Tag Archives: family

Cousins and Friends

30 cousins

I am lucky to have been blessed with lots of cousins. With ten of us just on my dad’s side, most of us married with our own kids, we have created us a pretty big crowd! They don’t all live nearby but we are still close with them and with the internet and texting, we have been able to stay in touch with them much more than ever.

Lisa is the cousin I am the closest with. She lives only a few minutes away and is one of my favorite people in the world. Since we grew up living so close to each other, we got to spend lots of time together growing up. Family dinners, holidays, playdates…we saw each other all of the time. She is seven years younger than me but since the six New Jersey cousins were spread out over a ten year span, we were always able to find things to do together and spent most of our time laughing!

When I got married, she was 16. She was the youngest bridesmaid in my wedding. When I had my first son, she was just 20 years old and still in college. I always though of her as my little cousin but now, as adults we have become closer than ever. We don’t notice the age difference anymore….well maybe through my wrinkles but that’s all….

Today is her birthday! She is 40~

Now, as I sit here, I am trying to figure out how in the world she could be FORTY,  because, if she is forty that could only mean one thing – since I am still seven years older, I am that much closer to…..FIFTY! (Yikes even that number was tough to write!)

Now, Lisa is a wife – I was her OLDEST bridesmaid.  She is an amazing mom. She is smart and successful, working in New York City and is still one of the sweetest people I know. We have so many things in common and every time we are together is guaranteed to be a good time. There is a special bond cousins have – no friendship can match it because there is no one that understands the craziness of your family like a cousin! Cousins know us better than anyone else and help us keep a little bit of childhood forever in our hearts!

Happy Birthday Lisa! I love you!

Dinner for 25

family dinner.jpg

What was supposed to be dinner for 25 turned into a smaller crowd. Grammy is still recovering in the hospital and Gigi her caretaker is with her. Dave took DJ back to school so we were a few less at the table. I still cooked the 25 pounds of corned beef and 6 heads of cabbage. There weren’t enough burners on grammy’s stove so the potatoes were prepared at my aunt’s home and brought over.

As always there was more than enough food and dessert and since we can’t forget to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day there were lots of Italian pastries as well.

I took a before photo of the 25 pounds of meat…but no one needs to see a photo of raw meat. Everyone was so hungry, I didn’t get a photo of it when it was all cooked and served!

There aren’t many things more special than gathering with family and creating new memories and reliving old ones each year and tonight was no different.

St. Patrick’s Day

It was my mom’s favorite holiday. She would cook for everyone and every family member, Jewish, Catholic, Italian, Irish…we had them all, would show up for her corned beef and cabbage dinner. This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent. Although the Catholic Church has offered dispensation, allowing Catholics to eat meat today, we are waiting until Sunday when we my dad and brothers get home from Florida to share our St. Patty’s Day dinner. 25 pounds of corned beef have already been ordered and my cousin, sister and I will head up to my grammy’s to cook that morning.

The photo prompts haven’t all been falling into categories to write about so I have strayed from them a bit but today’s is GREEN and there couldn’t be a better day to share some photos. St. Patrick’s Day in Kindergarten is always an exhausting adventure. Once again, that pesky little leprechaun showed up in our classroom making a mess wherever he went. He comes every year.  The magic of Kindergarten is part of the reason I enjoy teaching this grade so much. Yes, it is exhausting and draining sometimes but the look on their faces on days like these make it worth it.

The photos tell the story…

Happy Memories of Mom

It was four years ago today. We knew it was the day we would be taking my mom off life support.  Since then, I have written about that day every year on the anniversary.

This year, instead of being sad, I want to focus on happy times. My mom didn’t like her photo taken so as I searched through old albums, I didn’t find many that hadn’t already been shared before. I did find one of the two of us at my baby shower which was 20 years ago this month. I hadn’t seen that one in awhile and it brought back sweet memories of the day. I shared it on Facebook this morning.

My mom loved a party and if it was a surprise party….even better! She was very good at keeping them a secret. So good, that I arrived at my bridal shower in my pajamas and wearing my glasses. I never wore those in public!!!! She just giggled telling me I’d never forget that day and she was right. In honor of her, I will actually share this hidden away photo of my mother-in-law and us that day. Oh, and for those of you wondering, No. She did not bring me clothes to change into OR my contacts!!!

Nancy, Me, Mom bridal

Today, I hope that everyone can think of one happy, funny or silly memory of my mom. Share it with us if you get a chance.

Giving Thanks


I took some time today to reflect on some of my Thanksgiving blogs from the past and found the one from 2013, the Thanksgiving after my mom and Francine died.  So much of it is still true today. The people I am most grateful for are still a huge part of my life, but I have so many others in my life that I can now include. We still have my 101 year old grandma here with us and tonight, I will share Thanksgiving dinner, one of my favorite meals of the year, with her and many of my relatives, each of us cooking at home and bringing the food to her house to make it easy on her. Tonight there will be 16 of us around the table – a rather small gathering for us – but still a fun one!

I have been texting with friends all morning letting them know how grateful I am to have them in my life. We are sharing cooking tips and our similar thoughts on politics…knowing full well they will stay OUT of our conversations at dinner where so many of our family members have opposing opinions!

I am grateful to have DJ home from college, knowing that he is thriving on his own and creating his own friendships and relationships for which I know he is grateful for. I am grateful that Drew is finding his way as a freshman in high school. Never playing a game of football in his life, he found himself on the varsity football team at 5 feet tall and 95 pounds! That story is a blog in itself…for another time!

I am most grateful for Dave this year. He has been going through his own personal struggle with depression and with some health issues, and is finally on the road to recovery. He has found a new job and is so filled with life and energy. He is happy which makes for a much happier home. I couldn’t be more grateful to all of the people who have helped him get through this difficult time. He’s like a new person and for this, I am forever thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Find reasons to be grateful not just today, but always.

Family and Friends make for a perfect Sunday


Today we celebrated my cousin Bella’s 8th birthday.  Actually, I guess she is my second cousin since she is the daughter of my cousin Jason.  Having just boys in my house, I love being a part of theses “girlie” parties.  I was always such a girlie girl growing up.  Bella had a dance party and I was there as a guest but also to take photos for them.

The music was fun and perfect for a group of screaming, giggly little girls!  They even had a fashion show to end the day complete with boas and pompoms!  After the party, I went home to get some school work done and went to a house warming shower for a good friend.  It was really nice to see her smiling after a rough couple of months.  I am so happy to see her happy and in her own home after being homeless for several months.  She and her daughters were fortunate to be living with some friends for those months, but I know that she is relieved to have a place to call their own.

My own kids and Dave had soccer and baseball games throughout the day so I was on my own for most of it and tonight, I went to dinner at my aunt and uncle’s new home to continue celebrating Bella’s birthday.  They just moved in and I hadn’t had the chance to see it yet.  It is a beautiful new condo and I wish them as much happiness there as they had in their last home.

I brought my grandma up too.  My uncle is recovering from surgery and she was anxious to see him.  I think it was good for both of them, her, to realize that he is doing okay, and him to see how much love he has in his family who were all gathered with him.  There was so much laughter at the dinner table.  Just eight of us, but it reminded me so much of dinners growing up.  With six of us in my family and always a friend or two at dinner, the conversation was never at a lull and everyone had to speak louder and louder to be heard over each other.

That’s what it was like tonight.  It would be so wonderful if none of us had work constraints that kept us from doing this more often.  But, as always, life seems to get in the way and we often find ourselves too busy to do things like this.  Bella begged me to find a night that Drew and DJ would be home so that we could get together for dinner.  I promised her that we would.  They are crazy about their cousins and it makes me so happy because growing up, that’s how we felt about our own cousins.  We are so fortunate to have grown up living near each other and our children now have that same opportunity.  Even the huge age span doesn’t seem to stop them from having a great time when we all get together.  The biggest challenge is just finding the time!

National Sibling Day

brothers and sister

National Sibling Day?!!?!? Who knew??  Not me!  I had no idea there even was such a day, but after seeing numerous posts about it on Facebook this afternoon, I looked it up and found out that it is not really something new!  It began in 1998 with the hope of becoming synonymous with Mothers and Fathers Day.  Now, it is celebrated every year on April 10th.

I have three siblings,  Two brothers and a sister.  I come second in birth order.  There is a ten year span between our ages.  We are all pretty close and we all live less than ten miles from one another.  We find ourselves doing things together all of the time.  Family dinner is a regular thing for us.  We all meet up with my dad and my 98 year old grandma at least once a week for dinner.  We support one another and go out of our way to do things for each other.  I am sure this is no different than most siblings – we are just fortunate to all live so close.  Our own children are getting the chance to grow up with their cousins.

I am not saying our relationship is always perfect!  Far from it.  We still argue like we were kids but we all know, that in the end, we are there for each other no matter what.

Sadly, this day falls on the anniversary of the day my sister-in-law died.  We consider our in-laws our siblings.  They just merged right into our family.  Today is a really hard day for everyone, but especially for Tim.  I am sure that he knows that he has the support of his siblings though.  That is what we do.

stick figure people

Beauty in Ordinary Things

beauty in ordinary things

Tonight, Dave and I brought Chinese food over to my dad’s house and my sister and her family and my older brother joined us for dinner.  There was a hockey game on television that they all wanted to see so it worked out perfectly.  At the end of the night, we each chose a fortune cookie.  There was a lot of food, so they threw in A LOT of fortune cookies.  Drew had us all laughing because he decided to choose one for Emmy Lou.  It read, ‘You will be traveling and coming into a fortune.”  Hmmmm….!  We are bringing her on our trip to Hilton Head Island later this month so maybe….

Then, he opened up his own fortune.  It said the same thing!  Now, we are all a bit superstitious in our family so I made him save them both.  With only one cookie left on the counter, Drew laughed and wondered out loud how funny would it be if it said the same thing.  Well, it did!  So now, we will take those “lucky lottery numbers” printed on the back and play them in each state we drive through on our way down.  At only a dollar a ticket…it can’t hurt to try.  Maybe, just maybe,  that fortune will come true!

I decided to save mine too.  Nothing about money, or riches, but it read, “You find beauty in ordinary things, do not lose this ability 🙂 ”  Well, I try to, at least most of the time and this serves as a good reminder.  Not just for me, but for all of us.



I realized tonight that I am pretty much a baby when it comes to the blogosphere, considering that today I read on Hello Giggles that blogging has been around for 20 years! The author of the blog, Grace Cox, put something into words that I am thinking everyday when I sit down to write my own,

The idea of blogging is so weird and amazing.  That you can be a published writer on a platform that is accessible to millions of people is mind-boggling if you stop and think about it. 

When I began writing, it was to promote something I am so passionate about  – KINDNESS!  I thought that I’d be sharing stories about kindness that I read about or witnessed in person.  I wrote everyday, just as I had said I would. The amount of views the blog got varied, but it was never very many.  Mostly friends and family when I shared it on Facebook.  Then, two months into my “project” my mom died and it all changed.  Hundreds of people were reading it during the one month period of when she died and when Francine died.  I began to realize, that my blog was taking on a life of its own, taking me on an adventure where I was learning on the way.  I started to realize that although I was still spreading kindness in my blog, when I got personal and let my emotions come out, more people were interested in what I had to write. It has become my personal diary in some ways.

Growing up, I tried keeping diaries but never kept up with them. I was envious of my friends who wrote faithfully in them everyday.  Now, I have become one of those people – but my entries aren’t private.  I am writing it and putting it out there for anyone to see.  That is why some of the things I write have been so hard to actually submit!  My blog has made me a stronger, bolder person.  It has allowed me to express myself in ways that I doubt I’d ever speak about otherwise.  It is still giving me the opportunity to spread kindness, the original intent, but it has opened up my world.  Although my blog is still pretty small in the scheme of things, I have “followers” and people respond to what I have to say.  I am meeting other bloggers and despite living in this enormous world, blogging actually makes it seem a little smaller.

So Proud of You

proud of you

Last night my boys went to the NJ Devils game with my dad. When they got home, DJ said, “Drew, are you going to tell mom what you did at the game tonight?”  I replied, ‘Uhoh, what…” and DJ said, “No mom, it is good!”  We all laughed and Drew got embarrassed and told me this story,

You know how I always go up to the glass for warm ups?  Well, I went there tonight and I was hoping that a player would toss me a puck after practice.  There was this kid standing near me who had special needs and he was wearing a Toronto jersey.  He reminded me of that girl we saw at The Newark Bears Game.  That was the kind of special needs he was.  Well, he wanted a puck so badly but he didn’t get one and I guess he got tired of standing there because he and his dad went back to their seats.  Then, I got a puck and I went over and gave it to him instead of keeping it. The kid was so happy!  Later, the dad and the kid came over to our seats and thanked me.  At the end of the game, I went up to where the referees leave the ice and NJ, (the Devils mascot,) tossed me the game puck!

I was so proud I nearly cried.  DJ was just nodding his head the whole time telling me that really happened.  My dad told me how proud he was of him.  I had to share it – I was so filled with joy that he had done such a generous thing.  For anyone who knows him, he is a collector and giving up a puck was probably not the easiest thing for him!!  I shared the story on Facebook before I left for work this morning.  I got home this evening and found that there were just under 200 likes and almost 50 comments about it!  Comments saying others were going to pay it forward today after reading it.  Comments about how he is growing up into such a kind young man.  Comments about how Dave and I “must be doing something right!”

He and I just read the comments together and he is embarrassed – self-conscious perhaps, but I can tell he is pleased with himself.  It is so nice watching him grow into such a kind hearted boy.  Many of the comments mentioned “great parenting.”  I had great role models to follow, and now my children are following in those footsteps as well.  We talk all the time about how easy it is to do the right thing and last night, Drew demonstrated that perfectly.