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9/26/2011

A “Mother’s instinct?” Well, it could have been…

        As a new school year is under way, I am reminded when Patrick (my oldest) went away to college. As a parent,  you do the best you can to prepare them to be on their own and to have them make the best decisions. Well, that is what I believed we did before he left for school. 

        I am truly thankful for social media such as Facebook to keep in touch with him as well as calling his cell (a bit too often for him) to see how he is doing. As a mother, you know your child when you are on the phone and something doesn’t sound right. I remember one such phone call that I felt something was wrong or that Patrick was not telling me something. I asked if he had something he needed to tell me but he said everything was ok. I then dropped it as you can only ask so many times.

        I was in the den on the family computer when I noticed that it was running very slow. Knowing about computers, I decided to “clean up” storage space by deleting old videos, songs and pictures that I knew the kids didn’t want. As I opened the picture file, I viewed them as small thumb nail files. I started to go down the page deleting photos, when my heart stopped and I couldn’t catch my breath. There in front of me was a picture of “someone” in a mirror with just his mid section showing with a tattoo on the side of his hip. Now it didn’t take long to figure out, it was Patrick.

       The tattoo was of a bird with many colors. I just started to cry. How could he do this! Doesn’t he know you can’t “erase” a tattoo? Why didn’t he tell us? My first reaction was to call him immediately and scream at him, but thought I better not.

       It was only a week later that Patrick had come home from school for a visit before Christmas break. As he walked in the door, I wanted to pull his shirt up and go “what‘s that?!” But I didn’t. As we were settling in after dinner, I asked to see Patrick in his room and closed the door. His face said it all. He knew, I knew something was up.  I had asked him if he had something to tell me. He thought about it and said, “…….no.” I asked again but said, “maybe you have something to show me?” Well, he turned white and said, “…..what? No.” I told him that it was my “motherly instinct” that he was hiding something from me. That God gives us mother’s instincts to go on and that I surely knew, there was something he had to tell me. 

        At that point, he lifted up his shirt and there it was. 



                      I just shook my head and told him we have to tell Daddy but it was going to be ok. I asked “why didn’t you tell me?” He replied “I knew you would have had a fit.”  I, of course, kept to myself how I really found out as I do believe that it was a mother’s instinct from God to find that picture on the computer that day. Reactions were mixed and everything seemed to settle down.

        A couple of days later while at Barnes and Noble, Maria was singing Christmas songs with her school choir. I had walked away during a break to go look at magazines. What made me look at tattoo magazines can only be described as God whispering in my ear. I picked up one that can only be described as “what horrible, horrific, scary tattoo” can you get on your body. As I looked at these tattoos, I thought, “oh my gosh, they are stuck with these for the rest of their lives!” No tattoo removal would work for some of these large scary tattoos. All of a sudden, I started to cry thinking Patrick could have had one of those. Stuck with something like that or something like this:

 

        Now, no disrespect to the tattoo artist, as this is very detailed but ….. would you want your son to have this on him for the rest of his life? Well, I walked out of the building and called Patrick immediately. He was probably in class, and it went to voicemail. I was sobbing saying ”I’m not happy about the tattoo but I'm happy that it’s a bird - it’s the “Holy Spirit” bird - right?” “I mean, you had happy thoughts when you got it - right?” “At least you didn’t get a ’dead baby head’ or devil tattoo - right?” As I was sniffling along and making no sense what-so-ever, I thought it best to  hang up.  I forgot that I put my phone on silent and missed Patrick‘s call back. There was a message from him.  As I listened to the message he opened up with, “Mommy - it’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon and are you drunk.” “What is wrong with you?” “Ok - fine, it’s the ’Holy Spirit’ bird if you want it to be, talk to you later, love you.”  

        I was looking around to see if “Candid Camera” was on me. I felt so stupid. Why did I react that way. He was eighteen at the time, had his own money and made the decision himself. He  was brought up to respect people and love his family which he did both very well. I called him back and he answered the phone. I told him I was not drunk and told him what I saw. That he could have really gotten worse things and that as I was not thrilled with his decision but it was something I could accept. 

        Now we laugh about it as I still tell him, don’t keep anything from me as my “motherly instincts” can come out at anytime and I will find out.


P.S. - don’t tell him, I think it’s kinda cute as a matter of fact.  Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.

8/16/2011

Marco Island - the perfect vacation? Almost.

     Every year since 2004, I have visited Marco Island Beach, Florida around the end of July or early August. What started out as the annual Century 21 Convention that was always held at the Marriott, turned into the annual “girls trip to Marco!” Only a couple of times did we bring our families to the convention in those early years as the Real Estate market was booming and so was the money. Don’t get me wrong, those trips were great, but, as the market tanked, so did the convention.

     There were four of us that would go no matter what. We knew that money was tight and we had to make this trip as cost efficient as possible to tell the husbands that it was still worth it for us to go. Not that they would complain but, still it was a nice time to get away from it all. All the crap about work, contracts, buyers, sellers, deals falling through, short sales, etc! I know I have friends that do not believe in going on “vacations” without their spouses, but to that I say, rubbish. Now, now, I believe in the sanctity of marriage but sometimes, you just need your girlfriends.

     One of the “girls” could not go because of other trips that were planned at that time, and we had to “fill” that spot. Need-to-say it was filled quickly. We knew that we would keep to our “well oiled machine” vacation and whoever came would fit right in. 

     Around a month or so before we were scheduled for our trip, we start the “count down.” We either would text message each other how many days till Marco or leave voicemail messages. And why does it always seem that right before it's time for vacation, stuff happens. This year was no excuse.

     Helen, one of the original four, calls Maureen (original four) the Sunday before we are scheduled to leave in the morning (as in 7am.) She says that she is going to the emergency room because she has this lump on her throat and is not feeling well. In the past, my dear friend Maureen would call me usually while I am driving over “Alligator Alley” (75 North,) to tell me that she forgot something and has to go back home, or that Helen didn’t wake up in time so they are going to be late coming over to meet us at the local Naples Walmart. Of course it's  a big fat lie just to get me upset, and I am embarrassed to say, she gets me every year.

     I am at church, thanking God in advance of the great trip I am about to take with my three other friends when I get back into my car to see that I have a voicemail from Maureen. She opens with “this is not a joke, repeat- this is not a joke.” My heart skips a beat and I proceed to listen to the rest of the message that Helen is indeed at the hospital and I should quickly go meet her there.

     God bless emergency rooms. Unless you are dying on their floor, you ain’t gonna be seen right away. This was no different. On the positive side, at least Helen was ok enough to wait. And wait we did. Three hours later and my arse hurting from the “little kids” chair that Maureen made me sit on, Helen gets into where the doctor will see her. We are like little kids misbehaving. Who’s going through the drawers, who’s checking out the cute EMT’s coming in, etc. Of course, we stand in faith that Helen is ok and that she’ll be in the car in the morning bright and early. Um……no.

     Maureen text messages me at 6:45am that Helen is not coming and that she is still pretty sick. The medicine that they gave her made her nauseous and she just did not want to make the trip. I was devastated. Now we are down to three.

     Now Margaret came on time at eight in the morning to pick me up and I was determined that we are still going to have a great time. I felt bad that Maureen drove over by herself but knew I would be driving home with her on the way back. (Margaret had to leave a day early.)

With a quick prayer of thanks and protection we get over to the west coast of Florida in no time. We buy our food and drinks for the week and off to the hotel we went.


                 No, we did not open them up until we were parked at the hotel and had our arses on the beach. I did though, pack a mean cooler that day. The weather was great as it always is on Marco Island. The sunsets are beautiful as this was taken from our balcony.


                 Even though we are “away” from  family and work, that still doesn't stop us from working. Emails, contracts still need to be dealt with and this was no exception. The hotel had a business center where we would go every day to finish work and quickly go back out to the beach. 

I love those times that it’s late, I mean really late and you have those “talks.” I had that special time on the rocking chairs on the deck at 1 a.m. (well, I think it was 1 a.m.!) with Maureen. It’s really those times that you appreciate your friendship. Doesn’t matter what you look like or how you sound, a friend will just listen. For that, I am so appreciative for that time with Maureen. And please, do not call her “Mo!” She hates it and I wouldn’t dare dream of doing it. I hope I listened as well as she did. 

When you are “our age,” (doesn’t that sound horrible,) it is so much fun to just sit on the beach and people watch. That is what we did for five days. The weather was great, we had our food and coolers always packed and like usual, was the down time that we all needed. I would never want to take that time for granted. You come back ready and relaxed to take care of your family. 

On our one night out - it is a ritual that we order “mango martini’s.” It’s not a trip to Marco without them. 



               Loved the picture so much, it has been my new profile picture on Facebook, new background picture on my blog and last but not least, my Twitter avatar. This is what it’s all about. Smiling and laughing and just being with friends. Don’t we all deserve that? Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time! 

7/25/2011

Living vicariously through my children’s vacations? Not a bad thing!

              Let me start off with the fact that I did not grow up poor.  I am the youngest of three siblings that lived with a single Mom. I didn't have my Dad in the picture till much later in life. With that said, growing up I was in awe of friends who would say that they go away every summer or go on these vacations around the country. Now my mother did the best she could and looking back the only “vacation” I remember, was going to my Aunt Na’s  house who lived on a golf course. I would go and my cousin and I would chase down golf balls and throw them farther or hide them! She had the best house. One of those houses with what seemed like a million floors (I think four floors in all.) Never did my family go on those long drive vacations to the shore, or “Hershey Park” or anything like that. We had growing up “Playland” in Rye, New York that constituted my big vacations. Going to an old amusement park. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t know any better but always in the back of my mind, I knew if and when I had children, I would want them to experience vacations in a much bigger and better way. And I did.

      When we moved to Missouri, little did we know that Missouri had a ton of attractions, museums and a great Zoo - which of course, was free. My oldest son Patrick had to have made a record for the youngest guest to go through the Budweiser tour before the age of three! Now, now - we always brought friends visiting to the tour and had Patrick in tow. We would drive back to New York when the kids were little,  stay and visit with family and stay in hotels . Our favorite time as a family would be our trips into New York City. 


This was taken on the top of the Empire States Building and was the spot that Billy asked (told me) I was going to be his girlfriend some twenty four years ago!

      We drove down to Florida to visit with friends and go on their boat and clam dig. The kids loved staying in hotels and running around and all those dinners out.  When we moved to Florida, we made the big trip to Disney. That was always a dream of mine as a child, as it was new back then and looked magical. I knew I wanted the kids to experience that.


That smile says it all. In fact that smile never left her face. Not sure if the boys had the same great time as Maria and I did!  I remember walking down the street in Magic Kingdom and I started to cry. I didn’t want the kids to see me cry but got so overwhelmed with the feeling that God had blessed us to be able to give to our kids what I didn’t have. I sat in that moment and could still “go back” to that moment even now.

    Then came the skiing trips. We had the opportunity to go with Liz and her family skiing. Those trips were a blast. Living in Florida, you never get that experience of snow and cold weather let alone being able to ski! The kids loved it and even today, we are trying to plan another ski trip this winter because it really has been too long!




The boys took to snowboarding as Maria was skiing down “Black Diamond” runs before the age of ten!  I remember we went tubing and as I was being pulled up the hill, again the tears came. Thankfully, no one saw but I can remember clear as day, the crisp snow flakes hitting my face and the sky filled with stars and having that quiet moment with God, thanking HIM yet again for HIS blessings. 

    What I am trying to say in this blog, is that I’m not boo hooing about not having the kind of trips my children have had.  I am so grateful and appreciative  to have given them these great trips that I did not experience as a child. I am blessed that my children get it. Get the fact that these are blessings (that and I have a tendency to remind them “how many trips did Mommy go on as a kid? - none - that’s right!) They, too, are blessed with wonderful friends who have brought them away on their vacations on yachts, beach houses, deep sea fishing trips, etc.. The great thing about those trips, they appreciate it even more and enjoy telling you all about it when they come home.

       You make the trip what it is. Even trips to our local beach, we make it fun. We even stood over night in a hotel on the beach that was twenty minutes from our house, just because! I hope one day my children will do what we have taught them to do when they have children of their own, appreciate God’s gifts no matter how big or how small. I hope you take some time out today to remember your childhood vacations and remind your children how blessed they are to have their vacations as well!  

     Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time! Now pass me the sunscreen - I’m off to Marco Island. 


Marco Island 2010 with the girls. Annual trip that will take place next Monday! Stay tuned…….

7/14/2011

Divorcing my BFF - Liz? Not gonna happen.

    I recently read a blog that went over a check list of what someone might look for in a best friend. It really intrigued me. I never thought of a check list for a best friend. Looking over the list, I quickly checked off  yes to all 10 attributes in reference to my friend Liz. Things on that list included; honesty (does these jeans make my butt look big - um…yes,) ability to laugh (apple martinis help,) comforts in time of need (see apple martinis,) agrees to disagree (Republican vs. Democrat,) to name a few. I wanted to give something to her to let her know she means the world to me now and forever.

        This is my letter to Liz.

Dearest Liz,

                 I can not believe it is almost eleven years that we met at Maria’s house for the MOM’s meeting. It seems like yesterday. I knew I liked you the instant we met. Loved that you were an ex-New Yorker. Weren’t we all? Was so excited to get to know you and off you went during that summer to New York and I wouldn’t see you until school started. Ugh. I was teaching Religious education (CCD) at church with someone that I really didn’t like and knew I didn’t want to teach with her again.  I was walking into the parish school and you were walking out, when we bumped into each other and started chatting (the start of many, many chats to come,) when you suggested that we teach together. You said you like to do arts and crafts (which you know I hate!) and I would do more of teaching scripture. Frick and Frack as we were known, was born.


       Matty and Katie’s 1st communion picture in 2001. They look like a little bride and groom!

         How we talked everyday. Special friendships are a rarity, but I knew this was the start of one for sure. 

         Then came 9/11. Even though we were only friends a short amount of time, it was strange (not a coincidence) that we called each other 4 days after the attack and said, almost at the same time, we have to go to New York and do something, anything. 

       Everything about putting that trip together went perfectly. We were set to go November 1st. We had the parish school make rosaries for which we would drop off at Ground Zero for whom ever wanted them. It was great to have “our kids” make a poster for the fireman to let them know we care and that we will pray for them as well.  I was deathly frightened to fly considering what had happened on 9/11. But not you - you were as cool as they get. Then we get the front row of the plane with the bad breath dentist guy who kept saying “if this was your last five minutes on earth until you died - who would you call first?” Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me??  I wanted to throw the guy out the emergency door! Then you said you had to go potty. Oh no you are not leaving me, and to make matters worse - I look behind us to think two guys in the back, look like “terrorists.” Yes, it was stupid, but my head was spinning from being on the plane and flying! You said if you didn’t come back in five minutes, to take the 50 rosaries and go choke them! Nice…….

            We get to New York and God so had His hand on this trip. How was I to know that when we visited my mom, and took a picture, it would be the last time I saw her alive. And you were there. We laughed and of course, she made us something to eat. I will always treasure that moment that you were with me and my mom.

         We get to the city and again, God lead us to Ladder 6 where they greeted us so warmly. They embraced our gift and even let us stay to  help them cook dinner!


            We were truly blessed to have had that time with all of them. Then came time to donate the rosaries. We walked and walked and couldn’t find the main area to donate them when we stumbled upon a side entrance for a church and ended up at the rectory. We were greeted by this priest who said, "are these the rosaries that we were waiting for?" We had no idea what he was talking about and said, um…yes?  He said he was so happy to have them and that he would make sure that they were distributed amongst the workers and that HE felt blessed that we gave them to him. You can’t make this stuff up.

             Then came the trips together. The family skiing trips to Snowshoe and our trips to Marco Island. Boy could we drink, I mean talk and talk until the sun came up. Did we ever have not have something to say?

           Then like all true friendships, ours was tested. What seemed like forever, we didn’t talk as much and too much time went by. Again, it seemed like we both at the same time knew it was time to talk it out. If we wanted this friendship it was time we made it work. And we did. So yeah, we’re back to where we were with talking every day and going to the beach and those coffee breaks at Starbucks. Then you meet me for lunch and with this grin, tell me you’re moving out of state. What? You can’t leave me. But, I knew what you were going through and what you needed most was a friend. Someone who understood the pressures of moving your family from one state to another!

          Well, that Saturday came and Billy and I went over to your house to “help pack” but in reality, it was to say good bye. Billy was great to give us some space after he bent down to hug you and then it was my turn. My eyes still tear up thinking about how I just didn’t want to let you go. Why does it make it easier to just say, “call me later - ok?”  

             Thank you again for allowing me to officiate your wedding renewal vows ceremony. What an honor and pleasure it was. It also was a great party to remember and a send off that no one will soon forget.

                            Now, my Maria tells me, “with Liz gone, I know someone you could be best friends with!” I was a bit confused and thought, she just wants me to have our friendship here and now in Florida, but what she doesn't understand is that you are and always will be my best friend whether you're here or not.  I miss and love you my friend and you know - I'll call you later.

All my love,
Dina


7/05/2011

Casey Anthony verdict - how could something positive come out of this?

       It's four hours and twenty minutes since the world heard the words "not guilty" addressed to Casey Anthony. Not that I'm counting but......

        I thought it was ironic as I sat with my computer on, with the tabs of Facebook and Twitter up and both time lines were busy with status' and tweets of people generally just wanting justice for Caylee Marie Anthony. As the time got nearer to the reading of the verdict, my Twitter page crashes and my Facebook freezes. Seriously? I have been watching, reading, tweeting with other trial watchers with all different opinions and this is the moment we all have been waiting for! I was truly blessed to have met some wonderful people during these past few weeks that have had similar views to my own. Don't get me wrong, there were other people that had different opinions but again, we all got along.  I was able to send a text message to my friend who said she would text me when the verdict was going to be read!

          As God is so good, my Twitter page and Facebook page refreshed and the world was right again. The feeling before the verdict was read was like being at the dinner table with your friends and who is talking over who.  At one point, we all just stopped and prayed for justice. OK some were praying for other things ........(like the electric chair for Casey,) but all in all it was a moment I won't forget.  This was so similar to "where were you when the OJ Simpson verdict was read." I was working at a YMCA in Missouri and was just about to go into a class, towel wrapped around me while looking up at the screen in the girls locker room. Was so shocked by that verdict that I could not teach. Nor did my class want to participate so we just water walked for an hour and tried to reason that verdict. That never happened. Still to this day - I do not understand. 

               I still feel and will always feel, aren't we blessed to live in a country that allows us to agree to disagree.  Right now, I know people are gathering to pray for Caylee, Cindy, George, Lee Anthony and even Casey Anthony. We are not here to judge but if you were on Twitter or Facebook lately - we certainly can voice our opinions. My son Matthew has had a hard time with me regarding my personal time/feelings about this case. I'll go as far to say, he just didn't get why I was "obsessed" with the trial. Obsessed? Nah. Just a mom who couldn't fathom having a two and half year old girl one day and gone the next and possibly having something to do with it?  I am thankful for my Twitter family and my Facebook family that continue to respond to my status' or tweets regarding this trial. So happy to have made such wonderful new friends and how much fun it was to "introduce" old friends to my new friends.  I want to clarify a point that upset me a few weeks back. Some one on Twitter made a comment, how could we laugh or make fun or admire (#YummyYuri) when the trial was all about the death of a two and half year old girl. To that I would say, we never forgot that point, nor will we ever forget that point but you have to find that down time to keep sane. There was never a point of disrespect towards Caylee, to the contrary - I saw more love, prayers and even peace come from a child we never knew.  

                   Tonight I will do what I have been doing for weeks. I will pray for Caylee to rest in peace, pray for Casey and her family who have the toughest road ahead of them and pray in thanksgiving for the family I have here in my home and my computer.

                The bottom line, this was about a beautiful little girl who we never knew but has touched our lives in a way we will never forget. Rest in Peace Caylee. 




                        I'm going to hug my kids now, I suggest you do the same. Ton o' blessings until next time.

                 



6/24/2011

Answering Machine a blessing? Mona’s story.

         I had a best friend named Mona whom I lived one door down when I lived in New York. We lived on the end of the building and Mona and her kids lived one door down. This made for great times. Looking back, I truly felt for our next door neighbor that dealt with us screaming over the fences to one another.  In my late teens/early twenties, I would often go over to her house and just talk. She has two boys and one girl (which would happen to me years later,) that I was in awe of how she was raising them. Their father was in their lives but I spent more time with her and the kids. She loved to barbecue. My mother would say, as the screen door was open, “there they go again, barbecuing!” I would quickly run over with hotdogs or whatever I would want to barbecue as we really didn’t do that much barbequing until I met Billy. Yes, in the dead of winter, snow piled three feet high, she was barbecuing! She would scream over the fence for me to come over. And I did, every time. We started a friendship that I loved. When Billy and I got married, we of course, invited the whole clan. 



    I loved that red dress. That was her. We all had the best time at the wedding. At the end of the wedding, Billy and I were saying goodbye to our guests and then we looked at each other and said - um, how are we getting back to the house? We never made “those” arrangements. Thank God, Mona forgot something in the hall and saw us and said she would take us back to my mom’s house before we left on our honeymoon. Big dress and all, we all squeezed into the van. She also graciously offered to take us to the airport in Queens, New York. No short ride. As we were getting near the airport, she missed the exit and yes, she backed up on the highway and got off the right exit. Thought I was going to die before the honeymoon even started! 

    Fast forward to when I thought I was pregnant with my first born. I went to the doctors office to make sure I was pregnant, and got the news that I was indeed expecting my first born. Got  home to run over to her house to tell her first. She stood there with tears and we hugged and cried. Didn’t even tell Billy or my mom yet. That was the special relationship we had.

    Then it was time for us to move to Missouri. Days leading up to us leaving were awful. We would see each other on the sidewalk and just cry. The night before we left, we hugged so long and wouldn’t let go. The next day we were off  to Missouri to start a new life.

     I would send “snail mail” to her as I did not have a computer, pictures of the kids or at Christmas time that Christmas photo card with the kids in their Christmas outfits. I loved that she told me the picture was up on their refrigerator. Made me feel that she wasn’t going to forget us.

        We went back a couple of times but then there was a longer break between visits. I had Maria during the summer of 1996 and going back to New York proved harder with three little ones. It was May of the following year when I got a package from  Federal Express, from Mona. I was so excited to open it up and see she had gotten me an outfit for Maria, along with a hand written stationary card. The outfit was adorable and she also included pictures from her daughters college graduation the weekend prior. Looking at the photo, you are looking at it from her eyes as she took the picture.



    Still makes me smile that you know how proud she must have been to see all three of her children graduate from top schools as in Michigan State, Duke and University of North Carolina. Remember there was no applying to colleges online. I remember seeing all the stacks, upon stacks of papers, applications on the kitchen table. She was the super mom who did it all. Drove them with the rental truck to their college dorms, dropped them off and called to tell me how sad, yet proud she was of them.

    In her card she said that she will try not to let so much time go by before I hear back from her. I totally understood. Having three children now - I get it. I called around 6 o’clock that Friday evening and left her a message that said, I got her package and loved the outfit and card and how I loved the picture of the kids. I went on to say, not to worry about not getting back sooner and as I was ending my message, I said to her “I love you so much my friend, and we’ll talk soon!”


                 The next day, my sister called me at one in the afternoon with news that Mona had passed away last night.   I told her that was impossible as I got this gift and card and left her a message last night. My world stopped.    I was blessed to have gotten the chance to attend her funeral a few days later and my heart was crushed to see her children.              

         
        I was hugging her daughter and told her of the day I got the package and how I left her that message. She didn’t know what message I was talking about as their answering machine light was not on and there was no new messages. It was at that point, we had figured out that Mona had listened to my message  before she passed away. How blessed, how blessed was I that my friend heard the words “I love you my friend and we’ll talk soon” before she left this earth. Don’t you see, you never know when you do something that will affect your life forever. I take that blessing with me everyday. Every day I look at my two boys and one girl and think, would Mona say that or do that for her kids. 

     I love you Mona and miss you more everyday. You would be so proud of the way your children are now as adults. I know we will see each other again and I hope you are proud of the mom that I have become. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.

6/08/2011

Friends that are LIKE family - wait - they ARE family!

     Over Memorial Day weekend, Billy, Maria and I went to the west coast of Florida to my cousin’s son’s wedding. Now, that would make us second cousins, I’m sure, but we don’t think of it that way as we ALL are just family. With that said, the days/weeks leading up to the wedding have been, to say the least, stressful. Truly nice to have something to look forward to attending. I truly believe that God puts those not so nice times whether it is regarding work, family, events before you go away as to make you stop and appreciate the time that was given you, to enjoy.  
     We were to arrive Friday and meet up with family at the hotel. Even that Friday morning we were running around packing the van, finishing laundry, buying food for the boys who stayed at home (and not to worry, they apparently had a good time while we were away!) Going over to the west coast via Highway 75 north - there is nothing to do but go straight. I mean really straight. As in, go ahead, put the car on autopilot and take a stinking nap because you seriously do not turn the wheel for 98 miles. It was at that time that Billy, Maria and I just started to relax, get excited about seeing everyone. God bless Facebook as we (family and friends that were attending the wedding) would leave posts on each other’s wall just saying how exciting and fun the weekend will be. Now unfortunately for most people, they would be afraid that the expectations would fall short. Not this group.

     The wedding was schedule for Sunday night so we had the whole weekend to spend with family and friends. We did so by hanging out on the beach, my cousin gave anyone who wanted a ride in his new boat and the rest hung out at the pool area. If you heard laughing, I guarantee it was coming from my family. It was so nice to just take that step back and enjoy each other’s company. We got to catch up on what is going on and it really did feel like we just saw each other last week when it had been probably been a year or two since we’ve seen each other. That’s what makes this family special to me. There’s no negativity that we’ve hadn’t seen each other or nasty shots at one another, it’s taking the situation and making the best out of it. And we did. Apparently there is a video out there of me “making the best out of the situation a bit too much!” 


My cousin, the groom, around one in the morning!

     Talk about letting your hair down. It was Saturday night and we all were around the pool area just laughing and having a good time when I talked to my other cousin’s wife and realized that I hadn’t really talked to her in the past. Now, that could have been uncomfortable but we didn’t skip a beat. Got into great conversations that lead myself and three other women to really letting down our hair. Stress, problems, worries - not here. The fact that my cousin who was getting married had his friends laughing and partying with us made it so much fun. Oh why not. I’ve said it before, you are in charge of your feelings, emotions and actions. I chose to have a good time and I sure did (well, maybe too good of a time……)



     Sunday comes (which we were still up when Sunday came apparently two thirty in the morning,) and God had given us another glorious day. Along the lines of you can’t make this stuff up, the wedding was to begin at six thirty in the evening. It was sunny all day but at six o’clock, it started to drizzle and the sky became dark. Being a faithful person, I started to pray and ask God, please don’t let it rain on their ceremony (which was outside of course, on the beach!) Now I would love to think it was MY prayer that worked but I’m sure there were a ton of people doing the same thing as when the clock hit six thirty and the groomsmen and bridesmaids came out, so the rain stopped and it was cool. No steamy sun or hot humid weather but perfect weather during the whole ceremony.



     As you can see the weather cleared up and the ceremony was beautiful. Cried like a baby. Looking around you could feel the warmth (no pun intended) of love and friendship all around. I truly felt that there was no difference between friends or family. The great part, it was mostly family that just had the best time as friends. Isn’t that what it’s all about? 

       Congrats Emily and Jeremy - may God continue to bless you now and forever. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time. 

5/24/2011

Finale, Facebook and Farewell. Part 3 of Trip to NYC.

            It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of my Father-in-law this past week.  What a journey it has been. Since returning home from our trip in January of this year, the roller coaster ride of his health proved to be a long and painful ride.  Going back to when we returned home from our trip, it was days before Billy and I really talked about the time we were in New York.  How blessed were we to have that alone time with his Dad and Mom. During the visits to the hospital, I had seen my mother-in-law’s love for her husband and felt blessed to have witnessed it. A couple of days had gone by when we were home that we received news that my father-in-law had taken a turn for the worst and again, it was a matter of time that he would not survive. We waited by the phone for that inevitable call that he was gone but…..it never came. We called and was greeted by my mother-in-law that another doctor came in and told them that my father-in-law could make a recovery. Wow. A week or so went by and we got the good news that he was being moved to another rehabilitation center farther north to recuperate . 

    It was at that time that the phone calls we were getting, he was doing ok and even standing with a walker. He was at that point a walking miracle.  But with all operations come setbacks. This was no exception. Once more, came the phone calls that he wasn’t do well and it seemed that his time on earth was drawing near to the end.  I know that I have said it before on my blog but my hope in writing this is to let people know, it is very hard on loved ones that are not near (states away) family  and can not make the trip up when they get that call that things are not good and it is a matter of time. You walk around the house frustrated that you can not do anything. I have always found solace in the fact that I could always pray. 

    Weeks turned into months that it seemed that maybe, just maybe my father-in-law truly was out of the woods and on his way of making a full recovery. During those weeks (months) it has been such a wonderful gift of receiving messages from both my new Twitter friends and my Facebook friends always asking me how my father-in-law was doing. I wish I could somehow draw, photograph, put into words the feeling you get knowing someone is praying for you, your husband and his family that they don’t even know. It was an overwhelming feeling of peace.  That is what we felt these past months. 

     Last Monday night, Billy was on the phone with his mom and had gotten the news that it really does not look good. You want to believe that we have heard this before and maybe he would pull through again. That was not to be the case. The next morning Billy had gotten the call that his dad had passed away peacefully. 

     Let me say for the record, I love Facebook and Twitter  and the ability to get messages that mean the world to me (and my family.) I had posted that after a long and painful journey that my father-in-law had passed away and within minutes, outpouring of sympathy and prayer messages were left on my wall. For us - it was a cyber hug that just felt good. 




Farewell Dad and finally rest in peace. Tell my Mom I said hello.  Ton o’ blessings until next time.

4/26/2011

OK - Sorry to tell you, but stop taking “film” of your kid playing lacrosse, he’s still not going to Duke.

        Another year is about to past in my children’s school career. Career you ask? Well, yes. I’ve been told that I better have my son’s resume done properly and isn’t it a shame that he didn’t take more (or any) AP (advance placement) classes.  I truly wish someone would (now maybe me!)  have wrote a book explaining that not all children are the same. The expectation put on children today is astronomical. Being here in South Florida, the sport of lacrosse is now just getting popular. Like it or not, Saint Andrews school in Boca Raton put South Florida lacrosse on the map. They started producing young talent which Division 1 schools started to take notice.  I am thrilled that my boys play the sport and wish I had started them earlier. How many of you have started your children young in hopes of them one day  playing for a Division 1 school. 

        When my oldest was a senior there was a mom (who will remain nameless) came to the games and quietly sat by herself most of the time. I would often try to strike up a conversation but it never really got anywhere. As time went on, this mom was determined that her son was going to be “recognized” for his lacrosse talent. Unfortunately, this player did not have the grades. His playing skills were good but he was not a team player. 

         At one of the games, I went over to say hi and noticed she had a small digital camera taking video of her son. I looked closely to find the camera glass was shattered. I inquired as to what she was looking at as I could not make out a thing on the screen. She just said that she was pointing it towards her son the whole game and that she was sure it would “probably” work.  Um…….I don’t think so, I said to myself.  I asked her what she was going to do with the video in hopes of maybe getting some idea for my sons but, she had no idea. Really, she just thought she would have it “in case” a coach wanted to see it. I smiled (what else was I going to do) and wished her well and said  “hey, let me know how it turns out!”

   
      
     Sorry to say that player did not make it to a Division 1 school on a lacrosse scholarship. Lacrosse scholarships are near impossible to get but you can sign up on the  NCAA website, www.ncaa.org  and they can explain that your player might be eligible for a “sports” scholarship.

     Please let me add my opinion, and that is what a blog is, an opinion, your player (son or daughter) should like the school first before liking it for the sport they play as I have seen personally, excellent athletes who get scholarships to play, either not produce the good grades or have gotten injured and guess where they end up? That’s right, home. There is nothing wrong with encouragement, but please stop pressuring the kids of today with your hopes and dreams that really are not theirs.  Another lacrosse season for us has come to the end and again, my eyes will be filled with tears at the sports banquet saying goodbye to my lacrosse sons. Excited to see what the future brings and always a word of advise that no matter what happens, I’m proud of them and hope we always keep in touch. God bless Facebook and Twitter. Ton o’ blessings until next time.



My Son Matthew (Matty) and I at the last game(before my short hair cut!)  He is looking forward to playing his senior year and hopes to play in college - you know - "in case" any coaches are reading this ;)

3/30/2011

Full circle? Not quite but I almost flew off the road!

      Looking back when I was a kid,  I remember how many times  my mother would say “wait until you have kids.” I never gave it another thought as I would say to myself “I am going to let my kids do whatever they want and never punish them…..etc.” She would  tell me that I don’t listen well or I’m not paying attention. I was. Well, I thought I did. With that said, fast forward thirty years.

      How blessed I feel that my oldest son is now coaching his alumni high school Junior Varsity lacrosse team. Truly, this is where he belongs. Mother-of-the-year here had major doubts. Times I would believe he was too quite, non committed in other aspects of his life so how is it that this is a perfect fit!?!  It is a proud mama moment to watch him at practice command attention and instruct his players. 

      A couple of weeks ago as we were driving down to practice together, I looked over to see him look puzzled. Kind of shaking his head in disbelief. As I was driving, I turned to him and asked if he was ok and what was wrong. OK, picture this. I have my hands on the wheel, looking at him and trying to concentrate on the road and cars ahead of me when he turns and says “I don’t get it.” “What don’t you get,” I replied. “How is it that I tell them (his players) what to do, and they don’t listen.” “What??” I nearly ran off the road. “They don’t listen to you?” (Flashbacks here.) He then says, “I know what I am talking about, and they still don’t listen.” 

    OK, are you getting the big picture here? I wanted to scream, “welcome to parenting!,” but I didn’t. I was a supportive mom and let him go on, albeit a bit longer than I thought when I couldn’t resist saying, “you tell them to do something and they don’t do it, and you get upset.” “Hmmmm…you know what you’re doing and they still don’t listen.” “Hmmmm….I feel for ya.” 

      Now, I could not love my son anymore than I do, but he still was not getting the whole parent=coach analogy here, nor did I explain it to him. I just told him to keep doing what he was doing and “mean what you say, say what you mean.” I am thankful that I did not get into a car accident as my head did hurt from swinging back to see his face when he told me, “they just don’t listen!”  Looking up to heaven I said to myself “OK mom, you were right.” 






                     Patrick at his first home game coaching the first ever Junior Varsity game at his old high school. Another proud momma moment.   Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.

3/16/2011

Opposing Parent: “Get Number 1 - push him down!” Me: “But you guys are up 13 - 1?

    As parents, why do you go to your child’s lacrosse (or any other sport for that matter) game? Do you go to support the team, watch your child, socialize with the other parents? For me, it is all of the above. I truly enjoy watching all my children play their respective sports. 

       Yesterday, what I witnessed was appalling.  Please keep in mind that we (meaning the lacrosse team/family) knew that our opponent was going to be difficult to say the least to win. With that said, we just wanted to see a good game. A game that is played with sportsmanship, good passing/catching and excitement! What we got was a mauling from the other team. Do not get me wrong, the team is a good team with the best record but to beat up on us (literally) was uncalled for. 

        We were in trouble  about 4 minutes into the game where we were down 3 - nothing. But that’s ok, we still were encouraging our players to play well and not give up. They were scoring quite quickly and the gap really started to widen.  That’s fine, but, at 13 - 1 and the parents in a frenzy to “whack” our players and score again was a bit much.  I was sitting up on the stands, pretty much by myself (I like to yell - what a shock) when I heard a parent say, “get number one!” “Push him down” “Hey number one stop being a baby and get up!” Ok, that got me aggravated. Our number one player, who that parent was yelling at,  is a freshman playing for the first time on our team. Knowing we are not going to catch up, we are blessed with a coach that believes to put all players in to get the playing time experience.  Then I was walking on the sidelines to hear the coach on the opposing team baiting our defense players. Are you kidding me? Any one that knows me, knew it took all my strength not to go kick that coaches butt and take him out.
      
    This all goes back to my original question. Knowing that your team is going to play a team that will likely beat you, what is your attitude going into watching the game. 

       Not even a week ago, Billy and I, by ourselves went to go see a lacrosse game that was not our team. Why? Because we truly enjoy watching good lacrosse played by good players and watching good coaches. Paid the fee to get in and was certainly not disappointed. Both teams played hard, competitively and was exciting to watch. That is the attitude I had going into yesterday’s game. I just wanted to see good lacrosse. What I got was players that ran up a score/showboated/horrible parent chants and horrible coaching ethics. Come on here people, ESPN was not filming the game, Chazz Woodson was not there recruiting for his team, just play the game.

    I woke up this morning feeling like this blog had to be said. I am embarking on a new blog that will be devoted to lacrosse. I will be interviewing parents/coaches/vendors to get the inside story of what a parent/new player goes through starting out playing this sport. I want to hear what equipment works/what camps work and for that matter doesn’t work to help the player thrive.  Lacrosse here in Florida is still fairly new compared to up north as in New York and Maryland where they have been playing for decades.

      I will never give up this blog as even with all the negativity of yesterdays game - I still walked away feeling positive that our team/families and most important our coaches showed class. That is what is most important here. I am excited to watch my oldest son, Patrick, coach his JV squad in today’s game. There are blessings out there everyday, it’s just up to you to find them. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.    

2/28/2011

What does a wheelchair and an ATM have in common - me.

       Have you ever tried to help someone and it back fired badly? I have wanted to find this person from Missouri to say sorry for so long. 

           It was before my second son and daughter were born when living in Missouri that one faithful day, my life had changed. Coming from New York, Billy and I were bagel “snobs” and finding a good bagel became a challenge. We had found a small bagel shop about forty minutes south of our house, that came close to a good bagel. The only problem was that this  bagel store was not in the best area. We didn’t care about that as coming from New York we were never intimated going into any neighborhood.  One day, I packed up Patrick who was probably around one and half, and made the trip down to get bagels for the week. It was early in the morning and I got my bagels and a cup of coffee. I was coming out of the store and was putting Patrick into the van. In the corner of my eye, I could see this man in a wheelchair approaching me with what seemed to be a coffee cup. He was raising his cup in air while rolling closer to me. I remember vividly that I did not have any dollar bills or change to give him and truly felt bad.  I made eye contact and with a sorrowful face said “I can’t help you.” He still was rolling closer and now was waving his cup higher and pointing to his cup. I was at that point getting nervous and then thought, what could he do to hurt me? 

       I then quickly got into the van with the window up as he was in front of my van still waving. I went to lower my window to say, please move when he calmly said “you left your coffee cup on top of your roof.” He then proceeded to turn and roll away. Ugh. I seriously opened my door, got my coffee cup off the roof, tried to say thank you but at that point, he was down the street. I’ve never forgotten that man or what happened that day to make me realize that things sometimes aren’t what they seem. To this day, I never, never judge someone based on their circumstances and nether should you.  

         Well, it came back to haunt me nineteen years later. It was just this past week when I was driving up to the ATM at Bank of America. The car in front of me had it’s break lights on so I became worried that this person would go backwards and hit me. I was a bit farther behind so I would not get hit and gently (yes, gently) tapped my horn to say, please don’t hit me. Well, this car almost immediately went in gear and drove off. I didn’t think anything of it and was glad that the car didn’t go backwards. When I was facing the front of the ATM, it was beeping “do you need more time to complete your transaction?” I thought, what the heck? I hit no and then the persons’ ATM card spit out. I can see the car taking off down the road so I took it and took off to get it back to that person. 

          I saw that persons car make a left on a back road so I thought this is not going to be a big deal to get along side of them to return their card. As I started to speed up, they started to speed up. I then got close enough to hang my hand out my window holding their card and I started to scream “hey - you left your ATM card in the machine!” I guess that made them scared as they took off. We went down three or four blocks when the car made a right and flew down the next street. I made the turn and sped up but to avail as they went through the light and made a left. I made the left still screaming - “wait - wait - I have your card!” I then saw the car went into a sub division and I went too. I half expected to see a cop car behind me at this point. I saw that the car pulled into a driveway and the garage door went up. I thought, please don’t make me get out and go the front door. I parked my car on the opposite side of the street to see this woman slowly get out of her car. I calmly said “you left your card in the machine and I wanted to get it back to you.” She looked horrified and embarrassed.  She walked over and said “oh I am so sorry, I didn’t understand why you were ‘chasing’ after me.” She thanked me and I was on my way. I did get a bit upset that I was just trying to help her. I could have emptied her account and instead I ran after her to give her back her card. I was just trying to help! Ugh, so was that man in the wheelchair nineteen years ago. You’re never too old to learn your lesson and sometimes it comes back at you when you least expect it. Life is funny, isn’t it? Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time!