Friday, April 27, 2007

Childless on Children's Day

Yesterday was "Take Your Children to Work Day"...the day you take your children who are ages 7 - 15 to work with you. I used to take my children to work on "Take Your Children to Work Day"...that is when they were younger...and I was younger too. This year, like the past few years, I was childless at the office while many of my younger thirtysomething colleagues brought their children to work.

I like children...I love my children...and I enjoyed seeing and talking to all my colleagues' children at work. But this year...I don't know why this year...I was childless and it didn't bother me one bit.

I didn't miss having a child to shadow me...I liked the freedom. I didn't miss having a child to go to lunch with at a certain time because they were hungry. I liked the fact that I could go to lunch whenever I desired that day...or not at all. In fact, I didn't even go to lunch that day...instead I ate my Fiber One high fiber bar for lunch (love those bars...they are so good and so full of fiber...just heard they also are only 1 or 2 points on Weight Watchers too...I highly recommend them) and I drank my diet Snapple Peach iced tea. I didn't miss having to rush out the door either because my child was bored during the afternoon and wanted to go home early...instead, I even decided to stay late.

As my children get older...I'm enjoy having more more birthday parties to go to every weekend...or presents and toys to stock up more play dates to plan or school carnival booths to more cartoons to sit through at the movies (although I do want to go see the new Pixar movie Ratatouille...I love the name and it is supposed to be about a rat in a restaurant...sounds like a cute movie...may have to borrow one of my colleague's kids to go see the movie with me.)

I think I'm starting to prepare for my empty-nesterness that will happen about 18 months from now when my son leaves (hopefully) for college...and my daughter graduates from college (and hopefully doesn't return I've heard many college graduates do). It's almost like when you're pregnant and preparing for the new start to anticipate what life will be like when the a new little person joins the household and everything changes (forever). I'm starting to anticipate anticipate what life will be like when I'm once again childless at go back to the when I was a newlywed.

I wonder what it will be like to have two extra bedrooms again to do what ever I want with...wonder what it will be like to set up a sewing room in the large bedroom and an office in the small bedroom...think I will get a new MAC computer for myself too...just for me (well, okay, I'll let my husband use it too...and the kids when they come to visit)...and I can go exercise whenever I want...go to the gym whenever I want and not feel guilty because I'm not home for dinner by 7:00 pm.

I love my children...I will always love my children...there's a certain love you have for your kids that grows stronger every day...but emptynesterness is a great feeling when you're 49 and approaching 50...there's that letting go feeling...letting go of your kids and at the same time gaining a sense of freedom that feels good...that feels liberating...that feels new and fresh....and exciting.

Yes, let the birdies fly out...empty that nest...bring it on...I'm ready!


Monday, April 23, 2007

Slow Going

Like my twenty-something friends who are over-scheduled (yes I do have friends in their twenties...that's how I stay up on all the latest trends)...I am over-scheduled too. I always put too much on my plate...try to do way too much in a day...wish I knew of a way to extend the day past 24 hours and still get my sleep.

But, sometimes, it's funny how mother nature slows us down...yes, leave it to mother nature to slow us down...last week with the nor'easter storm all the roads were flooded...a trip that usually takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to get to work turned into a three hour trip. I tried to take three different routes to work...but all were flooded. I sat in traffic along with everyone else for three hours...only because I over-schedule myself I couldn't just sit there.

Being the overscheduled person that I am...I came equipped with lots of things to do during my unexpected three hour trip. I checked my Blackberry. I called my husband three times to tell him I was sitting in traffic for 3 hours. I fixed my nail polish which had chipped (good thing I always carry a spare bottle of my OPI nail enamel in Cajun Shrimp...or is it a different name this year...not to worry, even if it is called by a different name...I am sure I had the exact color because it is my favorite). I sat back and listened to the entire Fleetwood Mac CD (especially my favorite Stevie Nicks song about "this is for you daddy...about how hard it is to make change" - my eyes get teary every time I hear this song). By the time I arrived at felt like almost half the day had gone by...and it had.

Mother nature slowed me down again today...I planned to arrive home early from New York City...taking an Acela train to make sure I arrived in record time. The train left the city on time heading to Philadelphia...I was very prepared...had about three or four magazines and half of the Sunday New York Times and Monday's business section as well (no wonder my bag was so heavy - how could I possibly have thought I could read all those publications and newspapers during what was supposed to be no more than a three hour roundtrip from Phila to NYC and about overscheduling myself).

Homeward bound...we whizzed by Newark...headed to Trenton and then we came to a halt. I was sitting next to this lovely woman who did not have the use of her Blackberry (it was new and her company IT department hadn't synchronized it she told me while I was admiring her brown and blue sneakers which perfectly matched her brown and blue stripped suit - neat idea to have sneakers that match your suit - amazing what great ideas you can pick up on the train to and from NYC). The conductor came on the loudspeaker to tell us that "we would be delayed because a brush fire was near the tracks"...we all sat there......all of us overscheduled people with our Blackberries and cellphones and computers...the car was abuzz with everybody calling their mates and colleagues to tell them about the delay...which turned into 30 minutes. I had all my reading materials so I was extra 30 minutes to read all the publications that I schlepped around all day in my bag...I actually didn't even get that distressed...after all, what could I do...just slow down and wait for the fire to die down and the train to move.

Am I getting more patient as I approach the 5-0 mark? When I am forced to slow's kind of nice...I get to listen to the sing along with the polish my nails...think I'll take the long road to work tomorrow.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Form-Fitted Confidence

The continued saga of my little A-Lined skirt...the Nicole Miller skirt that I wrote about earlier this week (My Little A-Lined Skirt) ...may definitely go down as a memorable moment in my 49th year. You see...I wore my little A-Lined skirt to a dinner event during a business meeting this week. I brought it along in my suitcase with the stockings and the satin gold blouse and the teal shoes and the gold pashima shawl. Wasn't sure if I was going to actually take it out of the suitcase...still was fretting about how tight it was for my age.

On Thursday evening I took the ensemble out of my suitcase and laid it on the bed...then I put on the gold blouse...put on the stockings (control top of course)...squeezed on the skirt (held in my stomach...too bad I couldn't hold in my hips...but the control top pantyhose worked wonders...didn't go to the bathroom all night because I didn't want to risk letting it all out of control if I pulled down the pantyhose)...the outfit looked great (since gold is one of my colors according to my 20 years ago Color Me Beautiful color assessment). Only issue was my hair...bad hair day...desperately needed a haircut...but could not get an appointment until the weekend (not to one knew or cared but me).

Went down to catch a cab to the dinner and realized...oh, no...should I walk to the dinner...should I dare sit down in my little A-Lined skirt for fear it might split at the seams...or as the Nicole Miller tag the zipper if not properly sized..."I can do this," I said, "I can get in this cab without splitting the skirt..." I sat in the front seat of the sliding over the back seat in my little A-Lined skirt...legs out straight and then a sideways twirl and I was in that cab without one thread out of place.

Arrived at the dinner with my little A-Lined skirt intact...walked up the stairs to the reception and had quite a few nods of approval. "Love that form-fitted skirt," said a colleague. (Why didn't I think of that...or course, it is form-fitted - not tight as I had originally thought). "You look so nice," said two other colleagues...male colleagues I might add...(was it the form-fit they were admiring...or the beautiful fabric of the skirt... or maybe my legs that they probably thought I never had since I always wear pantsuits to work ... or maybe the gold color of the satin blouse that was shining that night...definitely not my was a bad hair day.) Whatever it was...I felt good...yes...I felt so good...actually...I felt great. For a moment, I even felt like I was 29 again...not I was stepping out and making a bold statement with form-fitted confidence.

May have to go buy myself another form-fitted skirt...or maybe even a form-fitted dress (but then I'd have to get one of those control undergarments that holds in every part of my torso...but how would I get into a taxi). I think my entire baggy wardrobe needs some form-fitting...a nip here...tuck there...I can feel the confidence rising...form-fitted at 49...fabulous at 50...I like the way that sounds!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Losing Control

I've always been a perfectionist...have to make sure things are done to my standards all the time. I notice as I get older that I'm starting to lose my passion for perfection. I'm starting to think that life is too short and if I try to keep doing everything perfect I won't have a chance to do everything I want to do...and I have a lot of things on my list that I want to do (like learning ballroom dancing...writing a book...going cross country skiing again, and a hundred other things).

I'm reading an interesting book that I picked up at Borders when I was trying to buy "The Secret" and they didn't have it in stock...I found an entire section called Self-Help books. There were so many self-help books I could not decide which one to buy...I'm not always good with "self-help"...I like when someone else helps me...maybe that's why I was in therapy for 10 years when I was in my late twenties and early thirties...but now that I'm turning 50 I thought maybe I am ready to self-help myself. So, I bought this self-help book called Excess Baggage by Judith Sills, Ph.D. She is a nationally recognized public speaker and former radio host, and she is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Philadelphia. For $14 I thought I would see what she had to say (beats $100 or more for an hour therapy session)...and I could read the book at my leisure...that is if I ever have any leisure time.

I took the book to Italy with me and started the first chapter on the first of five common obstacles to happiness that Dr. Sills feels are part of our excess baggage that holds us back. I thought that if I learned about my excess baggage it might help me address my perfectionism...since it does get in my way of happiness sometimes. Dr. Sills says the five obstacles are:

- We need to be right
- We feel superior
- We dread rejection
- We create drama
- We cherish anger

Yep, that's all me...the perfectionist...all 49 years of me...I'm a control freak...have to control everything...have to be right...(that's as far as I got in the book so far...I can think of it as one therapy session ...or half of a therapy session). Dr. Sills says we should begin with small situations and try to be more spontaneous and let others take control...yes, let others take control...I'm going to try...yes I'm going to try to lose my perfectionist lose my control...I'm going to:

...let my husband do the laundry (so what if he throws my favorite black cashmere sweater in the dryer by mistake like the last time and it shrinks to fit a baby)
...let my husband load the dishwasher (this is a tough one...can you believe I am a perfectionist when it comes to loading a dishwasher...I'm embarassed to say it, but I'm a dishwasher filler freak...I have to make sure that every nook and cranny is filled to the brim with dishes...not half empty before I run the load)
...I'm going to let my son put away his clothes that are hanging all over his chair (I'm trying desperately not to touch that stack of clothes...are they clean or dirty and they are mixed together...ooh it's a he has even started to close the door to his room...I may have to sneak in there after he goes off to school...stop it...stop it...lose that control!!!).

I'm trying...yes I'm going to try to lose my perfectionist definitely gets harder as I get older...but I'm determined to lose some of this excess baggage before I'm I can be happier in my 50+ years...wonder what I will have to do to get over the fear of rejection...haven't gotten that far in the book yet...will let you know when I get there...stay tuned.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

I was at a conference in Chicago this past week...only a quick trip to work on an event. It was so quick that I didn't even have a chance to leave the hotel...just quick arrival (woke at 4:30 am to catch a 7:45 am flight) on Friday and then quick departure (woke at 4:30 am to catch a 7:50 am flight) on Saturday...must have not been thinking when I booked these flights...probably was in one of my pre-menopausal moments where I wasn't sleeping. It was an exhausting trip...definitely cannot keep up the pace I used to...although when I arrived home on Saturday night I was so exhausted that I actually had a good night's sleep and didn't wake up until 8:30 am this morning...what a luxury.

I was thinking about this conference...about how I love this food conference...the reason I enjoy this yearly conference is not because of the food or classes or's because I get to catch up with old friends that I get to see once a year...old friends that I talk to once a year...and when I see them it is almost as though we've turned back the clock. We chat about the days before we had kids...we chat about our careers and how work is different today than when we started out (the days when there were no emails, no cellphones, and no high speed computers)...we talk about our life goals and where we each are on our journey (some of us are further along than we thought...others still have so much more they want to accomplish). We always say that we are going to stay in together...and not wait another year to speak to each other. But then, in the blink of an eye...time passes and another year goes by and it is time for the conference does it happen?

I started to think about my old friends...and how they have shaped my life...I'm so lucky to have such good old friends...the ones you can touch base with once a year and they know you...and you know them...the old friends you can reminisce with...and laugh with...and cry with...and talk about the future with...especially when you are getting older. It's the old friends that knew you when you were younger and they were younger too...the ones you grow up with in your career and your personal life...the ones who can count the years because they count how old your children are (I didn't offer that my daughter was turning 21 this year...didn't want to bring that up...enough with the counting). They know you before you had any age marks on your face...or aches and pains in your joints...or the days when you really had brown hair that didn't need to be dyed every six weeks to cover up the gray.

Yes, old friendships are so important in life. At 49, I think it is especially important that I continue to remember my old friends and make a pack for myself to stay in touch with each one before the next conference...before I turn 50.

As the Girl Scout motto says (those Girl Scouts are so smart...I was so young when I learned about the importance of friendship from the Girl Scouts...didn't realize that the words I was learning would have so much meaning in my later years):

"Make new friends...but keep the is silver and the other's gold."


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Little A-Lined Skirt

I went to buy an umbrella on my way home this evening. My umbrella broke while I was in Rome last week and I thought I had a few extra umbrellas in my car, but when I checked my trunk there was not one umbrella to be found. The forecast says rain tomorrow, so I could not be without an umbrella.

Conveniently, SYMS is on my way home...I usually never shop at SYMS anymore...I used to shop there years ago...when they had trendy I find they usually have some good coats and fun socks, but their clothes have gone downhill. I know they always have umbrellas, so I thought I would make a quick pit stop, run in and purchase a small umbrella and be on my way.

Usually the umbrellas are right near the cash register, so I can run in, buy one quickly without passing any racks of clothing, and scoot out - 5 minutes max. It was 6:50 pm and I had promised my son I would be home by 7:00 pm to have dinner with him. Plenty of time to purchase an long does it take to pick out an umbrella?

When I went to the usual aisle where they have the umbrellas, none were there. I asked the saleswomen if they sold umbrellas anymore. "Yes," the saleswomen replied, "but we moved them right near the escalator...over by the skirts."

Skirts I thought...well I guess I can look at some skirts, even though I did come in ONLY for an umbrella. How long would it take to look at a rack of skirts? At 49, I'm still a fast shopper and I'm always up for a bargain. I figured they wouldn't have anything I liked anyway...but how could I resist, being the shopaholic that I still am (well not as much as BK - Before Kids that is).

I picked out an umbrella and went straight to the skirt rack, size 6, flipped through the rack (okay, I also flipped through the jacket rack, and the suit rack...while on my way to the skirts - there was nothing I liked anyway...lots of Harve Bernard suits from the '90s). By that time it was 6:55 pm, time was ticking. I moved down the skirt rack and as I got to the last few skirts in my size, there were a few quite nice A-lined skirts...two Nicole Miller skirts to be exact in incredible fabrics...Nicole knows her fabrics. I had to try them I went in the dressing room...scouted out a spot (it was empty...everyone was home having dinner...where I should have been...although thankfully there was one other women in the dressing room two stalls away).

I put on the first skirt...too tight. I put on the second skirt...I liked was green brocade with teal and gold designs running through the fabric...very different. It was a little tight (around the hips, oh how I hate those 49 year old hips, no matter how I try I can't get those hips to budge)...but I liked it. However, was it too tight? Or, to be specific, was it too tight for my 49 year old figure? I looked in the mirror to the looked okay...I looked in the mirror to the looked okay...I looked in the mirror on the other side and in the back of could see a slight, slight, slight pantyline. I couldn't decide. I asked the nice women two stalls down..."what do you this skirt too tight?...please tell me the truth," I said, "I won't be offended if you think it is too tight?" "I think it looks great," she said, "and how beautiful the fabric is...but, if you think it is too tight, then it's up to you."

Don't you hate when people do that? I wanted her to tell me if I should love it and buy it...especially when I'm on the edge of reasoning...or rationalizing...not put the monkey back on my back. I decided to see if I could sit down in the skirt...(mind you time was ticking and it was already 7:15 much for dinner with my son...although if I wanted to buy this skirt I likely would not want to be eating too many dinners...definitely not desserts)...I was able to sit down without splitting any seams. The deal was sold. Yes the deal was sold. Yes...the Nicole Miller skirt was going to be mine tonight. And with an original price tag of $255 and a SYMS price of $69, it was well worth the purchase (how could I reason otherwise?)

By 7:20 pm it was in the bag, along with the umbrella, and some stockings to match. What I am going to wear with it, I don't quite know...but, "I'll worry about that tomorrow" Vivian Leigh said in Gone with the Wind (love that line ever). The most important thing is I have my little A-lined Nicole Miller skirt...and I do love the at 49 I deserve a Nicole Miller skirt since I've never had one.

Better get to the gym tomorrow so I can still fit into my little A-lined skirt next week when I want to wear it...or course, now I'll have to take it shopping with me to pick out the perfect little top to go with this perfect little A-lined skirt.

Oh, I do love clothes...always have...and always matter what my age.

And when I arrived home at 7:25 pm, my son hadn't even had dinner yet. "Did you get your umbrella, mom, by the way...the computer just crashed and we lost all our documents," he said. This never happened before and had I not bought my little A-lined skirt this evening, I might have been extremely upset...but, not tonight, I just said "what a shame...hope we can fix it tomorrow!"


Saturday, April 7, 2007

A Most Embarrassing Moment

We all have embarrassing moments in our the times when you wear a lightweight dress and forget the see-through factor(I always make sure that I wear an extra slip when wearing anything linen, I double check the see-through factor)...or the times when you wear white pants and get a tomato or drop of Diet Coke or red wine on them (of course this happens only at formal affairs when you want to look your best...actually wearing white is good...when I wear white I tend to eat less because I only eat items that are white or light soda, white wine, Fettucine Alfredo, mushroom appetizers - they squirt and drip)...or the time you have to present or have an important luncheon and you are talking to an important person and don't realize that you have a speck of lettuce or spinach from your salad in your front tooth. How embarrassing - right? I always try to alert people (especially my friends)to the situation in an indiscreet way...I try to be the mirror in those circumstances when there are no mirrors.

Well...I didn't have a mirror when it comes to the embarrassing moment I had yesterday....I woke up this morning and was still laughing about it...if I was younger I probably would not be laughing...but at 49 the embarrassing moments get easier. Here's the story...get ready to laugh:

Our exterminator...the bugman...always arrives at my house the first Friday of every month. Yes, Larry the bugman (a nice older man) arrives at 7:30 am the first Friday of each month to ensure that our house stays bug free. Since this Friday was a holiday and I had off from work, I asked Larry to arrive at 11:00 am...both my husband and I almost forgot that Larry was coming.

I woke around 10:00 am, took my shower, went to have breakfast (my Kashi cereal, my orange, my tea, my vitamins). Then it was time to do my business in the bathroom. I took my New York Times Weekend section to read (became engrossed in the story about one of my favorite shows Entourage which is coming back on TV this Sunday - yeah - and another article about a person who has condensed the entire Soprano series into a seven minute video on U-Tube - fascinating, must check it out). I told my husband who was working on the computer that I was in the bathroom. I put the fan on and proceeded to read.

Need I say more...I think you are getting the picture...especially when I tell you that I didn't lock the door (I don't have little kids anymore so why would I lock the door) a split second the door opened...Larry yelled "Oh geez, oh geez!"...I yelled "Oh shit, oh shit!"...he slammed the door..."I didn't look," he yelled, "I didn't look...I'm sooooo sorry," he yelled from the other side of the door. I finished my business and stayed in the bathroom. I didn't want to see Larry and I know Larry didn't want to see me.

My husband, sitting in the living room, had not realized what happened, as he had forgotten I was in the bathroom. As Larry ran to the front of the house, my husband asked him "Larry, what's wrong...don't you want your check?" By this time per my husband, Larry's face was as red as a tomato and the bugman, yes the bugman had bug eyes! I don't know who was more embarrassed as he ran out the door. As he exited, Larry yelled to my husband, "I'm so sorry I didn't realize your daughter was home...I didn't realize anyone was in the bathroom." "My daughter is in Italy," my husband said, "That was my wife!"

Should I be embarrassed or flattered that Larry the bugman thought I was 21 not that split second, yes, in that split second, someone thought I was twenty-something again. Poor Larry, I'm sure he needed a shot of tequila...or likely something stronger...he was all shook up...not his typical monthly exterminator experience.

As for me, I am going to always remember to lock the bathroom door from now on...especially when visitors are expected. Yes, I'm sure this embarrassing episode will go on the top of of the list in my 49th yearbook...another memorable moment!


Thursday, April 5, 2007

A "Delizioso" Vacation

Buon giorno!

I'm back from Italy and it was absolutely one of my most memorable vacations...ever...ever. It's hard to believe that it is over. All the waiting, excitement, build up...and now it is over. But, I have so many wonderful memories, wonderful pictures (hopefully I can get them off of the camera before my son goes off to college 18 months from now),...and wonderful Italian mementos to help me remember my six extraordinary days in Italy.

Let's see...what were the best parts:

- seeing my daughter was one of the top highlights. Actually, seeing my daughter living in Rome was the top, top highlight. Was that truly my daughter...the person who was walking like she knew exactly where she was going in this big Italian city called Rome(she walked faster than I do when I am in New York City...she never used to walk faster then me)...was that my daughter, the person who spoke Italian like she knew what she was talking about(she purchased our train tickets, ordered our meals, and told the taxi cab drivers where to take us)...was that my daughter, the person who guided us through all the sites and toured us through the little streets to local restaurants and shops we never would have found had she not been our guide...was that my daughter, the person I gave birth to 21 years ago (she turned 21 when we were was her birthday...was it really 21 years ago this month that I had my first child...impossible...where did the time go? And how is it that I'm already 49?) I am just so proud of the person she has become...the experiences she has had during her semester abroad. When I think of all my accomplishments in my life... my daughter (even though she is 21 and did buy a pair of real Christian Dior sunglasses in Italy for an exorbitant price) still tops the list.

- Oh, all the sites we saw...yes, we saw them all and some days I could barely move by the end of the day...I was glad I was 49 years young to do this was a lot of walking, a lot of climbing, and a lot of waiting in lines. But, my sturdy Easy Spirits kept me on the move (love those shoes made for us baby boomer women). One day we walked all the way from one side of Rome to the other...from St. Peters Basilica (awesome), to the Piazza Navona (I should have rationalized and bought an oil painting there by one of the incredible I will have to wait for my next visit), to the marketplace in Campo di Fiori (wish I could have taken home some of the fragrant spices to make my favorite puttanesca sauce), all the way back to our hotel, the Mecenate Palace Hotel on the eastside of the city (a lovely hotel nearby Termini Station, that had a hairdryer that worked...yes...I said a hairdryer that worked). We walked to the Colosseum and up and around the Forum and Palantine Hill...we walked to the Borghese Gardens and rented bicycles to ride around the park and then walked all the way back again to our hotel. We took the train to Florence and walked around in the pouring rain. It was all worth it...yes, it was all worth the walk.

- Oh, all the "delizioso" food we ate...the pizza and the gelato...the gelato and the pizza...the pastries and the biscotti...the pasta and the antipasto...ancora un po' - I always wanted more.

- Oh, all the shopping I did...the leather wallet (always wanted a red leather wallet and what could be better than a red leather wallet that was made in Florence)...the red leather bag (always wanted a red leather bag and what could be better than a red leather bag from Rome)...the green pashima shawl (had to buy something at the Italian market in Florence)...the orange pashima shawl (okay I couldn't decide which one I liked better so I bought them both)...the Murano glass earrings (had to buy a piece of jewelry...what would a trip to Italy be without a piece of jewelry)...the artwork (bought a few lovely small watercolor prints that will be stored in the closet until I finish paying off this trip and can afford to frame them...hopefully before my 50th birthday). There were also all the presents for some of my close relatives and friends...wish I could have bought something for everyone.

What did I pass up that I really wanted to buy? Even though you didn't ask I'll tell you...I didn't buy the leather gloves, even though the nice salesperson from Border's books told me to buy leather gloves (there were too many gorgeous colors and was too difficult to I didn't buy any). I didn't buy a leather jacket (I really liked the leather three quarter length coat in my favorite beige color...but it was just too many Euros...had to pass). I didn't buy the oil painting or the red leather shoes to go with my wallet and bag...there was a limit to what I could rationalize...and fit in my overloaded suitcase...even if I am turning 50 next year.

So, what would I recommend to those who want to visit Rome either before or after your 49th year? Here are some tips:

- pack light (my bag weighted in at more than the designated 55 pounds so I had to take stuff out at the airport and put it in my son's bag...which only weighted 33 pounds). As you can probably imagine...I brought way too many clothes, way too many books (I did read The Secret while in Rome...will share my feelings on that book at a later date), and way too many pairs of shoes, belts, and other assorted accessories.

- read the maps and plan your days. I think our six day visit was just the perfect amount of time...just don't plan to sleep too much. But, if you're like likely don't sleep too much it is good to go to Rome during the pre-menopausal years. Also, taking along a teenager who knows how to read maps is very helpful(even if he doesn't like to shop)...was so proud of my son who helped my sister and me navigate the big city of Rome when our guide (my daughter) left for Egypt during the middle of our visit(of course she had to go to Egypt...when would she ever, ever, ever get this opportunity again to see the pyramids and ride a camel).

- take a day trip to Florence. You don't have to go first class either...we made a mistake and ended up getting there really quickly but paying twice the price. And look out the window when you are on the is very pretty and I think it is Tuscany.

- be careful in the subways. It is crowded and you have to watch your bag. We were lucky and made it through without any pickpocketing.

- take an umbrella...but don't worry if it breaks (like mine did)...there are always tons of street vendors selling umbrellas

- eat the pizza and gelati and don't worry about your cholesterol or your weight...just keep walking.

- and don't forget to visit the Bocca della Verita, the legendary Mouth of Truth located on the porch wall at the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, near the north end of Circus Maximus. It was another one of my highlights of the trip...I was determined to find this could I leave Rome without putting my hand in the Mouth of Truth. After all, that was where Gregory Peck took Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday...I had to put my hand in the Mouth of Truth. As legend has it, if you're a liar, your hand will be gobbled up. Why would I lie...I had legitimate reasons why I had to buy all those mementos...I am in reason to lie about all my purchases...or my age...I'm 49 and proud of it.

My Roman Holiday...I'll always remember.