Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekend and Winner

The ASPS team for the Pan-Mass Challenge

“One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.”

~Malayan Proverb

What did you do this weekend?

My husband decided to spend it taking a three-day motorcycle course. I told him if he was going to have a midlife crisis, he should get a mistress over a motorcycle, but I couldn’t convince him. He’s always refrained from being obvious about (obviously) checking out other women, preferring to ogle bicycles, but now he fawns over motorcycles. Even more interesting, now if he sees a younger woman dressed skimpily, he’ll grumble that when our daughter gets older, he doesn’t want her dressing like that. I think we’re entering a new phase of life.

I spent Friday night frantically finishing Mockingjay like every other avid reader of YA. My reluctance meant that I didn’t feed my children until nearly 8 pm. The darn book only came on Thursday because I did an Amazon preorder. Next week, Suzanne Collins is going to be doing a book signing in Brookline so I may do a giveaway for my awesome followers.

Saturday, the kids had Taekwondo. Afterwards, I decided to take them to Harvard Square to visit the Curious George bookstore and have Vietnamese food for lunch.

Afterwards, we were passing by Bartley’s Burger Cottage, where there was a looong line. I ate there once, when my son was three. We sat in long rows, so it was a pain to get in and out, and then my son had to go to the bathroom. They didn’t have one. In New York, it’s a law that restaurants HAVE to provide a bathroom for customers. We had just moved to Massachusetts, and found out there is no such law here. Great. Based on that trauma, I haven’t returned since. If I have to go two blocks to bring my child to a public restroom, then it’s not a place I want to frequent.

Between line loiterers, I peeked at books on a cart in front of the Harvard Bookstore on the way back to the car when I heard someone say, “It’s Shaquille O’Neal.”

I turned around, and there he was, a couple of heads taller than his companions, and getting ready to cross the street. My children and I stared, mouths agape for a minute, and then continued on to the corner. When we crossed the street, we noticed Shaq sitting on a bench surrounded by admirers who were asking to take a picture with him. Most other people, unless peering into the crowd, thought it was another cluster of students touring the square, so the crowd never got out of control.

We patiently waited our turn. My daughter was shy, so she sat next to her brother instead of on the other side of the basketball player. I wish I could post the picture, but when I began this blog I made a decision not to display photos of my children. So please become my Facebook friend so you can see the picture! (I’m under “Theresa Brown Milstein”.)

Here’s a video of him around town. You can see him on the bench, but you can’t see us:

I spent Sunday morning cooking a five-hour ragu. While doing so, I realized I need to do this more often. Cooking lowers my blood pressure, centers me, gives me purpose. Cooking forces me to use my senses for something good.

Sunday afternoon, my sister visited, taking my daughter to the American Girl store for a belated birthday present. Every little girl’s dream. Sunday night, we took my son for tapas dinner for his birthday, so he could enjoy having the restaurant sing “Happy Birthday” while staring at a brass frog candelabra while the staff blew bubbles at him.

This weekend also marks the end of the Platform Contest:

The outpouring of support on this brought tears to my eyes. You are all AMAZING PEOPLE. Thank you for donating, getting the words out on your blogs, Facebook, Twitter, by e-mail, and word of mouth.

And thanks to Candace: The Misadventures in Candyland

and Jackee: Winded Words

and Lydia Kang: The Word is My Oyster

and The Words Crafter: The Rainy Day Wanderer

for their gift card donations.

As I near my one-year blog anniversary, I cannot think of a better way to reach that milestone than to have raised money for ASPS:

(You’re still welcome to make a donation!)

I chose the winner at random at:

Without further ado, the winner is:

NIAMH BOYCE from Words A Day


*** UPDATE ****

Niamh has asked that instead of gift cards, she'd like the money donated to ASPS. I'll let the donators know.

Thank you, Niamh!!!!

This blogging community has meant more to me than I can properly convey. (And I’m a writer, so that’s bad.) I look forward to getting to know you, hearing about your tribulations and triumphs, and telling you about mine in the year to come.

Love, Theresa xo


  1. What an uplifting post! Happy Monday to you AND happy one-year anniversary too!

  2. Hi Theresa! Happy Monday to you, it's nice to see you had a good weekend. And good for you for realizing that cooking is good for your soul!

  3. That must have been something seeing Shaq. With his 7'4 frame, he simply cannot blend into any crowd.

    Nice work with your fundraising and congrats to Niamh--great way to start the week.

  4. Sounds like you had a terrific - and busy - weekend! :) Cooking is very therapeutic, isn't it? Happy Monday to you!

  5. What a weekend! Great post very inspiring. I bet Shaq looks like a giant. He is quite a tall man. How exciting though. I still have to get my copy of Mockingjay--I'm a little behind in my reading.
    Oh and I'll be over for dinner. :)

  6. Loved the post and I'll have to take a peek at the Shaq pic on FB.

    Like you, I enjoy cooking. There's nothing better than putting together a pot roast or a stew in the early afternoon on a cool day, and smelling it as it cooks. Sometimes I'll make a dessert while the main course is cooking. The house feels so homey then.

  7. Great post, Theresa, I have a real feeling you could write an Adriana Trigilani type book, espec with all that cooking. I didnt realise she was writing for kids till my daughter got one of her books.

    Congrats on your 1st anniversary and well done, Niamh, for winning the competition!!

  8. Oh I remember when coffee shops first opened here and they didn't have toilets - they do now cos I think it's the LAW! LOL!!

    Now I have NO IDEA who Shaquille O'Neal is but not only is he very tall and very big geezer he is so lovely! I love that clip of him just meeting people and really connecting more with the kids - that's really really nice. He came across as really down to earth (and I say that metaphorically because he is a truly is a big man!). Awwww your kids will have a wonderful photo of themselves with such a nice guy!

    You hubby's love affair with the motorcycle is so sweet! LOL!! I hope he takes care though! None of this Easy Rider business! LOL! I hope you don't go into the next phase just yet until your kids are 18! :-)

    Cooking is brilliant way to destress - cooking and baking! I think cos you have to concentrate and are creating something from scratch - I always end up cooking or baking or both when I run out of chocolate (quick fix stuff! LOL!) and that really relaxes me. I bet your five hour ragu was AMAZING!

    YAY!!!! For your blogoversary!!!! HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY one year blogoversary!!!

    Congratulations Niamh Boyce!!! Lovely!

    Take care

  9. @ Bossy Betty, thank you. My official anniversary and anniversary post will be in one week.

    @ Ant, when I take time with a recipe, it reminds me how good it is for me.

    @ Slamdunk, you're right - no blending! It was a good thing he sat down.

    @ Julie, cooking is therapeutic. I have to make more time for it. And I need to enroll in my cooking classes!

  10. @ Christine, thought tall, since I wasn't facing him on the court, Shaq was A LOT less intimidating in person.

    Come over for dinner anytime!

    @ Mary, I also love cooking things that simmer slowly. That's my favorite part of cooler weather - stews!

    @ Brigid, I'll have to look up Adriana Trigilani. I've never heard of her.

    Niamh was so wonderful to donate her winnings to ASPS.

    @ Old Kitty, you need to watch more basketball! I've heard it's become popular in Europe.

    I'll e-mail you the photo.

    Now the motorcycle hype will really begin - helmet, bike, registration, insurance. Ugh!

    I plan to have a blog prize for my official one-year anniversary.

  11. Thanks to Niamh for being SO generous herself. That brought tears to my eyes. Truly.

    Happy blogiversary, Theresa!

  12. Theresa, it was a pleasure to spread the word. And big kudos to Niamh for passing on the donation. :)

  13. @ Jackee, everyone's generosity brought tears to my eyes. Niamh added to my tears.

    @ Crimey, thank you for spreading the word. I'm so happy that, thanks to Niamh (and others who would have donated the full amount), ASPS gets a bigger donation.

  14. How nice of Niamh! You're weekend sounds a lot more exciting than mine was. Mine was quite pleasant, though. Great post!

  15. What a lovely post - so sweet of Niamh! Awesome :)

  16. You did such a lovely thing Theresa & congrats to Niamh, especially for choosing to pass on her winnings as a donation...So many good people in the world :)

  17. Shaq In the City was awesome! Like Shaq,

    When I become rich and famous, I too will roll down the windows in my air conditioned limmo and make like one of the people.

    Now I have another reason to watch Celtic basketball.

  18. Congrats Niamh, and thanks for being so generous! I go to donate your $20 to the fund right now.
    Great job Theresa!

  19. Thanks so much for Theresa! My computer is on and off so I couldnt email my thanks. Really glad to have been given the opportunity.

  20. @ Angie, it was a satisfying weekend. I don't get too excited when I see celebrities, but I have a weakness for basketball players.

    And the dinner was fantastic.

    @ Jemi, I agree - Niamh is so sweet to donate her winnings.

    @ Slushpile, there are many good people in the world. The blogosphere reminds me of that!

    @ Walter, I didn't know how I felt about Shaq joining, except he'd be less likely to plow into the Celtics players and more likely to damage other teams' players. But now that I've met him, I'm a big fan.

    That's probably why he's been spotted around. Good publicity. Worked for me.

    @ Lydia, thank you!

    @ Words A Day, thanks again. I hope you get a few more followers as a result. They should be following you since you're a talented writer anyway.

  21. Sounds to me like you had a wonderful weekend. Except for the cooking part. Cooking does not soothe my nerves.

    It's pretty cool to see Shaq, I would think. Bet your kids got a kick out of it.

  22. Congratulations to the winner! This was a great contest. ;]

    My mom has (apparently) seen quite a few famous people in San Antonio but not me. How cool that you got to see Shaq in the flesh!

  23. Niamh is amazing!!! That was so super sweet of her!! I can't believe that! What a doll!!!

    Theresa this was a fantastic post! So uplifting thanks a ton!!!

    PS I loved this - I spent Friday night frantically finishing Mockingjay like every other avid reader of YA. My reluctance meant that I didn’t feed my children until nearly 8 pm. - you had me laughing!!! And feeling bad for your children!

  24. @ Helen, I'm sorry you don't like cooking. What do you do to relax?

    My son was really happy about meeting Shaq.

    @ Amanda, I've seen a couple of famous people in Manhattan and a few around Boston. But this is the only person I've pestered for a picture.

    @ Jen, Niamh IS super sweet to do this.

    My kids weren't even asking for food. They were busy playing, but I felt like a bad mother!

  25. Congratulations to Niamh and well done to you Theresa to use your blog for such a worthy platform.

    Your weekend sounds so exciting. I spent mine swooning from the heat. Missing my sea breezes!

  26. @ Ann, welcome back to The States! I'm sure you do miss the sea breezes.

    I was glad to do it. Thanks to Niamh, the contest has raised much more money for ASPS.

  27. wow sounds like you been sooo busy but im glad you had some fun and did stuff like a family. i real glad i did a post for asps and i hope it helped get some money. caring about people is real important and we just gotta help when we can.
    ...hugs from lenny

  28. what a good sport Shaq is (pardon the pun)!! and how exciting for your kids (saw the pics on FB .. way cool!!)

    and how cool is Niamh :)

  29. That's a lovely way to give back to the community! And what a week you had, I personally think it was pretty cool, specially with the shaquille o neil thing!

  30. Sounds like a fun-packed weekend! Mine was a little more sedate, as I was feeling under the weather. We did go to "Fota House & Gardens" which are beautiful landscaped gardens about 20 minutes away for a walk in the summer sun. So relaxing:)

  31. @ Lenny, we did raise some money. And thanks to Niamh, we raised even more. Thanks for spreading the word! I love the link you made to my blog.

    @ Clutterbug, love you pun, intended or not. And it's true, he was a good sport.

    Niamh is the coolest.

    @ Clara, meeting Shaq was definitely a highlight.

    Since I'm returning to subbing in one week, thinking about the generosity of those who participated in this cause makes it better.

    @ Olive, sorry you were under the weather. I love wandering through gardens. There's an arbortetum on an old Gold Coast estate on Long Island we visited a couple of weeks ago. The greenhouses there are amazing.

  32. Wow, what a wonderful weekend! Niamh donating her prize to your charity must have been the icing on top of the cake. :) I hope the next year of blogging brings you even more growth and success. Best wishes, Theresa!

  33. What a lovely, thoughtful post. :) Sounds like a nice weekend.

    You've done a wonderful thing for a good cause. *hugs*

    Here's to another wonderful year of blogging and may your writing and teaching dreams come true.

  34. What a wonderful post... and the best part is that everything that was wonderful and fun was done WITH your family.
    And that's as it should be, don't you think?
    Happy one-year anniversary!
    You've much to be proud of.

  35. @ Sharon, having this contest ASPS is my proudest accomplishment of the year. Thanks to Niamh, it had more of an impact. Best wishes to you too, Sharon.

    @ Lola, thank you for your sweet comment. *Hugs* back.

    @ Dawn, I do enjoy doing things with my family. It is as it should be. Even if things aren't going well in my professional life, my personal life is pretty sweet.

    Except for the motorcycle bit.

  36. I hope this has raised awareness of ASPS. Before your post, I'd never heard of it. It was very generous for the winner to ask that all of it be donated. Wow. I'll get that out this weekend. Thanks for this and for providing the opportunity be a part of something so wonderful and vital.

  37. @ The Words Crafter, I think many more people now know about the disease. I hope it has long-term implications for more fundraising.

    Niamh was very generous. Thank you for your help too. Adding $ to make the prize bigger means ASPS gets an even bigger donation.

  38. Hi Theresa .. that was one action packed post .. & thanks for the warning re bathrooms in Massachusetts - I'll remember that!

    Sounds like the kids had fun, your husband obviously had fun .. and you got some peace and quiet with your ragu .. I can smell the tantalising smell over here - delicious ..

    Seeing Shaq .. must have been great for the kids & lovely that you got some shots for them and school etc ..

    A good last few days with birthdays too .. and lots happening .. and time to read?!

    Good for you - have some peace now - perhaps? Look after yourself - Hilary

  39. @ Hilary, I wish MA had a mandatory bathroom law like NY.

    My ragu was a big hit. I'm going to make it again soon.

    The kids liked meeting Shaq - especially my son.

    Yes, I've been getting in some reading. If you check my "Reading Versus Writing (in Verse)" post, you'll see I've added to the list.

    Thanks for the comment. Take care, Hilary.