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A stitch in time part two

 

 

May 19

 

 

Here is the last installment in this entry!

 

 

 

The day of the prom finally came and her Uncle Hector, a hair dresser, came over and styled her hair.

I had been shopping one day months earlier and saw the most incredible cream colored silk shoes for the whopping price of $1.98!

They were brand new in a major chain store!

I asked the clerk and she said the price was right because it was on clearance!

I love Uncle Clearance!

 

One time Jess had seen them in my closet and was going to wear them. I fibbed and told her they were for my wedding!

She was so funny!

She's like okay, whatever!

 

Today I took them out and gave them to her to wear for this special night!

They went perfectly with the dress!

 

"But I thought they were for your wedding!" She exclaimed!

"I am already married babe!" I laughed.

"Yeah, but, ah never mind!" She laughed.

Chris felt paying over a hundred bucks for a rental tux was silly, so he bought a really snappy old fashion gangster suit, hat and all!

 

He had been letting his hair grow out for a while so his Uncle blew dried it straight. GQ baby! He looked so sharp!

 

Our house is three blocks from their High school, so all their friends came over to take pictures before heading to the school's pre-prom activities.

It was awesome!

After the picture taking session, we went to the school's gym for the prom processional.

 

Jess had made her date, Branden a matching vest and bow tie with left over material from her dress. They looked so good together!

 

The gym had been decorated beautifully for the occasion!

 

One by one each senior's name was announced with their dates and they walked down the rugs place on the gym floor.

They came to a stop under a gorgeous archway made of white tulle and bright lights.

 

The school's photographer took a picture of each couple before they walked off.

As Jess and Brandon walked by, one of the teachers told her friend,

"You have got to take a picture of that dress! It is gorgeous!"

 

She turned to me and asked me where Jess had bought it. I told her Jess had made it and she was shocked!

 

"I can't even sew a button on!" She laughed.

Quickly word spread that Jess had made the dress!

Needless to say that she had a grin from ear to ear! She was so proud of herself!

Once the procession was over we watched them get into their cars and go off to the prom.

 

Mel and I walked back to our house. Alexi had gone to a birthday party so it was just Mel and me at home.

 

Usually Friday nights are our "date nights". Mel went upstairs to change as we had made plans to go to the movies. While Mel was upstairs I sat on the couch.

 

I glanced up and stared at the various pictures of the kids I had on the walls from different eras of their lives.

First grade, fifth grade dance, 8th grade graduation and so on.

Tears started rolling down my cheeks. I looked down on the floor and noticed a pink bag.

It had some old videos I had found earlier that week when I was looking for some sewing supplies.

 

I grabbed one of them and popped it into the VCR.

Soon I saw the images from the past.

 

Alexi playing baseball, Chris, chunky, and cute next to him, in the dugout the year they played on the same team.

 

There was Jess in her fifth grade play as Cinderella; images of Jose, freshman year of high school, playing football. Cristina looking beautiful at her sweet sixteen birthday party.

 

My hubby walked in and took one look at me.

"Oh, heck, Honey, why you watching that if it's going to make you cry"

 

I couldn't even talk. He looked over to the screen and saw little Alexi smiling back at us. He slowly sat down next to me. After a few minutes he said,

"They look so young!" He reached over and gently rubbed my back.

"I know I always gave you a hard time about being an obnoxious parent with the video camera and pictures and all, but I am glad we have these." He said.

I just nodded and the waterworks continued.

 

I finally said, "It went by so fast! I was hoping it would last just a little bit longer."

 

I could say no more, between sobs. My hubby hugged me tight, in that "Oh, heck I don't know what else to do, way".

 

I placed my head on his shoulder and he gently took my face in his hands and said,

"You did good George!" (Yet another story for another page) I busted out laughing in between sobs.

 

"I guess we did, didn't we?" We finished watching the video and I wiped away my tears.

"You ready to go out?" He asked.

"Yeah, I'm ready." I answered.

 

Mel walked to the kitchen as I lingered a moment longer in the living room. I looked around one last time at all the pictures before I shut the lights out.

 

I knew that the memories would be there forever. I also knew that as painful as letting go was, there was also a lot more exciting events to come.

More high school Graduations, proms, kids going away to college, weddings and grand-babies.

 

I slowly walked out to the kitchen to where my hubby was waiting.

 

I wasn't totally sure what the years to come had in store for me as a mom or as a woman, but I was sure of one thing.

If the memories to be were anything like the past ones, life was truly going to be sweet!

 

As I looked at Mel I also realized one more thing as well, being stuck with just him after everything was said and done, wasn't going to be all that bad after all!

 

I hugged him tight and said,

"So how does Chinese sound?"

 

"Now that's what I'm talking about!" He said with his silly grin.

"I have dibs on the extra fortune cookie!" He called out as we walked out the door.

 

With my Mel around, who was going to miss having kids in the house anyway?


 


A Stitch in time- part one

 

May 18

 

 

Today was Jess and Chris' prom.


She had been having a dilemma about what kind of dress to wear.

She had been trying to look for a gown that was modest and comfortable.

No matter where we looked, all the gowns were low cut, totally strapless or incredibly gaudy and expensive!

 

She finally decided that she would make her prom dress, if I was willing to help her.

I thought about it for a few moments.

 

What if she didn't like it? Or worse, what if we mucked it up and she wound up with no dress at all?

I quickly got those thoughts out of my mind and focused on the positive.

 

Jess and I had bonded instantly from the first time we laid eyes on each other.

Duh, I know! This is what happens when a mother sees her child for the first time; but in our case, we didn't meet until Jess was five years old.

The first time I meet her was when Mel and I planned, or rather kind of planned, our camping trip in the Mountains.

She had the biggest brown eyes, biggest smile and an even bigger attitude!

 

From that moment on she was attached at my hip. A fact that Chris, my own five year old, wasn't too thrilled about!

One time Chris was sitting next to me when Jess came and sat on the other side.

They then proceeded to see who could hug me more and get a bigger piece of me to hold.

Chris finally snapped and said

"Hey, I saw her first!" Without missing a beat Jess replied,

"Yeah, but she loves me just as much!"

Chris looked at me with a big pout and tears in his eyes, "Is that true?" He asked.

 

I explained to both of them that the human heart had the capacity to love many people, without anyone falling out the other end!

I explained to them that I loved Chris as my own because he grew him in my tummy; to which Chris gave her a,

"Ha, told you so!"

I also explained to them that I loved Jess as my own because she grew in my heart. Although they came into my life in different ways and at different times, the love I felt for them was the same.

"See told you!" She said, with a big smile.

I gave them both a big hug and tickled their bellies.

 

Throughout the years Jess and Chris have been continuously mistaken for twins. They had the same friends, travelled in the same circles, she told him what to do and he did it!

She was his personal secretary and constantly reminded him of what homework was due the next day. He made her laugh and made sure no one messed with her.

 

When Jess moved in to live with us full time in eighth grade, we just got closer and closer.

 

The idea of being able to work on her prom dress was something I couldn't pass up.

 

She scoured the internet for the perfect style. Once we had a rough idea of what she wanted, we went to the fabric store.

 

Jess picked out the most beautiful silk material at an incredible price!

I borrowed a seamstresses' mannequin from a church friend and we got down to business.

 

We started working on the dress in January. Yeah, I know, neurotic! But this way if we goofed, we had time to un-goof!

 

Our church has a young women's program similar to the boy's scouts program.

One of the last things is a major project that they have to accomplish on their own and they have to explain why this was important to undertake.

She decided to make the project her prom dress. The reason was so she could be true to herself by dressing modestly and to be frugal, and handy.

Since this was her project she had to do the bulk of the work herself.

 

If any of you have ever sewn, making a gown and working with slippery silk, is two of the hardest things to do as a seamstress.

 

My daughter had done some sewing before but nothing this complex.

I guided her through the cutting process and the basting.

I watched her struggle with the difficult parts and had to resist the temptation to just do it for her.

We wound up deciding on the bottom of one design and the top from another, this resulted in a lot of improvising and revision!

Once the dress was almost done we had two challenges we hadn't counted on!

 

The first was that because we started this project in January, by the time we were almost done in April, Jess had slimmed down due to play varsity basketball and softball!

 

This resulted in the bodice, which should have been body hugging, being extremely loose!

The other part was that because of the adjustments made to the design, the sleeves kept slipping off her shoulders exposing her bra straps!

She was totally frustrated think it was because she lacked the skills to sew it correctly!

 

At this point she had worked on this for over three months, so I figured she had done more than her fair share.

 

That night while she slept, I made adjustments to the bodice to make it fit snuggly, while still being comfortable.

I added extra material to her sleeves and sewed beads around the addition to make it look like part of the original design.

 

The next morning I was in the kitchen when I heard a delighted squeal coming from our sewing, I mean dining room!

She ran in and half tackled, half hugged me after she saw the dress.

She tried it on and it was a perfect fit!

 

 

Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of "a Stitch in time!"

I know I am such a stinker!


A mother’s simple joy.

 

 

May 14

 

Happy Mother's Day!

Can we say pancakes in Bed?

Sweet!

 

Honestly of all the things I could get on this day nothing is as awesome as the gifts my kids give me or make for me.

 

Don't get me wrong, I have a serious addiction to shoes and handbags. I love shiny things in little velvet boxes and did I mention, I love shiny things in little velvet boxes?

Through the years my hubby has been very sweet in his gift-giving. He loves to give me jewelry and since he is a thrifty and astute shopper, as in very cheap, he has a knack for finding incredible bargains.

Usually in my favorite metal of silver, among other types of costume jewelry that wore well and looked good.

 

I am not into expensive pieces of jewelry because I just don't see the logic behind that. I also like the fact that my daughters can borrow my jewelry without fear of losing it.

 

His generosity has created a good example for the kids. When they were very little they would make me some gifts.

Chris and Jess made me a really pretty necklace once.

 

I wore it to church on many an occasion and every time I did one of them would comment, "Wow, you still have that!"

Their faces would light up because I was wearing it!

 

Eric once made me a beautiful pumpkin pin sewn out of felt. He made it in sewing class in middle school.

 

Derek made me a police notebook when he was in kindergarten; I carried it in my brief case for my entire police career.

He found it in my memento box after my retirement and was shocked that it was still intact.

 

Alex made me a Christmas ornament also in kindergarten. He got misty-eyed when he found the pine cone decoration, almost disintegrated in a zip lock bag, when he was looking for his birth certificate.

 

Cristina made me a clay ring holder in my favorite colors of blue and white.

 

Jose made me a bracelet with an odd assortment of beads, which I loved!

 

Alexi made me a picture when he was also in kindergarten that I still keep on my refrigerator door.

James drew a picture of me and used it to make a collage of pictures of all the kids for me.

 

The boys one year wrote and recorded a song for me in honor of mother's day.

 

Now that they are older and working they will go out of their way to buy me some pretty cool gifts.

 

The one thing that I love is that they know me. They take the time to give me things with meaning. Whether it was jewelry, plaques or angels professing love for mom.

 

I love the things they buy me but honestly the things I hold dearest to my heart are those small hand-made gifts.

 

I hold them as more valuable than gold.

 

Once in a while I will go through my memento box and relive each moment. My eyes weld up feeling the love and reminiscing about their sweetness and devotion.

 

I also am in awe of how deep that love and loyalty flows. I could turn around and be the biggest jerk in the world to them when they were small and they would still be loyal to me.

 

I always prayed that I would continue to be worthy of that devotion.

 

I made sure to try extra hard to never betrayed that trust or love. Although I did not always succeed at being the best mom, they always knew I loved them unconditionally!

 

Once in a while they will still give me a gift that has a special personal touch.

 

A poem from Eric, a picture collage from the boys with words of thanks, a card from my daughter Jess offering words of gratitude for no reason other than because it was Tuesday and she missed me.

 

A phone text from Cristina saying a small hello and an "I love you", and on and on.

 

My kids are now spread all over the country yet I am blessed that we are even closer now than when we lived under the same roof.

 

We make an effort to actually do all the things we should have done when we lived so close.

 

When they come home for a visit we watch the silly movies, hang out together, have the talks that should have been had years earlier, but most of all we glow in each other's company and thank God for that special time together.

 

These shows of affection serve two purposes; they make me grateful for the gift of having loving children and two, they offer a glimmer to show that for as much as Mel and I made mistakes, some things we still somehow got right.

 

Now that they are all older, I still miss the burnt toast, runny eggs and messy kitchen. I miss the home-made gifts and piggy pile of kids on my bed, waiting wide eyed for me to open their gifts.

 

But as much as I miss those times, I know that I will always have the memories, the mementos and most of all the knowledge that I am loved by some very special people!

 

It is amazing to me how God's greatest gift to us, next to Jesus' sacrificing atonement, is the amazing joy of children and their incredible sweetness and love.

 

Motherhood rocks!


The gift of a mother’s love-part two.

 

May 6

 

"Does this fool, not realize that this is how people get shot?" I asked Mel.

The 'Fool" now ran around to the driver's window and started banging on the glass making faces at my husband.

I kept staring at him as I slowly reached down to my side where I was carrying my off-duty weapon, to make sure it was accessible if I needed it.

 

As I turned around some crazy old lady started banging on my window, totally scaring the bejeeves out of me!

"What the heck is going on here and who the heck is this crazy old lady?"

I got even more nervous when the group came over and surrounded the van. Oh, great we were going to be killed by an angry mob of villagers, before I even got a chance to start my new life! Go figure!

 

I looked back and saw the nervousness on my boys faces, but then I looked at Mel's kids and saw them laughing. Okay so this is normal around here?

 

"Look," Little Jose said, "its Tio and Titi, what are they doing here, are we going camping with them, too?

"You know these crazy people?" I asked Mel.

"Unfortunately, yes, it's my brother and sister with the rest of my family," Mel said to me totally uncomfortable with the situation.

 

"I meant that part about crazy, in the nicest way!" I said as my face turned beet red.

Great, so much for easy!

 

Long story short, I got a reader's digest condensed introduction to ALL of Mel's family members at once!

 

Out of the crowd came this sweet older lady who came over and gave me the once over. My stomach dropped, I just knew that it was Mel's mom! She smiled, patted my hand and walked off without a word.

Mel's brother, Jose Angel, insisted that we camp with them. Mel refused and after an hour of trying to leave we were finally on our way.

"They are funny!" Alex said.

"Yeah, a regular chuckle feast, those guys are", Mel answered, clearly upset.

He wasn't the only one. I felt totally ambushed! I was actually thinking that he had set me up by having his family in the parking lot on purpose. Not cool!!

 

Well, back to the reservations. After two hours of driving to the mountains and six hours of trying to find an open camp site we were at our wits end. The kids were tired and hungry, I was totally upset and Mel was just plain angry!

 

"Honey, I think we need to just take your family up on their invitation and stay with them tonight. Maybe we'll find something open tomorrow." Mel's jaw line tightened as well as his grip on the steering wheel. I thought he was going to break it in two!

"I guess we have no choice!" He finally said.

 

We drove to the site and we were immediately surrounded by his family again. His brothers volunteered to put our tent up, but after watching them trying to put all the pieces together to no avail, I had had enough!

 

I walked to the middle of the chaos and started barking orders.

"Eric, grab that end, Dee hold here, Alex pick this side up, I got this end, Chris, grab the line!" Within fifteen minutes we had the tent up, lovingly called the wooly mammoth because it was huge, and all our gear set up inside.

"Hey, Jun, (Mel's nickname from his family, short for junior,) Pushy broad, I like her!" I gave him a drop dead look, but he couldn't see it because it was pitch black by now.

I got the kids feed and to bed. As I lay in my sleeping bag trying to sleep, I kept thinking to myself, what am I getting myself into??

 

The next morning I was cooking breakfast, when again Jose Angel, spewed another nugget of wisdom.

"You cook?" He asks me.

"Of course I can cook!" I really wanted to drop kick, midget man and bury his body deep in the woods!

"Hey, Jun, she can cook, you need to keep this one!" My poor Mel turned three shades of red!

I guess being smooth wasn't one of his brother's better qualities.

 

That was the beginning of my week with Mel's family.

In that week we got word that my brother-in-law Wayne, who had been more like a father to me passed away. Chris fell off a rock and poked his eye requiring a trip to the emergency room 45 minutes away. We got chased by a bear twice and had to deal with poor Alexi having tummy cramps and blisters on his feet. At the same time we decided to stay, because my brother-in-law Wayne would have been mad as all get go, if we had left because of him. We wound up having a good time. The kids bonded. Mel got to hang out with his family and I somehow survived without drop kicking his brother into the next state!

Unbeknownst to me I was under the watchful eye of Mel's mom the whole time. On the last day of our vacation we stopped at Burger King on the way home with the whole crew.

While there, I was feeding the baby when Mel's mom came over and sat next to me. I really liked this lady, she was just so awesome!

For once I really cared if someone liked me or not. She watched me interact with Alexi and saw Alexi reach over and stick a soggy French fry he had been sucking on, into my mouth.

I ate it, laughing and kissed his fingers. He giggled and kissed me on my cheek.

I looked up and realized that she had been staring at me, with tears in her eyes.

She thanked me for the way I was treating her grandchildren. I was totally floored!

I had done nothing differently with Mel's kids, than I would have normally done with my kids, or nieces and nephews.

It wasn't until years later that I understood her comment, because of all the ill will between Mel's family and his ex-wife.

 

That as they say was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Mama and I were inseparable. She became to me, the mother I never had.

She loved me, was proud of me and supported me in all my endeavors. We could talk about religion, life, family and they were some of our most meaningful conversations!

It was the first time I really felt loved by a mother figure. I was blessed to have her in my life for six incredible, although too short years, until she passed away of cancer at the age of 73.

 

At her wake she made us promise to only wear bright colors, and we celebrated her amazing life by showing pictures of all the incredible things she had done in her life.

I was amazed by the number of people at her wake and funeral. It was so overwhelming to see how many lives she had touched!

From the city major, to community leaders, to ex-convicts who she counseled in jail, there were people from all walks of life there.

 

Years later we still would run into people who would share stories about how she had enriched their lives in a positive way!

Not a day goes by that I don't think of her.

When times are tough I silently talk to her asking for encouragement, as crazy as it might sound I always feel better afterwards.

 

Every year on her birthday, I take time to remember all the good times. I also want to make sure that her memory never fades away.

 

Mostly I want to always strive to be as much like her as I can. I just pray that when my life comes to an end that I will leave a big a mark on this world as my dear mama did.

 

Happy Birthday Mama! I can imagine you helping them run things up there in Heaven!!

 

 


The gift of a mother’s love-part one.

 

 

May 5

 

Today was my mother-in-law's birthday. It usually is a good day but, since she passed away a few years ago, it's kind of really sad for me at times.

Eladia or Mama, as I called her, was one of those incredible, so called ordinary people, who truly embodied the philosophy of living an extra-ordinary life.

 

Before I married my husband I was a little nervous about meeting his mom.

Okay I lied, I was way nervous!

 

One of the advantages of having been best buds with my hubby before dating was that I already knew everything about his family.

I knew that his brothers were crazy, his sisters were nuts and his mom was the love of his life.

You could call him a mama's boy but he would deny it.

 

But to tell the truth he was so a mama's boy, in a good way!

He took care of her, loved and respected her.

 

The best thing about their relationship was that she had earned all those things and more, because she was an awesome lady.

 

She didn't dish out guilt or negativity. She was her children's best cheerleader and most ardent fan!

That was the reason I was so nervous about meeting her!

I was petrified that she wasn't going to like me and I felt that if she didn't like me I was done!

 

Mel postponed his family meeting me for a very long time. He told me later that he was afraid they would scare me off!

 

We finally decided that since we knew we were thinking of getting married, we need to go to the next level.

The first level was having our kids meet each other and get to know us as a couple.

 

So we planned a camping trip to the mountains where we could be alone and start to bond as a perspective family to be.

 

It would be just us and our 8 kids, (James had not come into the equation yet).

 

Well, at least that was what we had planned!

As it turns out, my hubby really wasn't the best at planning some things.

 

Our trip was planned for the Fourth of July week. I asked my hubby if he had reserved a camp site, he assured me that we didn't need reservations as there were tons of campsites!

 

I don't know about you, but this didn't make me feel too comforted.

The day we were leaving on our trip, Mel picked me and my up and drove to his condo to pick up his gear.

We waited for him there while he went and picked up his kids.

I was excited about meeting his kids, finally!

 

When his kids walked in, imagine my surprise when my son Eric ran over and hugged little Jose, as Jose jumped up into his arms!

Okay maybe this was going to be easier than I thought!

I knew my son was friendly, but I didn't realize how much!

The reality was that the term small world applied here, Jose and Eric had met and became fast friends at the junior trooper program that they had attended over February school vacation week. (Yup, another story for yet another day)

Eric, who was six years older than Jose, kind of took him under his wing.

 

Next in the door was Jess, 5 at the time, who instantly walked over to me, grabbed my hand and declared, "I'm sleeping with her!"

Yes, two for two!

 

Contestant number three, I mean kid number three was Cristina. She walked over to the couch and punched Alex in the arm as she said, "Hi, Alex!" Okay, way weird!

Oh, yeah, junior trooper program again!

 

Last in was Mel with little Alexi, 18 months at the time, in tow. I walked over to say hi to Mel when I wound up with 20 pounds of toddler flopping into my arms without warning!

Okay how much did you pay them to do this, Honey?

 

I was psyched! We were off to a great start!

 

Well that bubble quickly burst when we got out to the parking lot.

While we walked over to our rental van I noticed a large group of people, talking really loudly, laughing and most attention getting, drinking beers in the parking lot.

This normally I guess wouldn't have been a big deal except that it was only 8:30 in the morning!

 

I noticed that Mel all of a sudden was in a huge hurry to get out of there. He quickly ushered us into the van and was rushing us to hurry up and put our seat belts on so we could leave.

Where's the fire, baby?

 

As he put the key into the ignition I noticed a short guy from the group look over and start yelling in our direction, as he waved his arms frantically. The color drained from my husband's face.

 

"Honey, I think that guy is trying to get your attention." I said.

Cristina looked over to where I was pointing and said,

"Hey, Daddy isn't that Tio, over there?"

"I don't think so honey." He answered as he tried to floor the gas to drive off. The guy started running full tilt toward us and literally jumped in front of our van!

 

Stay tune tomorrow for part two of the gift of a mother's love!

Oh, stop hating me; you know you love the suspense! Lol!


Ask and ye shall receive

 

 

May 3

 

I absolutely love Heavenly Father! I have come to the conclusion that he has the best sense of humor!

 

I was unpacking a box of pictures to hang on the wall when I ran across one of Cristina from her prom.

She looked absolutely gorgeous in her red, beaded dress, every hair in place, styling with her matching red shoes.

 

You can see from her smile that the day had been everything she had dreamt it would be.

 

What she didn't know was the events that had been put into place to make that day happen.

 

As you can tell from my stories, money didn't exactly always flow freely in our household when the kids were younger.

 

Okay sometimes it was nowhere to be seen, but somehow we managed with a song and a prayer!

 

Cristina had thought that her mother would take care of the costs associated with the prom, so we, Cristina included, did not plan on this added expense.

Two weeks before the prom date we got a frantic, tear-filled phone call from our daughter. Her mother had only given her a small fraction of the amount needed to cover the expenses for the prom.

 

We try not to place a big value on material things, but we do realize that your high school senior prom is a once in a life time event, an event that marks the finalization of a major phase of your life.

 

We saw it as a passage of rite and a celebration of a major accomplishment called graduating high school.

 

On such short notice there wasn't enough time for me to make her gown or shop around to try to find the best bargain. Not to mention that it was the height of prom season and the pickings were pretty slim when it came to dresses.

 

This is where the Lord showed us that he knows our needs or rather some of our wants before we do!

A week before we got the call from Cristina, I was taking the kids to school in my old green suburban, when a young man ran the stop sign and crashed into us!

 

Not the best way to start the morning! To say I was upset is putting it mildly!

I quickly asked my kids if they were okay. Thank Heavens for seatbelts!

 

I jumped out of the truck as I noticed through the side view mirror that he didn't seem too motivated to pull over and exchange papers. I ran over to the driver's door and banged on his window. (I don't recommend this to anyone! I did this because I had years of experience in these situations as a state trooper!)

He instantly stopped and I walked to the back of his car and wrote down his license plate. I guess this made him realize that even if he took off I had him!

I instantly went into "cop mode". He started to get out of his car, I told him in a voice that let him know I wasn't kidding, to get back in the car.

I yelled back to my kids to stay in the car and lock the doors. I asked him for his license and registration.

His friend started saying something to him in a foreign language and I quickly told him to zip it and hand over the required paperwork.

 

I guess by my demeanor they knew I meant business because they complied. I got all the required information and gave them mine.

I watched as they drove off and then walked back to my car. As soon as I got into my car I turned back into "Mom mode".

My kids were a little shaken but otherwise unhurt.

After making sure they were alright I drove them to school and dropped them off.

The rest of my day was dealing with the insurance company and setting the appointment for the insurance adjuster to come see the damage.

 

The next morning the insurance adjuster came by my house and filled out the report.

An experience I could have done without?

 

Well sometimes blessing come in weird packages. Fast forward to just after our daughter's phone call. My husband and I knew we did not have the money she needed, yet somehow we had the feeling that we would be able to make this day happen for her.

She came over after the phone call and Mel spent some time talking to her and calming her down. She went home feeling a lot better.

 

That night Mel and I prayed for help from Heavenly Father. Sometimes we think that the only time God helps us, is in life or death situations. The reality is he helps us every minute of every day whether we know it or not.

 

The next day when I got home from running some errands I found a letter from my insurance company. They very nicely explained that since we had an older car rather than they sending me somewhere to get the damaged fixed they sent us a check to get the repairs done ourselves!

Two things here, one, the damage wasn't that bad and two? The check was exactly for the amount my daughter needed to cover ALL the expenses with an extra ten dollars thrown in so she could go out for breakfast afterwards, frivolous?

 

It could have been, if our objective was to show off or pretend to be something we weren't then yes it would have been. But our objective was to show our daughter that if we do the right things, like stay in school, and work hard, as in graduate from high school, we do get rewarded.

 

In this case we made sure that God's blessings were known, because it was he who made her special day possible!

 

She found the dress of her dreams at the first place she went, the matching shoes on sale and her uncle did her hair. The strange thing was that she told us, she enjoyed every moment of the prom, because she knew how lucky she was to have been able to go.

Sometimes when things are hard to get, we totally appreciate them so much more than if they are just handed to us.

 

The funny thing is that what goes around comes around.

 

I got a call from the insurance company months later telling me that the two gentlemen in the accident were claiming injuries and trying to sue for medical expenses and damages. The representative from the insurance company asked me why I hadn't called the police. I told her because not only was I "the police" but I had been declared an expert witness by the courts in our state for motor vehicle accident investigation!

 

The woman on the phone couldn't stop laughing when I told her this.

She asked me if I would be willing to testify in court, absolutely I told her!

 

Needless to say they dropped the lawsuit!

 

I picked up the picture and placed it on my fireplace mantle. It served two purposes, one to remind me of our beautiful daughter on her magical night; and also so I would never forget that God does truly reward good deeds!

 

Oh yeah, and the fact that he loves a really good joke! Just ask the two guys who tried to sue our insurance company!


Alexi’s green pastures.

 

 

"For what the mind can perceive, you can achieve."

 

W. Clement Stone

 

 

 

 

May 1

 

The days just keep getting warmer and longer! This time of year always brings back memories of when the kids were younger!

Things were really busy with the kids' sports and the school year winding down to a close. I remember once I picked up the kids after school one day.

I had six of them with me. I dropped off two of them at their practices and was driving home with the remaining four when Jose started talking about how some girl was driving our daughter Cristina crazy. I asked him what was this girl doing that was so bad and Jose told us that no matter what his sister did or wore, this girl would copy her.

"What, like mimicking her?" I asked not quite getting it.

"Yeah like that! If Cristina wears her hair up, this girl copies her and wears it the same way the next day. You know how Cristina joined flag football?" He asked.

"Yes. Why?"

"Well, she signed up too! And she doesn't even like football! All she does is flirt with the boys and act stupid to get attention!" He said.

"You know Jose, they say that imitation is the best form of flattery" I replied trying to sound cheerful.

 

The truth was I wasn't too cheerful on that subject. I had been going through the same thing lately! I could understand this going on at the junior high level but the woman acting this way was in her late thirties!

 

At first I hadn't even noticed. Later on when it was impossible not to notice because it was so obvious, I ignored it.

 

I guess this aggravated this woman even more because she went totally overboard! I wear my nails a certain way which isn't common, she went and got the same style.

She cut and styled her hair the same as mine, would buy the exact same suits and dresses I would buy.

 

I am not a fashion mogul, I never wear what's "in"! I wear what I like, no matter how different. This was why it became so obvious!

 

It was so bad she would show up to the functions and events I ran for the City of Lowell! It got to the point that she even bought a ring with my birthstone on it and would wear it constantly! I felt like I was in that crazy movie, "Single white female"!

 

The logic behind this behavior totally escaped me and trust me, when I tell you, I was not flattered! So I totally knew how my daughter felt!

"That's just annoying!" Jose snorted, "Cristina is not happy at all!"

"Maybe this girl just thinks the grass is greener on the other side. She might be a little insecure around Cristina so she acts that way to compensate for it!" I answered. Jose gave me the "yeah, how dumb, eyebrow raise".

"I didn't say it made sense! Look, I have gone through something similar and while I agreed that it was annoying, it's best just to ignore it, otherwise they just keep doing it to annoy you!" I told him, half-heartedly, because I, a full grown woman, was having a hard time following my own advice!

 

"That's silly!" Alexi's tiny voice piped in from the back seat. He was so quiet I had forgotten he was there! (This happens a lot in our family!)

"What is, honey?" I asked.

"Well of course the grass is greener on the other side. Cause if you are so busy looking and being nosy about someone else's grass, your grass is going to die cause you aren't taking care of it! If you spent your time taking care of your own grass then it would be nice and green, greener than the other guy's!" He said smiling.

 

Our jaws dropped! Will life never seize to amaze me?

Jose looked at me as I shook my head. This from the mouth of babes, a first grade babe at the time! Jose reached over and nudged me, "Did you hear that!?""Hear it? I am still in shock!" Not only did he get the whole conversation and its meaning, but he came up with a deep philosophical truth that learned scholars couldn't have explained so clearly!

 

Alexi turned his head and proceeded to look out the window again.

 

His words kept coming back to me. How true his observation was! If we, as humans, spent our time cultivating the things the Lord had blessed us with, instead of obsessing over the things we don't have, our grass would be the greenest!

 

Our talents would be better honed. Our homes would be more loving and kind, our marriages sweeter and more fulfilling. We would appreciate our children more, our jobs would be more satisfying and we in general would be happier!

 

Notice I didn't say we would be thinner, richer, prettier, taller, shorter, more talented or famous! I said happier! There are countless people who have all the things I have just mentioned yet they are not happy!

We need to truly appreciate our own grass.

 

Funny thing is if we were on the other side, all of a sudden our old grass would suddenly look so much better!

 

I have known some people who after they get divorced and when their ex-spouse starts to date again, they feel that she/he starts looking so good all of a sudden!

 

Hold on, wasn't this the same person who you divorced because... (Fill in the blanks!)

 

Now because someone else finds them appealing, all the good memories come rushing back? Where were those memories when you were married to them?

 

Alexi had pointed out the obvious, at least obvious to a six-year old, not so obvious to adults.

 

It would never seize to amaze me how we humans continue to muck up and make things difficult that should be easy.

 

I had learned such an incredible life lesson in the car that day. I realized that as long as I focused on my grass it would always be green and appealing to me.

 

I also got a deeper understanding of where the woman copying me, and the girl annoying my daughter were coming from.

 

I realized that it wasn't our challenge, it was theirs. All I could do was pray for them to truly find themselves.

I hoped that they would learn to love themselves and to not feel a need to covet other people's lives.

 

I snuck a peek at Alexi through the rear view mirror and marveled at how sometimes God sends important messages with really, tiny messengers! I am glad I was listening!

 

"Hey" Alexi yelled out all of a sudden," So, whose grass are we talking about, anyway?"

We all busted out laughing as he looked confused at us.

 

"Baby, no one important, but you have taught us to remember to really appreciate our grass better!" I answered.

"Ah, question", He asked.

"Yeah, babe", I answered.

"Our backyard is bald, does this mean we have been too busy looking at the neighbor's yard instead?" He asked wide eyed.

Once again we laughed out loud.

 

"You know what buddy, maybe we have. What do you say we go buy some grass seeds and change that?"

 

"Way cool!" He cheered.

 

Now, I wonder if my hubby was going to be as excited about this new project as Alexi.

 


For the love of the game.

 

 

April 29

 

We are in full swing of softball/baseball season! This time of year reminds me of when the kids were younger and all of them where living at home!

As a result of this momentous time of year I had no life!

 

I lived at the fields! We had six kids playing at the same time; and as if that wasn't enough, three of them were playing on two teams; their school team and the city league team, simultaneously!

Never to be outdone Jose was playing on four teams!

Why?

 

Because he loved having my washing machine running twenty four, seven!

Every time I turned around I was washing a uniform and driving someone, somewhere with a bag full of balls and bats! the crazy thing about all this?

No one was forcing them to do this!

 

They really loved the sport of baseball and softball! When they weren't playing or practicing, they were out in the back yard throwing the ball around.

Some Sundays after church what did they want to do?

Go to the park as a family and play ball!

I have to admit as crazy as it used get, I love baseball/softball too, so I didn't mind.

 

I never had the chance to play as a child. I didn't start to play softball until I got married to Mel. Most Sundays I am the designated "shagger". I run around in the outfield catching all the balls that land out there (Which by the way, I am not one to brag about my family, yeah right, but it was a lot of them!)

 

I love to do this because I love to run and it makes me feel like I am part of the team, ah, family. When I first met Mel I didn't realize that he was such a big baseball fan. My ex-husband wasn't too crazy about the sport, which was a bummer for me because I loved baseball! Did I mention that I love baseball?

 

One day while Mel and I were dating I got a hold of some red Sox tickets and asked Mel if he wanted to go to the game with me. He looked at me kind of funny.

"You want to go to a baseball game on a date?" He asked. My heart sunk at the thought that maybe he didn't like my beloved sport either. As much as I loved him, if he didn't like baseball, it was over!

 

"Yes! Why not? I love baseball!"

"You, you love baseball?" He asked incredulous.

"Yes I do! What, a woman can't like baseball? Not only do I like baseball, I love baseball. I follow the stats and I know the players! What don't you like baseball?" I answered indignant, "You want to go or not? I don't have all day you know!"

"No, no, I like baseball, I'll go. You just caught me off guard. I have never had a woman ask me to a baseball game before, especially not on a date!"

"Well get used to it, bud, I am not like other women!" I said over my shoulder as I walked away. "I'll be ready by 5:30 and I don't want to miss the warm up! So don't be late or I'll leave without you!"

I heard him mumble something about pushy broad under his breath as I got back into my car and drove off.

 

While we were at the game he kept peeking at me out of the corner of his eye. I, never really caring what anyone thought about me (Well, at least not letting people know that I cared) I acted the way I normally would have.

 

I was fan-coaching my Beloved Red Sox. I struck up a conversation with the old guy in front of me about stats and possible trades in the upcoming seasons. I ate hot dogs and cracker jacks, sung at the top of my lungs during the seventh inning stretch and got my whole section doing the wave. (Mind you, all while cold sober and totally lady like!)

I might also add that Jack, the old guy in front of me, and I successfully coached the Red Sox to a 4-1 win over the Mariners!

 

This date, while very enjoyable, was forgotten until Mel brought it up later on.

"You know, I thought you were setting me up!" He told me about that day.

 

"Why?" I asked more offended than anything. He told me how he was so used to being around phony women, that he thought I had asked the guys at work what he liked so I could try to impress him.

I busted out laughing!

"Oh, please! What are you Andy Garcia?" I asked in between chuckles.

 

"I know it's stupid now!" He answered, coloring a little. "It just floored me that you were for real! For Heavens Sake's you knew more about the team than I did!" He got quiet, as he usually does when his emotions are close to the surface.

 

"What's the matter, Hon?" I asked as I caressed his hair. He cleared his throat and told me how much he really loved baseball and how he had hoped to play either in college or at the professional level (Of course having a baby at nineteen put an end to this dream.)

 

He told me that he had not been to a game since he had given up on his dream of baseball. Now at this point I'll be honest, I love my husband, but I also knew the chances of breaking into the majors were slim to none. I also knew that at a modest height of 5'9", unless he was phenomenal, that wasn't going to happen.

 

Nowadays small, sleek and fast players are common, but in my husband's era the Mo Vaughns ruled the diamond.

 

I of course didn't say this out loud. What I did do was encourage him to find a team to play on.

He told me he was too old at the ripe age of 29! I wanted to dope slap him!

I didn't do that either! I just kept nagging him until he finally found a team and started playing. Crazy thing was he was too self conscious to let me go to the games. He kept saying I would be bored, that no one watched them, etc.

 

I let it go at first, but at the beginning of his second season playing I told him flat out I was going whether he wanted me to or not!(Pushy broad won out again!)

 

It was a beautiful, hot summer day when I finally got to see his game. I was seated all by myself in the bleachers near their dug out.

 

Being the fool that I am I started doing the wave! (Yeah I know, but it was the most glorious wave of one!) His team mates laughed, happy to finally have a cheering fan!

 

Mel was probably mortified but I didn't care because I was having a ball!

 

The game moved along pretty good and Mel was doing really well! He had hit a single, a double and had been effective at third.

 

But sometime during the fourth inning I got a glimmer of what could have been.

 

A player from the other team hit a shot that had some serious spin and power behind it.

 

It took a nasty hop right in front of Mel. I cringed at the thought of how much that was going to hurt when he caught it, that is, if he caught it.

 

Imagine my surprise when Mel plucked the ball in a blur of dust and speed. He effortlessly changed directions instantly, tagged the bag and got that runner out, spun around and hummed the ball to second for the double play!

 

My jaw dropped!

 

I had just witnessed an ESPN highlight moment, before ESPN had highlight moments!

 

Here was this man who was thirty years old, hadn't played on a team since high school and he had just made a play right out of the major leagues!

 

I was so glad I had sunglasses on so that no one could see the tears coming down my eyes.

My 5'9" hubby had the stuff for the big show! Coupled with the fact that I now knew how much he truly loved the sport, my heart broke for him!

 

The love I had for the sport was always bittersweet for me, because I never got the chance to play it. I could only ponder how much more it would have hurt had I had the talent to make it as a ball player, but not the opportunity.

 

What amazed me the most about him was that he never shoved his dreams down his kids' throats. The love they had for baseball and sports in general, for that matter, was their choice and theirs' alone.

 

He wasn't an obnoxious (Okay sometimes he can be obnoxious, but not when it comes to coaching from the side lines) parent. He respected the kids' choices to decide whether to play or not. But mostly he let the experience be theirs, not his.

 

It was to the point that when he was asked to coach one of the boys teams he asked our son if it was alright with him. He didn't want to take anything away from our son's experience.

 

The only thing he is always on the kids about is to never let go of their dreams.

 

When the movie "The Rookie" Came out we went to see it. I know it was painful for Mel, but he was glad for the man portrayed in the movie.

 

Some said that it was dumb because he only played for two seasons.

My hubby's answer was "then you don't know the love of the game!"

 

As I run around from field to field, watching my kids having a ball doing what they love to do, I have truly learned the love of the game.

 

Not just the game of baseball, but the game of life, family and marriage. It's not always going to turn out good.

 

Baseball players get the money and the glory. But they also get the injuries, blisters, uncertainties and the looming cloud of not being able to play the sport they love anymore, hanging over them.

 

The same is true in life. My kids will grow up and move on with their own lives, as much as I wish them to be little forever, it will happen.

 

My marriage will grow and change from newlyweds, to parents and on to empty nesters focusing on ourselves again.

 

Life as well will go on.

 

We need to learn to love the game, blisters, heartache and all.

 

Remember without the warm-ups, injuries, sacrifices and practices there can be no game.

 

The same is true in life!

 

In the future I won't have to rush from field to field because my kids will be doing the rushing with their own family, but for today, I will rush for the love of the game.

 

Oh and by the way the French fries at the little league snack shack are to die for!

 

Pass the salt, please!


Life’s eternal renewal

 

 

April 25

 

Happy Easter!

I absolutely love Easter time! We aren't really into the buy all new clothes for the day stuff, but we do dress up and go to church.

 

I love to listen to the sermons about the resurrection and Jesus' atoning sacrifice for our salvation.

We do the candy too, Easter bunny and all! To this day as grown (and I use the term loosely) as the older half of our kids are, they still want their Easter candy!

We have three boys that live on their own. We have two boys and a daughter in college with another boy and daughter going off to college in a few months. The youngest, Alexi will be in high school in the fall, yet they have got to have their candy!

I do little gift bags for them each year. Sure enough every year I get calls from the older ones wanting to know," Where the candy at?"

 

I get a big kick out of it, while Mel says he's just going to kick them in the, well you get the picture, because they are too old to be asking for candy! F

Funny thing is he's always looking for his bag of candy too!

 

I remember one year I was in church with all the kids! (Yeah it was like Florida all over again! Only this time we had to all be quiet! Yeah, like that was ever going to happen!)

I was trying to listen to the sermon in between the bathroom trips and "wiggles" when all of a sudden they all got really quiet.

 

I looked up and down the pew and they were all busy with puzzle books, coloring books and drawing paper! Would miracles never seize?

 

Thank Heavens for the dollar store!

 

As I listened to the speaker he was talking about the symbolism of spring. He commented on how spring never truly arrives until after Easter Sunday. He said if we paid attention we would realize that the plants and flowers really don't go into full bloom until Easter arrived.

 

It was kind of ironic seeing as how Easter Sunday is at different times each year. He also talked about how all the trees come back to life just as Jesus did!

 

I had never really given this much thought and I found it amazing!

 

What I found more amazing was that on our way home Jose, who was only like eight at the time, mentioned how cool he thought the story was.

 

"You heard that?" I asked, totally amazed.

"Yeah I did! It was cool, about the trees and stuff! You know, I do hear a lot of what they say!"

"I do too!" Chris added, "Unless they have that soft grandfather voice that just knocks me out!" He laughed.

 

Double surprise for me, not only did they listen, they thought it was cool! Later on that afternoon I went out to our back yard and walked around checking out all our bushes and plants.

 

I noticed the buds sprouting and starting to bloom.

Within a few days the tulips were up, the daffodils were blooming and the trees were leafing.

 

Every year since then I do the same thing and every year I am amazed that spring doesn't go into full bloom until after Easter Sunday!

 

For me it also gives me hope! No matter how gray and dismal winter is, it always passes and spring arrives!

The dead blooms anew. Hope springs eternal! This had a whole new meaning for me after that sermon!

 

Every time I see a flower or a tree I am reminded of God's undying love for me. I am also reminded of Jesus' sacrifice so that I could have eternal life!

 

What could be cooler than that?


The ultimate road trip-Part three

 

April 24

 

Three hours later we finally made it out of New York City!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, on top of the grandmothers gabbing away, the non-stop "Where Mickey" mantra, we also had the Jess chant,

"We there yet, we there yet?" going full tilt.

Add to the mix,

"Mom, I got to pee!" by the Derek and Eric duo.

The ever popular,

"Daddy, he's touching me," coming from Cristina. Add a generous helping of Alex telling Chris to stop sweating on him.

Topped off by a helping of everyone yelling at Alex to put his shoes back on because his feet stunk; and pleading for Jose to stop farting!

To say that I was having a little doubt about the success of us, as a blended family, was putting it mildly.

 

I would need to write a book by itself to recount everything that happened to our family on that ride to Florida, so I will just leave it at this;

Thirty-four hours after we left Malden, Mass. we arrived in front of the house we had rented for the week.

The kids were excited about jumping into the swimming pool we had requested. They had been talking about it for weeks and the whole way down here!

As soon as we pulled up, all the kids bailed out, towels in tow, towards the back yard, only to find ...a backyard! Empty, no pool!

The guy in charge of the house rental just happened to be there and this is when I lost it!

I told him in no uncertain terms that he had exactly 10 minutes to find me house with a pool or he wasn't going to have to worry about me getting to him; because I was going to unleash the demon hounds, ah, disappointed kids on him!

Ten minutes later, we had a different house and the kids were in the pool!

Ah, nothing like the power of persuasion!

 

A lot of other wild, amazing things happened on that vacation, but the most amazing?

That after a day together in Florida the kids were hanging out, acting like brothers and sisters!

Mel and I were ready to kill each other, but the kids were getting along just fine!

 

The sound of Eric saying,

"Why you staring at me, it was Alex who farted; brought me back from my thoughts as he looked back at me from the couch.

"Oh it's nothing, just zoning out!" I laughed.

I took one last look at my crazy brood and got a little misty eyed.

Everyone had told us that this would never work. Our marriage, our family wouldn't work. His kids would hate me, my kids would hate him! We would just wind up divorced because of the added pressures.

But you know what?

It didn't happen! Through all the ups and downs, the hard times, the good times, none of it mattered.

Because the best thing that did come out of it all, was how incredibly close our kids were!

The older ones protected the little ones and the younger ones looked up to the older ones!

That trip, as crazy as we were for taking it, was so worth it!

Everyone asks me years later how we ever did it. I tell them it was a little bit of luck and a huge testament to how good and loving our kids were.

 

But, honestly, I know that deep down inside it was actually Stockholm syndrome that set in, from the thirty four hours the kids were held hostage by us and the grandmothers!

Cops are so sneaky!

 


The ultimate road trip- part two

 

April 23

 

Disney World in Orlando, Florida! Where else?

I of course envisioned a nice short three hour flight, then on to fun times, Right?

My hubby's vision?

He decided on a thirty-three hour long DRIVE to Florida!

Not only with eight kids, but with the two grandmothers in tow as well!

(Can we say suicide mission?)

We started off early Friday morning. We headed to the gas station so we could gas up and get windshield wiper fluid.

 

What my hubby didn't count on was our son Derek filling up too, on soda!

 

He asked if he could get a drink. No problem, Mel mumbles. We all get back in the car ready to go, well here comes Derek with his "soda". Two 64 ounce big gulps!

He climbed into the back of the Suburban and proceeded to pass it around to all the kids. Well, we did teach him to share, right?

It went downhill from there! Within 45 minutes Derek, among others, had to pee (No surprise there!)

Also, Alexi, who was only two at the time, was wired tighter than a Swiss watch from all the sugar and caffeine!

I told Derek not to give him any soda, but he didn't want his soon to be little brother left out!

He was literally bouncing off the insides of the truck. He would pop out of his car seat and land into someone's lap.

They would try unsuccessfully to get him back into his seat only to hear the cry of a thousand banshees in agony!

Finally someone would grab him and double seatbelt themselves with him. That would last a total of five seconds! Mel and I are neurotic about car seats and seat belts, so to say it was nerve-wrecking was an understatement and we weren't even out of the state yet!

Then to add even more to the formula, Derek in his infinite fifteen year old wisdom, tells Alexi that he needs to behave because we're on our way to see Mickey Mouse!

Now for the next four hours we had to hear every few seconds, "Where Mickey? Where's Mickey"

We would tell Alexi that he would have to go to sleep, then when he woke up, he would see Mickey. "Okay!" he would answer with a big grin.

Five seconds later, like any normal two year old he would bellow,

"Where Mickey?"

I love my sons dearly, but I wanted to throw Derek out the window at this point and have him take the baby with him! How horrid was that?

 

At this time we were just getting into New York City. Aw, New York City!

Mel is driving on the George Washington Bridge and Alexi did his jack-in-the-box, pop up out of his baby seat thing again.

My hubby instinctually peeked quickly back to make sure someone had him. Mel turns his eyes back to the front and, yeah you got it, he missed the on ramp!

So now we are in some downtown Manhattan Street, at high noon, on a Friday!

To say that Mel was upset is another understatement!

He absolutely hates being stuck in traffic. My hubby has been known to drive for an hour down side streets to go a distance of a mile just so he doesn't have to stand still in traffic!

(I know, men!)

I thought he was going to blow a gasket!

 

Of course my mother and his mother are talking about pulling over and going shopping!

He looked like a cartoon character with his eyes bulging out of his head!

At this point we are going about two miles an hour. Eric just had to tell us that the old guy shuffling down the sidewalk with a walker just passed us again!

Not helping kid!

 

Tune in tomorrow for the last episode of the ultimate road trip!


The ultimate road trip- Part one.

 

 

April 22

 

I was trying to dig my way through the living room this morning, (everyone was home because of school vacation.) when I started wondering where the heck did all this stuff come from?

I pride myself on having my home decorated in early childhood with accents of late adolescence and overtones of budding adulthood.

On this particular day it was more reminiscent of a natural disaster of epic proportions.

When I say everyone was home, I mean everyone!

 

The funniest thing was to see nine people in ages ranging from twenty two all the way down to eight, squeezed into one large sofa!

Now mind you this couch was not that big!

There were bodies on piled on top of bodies!

They actually had it down to a system. The older boys would squeeze in first, with the two younger boys and the girls sitting on top!

Now add to the mix a huge comforter and the dog on top of that, just for good measure!

 

It was a miracle that the whole thing didn't go crashing through the floor with all of them landing in the basement.

I was surprised the couch didn't break in half from all the weight!

 

It's not like we didn't have other chairs to sit on in the living room. We did. There was a love seat, an arm chair, ottoman and throw pillows.

 

But somehow everyone always wound up all on the same couch! They were all nuzzled in there watching, drum roll please, of all things a Warner Brothers 6 hour cartoon marathon!

 

Honestly, the older ones seemed to be laughing louder than the younger ones! They seemed so happy and content, I forgot about the mess and sat on the armrest of same couch, (Yeah I know, it runs in the family!) to watch for a minute as well.

 

I looked away from the TV and looked down at my piggy pile of a family.

Slowly the memories came back of the first time we took a long vacation as a family. Mel and I had come to the reality that our relationship was getting serious, marriage serious.

 

The challenge was that he had four kids, I had four kids! (This was before we inherited James our oldest.)

We had decided not share our relationship with anyone, not even anyone from work or even our family!

My best friend Sue Yen was the only one that knew about me dating again, and on my hubby's side his best friend Victor was his confidante.

We already had realized how insane our future would be with so many kids, the last thing we needed was well meaning people reaffirming that! I did not need everyone telling me how crazy I was! I already knew that!

On my part too, I did not want my kids to see me with a different guys I might be dating. Not that I ever dated that much, Mel was the first guy I dated after my divorce. I just didn't want to introduce them to "friends", "Uncles" or "acquaintances".

I had gone through that junk with my mother and I hated it, so it would be a cold day in Hades before I would do that to my boys.

 

When I got divorced I felt like the biggest loser in the world. I didn't want to make it worse by having my boys lose respect for me or think less of me.

 

I also didn't want my boys getting emotionally attached to someone that might not be around after a while.

They had already gone through enough loss with the divorce and losing their favorite Uncle Wayne when he passed away.

Once Mel and I knew that we wanted to make our relationship permanent, I was the first one to introduce him to my boys.

We took them camping with my mother, (yeah, I don't know what I was thinking!) for the weekend.

It went well for the most part and I was beginning to feel a little better about the whole thing.

 

Mel was still hesitant to introduce me and my boys to his kids, not because of any hesitation, but because he didn't want to deal with the drama that his ex-wife might cause.

Finally, once he mentally prepared himself to deal with it, he decided to take all of us camping in the White Mountains.

All our kids hung around together a little bit but because Mel's whole family was there (They weren't supposed be with us on this trip! Unfortunately Mel is the worse at making reservations and he has some seriously crazy relatives, so we wound up at their camp site all week; and this part of the tale, is so another story for another day!), it didn't really give us a chance to see if they got along or not.

So we decided to go on a longer trip just us and the kids to where else?

 

Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of the ultimate road trip! Don't you just love a cliffhanger?


The Procrastinators woes.

 

 

April 15

 

Yes! Got our taxes filed on time since I was able to send the Tax lady all the papers she needed!

Funny thing was, that today, I had to go to the post office to pick up my mail from my P.O. Box and oh my heavens!

I thought they were giving away money or something, because there was a line out the door!

The big to do?

People trying to mail their tax returns before midnight or trying to find the forms to file their tax returns before midnight or trying to fill out the forms for an extension before midnight!

Hello, people!

You have had since January to do this!

 

Is there some type of prize for the person that can prolong it the longest and still get it done on time?

The look of stress and anguish on their faces was so painful!

Why would you do this to yourself?

Now I am by no means the early bird as you can guess by my previous entries.

 

But I try to at least give myself some wiggle room. (Ha, no pun intended!)

I have had instances where the old habits come into play and I am paralyzed by some unknown fear and put things off until the last minute or worse until they are overdue!

I have to tell you that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach is awful!

 

I finally snap out of it and get it done only to realize that it took no time or effort at all, or at least it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be!

 

The anguish caused by thinking about doing it, is a hundred times worse than the effort it takes to do it!

I have learned this the hard way.

 

Years ago I kept putting off having a full physical; this included getting a Pap smear and gynecological exam. I had a deep aversion to these types of exams, even though I had been a medical assistant!

I finally broke down and when in to get my physical, but was unable to get the other things done, because nature didn't want to cooperate during that time of the month.

I promised my doctor to make an appointment for a few days later and never did.

Three years later after I was separated from my husband I contemplated having my tubes tied.

My regular physician was on vacation so I was referred to a specialist. The specialist instantly found that I had an abnormal growth in one of my ovaries.

 

Within seventy two hours I went from his office to the operating table. While I was waiting to be taken into surgery a student nurse from Sweden found out I was a police officer and was interested in my career choice.

 

She was standing next to my bed talking when the anesthesiologist came and without even checking my chart proceeded to put some medicine into my IV line and walked away. I was in mid-sentence with this young nurse when I passed out.

 

The next thing I remember is waking up with a tube down my throat and my doctor chewing out the anesthesiologist in the corner of the room. It turned out that because I had extremely low blood pressure I was very sensitive to narcotics!

As a result of this a dose of medicine that is normal for the average person can be harmful or lethal to me.

I had gone into full respiratory arrest and thank goodness that the nurse was there otherwise the outcome could have been really bad for me.

 

In his arrogance this man thought he knew it all and wasn't about to take the two seconds it would have taken him to check my chart. After this initial scare I was finally sedated and operated on.

 

I had a tumor on my right ovary the size of a grapefruit. In my ignorance it hadn't dawned on me why my doctor was in such a hurry to do the procedure. By all account, because of my delaying a routine exam, I had had this tumor growing for over two years.

The lucky part was that it was not cancerous.

If it had been, I would have been dead at the ripe old age of twenty four. My son Christopher would never have been born, as I had not had him yet.

The thought also that my kids would not have had me around really bothered me.

When the doctor came into my room after the procedure and very happily told me it was not cancerous it felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on me!

 

I know I should have been relieved, but since it hadn't hit me how serious the situation was, I guess it was a delayed reaction!

I really learned two valuable life lessons from that experience.

 

One, we as women should not be afraid to speak up! I knew I had low blood pressure, I didn't know the reaction it would have with the medication given, but I should have at least ask the anesthesiologist what the heck he was putting in my arm and why!

While it is true that doctors know a lot, they are also human. They get tired, have bad days, and make mistakes.

Plus even though we don't like to think about it, there are also doctors out there that are just plain not very good or plain negligent.

 

Do not be afraid to speak up!

If something doesn't seem right in your treatment, it's your body, please, speak up!

 

You have choices; you can get second opinions, even third ones if you want to! It's your right!

 

The other thing I learned was do not put things off with the excuse that you are just too busy for them!

Things like pap smears, physicals and breast exams are NOT optional!

 

Take the time to take care of yourself now, because tomorrow, next week or next year might be too late!

 

I think your family will survive without you for an hour, which is a lot better then you missing a lifetime with them!

So while I still let some things slip, my health is the one thing that I try really hard to stay on top of!

 

The thing was, that the doctor told me that had I not been in such good physical shape, (This was shortly after I graduated the academy and had just completed training to become a special operations tactical team member on my police department.)

The spread of the tumor would have been quicker and might have resulted in a full hysterectomy.

 

As you can surmise I was totally humbled by God's good grace to spare me from an early dead.

 

As you can also guess I put off having my tubes tied and after my ex-husband and I briefly reconciled, my son Chris resulted from this decision.

One that by the way, I have never regretted!

 

Years later I now have some ongoing health issues, which refuse to be diagnosed or treated at times!

But as sick as I can get on occasion, I still get more life out of those days than some people do out of their healthiest ones! This isn't meant to put anyone down! It's just because I know what it's like to almost run out of days!

 

Do everything in your power to extend the quality of your life!

 

It can always start with something small, one less cigarette, one more apple, one less drink, one more time around the block.

 

Just remember that corner? We never know what is right around it! Make sure that you are here and healthy enough to enjoy it went you finally turn that corner!

If not for you, for those that love you and need you around!

 

Duh, now can someone please explain to me why in heavens name I came to the post office today of all days?

Oh, yeah I didn't want to feel left out!


The truthfulness of trust.

 

 

April 13

 

Why do I always leave some things to the last minute?

Stupid taxes are due in two days and I still haven't been able to get all of our receipts to the tax lady!

Mel thinks my middle name is tax deductible!

I am the queen of saving receipts and business expense reports to try to get as many deductions as we can at the end of the year.

Until we got married, my husband didn't realize all the money he was throwing away by not being more diligent with his records.

Now, he is really good about saving his receipts, problem is when it's time to used them, he can never remember where he put them!

So I wind up on the annual, tax season scavenger hunt in search of the ever elusive tax papers!

As I go through drawer after drawer of my husband's belongings, it suddenly dawned on me what a trusting relationship we have.

I am constantly going through his drawers looking for something or other that he needs or I need.

By the same token he is always rummaging through my purse, or wallet for the checkbook, stamps or debit card. After being married for so long I kind of took this behavior for granted.

It wasn't until one day that we were at a family gathering that I realized how different our behavior was from the norm.

 

A relative of ours had her purse on the table where we were sitting, when her husband of over ten years, reached into her bag and started searching for something.

She was livid! All he wanted was a pen, but she felt absolutely violated and upset. It was an awkward moment for everyone in the room!

Later on we were all alone and she went on and on about how upset she was. I finally, against my better judgment, had to speak up.

I asked her what the big deal was. She looked at me like I had just grown another head or something.

"Because it's my purse and he had no business in there!" She exhaled exasperated at me.

"But if you have nothing to hide what is the big deal?" I asked before I could stop myself.

She went on to tell me about boundaries and privacy. I finally gave up and changed the subject.

 

Later on I brought it up with Mel. That is when we realized what trust factor we had in our marriage.

In my first marriage my ex-husband was constantly going through my things. He would check my pager, cell phone, my desk, anything that I happened to leave out in the open.

After years of him doing this, I caught myself doing the same thing.

Difference was that I, being a cop, was a lot better at it and quickly caught him doing things that married men shouldn't be doing.

Mel told me that he went through something similar because his ex-wife would go through all his personal things looking for who knows what, yet it was her, not doing things correctly in the marriage.

Now I know for a fact that my relative loves her husband and she isn't doing anything wrong.

I also know that her particular reaction is a learned behavior.

What I didn't know was how weird people think we are for the way we do things.

I know my hubby's e-mail password and he knows mine.

We know each other's pin numbers. I open his mail he opens mine.

When he tells me he's going somewhere I don't check up on him or ask a million questions. Likewise he doesn't give me a third degree either.

In almost fifteen years together I have never given him a reason not to trust me and I trust him completely.

We have taught our kids that trust is given until you give us a reason not to trust you anymore.

Our kids have had a lot of freedom.

But by the same token they have been on virtual lockdown when that trust has been violated.

 

Mel said to me that he found it really amazing that I of all people was so trusting.

After all, most of the people in my life who were supposed to be there to take care of me and protect me instead, violated that trust.

Now, I am not saying that spouses need to be attached at the hip twenty four seven either. Nor am I saying that they don't need their own space and privacy, they do. Everyone does.

But I love the fact that if I am home an hour later than I said I would be, all I get is a hug and an "I missed you."

If I am really late then I get a phone call just making sure that I am okay.

(This is solely based on the fact that after so many years of being a cop, I drive like a NASCAR race car driver on extra caffeine!)

That is such an awesome feeling; the fact that someone worries about me, not the race car driver thing!

In turn I do the same for Mel. My husband works all kind of crazy hours.

I go away for weekend drills once a month with a bunch of crazy guys.

These situations could drive insecure people crazy!

Luckily we don't have to deal with that.

The trust is there and the love is there.

 

Suddenly the mission impossible of locating tax papers didn't seem that bad after all!

It just reminded me once again of how good life can be if we stop complicating it!

Ah, excuse me tax lady, can a sister get an extension please?


A garden of love.

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!

 

April 10

 

I was in the store looking at some seedlings today when it reminded me of my first spring after I got married to Mel.

I had just finished doing some painting in the kitchen when I decided to take a break and go over to my mother in law's house to visit for a while.

 

She lived the next street over from me and when I got there she was tending to her garden that she had planted in the back.

I absolutely adored this woman, who I called Mama, and I loved hanging out with her.

We had a lot in common and we really loved to talk and enjoyed each others company.

We talked about everything and anything!

 

This woman supposedly only had a first grade formal education, but she knew more about life than a lot of other so called "educated" people.

The neat thing was even though we aren't of the same religion we could talk about God and religion in general for hours.

She would tell me her views, I would discuss mine. The funny thing was that usually her views and my views weren't that far apart!

On this particular visit I made the mistake of commenting on how great her garden looked.

It was only the beginning of April and even though the weather had been nice for weeks I was really surprised by how far along her garden was already.

Mel had told me that in the past she had also planted a garden in his backyard because it gave her more room than the tiny lot she had in the back of her apartment complex.

I hung out with her a while as she gave me gardening tips.

I had to laugh to myself because I couldn't grow a weed if I tried!

I mean, I loved plants, but anytime I bought any house plants they would usually wind up DOA!

 

It was so bad that my kids would plead with me not to buy any house plants so that the society for prevention of cruelty to plants wouldn't cart me off to jail!

Although lately I had actually bought one house plant that Chris liked and miraculously six months later it was still hanging in there, weakly, but none the less still with us!

 

Before I left, she told me she would be by later to plant her garden over at our house. I wasn't going to be home but I told her to go ahead and knock herself out planting!

 

When I returned home later that afternoon after running what seemed like a million errands, Mama was just finishing up in our backyard. The garden was huge in my eyes. It was about fifteen feet wide and a good twenty feet or so long! She had planted peppers, various types of tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, squash and even corn.

 

"This looks awesome", I told her in Spanish.

"I am glad you like it", she said, "Since it's yours now!"

"What?" I felt my heart go to my feet and back again. "I can't garden! I don't know how!" I stammered weakly.

"Sure you can. You can do anything! I know you! It will be a beautiful garden!" She smiled as she hugged me. With that she picked up her tools and turned to walk back home. I felt like I had just had newborn triplets dropped on my doorstep!

"Mama, I'll kill this thing, you can't trust me with this!" I shouted out after her.

"No you won't! You'll do fine!" She called back softly over her shoulder as she reached the end of our driveway and turned the corner.

 

I stared at the spot where she last was standing as if that was going to magically bring her back or suddenly make me farmer woman extraordinaire.

 

I turned to look at the garden. Aw, man was I in trouble now! It was massive!

The only time I tried to grow a garden, a few years earlier, I spent all summer cultivating it and all I got to grow out of it was one dried up radish! Needless to say I hung up my cover-alls.

As I stared down at the farm I mean garden, Mel came home from work.

"What have you got there?" He asked, all sheepish. "Your mom is going to hate me!" I cried.

"Why? What you do? Steal her tomatoes?" He laughed.

"Not funny! She came over and planted this," as I pointed all frantic,

"Now she says its mine and I need to take care of it!"

Our sons Derek and Eric had just walked in behind him and proceeded to laugh hysterically.

"That's a good one, our Mom growing stuff!" Eric laughed.

"Mom, the only thing you know how to do is kill plants, not grow them!" Derek bellowed.

"Not helping, people!" I threw visual daggers at them. They backed away and ran off laughing into the house.

"You have got to do something about this!" I told my hubby.

"Who me", He asked.

"She's your MOM!"

"I told you not to make friends with my family, they are troublemakers! Warned you, didn't I?" He giggled.

"Not, helping either!" I looked back at the garden ready to start crying.

I know it was silly, after all it was really only a garden, but I didn't want to do anything to disappoint my mother-in-law.

I know, I know, silly! In a panic I turned to my hubby.

"Mel, you have got to give the garden a blessing!"

"See, she killed it already!" Derek shouted from the kitchen window.

"Something else besides the garden is going to die around here real soon if you don't zip it!" I yelled back. I could hear the boys laughing hysterically through the open window.

"What?" He looked at me incredulous trying to stifle a giggle.

"Well if you give the soil a blessing and pray to keep it safe then I can't kill it!""Honey you are losing it! How am I going to bless a garden?" He asked.

"Why not," I asked, "They bless ships, and houses and babies. Then you can bless my lot of land to grow lots of veggies and to keep the weeds away!"

"But," He stopped and looked at me" Okay if it makes you feel better!"

"Yipee", I jumped up and hugged him. Mel walked over to the garden and grabbed my hand. He kissed my fingers and together we bowed our heads.

 

He asked Heavenly Father to put a special blessing on my gift from his mom. He Asked for the bugs to stay away and for the weeds to not over-run it. But mostly he asked God for his wife to realize that his mom loved me not because of what I could or could not do, but because of who I was! After he was done he looked up and hugged me.

"Are you happy now?"

"Yes, very. Thank you, thank you!" I kissed him again and rushed inside.

 

The funny thing was, that summer somehow I learned everything there was to learn about gardening. I put beer traps to keep the snails drunk and away from my squash.

I sprayed the corn with gentle baby soap to get rid of the earwigs without hurting the environment. I put up a fence to keep the hedgehog away from my corn.

 

We had so much veggies coming out of that garden we had to give it away! We gave away bags and bags of all kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers. It was amazing!

I told my hubby that it was the blessing. He told me it was most likely the faith I had in the blessing and the hard work I put into it.

 

Since that time I had given a lot of thought to this. I swore God grew the veggies, which in theory is correct.

I didn't think I had anything to do with it.

 

My mother-in-law told me that she never doubted that I could do it.

The thing was I had doubted myself. Big time!

 

I wondered how many other things I could have accomplished if I had only had the faith to believe in myself. We humans really think that we do it all ourselves a lot of the time. But in reality God carries us most of the time and our loved ones help the rest of the way.

 

If we could just remember that at the beginning of our challenges, then maybe they would be easier to handle.

 

The scriptures say that if God be for us who can be against us?

The answer is usually no one but us!

 

We need to just remember that we are not alone! Even if we don't believe in God or a higher being, remember the universe is there. Its delicate balance is what keeps our earth alive!

 

Therefore it provides us with the things we need!

Once again we are not alone! I read somewhere that if we work as if it all depended on us and trusted in the Lord/Higher being/Universe to pick up the rest we would be fine!

 

That summer I did that. At no moment in time did I ever think that the garden would fail because in my mind God was doing the work. Silly thing was that I was doing the physical work and he blessed the fruits of my labor with tons of veggies.

 

The same principle really applies to all the things that we need to overcome in life!

I have always kept a garden up to the time we sold our house and were no longer able to because of space constraints.

 

But luckily I have not lost the lesson my mother-in-law and my hubby taught me that summer!

 

Another funny thing is that I now have house plants that are several years old and doing beautifully and my kids no longer think I kill plants!

Life lesson learned?

Whatever we expect we get! Dead plants, live plants, tons of veggies, done!

 

So be careful of what you think you might get because you might just get it!

 

Now if only I could just get that money tree to have a bumper crop I would be all set!