My Three Sons – One Proud Mama

boy2(Courtesy of dreamstime.com)

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my three sons.  I am so incredibly proud of them.  I am happy, thankful and grateful that I am lucky enough to be their Mom.  I see so many mothers bragging about their children on Facebook, and on all social media.  These children are usually young, or at least they still live at home.  I don’t post too much about them online, due to the fact that they are adults – adults who many not always want to see their Mom brag and boast.  Rest assured, Moms of older children are just as proud as those Moms of babies and little ones!

Michael was our first baby.  He shares his birthday with an infamous date in history – he was born on September 11, but in the year 1988.  He turned thirteen years old on that horrible day.  Michael was always an easy baby.  So easy in fact that this was the reason we tried to have another baby so quickly (and Kevin was born not even twenty-two months later).  He was easy to please, and always (usually) had a smile on his face.  Reading came naturally to Michael.  We never had to “teach” him to read – it’s like he just picked it up on his own.  Growing up, he was a fan of Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney, but once he discovered the Power Rangers, that was it!  They were his favorites!  He takes his role as Big Brother very seriously.  Michael was a good student, and in Second Grade he won all FOUR Spelling Bees!  An interest he picked up around the time he turned eleven was professional wrestling.  He loves it to this very day.  He was also an easy teenager, who has worked consistently from the time he turned sixteen years old.  He has an amazing work ethic.  Michael earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education last May while working Full Time.  Now all he needs is a full time teaching position – we are all waiting for this Pandemic aftermath to be done so he can get hired.  Right before Corona came to be, Michael proposed to Alex.  She’s a great girl who actually works face to face and hand to hand with Covid patients. They have one cat named Daphne.  We are very happy for both of them, and look forward to watching their future unfold.

Michael

Kevin was born on an absolutely beautiful day in July of 1990.  I carried him way differently than I did Michael, so we were sure we were having a girl.  Obviously, we didn’t but that was more than ok.  He was a happy baby, a happy toddler, a happy youngster, a happy teenager and he’s now a happy man.  He always had a smile on his face, and he and Michael were very close growing up.  So close in fact that even though we had a four-bedroom house, the two of them shared a room.  Every morning we would find Kevin in Michael’s bed, so we gave up and combined their rooms.  Kevin had many ear infections before he turned 18 months old, and some doctors think these illnesses could have caused his stutter.  He has stuttered since he could talk.  It has never held him back, and these days we barely notice it.  I remember one day when he was about eleven years old.  He was crying and said no one would ever love him or want to marry him.  I told him that was nonsense.  I told him the right girl would find his stutter adorable.  And she did, and does.  Kevin has been married to his wonderful wife Amanda since September of 2018.  They are homeowners, and parents to six cats and two rabbits (their names are Thor, Delilah, Mango, Tango, Target, Twix, Arthas and Charlie…Whew!)  I could not be more proud of them, and I love them very much.

kevin

Chris came into the world on September 1, 1995.  He was a big baby, who probably would have been even bigger had he been born on time – he was three weeks early.  We found out in advance that we were having a boy, and we were thrilled.  He was an easy baby who liked football from the first day he came home from the hospital – I found myself alone with him.  Everyone was busy doing something.  He was fussy so I put him in his baby swing, right in front of the television.  He sat mesmerized at the football players going back and forth on the screen.  Chris learned to do things fast – he tied his shoes early, he could even tie a tie at a very young age.  He’s a go getter who got his first job at the age of 14.  He graduated from Temple University in February of 2018.  Another notable milestone for Chris happened just before he turned 16.  He met and started dating Bre.  They have been together ever since, and they both turn 25 this year.  They got engaged last summer and will be getting married this November.  Bre (like Alex) is a Registered Nurse and is also working closely with Covid-19 patients.  We are very proud of them both.  They have one cat, Offred and one dog, Elway.  A nice, happy family!

chris

Things that make me smile :)

 

yellow smiley emoji on gray surface
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

There have been so many things going on in the world lately that just makes people so sad.  So worried.  I wanted to start thinking of and focusing on good things.  The following things make me smile.  Maybe they make you smile, too.

I just love sleeping when you can hear the rain coming down, hitting the windows…

I feel so very happy when I finally find something I think I’ve lost…

I love the smell of bacon cooking.  My mother usually made bacon when we were on vacation at the cabin resort we used to go to.  The smell brings back happy memories…

I am a crazy cat lady.  I love our seven more than I love my own life.  Yet there is something so special about holding a small kitten…

Remembering the first time you ate something that you ended up loving…

One of the best feelings there is – laughing so hard that your stomach hurts…

Watching and bingeing videos of my favorite team and favorite singers/groups makes me very happy..

Taking a nap on a lazy day off from work..

I love the smell of brownies baking in an oven…

Finally finding a great hairdresser…

The last day of work before a vacation…

At work, when callers say they will call back.  Meaning no message needs to be taken…

Getting into bed after you’ve put on freshly washed clean sheets…

Seeing a funny sign posted on a business…

Undressing and unwinding after a long day…

Completing a long-avoided project…

It makes me feel great receiving a nice compliment.  When this happens, I try to return the favor and tell someone else something nice…

Waking up at night and seeing you still have time to sleep before your alarm goes off…

Remembering (finally!) a password you thought you had forgotten…

The smell of freshly cut grass…

I love to sit, snuggle, play with, hug, love and watch my cats.  Those seven furries fill me with so much love.

 

There is my list.  Do you agree with any of these?  What makes YOU smile?

Can’t we all just get along?

ground group growth hands
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This line was said by Rodney King back in 1992.  He spoke these words as the city of Los Angeles was experiencing riots brought on by the acquittal of officers accused in his beating.  His words have come across my mind quite a bit lately, and not just because of the rioting and looting of last week.  There has been so much disagreement in the public view recently.  There are people who don’t agree about politics.  Some find that they can’t come together with others over their views on how the Pandemic should be handled.  Fans can’t agree how and when professional sports should return.  Of course, everyone believes their own opinion is the right one.  Real growth for everyone will happen when we realize it is more important to get along with your fellow man rather than opposing him or her at every turn.  Why fight, why disagree?

People need to listen to understand, not just to hear what is being said.  While speaking to someone who has a difference of opinion with you, commit yourself while listening to not have a pre-planned response.  While you are both talking, maintain eye contact.  It helps to keep neutral facial expressions even if you do not agree with what they are saying.

It helps to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Try to understand where they are coming from.  Even if you don’t think you can, try.  Putting in effort usually yields results.

While talking with a person who has opposing views, be polite.  Keep it civil.  Be open, and smile.  Do not forget to keep an open mind.  Often times, even after disagreeing with a person you will find you have learned something.  Even if your opinion remains the same, you may understand their side of things more.  Hopefully they will also understand you more as well.

Question.  Ask.  Inquire.  It is important to know what made the person arrive at the opinion they have.  Once you understand their why, you may understand the reason they feel like they do.

Show genuine concern for someone, if not for their opinion.  Whether you agree or disagree, it is always right to be kind.

When you are talking with someone with whom you don’t agree, determine which one of you is more passionate about the topic.  If it is you, gently, calmly and in a smart way explain your points to make them see what it means to you.  Seeing the other person being more invested in the topic – try to get them to show you why it means so much to them.  Ask for examples, reasons.

You have to have self pride and self respect, sticking up for yourself, your beliefs and your opinions.  When talking to others, and not being able to come to a conclusion, an agreement, a common ground – the best approach to take is to agree to disagree.  I personally have seen, read and experienced friendships fracturing and ending.  That is a sad occurence and is something that doesn’t need to happen.  Please don’t let it happen to you.

Some Good Things Just May Have Come From Covid-19…

neon signage
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

…well, I don’t really mean GOOD, obviously.  This pandemic has been disastrous in every way there is.  Yet, if we continue to think about all the death, hurt, damage and sadness – it would not be wise.  What do they say, you should always look for the silver lining?  I think that is a very good idea – focus on the good, and try to ignore the bad (though, with this situation it is very hard to do).

We will all be so thankful when we can see our loved ones again.  So many families have been separated – for far too long.  Everyone did what they had to do in the name of safety and health.  My family and I had a sort-of reunion when we got together to celebrate my oldest son’s engagement.  Michael’s fiancée and my youngest son Chris’ fiancée are both RN’s dealing with Corona patients directly, on a daily basis.  Once the end of May came around, both girls thought it would be perfectly fine for us to all get together.  We did, and it was a wonderful, happy time.  It was made even more sweet by the fact that we had all really missed one another and were even happier to finally all be together again.

A good thing that came out of this situation was the fact that many professions are being recognized and honored.  Nurses, doctors and ALL healthcare workers are being hailed as heroes.  None of us who work in this “industry” want to be considered heroes, because this is just regular people, doing their regular jobs.  The caring they show is beyond ordinary – it has been extraordinary.  It is also nice seeing grocery personnel, fast food workers, gas station attendants and utility workers getting praised.

We are lucky that during this time we’ve had just that – time.  Those who haven’t been able to work or those who’ve had their schedules reduced have been able to reconnect with their home, families and routine in a more relaxed way.  There haven’t been as many “rushing here” and “hurrying there” things to do.  People have been forced to take it easy.  That is a good thing.  Everyday life, routine life – it is many times a rushed existence.  For now it’s been nice to have that laid-back approach and attitude.

Being home has made people more productive.  Who knows if it is because people are bored, or because with being home – they notice their surroundings need things to be done.  De-cluttering your surroundings can have a calming and relaxing effect on people.  Regular daily life is easier to live when your things are where you can find them.  Like the saying goes, a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  For a thrift store shopper like me, when the stores finally all open up – there will be amazing shopping, because of all the people at home, cleaning, organizing and purging.  It will be a great time to be a thrift store shopper!

There has been a lot of togetherness.  This is great for the families who live together – they can reconnect and (hopefully) realize what they mean to each other.  This quarantine and stay at home order has been a double edge sword, as we all know.  Missing your family members and friends is hard.  Very hard.  One good thing with this is that communication has increased.  There have been more texts, more phone calls, more video calls than there would have been before.  Hopefully when this is over, and we go back to whatever ends up being our new normal that people will keep up their connections.  I think we have learned to not take one another for granted.

An obvious good point of this whole Corona/Covid pandemic is increased cleanliness.  We are now more aware of what is sanitary, and what isn’t – and what we need to do to protect ourselves and others.  There is not enough known about the transmission of the virus for us to be anything less than as careful as possible.  We cannot let our guard down.

It would have been so much better if none of the last few months had happened.  We have to focus on what we have learned, and to also focus on what is to come.

It’s the thought that counts…

 

analysis blackboard board bubble
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have been thinking a lot about this saying, this sentiment, these words lately.  Recent times have people becoming more and more self involved.  This is a good thing, in that we all need to be self aware to take proper care of ourselves.  But also I have seen people prejudging, assuming and over reacting.

Why is it so hard to see the good in people?  In my job as a hospital telephone operator I have heard the best of people, and the worst as well.  I don’t know why many callers immediately get irate when they don’t get what they want.  Many times it could be because they are under stress, calling to inquire about a sick loved one (and with no visitors allowed, I get that).  But just as many times their first reaction is to be rude and obnoxious – as if I am not giving them their information because I just don’t want to.  Why can’t they understand that there are rules that need to be followed?

I have overheard conversations and witnessed women get upset whenever they get called “honey” or “sweetheart.”  There is a big difference if some burly individual uses those terms in a derogatory way.  But why do these women get so upset when a kindly senior citizen says it to them?  Is it so hard to believe that people of that age group probably don’t mean it bad – they mean it in a good, endearing way?  When anyone is sweet or kind, I find it very difficult to think of them in a bad way.

Comments about God can get some people very angry as well.  I understand that not all people believe in God, and not all people believe the same way.  But if a nice person says God Bless You, or Have a Blessed Day, and you know for a fact that they are a religious individual – why get upset?  Why can’t they consider the source and realize it was meant in a good way and not in a bad way?  I guess I just don’t understand why people can’t see the good in others.

It costs nothing to be nice.  Nothing at all, and yet is a concept foreign to so many people.  At the grocery store recently, the cashier was telling a story to the customers in front of us of how earlier that day other customers had been terribly rude to her.  When it was our turn, I asked about the conversation while she was ringing up our order.  It turns out she has cancer, and the rude comments these customers had said to her were very uncalled for.  It was horrible.  Once they found out that it was cancer that caused the mark on her wrist, they were semi-apologetic, but the damage was done.  Why do people have to be so rude to each other?  I just don’t get how some of these people were raised.  Who told them that if you act like a jerk you’ll get better service?  It doesn’t work that way.

I was in a convenience store around Easter time.  I asked the clerk how she was, and she said fine, yet she had started to cry.  I saw this and asked her why she was upset.  She said an old, angry man had come to her register and proceeded to call her very nasty names – all because he was frustrated over being unable to figure out the credit card options on the gas pumps.  I felt so bad for her – in her face mask and gloves.  She stated that she wished she didn’t have to work, that she didn’t want to put herself at risk due to all the virus concerns, but she had to work.  My heart hurt for her.  I did my grocery shopping, and on the way home I brought her in an Easter plant.  When she saw it, she started crying again – but this time they were happy tears.  She was very happy and I was happy I made her that way.  All it took to brighten her day was a $5 Easter plant and a smile.

As I have said, I work in a hospital.  We have a lot of requirements for staff during these times.  Everyone is doing more than their job, rising well above what is needing to be done.  The local community has been wonderful to everyone – there have been numerous donations of food and snacks.  They also have people standing around clapping as workers enter the building, and there was a parade of first responders who drove by one afternoon.  The hallways are plastered with drawings and notes from children and adults alike – praising healthcare workers as heroes.  These are all nice, thoughtful gestures.  Yet there are people who don’t like this at all.   They feel it is patronizing, it is almost insulting – as if they are getting extra pats on their backs for just doing their jobs.  Lots of us have talked about this, and I just try to impress on them that it is not the intent of these people to be hurtful – it’s to be helpful, happy and appreciative.  I have said that if they just look at their intent, and try to focus on that and not on the fact that they don’t like it – maybe they’d feel better about it, and perhaps even feel thankful that there are people who care and want to show it.

I generally like people.  I have enjoyed all of my jobs that had me dealing directly with the public.  I only wish that people could be understanding of others and not jump to conclusions.  I don’t like seeing people rushing to judgment.  I like to look for the good in every situation.  I also believe that a smile along with a kind word can go a long, long way.   You just have to open your mind.  Ease up on preconceived ideas.  Keep your sense of humor.  Be polite and not rude.  It really isn’t that hard to get along with others.  We should all try harder, especially now in the world we’re living in…

Seven days of mini-tips for your appearance…

looking good

(courtesy of memes.com)

I realize that by including this picture I am WAY more than aging/dating myself.  That is ok though.  Let me explain – this man is Freddie Prinze, the father of Freddie Prinze, Jr.  He was popular on a show called “Chico and the Man” in the 1970s.  The character was very charming, and his signature/tag line was…you guessed it…Looking Good!  I have many things I do to keep myself up to date and decent, appearance-wise.   Some days I am good with it, other days not so much.  I do try to do at least a little something extra every day, in addition to regular grooming.  I don’t do these things in any particular order.  I just try to do one of them each day of the week.

My hair can take a beating at times.  I try not to wash it more than I have to.  Even with avoiding frequent washings, I want it to look nice.  I will comb or brush it out and then style it.  My hair ends up with a lot of product build up.  When it gets to having that “straw-like” feeling, it’s time for extra conditioner.  I will either do a quick deep conditioning treatment if I have one on hand (I usually do) or I will do this – I wash my hair, and quickly dry it in a towel.  I will take a bottle of instant/regular conditioner (you know, the kind you use in a shower) and while my hair is damp I will comb some of it through my hair.  I will leave it in my hair for a while – sometimes five or ten minutes, sometimes an hour.  I put no limits on the time.  When I finally decide it’s time, I rinse it out – I have soft and shiny hair.  It ends up being softer and shinier than if I had just ran it over my head while in the shower.

I try to take care of my face every day, because I can totally see aging in my skin.  About once a week, I will do a more extensive face care routine.  I will remove my eye makeup (if I’m wearing any) and then wash the rest of my makeup (again, if I have any of that on).  Then I take a facial cleanser, and will soap my face up really good.  I do all over my face, from my upper forehead to under my chin by my neck.  Once I feel as though my face is very clean, I will rinse – I rinse really well.  Doing this can be very messy, but that is ok.  I will blot my face dry, and then it is time for a toner (if I feel like it).  After the toner (if I use one), I will put on moisturizer.  More often than not, I’m doing this at night so I’ll use regular moisturizer and then night cream/moisturizer over it.  I take my time to rub it in gently, almost like a massage.  Lately I have been including eye cream or some sort of an eye product at this point.  Changes around my eyes have been very noticeable recently.  I feel as though taking extra time with the little things can help my appearance.  And it seems to make my makeup look better, too.

I used to get my nails done on a regular basis at a local Nail Salon.  I had started doing them myself before the pandemic hit.  They had started looking a little rough, so I thought I would treat myself to regular gel manicures again – and then we all got hit with the Corona and Covid-19 situation.  Home manicures are just part of what I do now, but once a week I do regular maintenance on my fingertips and hands.  I will wash my hands really good – and I mean good.  Once I am satisfied they are clean, I take a bowl of warm water and soak my hands.  Depending on how much pampering I want or need at the time, I may just do my nails.  I soak them in water with a bit of lotion mixed in.  When they are sufficiently softened, I will take them out.  After patting them dry, I will then massage my hands to moisten them.  I can use lotion in water, but I have a problem with lotion directly on skin.  I will lightly massage my hands with Vaseline.  That seems to be the most successful thing for me.  I will also massage my cuticles, clipping any odd pieces of skin that don’t belong.  I will make sure my nails are even, and if any part of my manicure needs attention, I’ll do a quick fix.  Doing these things ensures my hands always look nice.

As much as I want my hands to look nice, I want my feet to look nicer.  I don’t like anything about feet.  One of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen was a diabetic foot care video in my very first diabetes education class many years ago.  I watched first hand as that video described how bad your feet could get if you neglect your health with regard to diabetes.  And ever since then, I have kept my feet in pristine condition.  In addition to regular pedicures to keep my feet looking pretty, I also do weekly maintenance.  Let me also say that after every shower I take, my feet get liberally rubbed in with any kind of nice smelling lotion I feel like using at the time.  I have quite a few, yet after doing my feet and putting socks on over them, I rinse my hands – see above about my hands and anti-lotion issues.  For weekly maintenance on my feet, I will fill up a basin of warm water, again like above with some lotion in the mix.  I will soak them for a few minutes, then take them out.  I will rub them with a towel or a face cloth.  It almost acts like an exfoliating of some kind.  This process gets repeated over and over until the water starts to not be warm anymore.  And once I do a final soak, I will rub my feet dry.  I’ll look for little pieces of skin to check, and will make sure my nails are even.  They will get a final drying off, and then lotion will be applied and socks will go on.  Even though at times I think the rest of my body more than needs help, I’m always confident that my feet look good.

I have mini-care tips for my teeth (in addition of course to regular care).  Starting with those little flossing pickers, I do my entire mouth.  I’ll rinse, then just brush my teeth as I normally do.  Rinsing again, I will run some plain “Scope like” mouthwash around my mouth.  Spitting that out, I’ll use the pickers again.  I’ll brush my teeth again, but just with cold water (though I understand some people use warm water, that’s ok too).  At this point, I will use one of those rinses – they usually have some kind of additive in them, either for plaque buildup, to promote moisture to tissues or to add extra fluoride.  And again, once I’m done with this, I will use the pickers and will rinse again.  My final application is usually a whitening rinse.  I do not know if they truly whiten teeth, but I feel as though they can’t hurt.  After repeating all of these steps, your mouth will feel really good and you can be confident your teeth got taken care of in a great way.  There really is no rhyme or reason to these – you truly can go in whatever order you want.

I have itchy skin.  I don’t know why.  I guess you can say I kind of have dry skin.  My back is particularly itchy.  I carry a collapsible back scratcher wherever I go.  I like to take care of my skin with my own set of self exfoliating tactics.  Again, like above there really is no rhyme or reason to what I do and how I do it.  Sometimes I will take a very quick rinse shower before I start.  Sometimes I don’t.  I will rub my body with a washcloth (one that seems more rough than others) or a soft bristle brush (both dry).  You want to get rid of dead skin but you don’t want to hurt yourself.  Work in small circular movements.  Some start at the ankles, some start at the neck and shoulders.  It is up to you.  Don’t go too hard or too rough – these are areas that are usually not worked on much, and they are usually covered up by clothes.  Once you’re satisfied with how your exfoliating has gone, you can use some scrubs specifically made for these types of treatments, or if you want – use any kind of lotion.  Use plenty of product, and once you’re done doing that – take a nice, warm shower.  You don’t want anything too extreme – nothing too cold or too hot.  When you’re done, dry and towel off gently.  Again it depends on you – if you want, you can use some lotion – or if your skin feels a bit sensitive – skip it.  See how you feel.  After a procedure like this, you will see a glow in your skin.  It might not be tremendous, but trust me – you will notice the difference.

So there you have it – six tips or hacks or whatever you want to call them.  I try to do one each day.  The seventh day can be left for something that you saw during the week that may have just needed a little more, a little extra.  More often than not, I’m doing something for my hair.  I will either deep condition it, or will double check the roots and see if a dye job will be necessary soon.  Sometimes I’ll do the roots then, sometimes I’ll just do my whole head again, and sometimes I’ll just wash my hair and use the root cover up spray in a can.  Like I’ve said, no rhyme.  No reason.  I do whatever needs to be done, or I’ll do nothing.  It all depends on how I’m feeling at the moment.  With a little bit of effort, you’ll be able to avoid major fix-ups where you feel like you have no choice…

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

happy mothers day card beside pen macaroons flowers and box near coffee cup with saucer
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Happy Mother’s Day – to all the Moms out there.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who are good to us and who treat us like a Mom would.  Happy Mother’s Day to those women who have children with paws and fur.  And also, Happy Mother’s Day to those Moms who are no longer with us.

My first Mother’s Day was celebrated in May of 1989.  Michael had been born the previous September.  I was (and still am) so happy to be his mother.  He was the easiest baby, which is why Kevin came along so quickly.  He was born in 1990.  This weekend I was beginning a big photo organization project – let me tell you, these two – they were inseparable!  Years passed by raising the two of them.  Kevin was also a good baby, but now there were two.  We were ready again, and Christopher was born in 1995.  Again, looking at all of those pictures this weekend – he had the most devoted, attentive and proud big brothers.  All were insanely cute.  And prejudiced as I am, they have grown into handsome young men.  I am lucky to be their Mom.

My own mother was a wonderful woman who left us far too soon.  She was seventy two years old when she passed away in July of 2008.  She lost her second battle with breast cancer.  She had conquered it once before, having had a mastectomy in April of 1992.  This was after having an almost-fatal heart attack in January of 1991.  She went through so much.  She really did.  During the last few years of her life, she was diabetic.  She handled it well, even though she didn’t always adhere to proper a proper diabetic diet.  After all she went through, a little cheating with food was not a big deal.  Faithfully checking her blood sugar every day, she took her insulin when it was needed.

She was an amazing cook.  Mom made so many delicious things.  I miss everything about those dishes.  I have tried to copy some of them, and most have come out really good.  Yet, just a little something was missing.  I’m thinking it was the love she had that was added.  She made delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs.  I enjoyed her German Fries, which were potatoes boiled, sliced and then cooked in onions, butter and pepper.  She was famous for her Steak and French Fry dinners on a Saturday night.  Baking was one of her things too, even though she mostly used mixes – she added that extra little something that made them more than special.  From scratch she did make the absolute best butter cookies – for some reason, we mostly just had them at Christmas time.  Maybe she kind of knew – that these would be more special if we waited for them, having them to look forward to.

My mother was an amazing housekeeper.  She loved keeping her home nice, clean, warm and inviting.  There were certain household items, furniture that she wanted – and she would save up money in order to get them.  A certain mirror and table come to mind.  The woman was very particular about her curtains, and she changed them a few times each year.  She must be looking down on me, shaking her head.  If she could only see our living room curtains – they are, let’s just say – shredded.  That’s what happens when you have three kittens at one time.  They just turned a year old in April, so hopefully most of the scratching is behind us.

She gave me and my sister a great love for animals.  I was just turning four years old when our landlord at the time offered us one of her cats’ kittens.  Mom was surprised I chose the only tabby in a group of white ones.  Max lived with us until he was eleven.  About a year after he passed, Sam came to us.  He was the cutest black cat, with no tail!  We were heartbroken when he passed away.  She then got Kitty, who was her companion until Mom passed.  My sister took care of Kitty until she left the earth to go Mom.  My sister now has three cats and a dog.  Jeff and I have our Magnificent Seven.  And so, the animal love remains.

Mom was a beautiful woman.  She always looked pretty, well put together and perfectly done up.  Her appearance was very important to her.  She had her hair washed and set faithfully every week, and her nails were done regularly at the salon.  She always chose the same pretty pink color.  Her favorite perfume had a vanilla scent.  When I smell a perfume close to what she wore, naturally I think of her.  She really did look good up until the end.

Yet, besides all of these things – she was just a good woman.  Her life didn’t start out happy.  She was born to a single mother, and in those days (1936) you didn’t keep your child if you were unmarried.  She was a foster child who was brought into a family that loved and cared for her like she was their own.  She left one part of the family at age eleven and went to live with the people known to me as my grandparents.  She immediately got a big brother, who she idolized.  On her wedding day, as my grandfather was about to walk her down the aisle, he asked her “don’t you think it’s about time you call us Mom and Pop?”  And from then on, that’s what they were.  No more Aunt Em and Uncle Les.

Mom loved us girls, and we think she secretly wanted a granddaughter.  Who am I kidding?  We KNOW she wanted girls.  No woman alive loved her grandsons more, however.  She was amazingly proud of all four of them.   The sun rose, shined, set and glowed upon her boys.  She was devoted to each of them.  I believe that she thought they were her greatest accomplishments.  Not that she didn’t love our father, or us – the boys were just different in her eyes.  With us, she was finally able to look at someone who shared her blood.  She had never had that.  I don’t think those of us who haven’t experienced it can truly understand how that feels.

My mother was the greatest woman I have ever known.  She was just an ordinary woman.  But she was extraordinary to us.  Happy Mother’s Day in heaven, Mom.  I love you, and I miss you.

mom

My beautiful Mom, Bernice Gemmel 1936-2008

There’s no place like home…

PA_Scranton_4

(courtesy of US News and World Report via Bing)

In my last post, I wrote about traveling.  In this post, I am going to write about my hometown.  I was born and raised in the borough of Queens in New York City.  Throughout my married life while raising children we were lucky to live in the beautiful areas of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Castle Rock, Colorado (which was midway between the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs) and suburban Philadelphia in Jamison, Pennsylvania.  In 2009, we moved to the area of Northeastern Pennsylvania and in 2014 I began living full-time in Scranton.

I have had many good times in Scranton.  In Scranton, I have met some of the best people I have ever known.  For the time I lived in Florida, when I felt homesick – I missed Scranton.  It was during these times that I realized that Scranton IS my home.  Make no mistake – Scranton is not perfect.  They have some of the worst roads around.  The weather at times can be less than perfect, and at times it can be downright depressing.  I can’t say there is a lot of crime here, yet it is not a crime free area.  But, choosing to live here – I do honestly see more good than bad.  And my hometown is known for a lot of things.  Let me share them with you now.

Scranton is the sixth largest city in Pennsylvania.  Our population is just under seventy-seven thousand residents.

Scranton’s original name was Slocum Hollow.

Our nickname is The Electric City.  That nickname was given to us when street cars debuted here in 1886 that were powered only by electric.

In Scranton’s heyday, the main industries were coal mining and railroads.

The largest vein of anthracite coal in the world is under Lackawanna County.  Scranton was once called “The Anthracite Capital of the World.”

Scranton is the county seat of Lackawanna County.

Scranton is home to thirty-four properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places.

There is a federal courthouse located in Scranton.  It is the William J. Nealon Federal Courthouse.

Paige Cognetti was recently elected as Mayor – she is the city’s first Progressive Independent Mayor.

The television show The Office was set in Scranton.  It won many Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.  WBRE, Poor Richard’s Pub and Steamtown Mall are in fact real places.

Scranton is well known for our annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.  It is one of the largest parades in the nation.  Many times there have been over one hundred and fifty thousand attendees.

Since the 1970s Scranton has hosed LaFesta Italiana, a three-day Italian festival that takes place on Labor Day weekend on Courthouse Square.  It is complete with delicious Italian food, pastries, music and entertainment.

Scranton has the Houdini Museum.  Houdini appeared in Scranton many times and did several special challenges here.  The museum features memorabilia, artifacts, mannequins, films and even a Magic Show.

And there you have some highlights of my hometown…

 

 

 

On the road again…

 

woman in white top and denim jeans sitting on red luggage bag
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I love to travel.  Not as an escape from home, because I love it there.  We enjoy seeing new places, trying different foods and visiting all kinds of landmarks.  As we all know, travel is impossible now.  It won’t always be this way, thankfully.  Jeff and I would like to visit Ireland, go on another cruise and take a trip to Colorado.  Once this “thing” is over, we can go back to taking weekend trips.  When the time comes, I am going to rely on these little tricks and hacks to make the most of the places we will go to.

Plastic grocery bags are very useful to take along while traveling.  I use them for dirty laundry (to keep clean clothes separate).  They come in handy to cushion breakables.  You can also use them to store clothes/bathing suits that might still be damp from your last day of fun.

Take many more pictures than you think you should.  Luckily, with digital cameras and cell phones, this isn’t costly.   When your trip is over, as you are going through the photos you took – you might find a hidden gem!

Try to collect maps, papers, receipts, guides.  They make nice additions to memory books.  You can even make a shadow box frame to showcase these things.

If you’re flying to your destination, take a carry on that allows you to access your important documents, etc. easily.

In advance of your trip, prepare a travel essentials bag.  Put everything in it that you need on a daily basis.  You can (and should) include travel sizes (to comply with airline regulations, if you are flying to a destination).  I always have one packed and ready to go.  This way, I know the only thing I have to pack in it is my daily medications for however long we will be away for.

Make a plan for the clothing you’ll take with you.  Try to not over pack.  Choose things that you know will coordinate with other items.  Organize outfits, making sure if you change your mind on what you want to wear on any certain day whatever you’ve taken with you will match whatever else you’ve got with you.  Again, don’t over pack.  I cannot say that enough.

Bring comfortable shoes.  Make sure they are also stylish.  If you will be doing a lot of walking, or if you will be on your feet a lot – comfort may be more important than style.  Just sayin’.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of lists.  You should make one for before you leave, one for when you are on the trip, and one for when you (sadly) get back home.

While you are away, try small restaurants.  Listen to the locals.  The exception to this is if you are in a place where a certain location has a special meaning.  Many years ago I tremendously enjoyed an Olive Garden location in Orlando.  If I am ever in that part of the city again, I would love to go there.

Remain flexible.  Don’t let a pre-conceived idea of what you think you want to do influence your in-the-moment opportunities.

You need to plan a lot of vacations, no doubt.  But do it within reason – meaning, don’t over plan.

Give your information to someone at home.  Include flights, hotel, etc.  It is better to give them more details rather than less.

This is especially important if you are traveling internationally – make sure you are up-to-date with your phone plan.  The last thing you’ll want is to come home to a bill that has charges you never thought you’d get.

Split items if you are traveling with a partner – half in your luggage, half in theirs.  This way, if luggage is lost or delayed – you’ll at least have some items.

It is a good idea to make a small travel first aid kit.  You should include everything in it if you may not feel well.  It can be put into your essential travel pouch.

If you are traveling internationally, stop in to a fast food restaurant.  See the differences between there and home.  I so much regret not doing this when we went to Dublin.

Bring a small flashlight, or make sure your phone has one enabled.  Hotel rooms are not familiar to us, and at night – they can be dark.

Take a picture of your luggage.  If it is lost during a flight, you’ll have evidence and proof of what it looks like.

Lastly, if you’re flying – double check the pouch in front of you.  I guess I didn’t on our flight to Dublin, and because of that I lost several CDs.  Still makes me sad to this day.

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These are my tips.  I hope they help you.  I also hope sooner rather than later we will all be able to be traveling all over again.  Happy trails to you…to all of us!

 

 

 

 

To those we’ve lost…Rest in Peace

beautiful beauty blue bright
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

So much lately has been focused on loss.  The people we’ve lost from this virus, and the people we could potentially lose from it.  Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of Prince’s death, and last week we lost Steve Cash, the brilliant mind behind Sylvester of the Talking Kitty Cat series.  It got me thinking of all the others we’ve lost.  It goes beyond saying that the ones we love and miss the most are people we knew personally.  Yet, it does hurt to lose those we didn’t know, just that we knew of.

Steve Cash was one in a million.  I have been watching his You Tube series for a while now, even though he had been doing it for much longer.  He chronicled life with his pets – Sylvester, his nasty black cat, Shelby, his black Lab, and others – Gibson, who sadly passed away, Random Kitty (who had babies with Gibson) and various kittens.  Each had their own personality, and Sylvester – what a character!  He cursed, was rude and even held a job (and tried to steal money from his employer by changing computer records).  Each and every episode had me laughing from start to finish.  Steve had battled mental illness and bipolar disease for quite some time, and last week apparently it got too much for him.  He took his own life, and when he did, he took smiles away from us, and parts of our hearts as well.  I can only hope he got the peace he was looking for.  Fly high, Steve – you’re with Gibson now.

The celebrity death that affected me the most was wrestler Eddie Guerrero.  Being the devoted fan that I am, when we heard this had happened – we were devastated.  Eddie had conquered so much – he was clean and sober, yet years of abuse to his body finally caught up with him.  His heart gave out.  So young, so talented – so sad that he is gone.  The WWE did amazing tributes to him, ones that showcased what a good performer and great man he really was.  I still can’t watch the video they made to honor him without tears running down my face.

Without a doubt, the biggest celebrity death in my “age group” or whatever you’d call it would have to be Michael Jackson.  I will never forget the day we found out – when he was in cardiac arrest.  My sister was with my kids and I, and she said while watching the news that it sounded like he was already dead.  No lie, within a minute or two of her saying that, they announced that he had passed away.  So very sad.  He had demons of his own, whether you believe he was a good person or a bad one.  He was immensely talented, and being gone so young is just a tragedy.

Whitney Houston was a big star, beautiful and talented.  She was born the same year as me.  It was very sad hearing she had died.  It was tragic, but in a way – she brought it on herself.  I realize drug addiction to a point is out of the person’s control.  And the fact that she left loved ones who missed her, in addition to millions of fans – it is heartbreaking.  She died in February of 2012, and her death was covered on television for well over a week.  YET – Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees and Donna Summer both died the same year, in May.  They were both AS influential on the music scene, but they both died of cancer.  Was it too boring, too normal?  I was a big fan of both, and I remember their deaths barely being covered.  Am I bitter?  Yes, I guess you can say I am.  Change my mind, but I don’t think you can.

The other big celebrity death, for me, for others?  I would have to say Elvis Presley.  Who would have thought he would pass away at so young of an age?  I remember the day we found out – I was on vacation with my family – my parents and my sister.  We were riding home from somewhere we had traveled to while away – and had the radio on.  Song after song, over and over – nothing  but Elvis tunes.  Finally the radio announcer said he had passed away.  We were all very surprised.  To this day, if I hear an artist’s songs in succession without a break, I’m brought back to the memories of the day Elvis died.

There are so many other influential celebrity deaths that go through my mind – JFK, Jr., Robin Williams, David Cassidy, Davy Jones, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, the list can go on and on.  What celebrity death affected you the most?

sylvester and steve

(courtesy Metro.co.uk)

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