30 Days of Thanks – Day 21 – Thankful for Quiet Days

Leave a comment Standard

There seems to always be a lot of noise in my house.  A dog always has something to bark at, one kid is always yelling at another kid, and Jim is always trying to be heard over the cacophony, and me yelling at all of them to shut the hell up.  It’s a wonder anyone ever gets heard.

But then there are the quiet days.  The kids are at school, the dogs are curled up sleeping, and Jim is on his computer – with his headphones on.  It feels like I have the house to myself – no one to bother me, no on to interrupt my train of thought, and no one demanding something somewhere.

And I hate it.

I wander the house, looking for something to do – even when I have something to do – just to try and attract a crowd.  I start baking or cooking or making lunch, which brings the dogs running.  I open and close the refrigerator door, just to hear it close.  I even tap louder on the keyboard.

I love having all my kids home, even for the lengthy summer vacation.  After so many years of traveling, I love seeing Jim every day.

I am thankful for the quiet days, because they remind me of the great appreciation I have for living in a loud, crazy, kid filled home.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 20 – Thankful for Disney

Comments 2 Standard

So, you had to know this was coming.  I wouldn’t be able to get through 30 days without being thankful for the Mouse and all it’s meant to me.

My first real vacation with Jim was to Walt Disney World, and my honeymoon was to Walt Disney World.  That made the earliest happy memories, the foundation of my life with my husband, of Walt Disney World and how much fun we had together.

When we moved to Orlando in 1993, the first thing we did – without jobs to pay for them – was buy annual passes.  We were thousands of miles away from family and friends, and having a fun, familiar place to go while people at home were enjoying turkey dinner on Thanksgiving or celebrating a family birthday we couldn’t be home for took some of the sting of homesickness away.

EPCOT is where Eilis took her first steps unassisted, and it’s where Granuaile had her first popsicle – and Itzakadoozie pop that gave her baby brain freeze.  We’ve got wonderful memories of Brighid dancing in a parade, Eilis hugging Donald Duck, Granuaile window kissing Goofy.

Then, in November of 2008, when I was selected to be on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, I acquired a whole family of amazing people who have become my lifelong friends.  Along with them, I’ve been introduced to others in the Disney community who have taken up residence in my heart, and I can’t imagine what life would be like without them (I’m talking to you, Jackie P  and my bonus children, Amy and Anthony!!).

Today, with all of y’all’s eye rolling and fake gagging when I mention my beloved Walt Disney World, I’m so thankful for Disney.  And I’m so thankful for the people it’s brought to my life, enhancing it in ways I’d never imagined possible.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 18 – Bean

Leave a comment Standard

When I began my 30 days of thanks, I wanted to think of things a little bit outside the box. I didn’t want to just be thankful for my home, my family, and my friends – I am so grateful for all of those things every day.  But Day 18 – November 18th – is my sister Bean’s birthday.  How could I not be thankful for her?

There were days during her life when I can admit I didn’t always quite appreciate having Bean for a sister.  She was somewhat of a slob.  No, she was an enormous slob.  I was constantly on her about cleaning up her stuff, putting things away, picking up shit she left all over.

When the holidays would come, she would take her disability checks and spend nearly the entire amount on dollar store gifts for my children.  I loved her for wanting the kids to have a huge stack of presents, but wanted to kill her when twenty minutes into Christmas, I was picking up broken dollar store toys all over.

But when her life was over, I had time to how very fortunate we were – in spite of her dollar store spending sprees.  As bad a cook as I am, I knew I could put something on the table that Bean would think deserved to be on the menu at Buckingham Palace.  She never met a person that didn’t like her, and she had friends from all walks of life.  Imagine my surprise when, just after she died, a woman I knew from a Yahoo Group I belonged to for years sent me a note to tell me she had met my sister during a stop at the store where Bean worked MANY years before.  In all the years this woman and I had chatted, she never put two and two together, but when I mentioned Bean’s passing, she remembered her from that casual meeting.  She made an impression and people loved her.

I never had to do anything alone when Bean was alive.  I could drag her to do anything with me, whether it was yet another trip to Walt Disney World, a 30 day trek across country, or to the dentist’s office to hold my hand.  She was always ready and willing to go.

Above everything, I am so thankful that I had her to help me with my youngest two children.  When I moved to Florida, I felt so isolated and alone.  Bean flew down, intending to stay for two weeks, but she always extended her stay for me.  She volunteered at school, she went to all the recitals and feisanna, and she made me a better mom by keeping me from feeling so sad and depressed that I wasn’t able to get up to be a mom.

November 18, 1965.  It is the day my sister was born, and the day I feel like I should have been ensured a partner in crime for life.  There’s so much I’ve gone through that I wish I had been able to have Bean here with me to share, but the sadness I feel at not having her here is quickly replaced by the joy I have in my heart that we had her in our lives at all.

I am forever truly thankful.

For Bean.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 16 – Thankful for Shoes

Comment 1 Standard

I am not some crazy shoe lady.  When I heard many years ago that Imelda Marcos had over 3000 pairs of shoes, it’s something I couldn’t fathom.  I need sneakers, flats, a good pair of boots, and a pair of heels that I can wear until the agony in my feet overwhelms good judgement and I take them off to walk barefoot in the dead of winter.  In the snow.  I kid you not.

There is, however, a pair of shoes I covet.  Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  Well, not really, because I’m not coveting my neighbors’ goods – no one in my neighborhood could afford these shoes.  I suppose I’m coveting a Kardashian’s goods – but I’m pretty sure that’s legal in any religion.  Or at least grounds for an insanity plea.

So  the shoes I love are Christian Louboutin’s Anemone pumps.  I have no where to wear them, and just looking at them causes my feet to swell and scream with pain.  But they make me smile every time I see them.  I just love them.

And at some point, while coveting these shoes (which I can probably find online now for less than $200, since they are several seasons old), I realized how often I look at other people’s shoes.  And they make me happy.  I have a professor who has an impressive collection of shoes, and I even addressed them in a paper I had to write for him.  I don’t know if I got extra points, but it had to be said.  His shoes are super cute.

So today, I’m thankful for shoes.  I love the colors, the collections, and the Christian’s.  They make me smile.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 15 – thankful for Maury Povich

Leave a comment Standard

Admit it.  You’ve sat glued to your TV to find out if Maury was going to shout, “You ARE the father”, or if some poor woman would go running off stage when she found out that man #4 was NOT the father to her still un-daddy’d little one.

Watching Maury makes me appreciate the life I have.  I know who fathered all of my children, and I know he’ll always be there to take care of them.  I’ve never had to take a lie detector test – and never felt the need to have my husband, my sister, my parents, my friends, or my children take one.  It means I am surrounded not only by people I trust, but people I know wouldn’t hurt me.

I love tuning in to see these guys who are hitting on women in the green room of the show while waiting to go out on stage – then they turn around and say they’ve never cheated.  It reminds me of how lucky I am to have someone who still, after almost 25 years and xxxx pounds, he still loves me and thinks I’m the most beautiful woman ever.

Today, I’m thankful for Maury Povich.  He reminds me of how good my life is.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 14 – thankful for Scars

Leave a comment Standard

I have gone on until you guys are sick of hearing it about how much I love my surgeon, Dr. Nestor Veitia.  He is solely responsible for getting me through my non-compliance after some of my own surgeries, and he’s given up way more time in dedication to my recovery than I should have been entitled to.

Today, my mom is undergoing surgery.  She’s been through a lot over the past few years, including multiple hospitalizations, serious infections, and, if I’m honest, times when we were told she might not make it at all.  But this surgery might give her back more of the independence she lost through the ordeal of the last three years.  It might give her the courage to get back out and try more of the things she lost the ability – or the desire – to do as she has battled back to where she is now.

Something that has gotten me through my own surgeries and medical emergencies in the past couple of years is this quote by author Chris Cleave – “A scar does not form on the dying.  A scar means I survived.”

Today, I am thankful for my surgeon and the surgeon who is skillfully operating on my mom today.  But more than the surgeons, I am thankful for the scars.  They mean that I – and my mom – survived.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 13 – Thankful for Ex-boyfriends

Leave a comment Standard

So, before I met my husband, Jim, I was engaged twice to two other guys.  As weird as it is to sit here today finding gratitude in ex-boyfriends, every experience I have had has led me to where I am, and I’m just damn happy.

But it’s not just my ex-boyfriends and the things I learned in those failed relationships that I’m grateful for.  I’m grateful for my daughter’s ex-boyfriends.  Some of you know the bullet we dodged with her boyfriend of nearly two years ago, but the point is that she, like every other woman before her, has had to learn what to value in a relationship and how to avoid the ones that aren’t good for you.  I’m glad she is where she is, and I’m glad she didn’t get too hurt in learning the lessons she learned.

We should all be thankful for the exes in our lives.  The rough seas make you appreciate the calm waters.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 12 – Cheese Babka

Leave a comment Standard

My mom and stepfather brought over a bunch of stuff for Fakesgiving on Saturday.  If you were here, you probably enjoyed the pies or the cheesecake.  What you didn’t get to enjoy was the babka.  I hid it, guarding it like the crown jewels (well, better than the crown jewels if you saw the news this morning), to save it for the kids for breakfast this week.

Growing up, I was not a fan.  It was an odd tasting bread, you couldn’t make grilled cheese with it, and to me, it kind of reminded me that my parents were divorced.  My dad was Irish, my mom is Irish, and babka was a word we never heard.  Until my stepdad came.

Bob is Polish, and his mother, Grandmom Holak, was a culinary expert at all things edible and Polish.  Her name became synonymous with pierogies and galumpkis.  Kielbasa became a staple at our house – boiled, fried, served with sauerkraut.  It was a whole new experience.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I thought I’d give babka another try.  Bob picked it up for us, along with a couple of dozen of pierogies, which he orders from a group of Polish nuns.  It was a late morning, so instead of eggs or pancakes, babka sounded like a good, hearty breakfast.  We all grabbed a slice, wrapped it in a napkin, and raced out the door.  The cheese, creamy and sweet, broke through the light, flavorful bread.  Not a crumb was left on any napkin, and Granuaile made me promise to save her more for an after school snack.

I have to tell you, though, babka still kind of reminds me that my parents divorced.  But instead of it making me feel sad or bitter, it makes me think of the tremendous appreciation I found for my stepfather after I grew up.  He is the grandfather I never knew he could be, as we grew up with the man who worked hard and seemed to have little time for little kids.  He has devoted not only 36 years to loving my mom and raising my sister, Megan, but he has made my mom’s recovery his life for the past three years.  And he has become every bit as good a cook as Grandmom Holak.

So today, I’m thankful for cheese babka.  And all the things it reminds me of.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 11 – Our Country, Our Freedom, Our Veterans

Leave a comment Standard

When I met my husband, he was in the Navy.  At the age of 24, which I was when I met him, that meant hot buns in a cool uniform.  Yeah, I said it.  My husband has a cool uniform.

It took me a while to realize the sacrifice that comes with getting that cool uniform.  Jim was injured while refueling a ship at sea.  His eyes sprayed with a chemical combination similar to the dip used to destroy the cartoons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, his hand cut with a knife and requiring stitches, he stayed and finished the unrep (underway replenishment) before seeking treatment in sick bay.

The damage was done, even though we didn’t know it until some time later.  Days after the accident, he was repainting a portion of the ship, when a superior came by.  He pitched a fit, yelling at Jim about the paint job.  Jim scanned the work for missed spots or serious streaks, when the officer finally got in his face and screamed about Jim painting the area the wrong color.  Jim couldn’t tell.

After months of treating with Visine and Tylenol, he finally came home to see a civilian eye doctor.  The chemicals caused an oxygen deprivation to his eyes, there was scarring from the chemical splash, and his vision was beginning to deteriorate.  He would eventually become legally blind.

And my husband is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to men and women who have served, sacrificed, been injured or killed, all on our behalf.

Too numerous to count, too painful to think about, today is the day that we honor those who gave some and those who gave all for our country and our freedom.  The debt of gratitude is one we can never repay, and one they never expect us to repay.

For them, I am thankful; blessed and thankful.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 10 – Fakesgiving

Comments 2 Standard

The made up holiday, designed to allow my children to be home with me to celebrate “Thanksgiving” when they get older, while allowing them to spend the actual holiday “day” spending it where they’d rather be, has taken on a new meaning over the past couple of years that we’ve hosted.  Initially, it was just us, our family of five, fighting around the turkey, just like it really was Thanksgiving.  Someone was poking someone else; someone didn’t like peas; someone didn’t want someone else touching them; someone shouldn’t have hidden Mommy’s medicine that stops her eye from twitching.

A year later, with grandparents that hadn’t seen their college aged granddaughter since the summer, we decided to extend the invitation to grandparents.  All went well, no one got hurt.

This year, we included extended family and friends, and honestly, it just keeps getting better.

My mom, who has been so sick the past three years, came and saw my new kitchen for the first time since we redid it almost two years ago.  Neighbors from our old South Philadelphia neighborhood – that we hadn’t seen since 1976 – were here enjoying catching up on what’s transpired in 36 years.  Old friends that have become family and newer friends who we could not love more if they were family joined us in the stress free, no food fight Fakesgiving festivities, and it was awesome!

Day 10 of my 30 days of thanks is just that I am so thankful that we are surrounded by such amazing people.  The love and laughter that filled my house yesterday will carry me through the rest of the stress filled holiday season.