Category Archives: Family

Christmas 2020 Style

Photo by Ana Rocha on Pexels.com

Christmas morning 2020, quietly sitting listening to the rainfall outside. The deck doors are open, and a nice unseasonably warm breeze is blowing through the room while I bite the limbs off of a gingerbread man and sip coffee.

My children are adults, so there is no need to be awake at this time, yet here I am scrolling through my FaceBook memories of past Christmas celebrations surrounded by family, friends, laughter, and love. Jeez, talk about a mixed bag of emotions coming to the surface.

Last year our house was full to the brim. We were full of Christmas spirit with two new little ones in the family experiencing all of their firsts. They had no clue what was going on, but it didn’t matter to all of us oohing and aahing over every move they made.

Our celebration today will look much different. My mind is not fully committed to the festivities today, but my heart is aching for some sense of normalcy, so I’m going to do my best, and that will be enough.

This year it’s a party of 6, not 16, so I will not need engineering skills to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. Although I’ll be missing the others dearly, it allows me to embrace this crew with extra love. I hope they’re all ready for the hug fest that’s waiting for them over here.

Thanks to technology, we’ll be able to share in the little ones enjoying the excitement of Santa on repeat if we want, and we can FaceTime the others around the country to spread some cheer. As for those who we lost, we will be keeping their spirits alive sharing the many memories we had the privledge of making over the years.

My Christmas wish for the future is to just continue on with life. Continue to see the good and be good. Continue to have patience. Continue to be healthy. Continue to grow. Continue to heal. Continue to recognize the love around us. Continue to surprise a sometimes mean world with acts of kindness.

Continue to Enjoy the Ride!

Be Kind To Everyone: 1926-2020

Mom

Well, it’s been quite interesting around these parts over the past few months. The original story is one that no one wants to hear while scrolling through their reader. And lord knows I don’t want to relive it.

The short version is my mother was in the hospital for 10 days with a flare of ulcerative colitis, Covid went through the roof in Pennsylvania, we refused rehab and converted my family room into a replica of mom’s apartment in 2 days so she could move in with us. Honestly, it’s still a blur.

That was back on November 18th, which seems like both 5 years and 5 minutes ago. For the record, let me be clear that I am not a nurse, nor do I exhibit the skills to provide medical services due to my large hands and not knowing my own strength. Trust me.

Mom was over the moon about moving into our abode for many reasons, but mainly to be around family, her family, which was the most essential part of her long life. As a Great Depression orphan, her family was important.

Let’s say mom crossed the threshold into her new digs with a bang or a Code Brown. Use your imaginations, folks.  This led to a complete strip down, shower, and both of us feeling like maybe this was one of those ideas that looked great on paper, but the reality sucked—sort of like that 30 foot Homer Simpson Christmas decoration. 

Once she was settled and my assistant, Nurse Peanut, greeted her with open paws, we had time to discuss, laugh, and cry about that grand entrance. We were both imagining more of a Scarlet O’Hara strolling down the staircase kind of moment. If nothing else, it was memorable.

Ok, that was Wednesday evening; by the time a REAL nurse arrived on Sunday, I looked like the 94-year-old patient! The bags under my eyes highlighted the dark circles nicely.

Meanwhile, my mom looked like a movie star! She was showered and dressed with her hair, nails, brows looking fab, and any unruly chin hairs removed. Just my two cents, if you’re in the position of caring for an elderly parent, the better they look, the less help you’ll get. Disheveled is the way to go.

If I heard it once, I heard it a million times, “your mom looks great; she’s not sick enough for more help.” Were you ever so tired that you wanted to knock someone out, tie them to a chair, and force them to step into your shoes for a night? Asking for a friend.

We entered week two, a/k/a hell on earth, with a whole new bag of crazy. I gained another patient in the house. Officially declaring myself an RN working 24/7 shifts with no pay.

While mom was downstairs having everything that went in her mouth come out the other end and insisting on eating because she was hungry, my husband was locked in our bedroom coughing up a lung with, you guessed it, COVID! Oh, you can say it, I’ll even join you. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Just when you think things could not possibly get worse, at mom’s request, I made a homemade apple cake because she was craving something sweet. The aroma of this cake makes the house smell delicious, and lord knows with all of the other odors going on, it would be more than welcome. Just one of the many, OH SHIT, no pun intended, moments that followed.

I’m not gonna lie; losing my sense of smell was welcomed for what transpired over the following few days. Can you say a blessing in disguise?

The husband started feeling better, my symptoms stopped at no taste or smell, but mom’s condition was getting worse. FINALLY, she was “sick enough” to get hospice services. They arrived on Tuesday dressed like they were stepping onto the moon due to the COVID colony known as my home.

Wednesday was the last day that I was able to talk to mom. Her last sentiment was, “be kind to everyone, no matter what, this world needs kindness.” Truth!

Mom passed on Friday, December 4, 2020, with me and my husband by her side. Hopefully, at some point, after COVID, we will be able to celebrate the Queen of our family and her life well lived.

For Rizzle

fullsizeoutput_3132Through all of the recent darkness, I’ve been trying my best to look for the silver linings and believe it or not, they’re around. Currently, the most prominent one seems to be around my hairline. 

Here are just a few things keeping my sanity intact these days.

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Good Feels

Neighborhoods all around are finding ways to lift spirits, a clear sign that humanity is alive and well on the ground. It would be nice if she took a trip to DC, but that’s for another day.

My sister lives in a small town in NJ, and she is surrounded by creative minds. While on her daily “I need to get some damn air” walk, she came across a bundle of love all along the way. Is this what it’s like to live next door to Mr. Rogers? I think it’s close. 

My neighborhood has been participating in a social media challenge to find rainbows displayed in windows or on doors. It’s a local scavenger hunt of sorts. I’m not sure if there is an age limit to participate, but I’m killing it over here with 32 rainbows! The other competitors aren’t old enough to cross the street, but that’s not my problem. 

Since my family is sheltering in different places, PA, NJ & CA, my daughter started a Family Quarantine Facebook page to keep us connected. So far, this has been a great way to share encouraging quotes, photos of my great-niece Hope (yes, that is her name), and of course, memes.  Laughter and baby photos make everything tolerable. 

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Peanut & Landon

The silver lining for Peanut and Landon has been having their human roommates home 24/7. Peanut follows me EVERYWHERE. He is under my feet, on my lap, or up my ass ALL DAY LONG. At this point, he’ll need therapy when I go back to work.  Landon refuses to follow the social distancing requirements, Peanut just wants him to stop being “that guy.”

Throughout this experience, I’ve been noticing two things every day. The number 444 and a cardinal. Coincidence? I think not. So, what’s a girl to do when she’s hit in the face with signs from the universe? Um, Google it.

Well, just as I suspected and Google confirmed, these two things are messages. I was already aware of the many meanings behind a cardinal sighting, so I welcomed my visitor with a cheery, “Good morning, Jer!” I’m assuming it’s my brother-in-law Jerry who passed away in October. If not, his name is now Jerry.

As for the 444, this is what I found.

If you see the number 444 repeatedly, it is often your angel giving you a sign that they are with you. The sign is reminding you to feel confident and supported in this knowledge.

While we’re all on pause, take time to notice the good, feed your soul, and as always … Enjoy the ride!

Time Is On My Side

fullsizeoutput_30d8Today I’m sitting in my sunless sunroom on day number who the hell knows of  Stay In Your Damn House life here in Philadelphia.What’s a girl to do? 

I’ve been pondering about ALL of this extra time I have on my hands, the time I must say I have longed for over the years. On more than one occasion, I’ve said, “If I were locked in this house, I would scrub it from top to bottom.” Oh, the lies I tell.

The problem seems to be the lack of clarity in my intention. I should have said, “If I were locked in this house, BY MY OWN FREE WILL, WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT THE HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF MY LOVED ONES AND THE WORLD, THE FEAR OF FINANCIAL DEMISE AND LACK OF TOILET PAPER, I would scrub this house from top to bottom. It’s all about the presentation, folks.

So, what has been going on over here at my abode you ask, not scrubbing, that’s for sure. There has been some puzzle building, which started with enthusiastic joy and ended with the equivalent to a quarantined cage fight. I’m still not sure when it turned into a competition. 

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I started puzzle #3 on my own. It contains 1,000 mind-boggling pieces that, in the end, will resemble all sorts of dog breeds, including a bio. Dachsund: Loves to Play and Act Comically, Also Makes an Alert Watchdog. I think this guy is ready for Match.com. 

Last night I spent a good hour looking for the legs of an Irish Setter. This is now my new gauge on time. Do you have time? Yes, but not enough to waste looking for Irish Setter legs. 

Let’s see, there have been limited, but necessary trips to the supermarket. I knew when the parking lot looked like a trauma center with used gloves and masks on the ground; I was about to appreciate this social distancing thing even more. I’m starting to believe the first symptom of this virus is the loss of all common sense.

Oh, how could I forget my introduction to the use of Zoom? For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a way to communicate through video chat. It’s been a real silver lining through all of this distancing. It’s also been a REALLY BIG eyeopener to my gray roots and Groucho Marx eyebrows!   

List of The Brady Bunch characters - WikipediaHonestly, my favorite part of using Zoom is watching my placement in the conversation. During my last conference, I held the spot of Mrs. Brady for a good 15 minutes! This is where I’m at people, this is where I’m at.

Do not mistake my sarcastic storytelling for lack of empathy during these uncertain times. Sarcasm is my protective shield, and lord knows it has seen better days.

Enjoy the Ride! 6 feet apart until further notice. PLEASE!

 

Suddenly Is Sneaky Daily Prompt: Suddenly

via Daily Prompt: Suddenly

 

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Me & Mom 1968

The word suddenly indeed takes center stage with what is on my mind.  Friday, like every Friday,  is spent with my mom. Due to the nor’easter that hit the east coast this week, we decided to ditch our outside plans. Mother Nature had another idea for me. 

Our usual Friday consists of errands. Bank, bakery, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods, which means we are in and out of the car a lot. Well, I am. At 91 getting in and out of a vehicle is not an easy task, now add Macular degeneration to the mix, and it’s downright difficult. Not that this stops mom from giving it her best, but knowing her limits.

So, with our change in plans, I was able to spend some quality one-on-one outside of the car. This is where the magic happened.

Suddenly I felt our roles had reversed. Not that V hasn’t given me the opportunity to play worried mother with her in the past. Like the time she didn’t answer her phone, did not let my sisters where she was going or me, which led us to frantically drive to her apartment only to see her laughing around a table with her friends. We all looked surprised as she asked: “what are you doing here?” 

My NERVES!

Macular degeneration is something that little by little, but suddenly leaves you without full use of your eyes, something that has taken a toll on my mom physically & mentally. Just imagine having your independence pulled out from under your feet. 

Now, my once never asking for help independent mother before it was fashionable, suddenly has to have her daughters read her mail. Along with everything else in print.

After reading the mail on Friday, I had the pleasure of reading a letter to my mom. Not just any letter, a letter from a friend, who just happens to be an avid reader and recently read an incredible book about Jackie O., her sister Lee and mother Janet. Knowing my mom shares the same love for Jackie O, she created a CliffsNotes version for me to share. The highlight of the day!

Over the next few hours, we not only discussed the story in the letter, but it also opened the door to discuss all sorts of subjects, including, but not limited to the fact that very wealthy people are weird. Money does not prevent weirdness, but it can pay someone to brush it under the rug.

My mom insisted on making my lunch. Considering cooking and serving are the two things she can do independently I said yes. What was on the menu you ask? A grilled cheese cut into four squares, veggie chips, and applesauce. Suddenly, feeling five years old again felt terrific! 

As we were eating my mom suddenly got serious. Not the norm. Mom began explaining to me that she has been having more bad days than good ones, along with a lecture on the fact that people shouldn’t live this long. What?! 

I’m not naive. I understand that at 91 life has an expiration date, but for whatever reason, it suddenly became very evident. Maybe there was something in the cheese?

Suddenly I realized that my days of eating grilled cheese cut into four squares are limited.

Suddenly I realized the promise I made to marry my mom when I was 3 was not going to be fulfilled.

Suddenly I realized that my daily phone chats on the way home from work won’t be around forever.

Suddenly I realized I’m not young anymore and neither is the one person in this world who loves me the most.

Suddenly has a way a sneaking up on you, so make sure you Enjoy the Ride!

 

 

 

 

 

Where Is She? Daily Prompt: Mnemonic

via Daily Prompt: Mnemonic

noun  1a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.

I have an insane sense of direction. It’s indeed a gift. Especially in the days of traveling with male drivers pre GPS devices. Sorry guys.

Ever since I was a child, I could remember how to get from point A to point B from the backseat nonetheless.

I contribute this to my keen sense of my surroundings or my mnemonic image skills. That’s right ladies and gentleman, yours truly is a human navigational system via the pictures in my head.

When I was no more than 6, I remember sitting in the backseat of my father’s Caprice Classic looking out the window while taking notes on where we were going. Mailbox, blue words, brown building. 

This came in handy when we were heading to the same place, and my father seemed to forget the left turn at the mailbox. I’ll never forget how impressed he appeared with my knowledge of direction.

Fast forward to me slaying my driving test. My sister went to Center City to get her hair cut at a high-end salon, but that’s another story. Anywho she called my father crying because she couldn’t seem to find her way to the train station to get home.images29.jpeg

So, what does a father do when he doesn’t want to miss an episode of General Hospital to pick-up his lost daughter in the city? He summons his other daughter with her keen mnemonic image skills and fresh drivers license to fetch the one he claimed: “could not find her way out of a paper bag.” The 80’s were a different world people.

Mind you my license was fresh off the presses, I had never driven to the city alone, and yet my father seemed more than confident that I would be able to pull off this mission. Good thing I was fearless at 17.

Of course, my big question was “where is she?”

Without missing a beat, my dad said “17th & Locust.” Ok, that didn’t help.

Since he was aware of my skills, he followed that up with “you know what city hall looks like right?” Um, yea.

“Well, that’s 15th Street. Just follow the numbers until you see a park on your left. Turn left at the end of the park, and you’ll see your sister crying on the corner.” Um, ok.

Considering I’m writing this story, and my sister is a married mother of two, you know that the mission was indeed accomplished without incident. Including that riveting episode of General Hospital.

Enjoy the Ride! Directions are optional. 

 

 

 

Make Them Want More

via Daily Prompt: Entertain

What can I say?  I L O V E to entertain.

I love to make my house sparkle & shine.

I love cooking with a dash of love and a smidgen of admiration.

I love breaking out all the fancy schmancy goods.

I love watching the interactions.

I love listening to the laughter.

I love feeling the love.

There is something about having the power to make people happy that swells my soul.

Of course, it might not seem like it while I’m running around like a chicken without its head to ensure that everything is just so or when I’m screaming at my kids because they’re leaving signs of life ALL over the house, but I really do. I swear!

Recently my son was kind enough to send me this video that could be actual footage of me before hosting anything from coffee to Christmas.  As he explained “Mom! This is so YOU!” Please remind me again why I had kids?

Well, I guess I should be glad that I’m not the mother of Chris Fleming, the young man behind this video because he is the comedian that stars as the titular high-strung suburban mom Gayle Waters-Waters in this video, and many more that are also hilarious.

So, after the dust settles literally and the guests arrive, I put on my best hostess with the mostess attitude to dazzle them with delicious food, laughter, music, cocktails, more laughter and conversation before I send them back to reality where for days they are yearning for a little more. That’s Entertainment!

Enjoy the Ride!

 

Magical

Is it possible to have a lifetime of happiness jammed into one week? Yes, yes it most certainly is possible. 

It all started on Saturday, February 11th when we went on a double date with vodka and Neil Diamond. Oh, I know I have your attention now.

I’m not a drinker, not even wine, not even socially. Typically if I’m going to go “hardcore” for a night on the town, I’m doing it with sparkling water, and …. hold on to your seats… LEMON.

ed1b7cef57792aeaf400e36de226f7f3With that being said I’m really not sure what possessed me to order a Cosmo, and I have NO CLUE how that escalated to having my own damn shaker at the table (twice), but it happened. Maybe it was all the love in the air…hmm.

We went out to celebrate our anniversary, which just happens to be on Valentine’s Day, which is also the busiest night on the planet to celebrate, which is why we avoid it like the plague. We’ve lived we’ve learned.

This year we were invited by a family member to see the Real Diamond Band, a Neil Diamond cover band at a local venue, along with our two very feisty aunts. When opportunity knocks…answer. 

Let’s hear it for Aunt Jean & Aunt Sophie who at 75 & 78 make Thelma and Louise look like freaking church ladies. True story!

Once the party got started, Aunt Sophie took to the dance floor with her air guitar in tow, whispering “I feel 25!” in my ear as she headed out for her first solo of the night. Aunt Jean was in charge of replenishing the cocktails in between dances.  A task that kept her busy throughout the evening.

All I can say is there is something religious about singing Sweet Caroline at the top of your lungs with a group of strangers. Hallelujah! 

No good story ever started with the word salad, this is fact.

Next up was Valentine’s Day/26th Anniversary. Nothing says I love you more than attending a therapy session with your mate. Flowers & chocolate are temporary, getting to the truth lasts a lifetime.

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Don’t let this face fool you ….

As if that wasn’t enough for one week my son turned 22 on Friday. It’s still hard to believe how quickly time passes. One minute you’re picking up their toys, the next you’re picking up the trail of socks, towels, shorts …… So, in reality, time flies when you’re bending over. 

I’m kidding, not really. 

My Zac is a determined young man making his mark in the world. He is bright, hilarious, and keeps truth in the forefront. Never ask his opinion unless you’re prepared to hear the truth. 

Just when you think there is a break, my birthday hits the floor. That’s right ladies and gentleman I have gained another year. The BEST part of my day was Mother Nature, in all of her glory, provided this February birthday girl with a recording breaking 70-degree day. Can we get a round of applause?

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Autograph Brasserie

I was showered with good wishes, food, jewelry, a new FitBit, a birthday hat at the gym, and a ton of LOVE lasting for days. Who knew turning 53 could be so grand?

Yesterday was the grand finale of the festivities. My husband planned a “surprise” for me, which would be fine if I were one to enjoy surprises outside of hitting the Power Ball, or my husband wasn’t the guy who gave me a turbo hair dryer for Christmas. He still thinks that was a great idea.

Have you ever heard of Floating? Click on the link and learn. I could never put into words how the experience was other than I would swear I saw a unicorn. Magical.

There was something liberating about the floating experience, or maybe that was just the unicorn talking, I won’t know until I try it again. 

Enjoy the Ride …. make it magical! 

The Blessed Project

The Blessed Project  hosted by none other than the QUEEN of Wild Rides Susie Lindau, could not have come at a better time this season.

It’s not that I don’t recognize my blessings, I do, I really do. It’s just that sometimes life sweeps in to rattle me in another direction. No doubt I am part squirrel. 

This is why we need to take advantage of the opportunities when they are presented. So a big round of applause to Susie for providing us with the chance to be still. Even if it’s just for a moment feel the peace.

BLESSINGS:

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90 Years Young

 

Recently I was Blessed to witness my mother’s joy, as she watched her whole family sing in unison the old classic “Happy Birthday” before she cast her 90th wish.

If joy had a face … this my friends would be what it looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

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#oncloudcullen

 

In September I was Blessed to celebrate the wedding of my nephew, and to gain this beautiful woman as my niece. Their wedding was spectacular!

The love for this couple was explosive throughout the entire celebration. 

It’s been unanimous within the family that we all want to go back for a few more hours on Cloud Cullen. 

 

 

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Santa, we have officially replaced the kids. Bring bones.

 

Every damn day I am Blessed to come home to these two snowflakes. 

No matter what went on in the day, these little lumps of love are there to remind me that I am indeed the best thing that ever happened to their world. 

 

 

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Outgrowing the table

 

On Thanksgiving, I was especially Blessed to have everyone I love under one roof. My sisters who are always generous with their time and efforts. My brother-in-laws for being loving and caring men. My nieces with their intelligence, baking talents and beauty. My nephews who are passionate about everything from world affairs to Harambe the gorilla. The significant others that slip right into place with the craziness. My children for being such loving beings and my husband for always helping to make my day a little easier. 

 

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Mangia!

Blessings included were enjoying each others company, eating delicious food and laughing together. Playing Cards Against Humanity until our ab muscles hurt. Finding humor in every conversation on the table and most of all NOT TALKING POLITICS FOR A SECOND. (There were rumors of some quiet texting on this subject, but nothing was proven)

 

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The ladies

 

 

I’m Blessed to have good friends who recognized that a night of Running Through The Lights is exactly what I needed. 

I’m Blessed that they are persistent in their efforts to get me to workout, sweat, laugh, pee and cry. 

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My version of Blogosphere

I’m Blessed to have virtual friends that are loving caring beings in and outside of the blogosphere.

I’m Blessed that they continue to show me love. Send virtual hugs. Make me laugh. Pray for me. Provide free therapy and genuinely care.

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My Family Squad

I am truly BLESSED for this photo that speaks for itself.

Enjoy the Ride! 

Don’t forget to pack your blessings!

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

event_photo-57a5033a5b6d5This Sunday, September 18th, I have the pleasure of walking on behalf of LuLu’s Rescue. This wonderful organization was brought to my attention by my dear friend Marge. We’ve known each other since grade school. A/K/A a very long time.

Marge rescued the most beautiful girl named Izzy from this organization. She loves to dig holes, sit in the sun, cuddle and provide endless hours of love. What more can you ask for? Marge might say fewer holes. 

I’m not sure how Marge does it, but she regularly volunteers her time and effort to this cause. I’ve seen photos of her in a pile of puppies! Yes, you read that right. Somehow she has the restraint to not fill her purse and make a run for it with those fur balls. I do not have that power. 

The part I’m playing in all of this is very small. I just have to B E G family and friends to support me in raising some cold hard cash. With every $250.00 raised a lump of love will be rescued from a kill shelter. Insert a gentle tug on your heartstrings. 

They will then be placed into loving foster arms where they will await a forever home. But all of this cost money. Your donation will provide transport, vetting, spay/neuter, microchip, heart worm and flea/ tick meds along with food to all of these lucky dogs. Literally lucky dogs. 

Look, I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Yes, I’m channeling my inner godfather.

All you have to do it click on this LINK:  Lisa’s Donation Page 

Follow the directions about entering your digits and you’re done. Easiest thing you will do all day!

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Compliments of Lovelorn Pup

In return animals all across the land will wag their tails in unison to THANK YOU for saving one of their own.  Animals are such grateful creatures. 

 

Enjoy the Ride … with a wag riding shotgun!

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