.

 

Yard

The yard/slope was professionally landscaped when we moved in almost 8 years. We’ve only added to it since.

 

The fenced in portion was used for gardening. Half of it is a self-sustaining perennial wildflower patch. The flowers we continuously cut and put in mason jars or vases around the house are from our yard. We like to keep the outdoors in nearly year-round (yes, we’ve found a way to even cut greenery in the winter! I can let anyone interested know what is alive & thriving at that time).

 

We loved and used our yard more than anyone we know just the way it is. Honestly, the minuteit was warm enough each year we switched to eating on the deck outside the kitchen and spent evenings reading or playing cards and lighting the firepit as much as we could. However… we realize that some folks might be looking for additional useable outdoor space, which is why we recently lowered the price – so the next homeowners can make it into something that is suitable for them.

 

One could use the back and/or the 50’x50’ grassy area on the side to let your imagination create something fun/crazy/classy… whatever your thing is. The property extends to where you might notice a difference in the mowing lines. Some ideas for the space would be to:

 

  • Level the back.
  • Level the side and fence it in for privacy (property ends where the grass cut line differs).
  • Level both!
  • Add to the deck and have it terraced off to the large open side yard.
  • Add an above ground pool to a terraced deck and it will automatically be underground sans the price or permit.
  • An addition to the deck off to the side toward the open area and slight leveling could create 2 layers of space- above and below. We loved the space as it was, but if I were to do anything with the yard, that’s what I’d do!

 

 

Privacy

We felt the home was as private as you can get in a development (or in lots of place really!).

 

The woods directly behind the house help the space to feel private while being very in touch with all four seasons we have here in New England. The natural sounds of the birds, frogs, crickets, mourning doves, owls, cicadas, etc add an awesome backdrop of sound whether you are sitting out back or just have the windows open. In June & July it’s like a firefly show each evening. The full moon rises above the tree line to the right of the deck. We enjoyed many evenings watching the moon and eclipses from the back porch.

 

The development itself is modern and walkable/bikeable with sidewalks and street lights, the woods and homes.

 

 

Solar Panels

We installed solar panels back in 2013 and they are fully paid for. We’d take them with us if we could! When we considered installing them we were told it would reduce our electric bill by half. We intended to install them regardless (we are green that way), but were slightly skeptical about the bill being cut in half. Behold… it was true at the minimum! Sometimes it was less than half depending on how sunny it was that month. You can even install a free app to see how much electricity the panels are making each day.

 

There is so much more, but these were the highlights. 

 

MLS House Listing 

Photos of Town

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From a very “wicked” step mother

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  • Mommy doesn’t care if we fight and beat each other up at her house.
  • Mommy doesn’t care if I brush my teeth before school – why do you care about my teeth, it’s like you are trying to control me!
  • You are making me try a piece of potato as punishment.
  • Mommy says we don’t need a bedtime, she doesn’t care when we go to sleep so why are you telling me sleep is important?
  • We are allowed to eat all the candy we want at mommy’ house, she buys it for us. Why are you being so mean and trying to tell me about nutrition?
  • Are you trying to tell me mommy doesn’t care? (totally unprompted but in follow-up to many of the above conversations)

 

How do you answer these questions and very nasty accusations as a step-mom? Either when these questions are directed right to you or your husband?

 

I’m either very insane to think these questions are odd. Or as I would prefer to think, I’m sane and I’m dealing with someone who for whatever reason doesn’t follow societal norms. That is ok in most cases, really it is; I do believe that everyone should do as they wish for the most part as long as no one else is getting harmed in the process. Except in my case I have two children of my own who see their step-siblings “getting away” with things that I would never allow and then question why there are two standards. This leaves me in a bit of a quandary.

 

I guess one might suggest talking to the mom, but there is no way you will talk to me, and Angelo has tried that numerous times. You won’t even communicate with him verbally unless you by hap chance run into him at a rare kid event when I’m not there. Talking to Angelo on the phone upsets you, so the only option is texts and emails. He has emailed you hundreds of times to try to talk about the kids and the only types of responses het gets are nasty, cruel and somehow turned into me(?) being a monster who hates Kelly and Billy. Me? Me who is never mentioned in these aforementioned emails. Yet I’m accused of trying to control them with some nefarious rules. I’m accused by you to me, my husband, my in-laws, my step-children… anyone who will listen really; or has to read an email from you.

 

Six and a half years have now elapsed since you and Angelo split up and started sharing custody of the kids. I’m asking you to please start the New Year in 2017 with some level of collaboration and kindness for the sake of Kelly and Billy. It would be so wonderful. Not to steal the words of people past… but it’s so relevant “Can’t we all just get along?“.

 

I’ve been accused of being mean, picking fights with you & your children, having an eating disorder, being money hungry, “going after” doctors, using your husband to put my kids through college, being abusive, causing damage… the list goes on. You actually don’t know anything about me. If you did, this would sound as absurd to you as the people who know me. I don’t know anything about you either. Although women are 50% of the population, we are a minority in so many ways. Instead of putting one another down, is there anyway we can lift each other up? Especially when there is something like our children’s upbringing at stake? Seeing two grown women get along would help them in so many ways to be good, kind, collaborative, understanding people in their own lives as they grow into mature adults themselves. How can I encourage you to work with me and Angelo to be a shining example of the change we’d like to see in the world?

 

No more rumors about me. No more sob stories. How about acknowledging that I had nothing to do with your unhappy marriage to your ex-husband . If you’d like to know why you are no longer married to him, perhaps you should ask him  and  stop telling me how I ruined your life? No more nasty grams. No more talking about made up things you wish to be true about me to anyone who will listen including parents at school, mutual friends, your children (my step-children), my in-laws, my in-laws friends, etc. Please.

 

Angelo and I always think it might stop. After about a week or two of no un-pleasantries, we actually feel like we turned a corner and feel a little hopeful. But as recent as this morning when Angelo received a text about your mother’s 75th birthday party over in Santa Barbara where you stated you will take the kids on his weekend next month so plan for it…. we realize the lack of collaboration or common courtesy to ask if we already had plans that weekend just continues.

 

This text comes in follow-up to the 75th birthday party that was supposed to take place this weekend actually. Christmas weekend. On Angelo’s year with Kelly and Billy for Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. For some reason you took it upon yourself to single-handedly ignore the divorce agreement and give Kelly who is only 16 a choice to come with you to see grandmother or go to dads. She was upset for weeks about having to make a choice. You hadn’t discussed this with Angelo or anyone else who was planning Christmas with the kids including her other grandparents and my children. Why would we hear about it through Kelly and then have to watch her have heart-wrenching anxiety about what to do? She shouldn’t have had a choice. There is a plan in place through the court system for a reason; and it’s to avoid undue heart-ache on the children. Now that she is there with you and we paid for a train ticket back to our neck of the woods the on the 23rd, suddenly this 75th birthday party was just moved to next month? And you are telling Angelo what will happen rather than asking?

 

Six and a half years later and you are still making demands that make no sense and attacking me unnecessarily for no reason. Just 3 days ago Angelo responded to your monthly charges for the children by saying he wasn’t going to pay for clothes since we buy so many clothes for them and never charge you. What is the response? Not oh my goodness, gosh I didn’t realize, silly me…. please ignore that (what a normal person reading his email might expect). But it turned into you copying me asking me to read your divorce agreement and produce receipts. Um…. What? I know your divorce agreement better than you. It says nothing at all about $600 worth of winter coats that are sprung upon the other party out of nowhere, where the other person is required to just pay. If you are going to spend so much, why not ask if it was ok? I actually had a 40% off coupon to Abercrombie that we could have used and saved money (thanks to Billy’s incredibly heavy jacket that fell on me because he hung in so junkily in my closet which happened to still have the Abercrombie tag still on it). Why do Angelo & I just have to fork over money for whatever you decide you’d like to spend? We don’t spend that much in a season for all 4 children’s clothes. There are much more cost efficient ways to buy what you’d like without spending $600 a pop. And all the stuff you’ve charged us for in the past 6 years, we have never seen a single receipt. The divorce agreement clearly says that no parent shall be charged with his or her cost of anything that if he or she has not given prior approval. So what is your point by asking me to produce receipts and read your divorce agreement? Where are your receipts and where is the prior ok to spend over $600 on winter coats? How about all the years we paid for unqualified childcare where the divorce agreement clearly states qualified childcare? Qualified means someone paid on the books who may not have stipulations about where they can or can’t drive and can actually see what the kids are doing in the house instead of sitting there in an elder state staring off into space. We paid anyway for subservient service so you can work and go to fancy dinners or whatnot when we asked to have the kids those evenings anyway. And how about the dozens, perhaps hundreds of days you traveled? Where we paid for their transportation, gas, heat, hot water, dinner, carpools, etc? You are going to attack me over $600 winter coats? We have paid for more than our share of your expenses throughout the years. Little of which have anything on earth to do with me, so why attack me and ask me to read your divorce agreement and produce receipts. We should be asking you to do that right?

 

Actually that part of the divorce agreement I’m referring to comes right after the part that states “The parties will consult with each other in a thorough and timely fashion before committing the children to any extracurricular activities, private school attendance, events, or summer activities“. I don’t believe Angelo has been consulted on at least if not more than 90% of all of these aforementioned activities. They are sprung upon us at the last minute with no choice because they kids have already been promised whatever it is they were promised. Parties with pick ups you arranged in obscure places at obscure times without even asking if we had plans with or without the kids those days/evenings. Clubs, sports, music, camps, summer schools, etc where we were just told after it was all set up and the kids knew and were all excited, that we’d have to pay & pick them up from some out of the way place at some very inconvenient time. How is that part of the divorce agreement of co-parenting? Not to mention when you sued Angelo 2 years ago for Kelly’s private high school. He has hundreds of emails saying he didn’t want to pay and didn’t believe in this particular school you had her applying to, not to mention private schools in general where he talked about over & over why. He was actually worried about her mental health since you told her since birth that if she didn’t get into Arbor Rose Hall her whole life would be over. Kelly really believed that. From 5th grade on there were emails where he pleaded to not go down the path of this elite school. You insisted she will apply there. When asked, Kelly would respond like a robot that mommy told her that she will be applying there, and that no matter what she will be going to private school. Against Angelo’s wishes you took her to numerous open houses, arranged interviews and even a flute “audition” which wasn’t really an audition, but it was really. You didn’t even work with Angelo who is amazing at the flute to help her prepare. It was something we heard about after the fact. There were several dozen emails back that you would pay for private school even if he didn’t. You told this to Kelly and Billy as well as my in-laws. Everyone we know knows that you lied because you told everyone we know you would pay for it. Kelly didn’t get into Arbor Rose Hall… and you enrolled her in Skipons despite the fact that you told her for years that Skipons was only for losers who didn’t get into Arbor Rose. You told Angelo you would pay and 2 weeks into her start date you sued him for half of small fortune cost of Skipons. You sat on the stand and lied in court. You hired a bully lawyer who was literally snorting and smirking around the court room pushing back his suit jacket and poppy cocking his leg up on a chair to make a trashy point over and over that just ticked off the judge enough to say you and Angelo make enough money – just split it and get it over with. The judge stipulated the way that Kelly learns about the outcome of the court case… and you completely ignored it. Now we are about to face the same battle with Billy. It’s old Gertrude. Your tactics are just old and tired. You didn’t care what it did to our finances. Or how Kelly’s attitude that her whole life would just be over if she didn’t go to private school divided your children against mine. They have to live together, but they have no respect for one another for so many reasons that you filled their heads with. As far as schooling, it’s not like we live in Harlem. We live in a wealthy suburban California town in a public school district that constantly comes up on the nation’s top 500 list. There is nothing wrong with the public school in our town. However you have made Kelly and Billy believe that only thugs go there and as a consequence they view my children as thugs who don’t know any better.

 

My children are smart. Both have been on the honor roll and obtained great SAT scores – in this “dastardly” public school no less. My daughter is going to school on an academic scholarship and my son is well on his way to getting even better merit offers. I don’t personally believe one is a loser and your life is over if you don’t go to an Ivy. I would never preach what my believe system feels is ignorance to my children.  It’s really sad that your children need to view mine as substandard to them because they didn’t go to private school and didn’t strive for Ivy’s.

 

Like it or not, there are so many blended families out there. Telling the children that it’s not a real family and they have no loyalty to our side is only hurting and confusing them. We are good people. We care and do good things. Mocking us is hurting them. It’s hurting them. Your two beautiful children as well as my own.

 

Please Gertrude. You’ve stolen 6 1/2 years from your own children at some of the most important years they needed a role model. When we tried to at lease be a role model in our house, you made fun of us for having family dinners, for insisting the kids even try the healthy pretty normal American food we spent a lot of time, money and energy getting in front of them at a decent meal hour. You had no interest in trying to collaborate bed times, phone rules, TV limitations, chores (or completely lack there of in your home) or anything normal parents do to instill a sense or routine, values or responsibly for their children. And instead of at least acknowledging the difference between our homes you had to blame those very normal things on me being some kind of angry witch that has these rules just to make your children miserable. It’s not true.

 

You have not wanted to collaborate on birthday or Christmas gifts, leaving the kids to have to do some crazy coordination of telling different people different things they’d like, which didn’t always work and caused an enormous amount of waste – including on my own children’s limited budgets. You’ve told Kelly you don’t support her acting because it won’t get her anywhere and don’t go to her plays because it upsets you. You insisted Billy keep playing Lacrosse at the expense of us spending 4-5 nights a week taking him to practices and games in & out of the state, but you won’t attend games yourself.

 

The kids told us that your own therapist told you to cool your anger. We hear that you are fighting with your latest finance. You couldn’t think about Kelly’s flipflopping houses and doing whatever she pleases recently because you are too stressed. You didn’t go to many of the kid’ events with the excuse that I was going to be there and you couldn’t deal with it. You lost your first marriage due to an obsession with work and then took a job in Missouri and nearly lost the respect of the kids. All to learn [hopefully] that work will never care about you like your family or loved ones because they laid you off without a care in the world about anyone’s feelings in name of the bottom line.

 

We truly are nice, normal, happy, beautiful inside people; who care deeply about making the world a better place and nurturing the kids. Your ex-husband and I share these values and try to instill them within all 4 children. But Kelly and Billy are confused, understandably so. Please help us to not have them feel confused. We have nothing but good messages coming from a very good heart. We are not being difficult, we are trying to work with you. Work with us?

 

Please – new year, new beginnings?

 

A very sane step-mother asking to work with you,

With all the love in my heart,

Erin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Anderson-Messeder Holiday Greetings

What a year! For me this has been the most transitional year of my life. Lots of wonderful things with lots of life lessons that were sometimes a challenge. I’m actually sorry to see the year coming to an end. But all exits lead to new entrances so I’m excited to continue on my own journey. It’s only a calendar right, not a true stopping or starting point right?

I had to peruse through old photos to help dust off the memory – so I decided to include them along here too. 

But before I get into the normal yee-hah, look how wonderful and perfect we are holiday cards that most of us get, I want to level with everyone. We had a wonderful year, but there were many not-so-wonderful things about it too. We had normal blended family issues one too many times over going on for 6 years now that left either Daren or me in tears, arguing and/or holding each other tight at night. We now have four teenagers and although we have four amazing wonderful children – we do deal with normal teenage “butt” kid issues that tick us off, leave us worrying or leave us scratching our heads. We often have too much going on and the house feels stressful more often than I’d like. I myself became so stressed this year that I started having uncontrolled panic attacks and needed to start some medication. I hit my knee and it got freakish water on the knee that regardless of injections would keep coming back, and worse every time until I needed knee surgery – which knocked me out of normal activities for a few weeks. I’m dealing with terrible carpal tunnel syndrome now. It began when we started painting the new house in Branford and has not relented even though I stopped painting once the pain started to wake me up at night. Our pets destroy things & cost us oodles of money in replacement of objects or pet healthcare. There are obnoxious mistakes with our bills, our internet doesn’t always work, after getting rid of cable we can’t always watch what we want on tv and spend hours trying to find a way to do so. We miscommunicate and accidentally don’t understand one another and waste a lot of time that could have been better spent if we only just communicated better upfront. There are often one too many things to do during the week and too many comings and going that leave us utterly exhausted. We laugh & cry & don’t always get along as smashingly as the tv tells us you that you are supposed to. But that is life right? We are real and we all do stupid clown things at times. All six of us yes… 😉 But onto the highlights I would much rather remember. 

January

Daren & I kicked off New Years day by taking Koji to the beach at Hammonasset. It was a beautiful day. We wanted to let him off leash but there were horses on the beach. Yes… I said horses. He’d never seen a horse before and was completely dumbfounded. Then he proceeded to investigate their droppings (yucky, stinky nose). 

In January I decided to start a 200 hour yoga teacher training. It was kind of an impromptu decision and one of the best ones I made this year. The rest of the month was fairly quiet and dare I say relaxing? When Thomas went back to college mid-month I felt the overwhelming need to capture these special days. So I started blogging on our shared family calendar/shopping list/to do list/meal-recipe site. It’s called Cozi. It also has a journal feature I started using & just kept using. I’ve been posting a few things each week that summarized what we’ve been up to. Thinking about the weekly highlights is a really nice way to start a Friday. Other than that, there was just some snow & some winter treat making – as seen here with Gabby & Koji. 

February

I turned 40! Something I dreaded for years, but as the weeks approached it didn’t seem like much of a big deal any more and it was nothing more than any other birthday. Daren threw me a surprise party (though it wasn’t much of a surprise – lol). I felt very loved surrounded by family & friends. Thomas even came home from college to be there.

Daren & I also visited with Keegan and Sarah in Portland, OR the week before my birthday. It was too short of a trip but we wine tasted, hiked and spent some qt with Liam & Lilly and had a chance to have some yummy meals with the grown ups too.

  • Snapshot of me & my February birthday homegirls with whom I celebrate together every year (Priscilla & Michele). 
  • A winery Karen “found” in Northford. I thought I knew all the wineries in the state, so this one took me by surprise.  
  • Harvard/Yale hockey game with Daren & Devin.
  • Some winery & hiking pics from Portland. 
  • My daily walk I take at work (stairs). This was just a pretty cold, snow on the ground day. Nothing special other than I was just really happy and wanted to capture the moment.
  • Out to dinner with my “Vannies” at Powder Ridge.
  • Gabby fencing. It was the first match we got the ‘ok’ to come see.

March

Thomas turned 19 and Devin turned 13. It marked the start of a year that we have four teenagers. Some key highlights from the month:

  • Sherrie & I took Gabby & Sierra Boston to visit the Lush store.
  • Daren met Bernie Sanders’ chief of staff in Washington DC on a work trip
  • Devin wrapped up his hockey season
  • Easter Egg hunting with Mario, Maria & Pops

April

Oh boy what a month. It was a whirlwind of college visits for Gabby. We took her to SUNY ESF (Environmental Sciences and Forestry) in Buffalo, NY; Boston University; Roger Williams in RI; UMass Dartmouth in MA; and University of Rhode Island. Then didn’t end it there… Gabby & I followed Daren to a conference in San Diego to spend a few days in the sun with David & Angela, and checking out the Scripps Institute with “Uncle Dave” who teased that he would walk in with a southern accent and ask all kinds of embarrassing questions – haha! It was also the month I kicked up the blog I wrote one story in last year. I took a day off after this trip due to stress and ended up writing a blog I decided to publicly share about my stress. I was so touched by the many, many people who publicly and privately reached out to me to share their stories and tell how that I’m not alone, both after that day & many others. I’ve posted many articles since then. If you’ve never checked it out – it’s @ esterinaanderson.com. Take a look and either publicly or privately comment/chat on any of the stories if you feel moved to. 

  • Daren and Gabby on the water of one of the finger lakes (can’t remember which one without looking it up)
  • At SUNY ESF
  • “Uncle David” at Scripps 
  • And lastly, my beautiful daughter Gabrielle had her junior prom. 

May –

Koji turned 2! I took my crazy chances at the peak of my anxiety to ask if I could work part-time (crazy story that I blogged about & ended up with me working a totally different part time job as of last week [11/28]) How to squash a motivated employee. Wrapped up the end of the school year with spring concerts and end of year events and fanfare. Thomas finished his first year of college, came back home for the summer, and resumed work at Best Friends in Prospect (dog daycare/boarding). We hiked & did a bit of CT wine tasting. I got my knee surgery. And we spent a lovely long weekend on Long Island seeing my beautiful niece’s dance recital and hanging out with my father-in-law doing some LI hiking too. Well, I did some LI wobbling with my pained knee. But I went a few miles with it! 

  • Koji’s birthday!
  • Pets always where they aren’t supposed to be.
    • Pictured above this one is a shoe out of a closet when Kieran & I got home. Luckily this one wasn’t destroyed. Guilty looking paws are caught next to it. 
    • Gilmore caught here on the counter hairing up the juice I was about to make. 
  • Memorial Day weekend hiking on Long Island with Dick & Devin

June –

School ended for the other three kids. Gabby turned 17. Daren & I “discovered” the CT breweries & fell in love with IPAs. Daren and Devin built a beautiful stairwell down to the garden from under our deck that we enjoyed this summer. It’s a pretty little sanctuary with a mandala, some adirondack chairs, a swinging bench, a fire pit and some cool lights. Kieran took a little trip to Ireland with his class for Chorus. And we started our European family vacation at the end of June. 

  • Chilling one Saturday afternoon with cards & snacks at Stony Creek Brewery
  • View from under the deck
  • Gabby’s birthday cake
  • International Yoga Day (6/21) with my homegirls at Two Roads.
  • Game of Thrones snacks Thomas made for the season finale 
  • The group (minus Daren who was taking the picture) in Berlin. As you can see my eldest just has to be a clown and cross his eyes for most serious pictures. Ugh… these kids I tell ya! 

July –

This month started out in Europe. We crossed from Berlin to Copenhagen on a train/ferry (pictured below). We took a train over to Sweden and back to Denmark. We came back to CT and the kids started back at work. Kieran worked at the country club golf course in Westhampton Beach by his grandparents (my in-laws). Gabby landed a job at Panera bread and Tom kept his old high school job at Best Friends. Best Friends luckily allows him to bring Koji to work most days, so that stinky black beast gets to play with lots of his doggie friends. Unfortunately there was a bout of kennel cough and Koji got a little sick. He does have his kennel cough shot so it wasn’t too bad. All was good!

Right after we got back from Europe, Daren and I took a trip out to Vancouver, Canada for a work conference he was a part of. It was awesome. I spent the days walking through the city and hiking/doing yoga in a nearby park. What a great city. Cool restaurants and museums. No need for a car.

  • Ferry portion of the trip to Denmark. As you can see, not everyone is happy to take a pic, nor can everyone gets off their phones for a moment. “But there is wifi ma…”
  • Kieran & Devin in Copenhagen 
  • Gabby, Daren, Kieran & Devin in Malmo, Sweden
  • Pokemon Go – All the rage of the summer of ’16
  • Daren & I outside a work dinner at a beautiful restaurant in a park during sunset. All you can eat oysters when we first got in (oh and we did… oh boy we did!). 

August –

August… well…. We decided on the fly to buy a second home 🙂 Well, not too much on the fly. For anyone who knows us well in real life, you would know that Daren and I had always planned to move in 4 1/2 years somewhere else, perhaps to another country, likely a 3rd world one, to help out with healthcare in someway. We of course would want an address in the U.S. and always talked of having a decent home on the shoreline of CT where people would want to rent by the week so we could make some income on a permanent home  that we’d have to keep a mortgage on, and have a place to come home to for holidays & events. Well, while driving back from LI one weekend visiting my step boys who spend four weeks each summer with my in-laws; we started to ask ourselves why we were waiting on the house on the water part. So we came home, found some places we wanted to look at… contacted our good friend Melanie who also happens to be a realtor. And the rest is history! 

Aside from buying a home, running back and forth to LI, and immense stress at work – August 2016 was THE most relaxing month I have had in my adult life. With no school and mostly no kids and their events/practices/sports/comings & goings, every night was like a mini vacation out on our beautiful back deck. Thomas went back to school at the end of the month. Gabby and Devin started 12th and 8th grade respectively. 

  • New trail in Cheshire that I fell in love with. It even got it’s own blog story 🙂 On New Pathways
  • Typical happy hour in the evening this summer. We really fell in love with rose wine (french word, can’t seem to put the accent mark in there) – you know… pink wine. I had a white craze two years ago and always stayed away from the pinks. We found some delightful ones this year. A new love! 
  • Keegan and Liam came to Long Island for a few days this summer. Liam got to see the Mets at Citifield for the first time.
  • View from the yard at the Branford house before we got it. I believe this was from the realtor site. It took so many pics since then. They are all ridiculously gorgeous. 
  • Koji enjoyed his pool this summer.
  • We had a very prolific garden. My co-workers and yoga mates were some of the many recipients of the abundance. 
  • Missy Jean’s first day of senior year (missy jean would be Gabby – in case that was too much to figure out).

September – 

Daren, Gabby, Kieran & I ran the New Haven annual Labor Day 5K. Daren and I beat Kieran and Gabby – it’s nice to know we can run faster than our teenage kids – lol.

Kieran went back to school right after Labor day & wrapped up the summer golf course gig. Everything was back in full swing as the days quickly got shorter and cooler. Hockey, cross country, open house nights – papers to print & sign (printer never works is always out of ink), checks to write, ugh… 

Daren & I got in full swing with a new mini career as furniture renovators for our new house- haha! We bought a ton of furniture between $5 and $50 and repainted and refinished it all. We had such a blast. We did a little end of summer hiking. I made a few last summer pies. Gabby had her senior day at Cross Country. And we closed on the new house! 

  • One of the very many before & after pics of the furniture we refinished. 
  • I took a picture of so many pies I made this summer. It was pie summer, I was obsessed. I think the was my last summer pie – but I can’t be 100% certain.
  • The last hike we took this summer. Not because of the weather, but because we started working on the house like crazy lunatic fiends.
  • Gabby’s senior day for XC with her closest XC girlfriends. I cannot believe these girls are seniors. They’ve grown into beautiful young women.
  • House closing day! 

October 

In October we spent a lot of time painting, cleaning and repairing the new house. It was also our five year anniversary & we took a trip to Italy to celebrate. We went to Milan, Venice, Tuscany and Como. And it was Halloween – one of my favorite holidays. 

  • Little miss Maria, my awesome brother Mario & me painting one early Sunday morning. 
  • The VACT 2015-2016 Strategic Planning Team. Was something akin to a last supper  – lol.
  • One of many awesome “game nights” (although we hardly play games these days) with some of my favorite girlfriends. 
  • One of many beautiful views at Summer Island Point.
  • Everyone has seen enough of our Italy pictures – so I’ll spare you all. This is something I took a picture of in Italy that I still laugh about. It just makes me smile- seriously 🙂
  • Gabby’s boyfriend Dennis’ first pumpkin carving! His family is from Ukraine. Although he was born here, they’ve never observed the tradition and he wanted to try. Check out Devin in between them photo bombing the pic… Haha – totally cracks me up.

November –

Grateful time of year. We finished up the new house. It came out beautifully. Anyone who wants to see some pics who hasn’t seen the blog or been victims of  us showing you pictures on our iPhones – they are available at New Vacation Home Renovations

We spent one weekend visiting Thomas in Portland, ME. We rented a cool apartment in the heart of town and brought Koji with us. The weather was gorgeous and we had a great time. It was the Clinton/Trump election. Gabby had her senior year Cross Country banquet which was very beautiful but sad because these young girls have been together forever! It was the busiest month ever with Daren traveling to Seattle, Boston, and Colorado, and the usual kid scheduling craziness. In the middle of it all I had a peaceful evening with some of my closest work girlfriends over at the Branford house for some wine, pizza and mandala coloring. Also, Daren turned 49! We celebrated at the new house with just the boys and a beautiful sunset and homemade surf & turf dinner. We also celebrated Thanksgiving in the new house with my father, my brother Frankie, his girlfriend Mary, my nephew Frankie, and Tommy & Gabby. 

And lastly – I finally started officially working part time. It’s not even been 2 weeks yet, but I feel the stress just melting off my body, mind & spirit. Time to fill in that empty space with my heart’s passions before the “little rocks” of life fill it up for me. I won’t let that happen though! 

  • Visiting with Thomas in Portland. Kofi was SO stinking happy to see him.
  • Election Day. 
  • Out to dinner with our hubbies but had to get a girl pic. Love you girls! 
  • Senior Cross Country Banquet. 
  • Picture I captured while taking an early Thanksgiving morning walk in Branford at the new house. It was cloudy & quiet, but an absolutely breathtaking morning.

December –

This month’s story is still being written. Kieran will turn 17 this month! We had some of our closest friends over to the new house last weekend for an intimate house warming party. Next month we hope to do a large open house and have everyone over. We adopted another domestic violence family this year. I love doing this and feel so blessed we have the ability to keep Santa alive for another family – giving their children hope and possibly a chance in life with confidence and the attitude of giving back. Most excitingly for me, it’s yoga teacher graduation next weekend. The class and experience shaped me into a different person this year. That is truly a story that is personal, and one that I may share one day – but in another more appropriate venue. 

Thank you to all who are a part of my life and our lives. I cherish each and every single one of you and the time we spend together. Not everyone I see all the time or often share a supper or girls night with was pictured  or mentioned here, but I cherish & love you all immensely. 

Love, Peace & Namaste.

Happy Holidays for our family to  you & yours.  

 

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New Vacation Home Renovations

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving with family in our new house in Branford on the water. Today I took some final pictures now that we are pretty much done (except for the bonus room, not shown here). Below are some before & after pictures. I tried to get the same shot in. I did ok except for a few places. So in case anyone has been wondering what Daren & I have been up to for the past 8 weeks, this is just a little sample. thumb_IMG_8632_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9451_1024.jpgFront of the house. The screen was taken out & LOTS & LOTS of weeds. What isn’t showing in the main before picture is all the weeds and grass that grew since April when this picture was first taken. I’m going to replace the cushion covers on the wicker chairs with blue material and make little striped pillows that match the material. We will also landscape the front with some flowers and bushes in the spring. Additionally we plan to paint the front step with grey concrete pain to match the roof and then get an outdoor carpet to run under the outside furniture.

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thumb_IMG_8633_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9453_1024.jpgPicture here is the before and after from the back of the house. Since this picture was taken, Daren has replaced the screen on the right and painted the water meter in the back. We need to still fix the back ‘patio’ bricks where the ramp was and plant some pretty things in the back as well. A little patio set, some adirondack chairs overlooking the water and a fire pit will complete the backyard.

Next are some before and after pictures of the kitchen. The kitchen is complete. We don’t plan to do any more work in most of the inside of the house except add a few pieces of furniture that I had stored in my brother Frankie’s garage down on Long Island.

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IMG_9568.jpgAppliances were replaced. My brother Mario painted all the cabinetry white.

Next we move into the front living room. Mostly this was just a paint job & LOTs of cobweb, mouse dropping cleaning 🙂

 

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thumb_IMG_8640_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9438_1024.jpgNext we move into the downstairs bedroom that is to the left to the stairs

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Front hallway after you walk in from the front door. thumb_IMG_8783_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9439_1024.jpgThen walking into the “fireplace” room. It’s a great room with sliders on both sides – with water views on both sides.

 

thumb_IMG_8643_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9558_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_8644_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9561_1024.jpgNext we head to the upstairs to the 2nd bedroom

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thumb_IMG_8645_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9552_1024.jpgLast but not least, the master bedroom

thumb_IMG_8647_1024.jpgthumb_IMG_9535_1024.jpgAnd the two bathrooms – both full baths

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And of course – the money shot!

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In essence – we had SOOOOO much fun painting, cleaning, pruning, replacing. Almost wish it wasn’t over. Almost… Soon we’ll be putting it up for weekly rentals, but not before blocking some time for ourselves. Thanks to my two great brothers that helped out so much & our super awesome realtor for helping us grab this great place. Love it! 🙂 ❤

 

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