The Book-The extraordinary life of an ordinary woman Feed

Kindness of strangers and love of friends.

"The biggest acts of kindness to mankind, come in the form of the smallest gestures."

                Ordinarywmn 2012

 

 

Eric fam

As some of my followers know, my blogs, radio show and website have been quiet for most of the last year.

As some of you also might know it was due to my Daughter-in-law, Sarah, having been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

I made the decision, the easiest I've ever made, and traveled to PA. to help out as best as I could with my two young grandsons.

My whole life as a state trooper, volunteer soldier and Tactical team member, my job was to go into a crisis situation and neutralize the treat, secure the hostages, rescue the lost or injured and basically kick ass, and get the bad guys. Done and done.

Cancer in this case had other ideas. No matter how much I tried, I could not destroy or get rid of the bad guys looming inside Sarah's body.

In the two years she lived with Cancer, and when I say lived, I mean lived; Sarah did more living, in between chemo, radiation, all the meds, ups and downs that came with it, than the average healthy mom, sister, wife, friend, daughter, in-law, or person will do in a lifetime.

Sarah never made it about her, she always strived to make sure everyone around her was taken care of and okay, even those that honestly did not deserve it.

She baked treats for friends' showers, parties and get togethers. She took her two baby boys to the park almost every day. She took the oldest to school every day and picked him up in the afternoon, then it was off to the zoo, museums, to the beach, and community events. She painted with them, made play-doh creations, baked, cooked, laughed, watched TV, ate ice cream, and at the end of the day, she bathe them, read them stories, sang to them and made sure that they were safely tucked in bed, always knowing without a doubt that they were loved unconditionally by their mommy.

Sarah made home cooked meals on the rare days that scores of friends did not send over food. Sarah was by far one of the best cooks I knew and she always said love was the special ingredient that added the something, something to her delicious meals!

She was attentive to my son, no matter how much he tried to get her to rest,  even on days that she could barely lift herself out of bed. 

Sarah was doing all of this while cancer was ravishing her body, but make no mistake, Sarah might have had cancer, but cancer sure as hell did not have her.

Cancer could slowly destroy her body, but it NEVER, ever, touched her spirit!

On Sarah's 32nd birthday in February, we gathered as family and friends to celebrate her day. Sarah had just gotten released from the hospital from yet another bout with pneumonia.

As weak as Sarah was she still flashed that million dollars smile, she hugged and rejoiced with her "family" as anyone that was blessed to have known her would instantly become. 

Sarah was so happy holding her little nephew from MA., Alex Jr. and was content to cuddle with her dad on the couch.

Before I left for MA. after her birthday weekend, the last thing Sarah said to me was, "I miss you." I had been fighting a bad cold and did not want to get her sick which is why I was going home for a few days.

The few days turned into two weeks as an upper respiratory infection kept me away.

Deep in my heart I knew Sarah was reaching the end of her journey. She was tired and I felt she was only hanging on for the boys and my son. 

But, honestly the stubborn side of me refused to accept that anything could derail Sarah, even cancer, once she made up her mind to overcome any obstacle.

I got the call from my son late in the evening that we needed to hurry back to PA. and I knew it was the end for our Beloved Sarah.

Within an hour we were on the road with our daughters on the longest drive of our lives. We arrived at her hospital bed as they were getting ready to remove the life support equipment she was adament she did not want keeping her alive for any prolonged period of time.

Sarah was heavily sedated when I said my good-byes, yet she struggled to respond to me. I had the peace of knowing that she knew I was there, we, were there and wanted her to know that it was okay for her to go.

The last act of love that Sarah performed on this earth was to kiss both her boys good-bye seconds before she passed away.

The next two weeks were a blur, with a wake and funeral mass in PA. followed by her cremation, then a celabratory mass service in MA., add to this a one year old and a three year wanting to know where "mommy" was.

I have to say going into the most dangerous situations as a cop, was a piece a cake, compared to the difficulty I experienced trying to correctly and lovingly explain her absence, and the concept of death to the boys, while not losing my composure at the same time.

Sarah always said to me that everything happened for a reason. She also said, that good things will always come from the worse situations. 

I honestly struggled to see it in this situation, but slowly I saw a glimmer of what she meant.

Over the last months I have been floored at the kindness of strangers and love of friends.

I know that a lot of it was due to the sweet person that Sarah was and how loyal a friend, loving a family member, and loyal to a fault she was, but it went way beyond that!

When people from all walks of life came out of the woodwork to be there for my son and grandsons, as well as us, it just blew my mind.

We got visits from beloved "FaceBook" friends, notes of support from total strangers who were moved by her story in the paper, tons of food, meals, cards, flowers and emails of support.

Even people who Sarah and my son had know in childhood paid respects and wrote or called.

The most amazing thing to me was people who didn't write or call, because death is difficult for them, but still made sure that others knew of Sarah's passing or organized meals. Quietly, they were in the background, supportive and there for us.

The other most amazing aspect was the tons of total strangers offering prayers, kind words of support and sometimes just leaving sweet posts on our Facebook wall and other media outlets.

When I say the smallest gesture is the biggest at times, I speak from experience. I had an old Guard buddy stay up late on several occasions sending me funny cat videos, jokes and notes. While he said he couldn't do much, he didn't understand he did so much!

While they say time heals all wounds, and I know it does, the void left by Sarah, is irreplaceable.

The one thing that keeps me going every day, actually its four things: one is my son, two and three are my grandsons, and the last one is the promise to Sarah to always live life to the fullest.

While I know that Sarah did accomplish a lot in her short life, I also know that there were tons of things on her "to-do" list. 

In honor of her spirit, her love and her zest for life, I am motivated to live for both of us!

I will take more photographs for her.

I will talk to strangers and make them my friends more often for her.

I will laugh at my mistakes and accidents more for her.

I will love more for her.

I will hug and kiss more for her.

I Will paint, create and grow more for her.

I will dream, hope and aspire more for her.

I will hope and be more positive for her.

I wil look for the good in everything and everyone for her.

I will cuddle with the boys and play more for her.

I will take more chances, try more new things for her.

I will admire the ocean, the sunrises and sunsets more for her.

I will hold more babies and send more cards for her.

I will bake more cookies and feed more people for her.

I will have more family gatherings and more friends over for her.

I will feel the fear and insecurities and do it anyway for her!

I will have faith enough to take the first step for her!

I will write more emails, send more letters and yes, even make more phone calls for her.

But mostly I will never take a moment, a person, a memory, a chance, a day for granted, or miss the opportunity to say I love you, for her!

So to all our family, friends, Media friends, soon to be friends and kind strangers thank you, because of you, we have seen a glimmer of the light at the end of this sad tunnel.

And while you are at it, going through your day to day details, can you too pay it forward, enjoy it more and take it more in, for Sarah?

But, mostly for you!

Don't miss a chance to live life to the fullest!

Love you my beautiful Sarah, and I know that this world is a lot better because you were here and Heaven has gotten a lot better because you are there!




Then there were none, and its okay!

IMG_1701

Our youngest son Alexi is leaving to New York this summer to attend culinary school, yeah I never saw that coming either, the kid who would starve, because there was nothing ready made!

While as a mom of the heart,  I feel a sense of sadness to see our baby go out the door and into the real, big wide world, the adventurer in me kind of wishes I could tag along.

When Alexi was growing up he struggled with school work at times and he struggled with trying to fit in and doing the right thing.

This struggle even resulted in Alexi putting his needs and feelings behind the desires of others. He was the perennial peace keeper and just wanted everyone happy, even at the expense of his own well being. Alexi struggled at times and made mistakes and some were kind of bone-headed, but he somehow forged ahead.


Some time during his sophomore/Junior year Alexi, discovered Alexi. Not the Alexi I wanted, or his dad wanted, or his team mates wanted, but the Alexi that did what was right for Alexi and stuck to his beliefs.

I was so proud of the fact that he could go the path less traveled, quietly doing his bit to help the world, further his learning and understanding of life.

I know at times because of me being gone so much during his last year and half of high school, due to our daughter-in-law's illness, he might have felt that we did not notice his path.

That's the funny thing about being a parent, just because we are not holding you up while you walk, or pushing the stroller to keep you going, we are still there.

I was there in spirit when he received his MVP award even though I was 600 miles away. I was besides him when he, along with his art class, painted a mural at the homeless shelter.

I was with him in thought at the soup kitchens, and various non profits he volunteered to work in, during school vacations.

I am even more proud of where he is going, off to a new exciting city, to follow his dream. I am even more pleased because he did this on his own.

Alexi was true to Alexi by picking the school, looking for his own housing and never refusing to give up even when challenges arose.

What Alexi might not know is that as his mom from the heart I will be there on his first day of class, I will be there when he is alone in his new little apartment for the first time, I will be there when he ventures off into that big city to discover new people, places and adventures.

I would have loved the opportunity to have lived in a big city when I was a young adult, but I chose a different path.

Now as a parent I have the unbelievable opportunity to live it through Alexi's eyes!

I get to share in his joys, triumphs, disappontments and courage.

So even though soon, there will be none left at home, I am so blessed to have been given the chance to be Alexi's mom of the heart and most of all I am even more blessed because Alexi let me in, and made room for me in his heart, and as such I will always be with him no matter how far he roams.

Ahhh, can we hope for paris, or Italy next??

Wait can I be your official food taster?? Yum Yum!!



Are you sure my suitcase is the same size??

"Days are like suitcases, everyone's is the same size, its just that some people can pack more into theirs than others"

                                                           Source unknown to OrdinaryWmn

Earlier today I was doing laundry and I was going to put some of my hubby's clothes away in one of his drawers when I noticed it was full to the top. It was so packed I had a hard time opening it. I stared at the overflowing clothes and thought that I had no place to put way the newly laundered items.

As I looked at it I realized that all the items were just stuffed randomly and without any organization. My hubby had been nice enough to help out in the last few months because I was sick and I guess stuffing everything at once was his organizational style!

I took everything out of the drawer and started to fold all the clothes and put them back in my typical OCD style. I put all the t-shirts together, boxers in another section and shorts in the middle. I noticed when I was done that I now had more than enough room to put away the additional clothes I had just washed.

When I was done with the additional clothes, I was surprised to realize that I still had room and the drawer closed without any resistance.This made me think of the fact that drawers are pretty much like our everyday lives.

Some people stuff their days jammed packed without rhyme or reason and then wonder why they feel overwhelmed, angry and unfulfilled.

On the other hand productive people are able to neatly fold and organize a seemingly endless array of activities, careers, volunteer work, hobbies, family commitments, etc. and still have room for more. Not only that, they are happy, content and truly enjoy life!

Ever wonder why?

Because in today's society we have had a tendency to fill our lives with activities that are really not important, urgent or put simply, provide little benefit to us as human beings.

Productive people are usually involved in activities that enrich their lives, bring them closer to their families, friends and their community.

Over-stuffed people are weighed down with fluff stuff, like endless, mindless internet surfing, TV watching, over drinking, overspending, overeating, and constant negative banter about how "busy" they are!

Don't get me wrong I love a good video game, or TV show, but spending all day on the computer pretending to have a life on a simulation game, is really not as rewarding as having a real life, with real people, real activities and real experiences.

We have 168 hours in a week, if we average 8 hours sleep a night that still gives us 112 hours left over to use for our career, enrichment, fulfillment, well you get the drift!

How much growing could we as humans do if we truly focused on bettering ourselves? Would we be richer, healthier, happier?

Would our communities be better, our families more enriching and satisfying and we as humans more in balance?

As I stared down at my hubby's drawer I realized that I wanted my drawer, suitcase, day to be full, but full of useful and amazing things.

I could enjoy my family more, enjoy nature more, even enjoy the wonderment of the internet to enlighten my mind with useful knowledge.

I could use my TV viewing time to experience science, history and great movies that bring inspiration to my artistic side as well as motivate me to become better at my chosen profession of acting.

You see, in order to make the best use of our day its not all about boring textbooks,( if you think they are boring, I rather enjoy certain textbooks! Weird, I know!) Its more about exploring new horizons, new ventures, new roads and new experiences.

Sometimes now a days when someone expresses the desire to experience new adventures it is with a negative tinge. It refers to leaving your spouse, doing drugs, getting drunk, getting arrested! Really? How that work out for you??

I realized that I was no longer going to make excuses! If I want to learn how to play a piano, I could use the excuse that I did not have the money right now to pay a full time instructor or I could go and peck away at the piano keys until something resembling a song comes out!

Just because you do not attend a physical school does not mean you stop learning! there are plenty of places on the internet where you can take courses for free and get certificates for completion. You can learn a new language, explore far way lands even learn funky dance moves all available at your finger tips with your computer or at your local library.

Join a book club, photography club, writing club, a fill in the blank club, all free and available by looking up the listings in your local paper!

Start a garden! If you live in an apartment a tiny herb garden in your kitchen is just as doable! Just make sure the herbs are legal people!

I chuckled to myself as I walked away from my laundry duties because I never knew that an overstuffed drawer could give me such an awesome outlook on how to best live my life!!

Good Job with the laundry babe!!!

Now where did I put that old piano for dummies book?? Watch out now world, new budding piano sensation coming through! ;-)


The Master's touch!

April 1 2010

 Mr gallagher 77
"There is no greater joy, than the ability to express yourself through the written word, painted stroke, spoken verse or agile movement, unless that ability is the ability to awaken a dream within a child's heart"

                                                         Ordinarywmn 2010

When I was growing up my life was chaotic to say the least. As an adult I marveled at people when they talk about their childhood friends, supportive parents, loving siblings and various support groups they had in their inner world.

I know that for the average person that is part of their every day existence, but that was not the case in my world.

My world was made up of abuse, neglect and mostly people that were only interested in one thing, themselves and nothing more.

I very rarely talk or reflect on the dark side of my upbringing as I refuse to give it validity in my present day life. Unfortunately once in a while someone will make a comment that brings it all rushing back and make me realize once again how hard it is for the average person to fathom what I experienced or how much I have had to heal to be at the place that I am now.

The other day I was feeling a bit frustrated and dejected because of an on going health issue.

I was venting in my own weird way because I am angry that I cannot do the things that I love to do as my body chooses to betray me at times.

While I was reflecting on my course of action I got upset because a conversation came up about a person I know who does nothing but bring up the fact that life is not fair and no one ever gives them a break.

Mind you, God has given this person every opportunity to succeed, a supportive network of people that are there for them. Instead they choose to think everyone is out to get them,  persecute them and sabotage their success. The reality is this person is doing a dang good job of sabotaging themselves, so they really do not need anyone else to do that for them!

I guess the timing was not the best because I was really tired of able-bodied, talented people wasting their God given gifts and then having the gall to complain about how people keep messing up their lives.  This is when the rope snapped and I felt the need to vent!! 

Since I try real hard to mostly keep a positive spin on life, this tirade on my part was just viewed as taking a "hissy" fit because life had dealt me a hand I did not want. I was also quickly told to suck it up and get over it!

This is when the flood gates of all the selfish people in my life came rushing back!

While I do blog, and have a very public persona due to my writing and acting, I do not really dwell into certain particulars about my private life and as such some people act like they know every detail of my existence when in reality they know very little!

This person felt the need to say to me that I acted like I had never had anyone in my life to help me or support me. They also further said, you act like you have always been alone or surrounded by selfish people that only think of themselves!

I have to say I was so angry at how ignorant this person was that all I could do was walk away to keep from saying or doing something that was going to bring me down even more.

It actually took me a couple of days to purge how upset I was from my system and then just chuck it up to mere ignorance on that person's part.

I have made a conscious effort to focus only on the positive aspects of my life with that said I usually do not feel the need to share what traumatic experiences I lived through as a child, teenager and beyond.

Anyone that knows anything about psychology knows that when a child is abused early in life they carry around a victim sigma that predators gravitate to and capitalize on. I was no different.

On top of the fact that I was abandoned by my mother and constantly reminded of the fact that I did not fit in within the adoptive family structure, my adoptive mother was a cold, indifferent woman who played emotional mind games to keep us in check.

As a result of this, I was shy, meek and an easy target for bullies, selfish, abusive people and users. I was surrounded by people that were interested in one thing and one thing only, what I could do for them. My needs or wants were inconsequential to their lives.

Add to this equation a crime ridden neighborhood, roach infested tenement building and a revolving door of "uncles" I had no security, sense of well-being or safety. No surprise when I became a statistic and dropped out of school to have my first child at age 17.

My first husband, while not a monster, was manipulative, controlling and had a drinking problem. These issues were not out of mean-spiritness or evilness, but simply learned behaviors that were the norm in our world.

I was expected to do only what was allowed by my husband and my mother and nothing else. This included how I raised my kids, how I dressed them and myself, where I went and who I was friends with. 

When I say I had no one to turn to in my inner world, I was not being melodramatic.

God though, in his infinite wisdom, will send us angels where we least expect them.

While my elementary school was a haven from my home life, it was a hateful place due to gangs, violence and very angry dysfunctional students whose families were just as bad.

Yet with all that said, the teachers in that school were true angels in every sense of the word.

I know without a doubt that if God had not sent people like Mr. Newton, my middle school English teacher, Mr. Dancy our assistant principal, Mr. Richie the other assistant principal, and mostly Mr. Gallagher whose picture you see above, I do not know where I would be today.

In all that chaos they threw out a life line to anyone that was willing to take it. I was one of the few who did, even though I did not realize it until much later in life.

Mr. Gallagher was my homeroom teacher as well as my math instructor in 7th and 8th grade. I thought he was a mind reader because he always knew when life had beat me down at home, but reflecting back it probably did not take much to put two and two together with the bruises, unkempt appearance and shell-shocked demeanor mistaken for shyness.

Little by little Mr. Gallagher's mentoring and guidance turned me into the person you see in the picture. I was introduced to the written word, the joy of drama and the power of speech.

Because of Mr. Gallagher I was one of the key note speakers on my graduation day, as well as the recipient of various art, writing and drama awards.

Sadly the passion Mr. Gallagher had for teaching was sorely missing in high school and I quickly got torn down again and got swallowed up whole by the system. With no support system at school my home life became unbearable and I opted out to motherhood and early marriage.

I am not writing this to blow my own horn, but just to let people realize that nothing is impossible, unless you say so. No one can take anything way from you unless you let them.

I am not even close to the goals that I had set for myself. As I became a mother, because I had none, I felt a need to do all I could for my kids. In doing so I put a lot of my desires on hold, not because I had to, but because I selected to!

So when a person who has had a support network complains about the unfairness of life, I get a bit upset because I know that life is not fair, because I lived it.

But with that said no one can stop you from overcoming any obstacle unless you use it as an excuse.

This is the first and last time that I will write about the challenges I overcame to do the things that I have accomplished. Here goes;

I was abandoned at age two, but I was there for my kids even to this day. I love and accept my non-biological kids just as much as my biological kids and view them all as my "real" kids. Could that phrasing be any more detrimental to child's self-esteem? As if a child could be non real!

I was born with a physical birth defect that resulted in my feet being totally flat and my left leg being 1/2 an inch shorter than my right leg and my hip being dis-aligned.

This condition was not diagnosed until I was in my forties yet I managed to graduated from the police academy, be a drill instructor in the academy after graduation, qualify for the tactical unit, Be a Sergeant in a military state unit, run a half marathon, play soccer, dance, do gymnastics, train in Tang Soo Do, rappel off buildings and out of helicopters, all while being constantly teased about how uncoordinated and clumsy I was.  Most of these activities were taken up as an adult as I was not allowed to do them before.

I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 44 years old yet managed to earn my GED without having to take classes, go to college and make the dean's list repeatedly, as well as other various accomplishments that society tells me I can't do because of my learning disability.

Speaking of learning disabilities I was told that my left-handedness was a disability and was constantly shamed into trying to write with my right hand so I could be normal! As a result of my left-handedness I had to teach myself to crochet, sew, knit, and do calligraphy as they told me left handed people cannot be taught to do this! 

Last thing about left handedness, in spite of being called a left handed female that should have been drown at birth during a military police training program, I qualified expert with the M-16, MP5, Remington shot gun and .40 caliber Glock. Did I mention that there were three courses we needed to qualify in? Night shoot, day shoot and stress shoot! I went 40 for 40 on each course. Imagine what I could do if I was right handed?

The Major came up to me after the graduation ceremony and told me maybe I was the exception to the rule!

Thank goodness society has finally caught up to reality!

I had four biological kids and still managed to maintain a healthy weight after I had them. I did not use them as an excuse as to why I could no longer do...fill in the blank or fit into my clothes ten years after I had them!

Did people pick on me and want me to fail?

Try being a Latina, female in 1983 trying to be only the 8th female on a state police agency in Boston!!

I was flat out told that I would flunk out academically, fail the physical fitness training and probably get pregnant and have to drop out before the training was over! This was all before they brought up that left-handed crap!

I graduated seventh out of a class of 44 even with the fact that I had three boys under the age of 5 to take care of and a first husband who was none too happy with the independence and confidence I was learning. Enough said on that one!!

When I got remarried I was told that I was nuts because blended families rarely worked out, especially one as large as ours with nine kids all together. I would be divorced within a couple of years and all the kids would hate me.

Well sixteen years later I am still married and my husband's youngest who came into my life when he was only 18 months old, will be 18 years old this year. He is my heart and soul and every bit mine as if I had carried him in my own womb.

Our children get along and are not only family but friends as well, and they hang out together as much as possible.

I have developed several neurological and physical diseases that can slow me down considerably but I never feel the need to use them as a crutch to explain to the world why I am not where I want to be in life.

The only reason I am not closer to my goals and dreams is because I have not focused enough on them. The illnesses, the negative people and life's hiccups are just that, temporary. They will never become permanent unless I decide to let them become a fixture in my existence.

It is difficult at times to stay upbeat, especially when some people feel the need to try to tell me how easy it is to deal with my challenges.

Ironically their own life is falling apart because they can summon a boat load of excuses that in their mind are so much bigger than anything I have ever seen or experienced.

After the initial anger wears off, I just chuckle! I laugh because since I rarely feel the need to unload my burdens on others, of course they would have no clue what I have overcome and continue to overcome.

But mostly I chuckle because it reminds me how strong I am, how much I have overcome and how much further I can continue to grow as long as instead on making excuses I continue to make strides.

And believe it or not this positive attitude, this never quit mentality all came from a teacher I was exposed to for 4hrs a day, five days a week for a total of only 20 months.

Thank God this man picked a profession he was passionate about and never let the administration, politicians, violence or budget cuts diminish that passion for teaching.

The only regret I have in life is that I never got to thank Mr. Gallagher in person. I wish he and the other amazing educators in my life could somehow know that I am who I am because they and God, who saw fit to send them my way, were the only life line this statistic had.

With their love and God's love I felt and continue to feel the Master's touch in my life everyday. Even at times that it seems dark and pointless to go on. At times that I feel that there is no way out and that the struggle will never end. At times that life throws you obstacles and things that might seem unfair, the Master's touch is there reminding me that God loved me so much that he took the time to send angels to ease my burden.

The challenge was I had to be willing to see them, listen to them and most of all refuse to let anything or anyone force me to quit my journey.

For if God be for me, who be against me? No one! that is, no one unless you are the one to be against yourself by doubting in God's grace and power!

Where ever you are Mister Gallagher thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such an amazing person!!


You don't bring me flowers anymore!

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February 14


Years ago I remember hearing a song called, "You don't bring me flowers anymore." By Barbara Streisand and some guy whose name escapes me now.

It is a very depressing song about the end of a relationship, which has died from lack of attention. The chorus emphasis this fact as the title is sung with an extra sad feeling of melancholia.


I was thinking about this the other day as Valentine's Day was approaching. I honestly cannot remember the last time my hubby brought me flowers.


He used to buy me flowers a lot, years ago, along with cute little stuffed animals, silly little curios and various other inexpensive, but thoughtful gestures. 

My hubby also used to put a lot of thought and effort into the gifts he gave me for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.


In the last few years these gestures have become fewer and farther in between. If I were to take a cue from Ms. Streisand I guess I should be getting the suitcase out and finding a place to move, as my marriage is done, Kaput!


But is it really?

My husband and I have been together almost sixteen years. In those years we have raised a blended family of nine kids, two nephews, a few friends of the kids that needed a place to crash for a while, two dogs, a scorpion, a mouse, a stray cat and a homeless rabbit. 


My husband accommodated my adoptive mother living in his home for 8 years, even though she was not the easiest person to get along with and had a knack for trying to cause upheaval in our family. 

My husband dealt as best he could with my older boys acting out and getting in trouble and supported me in my endeavors to get them on the right path.


My Mel stepped up and took on the full financial load in our family so I could be home with our children and try and make sure that they got the attention, help and love they needed to deal with life's up and downs as part of a blended family.


My husband paid for private schools, tutors, colleges, computers, sports fees, trips abroad, books, clothes, cell phones, games systems, clothes, sneakers, first dates, food and countless other things for our children. He has worked more hours than I care to think and never once thought of himself first.

My husband encouraged me to develop my acting career, my public speaking endeavors and writing skills; sitting through endless readings and re-readings of countless stories that I thought were stupid and he told me they were priceless. 

My husband has attended every game, recital, play, show, award ceremony and school event for every kid, even when he hadn’t gotten any sleep after working 16 hour shifts.

He taught kids how to swing a bat, throw a softball, run a base, shoot a basket, love unconditionally and many a nights he stayed up late to help mend a broken heart or counsel a troubled soul.


He bought our daughters special stuffed animals to nuzzle at night, dressed up for daughter/father dances and let a few tears flow at sweet sixteen passages of rite.


My husband cooked many a meal, even though he wasn't the best cook, when I was sick and unable to take care of my family.

My husband tells me he loves me with his hard work, honesty, dedication, respect and the total trust we have in each other.

My husband in all these years together, has never made me feel less of a person, has given me wings to soar and always made me feel safe.

My husband shows his love by putting up with my dog, and all the trouble he gets into, even though my hubby doesn't like dogs, because he knows how much I love my silly dog and how much he means to me.


My husband shows me love in the way he loves our grandson. In the way he records cartoons and movies that "his Tiki man" might like and is happy when he sees how well our married son and his family are doing.

My husband loves me in the way his eyes light up when we are making plans to go to Florida to see our son play baseball.

 

In the way he talks about how much fun we are going to have talking, taking walks, hanging out and doing the silly little things we enjoy doing together. 

He shows me he cares by driving an extra two hours out of the way so I can spend all the time I want searching for sea shells at the beach and instead of being inpatient, he picks out shells and rocks that he thinks I will like. My hubby always finds the most beautiful shells and rocks, and when I tell him this, he says its only because they remind him of me.

 

My hubby has given me a place to call home, an amazing extended family of in laws that fill me beyond words.

While my husband isn't a Harlequin romance hero, he isn’t snugly soft and he is rough around the edges, he doesn't ride a white horse, he doesn't cry over sappy love songs, he doesn't whisk me off to Paris on his private jet and he doesn't bring me flowers, he does so much more.

After all these years I still know that I am his girl and he is my guy, my best bud, my pain in my butt and the only man in the whole world that gets me for who I am, not who he thinks I should be.

 

Flowers whither and die just like relationships can if we obsess over the material things that society tells us our partners should or shouldn't be doing for us.

 

Relationships end because we are so focused on having our partners make us happy.


Our happiness is not anyone else's responsibility, but our own. The most loving, caring person in the world cannot fulfill us, if we ourselves are not fulfilled; but the right person can add joy, contentment and peace if we value the things that truly matter.

 

So this Valentine's day as my hubby gives me a box of his favorite chocolates, which we both know he is going to eat anyway, I will be thanking God that he doesn't send me flowers anymore.

 

I will also thank God that we have the rest of our lives together, ahead of us!

Happy Valentine's Day, Big Papa Pump! ;-D


Hallows Eve and Goblins Galore

October 31
Happy Halloween!

While Halloween can invoke images of horror movies and things that go bump in the night, to me it brings back a wave of much more pleasant images.

When the kids were younger, Halloween was not just one night a year, it was a year long preparation for them. As soon as one Halloween was done, my kids' imaginations quickly turned to what supper-duper costume they would wear the following year.

I have to admit I secretly enjoyed this process. I liked to sew and costumes were just so much more fun that plain old pants or shirts.

I also must add that I was known to get a little, okay a lot, carried away at times in this creative process!

One year my littlest one, Alexi, who was about five years old at the time, told me he wanted to be a "polisman" like daddy. I took it literally!

I spent a couple of weeks creating a mini-version of a state police uniform, down to the patches, breeches and all!

My older kids felt that I was being obsessive because they thought Alexi was too little to appreciate my efforts. I personally thought that they were a little upset that his costume might be better than theirs!

On Halloween night as we were heading out to trick-or-treat with our crew the sight of my little Alexi grinning ear-to-ear was all the proof I needed to show me that the extra effort was worth it.

The lesson here is that I did not go all out on his costume to out do any one else. To show of my sewing skills, or lack there of.

In reality the motive was a little bit selfish. I actually enjoyed it! To me it was like an artist creating a painting or a writer creating a story.

Sadly at times we parents, especially women, get caught up in the trying to be all, do all and impress people we do not even like, just to prove what great moms we are.

What good is it to have your kid in the best costume in the world if first of all he did not even want to be what you made or bought, or two, you have been such a basket case about it for weeks, lovable and caring are not exactly the first two words your family would think of, when they reflect on your mood during that time?

If you are so consumed with stress, resentment and just plain tired, what good are you to your family or to yourself?

What joy could possible come out of that?

I must admit I was bummed out when the kids got older and wanted to do their own costumes or even not bother with dressing up, but not because of the showing off part, just because I missed my blank canvases to work on.

Now that all my kids are mostly grown I still enjoy the fact that they still like dressing up, and now that I am a Grammy JJ, what my little grandson, Tiki,  calls me, I get to live the experience all over again.

While Tiki has absolutely the best mom and dad in the world, and does not need me to make anything for him because his parents love the process themselves because they get that its all about having fun and not just the one night involved.

I do however get to dig out the mini cop uniform to put it on my grandson for a photo, something we were not able to do with Alexi as a camera was not handy at the time.

I no longer have the year long process in my life and while I miss it, I am okay with it, because I was so blessed to have kids that allowed me the opportunity to hang out and play with them in the amazing worlds that reside within their imagination.

I am just thankful that I was not so over-whelmed or stressed out that I missed it.

So this Hallows eve its my turn to play, I get to be the one to materialize for the real world the glimmers of the world of make believe I call my own, something that I, despite the hard life I had as a youngster, I was fortunate enough to be able to hold on to intact.

To all my fellow grown-ups, how about we let go of the world, if only for one night and remember the fun times of our youth?

I think it will lighten our load, quicken our step and make us realize that playing in the sandbox once in a while is still okay to do!


Last one to the door bell owes me a lollipop!


Mud baths and puppies

(Excerpt from the book "The extraordinary life of an ordinary woman")

June 4

 

I was rummaging through my storage closet drawers trying to find some paperwork that I needed when I hit upon the photo album drawer.

This is the drawer where I keep all our family photo albums. Any time I go near this drawer my family heads for the hills because as they say, "Here comes Niagara Falls!"

Okay, I have been known to get misty-eyed when I see old pictures of the kids when they were little.

Alright, already, more than misty-eyed, it's a regular cry-fest!

But today I was so focused on finding my missing paperwork that I did not stop to look at the albums. I almost made it safely out of there until I lifted up some papers and the picture you see below fell out!

   Mel and I had been married about three years when I took this picture on one of our frequent trips to go food shopping!

A buddy from work got a bunch of old BDU's that the surplus store was getting rid of, and since most of them were really small sizes he gave us some for our kids and our boy scouts troop.

Jess and Chris took it a step further and would always wear them with matching green shirts.

They would always wear them the same day so they could match.

Was it any wonder that these two were always mistaken for twins?

From the moment these two met they decided to be inseparable! Jess would tell Chris what to do and he would nod and go along with it!

For the most part they were good about not getting into trouble. I said for the most part!

I remember one day shortly after we had just gotten our first dog Sadie.

The kids were playing in the back yard and Sadie was running around with them. Somehow Sadie decided that the best place to play and roll around was under our blackberry tree! The ground underneath the tree was covered with all the berries that had fallen off the tree.

I was in the kitchen and could hear the burst of giggles coming from the kids. There are two types of signs that set of the Mommy-radar.

One is total silence. This is the most ominous because it usually means the kids are elbow deep in mischief.

The second one is the uncontrolled fits of giggles! This usually means that the kids are knee deep in something messy, sticky or downright gross!

I walked out the back door to see what was up when I saw our beautiful white and light brown puppy looking like she had been in a Stephen King horror, slasher flick!

At first I panicked because it looked like she was covered in blood. What kind of morbid kids was I raising, laughing at the sight of a bloody puppy?

Upon closer inspection I realized that it was berry juice, which Sadie was licking off herself with a big puppy grin!

I swear she looked like she was in puppy heaven!

Chris and Jess looked at me and swore up and down that they tried to stop her. Sure you did!

I grabbed Sadie and brought her in the house and gave her a bath. After twenty minutes she was clean, buffed, dried and smelling good!

As I put her on the kitchen floor Alexi opened the back door and Sadie bolted right out to the back yard again.

I ran after her to pick her up before she headed under the berry bush again. Luckily she did not head there this time instead she headed right into this hole that Chris and Jess had dug in the back yard and filled with water from the hose!

In jumped Sadie into the muddy watering hole and as she landed Chris and Jess got splashed from head to toe by the mud!

I had to ask them why they felt the need to dig a hole and fill it with water.

They looked at each other and busted out laughing and they looked at me like I was daft.

Because mom, the reason Sadie went under the tree was because she was hot! We made her a swimming pool to keep her cool!

Oh, really, how dumb of me to not see the obvious!

I watched in amusement as Sadie slopped around her "swimming pool" and the kids were having so much fun playing with her.

My first instinct was to get angry at the mess and at having to give the dog another bath, but I am glad I didn't get angry.

Jess and Chris had so much fun with the dog and later on they had even more fun running under the hose to wash off as much of the mud as possible.

When Mel got home from work he walked into the backyard.

He took one look at the muddy hole, the pile of muddy clothes, shoes and soggy kids. He just shook his head and said, "I don't want to know!"

We looked at each other and just started laughing!

Throughout the years until they went off to different colleges the "Blended twins" would continue to be close.

They shared a lot of the same friends, they helped each other with school work, Jess was Chris' personal planner and Chris was her bodyguard.

I picked up the photograph and put it back.

After I had found my paperwork I went downstairs and looked up at the picture of the two of them at their senior prom hanging on the living room wall.

Normally this would have created an opening of the flood gates of mommy tears.

But not today, I just had a good belly laugh remembering all the adventures those two got into growing up.

I was also extremely grateful that I had been blessed enough to be able to share in their adventures.

And as Jess so quickly pointed out that summer day so many years ago, rich people pay a lot of money to get mud baths because it's good for your skin!

I wonder if that applies to dogs too?

 

 

 

 

 


Passing of the gauntlet for the ages

(Excerpt from the book "the extraordinary life of an ordinary woman"

 

June 1

 

I went for a walk today and wound up in the downtown area of our city. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I decided to sit on one of the benches and enjoy the weather. Invariably I started people watching, which is one of my favorite pastimes.

When I people watch, it's not to criticize or gossip. I look more to what kind of "character" that person is, from a writer's perspective. I try to guess their age, profession, and demeanor. I try to imagine what their lives are like, neighborhoods, families, likes and dislikes.

I think this hobby of mine is the reason I did alright as a police officer. I did not look at people to "profile them", I observed more to get a "feel" for what that person was about; to try to better understand where they were coming from and to be able to be as fair as I could to them, whether victim or perpetrator.

As I was sitting there it brought back memories of when my oldest son, Derek, (before we had James join our family) taught me a valuable lesson about people.

He was only two years old and we had a doctor's appointment at the local city hospital. Derek was born with severe asthma. He had been in and out of emergency rooms and hospitals a lot in his young life. I had finally been able to get an appointment for him with a specialist who was willing to take on a patient with minimal health insurance.

It had been a long day. I was five months pregnant with my second child, who loved sitting on my bladder. I was in the bathroom every two seconds. I had worked all day at the biotech factory where I was employed on their assembly line. In order to get from work to my mom's to pick him up and then to the hospital, it involved three bus transfers and almost a two hour ordeal.

By the time I got to the waiting area I was tired, cranky, wishing my bladder would fall off and without the energy to chase a hyperactive two year old. Derek was not your typical two-year old either. He had the full vocabulary of a grown man and had the most inquisitive mind, way beyond his years.

I finally convinced Derek to sit next to me and started to read him a story. Derek suddenly looked up and waved "hi" to an elderly gentleman sitting across from us reading a paper. He just ignored Derek. Mama lion instincts kicked in and I was a little upset at the man's rudeness. He looked to be in his seventies and looked like life had not been too kind to him. His breathing was labored from years of what I thought was heavy smoking. All in all he just looked like a miserable, lonely old man.

I told Derek to leave the man alone but I guess Derek took it as a challenge. He persisted in smiling his toothy grin and waving non-stop to the poor man. Try as I might Derek would not stop.

I got up to go to the bathroom again when Derek escaped my grasp and ran over to sit next to the man. He scooted over and gently tapped the gentleman on his arm. The man finally looked up from his paper and glared at Derek. Derek met his glare with a big smile and another "hi"!

I quickly walked over, as quickly as a waddling pregnant woman could, to grab Derek. Like a little jumping bean Derek jumped to his feet on the chair and threw himself into the man's lap and gave him a hug! I was mortified! I started to apologize to the old man when a small smile came across his sun-dried face.

"My but you are persistent, young man!" the gentleman said. Derek's face lit up and hugged even tighter. "I like you", Derek said.

I finished my apologies and was going to take Derek off his lap when the gentleman assured me it was okay for him to remain in his new seat. I sat down next to them and was enthralled watching their interaction.

Derek asked this man about his family, his life, what he did for work, why was he sick and so on and so on. Every time I tried to reprimand Derek for being too intrusive, the man just shook his head and said it was alright and answered Derek's questions.

This man had been unable to serve in the military due to his poor hearing. He worked in the shipyards in Quincy, in an effort to do this patriotic duty. He was there for years before we know of the harmful effects of asbestos and as a result he now had a horrible pulmonary disease that was slowly killing him.

His only child, a son, had been killed during the Vietnam War while evacuating injured soldiers out of the hot zone. His beloved wife of 40 plus years had died recently and now he was all alone. He had no surviving parents, siblings or extended family. He had never had any grandchildren or nieces or nephews. This man was truly all alone.

The man, whose name was Sam, looked over to me and said" He's quiet the little interrogator isn't he? I can't believe he got me telling him my whole life story!" Sam looked down to Derek and asked him,"How old did you say you were again, young man" With his most dazzling smile he answered with pride," I am two years and 3 months old!"

Sam chuckled and ruffled the top of his head. Derek giggled and hugged him again.

I turned around as I hear the nurse call out Derek's name. "We have to go, Derek, say good-bye to Sam now!" Derek looked up to Sam with his big, brown eyes, a little sad and asked Sam if he would ever see him again. Sam looked down at Derek with misty eyes and said" probably not friend, but I have something for you to remember me by." Sam reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a 50 cent coin. "This is my luck coin and even though some people might not think so, it has been good to me. I want you to have it now".

I started to protest but quickly stopped when Sam looked at me with pleading eyes. I nodded yes and Derek took the coin in his tiny hand and looked it over with amazement.

"Wow, Mr. Sam this is so cool! But I don't want to take your lucky coin. Aren't you going to need it to help you get well?"

Sam laughed in between coughing and said" No, Mr. Derek, I think that coin has done all I need it to do for me! It's all yours now!"

Derek hugged him again real tight and promised to take real good care of the coin. The nurse called our name out again and slowly Derek got off Sam's lap and sadly waved good-bye. I leaned over to Sam and thanked him for his kindness and he replied softly, "No, thank you!" and smiled.

When we were done with Derek's appointment and went to leave Derek ran into the waiting room, but hung his head with sadness when he saw that Sam was gone.

On the bus ride home Derek told me that he was going to really miss his friend Sam. I sat Derek on my lap to soothe him and he slowly fell asleep.

I was deep in thought about Sam. How could someone like him be all alone? He wasn't a bad person; he loved his family and his country. Yet destiny had stricken him alone and very ill. How sad that no one would ever remember Sam or the things he had done in life.

But I was wrong.

Derek is now in his late twenties, yet he never forgot his friend Sam. When my son became a young teenager he assigned me to be the keeper of Sam's coin. I could have stuffed it in a drawer or a safe but instead I carried Sam's coin inside my police badge holder.

Every time I had to pull something out of there I would feel Sam's coin and it would remind me to not judge people by their appearance or demeanor. It helped me to be a better cop and a more caring person.

Sam's memory also fostered a desire in my son to be friendly to everyone and to especially reach out to those that are sometimes overlooked.

As I looked around the city square as all the people rushed by, it dawned on me that in a way Sam's memory did go on.

His life and his influence had continued to be a good example to others. I smiled to myself happy to know that Sam and Derek's friendship had not been only for a brief second in time in a noisy waiting room, but had lasted and would last a lifetime.

Nice job Sam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Images of freedom and sacrifice

 

 

May 27

Memorial Day

 

Today I was reading the paper about all the controversy about letting the public, i.e., the media have access to the flag draped coffins of our servicemen and women killed in battle on their journey home.

At first I was angry at the thought of some media vultures salivating as they snapped away photographs that would later be somehow used in some sick political game.

But by the same token after much thought, I was even more upset at the thought of our beloved soldiers being treated like a dirty little secret; being sneaked back into the country under some shroud of mystery.

Hollywood and television glorifies war and killing. The sign of killing the "bad guys" has always brought some morbid sense of satisfaction among movie goers resulting in big monetary returns for the big studios. But unlike the actors in these shows, our soldiers cannot get up, wipe off the gore and go home to their loved ones.

The price of war goes far beyond the expensive equipment, weapons and vehicles. (Which by the way no taxpayer wants to foot the bill for anyway) The price of war is human lives, young men and women, many barely out of their teens and early twenties. The price is birthdays uncelebrated, babies unborn, anniversaries that cannot be celebrated, dreams unfulfilled and brokenhearted parents, spouses, siblings and off-springs.

Yet we the American people go on, day in and day out oblivious to this great price.

We as a nation should stop and at least acknowledge this sacrifice. Some people say it is too morbid, too depressing or it's an invasion of the families of the loved ones lost, at a most painful time.

War is morbid and our soldiers have to live in that morbidness, non-stop, while they are in battle.

Nothing is more depressing than being sent over to protect our way of life only to be second-guessed by every arm chair analyst, who could never in a million years, really know what it's like "over there".

Think of the depressions of countless soldiers who come back alive only to be told what a waste going to war was. The depression they feel over the guilt that they made it back and their buddy didn't.

Think of the depression over a Government that asked them to step up to the challenge, and which they gladly did; only to come back to sub-par medical facilities, non-existent family services and unemployment. The depression of civilians not understanding why they drive so fast, trust no one or are so over cautious in crowds and cannot get a good night's sleep.

We worry about invading the families' privacy? What could be a greater invasion of privacy than asking you to pay the ultimate price and then have your loved one ushered in the back door of a hanger like some second class citizen?

Our soldiers, our heroes; yes I said it, Heroes, should be given the biggest home coming possible. Everything should come to a total stand still when those flag draped coffins come off the planes.

I do not care that you might be ten minutes late for your business meetings, family vacations, etc.

These heroes went over there and asked for nothing in return except respect and the hope that we as a nation would be there for them in their time of need, just like they were there for us when we needed them.

Their families should at least be able to feel a sense of fellowship from total strangers for their loss.

I hope that you do get depressed over the sight of flag-draped coffins in the paper as you sip your double latte. I hope that you are moved to say a silent prayer for their families. Or if you do not pray I hope you are moved to action, to ask, no demand more respect for our veterans, more services for their families and an ultimate resolution to a war that has dragged on way too long.

When I say this it's not to spark a debate over whether the war, the reasons for it, etc, are right or wrong. My only desire is to point out what I feel is the most important thing here, our servicemen and women and their families.

I hope everyone sheds a tear or two at the sight of our fallen soldiers, because even though we might not have known them in life, in death they have become our protectors and our heroes.

So if we can allow the media in to show photographs and images of happy homecomings and reunions with loved ones when our soldiers come home alive, we should afford the same courtesy to our fallen brothers and sisters; our protectors, our heroes. We should show their families that their loved ones did not die in vain; that we as a nation are truly in their eternal debt, for their unbelievable loss.

And maybe by not hiding this tragic loss in the shadows we as citizens, law makers, politicians and the powers that be will be more hard pressed to ensure the safe return of our guardians as quickly as possible.

Go quietly into that dark night….Urrrahhh.

 

 

 

 


Life’s little packages.

 

May 24


  Today was Cristina's birthday and it amazes me to see the wonderful young woman she has become. I remember the first time I met Cristina.


She was this small, shy, little girl who was going to the Junior Trooper program during school vacation week with her younger brother Jose, and my three older boys.  

At the time, her Dad and I were just work partners and best friends. Dating each other was the last thing on our mind, never mind being married! To each other! 

After the week was up and my boys came home they kept talking about Cristina and what a tough little girl she was. Eric in particular was taken aback by how hard she worked and how physically strong she was for a tiny peanut of only nine years old.

Unbeknown to me they had exchanged phone numbers and addresses and had promised to stay in touch; boy did they ever stay in touch! 

Later on when Mel and I started dating we decided to take all our kids camping to see how they got along and if we actually had a chance to make our families work.

Remember the camping trip that can be a book by itself? Yeah, this would be the one!

Imagine our surprise when Cristina's face lit up as she walked into her dad's condo, rushed over to Eric, punched him in the arm and very happily said, "What up, Fajita?"

What's up? Wait who the heck is Fajita?" That's what I wanted to know!

  My boys were shocked to realize that their little friends from the Junior Trooper program were Mel's two oldest kids!

Talk about a small world! There were almost a hundred kids in that program that week, yet our kids became inseparable instantly while they were there!  

Needless to say they got along great all week during our camping trip.

I was instantly drawn to Cristina because of her sweet, shy nature and big sad eyes.  The divorce had taken its biggest toll on her especially, because she never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings.  She adored her Dad, but loved her mother deeply and she felt torn thinking she had to pick sides. 

At the beginning of my relationship with her dad she did not know exactly how to relate to me.  Slowly we started doing things together like baking cookies, sewing, creating arts and crafts and doing chores together.  We formed a good relationship.  

Every weekend when they came over Cristina would spend hours in my closet playing dress up with all my clothes and shoes.  I would let her use my make-up and jewelry. At first she was really surprised that I did not mind her using my things.  I told her I used to love doing the same thing when I was little and my mom would get mad at me for touching her things, so I had decided that if I ever had a daughter I would let her use anything in my closet that she wanted.

Some of the best memories I have with Cristina are of the two of us, with Jess in tow, playing in my closet! 

I sewed her first communion dress and we made her veil and crown together. 

Anytime we got too close I could see she felt guilty and conflicted.  Almost like she was being disloyal to her mom; as much as we tried to tell her she didn't have to feel this way or pick sides, Cristina's love for her mom, at times made her feel otherwise.  

After Mel and I had been married for almost a year his ex-wife created some conflict with my husband and Mel's kids got drawn into it.  Because she was angry, she would not let the kids come spend time with us for almost three months.

It wasn't until Mel threatened legal action that we were able to have them come over again. In those three months a lot of damage was done to my relationship with Cristina. 

I was somehow blamed for the whole fiasco and once again I was the evil stepmother!

Cristina was hurt feeling that we had abandoned her and had decided to put a wall up that has stayed up for years and honestly, I did not blame her.

It breaks my heart to think about it, because in a lot of ways Cristina will never understand how much she means to me and how much I love her as my own.

I guess those are things that, maybe someday, she will understand when she has kids of her own.

Throughout the years we have had a cordial relationship, but since that incident I decided to take a back seat because I did not want to create anymore conflict in her life than she already had to deal with.

Deep inside I cry at times thinking of the close bond we could have had, if adults could act as adults and let kids express what is truly in their hearts without interference.

I know that I will never get those lost opportunities back, but at least I can hope to look forward to new memories to be created in the future.

Even with all that happened, I still love Cristina dearly and know that in her own way she cares about me too. I also know that she is an unbelievably beautiful, smart, and gifted young woman; who is going to do amazing things in this world. 



Cris with her nephew Lil Eric at Thanksgiving. 

Cristina has a way of leaving her mark with every person she meets because of her caring spirit and sweet demeanor!

Happy birthday, Mia girl!!                


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!


Fly and be free, like a little bird.

 

April 9

 

Love is in the air!

Spring is in the air!

Goodness something is in the air because I feel awesome!

Why? I don't know! I don't care!

I just know that the smell of spring makes me happy and giddy.

I remember when I was in grammar school how excited I would get when spring finally arrived.

My mother was very strict and I wasn't allowed to hang out anywhere after school. The only freedom I had was walking the three blocks home from school and taking our dog Violeta for a walk.

It must have taken me half an hour to walk those three blocks because I wanted to savor every scent, ray of sunshine and touch of the breeze.

I would examine the flower buds and check out the leaves on the bushes. All of them!

I would listen to the birds chirping and the wind passing through the trees.

Every day as soon as I got home I would get the same lecture about being late!

Late for what, being locked down in hell? After she was done yelling at me, I would take the dog out so she could do her duty.

There was an old abandoned lot that used to be a playground across the street from our house. I would walk the dog over there, so that my mother could see me from the window!

There was still an old swing set left over from the lot's better days.

The lot was enclosed so I would sit and swing back and forth while our dog walked around doing her business.

When I was on my swing, because I felt it was my own, I was free or rather I would feel free!

I would be a bird flying high up and far away, going off to see faraway lands in places where my unhappy life with my mother couldn't find me.

Some days I would be a famous trapeze artist and I would go through my routine hanging upside down from the old swing.

When I did this I would get screamed at from my mother to stop, because I was dragging my hair on the dirty ground!

Had she never heard of shampoo before?

Depending on what mood she was in I would be able to stretch these outings for between fifteen minutes to sometimes if lucky half an hour. Eventually she would call me in and I was in lock down until it was time to go to school the next morning.

Weekends were the worse. She would get me up early in the morning to do chores.

 

If I didn't wake up right away I would get the cold water in the face with the mattress flipped over for good measure.

 

And they wondered why going through the police academy or being in the Massachusetts guard was a piece of cake for me!

The cleaning, the scrubbing, the yelling! This would go on until my sister came over to go shopping in Central Square. Freedom!

 

We would walk around all the stores, get something to eat then go back home. That would be the end of it for me.

 

Saturday nights usually involved her getting drunk with her boyfriend or having these outrageous parties. It was strange; these same young "ladies" would show up with a different guy each week (translation hookers).

 

I would just lock myself in my room and try to watch TV through the loud music. Once in a while one of the young girls, because they were barely in their late teens, looking back on it now, would come into my room and talk to me.

Here I was, barely twelve years old, bonding with a girl who was barely four, five years older than me.

We would talk about school, make up and boys. I always wondered what life events would force a woman into these circumstances.

Years later as a police officer I found out. Eventually the young lady would go back to her "date" and I would be left alone again with my dog.

The epitome of hypocrisy was that the next day I would have to get up at eight in the morning to go to church, by myself most of the times.

 

The sad thing is that for a while there I thought that this was normal! I thought everyone had hookers at their parties, got drunk and made their kids' lives a living hell.

But then at church I would see families together, Mom, sometimes a Dad, and kids worshipping, helping out.

There I discovered that something was seriously wrong at home. The nuns and the priest showed more of a caring, loving interest in me than my own so called family.

Walking home from church again I would stretch the walk as long as I could. I knew once I reached the front door of my house I would have to return to the despair of loneliness and desolation.

Looking back on all this, having gone through those experiences it has helped me have a deeper appreciation for the freedom I now have.

 

It also made me realize how fortunate I was to live in this country that affords me those freedoms. In some parts of the world, women never break away from that type of oppression. I am not going to lie, it took a few years of counseling and countless self help books to overcome some of the damage done during those years, but all in all I came out better on the other side.

 

Luckily I never lost that sense of joy over the seasons!

To this day silly giddiness surges through me when the weather turns balmier. I also make the effort to never let those experiences take away my zest for living; if I did then they would have won!

Oh, a blue jay in my window! Yeah I know I have a short attention span!

But it's so beautiful, the Blue jay I mean, not my short attention span!

Enough of this! Buddie, time to go find a swing set, dude!

Gee, I hope the parents don't call the cops because some weird lady is hanging upside down from the swings!


Answered prayers.

 

April 4

 

Oh my goodness! I came home today and noticed that the most beautiful tulips had popped out and bloomed literally overnight!

 

We had been living in Billerica for two years and recently found a house for lease with the option to buy in Lowell.

I wasn't too crazy about moving back to Lowell just because our old Lowell neighborhood left a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, I know, I can't blame the whole city because of one bad street or rather one bad rooming house!

 

Realistically though we were always in Lowell because our kids still went to school there and played sports there, basically did everything there!

 

So we knew that our time in Billerica was going to be short. Mel and I prayed about when the time would be right to look to move and where to go.

 

Well I guess when they say in God's time not ours, they weren't kidding!

Remember in an earlier entry how I said I wanted a house in the country?

Well living in Billerica felt like that. It was woodsy and the river ran behind our home. The street was a private dead end with lots of space for the boys to run around and we had the best neighbors ever!

The challenge was the house was too small for our family and too far away, from well, everything we needed to go to.

 

Some nights I would literally be in the car for four hours picking kids up and dropping them off at the various school or sports activities.

After much prayer and pondering I felt the time had come to start looking.

Now I know some people aren't going to believe what happened next but then again some of you will!

Even though we pray as a family, we found out we also pray as individuals; duh, no brainer, right? And in doing so we might ask for different things at different times. This isn't a big deal if you are praying for something for one person, but when you are praying for something for a whole family well it can get pretty interesting!

 

It wasn't until we had found our current home in Lowell that we discovered why it took us and to an extent God two years to locate this particular house!

 

By mere fluke I picked up the local paper randomly looking for nothing in particular when I saw an ad for a house for lease.

I nagged poor Mel to call to check it out. Mind you at this point we still have three months left on our current lease and hadn't really prepared to move yet or prepared to have the amount required for deposits, etc.

Mel leaves a message. While we are in Lowell picking up our daughter from a soccer game the owner calls back and tells us he can show us the house. Now!

The house happens to be less than three blocks from our kids' school! (Yeah I know!)

 

Once we walked into the front foyer my hubby knows he was in deep do-do because our daughter and I were instantly in love!

The next few weeks were just one big gift from God.

Somehow we got the house, got the money, and got moved in all before Christmas.

 

Now this is when we figured out why it took so long!

I wanted a nice backyard with lilacs. Check. Jess wanted a room where she could actually open her closet door while she was in it! Check.

Chris wanted a big game room. Check.

Alexi wanted to be able to walk to school with his friends. Check!

Mel wanted something in a nice neighborhood without the neighbors being right on top of us. Check.

I wanted hardwood floors. Check.

I also wanted stained glass windows. Check.

We wanted our own office space. Check.

And the cherry on top, a fire place, a real fireplace. No wonder it took him so long to find it for us!

Our old house in Lowell had a decorative fireplace when you came into the foyer. I had decorated it with a log and a real fire screen, poke, etc.

The kids would make fun of me when Christmas came and reminded me not to put the decorations too close as they might burn! Smarty-pants!

 

Now, I had a real fireplace in the living room! Ironically every little detail we individually wanted, this house had!

Crazy thing was the year before we had been waiting for our daughter to return from a school activity and decided to take a walk in the neighborhood surrounding their school.

 

We actually walked right by the house. I remember Mel saying how much he would love to live in a house like that. All I remembered was commenting on how beautiful the cherry blossom tree and the child's playhouse in the front were. The thought went out and was forgotten. Yet, I now know that Heavenly Father did not forget!

He needed to make sure that the people who lived there at the time were taken care of before the house was available for us.

The key thing I learned was we didn't envy them, or wish them harm because they had something we admired! As a habit Mel and I whenever we admire someone's property we say a small prayer that God will preserve their belongings.

I guess because of this the Lord had seen fit to bless us with things we never thought we would ever get.

Every morning I thank the Lord for the beautiful home he has blessed us with!

As if the things he has given us weren't enough, I get the sweet surprise of beautiful tulips in the front lawn!

It goes to show that to God we are all truly important to him. Down to the smallest detail, tulips and all!

What we take for granted is that sometimes what we ask for takes a while.

God has the whole picture we only have a few pieces of the puzzle. We just need to be patient and have faith to receive it!

It is amazing to me that the greatest joys are in the small details!

Hmm, those flowers smell so good! What do you say Buddie, boy, want to go check out the neighborhood?


Laughter, life’s greatest joy.

If you build it they will come.

James Earl Jones-field of Dreams

 

April 1

 

Happy April's fools day! Isn't this a great world where even the fools have a special day just for them?

In our family we think it's just for us! The highlight of the day is who can get who first. We have dealt with the shaving cream on the pillow in the dark room. The shoes full of talcum powder precariously dangling over the half opened door.

Even the dead mouse in the lunch bag, totally not funny according to our oldest daughter Cristina; but the one that took the cake was the day our sons James and Alex decided they were going to scare my husband and me.

 

First to begin with scaring a retired state trooper and a current state trooper isn't the brightest thing to do, but they were determined! First they made sure we weren't packing heat, AKA, did not have our loaded service revolvers on us.

The other precaution was to make sure they were at least seven feet away so they wouldn't get tossed like rag dolls or dropped kicked and knocked out.

Mel and I were wallpapering part of our kitchen and because it was unseasonably warm we had the back door and windows open.

 

So in their genius minds they were going to sneak up on us and scare us through the open window with a scary rubber mask. Brilliant!

Well problem was my sons wear more cologne than The Macy's perfume counter and we could smell them a mile away as they were trying to creep outside the window.

 

We were ready for them!

As Alex came around the backyard, James crept around our parked truck. Alex was supposed to make a noise, baiting us to come to the window and check, while James was waiting to poke his head out and freak us out.

Mel and I divided and conquered!

When Alex made the backyard cat noise, Mel snuck out the front door and came around the corner where Alex was hiding.

Oh, did I mention he was carrying a nice big bucket of gooey, dirty, paste water from the wallpapering project?

 

Alex never knew what hit him!

Meanwhile back in the kitchen I picked up the other gooey bucket of nasty, paste water and tossed it out the window where alien boy, James in his mask, was waiting. Bull's eye!

I never laughed so hard in my life! They were soaked from head to toe, mask and all!

 

When Alex and James got a look at each other they couldn't help but crack up laughing at each other as well!

They were one big, gooey, sticky mess!

 

They still couldn't figure out how we knew they were there! I guess the gauntlet had been thrown down for next year!

I know it sounds foolish, (get it foolish? Okay so comedy isn't my forte!)

Anyway as I was saying, I just hope that no matter how old we get, we never outgrow our child-like side.

Notice the difference I said child-like, not childish.

Childish is when we only care about ourselves and no one else. Child-like is when we still know how to laugh at ourselves, laugh with others, not at them and mostly, when we can still get the most out of the little things in life!

I for one plan on being the biggest fool in my family for as long as I can!

Let the jokes begin!

Oh, baby I can't wait until next year!


Live and learn.

 

 

March 31

 

Okay I know spring is supposed to be here already! As a matter of fact it's been awesome for the last week. I actually was able to turn the heat down last night. I know, I know, my family has been roasted out for weeks because I am always cold.

 

It was actually like in the high sixties two days ago. So can someone explain to me why there is snow on the ground again this morning?

Softball and soccer start in two weeks. That would be for me, not the kids.

Yeah I know, remember, I am my hubby's other kid! I always wanted to play sports when I was young but I was not allowed by my mother.

So when I grew up and I say that term loosely, I really wanted to play.

 

My first husband wasn't too receptive and I had to give up playing soccer after only a few games. Buy my Mel is really awesome, so three years ago I found a women's soccer league. I have been around soccer my whole life. I know the rules, I had coached for years, even coached an under 12 team to the championship trophy. With all this I wanted to be the one to play.

So can you imagine a 42 year old woman, who by the way had not been able to work out for a while, who decided to start playing soccer for the first time?

I didn't tell anyone I was going to play. I just went off by myself and had a ball (no pun intended). I told the other players I was a beginner. They made me feel welcome! Needless to say I felt great at the end of the game when I got in my car for the long ride home.

 

The problem came when I tried to get out of my car to go inside my house. My mind was sending the signal but my legs were on strike! I literally had to crawl up the seven steps to my front door. My hubby got a chuckle out of the whole deal and I have been playing ever since. We even won a medal when our team came in second place in a tournament we entered.

Jess was laughing as she told my hubby that I would be sleeping with that medal around my neck that night! She was right!

 

Last year while I was working, as a security supervisor contractor, the company I was assigned to have their own softball league.

I asked if a beginner was welcomed and I was!

The fun part was that the guys and the other girl on my team were awesome. My hubby and several of my boys played with us and even though we had a rough season, it was so much fun!

The lesson I learned was that if I had let my insecurities win out I would have missed out on the fun, the challenge and most of all the friendships.

The other thing was that for once, my boys were the teachers and I was the student! They helped me learn how to bat and catch. Mel took me to the batting cages and my confidence grew.

Honestly I have a long way to go before the Olympic softball team comes knocking on my door. But that's okay because I feel so good about the fact that every new day is another chance to get better and learn more.

 

I plan on still playing soccer and softball into my nineties and beyond. I also plan on hitting a homerun someday real soon! So whoever the practical joker is upstairs dumping snow on my recess time cut it out!

Game of catch anyone?


Sweet sounds of love.

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!

 

 

March 30

 

Today I was going though some old video tapes when I ran across one from a talent show Jess was in. I remember that she was a senior in high school and I was trying to sleep when I got awoken by the sound of angels singing! Okay they weren't really angels singing it was just our daughter Jess. She was rehearsing her song for the school talent show. As I laid there soaking in the sweet sound of her voice I was over taken by the deep sadness of the realization that she was leaving to go to college in a few months. Granted she would be back for vacations and during the summers. But it would never be the same again. She would be an official adult. I got misty eyed as well because I was getting hit hard that year.

My son Chris would also be going to college and our so called baby, Alexi, would be in high school that fall. I put the video in and images from the past came to life. In my mind I could see each and every one of them flash before me as tiny toddlers, energetic first graders and beyond. When I was doing laundry for nine kids I thought it would never end. Now when it only takes me a few loads to be done, I realize my role as a mother has quickly changed.

The other night at dinner time it was just my hubby, Alexi and me because everyone else was out and about. Alexi looked around the table and said, "Is this what next year is going to be like?" It was nice but quiet. No dinging, no loud laughter or joking. No "back up off my chicken!" It was just quiet and I was sad. I missed the chaos and the happy turmoil. It seemed like the whole experience just flew by and was over before I had the chance to savor the moment!

As I sat alone in my living room watching the video, I wished that there was some way that those toddlers, sticky fingers and all, could come back if only for a few minutes, to snuggle, to hug, to be able to read Winnie the Pooh with together again.

But they can't, so I do the next best thing, I break out a box of tissues and an assortment of old video tapes and picture albums. I cry not out of bitterness or regret but mostly out of longing, longing to have some of those precious moments back. On the other hand I cry out of joy and happiness at having been blessed to have been part of those wonderful, chaotic lives, bumps, bruises, tears and all. It was all so worth it. I put my head on my pillow and have a good cry as I savor the sweet memories of times gone by. As the last of my sweet Jess singing as Cinderella comes to end and I wipe away floods of tears, I also have a big smile on my face as I ponder the wonderful moments still to come today, tomorrow and beyond. Later that night as I drift off to sleep I can almost hear the soft lullabies of angels or maybe I just left the VCR running!

Baby can you pass me a tissue?


A hero’s farewell.

 

 

March 27

 

I just got back from PFC. John Frances Landry Junior's funeral. It was ironic how yesterday was cold and rainy for his wake, yet today the sun was out and the birds were chirping. I guess the weather is fitting since his family would prefer to have it be called a celebration of his life. I thought the wake was bad enough but the funeral was a hundred times more emotional. Even though I was there with Mel, Jess, and Chris, I somehow got separated from Mel in the procession. I wound up walking with Jess and Melissa, Jose's girlfriend. It was just heart wrenching!

The mass was in this tiny white church that looked like something out of a picture postcard. From the church we walked the mile and a half to the cemetery for the burial. The casket was on a funeral carriage pulled by a solitary black horse, draped with the American flag. Walking next to the carriage were four young men in their finest military dress uniforms.

As we walked, every student still attending Lowell Catholic High School, all 281 of them, stood on either side of the road on the sidewalk; with an American flag in one hand and their other hand draped over their heart. Further up along the processional route we walked by a public elementary school and sure enough every student in that school was out there doing the same.

The fire department had their ladder trucks out with the huge American flag across both trucks for the procession to walk under, as well as every firemen standing outside, saluting as the casket went by.

Police officers, veterans, UPS delivery guys and retired veterans all did the same. The freedom riders were there in full force, over a hundred of them paying their respects.

The most amazing thing of all was that we were walking down a main street, in a big town and the only thing you heard was the clip clop of the horse's hoofs hitting the pavement.

The silent reverence was incredible!

The grave side ceremony at the cemetery was just as emotional. The 21 gun salute, the horse without a rider, and taps echoing throughout the early spring day was an emotional send off for a great kid, and a brave soldier.

For me, being part of the State Guard color and honor guard, the most emotional part was when a general took the flag from the two honor guards and knelt before John's mother to give her the flag that had accompanied his body home. He expressed his gratitude from this nation for John's sacrifice.

It was the one time in my life that the soldier in me got meshed up with the mother part and I thought my heart was going to break. As proud as I would have been for my son's bravery and service, his loss would have been more than I could have bared.

I looked at John's mom and dad and could only say a silent pray on their behalf that they would have the strength to endure this trial together as a family.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, I walked over to the grave site with Joe and said our final good-byes. Joe stepped back and saluted John one final time. As Joe and I walked towards the curve I stopped him for a moment.

I had a St. Michael's medal around my neck that had served me well for a long time as a police officer and a soldier. It had been a gift from my son Alex. I am a very sentimental person and loved this gift with all my heart, not only because it was from Alex, but because it was a constant reminder of his love and how important it was for me to stay safe and go home at the end of the day.

I had debated my decision for a long time, but now I looked Joe in the eyes.

"Joe". I said as I took the medal from around my neck, "This medal has kept me protected for a long time, and even though I am not Catholic, it was the good thoughts and prayers from the person that gave it to me that I felt did the trick. Now I want you to have it. It was given to me by Alex and just like he took you under his wing went you were a freshman, I now pray that God and his angels will take you under wing and keep you safe."

"Are you sure?" Joe asked becoming a little emotional.

"Absolutely", I replied as I placed the medal around his neck and tucked it inside his shirt along with his dog tags.

Joe looked at me for a moment and I just hugged him. I broke the hug and gave him the "oahhh", which simply meant you understand and he replied the same. He snapped to attention and gave me a totally out of regulation salute since I wasn't in uniform, but a greater sign of respect doesn't exist among soldiers.

I broke regulation by saluting back and with that we said good-bye.

I know that in theory a little piece of metal around someone's neck can't keep evil, injury or even death away. If it was that easy no one would ever suffer and events like these would never have to happen.

What I do believe is that the positive thoughts, wishes and prayers can't hurt. I also feel a little better knowing that there is a little bit of Alex's and my love and affection with Joe no matter where ever his call to duty might take him.

I once got an e mail from someone showing a funeral procession for a fallen soldier in Texas. The writer commented how totally patriotic Texans were, but the reality is that it's not Texans that are patriotic, its most Americans in general.

I have never been more proud of today's youth, my neighbors and my fellow Americans as I was today.

For all the negative talk in the news about the demise of our youth, I really feel that with fine young men like John and Joe, and the kids I interact with day in and day out, this country has nothing to worry about. As I had said before I feel it will be left in very good hands.

Go gently into the good night and fear not dear soldier for you have been called home after a great and noble effort.

Ooaaahhh and God bless.

 


A hero’s ultimate sacrifice

 

 

March 26

 

Once in a while an event will come along that will shake the core of our faith and bring us back down to the realization that we are truly fragile beings just passing through this earth. Today I went to the wake of a 19 year old young man who gave his young, precious life defending our freedom. He was on the football team with our sons Jose and Chris and it was a blow to our tiny school community.

We had been blessed up to this point because quite a few young men and women from our small school had gone on to serve in the armed forces. Some had served overseas in theater (military for in combat). All had come back safely, until now.

I remember when this young man came back from basic training a couple of years ago. He was so excited and pumped. He absolutely loved it! I still remember his contagious laughter booming as he shared stories from basic camp with his buddies. Some people didn't understand his stories or his passion.

I on the other hand, spoke the language. The old saying "It's an Army thing!" is very real, at times it just can't be explained.

You either get it or you don't! I got it.

I got him! The last time I saw him was when he came to watch the season opening football game at Lowell Catholic, still totally excited about serving and doing his duty.

We made him promise to stay safe. He said he would. I guess God needed a good soldier in Heaven because he didn't come home to us; he went home to his Heavenly Father.

We gathered at the school auditorium for a small memorial service before heading over to the wake as a school family. Someone had donated the use of two school buses and we all went together. I ran into some faces I hadn't seen in a long time. The youth, the hope, was all still there, but now tinged with the shadow of death. The realization of mortality had scarred their tender sweet faces. The thought that more of "my" boys, (because I am like that, I adopt everyone and want to bring them all home), were also wearing the uniform of protectors of freedom made my heart ache. One of them, Joe, brought back so many memories. As a young freshman he was taken under wing by my son Alex, who was a senior at the time (He's like that too!). I remember Joe sitting in our family room playing video games. I loved this kid, silly grin, funny sense of humor and could he talk! But he always made me laugh and brighten my day! Now, here, he stood as a handsome young man, standing a little taller, a little prouder because he was wearing his "Class A's", his military dress uniform. A knot tightened in my throat, but at the same time, tears of pride swelled in my eyes as well. We sat together on the bus, talking in a way that only military nuts can. We shared inside jokes, military lingo and silly things that only we thought funny. Yet at the same time I kept seeing my little freshman, like another son, trying to navigate his way through that jungle called "High school"! Joe is married now with a baby and navigating the jungle called "life", yet in my eyes the young freshman lingers.

We walked into the wake together, holding hands, which in a sense was our way of keeping it together. Soldiers don't cry in front of the family, at least we try not to; we try to be strong for them. So in our own way we were strong for each other. I wasn't in uniform. I wanted to, but instead decided on attending as me, the Mom, this way I wouldn't have to try to be strong, I could actually cry. I knew that there was no way I couldn't cry. While we walked up the stairs some veterans were standing outside, in the cold, drizzling rain, holding American flags, heads held high.

As the countless high school students filed by them silently, respectfully, one of them told his wife that his faith in the youth of this country had never been stronger. He was right! We hear about the "me" generation, the down fall of today's youth and their selfish ways. But what we don't hear about or see is the long lines of kids standing, shivering in the rain, for the chance to pay their respects to a young man. This young man for some of the kids, the only kinship to him was the school community we belonged to and his sacrifice for our country. Yet they mourned him just as deeply as if they had been blood relatives. This type of news isn't anything we'd see on CNN anytime soon simply because it doesn't make "good" news. After we were done paying our respects to John's body, we stood up. Instinctually I took a step back while Joe saluted him, Joe pivoted and I reached and grabbed his arm again. Had anyone noticed it might have appeared rehearsed, yet it was not, it was that unspoken military bearing. Though we were separated by decades in age, and we served our country in different capacities, we were comrades in arms for this sad experience.

When Joe was younger I brought guidance and strength to his young life and assisted him through his inexperience. Today, his quiet demeanor (something that I never thought we would associate with Joe!) was my guidance, my rock. No matter what side of the war issue we might be on, there is one thing we must never forget, that not one of these young men or women has died for a mistake.

When a police officer has died senselessly because a drunk driver ran her over, did she die for a mistake?

When a fireman dies trying to find someone in a burning building who has already gotten out, did he die for a mistake?

When a nurse dies from contracting a disease from someone she was treating, did she die for a mistake? The answer is no!

Anytime a person lays down their life trying to help mankind, it cannot possibly be a mistake! It's called altruism. It's what separates us from the other mammals on this earth.

If men could learn to settle their differences peacefully over a conference table then people like Joe and I would be serving our country in a different capacity. So until that time comes I pray every day for the countless, selfless men and women who choose to protect our freedoms, here and in lands far away. They fight even for the freedoms of those that will never understand the whole concept of selflessness, sacrifices or the whole Army "thing".

I hugged Joe extra hard, not just because it had been so long since I had seen him last, but because I was so proud of him and of all the young people like him. I know without a doubt that after I am gone this world will be in great hands with this future generation!

Oooaahhh, PFC. Landry.


Could use your assistance

Hey all, still hoping to get some help as my blog is stil in the running for an award, the dead line for voting is October 16th if any of you can help me by voting I would greatly appreciate it. You need to sign up but it only takes a minute here is the link that will take you right to my voting page, thanks gain for your help!

 

http://bloggerschoiceawards.com/blogs/show/42726


And Tiger too!

 

March 24

 

Today was my oldest biological son Derek's birthday!

The only reason I make the distinction between him and my oldest son who was kind of sort of adopted is because Derek was the one who introduced me to the wonders of motherhood.

I was four months shy of my seventeenth birthday when I had him and talk about not having a clue, I had NO clue!

 

To top it off he was born at home because I never made it to the hospital, it was truly an unbelievable experience. The part of him being born at home was not planned! I wasn't due for another three weeks so I thought it was the pepperoni pizza I had had for dinner!

By the time I realized I was in labor it was too late!

My mother cut the umbilical cord and took care of all the other stuff, ugh!

She decided to walk to the store and get some supplies. I have to remind you I was young, stupid and sixteen.  I had saved some money and my plan was to move far away and have my baby.

His father was nowhere to be found because he didn't believe me when I told him that I was pregnant.

It didn't help any that I didn't look pregnant, I just looked chunky!

My plan to leave was postponed because my mother fell down the stairs and was laid up in bed for weeks. Not that her injuries were that bad, just that she was that dependent on me for everything.

I was planning on leaving the following week but alas the baby had other plans!

We were flat broke due to her not working; we had no phone, no car, and no nothing.

Up to that point I was still working as a waitress. It was pretty weird me waddling around taking care of my tables! I hadn't told anyone I was pregnant either so I just looked like a chunky, slow, waddling waitress.

When my mother had left and I was alone with the baby for the first time, I was totally overcome with the miracle of life.

When we are young we think of no one else but ourselves. Having a baby changes that instantly. I looked at his toes, his tiny fingers and realized that if I didn't take care of his every need, he would perish.

What an incredible, awesome responsibility!

I could barely take care of myself, now I had a son to provide for as well.

The other thing I discover was instant love and devotion. In that split second I knew that if this child was ever not part of my life my soul would die!

I made myself and him a promise that day. To give him the best life I could.

Years later reflecting on that moment I realize that I failed in some instances, did right by him in others, but the one thing that never changed was my undying love and devotion.

With all the ups and downs in our relationship we have come full circle. I am no longer his do all die all, but I am his friend, confidante and mentor.

No matter how far he roams, or what he does he knows he always has a shoulder to cry on and a safe haven known as his mother's love.

Happy birthday, Tiger! 


So baseball anyone?

 

 

March 21

 

Life is funny sometimes. I woke up this morning and the sun was shining, the birds were singing, it was a glorious day outside!

I mean full techno-color sunshine overload when I opened all the drapes in my living room. So I figure, yeah baby, spring has sprung!!

I get dressed, grab Buddie and out the door we go! Only to run back in the house because it was FREEZING outside!!

It was like 20 degrees and the wind was kicking it big time!!

Okay who's the clown in charge of the thermostat up there?

I bet there's some mischievous little cherub with his plump little hands on the dial, swinging it back and forth, laughing his angelic little head off!

Ha! Ha! Hot, cold, hot cold, fooled you!!

You think you're funny, huh?

Anyway Buddie wasn't buying my, "it's too cold out" routine, so I had to take him outside to do his duty to colon and bladder!

But what got me the most was Mel and Alexi.

These two fools (and I say this with the utmost love!) are out in the backyard throwing around a baseball, playing catch!

That's not the worse of it; they are in their red Sox T-shirts, jeans and nothing else!

I mean the better choice of an activity would have been hockey or curling (no, not the hair kind!)

But no, they are out there like its eighty degrees and muggy!

Big old smiles on their faces, having a grand old time! These are the same two individuals who are MIA (Missing intentionally always!) when the snow needs to be shoveled!

"It's too cold! We'll do it later!"

But not for baseball, boy! As soon as spring training starts in Ft. Myers, they are out there, in Ft. "Tundrachusetts", with dreams of pennants and hot dogs!

I had to laugh, (After I could finally move my lips and was thawed out!)

So to totally enjoy the moment, I opened the curtains to the window overlooking the front yard.

I turned up the heat, put on my Red Sox cap and dreamt along with them!!

Sometimes we can miss out on the joy because we focus too much on the cold (i.e. negative things) and forget about the warmth that comes from the simple things in life!!

 

Play ball baby boys, I got the hot chocolate a brewing'!

 

Hey Buddie, I was only kidding about that hot dog thing!


The dog of all dogs.

 

 

March 17

 

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Okay how did I get hoodwinked into this? I never wanted another dog after Sadie.

Mel doesn't like dogs so he wasn't exactly broken up about my decision.

Not to mention that we are leasing a house in a neighboring town until we can find something we want in our town, so a pet wasn't on my mind.

Then out of the blue I get a phone call from my second oldest son Derek. He has been spending some time with my ex-husband in the attempt to get to know him better. Anyway our other son Chris was down there visiting when I get the phone call.

I guess their Dad had a weird pigmy dog that he was getting rid of for no good reason except that it was getting on his nerves.

My sons, being the eternal saviors of anything that moves, called to rescue the dog because they didn't want it to go to the shelter.

Of course first question out of my mouth is what is wrong with it? They say nothing; he's a good dog and of course pretty, pretty, please, sugar on top!

 

How old are you two, five?

I, being the eternal sucker for a sob story, ask my hubby Mel if we can have him.

 

He asks the eternal question, what is wrong with him?" You get the gist. We agreed to take him on a one week trial basis.

He so much as looks at me wrong he's out of here! Yeah right who are we kidding? That tiny little freak of nature, half Chihuahua, half German shepherd, Yeah I know, don't ask!, Walked in, I was hooked!

He was only three months old and already a whopping 11 pounds.

He showed us right of the bat who was the one with the brains in this operation!

We decided to leave him in the downstairs bathroom when we went to church because we hadn't gotten a crate for him yet.

 

Well when we got home he wasn't in the bathroom. He was in the family room on the couch with the light on!

I guess the prior tenants had a big dog that made a hole in the door between the bathroom and the family room. Mr. Genius, AKA Buddie, found it and slid underneath, jumped up on the card table turned the light on with his nose and proceeded to nap the morning away on the couch!

 

We thought one of the kids had left him in there because he felt bad for him, but no, he showed us exactly how he did it when we put him in there again!

Needless to say my hubby was impressed! I was in love and Buddie found a home.

 

Although everyone thinks it's kind of weird that I got him from my ex-husband!

So even though we aren't Irish Buddie sure felt the luck of the Irish when he found a home instead of a shelter! Now if only I could find that pesky leprechaun and his pot of gold!


A winner’s heart.

 

 

March 15

 

The boys and I watched the movie 'Rudy" today.

What an incredible example of the human spirit! I coached youth soccer and I helped out with my daughters Jess and Cristina's High school team as well.

My mantra has always been "I would take a kid with heart, over a kid with talent alone any day!"

My children have always argued that talent is more important because with talent you can win games. But I told them that "heart" or rather the passion for the game, the passion for giving your all, is what not only wins games but what make true winners out of average people.

This was the case for Rudy. He was so wrapped up in wanting to play football for Notre Dame that as he worked towards that solitary goal, he hadn't noticed all the other things he was "winning" at or achieving.

He was overcoming his dyslexia; He was obtaining self-confidence in academics, and most importantly earning a college degree that would ensure that he would never have to work another day in the steel mills ever again.

Yet he wasn't happy!

He hadn't noticed any of this because he was so obsessed with suiting up to make his Dad proud and to prove his brother wrong.

The weird thing is the closer he got to his goal the unhappier he was.

It got to the point that he was ready to quit, to give up on everything he had dreamed of his whole life; and why?

 

It seemed because after years of being told "no" he had finally begun to believe it.

This young man, from the time he was a child, had been told that college or even worse, Notre Dame, was something only other people did.

Rich people, people from the other side of the tracks. When he used to tell his family that someday we was going to play for the Notre Dame football team they would laugh and make fun of him.

"You're too small, too poor, and too dumb!" "Forget it and go follow your father and your brothers into the steel mills!"

 

Which he did for four years after high school! It took the only person in the world who believed in him, his best friend, dying to wake him up out of his stupor.

This traumatic experience made him take a chance and go after his dream.

The thing that I was yelling at "Rudy" about, (Well not really Rudy, more like the TV screen as my kids told me, "Mom he can't hear you!") was why did he continue to hang around "those losers" who kept putting him down?

 

But then two things hit me, the people who kept putting him down were only doing it because they loved him and didn't want him to get hurt. They loved him so much that they literally were protecting him to death.

Slowly sucking the life and dreams right out of him until there would be nothing left but a hollow empty shell of an existence.

The other thing that occurred to me was that Rudy needed, wanted, to show his loved ones a way out.

He could feel that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, he hadn't seen it yet, hadn't found it, but he just "knew" it was there, if he was just willing to keep looking for it.

But after years of going it alone he was tired, dejected and just wanted to give up.

 

But here is where another life lesson comes in from his other friend, the groundskeeper.

You see this man had been on the team when he was younger. The Notre Dame Football team!

But because he was on the bench, something Rudy would have killed for, and because of perceived slights, he quit!

When Rudy told him we was going to quit, his friend told him if he did, not a day would go by that he wouldn't regret that decision. The same way he did!

 

As anyone who has read the book or seen the movie, we all know that Rudy got to play for 30 seconds and made one play.

Some might ask, all that work, all that pain, humiliation and abuse for 30 seconds?

 

But as I am sure Rudy would agree, 30 seconds of doing what you love to do, beat a lifetime of what ifs and shouldas!

Also, while on his way to those thirty seconds of football, he earned a college degree from one of the world's finest universities. By doing this he also forged a path that five of his younger brothers followed by also earning college degrees.

Heart is the thing that creates true winners.

Go Rudy Go!


You call that a snow angel?

 

 

March 13

 

Okay enough is enough! It snowed again today! At this rate my kids will still be going to school in July!

As much as I know spring is right around the corner, that dang corner is getting farther and farther away!

The only good thing was that I took the day off work and got to hang around with the kids again!

The funniest thing happened today!

The kids decided to clear off the cars from our driveway. When they were all done they called me to go check out their handy work. Well we have a slanted roof and at that particular moment all the snow from the roof slid off and buried the cars again!

I have never laughed so hard in my whole life!

The kids weren't too amused at first but after a few moments they started laughing too!

We had a great time digging the cars out again and we learned that getting upset over life's little challenges doesn't solve anything.

Even though it's hard at times learning to accept defeat and upsets, it's even harder to do it full of anger and resentment.

That day turned out quite awesome even if we did look like Frosty the snowman and company when we were done!

We even decided to make snow angels in the back yard afterwards, although they actually looked more like chunky chickens crash landed in the back!! We laughed so much when we saw how silly they looked!

Oh, well but boy, oh; boy was that hot chocolate good afterwards! Pass the marshmallows, people!


The sweet sounds of music.

 

 

March 11

 

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

 

I found this passage interesting as I was reading my scriptures because I wondered how many people actually believe this to be true.

Do the average man and woman really believe this?

For me it's a no-brainer because I have received things when I didn't even realize I was asking for them!

I wonder if that ever happens to other people as well. You know you think of something, then it suddenly it happens or you get it?

I have had that happen to me my whole life so I find it weird when others tell me it doesn't work!

The funny thing is it does work, because all the bad things they think about or fear happen as well!

Gee, a brainwave is a brainwave good bad or indifferent! Mel wasn't too in tune to this when we first got married. He actually thought I was a witch or a gypsy (I decided to take it as a compliment, we'll just leave it at that!) because I would say something and then bam, it would happen!

The funniest example of this was shortly after we had moved into his old house.

We had been there about 8 months and I was doing my "have-to-change-the-living-room-around-to-make-it-look-new bit. I stopped for a few minutes and stared at an empty corner that I had left over.

My hubby walked in and just stared at me staring at the wall. Yeah it was totally silly!

"Honey, what are you doing?" he finally asked.

"I was just thinking how great a piano would look right here!" I said.

"What? We would never fit a piano in here, there's not enough room!" He replied. He was really looking at me funny now.

"No silly, not a grand piano. I meant an upright! It would fit perfectly right in here!

I personally didn't play the piano even though I had been trying to teach myself for years!

I had always wanted to but my mother never let me and as an adult I never got the opportunity to formally take lessons (Yet!).

But God is funny with the way he does things sometimes, because Chris my son was the one who nagged me for two years to sign him up for lessons.

I finally meet someone at church who gave lessons and he had been playing it for a few months. He just didn't have a piano to practice on.

"Well, Hon, on our budget, that "ain't" happening anytime soon!" My hubby replied as he hugged me from behind.

"It could", I told him," Why wouldn't God bless us with a piano? It doesn't have to be brand new, just something for Chris to practice on!" He smiled at me and gave me the "keep dreaming" look.

"It could happen," I mumbled to myself. When I was done with the room I went upstairs and took a shower. I decided to go to bed early, (if you can call 10:00 pm early!)

About an hour or so after I went to bed I hear the phone ring. I also had the pleasure of hearing Derek yell from the third floor down to the first floor where my hubby was that it was for him.

Who needs intercoms with those lungs?

I could barely hear my husband's conversation because it was a bit muffled, but I definitely hear his distinct boisterous laugh thunder throughout the foyer.

"Are you serious?" I could make him out saying, "When, right now?" You have got to be kidding me!" He spoke through more loud chuckles.

I could barely make out the fact that he had hung up when I hear him call the older boys down. It got eerily quiet because I fell asleep for about another hour and a half before a loud crashing sound woke me out of my deep slumber! This was followed by a loud chorus of whispered, (well it's the thought that counts!)

"Shhhhs"!

"What happened", I called out half sleep,

" Nothing, Derek fell!" The reply came back followed by more muffled giggles. This happened a lot in our house too, so I tried going back to sleep. I could hear a lot of movement going on downstairs and what sounded like a lot of grunting, this happens a lot too, it sounded like wrestling!

Since my hubby was with them I didn't worry and I finally dozed off.

The rest of the night was uneventful but I knew something was up when I had 8 smiling children staring down at me first thing in the morning. I took a mental head count. Oh, no Chris was missing!

"Okay, what have you all done with Chris?" I asked. They all laughed out loud. Not a good sign at our house either. Laughing meant something was broken, someone was bleeding or someone had farted!

"He's still sleeping in his room, quick get up we have something to show you!" Derek said for the group. I looked at my hubby, who was standing there with that sly smile of his. Now I knew something was up, the aliens had brainwashed him too!

I got up and was escorted to the top of the landing.

"Close your eyes!" Derek told me. Close my eyes to walk down the stairs?  Now I knew why he fell down so much! Closed eyes and steep stairs aren't a good combination! I gave him the "yeah right" look.

He reached over, grabbed my hand and started walking me down the stairs with the rest of munchkin-land following close behind us. (Now I knew how Dorothy felt!) He guided me into the living room and then stopped.

"Okay, open your eyes!" When I did I was met by the sight of an upright piano smack in the corner I had said the night before!

"Oh, my Goodness," I shrieked," Where did you guys get this?"

"You're never going to believe this Hon, My brother Hector called me last night after you went to bed and told me his landlord had this piano he was going to throw away.

Hector said all of a sudden he thought of you and decided to call me to see if we wanted it!

"Are you serious?" I asked suppressing a gaggle of silly giggles.

"That is exactly what I said to him when he called me last night! I just couldn't believe it! I thought you had put him up to it! Get this too; this piano had been sitting in this guy's basement for 25 years! Then all of a sudden he decides to get rid of it last night! The funny thing was Hector said we had to get it right away because the guy was going to put it out on the curb and he knew it would be gone!"

"Yeah, so we all went over there to get it last night while you were sleeping! We wanted to surprise you!" Derek said excitedly.

"Yeah, we wanted to have it waiting for you in the morning. We thought you were going to find out though when clums-o over there almost got killed when he fell while we were trying to lug the piano up the stairs!" Eric chimed in pointing to Derek. "We thought you were going to get up when we made all that noise, but Dee said you were so used to us being loud that you weren't going to bother to come to check! He was right!" Eric smiled.

"Dad told us what you told him last night too! We were dying it was so funny! You think you can come up with the megabucks numbers too?" Jose added chuckling.

 

Chris came down the stairs half asleep. You should have seen his eyes light up when he saw the old beat up piano. It was horribly out of tune and one of the legs was broken but he sat down and played Beethoven's Ninth symphony on it right away! It sounded Heavenly!

When Chris was done and the kids rushed off to play video games and watch cartoons, Mel grabbed me and smiled!

 

"Honey, you think next time you can be more specific. When you said it didn't have to be new you could have specified but not too old either!" He whispered to me as he smiled.

I got a chuckle because I made believers out of a few people that day!

To this day when someone starts to doubt that something good can happen just because we want it, one of my kids will pipe in "remember the piano!"

So Matthew was right, if you ask, and you believe it, it will be so! As long as it's for your betterment and the betterment of mankind, most likely God will bless you with it.

Just make sure you're specific and really want what you ask for because chances are, you're gonna get it!

Hey Chris, play that number again!! 

 


Old friends and new beginnings

 

March 9

 

It's ironic that every time something good is going to happen, we need to go through a challenge first.

We had decided to put our house on the market.

The time was right to get the best asking price and it was now or never.

I had been excited about the prospect of finding a house on a quieter street with actual parking and maybe a few trees.

Yet I was sad because I have really grown so attached to this house and the memories we created here.

I can still see the height marker we made for all the kids on the edge of the closet door in our bedroom.

It goes back almost eight years and the kids have done a lot of growing here since then!

Mel took a picture of it for me so I would have something to remember it by, in case my memory ever failed me! But you how we obnoxious moms are! I asked my hubby if we could take it with us! Well it was worth asking!

Anyway, the hardest thing was that since the market is great for selling, it isn't so great for buying, so we will need to lease a house for a while until we find something to accommodate our family and our wallet.

The worse part of all, which has the kids and me a mess, is that we have to find a new home for Sadie our dog.

She has grown so big and unfortunately due to severe personality issues that she was born with she was not good around too many strangers.

I also was informed by the real estate lady that they would only allow us a small dog that weighed less than twenty pounds.

Sadie had not weighted that since she was three months old!

I had found an animal farm that would take her but it still broke my heart to give her away as she is part of my family.

I guess we always need to really be careful what we ask for as we might actually get it!

But by the same token I guess we need to be very specific as well, if we are not, we get the good with the bad and sad!

When I dropped her off the attendant was amazed at how gentle she was with me as she licked peanut butter off my fingers.

He assured me that she would be better off and I half smiled even though I really didn't believe him.

I tried not to cry but I couldn't help it.

I held it in as long as I could, said my good-byes and got into my car with my husband.

Then the dam broke and I was so hysterical I think my hubby thought I was going to give myself an asthma attack.

I never thought I could love an animal so much!

I knew that this was the right move for our family to be in a safe neighborhood and better home, but it still didn't make it any easier.

I guess that is why some people will daydream about moving on but never do out of fear. 

I do not know where we are going to wind up but I have to believe that where ever it is it will be a wonderful growing experience for our family.

I have to believe this otherwise losing Sadie would never have been worth the experience!

Even though I knew it was going to be great that didn't mean that there wouldn't be a tiny piece of my heart that will always belong to Sadie.

That does it, no matter what; I am never going to fall in love with another stupid dog ever again!


Feeling the fear and talking through it anyway!

 

 

March 8

 

It's funny how we never know where our strongest assets lie until we have the courage to try something new. I was hired to be a keynote speaker at Texas A&M University for the 13th Annual student conference on Latino affairs. I flew out to Houston and caught a connecting flight to College Station where I was met by a young woman from the University. First thing, I was amazed at how large the airport was in Houston. This thing wasn't an airport, it was a city! A very big city!

I was winded by the time I got from where my plane landed to the gate for my connecting flight! That wasn't all though! I knew I was in for it when I walked through my gate door and I was greeted by the great big Texas outdoors! It's not a good sign to me when I have to walk across a tarmac to get on a plane.

Remember I was born in a small Central American country where the passengers cheer when the plane lands safely! No, we are not an extremely joyous people, we are just grateful it landed all in one piece!

Secondly when I was a cop I was on a tactical Special operations Unit for over 6 years.

If you're walking on tarmac, it means you were either going to jump or repel out of a perfectly good plane/helicopter!

So you see why I wasn't too thrilled here?

Anyway I boarded the sardine can, I mean plane. I had a bag of peanuts thrown at me and before I could eat the last one we had landed! There is a God!

I walked through tarmac again to the tiny airport (looked more like a car rental place!) When I see this sweet-looking, Latina woman, holding a brightly-colored card with my name on it!

I walked up to her and introduced myself only to be greeted with a very heart-warming "Howdy!"

Yeah, I knew I wasn't in New England anymore! She took me to the guest facilities they have at the University and asked me what time I would like to go to dinner.

I wasn't sure so she said she would call me later to check! When I was alone I looked around the room then it suddenly hit me, how far the little "bookworm" from Cambridge, Massachusetts had come.

No, I wasn't Oprah, not yet anyway, but I was someone people were willing to pay to hear speak!

It was unbelievable to me!

When I was growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cambridge I just wanted to be invisible.

If I was the center of attention it meant I had gotten someone mad at me and I was going to get it. By "it" I didn't mean a prize either!

It meant I was going to get an old fashion belt-whopping! As a result of that I was very quiet and kept to myself.

I tried not to speak in school because either the other kids would make fun of me because I was considered a bookworm or I would get caught by the teachers for something someone else did and wind up in trouble either way!

Making friends had come easy to me when I was little but as I got older it got harder and harder to connect with people.

It was funny because as a young girl I had dreams of being a big movie star someday!

I dreamt of bright lights and my name in huge letters on Times Square.

My mistake was sharing those dreams with my family and they made sure they laughed them right out of me, until there was nothing left of them but a faded memory.

It wasn't until I became a police officer that I started to find my voice again.

Or should I say find my voice, period! But in reality it wasn't until I was in my second marriage that I realized I had a story to tell.

I don't remember the first time I spoke in front of a group or what I said.

What I do remember was people coming up to me afterwards telling me how much I had moved them!

I really thought they were just trying to be nice. But soon more and more people asked me to speak and more and more people told me they were touched by my words.

I didn't give it much importance until one day when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.

I told Mel that I felt like I didn't have any special talents I could use to succeed in life.

I knew there were a lot of things I could do well, but there wasn't one thing that I was awesome at!

"You really don't know what your gift is, do you?" he asked me.

"Would I be sitting here asking you if I did?" I asked totally exasperated.

"Someday I'll tell you!" He said with that annoying sly smile of his.

"Unless you want to become the latest murder statistic for our city you better tell me now!" I threatened.

"Okay, okay, back off killer", he said, "You my lovely wife have the gift of gab!"

"Oh, great, I'm a big mouth! Terrific, I can really go out and conquer the world now!" I replied almost in tears.

"No, you have the gift to talk to people and touch their hearts, their souls. You shake their foundations, and help jump start their dreams again!"

I was shocked to say the least.

It still took me a few more years before I realized he might be on to something.

As a result of that conversation, here I was in Texas, getting paid to do what I loved, talking to people! Helping them find their dreams again. Giving them courage to believe in themselves!

Using a talent that I would never had discovered had I not had the courage to soul search to find it.

Even more important, it was a result of doing the one thing that I was totally afraid to do.

I guess I felt the fear and did it anyway! Now if only I can tell myself that flying in a sardine can is okay too! 


Baseball is in the air

 

 

March 5

 

Hurray! It's the first week of March! Which means baseball spring training is in full swing! This means, that I made it through another New England winter! Yeah, yeah I know March can be nasty too coming in like a lion and all, but who cares? Spring training means the hope of spring is in the air because the boys of summer are back! Okay I know I'm weird because most women don't get excited about baseball and being from New England we don't exactly have a World Series championship in sight anytime soon, (can you tell I wrote this a while ago?)(But then again didn't they say that about the Patriots too!?) But still, to me, just thinking about baseball, I can almost smell the wet grass and feel the warm spring breeze blowing through my hair.

Spring training is the one thing that I look forward to that lets me know that the worse is over.

The days start to get slowly longer and longer and little by little the weather warms up!

Even though spring doesn't officially start for another 3 weeks, in my mind it's already here! Plus watching those young boys full of promise and big league dreams reminds me to never let go of my dreams no matter how farfetched they may seem.

Yeah, baby, spring's a-coming, spring's a-coming!

Okay everyone let's play ball! Pass the Cracker-Jacks!!


Feeding the birds of the fields

 

 

March 3

 

We had too much month left over at the end of the money! Yeah, I know it's only the third! Boy was I freaking out thinking that we weren't going to have enough to go grocery shopping! Of all the scary things in life nothing scares me more than the thought of not having anything to feed to our nine kids! This single event could result in anarchy and chaos in the streets! Okay maybe not that bad, but at least there would be nine very unhappy campers at the dinner table!

As I was driving to the grocery store with a lot less money than what I usually needed, I noticed a little bird picking at something on the side of the road. I started thinking how much easier my life would be if I was a bird! You know a few worms here and there and everyone is happy.

I also thought that birds had it easy because they don't have to buy food or worry about bills, eyeglasses or broken retainers!

Then a verse from the scriptures came to me that said something to the effect that if Heavenly Father would feed the birds of the fields, why wouldn't he feed us, his beloved children?

All of a sudden I realized that I had forgotten the most important thing of all!

I wasn't alone! I was worried about feeding my family, but not once had I gone to my Heavenly Father and asked for his help. If he can feed the birds of the field why wouldn't he feed us? Mel and I worked hard, we did right by our kids, paid tithing to further The Lord's kingdom on earth, so why wouldn't he help us? I started to pray to my Father in heaven. I must have looked silly because I was praying out loud in my car, (I have some of my best conversations with God in my old Chevy Suburban). I wasn't even done when this peaceful, warm feeling came over me and I knew that we would be okay. Not just about the food but in general we would be okay. We would still have challenges but somehow they would seem lighter because God was lifting the majority of the load!

I wiped away a small tear from the corner of my eye and yelled out loud, "Amen for little birds that God saw fit to put on earth to remind us of what's really important!"

You know I think I'll get a small bag of bird seeds at the store.

I have a feeling I am going to have enough to get all I need today!

I have a small feathered friend to reward for his value lesson today!


The Best Birthday gift!

 

 

March 2

 

Today was Alex's birthday. He is my third biological son but is now the fourth son in our new blended family. I got some balloons and tied them up on the door knob outside his room. His face lit up when he saw them or should I say got attacked by them when he opened the door to go to the bathroom! My husband was funny about it. He asked me if I thought that maybe Alex was a little too old for silly balloons seeing how he was already in high school. You're never too old for balloons, I told him! What my husband didn't realize was that when Alex was born they thought he had complications and he almost died twice when he was little. I mean, he knows the stories, because I had told him about it. But he didn't live it, feel it or experience it like I did.  My ex-husband was good for some things, not so good for others. When Alex was born they thought he had mongolism and kidney disease. I was required to stay in the hospital for a whole week while they did all kinds of blood work and tests. My ex-husband used the excuse of work to not spend too much time at the hospital. I went through this night mare all by myself. It was so bad that the other lady in my hospital room thought I was a single mother! I prayed like I had never prayed before. I was the mother of three young babies, the oldest not even three yet. I was also 4 months shy of my twentieth birthday, so to say I was not equipped to handle this was an understatement!  Luckily, because of God's good graces, when all the test results came back, I was informed he was normal and healthy. To say I was relieved was, well you know!

. After going through this experience I made sure to never take Alex for granted. When he was nine months old, my mother left him in his crib alone all day while he was sick with the flu. In her ignorance she bundled him up to "sweat" the fever out. The irony was that I was working my way thorough medical assisting school at the time. I will forever be grateful for their Uncle Wayne. He didn't own a car. His friend came by to visit so he decided to ask for a ride to go see Alex because he knew he was sick. When Wayne went to check in on Alex he was in a full febrile seizure (caused by his temperature being so high). Wayne instantly scooped him up and rushed him to the hospital in his friend's car. He dropped the baby off in the emergency room and rushed back to find me. My ex-husband and I had just gotten to my mother's house to pick up my children when I found her hysterical. Two seconds later Wayne runs in and tells us what is going on. When I got to the emergency room, where they had my son, he was hooked up to every machine imaginable. I lost it! Luckily a doctor saw me all dressed in my nurse's uniform and quickly came over to calm me down. Alex couldn't talk or recognize me and he couldn't sit up. The doctor told me that had it not been for Wayne my son would have died. I was so angry at my mother. How could she not check in on him? I could have gone to pick him up and found my baby boy dead in his crib. He was in the hospital for ten days and due to a lot of prayers, great medical care and Wayne's quick action my son made a full recovery. I was extra protective of Alex because of this. One day when my son was four years old I was going to work on a Sunday. This was after I had become a police officer. His father was watching them and took them to his soccer game. I wasn't comfortable with him taking them because I was nervous about who was going to watch them while he played on the field. I specifically told Alex to make sure he wore his heavy jacket as it was chilly that day.

We had extra staff that day and it was really slow so I asked if I could go home early. Why, I don't know because I had never done that before. Once again two minutes after I walked in the door my ex-husband walked in with Alex in his arms semi-conscious. It seemed he had been standing in the bleachers being watched by his father's cousin, when her twelve years old son ran by.  He pushed and knocked Alex down six rows of bleachers. He fell backwards and hit his head on the cement floor and lost consciousness. My ex-husband instead of calling an ambulance picks the poor kid up and drives all the way home to find me! I did a quick assessment of Alex. From what I could see, thank God, he didn't have any spinal injuries, but he definitely had a major concussion and head trauma. I stabilized him and figured at this point the quickest action was for me to take him to the emergency room myself. I walked in with this tiny child in my arms and everything came to a standstill in the emergency room. The nurses rushed over and took him from me as I ran next to them telling him his information. It wasn't until the intake worker came in that I realized why all the attention. I had forgotten that I was still in my full police uniform! They had assumed that I was on duty and this was an accident victim. I apologized and told them that I had just gotten home from work to find my son in this condition.  I had a lot of explaining to do as to my ex-husband's ignorance and why I had made the judgment call to bring him in myself. Once again a so called responsible adult had failed my son. Two weeks in the hospital, tons of tests and follow up before I was assured that my son would make a full recovery. He did have a massive concussion and swelling in his brain. The doctor later on in confidence told me that the only reason my son had survived the huge fall was because he had listened to me about wearing his jacket. He had the jacket on and he had pulled the cord to the hood as far as he could so it wouldn't get in his way. Because of this the bulky jacket's hood had acted as a cushion and had minimized the severity of the blow to the back of his neck. Had he not had his jacket on he would have died instantly when he hit the cement. Once again God's grace had spared my son's life. My ex-husband never forgave himself for Alex's accident. He went out of his way to spend as much time as possible with him trying to make up for it. I went through a lot of self doubt and guilt as well. Here I was Ms. Medical assistant and super cop saving the world and I wasn't even able to protect my son from harm. It took me a few years to overcome that guilt and to be able to move on. Mel wasn't there for that so for him some things where hard to understand. I was lucky to not have lost Alex and because of this I did try to make every day count with my family. Every birthday my son has, for that matter all of them have, is another gift from God. So for as long as I am able to, I will do balloons, flowers, candy and all! Alex knew all that had happened to him and he had struggled as an adult trying to find his purpose in life. I feel God spared him for a purpose. He hasn't figured out what that is yet. He struggles with trying to balance his life and overcome a few heartbreaks he has had to deal with. He has struggled with trying to get back the confidence he had as a teenager. He has tried in the last year to turn around his negative attitude and to dare to dream again. He has started writing a book where he shares life's little lessons, (sound familiar?). He is trying to go back to finish his college degree and most of all he is trying to have the courage to make his dreams a reality. He is daring to be bigger than what he is now and to really make a difference in this world. His birthday surprises no matter how small, remind him of how special he really is.

The funny thing was that my kids actually looked forward to the silly little things that I do for them, especially Alex. The older ones always looked forward to their birthday surprises or Easter candy etc! It sad to think that society thinks that after we reach a certain age we have to turn into sour fuddy-duddies and totally forget about having fun! No wonder some people are so unhappy and stressed out! I didn't care that my son was a big tough security officer now.  I still made him pancakes with a smiley face on them in honor of his big day! He got a good chuckle out of it and my husband learned that we are never too old to enjoy life, like little kids do! Come on people lighten up and really live life to the fullest!

Happy B-day Buttons! 


Mom’s day off!

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer! http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com/blogs/show/42726

"Those that don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it!    

(Source unknown)

 

March 1

 

Today I decided to temporarily postpone my life!

I put everything on hold!

Laundry, chores, kids and hubby!

Why, because if I don't learn to take care of myself first, I will never learn to be able to take care of anyone else.

I know I got the chance to sleep in a little bit ago, but this time I actually set time aside just for me!

It's so funny how we go around trying to love the world but never take the time for ourselves!

We think that if we take time for ourselves the world would fall apart, the kids would disown us; that we will be on the nightly news as the most selfish person because we did something just for us.

Think about this, with all the things you do in an average day, how much more could you accomplish if you weren't on the brink of exhaustion all the time?

Can you imagine actually enjoying car pooling the kids to soccer because you just spend an hour just reading your favorite book?

Or maybe you actually got 8 hours sleep last night?

Don't give me the, "I don't have time for that", routine! The time is there you just need to allocate it better! One of the keys to financial security is to remember to always pay you first, then everyone else.

Why can't we do that with our time?

I don't see the people that pay themselves first broke; on the contrary they are some of the most financially successful people in the world. So if it works with money, why not our time?

Yup, I was selfish today! I got up and took a nice long shower. I got my hair and nails done and I even got to read the paper while the news where still news not ancient history!

I didn't clean, I called for pizza and it was so wonderful!

Because when I saw Mel and the kids, I was refreshed and was able to truly enjoy them!

I was able to listen to what they said without having my mind on the million things I had to do next!

I was able to really savor the time with my hubby without doing the rubber neck dance from exhaustion!

Did my kids disown me, my hubby divorce me or the world fall apart?

Guess what? None of the above happened!

The world was still standing and my Mel and kids enjoyed me more! I am glad I learned that lesson the other day!

Okay so I discovered that I wasn't the glue holding the world together once again, but then again who would want to be? I guess some lessons need to be reviewed to get them right!

I can't wait until next month when I review my lesson learned and cancel my life for another day!


Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!

http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com/blogs/show/42726

February 27

Heart-shaped diamond

 

I was reading a book today where the author expressed how sad she felt because her daughters would exercises for 3 hours none stop if they indulged in too much of their favorite foods!

I was shocked at her choice of words!

She was sad?

She should have been downright horrified and instantly gotten help for her daughters who were obviously on their way to developing serious eating disorders and image perceptions challenges.

The real question is where does it stem from?

We as women should be ashamed of ourselves!

We complain about the negative image that society portrays of us.

The way Hollywood only goes after the young, seriously underweight actresses to make them superstars!

We are upset with fashion magazines because the models they use are seriously under weight (underfed too, if you ask me!)

We don't approve of the fashions that are out today, that make us more self-conscious of our weight.

Yet who keeps all these industries in business?

Women, who else?

We spend millions, no correction billions of dollars a year on fashion magazines, movies, the fashion industry and ridiculous weight loss products!

Yet we never speak up to make sure that we are portrayed in the media as the real women that we are!

Wake up women of America!

We have nothing to be ashamed of!

The average American woman weights 144 pounds and is five feet, four inches tall!

The average fashion model is 6 feet plus and 115 pounds! We shouldn't expect to live with these unbelievable and plain dangerous goals!

Not to mention that the fashion industry is rampant with eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and most of these girls have serious image issues as well.

We as women need to ask ourselves, what are we teaching our daughters?

Are we always on diets? Expressing how unhappy we are with our bodies?

Using food as a coping mechanism?

Running to buy the latest fashion issue only to feel depressed afterwards and starting our crazy cycle of destroying our self-esteem all over again?

And we are paying for this?

Women of the world the revolution has started!

Throw away those harmful fashion magazines! Get rid of your scales! Refuse to be told how to dress, how to look and most importantly what you have to have or be to feel good!

Instead educate yourselves about good, healthy nutrition, proper exercise and real body image.

I know a woman who is about five feet tall. She has to weight as least 160 pounds. This woman should feel depressed and bad about herself according to society standards, right?

But she doesn't! She is the most beautiful, elegant woman I have ever met!

Her husband adores her and she is really active in her community. Her beauty isn't superficial! It comes from the inside out!

Beauty isn't something you buy from a store or get from a plastic surgeon.

Beauty is something that comes from within ourselves when we are at peace with who we are.

To make my point I also know this other woman. Try as she might to lose weight, buy all kinds of new expensive clothes, jewelry or get different men in her life, she is miserable.

Why?

Because she just doesn't "Fit" into her skin. She doesn't know who she is! She is so busy trying to be everyone else!

The latest movie star, her friend, even her ex-husband's new wife!

None of it works!

Why?

Because if we don't know how to be ourselves, how do we expect to be good at being other people?

No one can be you, like you!

Women, know thy selves! Stop trying to be someone you don't know or probably wouldn't even like if you did!

No one can make us feel bad about ourselves unless we give them permission! So stop letting them,

NOW!

We are precious creations! Each one unique and special! There is no one else in the whole world just like us!

The time has come to develop our own special self and stop trying to be a bad imitation of someone else!

Stop being a Cubic Zirconia!

Instead today vow to be a wonderful, incredible diamond in the rough with imperfections and all!

Just rearing to discover all the individual facets that you possess!

One at a time they will add up to a priceless one of a kind gorgeous gem!

Remember after all, diamonds are a girl's best friend and you should be your own best friend!

So women of America love thy self!!!

Okay I'll get off my soap box now. I need it to finish my laundry anyway!


Wooden Box

Queen of her laundry pile!

Woman carrying pile of laundry

 

February 26

 

Oh my goodness, can someone please explain to me why dirty dishes, dirty laundry and unpaid bills multiply so quickly,

But money doesn't?

I swear every time I turn around for one second the empty sink, empty clothes hamper and empty bills holder gets full!

On the other hand I think about it and my wallet and checking account get instantly empty.

How am I supposed to live like a queen on a pauper's budget?

Do you people know how expensive tiaras are nowadays?

And another thing queens are not supposed to have dishpan hands. Or have to do the royal dirty "Undies".

You know it can make a queen want to run off and conquer other kingdoms; other kingdoms with less dirty stuff and more fun. Like maybe Walt Disney kingdom. I mean they have room for all those princesses why would they not have room for an extra Queen?

I could ride on the floats and wave to all those happy little children. Happy little children whose laundry I would not have to worry about! Then I could eat the royal hot dogs and sip on the royal lemonade. It would be so much fun day in and day out!

Wait come to think of it I guess I would get bored just sitting around on my golden throne all day long with nothing to do! Those little kids have parents and I trying to hug them would probably get me in trouble with security!

Besides just think too, when our youngest son Alexi graduates from college in a few years we will have so much money and time we won't know what to do with it! HA! HA! HA!

Yeah right, golden throne in Aruba here I come! Dishes, laundry what's that?

Gee, but who will eat my chocolate cupcakes then? Or roll their eyes at my silly jokes?

Okay, I think Queen-Dom can wait! After all time goes by so fast that in reality before we know it they will be grown with a family of their own. I think for now I will just put the throne away and enjoy being the cinder-mom in my home. Minus the evil steps and all that drama!!

Hey guys, what do you say we go barefoot, get some paper plates and eat some yummy cupcakes? I bet Queen Elizabeth never had it this good!

Cupcakes with cherries

Mates for life

Lovebirds

 

 

February 23

 

Today I saw the most beautiful mourning dove.

Since I know that Mourning doves mate for life and never go out without its partner I scanned the area to find its mate.

I soon found it looking down from a tree at its companion.

As the dove on the ground walked around enjoying itself, picking seeds out of the snow, its spouse kept an attentive eye over it.

It's seemed silly but I got a little misty eyed thinking about how a supposed dumb animal could care that much or be that loyal.

A little while later they switched places so the other dove could go out and enjoy itself while its mate kept watch.

We humans could really learn a lot from God's creatures. Here these two doves let each other enjoy their space but at the same time quietly offered support and protection if the need arose.

I wondered how much better our relationships would be if we used the same philosophy?

Nowadays every time you turn the television on we are swamped with yet another TV show where sarcasm, insults and put-downs are all the parents exchange with each other and the kids!

What good can come of that? So many times negative, hurtful things are said in the name of humor. Yet in reality no one is laughing, because being mean isn't funny!

Respect, love and kindness are the building blocks of any healthy and happy relationship; but I guess at times it is easier to say these negative things to make ourselves feel better. I think if we focused more on making the other person feel better, we would realize that we grow as a person and as a couple.   

Maybe if we did start doing this we humans would be able to mate for life as well! Or at least have deeper more loving relationships with those around us!

After all I don't think you see too many mourning doves in divorce court do you?

Unless of course, they're hanging out outside eating seeds and enjoying the beautiful day together!

Who would have thought that we could learn so much from such a small little bird?


Loving senior couple

Time out for me

Woman puts feet up in the sun

 

 

February 21


 

Today was the best day of my life! I actually got to spend most of the morning sleeping because my hubby and kiddies were out playing basketball.

Not only that, after wards I woke up to discover I was still alive and could enjoy the rest of the day! I also discovered that the sun was still in the sky, the trees were still standing and my family was still around!!

Sometimes we as women have this thought pattern that if we so much as think of taking any time for ourselves the universe will seize to exist as we know it!

Some of us were raised on this amazing guilt trip that we must "sacrifice" and be some type of "martyr" or "doormat" in order to prove how good we are as wives and mothers.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

In order to be good as wives, mothers, friends and just plain human beings, we need to take care of ourselves, our needs, in order to be functional for others!

I think sometimes we thrive on that crazy "they are doomed without me" energy!

The reality is if we as moms and wives have done a good job, then our families are going to be quite self-sufficient!

And this is a great thing! So for today just relax and take care of the most important person in the world! You!

Just remember sometimes in life the very simple things brings us the greatest pleasure, like a little extra sleep or a bit of time just for ourselves.


Hmmm, a soft sheet, warm bed, isn't life grand?

Woman asleep in bed with stick headboard in the middle of a desert