Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day weekend

Happy Memorial Day! I pray that you took a moment to remember what this holiday is all about (and not just a day off work!) So many sacrifices made, so many lives lost! Thank you to everyone, past and present, who has served!

Now, on a lighter note...
I'm feeling better, thankfully! Still not 100% but definitely on the mend! I went out on Saturday for my friends bachelorette party (she is getting married 6/10/11 and I'm in the wedding). It made me realize a few things...some people never grow up, I love my life and my little family, and I'm not "hip" with the times! :) I love my friends, but it's quite obvious a handful of them are nearing 30 (some of them already are 30) and still choose to act like they are 21 (to each her own, I suppose! :)) Although it was fun to get out with my girlfriends, there is NO where I'd rather be than in the company of Manny, Manuel and Mia. The Maid of Honor (a VERY dear friend of mine) made a CD for us to listen to in the limo, and I honestly knew, MAYBE 3 songs on the entire CD. I didn't realize it, but I suppose the only type of music I ever really listen to is Christian. Oh well, I LOVE my Christian music! :) I, by no means, think I am better than anyone else, or "holier than thou" but it just made me notice that I'm me, and the me I am now, is not the me I used to be. Call it grown up, call it more religious, call it what you will, but either way, I'm happy with me! :)

Then Sunday we went to my aunt and uncle's for a cookout (Manuel was at a friends birthday party with Manny for the first few hours, that's why there is a TON of pics of Mia, and not many of Manuel :)) It's ALWAYS a wonderful time when I'm around my family. And who doesn't look some good ol' cookout food!?!?! I do! :) And I probably ate enough this weekend to gain 10 lbs! ;) Back to the grind tomorrow....working out, work, and real life! (and turning 30 on Thursday, WOO HOOO!!! :))

And for good measure (A LOT of pics from the weekend!)

 My niece, Vivienne, Uncle Vince and Mia


 Mia and Spencer (her cousin)
 Manuel and Spencer (I'm typically not a fan of character clothing (no offense to anyone who is, it's just not something I prefer on my children) but my Uncle bought this for Manuel and he loved it, so I caved! ;))
 Poppy, Uncle Vince and Mia
 Manuel playing catch with the guys :)
 He was the catcher :)


Happy Memorial Day Friends! :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Friday!

Hello Friends!

Today's post is coming from the PROUD Mommy of an official preschool graduate! :) That's right, Manuel graduated from preschool this morning. It was a very sweet ceremony, lots of tears (from me, of course! ;)) and just all around wonderful. Go figure that the long weekend where I have so much planned....Manuel's graduation today, one of my best friends bachelorette party tomorrow, and a family cookout Sunday, I am SOOOOO sick! I have the worst summer cold I think I've ever had, UGH!!! It came on SO quickly...I woke up yesterday morning, barely able to swallow, runny nose, watery eyes, the whole nine yards! Today is even worst, but obviously NOTHING was going to keep me from my baby boys graduation! :) Now, I hope to rest the remainder of today and tomorrow, and then be able to go out with some of my dearest girlfriends for Mary's bachelorette party. Fingers crossed! I seldom ever go out, so I would love to partake in my Girls Night! :)

Without further ado...pictures from today...


 A very sleepy sister of the graduate :) She was SO well behaved!


 My first born receiving his diploma! He's officially a graduate :)
 Today was also a classmates birthday so they did a combined cake...very sweet!
 Manuel and his best friend, Keshawn
Mia and Nonna (my mom)
 Mia wearing Manuel's cap :)
 He was NOT into the picture taking! :)
 My family (I look sick, make-up less and awful, but the other 3 look cute :))
Manuel, Nonna and Poppy

Have a great weekend friends! :) 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Dad Part 2



Read the first part of the story here.

As I thought about this second post, trying to recall details, I realized my relationship with my dad can basically be summed up by beginning, middle and end, in the simplest terms. There was the very beginning with great memories (fishing (my dad ALWAYS took me fishing and I loved it!), trips to the beach, him playing Barbies with us :), etc.) then the middle which is full of saddness, addiction, etc. and then the end which is a combination of it all.

This week I am going to Pour My Heart Out about the time after my dad re-entered my life...

As I had mentioned in my last post, I really don't recall at what point my relationship with my dad went from phone calls from jail  and empty promises to "knowing" him again, but I'd venture to say it was around 2003-2004. He came around again...he was remarried to a woman named, Barb, lived in the same area, and seemed "well" (that really is a relative term because regardless of what he told me, I knew the drugs and alcohol were still apart of his life, but perhaps just not to the extent that I remember). I was living a pretty crazy lifestyle, and just being young and dumb, but I made time for my dad. I'd stop by his house and visit before I headed out on the town with friends. I'd call to say hi and check in on him (I soon took on the "mothering" role and always felt like I had to talk to him several times a week to make sure he sounded sober and "normal"-sometimes he did and sometimes he did not. The times he sounded bad would really throw me for a loop. Not that I didn't know what he was doing, but why even answer the phone when I call if you aren't coherent and there (mentally)???? But regardless of how bad he sounded, when he answered, I knew he was alive. That gave me peace).  I remember a time when I was unemployed and my dad was working for a guy named Chuck. Chuck needed someone to clean his house, so my dad knew I needed money and asked me if I'd be interest. Of course I said yes, and each day Chuck and my dad would pick me up (I didn't get my license until late in life and of course after SO many DWI's, but Dad didn't have his license either). Each morning when they showed up my dad would have a breakfast sandwich from Wawa waiting for me (it was those sort of little things that always proved that deep down my dad was there, and that loving, nurturing, amazing heart was there, but the drugs and alcohol overshadowed it all). It's SO hard to explain and I guess unless you live through it, you just might not understand what I mean....But if you ever met my dad, you'd know! (even my mom's family (who saw the worst of the worst) loved my dad because he was just that sort of guy. His heart was GOLDEN! Even if you ask my 81 year old grandmother (my mom's mom) today about my dad, she'd say, in her sweet Sicilian accent, "I love Lou. Lou was a great man with lots of problems. He loved his girls..."

In 2005 I became pregnant. I took Manny (my husband) over to meet my dad and Barb. They were very excited to meet him! The visit went well. My dad was sober that day and it was a great visit. I still have pictures from that day that I hold very dear to my heart. Manny knew the story about my dad, and actually embraced him with open arms, sober or not. He was not fond of the emotional stress I would be under, constantly worrying about my dad and his well being (understandably so) but he treated my dad with love and care. He would take my dad fishing, to the grocery store, out for lunch, etc.

Then in late 2005 my dad became VERY ill. I was certain he was going to die. He had MRSA, and combined with the diabetes, drugs, alcohol, etc. it threw his body into a tail spin. He was in ICU more times than I can recall. I saw him several times on a vent, clinging to life. But every time he bounced back. Every time I would get that phone call from my aunts letting me know what happened, I'd mentally prepare myself (or so I thought) for the worst, and then he'd come back and I'd breathe a sigh of relief. I think no matter how much I prepared myself for his passing, I would always hold hope that he'd get better, and he did. You can never prepare yourself enough though to see someone you love (no matter what, you love this person with your entire heart, this person helped give you life), laying on a hospital bed, being kept alive only by machines. It's not something I'd wish on my worst enemy. After each hospitalization, once he was stable, my dad would get sent to rehabilitation centers (not drugs ones, the kind for physical therapy, etc.) to finish his recovery. Part of Christmas Day 2005 was spent visiting my dad at the rehab center. I was very pregnant with Manuel at the time. Who wants to spend their holidays at that sort of place? Certainly not me, but it was my dad, and I was not going to let the holidays pass without him knowing I loved him (and of course Manny was by my side each time).

Easter 2006 was the first time my dad ever met Manuel. He was at a local rehab facility again (another one), finishing off rounds of IV meds to kick his latest infection. He fell in love with Manuel. His first grandson, the little boy that would grow to be the apple of his eye. You might be thinking, you took your son around him?? Yes, I did. I wouldn't trade that decision for all the money on the planet. Manuel gave my dad a reason to live. At some point over the course of 2006 (I believe), Barb left my dad (their relationship was toxic to say the least!) It was during his stay in ANOTHER rehab facility. He was better off without her. We (his sisters (he has one full sister and 3 half sisters) tried to convince my dad that it might be best for him to live in one of these assisted facilities where clearly he could be given his meds, be kept infection free, etc. (and deep in our hearts, we knew if he was there, he wouldn't be drinking and drugging). But unfortuanately, he had the mindset that he was a 58 year old man, with life left in him and he wasn't going to live in "nursing home". Although I knew that wasn't what would be best, he had made up his mind.

With state assistance he was able to move into a low income housing apartment a few towns over, it would be a new beginning for him, but sadly, put him one step closer to the end...

My dad and I (some of the good times :))

Monday, May 23, 2011

miscellany monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

~My "baby" graduates from preschool in 4 days and I can honestly say I'm not ready for it! :) Dramatic? Perhaps. Totally me being me? Absolutely! :)

~Saturday was beautiful! (weather wise). While Manny relaxed (for once) I took the kids outside (bright and early Saturday morning) so that they could play, ride bikes and climb trees (well, not Mia! ;)

~We went to visit my sister, BIL, nephew and niece on Saturday. It was a last minute, impromptu "trip" (about a 35 minute drive, so I'm not sure if you consider that a trip! ;)) but I do :) I took this pic on the drive there...
~My sisters townhouse is right on the water and the view is lovely! :) On her side of the water is all townhouses on the other side is (are?) gorgeous, huge dream houses. I'd be willing to take this off their hands if the owners were ever giving it away (and while we're at, let's throw in the boat ;))
~Mia Grace is adorable and SO rotten (this picture says it all! :) She is covered head to toe in dirt, her "smirk" is notorious ;) and that rock in her hand, was in her mouth 2.5 seconds after this picture :)
~Watching my children interact with Spencer and Vivienne (their cousins) warms my heart like words can't explain. Although I often wonder how it would be if Mateo, Anthony and Ian were here (and how close Manuel would be with them), it's neat to see Manuel and Mia with the boys' little brother and sister




~Manuel is HILARIOUS! At one point on Saturday, when Spencer fell in the baby pool fully clothed, Manuel looked at him and said, "It's okay Spencer. You know, sometimes life just isn't fair!" :) And then yesterday he and Manny were driving to church (we drove seperately because we had to go different places after church) and Manny had just gotten done eating and was apparently still hungry, so he said, "I'm still hungry but I just ate." to which Manuel replied, "Welcome to my world Daddy, welcome to my world!" Manuel is often talking about how hungry he is RIGHT after he eats! ;)

~I have SO many more pics to post from this weekend, but I'll leave you with this precious moment and post the rest over the course of the week...
Yes, once again Mia is wearing jammies outside (in her defense it was 9am and at least she's wearing shoes! ;)) and Manuel got himself dressed for the day, enough said :))

Happy Monday Friends! 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge: Blue

The Paper Mama

I'm linking up with Chelsey's photo challenge this week. I haven't done a challenge in FOREVER, but as soon as I saw her theme was "Blue" this picture came to mind...



From the blue in his shirt to the blue sky sky in the background....I just love it! :)

Happy Weekend Friends!!!! :) 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Randomness

After a particularly tough post yesterday, I want to keep things light and simple today :) Mia turned 16 months old yesterday. We are almost halfway to two and I can't believe it! I miss her being a baby, but I absolutely love the little person she is becoming. My favorite thing is when I pick her up in the morning from her crib and I'll hold for a few minutes and pat her back, and then she'll start patting my back :) It's precious! BUT I told myself I was going to stop monthly updates after 15 months and just highlight the "big" months (18 months, 24 months, etc.), so I'm not going to get all nostalgic and specific :) She is doing great! Growing like a weed and clearly from these pictures below is quit the ball of fire! :)


 I wouldn't give her the camera and she was NOT happy! :)
 Then this is her, literally, 1 minute later :)
 Indoor beach party....look at her thighs! :)
 Manuel was participating, but not wearing his bathing suit :)

Yes, that's a watermelon! :) She saw it on the counter and thought it was a ball. She would NOT stop whining for it, so I set it down for her to see. She was not too happy when she realized she couldn't pick it up! :)

Happy Thursday Friends! :) 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Dad



As always, I am taking this week to use Pour Your Heart Out, as an outlet for my feelings and thoughts about the anniversary of my dad's passing. I know Pour Your Heart Out doesn't always have to be deep and sad, but it just so happens that it feels "right" to use this day each week to get extra meaningful, if I have something that just doesn't seem right to post about in the day-to-day posts about life :) I'm going to do these posts about my dad in a series because the story is entirely too long for one blog. I hope you'll come back next week for the 2nd part (and any subsequent parts I may post)...

Sunday, May 15th, 2011 was the two year anniversary of my dad's passing. He was a few months shy of his 60th birthday. We had plans to have him over our house for some delicious Maryland steamed crabs to celebrate. He was excited. We were excited. Little did we know that he wouldn't make it to his 60th birthday. But, as sad as that is, it was nothing short of a miracle that he made it 59 years...

Let's start with some background information...My dad, Lou was born August 29, 1949. At the age of 2 (or around there) his dad died. (He was on a ship in the Koren War. He died (assumedly) trying to save others when the boat was attacked (he received a Purple Heart for his heroic act, which my sister has. His body has never been found). His Mom, Betty remarried a man named Herschel who was a VERY abusive alcoholic (before he found the Lord MANY years later). At the age of 21 my dad's mom died of a cerebral hemorrhage. My dad had a rough upbringing and no real male role models in his life (NOT using that as an excuse, just putting that out there). Still following? I hope! :)

Fast forward a few years...My mom was a hairdresser and my dad's sister, Betty, worked at the salon with my mom. She set them up...My dad was a super athlete in high school and actually had a full ride to play football for Ohio State. He was young and dumb, too worried about girls and having fun, and let that ride slip him by (I would assume that would be one of his biggest life regrets). He and my mom met, got married in April and on October 8, 1979 my sister Amy was born (yes, SIX months after they got married ;)) And then 19 months after that, I was born, on June 2, 1981. I had a fantastic childhood. Every memory of my younger days, that involved my dad, were happy, wonderful ones. He was very involved with my sister and I, and loved us to absolute pieces. He, without a doubt, had the most amazing heart of anyone I've ever met (and as you read this story, you may think I'm crazy for saying that, but it's the honest to God's truth), BUT the alcohol and drugs were Satan's hold on him that, one day, took a grip and NEVER (sadly) let go!

We grew up in Maryland, but around the time I was 7, we moved to South Carolina. To this day, I still don't know why, but we did. One day, my dad picked my sister and I up from Sunday school, it was POURING down rain, my sister and I were sharing some candy that our Sunday school teacher gave us, the car hydroplaned and hit a tree. I broke my wrist, my sister broke her leg, and my dad broke his collar bone. (I would find out YEARS later, that my dad was drunk when the accident happened.) To be honest, I don't know if he spent time in jail, I really have no clue, and I've never asked my mom (not sure why). Things just seemed to spiral out of control from there...one day my dad never came home from work. We have no idea where he went or what he did, but he was gone for a week. When he returned, it was like everything was normal. Now please understand my mom was (is) AMAZING! She only wanted what was best for her daughters and at the time she thought it was for my dad to stay. We moved back to Maryland about a year after we left, my dad started Alcoholics Anon and life seemed well. My mom and dad bought a house (our first home that they owned) and we were really happy (or so it seemed. This was over the span of about 6 years).

Then it started again, my dad would leave to get pizza and not come back for hours (yes, it sounds like a movie, but it was my real life). My heart would break for my mom and my sister (and maybe myself, at times but for whatever my heart for them the most). How could he be doing this to us again? One night, he came home really out of it (I'd venture to say at this point it was not only alcohol but also prescription drugs from a back surgery he had). My mom told him that he either he wake up tomorrow morning and commit to getting help or he better not be here when we woke up. We woke up and he was gone. He had chosen the drugs and alcohol over us. I was 14, my sister was 16 (approximately). Over the course of several years we would get a random phone call from my dad while he was in jail for his 5th, 6th, 7th DWI, with lots of empty promises that he had changed. Sometimes, I'd even be stupid enough to believe him. No matter how many empty promises my dad told us, or what he did, my mom (bless her heart!) would never speak an ill word about him to us. She knew as we grew we would learn the truth, and no amount of badtalking about him, would make us know. We had to find out ourselves. My sister grew to DESPISE (understandably so), but me, on the other hand, always held a place in my heart for him. How could I not, no matter what, he was my dad. He missed our high school graduations, my sisters college graduation, our weddings, and so much more, but my heart couldn't hate him. I could never hate him!

And then, just a few years ago, he came back into our lives. I don't even recall how it happened, but it did...

More of the story to come soon...

And for good measure...
 My dad and Manuel, Easter 2008 (I believe)
My grandparents Betty and Lou (my dad's parents)

Monday, May 16, 2011

miscellany monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

~It's Monday and I feel okay about it :)

~Yesterday was the two year anniversary of my dad's passing. It was a little tough for me in the morning (and I cried a bit) but spent most of the day preoccupied so I didn't have much time to "dwell" (which is a good thing). I miss him like crazy, and the worst is when I go to pick up the phone call him and realize, phones can't reach Heaven. I need to do a post about my dad, I really do. He was a pretty incredible guy, a wonderful father (until the drugs and alcohol took over) and an awesome PopPop to Manuel (the only granchild he ever got to meet (although I'm sure Mateo, Ian and Anthony greeted him in Heaven). We all miss him. But he's at peace, drug free, so I take comfort in that.

~My hubby went to his friends 30th birthday party on Saturday, while I stayed home with the kids. That was a first, literally! :) He hasn't been out with just his friends (without me) since I was pregnant with Manuel (by his choosing, I'm not some overbearing psychotic wife! :)) Normally it's me going out (MAYBE once a month) with my girlfriends while he stays home with the kiddos. I was SO happy that he got some time away. We all need it! :)

~While he was gone, the kids and I had an indoor beach party (perfect for a rainy night). Manuel wasn't really feeling it, so he stayed in his clothes, but Mia and I wore our bathing suits :) We had fun and ate dinner on our beach towels in the family room :)

~There was a whole watermelon on the counter that Mia kept callling a "ball", and she screamed repeatedly for it :) I let her play with it (pics to come :)) And she got SO mad when she wasn't able to lift it (because clearly watermelons are WAY too heavy for a 16 month old (almost) to pick up. It was hilarious! :)

~We went to a cookout yesterday at Manny's friends house (the one who turned 30). He's a chef, so to say that the food was to die for would be an understatement! The kids had a blast running around his fenced in backyard like wild animals ;) I let my OCD go as Mia fell about 800 times and her dress was COVERED in dirt :)

~I'll be 30 in 17 days and I'm totally okay with it! :)

~My Nonna (grandmother) turns 81 tomorrow. She's great! I love her SO much! :)

~Manuel graduates from preschool in 10 days and I'm totally NOT okay with it! :) He told me yesterday that they are singing, "You've Got a Friend" and started to sing it. AHHHHHHHH, I cried like a baby! This growing up thing is for the birds, or at the very least, not for mothers with hearts that are QUITE so sensitive! ;) The hallways of Manuel's preschool are lined with bulletin boards about each "graduate". They were asked various questions and fill in the blanks, and each child's answer is written. The one fill in the blank that all the children were asked was, "I am amazing because _________" Most childrens answer are very typical, "....I'm good at basketball.", "....I'm a boy." "....I love myself." (yes, one child said that :)), "I'm a princess." and as I read Manuel's response, my heart beamed with pride (and yes, I cried :))

*In case you can't read it, it says, "I am amazing because...I have good parents." Just when you think that you may have dropped the ball in some aspects of your parenting, you get shown otherwise. I couldn't be more proud of my sweet boy! :)