Tag Archives: memories

March 8th

I write about this every year on March 8th. I don’t need to repeat the story every year, but today marks FOUR years since I spoke to my mom.  Not the day that she died, but the day she stopped breathing and was put on life-support for a week. I had spoken to her that morning. We talked several times a day and I still find myself reaching for the phone to call her now.

My memories of her now are mostly happy ones.I miss her, but I am not still grieving for her. I still see signs that remind me of her and when looking back on my earlier posts about her I found the one from this day last year when I found a butterfly pin in my classroom.  That little broken pin brought me so much joy on what is always a sad day for me.

After she died, a former class parent, and now friend, shared a book with me that someone had given to him after the loss of his partner. Healing After Loss – Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief.  The first year, I tried to read it every day. Now, I take it out once in awhile and read the meditation for the day. Today’s meditation was this,

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I am sure for those dealing with recent loss, this is tough to read, but as the years have gone by, it rings more and more true.

Love Notes

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Having our boys  nearly five years apart was never really part of a plan but just how it was meant to be. Despite their age difference, they are very close and always have been. Today, Drew needed his social security number for something and although I know mine, Dave’s and DJ’s by heart, I don’t know his. I had to look it up so I pulled out his baby book where I have it written down. Drew said he’d never seen it before. Not sure how that is possible, but the two of us looked through it and although it is not even close to being as filled out as DJ’s is, I did have many things saved inside of it and we had a lot of laughs looking through it. Our favorite things were the love notes six year old DJ wrote to baby Drew. I also found out that Drew’s first word, wasn’t ball, like I remembered it to be  –  it was. It was DJ.

When they say time flies, it truly does. I miss those days but am so proud of how they are growing up and what they are becoming. DJ is almost twenty! I sometimes wonder how that is even possible. Drew is going through some ornery, crotchety teenage years but sometimes that sweet little guy still pops his head out to say hello like it did this afternoon… for about eight minutes.

Cozy – Memories of Auntie Linda

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Day 5 in the photo challenge is COZY.

When we were little, our babysitter was “Auntie Linda.” She lived right down the street from us. Auntie Linda also came over for weekly card games with my parents and their friends. She was a grown up babysitter. Not a teenager, but a good friend of my parents although she was probably about ten years younger. We saw her so often, she was like a part of the family.

I remember the apartment she moved to when we were little. It was about a thirty minute drive away in Fords, NJ. We would pile into the station wagon with our sleeping bags in tow. We’d bring our pajamas and after snacks and games we’d climb into her comfy bed which was piled high with cozy, handmade blankets and fall asleep while the grownups continued their games of Uno, Hearts, Bridge….

Late into the night, (or what seemed late to us) my dad would carry us one at a time to the back of the station wagon where our sleeping bags were already spread out in the way back. (This was long before seatbelt laws…)

We would sleep all the way home and climb back into our own beds looking forward to the next time we would visit! Auntie Linda lived there for many years. She and I had a special bond. We’d have girl days together and she always found a way to make me feel special. Like when the two of us went to Great Adventure and had to sit out for awhile after riding Lightning Loops because we both almost threw up!

She was an avid crafter. Her knitting and crocheted pieces were spectacular. She got my mom addicted to felt crafts and together they created beautiful ornaments and wall hangings that took up the walls in our home and all over our Christmas tree.

After a brief marriage, Linda moved back home with her mother. Although we were hoping that this move back to Maplewood would allow us to see her even more often, sadly, she became a recluse. We rarely saw her and I know that although it was hard on all of us, it was really tough on my mom. We missed her and my parents tried hard to include her in their get togethers but she never came.

Unfortunately, Auntie Linda passed away a few years before my mom.  We hadn’t seen her in ages. Her mother, who was elderly, moved away to live with her other daughter. The house was put on the market but before it sold, there was an estate sale. I decided that I needed to go. I needed to find something that gave me a memory of her. I found it the minute I walked into the house. A blanket that she had crocheted. It now sits on my couch in the living room and it is my favorite thing to cozy up with on the couch. I think of her every time I wrap it around me.

I find comfort in the thought that maybe she and my mom are off somewhere creating a new fabulous felt craft or playing a game of cards together where ever they are….

Two Years

death is nothing

Two years ago today my mom died.  It was such a sad day, but we were all able to say goodbye to her and that gave us closure.  Last year, on the anniversary, we celebrated and it was a sad day.  Today was different.  I remembered her, I thought about her, I wore her favorite color, yellow, (thanks for the reminder Melanie,) and we ate her favorite thing – Chinese Food – for dinner.

It wasn’t a sad day.  It was actually a good day.  A happy day spent with friends and family.

I posted a picture of mom and me on Facebook this morning and wrote, “I can’t believe that today is two years.  Missing you mom.”  I was just remembering.  Just honoring her today.  The response was huge.  Everyone sending their love and memories of her.  People checking in on me and our family, but truly, we are doing well.  We all are.  We think about her everyday. Memories of her pop up everywhere. She is always around us and that brings us comfort.

I truly wasn’t sad today.  When I woke, the first thing I wanted to do was go back and read my blog from that awful week in March 2013.  I lay in my bed and read on my ipad. I read each day from when she stopped breathing on March 8th until the funeral on March 21st.  That was it.  Then, I got up and went on with the rest of the day.

That’s exactly what she would have wanted.  No sitting around weeping for her.  She would have hated that. Life goes on.  Our memories of her will last forever and she is always with us. ❤

Last Day of Kindergarten

goodbye kdg

Today was the last day of school.  “We are 180 days smarter” we said, as we kissed our brains before leaving today.   It is always a bittersweet day ending the school year.  I have spent so much time with these children. It is their second home. 180 days spent together, and it has suddenly come to an end.  They are ready to move on, First Graders now.

We sat around in a circle today and ended the day like we always do.  We talk about our favorite part of the day.  I like doing this with them as a recap of their day.  Today, we changed it and ended with our favorite part of Kindergarten.  It was so much fun listening to what they remembered most.  Magic Playdough, Pajama Day, our pizza party, the 100th day of school, our Kindergarten show, the ant farm, making new friends… the list went on and on.  I told them all that for me, my favorite part of kindergarten was meeting 23 new friends.

Every year, it is hard to say goodbye to my class.  I will still see them next year.  Many of them come back to visit and to read to the new Kindergarteners.  As we said goodbye and they went off to their families at dismissal today, a few of them were crying.  I imagine it is just as hard for them to say goodbye.  I gave them each a big hug, wished them a safe and happy summer and they were off.  Saying goodbye only takes a moment, but those goodbyes are filled with so many wonderful memories.

 

 

Best Snow Day Ever

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Over a foot of snow was dumped on us today.  The first foot was light and fluffy and easy to shovel.  The next few inches….not so much!  That snow was heavy and wet and not fun to clear.  It seems like it is all over but the weather forecasters are saying otherwise.  Another 4-6 inches are expected overnight.  I’d say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that today was a pretty awesome day.  Even my 12 year old, Drew declared, “The best snow day ever” and I have to agree!

I started out pretty early shoveling.  The snow was deep and we needed a path for Emmy Lou to get through so that she could get outside.  I only did the front steps and sidewalk.  By the time I finished that, it was already covered up but at least she could get out to the street.  Our neighbor pulled out the snow blower a little while later and the four of us and he, got the driveway cleared in about ninety minutes.  Not too bad for a foot of snow!

We came back in, made lunch and Drew and I baked a batch of cookies to share with the neighbors.  We made the recipe up as we went along, using what we had in the house and other than not quite getting the baking time right, they came out pretty tasty!  Wewatched a movie, Captain Philips.  All four of us enjoyed it – that doesn’t happen too often!!  When that ended, it was round two for the driveway.  This snow was not as easy.  Not nearly as deep but MUCH heavier.  This was fun snow though!!  It had warmed up to about 36 degrees so it wasn’t too cold.  The boys and I spent a few hours playing in the snow.  I don’t remember the last time I played in the snow.  The snow was so deep, they were jumping off the front stoop into huge piles of snow.  I took tons of photos and laughed so hard my side hurt!  Even Dave joined in for awhile!   Drew and I stayed outside and built an igloo.  Of course I took many more photos.

I came inside and made dinner.  A new recipe.  I had to include it because it was so good!  I found it on Pinterest but of course, like always, I altered and changed it and made it my own.  Dave LOVED it.  I’ll include it here because it is definitely a make again meal!  (This is starting to turn into a recipe blog lately…)

We are now all sitting around watching Jeopardy.  I am drinking a glass of wine and eating cookies.  We are all warm, showered, full and happy.  Tomorrow, we may wake up to a lot more snow.  I doubt we will be able to repeat such a perfect day, but I am so happy to have the memories of today.  As we built the igloo today, Drew told me, “this is one of those days we are going to remember forever isn’t it?”  I could only reply, “Yup.”

Porkchops with Mushroom Bourbon Cream Sauce

Breaded pork chops recipe, served with a mushroom bourbon cream sauce.

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound sliced button or cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (I did not have this so I used Brandy)
  • Salt and pepper
  • (I added arugula and cherry peppers)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 4 6-7 oz center-cut pork chops
  • All purpose flour
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil

Method

1 Sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms in 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat until the mushrooms are browned – about 10-15 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and boil down until the liquid is reduced to almost a glaze, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bourbon, boil until reduced by two thirds. Add the cream and simmer several minutes until the sauce thickens.

2 Whisk an egg and 2 Tbsp of water in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. Dip chops into the flour, then egg mixture, then breadcrumbs, coating completely. Heat olive or grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Turn the chops one more time, lower the heat to low, cover, and cook an additional 5 minutes. Alternatively you can put the chops in a pre-heated oven at 400°F for 5-8 more minutes.

3 When about to serve the pork, bring the sauce to a simmer and add the chopped basil to it. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Going through Mom’s Things

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Today, my sister Kathi and I found ourselves with a few hours to spare.  We decided to go up to my parent’s house and go through some of mom’s things.  My dad was okay with it as long as we promised to not do anything with her formal gowns and dresses.  We agreed and the two of us met there and spent a few hours going through one of her closets.  For those of you who did not know my mom, she was a large sized woman – she called herself “plus sized.”  We packed up several bags filled with clothing that we are going to donate to the veterans.  We packed another that I dropped of at a local church that is collecting for the victims of the storm in the Philippines – that one included bedding.  There are still two more bags of clothing that still has tags on them!  I am in the process of finding a charitable organization that will take new clothing for larger sized women.  There are even two bags of purses and totes!

What is so surprising to me is that my mom was far from a “fashionista.”  She wore the same type thing all of the time.  She liked simple, cotton clothing with an elastic waistband.  Her last few years, she had so much trouble breathing, even getting dressed would be a struggle for her.  So finding all of these clothes, many that were never worn was a bit ironic.  Even more ironic though, is that for someone who had very little fashion sense, this was only the first of several closets we need to go through.

Tonight, we met back at their house to have dinner with my dad.  This time, we took out what I thought was her jewelry drawer.  I brought it downstairs and Kathi, my brother Chip and my dad and I,  all went through it.  It turned out to not be her jewelry drawer at all, but instead more like a memory drawer!  We found many of our old report cards, including mine from first grade from the school that I teach at now!  I found a favorite picture that my mom’s good friend Linda took of me when I was about ten.  Mom had saved it in that drawer.  I guess it was a favorite of hers too.  There were many pictures in that drawer, but it turns out that isn’t even the “photo drawer” since we found another with hundreds more.  That drawer will have to wait for another time.   There were books about exercising and a very old copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care book.  All of our birth certificates were there as were our graduation announcements and First Holy Communion certificates.  She saved everything!!

My dad let us each have what was ours and then we took out another drawer we thought was her jewelry drawer.  This had some, including a ring that Dave and I had given her before we were even married.  My dad let me keep that one.  We haven’t found her “good stuff” yet.  More interesting though in this drawer were all of the items she had saved from her own parents and her dear Aunt, (who we called Nana.)  We found an autograph type book that was her mom’s and each of the entries in it was dated 1925!  The pages were delicate and falling apart but they were fun to read.  there was a bag filled with things from her dad – he died when I was about ten, and I don’t really remember him well.  It had his work ID, some other types of certificates, pins and awards in it.  We actually gasped when we found a picture – it looked more like a mass card – with John F Kennedy on it.  How odd that we found this almost 50 years to the date of his death!?!  Dad let me borrow it to scan it and see if we can preserve it, as it is falling apart.  I am not sure how my grandfather got the card.  It is definitely not from a newspaper, you can tell by the feel of the paper.  It feels like an actual mass card.  I wish there was someone who could tell us how he got it or why he kept it.

Next week, we are going to go back and finish the second drawer.  It got too late and with absolutely everything bringing up a new memory, it took much longer than expected.   As so many things are when we talk about mom, this was bittersweet, but it brought back so many happy memories.  I cannot wait to see what we find next week!!

Scan 1 Scan 2

Photos Capture Memories

life is like a camera

Yesterday on Facebook, I noticed a lot of people posting old photos and calling it, “Throwback Thursday.”  I don’t know how I missed that  – but I loved seeing all the old photos of friends of mine.  Of course, I had to share one of mine too!  Then, this morning, I received an email from Shutterflly, (where I order photo books from regularly,) saying their “photo book sale was on.”  Four times a year, I order a new photo book filled with photos from that season.  I have been taking photos for years and for the longest time, I’d have prints sent to me.  Those prints would pile up and I’d get stressed from all the clutter!!  Then I discovered photo books!!  They take some time to make but instead of prints, when I am done creating them, I have a beautifully bound book filled with all of my favorite memories from the season.  I sound like an advertisement for Shutterfly – but I truly love using their site to create these books.

Tonight, the boys are out with Dave at a hockey game and I am home alone so I decided to get together all of my Summer photos that have been filling up my desktop computer and begin working on the latest book.  Every time I create one, I realize why I take so many photos all of the time!!  I am sitting here alone, reliving the days of Summer right now.  Baseball games, days in New York City, time spent with friends and family, mom’s bench…the book is filled with memories of a happy summer.  I love all of the books that I have created, but this year’s Spring book wasn’t one of my favorites.  It was rather slim – not having a lot of pictures to fill it.  Spring was really tough for us this year and although we kept busy, I realized as I compiled those photos, that we really did not do a lot- or at least not a lot that I wanted to remember.   Summer was different.  We went out, we visited places and we enjoyed ourselves.  We even celebrated mom’s first birthday in heaven by releasing balloons.  I caught most of it through photos and now, those memories are captured forever.

Photos create memories.  As I go through them, I can go back in time and I get to remember just how significant all of those little moments were!

There’s Nothing Like a Visit With Old Friends

memories fun

I am sitting on the train for what should be a five hour ride. Plenty of time to think and reminisce about the weekend. What started out as a crazy, long, rainy ride down led to a fun, relaxing…(and exhausting at the same time), weekend!
Jen, her husband JP and their daughter Mary had flown in from a whirlwind vacation around Europe and since they landed in Newark, the kindly offered to let me ride down with them instead of taking the train down alone. The ride took longer than expected which gave Jen and me plenty of time to catch up on life! The insane rain storm made traffic slow down and Jen and JP, (who have witnessed typhoons), said it was some of the worst rain they had seen!
Jen has an exciting job that takes her all over the world for work. She has lived in so many exciting and interesting places. She has always offered an open invitation to visit, yet we’ve never taken advantage of it! Perhaps our next big get together will find us in some exotic, exciting place where she winds up living. That could be so much fun!
We arrived in Alexandria at Brooks’ home several hours later than anticipated, but she and her husband Mike, where both still up and waiting for us, ready to welcome us into their beautiful home. Jen and JP were staying in a hotel but Brooks’ kindly invited me to stay with them so we could spend more time together. We did not stay up too late that first evening. It had been a long day so she set me up in her beautiful guest room.
Brooks has always been quite the entertainer. “my room”, had fresh flowers and photos of us from my wedding in frames on the desktop. She even had our 1988 freshmen directory in there for me to look at! I do not even remember that from college, but of course Brooks had held into it and remembered to bring it out. I just love that about her! If it weren’t for her, I am sure a lot of these little reunions we’ve had wouldn’t have happened.
The next day we met up and headed off for lunch at an adorable restaurant called “Cheesetique”.  Yum! With cheese being my favorite food…what could be better?!? Jen met up with us there and we enjoyed such a delightful lunch! No children pulling on us or needing us to drive them somewhere. No time constraints…just a long leisurely lunch where we could catch up, and learn about what’s been going on. We shared family stories. We all knew each others’ parents and siblings from being together in school so it was really nice to hear what everyone has been up to.
The entire weekend seemed to be focused around eating, (another favorite thing if mine), so while at lunch, we got in touch with Deb and tried to decide where to go later on that evening. At first we decided to go to some of our old “hangout places” and after some discussion, we decided that none of us wanted to go somewhere where we’d have to yell above music or a crowd. Brooks’ husband, graciously offered to cook for all of us back at their home. What a feast he created! It was better than a restaurant. Amazing steaks, potatoes, salad, asparagus, wine and cheese appetizers… We couldn’t have asked for anything more or for better service, as he served us and did all of the dishes as well! Another leisurely spent meal, this time with Deb too, which made it even better. There was so much laughter and happiness, (and lack of responsibility), at the table, I almost felt like I was back in college for awhile!
We missed Mary Lynn a lot but knew that she was happily spending her birthday on a beautiful island so hopefully at our next get together she’ll be there.

After another great night sleep in that comfy, quiet bedroom, I woke up and had breakfast prepared for me by Mike!  It was really like I was on a mini-vacation for a few days.  A morning of shopping in quaint Old Town Alexandria with the girls, ended with lunch at The Chart House before heading to the train.

I needed this weekend away.  It was quick, but it was great and I appreciate them all so much for making my weekend away so much fun.  Love you girls!!!