Friends taking a look at the blog!


Open houses and the people we meet!

I have to  start off by saying these blogs are when I was new in my real estate career. Looking back, I absolutely made mistakes, but who doesn’t at first!  Open houses were introduced to me as a way of “showcasing” a home and the opportunity to meet potential buyers or sellers. 
I was asked to do an open house for a friend who had a very expensive listing (over one million dollars) in a prestigious neighborhood. I jumped at the chance.   I turned on all the lights (bright and airy ring a bell?) light my Yankee candle (Christmas Cookie, of course) and  I was ready. I put up my open house signs around the neighborhood and on the street that lead up to the home. I really believed that as soon as I stuck that sign in the ground at one o’clock, they were going to come in like cattle!  I sat there for what seemed like hours near the window like a dog waiting to go out and pee.  Finally someone pulled into the driveway! Here it is - my potential buyer for this million dollar house! Yippeee! I was so anxious that I bolted to the door and swung it open with a smile larger than the Grand Canyon when this man gets out of his car and strolls up to me and says, “you can’t have open house signs in neighborhood - and I took them.” “Please do not do that again.” He proceeded to unlock his trunk and dump my signs on the lawn and drove off. Ugh.  My heart sank. All this work and for what - nothing. I waited until he drove off and stuck one right in front of the house - what were the chances he would drive by again? A good one. He started up the driveway again, but I ran out and just waved my hand and took the sign down.  
That didn’t stop me. The following weekend I had a plan.  I bought cookies for the man at the gate and told him that I was having an open house and could he give people my flyer so they could get to the listing without me putting the open house  signs out!  He loved  the cookies, and it worked. I did have a few people that were looking around and was so excited. Then this handsome man name *Paul comes in and zooms through the house and says he wants to make an offer. Holy crap. He said he had to look at one more in the neighborhood but he would be back and he wanted ME to represent him!!!  I proudly stood there and said “I would be honored!” He left and I started to do the “happy dance” in the kitchen when I realized, I didn’t get his name or cell phone number. And you guessed it. He didn’t come back. I called my friend/associate and she tried as nicely as possible to say - you didn’t have a sign-in sheet, ask for his number, nothing? Nope. 
A few days later my cell phone rang and I answered it “this is Dina” and I heard a voice say - “oh good, I found you.” Yes, it was Paul from the open house! I would love to say there was contract and closing but, as the week went by - not only did Paul have me as his realtor but apparently he had three other agents as well doing work for him. And to this date - he never bought anything. Nada.  Lessons learned, do your homework and don’t waste time with people that you have that “funny feeling” about!  Next blog - more buyer stories - Oh no they didn't.... Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


Buyers 101.…..What really is behind that door.

          As my real estate career was progressing, I was feeling more confident with acquiring  more sellers and more buyers. I had met a buyer who was interested in seeing two bedroom, two bath condos in town. I had set up appointments and felt I had interesting and great investment  condos to show him. We love those that say they are vacant as you don’t have a seller waiting for you or even worse, the seller stays in the home and starts to do your job by giving your buyer the “grand tour!”

*Mike (name changed to protect the innocent!) and I got to our first condo which was on the second floor facing the pool area.  Nice location and even better, it was “vacant.” Or so I thought. I got the door open and we went into this condo that was dirty to say the least with food on the counter and clothes on the floor. It was a split floor plan (one bedroom to the left and one to the right) and Mike said he was going to check out the one on the left. I said ok and that I would go to the one on the right. I thought I heard something strange like a wounded animal when I opened the door to see two people having sex and apparently didn’t hear me opening the door. Feeling like I was going up chuck breakfast - I came running out of the room and grabbed Mike and said - “um…this is not for you - let’s get out of here!” He agreed saying it just didn’t feel right inside. I didn’t tell him what I saw because it was supposed to be vacant!  

We went to the next condo which was still in the same town and I knew this had to be better. We drove up to the condo and this one was on the third floor  over looking the park. Should be nice - right? Well, we knocked on the door and I was just about to use my realtor key to get in when the door opens. One word to describe what we saw - “Hoarders”.  If the mess wasn’t bad enough, the smell could kill you. I’m thinking, good let’s get out of here when Mike said “this has ’good bones’ - right?” Good bones or not - this was filthy. This owner had to push clothes aside so we could walk through it. There was kitty litter boxes with poo inside in every room. At this point, I was begging Mike to leave. I had never seen anything to that extreme and when I asked her, did she have a time frame to leave, she calmly said “I could be out in a month.” A month? Are you kidding? You’d need a year to get through this stuff. Thankfully we left that one and I thought, Mike is never going to buy anything through me as I was batting a hundred in the weird condo search.   The next three condos were uneventful (praise God!) and he said he would think about what he saw and get back to me.  I never forgot those condos and when it said “vacant”, I would then knock hard, scream “hello” then go inside - regardless if there wasn’t a piece of furniture or anything inside. Ya neva know. The next blog, open houses and the people you meet! Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time!


The Great Escape……part 2 of What we don't do for our sellers!

*Disclaimer - big time.  This is a true story and the names have been  changed to protect the innocent.

I just kept telling myself “I’m just the realtor, I’m just the realtor.” That’s what I thought. After selling *Ethel’s sister-in-laws  condo (see previous blog,) she and I started more of a friendship than a client/realtor relationship.  I’ve always felt a connection to my clients but after what Ethel asked me to do next, it was definitely going to the next level.  It was very sad to hear that *Marge was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and did not have any immediate family (other than Ethel - who was 86 at the time) to help her out.  That is why I helped with removing everything and selling her car.  Ethel told me that she did not like where Marge was and thought best to move her to a better facility that would take better care of her.  Her family (up north) put her, how do I say this tactfully, in a cheap “home” for the elderly. 
            Ethel and I went to go visit her to bring her some items left from the condo and what I saw made me sick. Please do not get me wrong, the “supervisors” were very nice but the home (actual single family home near by) was small. There were three elderly people sitting on a couch watching television and one in his room (wasn’t going to look) and another on a lounge chair knitting.  To be honest, it smelled. This was not good.  Not sure of the circumstances but, Ethel asked me to “kidnap” Marge and get her out of there.  Obvious question - “why can’t she just leave?” Well, I guess there was the family up north that wanted her there because it was “paid” for and the home wanted her there because it was a contract. Either way, we were getting Marge outta there. The next day we had our “plan.” Ethel had her car and I had my van (to put Marge’s belongings in.) We got there and told the supervisors that we wanted to take Marge’s clothes (which were so old) to have them cleaned and some of her stuff to donate. No one said a word.  Marge’s room was in the back and we got all of her stuff together quite quickly. Marge was such a sport about it.  We kept telling her we were going on an adventure. Well, it was, really. To think, it was only three garbage bags of clothes and a box of pictures and collectibles that we got.  I told Ethel to stay with Marge as I calmly took everything to my van and came back to get Ethel and Marge out without anyone suspecting anything.  
         Like a scene out of the movies, I had to help Ethel who had a walker and Marge who walked slow with her walker out the front door.  Again, no one was saying anything until we got the front door. “Where are you all going?” My heart stopped and I said quietly to Ethel, “get Marge to your car - I’ll take care of this” You guessed it, Ethel said “what honey? I can’t hear you!”  I cringed. I just opened the door (which was locked) and practically pushed these women out the door.  Not pretty, but they got out.  I coolly said that I was going to take Marge out for lunch and we’d be back by one in the afternoon. Ok - forgive me Father for I have sinned. Big lie.  I had to get both women in Ethel’s car and me in my van and while I’m doing that, I’m now screaming at Ethel to “hit the gas and get out of here!” She did.  

We arrived at Ethel’s new “home” which was a wonderful facility for specifically for such diseases as Alzheimer’s and had on staff real certified care givers.  I have never forgotten that day. The post-script to the story, the family up north “forgave us” and the “home” got their money for the time Marge did not come back from lunch. I still to this day talk with Ethel and am blessed to have met her and her family. Next blog, buyers 101. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time!


Sellers 101!

Just starting out in my office, I was informed that I had to do “floor duty.” Back then, it consisted of sitting at the front desk and answering phones.  Ugh. I had to answer phones, greet people and if a call came in asking if there was a realtor they could talk to,  I got it.   Then the phone rings, and what happens next changed the way I looked at floor duty forever.

*Disclaimer time again. Names changed to protect my clients. I answer the phone to hear this old, raspy, cranky and down right rude voice on the other end asking me to come to her condo down the road - NOW to list it for sale.  Great, I thought, here’s a winner.  Not being a real estate “snob” (one who does not care if it is a fifty thousand dollar condo or five million dollar condo) I told her I could come in the afternoon (after my shift was over.)  *Ethel didn’t like the answer but said if that is the way it has to be…..ok. I looked up the property and did a market analysis to find out it was only worth forty thousand or so.  I got all my papers together and went over to the condo.  When I arrived, I was greeted by not one, not two but three people eager to ask me every question imaginable.  It ended up being Ethel’s niece and nephew (around my age) “interviewing” me.  I really thought I did quite well, when Ethel’s nephew said “we’ll be in touch.” I was there three hours, went over every detail to the tee and what?  You’ll call me?  Ugh. This real estate gig is harder than I thought.  As I was walking to the car, Ethel came out (all four feet nothing!) looking up at me said “Honey, I like you and don’t worry, you’ll list my brother’s property.” Didn’t know whether to be happy or worried.  Guess I was both. 

I did end up listing the property and it did sell quite quickly. Thank God.  I guess I was a bit too good as it was shortly after going under contract that Ethel said she had her sister-in-law’s condo that had to be sold too.  Super.  Same type of condo but was more in value. This one was a bit harder as she needed help getting everything out after we sold it and she needed to sell her sister-in-law's car as well. Now I was a mover and a used car salesman too! In a span of a few years, Ethel had given me five deals that when added up, I really did quite well. More than that, she became a grandma to me and a mentor. She told me that we were connected and she would never forget what I did for her and her sister-in-law.  And it wasn’t selling her condo.  Next blog - the great escape.  Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time!


First deal and what a deal it was!

*Disclaimer time again. I am changing the names of people in this story to “protect” the innocent. I would not want in anyway to embarrass them. With that said, I was transitioning from water aerobic instructor to Realtor when one of my aqua jog clients *Bob, told me he knew someone who wanted to sell their father’s condo who had passed away some seventeen years ago. I was given * Paul’s name and New York number to call and introduce myself.   This being my very first attempt at listing a home, I quickly read over the listing contract and preceded to tell him about who I worked for and what we charge and how we advertise. He agreed to all the terms (which I thought, that was easy) and I was going to mail out the forms to be signed. It was a small one bedroom, one bath on the second floor in a nice neighborhood.  

The next day after that conversation, I went to work at the pool and Bob said he knew someone that might want Paul’s condo. He then gave me *John’s name and told me to call him right away. I did. We set up a time to meet at the condo (which wasn’t even listed yet) and I had gotten a key from Bob, so  I was set.  I’ve never shown a property yet so this was to be the first time. I begged my broker to go with me and he said I had to learn sometime, so I was on my own. I met with John outside the condo and opened the door. To be honest, it was my first time in there! Did I mention it was a small condo (800 square feet?)  There were rusty appliances, mold, dust and spider webs everywhere. That didn’t stop me from becoming the “Vanna White” of Realtors saying as I am passing my arm through the air “here is the living room (duh), and here is the kitchen (duh), um..needs a bit of work done but a ton of potential! I actually said, here is the bathroom and bedroom. Not that the toilet or bed gave anything away,  I was just determined to do my best even if I looked like an idiot.  It took all of thirteen minutes and he said “I’ll take it.” I said “really? - oh, I mean, that’s great!” The big problem, I hadn’t even thought about a price. Thankfully John said he would call me back with a offer. That did give me time to really do a market analysis and speak with the owner Paul. Of course, Paul wanted to list it higher but I told him, “when was the last time you were in the condo?” He said “ten years ago.” “Well, it’s change a lot since then.”  We all agreed on a price and that it was going to be “as-is.” For those who don’t know what that means, in general, the seller does not repair items and it is agreed that the price of sale is final.  I strongly tried to get my buyer to do an inspection regardless of it being as-is. He did not. Having both sides of the deal which appears to be great (a bigger commission check) is double the work.   We had done a “walk-through” (walking through the property one last time before closing) to make sure it was to the buyers approval. Basically you are looking to make sure nothing was stolen, broken and it was to be as it was when going under contract.  We went to closing around one in the afternoon and my legs were shaking under the table. I had to appear to calm when all I wanted to do was throw up. We closed and the keys were passed to the new owners. Yippee! Everyone was happy! Right? 

No. At three o’clock, I got a frantic call from the buyer saying he was in the apartment and the air conditioner just broke. I was panicking. I told him I would call him right back. I called my broker who reminded me that the buyer chose not to do an inspection where that would have come up and something could have been negotiated but he did not have one. I then had to make the worst phone call to basically say - I told you to have an inspection and you didn’t! Well, I didn’t quite say it like that, but thankfully, Paul was very nice and agreed with me and told me he will never buy a property without having an inspection done first!  Lesson learned. 

So, cool first deal under my belt, now was the decision to do this full-time and leave the pool. The next few blogs are some of the wackier deals I’ve had over these past nine years. Will also include some tips as well as some advise from myself and my realtor friends! Ton o’ blessings to ya, until next time!


Hmmm.....Real Estate? Ok.

The next few blogs will be dedicated to my introduction to real estate. I was blessed to have met my best friend Jo through house hunting. I found her in our local church bulletin. Frankly, she had a nice smile and my mother would like this, she was Italian. I called her and we spoke for three hours. I knew not only did I find my realtor but a new friend. She really did take the time to get to know me and my family and what type of house (and budget) we should have. I was still teaching water aerobics at the time she asked me if I wanted to become her assistant. Looking back, I think she just wanted me to spend more time with her as we became “chatty patty’s” and enjoyed each others company. We found a home that was perfect for us. I started to look into what it would be like to become a Realtor (pronounced REEL-TOR, not REE-LIT-TOR!) I went to school to get my license and told my new best friend, that being an assistant wasn’t going to cut it for me. She insisted that I at least join her office (ok, there really wasn’t any choice in the matter!) I did and that was the start of my new career. I was very sadden to leave water aerobics. I used to say “I don’t know what I would look like if I didn’t get paid to exercise!” Um…I found out 25 pounds later!!! Ok, ok, ok, still working it off today (eight years later!) Asking myself if I should leave a guaranteed paycheck a week (albeit a small one) for commission only work, God answered that  for me. My very first commission check was one whole years salary plus twenty five bucks. No lie. My advise to people is NOT to ask God to give you signs that you should do or leave something, because He will. And trust me, there were times I wish I hadn’t asked. Work had become so bad that the thought of putting one toe in the water made me sick. I knew it was time to go. Next blog, my first deal and what a deal it was. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


Look out - new water aerobic instructor in town!

While we were in Missouri, I joined a YMCA to lose some weight.  I had always loved the water and was asked if I wanted to try a water aerobic class. I had just had my second baby (Matthew) and wanted to lose the extra ten pounds.  I really was blessed not to have gained so much this time around! The first pregnancy,  I gained a whooping sixty four pounds. All Burger King chocolate shakes and onion rings - together.   I  liked the class so much that within three months, they asked me to teach it! I had become a certified water aerobic instructor.  I made the class my own from water walking, strength conditioning and aqua jog.  I really worked my class. I hated the misconception that you could NOT lose weight by doing water aerobics. Not only did I lose the weight, but I toned up immensely!   I had noticed that I had gained four pounds and thought if I have to work this off, so will my class!  Of course, I actually did not know I was pregnant again! I had worked  two weeks until my due date and felt great. I had a very easy birth, praise God.  

We had moved to Florida and I immediately looked for a YMCA so I could apply to be an instructor there. I found one right away and went to apply and by the end of the conversation, I was hired. My old boss had “warned” me of the classes they had and the patrons. How did he put it - they are old and set in their ways.  Oh no, I was not going to put up with cranky old people.  I had my itinerary of how I wanted the class to go and the first day I marched out on the deck and saw  groups of old people in little circles chatting away. No one noticed me. That didn’t bother me, as I stood in the middle of deck and yelled “ok class, I’m Dina and I am your new instructor!” It was a water walking class and I wanted to get them to um…..walk. Do something other than chat. Some looked over but most didn’t.  So I yelled again. And again. And yet again. That was enough, I took a whistle from the life guard and blew it so hard that everyone looked at me. OK, now I’ve got their attention. I put them in rows and started the warm up. I think at this point they were more frighten of me than anything. I had them walking back and forth in different steps and  they were actually listening. Told them some stories that made them laugh and then it was time for strength training. I had them work on the sides of the pool, doing leg lifts under water and had them kicking the water as well. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it and by the end of the class - some even thanked me, until the next day.  One by one, they came in with these mean, angry faces. I actually was scared. One woman greeted me by saying “hey Sarge” what kind of torture is on store for today? It was funny to see that they were sore. That this was really the first real work out they have had in a while! They did come around my way and really enjoyed the class from that point on. I had taught for a couple of years until my best friend/realtor asked if I wanted to be her assistant. The only catch, I had to go to real estate school! Next blog, forget assistant, I’m going to be realtor. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


My dream of becoming a soccer mom!

Let me start off with the fact, I have always wanted to be a soccer mom. Even before having children, I remember going to parks when seeing moms (and dads) with their little children playing soccer and they would set up their chairs and coolers and cheer them on so happily.  To me that was the quintessential family life.  We have always been an active family so getting the children involved in sports was a no brainer.  We had our middle child try flag football while our youngest we thought would be a soccer star.  Here was the introduction into sports.  Going to the practices and meeting new families, it was all great until the first game. I remember going to Matthews’s football game and being excited to just see him play.  He was probably no more than seven or eight at the time so it was still cute to watch.  So I thought. These parents set up tents, had coolers and chairs and food while we came with nothing but our beach chairs.  As the game progressed, it got so heated with the parents “coaching” their sons on the side lines, I thought am I missing something? It’s a flag football game.  I didn’t remember seeing ESPN filming the game or Urban Meyer from Florida there scouting. Need-less-to-say, Matthew did not return to flag football. 
Enter my dream of becoming a soccer mom. We had gone to the practices for Maria who was five or six and she just loved it. She ran down the field in practices kicking the ball with such determination I knew she had found her sport.  The first game was upon us. Not being fooled this time, we came with our chairs and coolers. We set up our “spot” right in the middle of the other parents.  The game begins and Maria did not start at first, which was fine by us. The parents began screaming for a goal and thankfully we got one. Whew. Then Maria goes in. We were beaming with pride. She looked adorable with her little pony tails and uniform.  Maybe a bit too cute. She got on the field and just stood there. Not moving one bit. My heart stopped as one of the parents just looked at me and said “what’s wrong with your daughter??” I yelled at Maria to move, go for the ball. She calmly said “I don’t want to mess up my hair.” She watched as the ball just landed in front of her and she wasn’t going to kick it or run anywhere. The parents started to get in a frenzy at this point and I begged the coach to take her out! Maria was determined to stay out there (which now, I am convinced that she just wanted people to see how cute she looked.) She even started to “chat” with another player on the field during the game. Oh Lord, make this end already.  Thankfully she was taken out and sure enough, she thought she did great.  We lasted one season, barely but that was the introduction to becoming the parent of a child in sports, the good, bad and the ugly. Why can’t parents just keep their mouths shut! Next blog, the new water aerobic instructor in town. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


Hurricanes? What are hurricanes.

After my phenomenal re-uniting with my Dad, my family and I made the decision to move to Florida to be near him and to start a new.  With everything falling into place and my Dad and step-mom helping us find a rental (near them, of course!) we were on our way. The stress of it and the unknown, takes over sometimes, still we forged ahead. It had been interesting to hear the stories my Dad told me of his time in Florida, which included getting used to the weather.  I totally shrugged it off. The weather? Seriously? Rain storms? Hurricanes? I came from New York, which had its snow storms, now and then. Lived in Missouri, which had its share of tornados, and with that; I thought of myself as a  weather Pro. So I thought. We were in the last forty five minutes of driving on the Turnpike, when I noticed that the cars on north side of the road had their windshield wipers on and it was sunny and dry.  I could see down the road it looked dark, but no rain.  Then with-in minutes, the rain came down. It came down in sheets. It came down so hard, the windshield wipers, I swear, were not working hard enough to wipe the rain off the glass! Having no cell phones and having walkie talkies, I messaged Bill and screamed, “I can’t see in front of me!” Before Bill could answer, it was done. Sunny and the road ahead of me was a dry as could be.  What the heck was that? 

We finally arrived August 20th. Beautiful day. Start of our new life in Florida.  August 23st, Hurricane Dennis. My Dad was frantically telling us to get water (um, didn’t the rental include water?) and can goods (why?) and fill the tub up with water (do I need to take a bath for the hurricane?) We so blew off (no pun intended) all of his warnings. Then the sky turned green. The winds kicked up and we saw rain turn sideways. Ok, I was scared. Of course, the kids thought it was cool.  Thankfully, we had no damage but unfortunately we were tested with Hurricanes: Floyd and Gert. After that, we were pros. To this day (especially living through Hurricane Wilma - which happened on our anniversary) we never take them for granted. I do feel blessed that we got to know our neighbors better and appreciate life a bit more everyday. Next blog - I want to be a soccer mom! Not happening. Ton o’ blessings to ya, until next time.


And the door opens......

                    Before the initial phone to call to my Dad, I asked for my sister Susan’s blessing to go on this journey.  She too, had no contact with him and said if this is what I wanted to do, she would go along with it.  After I called her to tell her of my conversation with our Dad, she had agreed to go to Florida with me to “meet” our Dad.    I had an e-ticket  which if you know e-tickets, you are at the mercy if someone does not come so you can get on the plane.  Of course, as things were going, it came down to the last spot.  The flight attendant knew my story of reuniting with my Dad and that this was the “first” time seeing him.  She was really trying to get me on the flight and she practically screamed with delight that I indeed was getting on that flight. It was a three and half hour plane ride that seemed to take days to get there. I went over in my head what I was going to say when I saw my Dad. During the flight, I must have changed my mind fifty times and thought, let go - let God.  As I do not believe in coincidences, it was God that set up our flights to arrive fifteen minutes of each other so my dear step-mother  didn’t have long to wait for me. I got off the plane to find my sister running up to me with tears in her eyes.  Here starts the high emotions and it didn’t stop for a week! I then met my step-mother. She gave me the most comforting hug a person could get.  I thought, she too, must be going through her own emotions of now acquiring not one, but two step-daughters.  She never let on anything but joy.  She put up with my sister and I “stalling” before meeting our Dad. We went to the local church for a prayer and then a CVS for something to drink and then she said it was time. We pulled up in front of their villa and their neighbor was outside her door.  She was just standing there with arms crossed way to excited. I asked my step-mother who she was and she said that my Dad told her what was going on and she wanted to meet us.  I said, “nope - not getting out of the car.” Thankfully the neighbor went back in her house.  I just wanted to “meet” my Dad first before being introduced to anyone else! 
                              Knowing the story from my Dad, that when my sister and I were in the car, he was peeking through his blinds from the bedroom window so he really did see us first! After about fifteen minutes our step-mother said “come on, your Dad is not getting any younger!” That made us get out and my sister pushed me first saying this was your idea, you go in first! And then the door opens, and there he is.  Can’t tell you exactly what I thought but here was a man with his arms wide open and tears in his eyes and hugged me like there was no tomorrow.  I hugged him back and said “hi.” I quickly stepped aside to let my sister hug her Dad.  I somehow felt that she had more of an emotional tie than I did.  To be honest, I didn’t feel anything. I felt numb and was praying to get out of that feeling but didn’t. On the other hand, my sister made up for any lack of emotion as we all sat down after “pleasantries” and we talked to him about the why’s and why not’s. My Dad had said many things but the one thing that made the most impression, his apology.  To me, they were more than words. They were filled with regret, remorse and guilt. 

                    Truly that was enough for me. The rest of the visit that week was a joyful time and new beginnings were started. I did not have to hear any more apologies as it’s in the past, you can not go back and change it, so why keep harping on it. I am sorry that it really did take a few weeks before I could call him Dad. I did feel I had to start the process of getting to know this man who is my father. Thankfully today, he is apart of our family as well as my step-mother who never calls me her step-daughter but daughter and I, too call her my mom. If it wasn’t for that faithful day in the hospital, I might not have my Dad back in my life. Next blog, hurricanes? What are hurricanes. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


The thirty four year wait is over.

Taking from my last blog, after I heard Tammie’s message, I got the kids settled and called my friend.  She was so excited that at one point I told her to calm down.  I truly did not believe her which was sad. I was choosing believe that my friend was making up how happy my Dad was to have me try to contact him. My friend quickly reminded me that she does not lie. She told me of the wonderful conversation she had with my step-mother. Weird I thought, I have a step-mother. Tammie tried so hard to convince me to call him that day.  Not happening. It’s been thirty four years since the last time I’ve spoken to this man who is my father? What the heck do you say. Do you yell? Do you just forgive? I told her that I needed sometime to understand this.  She (again) graciously called back my Dad to tell him, that she told me and that I would call him in a few days. 

             Now knowing the story that my Dad was going out of skin for me to call already, I feel really bad I made him wait four days. The day came and my wonderful husband Bill “barricaded” the kids down stairs so I would not be disturb while I go  call my Dad.  I must have hit the buttons up to the last number eight times and hung up.  Finally, after much praying, I let the phone ring.  It only rang two times and my step-mother answered the phone.  My heart was beating so loud, it rang in my ears. She said “hello?” And I was off to the races. I began by saying as professionally as possible that I was glad she took my call and that I don’t want anything financial, emotional or any other personal thing from this man who was my father. Isn’t it a shame? I started the conversation off with a disclaimer. Like this was a business deal. Tells you where my head was at. She was so thrilled and eager to tell me that it was all good that my Dad really does love me and that this is exactly what he had wanted for many years. We talked for what seemed like hours but I’m sure it was only minutes when I heard this voice in the background saying, “let me talk to my daughter!” Oh crap. I’m really going to have to talk with this man. My step-mother says “here let me put your father on the phone.” 

               I nearly dropped the phone when I heard the very first words out of his mouth in almost thirty years was “Dina, I have always loved you and never have stop thinking of you and I want you to know that up front.” Ok - the rest is a blur. I didn’t know what to say so I told him why I was contacting him and he must have cut me off ten times in the conversation saying he didn’t care why but that I did it. Knowing my Dad now, he still cuts me off when I talk to him. He loves to talk. Gee, wonder where I get it from. During this three and half hour conversation, my husband kept coming in the room with the universal sign “thumbs up or thumbs down.” I gave him the big thumbs up and mouthed the words - “he still loves me!”  We talked about a lot of different subjects but the one thing that impressed me the most was, he was not going to talk bad about my mother. He was respectful of her and her decisions back then. He did not want to bring me down or the conversation in any way. Again, now knowing my Dad over these eleven years, he does look at the bright side of things….hhmmm…sound familiar?  We ended the conversation that I would try to come down to visit him. I told him in no way do I want a “Sally Jessy Raphael” reunion show. “We’ll meet  at your house - no fan fare.” Of course, he agreed.  Next blog, the door opens and……. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


Should I? or shouldn't I.

            After the birth of our beautiful daughter Maria, I had developed a condition that needed major medical surgery.  Going into surgery, I had faith in my doctor and nurses that I would be fine after it was all said and done.  It wasn’t. A day or two after the surgery, the doctor said I needed a blood transfusion. Being ignorant and knowing that I already had the blood I donated for the surgery already used, I didn’t want the transfusion. The doctor calmly looked down and said, “you don’t have this blood transfusion now, in three hours your dead.”  She said would come back in ten minutes for my answer, turned and walked out the door. That was what I loved about my doctor. Cut to the chase.  Ok - Blood transfusion, death. Blood transfusion, death. I was by myself and at this point could feel my heart pounding in my chest and my head started to spin. 

                It is funny when people say they see their life flash before them because  at that point,  that is exactly what I saw. I asked myself what five things I wish I could have done in my life and didn’t. The number one thing/regret? Not contacting my father and letting him know I had done alright in my life. (The other four, another blog.) Need-less-to-say, I had the blood transfusion and all was right with the world. I got home and told my husband what I had wanted to do by trying to find my father and he nearly passed out. That was because growing up, my mother and father divorced when I was four or five, and we never spoke about my father. I respected the fact that  I knew my mom did the best she knew how raising us. I seriously prayed about contacting him for three or four months when I said I was ready. Ready to open Pandora’s box and see where this goes. 

                    I enlisted the help of my best friend Tammie who graciously offered to do research on her computer (we did not have one - it was 1997.) She called me with the good news/bad news. She had found 34 names that matched my dad in the state of Florida.  Ok, now where do we go. She gave me the list and I prayed over it and choose a name six or seven down that stuck out at me and told her, “I think this is him.” I then asked thee biggest favor a person can ask, “um…..can you call?” Being deathly frighten of rejection as that is what I felt for thirty four years, she said yes. I told her not to call until I give her the green light. I had to mentally prepare myself for her answer if it was him or not. She was so patient and eager to help. Finally after three days, I told her to call. Right after I told her it was ok, it was in the morning and I packed up all three kids and left the house immediately. I didn’t want to be around if she would call right back with bad news.  I went out for three hours and when I got back, sure enough the answering machine (yes - no cell phones then) was blinking.  It took me a while but I hit the button and all I heard was screaming. “I spoke with your dad, I spoke with your dad!” “He  was so happy and wants to talk to you! You have to call me back, now!” I nearly threw up. My head started spinning and I knew this was going to be the start of something big. Next blog - the thirty four year wait is over. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


The "Show Me State," well they showed us.......

Disclaimer - I loved St. Louis and what it did for us while we were there.  I am in no way putting down the state of Missouri or the people that live there but......this is what I experienced during the time I was there.  It was one of the first few times we had gone to the local church for mass, when I noticed that a few pews down there was a family pointing at us.  We were in ear shot range and I over heard them talking.  Of course me being the positive, happy to be a church, ready to meet new people person that I am was a bit caught off guard when I heard this woman say - "aren't those  people from New York." The look she had on her face spoke volumes. There was a look of distaste (for a lack of a better word) on her face that screamed "are ya in a gang or something!?!" Are ya kidding me?  Really? My reaction, I got up and went over to her and introduced myself (can you tell that I'm not shy) and said, "yes - we are from New York." She was a bit taken back and I proceeding to explain that we lived north of Manhattan in a nice neighborhood and that seemed to satisfy her. Whew. We were, for what seemed a long time treated like the outcasts. I have always made the best of any situation so if you can't beat 'em - join 'em.  I got so involved in church with so many different ministries that I let them know we're here and we're not going anywhere! I found out that I was expecting my third child and was shocked, happy but shocked. Having two boys already, I had plenty of clothes and toys for a third son. My doctor had actually said she “believed” it was another son so we were totally shocked when our Maria showed up! Well, I had no pink anything let alone anything girly in our home. So this “friend” had said she had a ton of girls clothes. She brought over tons of pretty dresses and jumpers and I was thankful for the clothes, until a few months (nine to be exact) she informed she wanted all the clothes back. What? Uh no. Tell you a secret, not the best laundress person and those clothes either shrank or had stains I didn’t know how to get out or I just plain donated what I couldn’t use anymore back to the church! Talk about awkward. I explained as nicely as possible that I thought she was giving me the clothes. Need-less-to-say, she wasn’t my friend anymore.  I gave back what I had left.  And please don't get me wrong, I've met wonderful people that I am still friends with today and cherish the time I had with them.  I had befriended another stay at home mom (the reason for our move so I could be home) and had wonderful conversations often two, three times a day for years.  Didn't actually see each other often but the phone calls were a lifeline for me with three children under five. I finally asked why we didn’t make “play dates” with our kids, she said that I was just her “phone buddy.” Hello? Phone buddy? Argh.  To this day - that makes me laugh. We had lived there for almost eight years by then when I made the decision to contact my dad after thirty four years of no contact  and then had made the decision to move to be near him in Florida.  Trust me it was time. Next blog, the Readers Digest version of reuniting with my Dad. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


For the record........

I was trying to figure out where I wanted to start this blog and it kept bringing me back to one of thee most stressful times in my life which was moving from New York to Missouri.  I was blessed to have just come back this past weekend from New York and saw family I had not seen in a while and the subject of our first move came up. It has been nineteen years since our move and it’s still amazes  me that I am still justifying the move.  For the record, it was purely a financial move so I can be a stay at mom to my son Patrick so that I didn’t have to rely on someone else taking care of him.  My husband and I would have to work two jobs to afford to stay in New York and to try to purchase a home for the three of us.  My mother at the time of my sons birth had just received news that she had been waiting for years, that she got the job at the local library. She was willing to give that up to take care of Patrick and there was no way I was going to take her dream job away nor MY dream job of motherhood.  Bill (husband) and I had visited Missouri quite a few times and loved the area.  Only knowing a few families out there did not bother us as we knew we could adapt anywhere. The houses we were looking at in New York were “handyman specials” with missing walls, plumbing issues, roof issues etc, for around one hundred seventy five thousand at the time we were considering moving.  The homes we found in Missouri were beautiful four bedrooms, three bath on a acre of land for around eighty thousand.  No joke. Eighty thousand.  It wasn’t an easy decision to move away from all your family but it was the right decision for us.  It made us stronger as a family but those first years apart were brutal for us.  It wasn’t easy. We missed the family gatherings but knew we had to make our own family gatherings now.  We were blessed to have had our two other children born there (Matthew and Maria) and experience Midwestern living.  Next blog, Midwestern living. Very funny, very interesting and sometimes sad. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.


Long time coming! 1st Blog!

I’ve been told that the very first blog is thee most important blog - so here it goes! How sad that you have to start off by CYA (covering your arse!)  This blog will be strictly my opinions based on my facts! Not here to lie, cheat or steal. Whew. My name is Dina, born in New York, married with 3 great kids, lived in Missouri for nine years until I reunited with my dad after a thirty four year absence.  That story will come later in the coming blogs.  I’ve always wanted to write a blog about the ups and downs of motherhood. Not a parenting guide as my kids would kill me for attempting that feat. This is a, wish someone would have told me sooner blog. The day to day blessings, trials, triumphs and miracles that happen. I have a great love for my family and sports. My passion lies in lacrosse (thank you Chazz Woodson, Mikey Powel, Kevin Finneran,) and football - any kind of football. Love watching my children play their sports. I really am not “one of those parents” but do like to cheer. Anything wrong with that?  Didn’t know a thing about football until I met my husband (who was my boyfriend of 7 years first) who said if I didn’t like football, he wouldn’t go out with me.  Nice guy.  So I said, you want me to like football?, teach me football.  He will say he created a monster.  If there is a game on, I want to watch it. Forget the great outdoors, pass me a beer and let me yell at the TV. I want to challenge myself and others to look at situations and tell me where they would have done something different to make a different outcome. I am truly a positive person who chooses to believe in God and His miracles.  I was not always this way but am thankful to see the glass “half full!” My upcoming blogs will take a look at the early days to today’s miracles and not so miracles. I hope you come along this journey with me. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.