BY MARY MALLOY Hi, my name is Mary and I am a new Long Island Expert. Oops, no, that was yesterday. Today I don't feel like an expert at all. I feel like a novice ...

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Hi, my name is Mary and I am a new Long Island Expert.
Oops, no, that was yesterday. Today I don't feel like an expert at all. I feel like a novice at life. And that is what this column is about - the expertise of knowing how to juggle it all - the house, the kids, the job; how to know when to "hold 'em" (the kids and my husband) and when to "fold 'em" (the laundry at 11 p.m., when it's quiet, of course...)

We can all be experts - learning to get things right, and how to deal with it when it doesn't turn out so right, after all. And how to forgive yourself (and convince others to) when you mess up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again - and again, if necessary.

Did you ever feel like you were juggling everything so well, all your balls in the air, so to speak - the job, the kids, the home - and then you look away for a second - one second - and you drop a ball. Nothing drastic, but it does screw up the whole routine, doesn't it?
Here is an example - I thought I had last week all planned, everything recorded on the calendar, doctor appointments, class trips, meetings, the usual. Until my sixth-grader said, "I need a deli sandwich, my class shirt, my black pants and a disposable camera for tomorrow."
Hmm, tomorrow...I eyeball the calendar - nope, nothing written there in red marker, nothing circled. Nah, she must be mistaken.
"What is tomorrow?" I asked.
"My class trip to Carnegie Hall, you know..."
"Uh...are you sure?" I said, checking to see if I had the right month hanging down. Now she was rolling her eyes. She does that with expertise, I must say. No, I had forgotten to record it.

Ball one - bounce, bounce, bounce...

Well, of course, I don't have to explain what happened next. We fished the shirt out of the hamper, washed it in the sink along with the appropriate pants; she took my 35mm camera instead of throwaway, with the understanding that she brings it home in one piece or cough up $350, and her friend's mother bought them the costly sandwiches.
Yes, I am an expert all right. And expert fixer-upper. After all, I have so much practice. The trick is, you have to tell yourself that there is no such thing as tragedy - just life learning experiences. Ha. Are you falling for this yet?

Here's my situation - I am 49 years old, I have four children, ages 10, 12, 14 and 28, and a stepson who is 19. All are living here, with the exception of Keith, the eldest, who has recently married and is going to make me a (very youthful and not-quite-ready-for the-title) grandmother. I married my childhood sweetheart last year, and he is wonderful. But he came with.....dogs. Yikes. I am what you would term a "cat person." Actually, he trains dogs for a living, is very organized and neat and has the patience of a saint. Can you see the joke coming here? Of course, I am not very organized, I think neatness is highly overrated, and well, dogs are kind of slobbery and goofy compared to slinky cats, in my opinion.
The kids are loud, the animals are furry, the car needs brakes, my hours were just downgraded at work (oh, goody - I get to figure out how to feed six people, two dogs, and a cat with less income!) -- Did I mention the word "challenge" instead of "%&#$($#"?

Welcome to life on Long Island! Please email me at LIWomansLife@hotmail.com if you have any comments, suggestions, or stories you would like to share about being a woman on Long Island New York.

Mary Malloy is a published writer, having written humorous, ongoing columns in local newspapers including The East Rockaway Observer,The Five Towns Forum, Nassau Tribune, Nassau Community Newspaper Group, & Long Island Woman periodical. She recently married her childhood sweetheart and is the mother of five children, ages 12 to 30 --and the grandmother of a lively toddler name Thomas. She experiences every day life by coping, juggling and living on (and loving) Long Island, New York and sharing the humor and the ironies of life with others.