I have been an Aunt for 16 years!

I have been. It’s amazing. I remember getting the call that HE was here. So happy. So overjoyed.
I had been an Aunt to a wonderful girl (who had since married and had a beautiful baby boy) while I was married. Due to the divorce – we lost touch. Recent events have led me to think, hope and believe I can get them back into my life. God, I wish there had been a guidebook written to help me through it all.
But I digress – to Dan. This boy has grown from an infant to a perfect, smart, happy young man. Someone who everyone around him is proud to know. Kind, considerate, funny. Has the absolute BEST taste in movies (I love gggggoooollld!). This young person has made one of the BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER EATEN in my entire life, I am serious, no doubt no lie – that Spinach Quiche was amazing! I can only look forward to more of what he creates and cooks for us…
I love you, always and forever Daniel Christian Knautz…

I Don’t Know What To Do…

I don’t know what to do to help her.

My best friend Christine just lost her mother. Berenice was a good woman, a funny woman who we had many laughs with over the years. From her making fun of us as we laughed at things she didn’t understand, to her allowing us to dress her up as a gangster, she was the best. She is smiling down on us from heaven. About this, I have no doubt.
One of the things the three of us enjoyed was thrift store shopping. So, today – while getting ready for the services to take place on Monday – we went out and did just that. Thrifting at one of our favorite places – what did we see but a cardinal on a candle decanter (cardinals are symbols of our dearly departed loved ones). I bought it – I had to. And I kid you not, all day – every store we went into, we saw signs. Things with cardinals, things with the initials B . I have no doubt in my mind that she was watching over us. Saying her usual “well, what do you say, girls?”
I hope and pray the silliness and the remembrances we went through today comforted Christine. I think they did. We did a lot of laughing, and a lot of smiling. Just as B would have wanted. She wanted us to be happy. When my own Mom passed away in 2008, Christine and Keith stayed by my side from before the church to the luncheon and beyond. She was by my side before then, since then and she always will be. I am the luckiest best friend alive.
Thank you, Grammy. For everything. Fly, Eagles, Fly!

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Number Two on the List – Kevin Francis

My beautiful second baby – Kevin. The one who we were SO convinced was going to be our first daughter (picked the name Linda). How wrong we were! All because I carried so different – well, that means…nothing.
Kevin came into the world easily – with no complications. None (unlike his brothers). His birth was easy, happy – though he was born with the longest finger and toe nails…amazing.
This beautiful boy never failed to make me happy, make me smile – and still does. I believe he may just have the most beautiful soul there is.
I loved him when he scored seven goals in one roller hockey game, and I loved him in the second grade when he sung that song (which will be the song he and I dance to when he is a groom). He could stutter like a maniac or he could speak smooth as silk. Nothing matters. My Kevin is perfect. And he always will be.

My first Baby Boy – Michael Thomas

This boy, this perfect child – he is the one who made me a Mom. He is the one who we made mistakes with, and had easy triumphs with. He could not have been more flawless as our first precious son.
He came into the world with somewhat of a struggle – for the last two plus months of the pregnancy, I was bedridden. I could not move or do anything unless it was absolutely necessary. I went to doctor’s appointments and childbirth classes – and that was it. His Dad carried a beeper (can you imagine? Though this WAS 1988) in case he was needed. All the rest was a good thing, and he ended up being born for the most part on time. Who would have realized back then that his birthdate (September 11th) would end up being so significant.
Michael was an easy baby to take care of – he was sleeping several hours per night very early on. He was laid back, happy and generally in good spirits. The only time he was out of sorts in his first year or so was Father’s Day weekend – but we soon realized, he cut four teeth the next day. No wonder why he had been miserable!
We could not have been luckier with this blonde hair, blue eyed cutie. He is the reason his brother Kevin came so soon after he did (21 1/2 months later). Blessed is an understatement. Michael loved cheerios, his Bear (which now, at 29 he has a tattoo of) and Jeopardy, as well as The Price Is Right. He loves hockey, as his parents do (though we both agree he’s missing a chromosone or something as he somewhat likes the Flyers – yuck).
Michael gave me an incredible gift, back in 1999 – he asked me to watch wrestling with him. I knew what the whole deal was, having been somewhat of a fan back “in the day.” Which really means pre-Wrestlemania times 🙂 I watched with him on January 4, 1999 – my Dad’s birthday – and ever since then, I have been a die-hard, absolutely. My interest and involvement with the WWE has given me great times and amazing memories that I never, ever would have imagined I would get. And for this, I thank my boy.
He was always a joy, never a problem. Fast forward to now. He is about to become an Elementary School Teacher. He lives in Philadelphia. He has a great girlfriend, Alex and he is doing great. His father and I are proud. And we couldn’t love him more. I so much look forward to what the future holds for my baby…

I don’t want to brag, but…

I am a very lucky woman. I have survived the breakup of a thirty-year marriage and emerged out the other side as friends with my Ex. He has a wonderful girlfriend, and I am happy to know her. My sister is a great friend to me, my cousin is also, and I have other wonderful friends. I worked in a place that has given me the best people I have EVER known, without a doubt. I am interested in and involved with an industry that has given me so much more than I ever thought was possible way back on that night in 1999. I once lived in God’s Country (Colorado) and am fortunate that I can now call the Sunshine State my home. I have the best car and I love my two cats.
I have left out three very important people – my sons. I changed for the better on September 11, 1988, July 2, 1990 and September 1, 1995. The days they were born, they made me who I am, first and foremost – their mother. On the few dating websites I registered for, I admitted I don’t “live for them” because I don’t. I guess you can say I live because of them. At their ages, they don’t need me meddling in their every move. They don’t need to check in with me every moment. I am confident in the fact that I (along with their father) raised three incredible human beings. Michael, our oldest – has an incredible wit, won four spelling bees in the second grade, got me into my love of professional wrestling and is about to become an elementary teacher. Kevin, our middle one – sweet, sensitive, caring. Always made me smile, even when I was angry (I could not stay mad at him, no matter what). Once scored seven goals in a roller hockey game. And the baby, Chris – what is there to say about your last one? He didn’t come into this world easy – complications as he was forming, complications as he was growing inside me – but once he was here, he’s perfect. So smart. Wise beyond his years, no doubt.
I am so proud to be their mother, I really am. They love me beyond reason. I think I am a good mother. Other people tell me I am. But, really – all that matters on that subject is the opinion of three. And they say I’m the best so all is good.
Forgive me, because in my next few posts I’m going to brag about them. My boys. The biggest part of my heart.

My Own Personal 911 Operator

As you know, my son Kevin is engaged to a wonderful girl named Amanda. I love her like she is my own. The two of them are very mature, and disciplined. Within the last year, their built-from-the-ground-up house was finished. For two young people (they are both 27 years old), they have accomplished so very much already. Amanda is a 911 Dispatcher. This is such an important job, she loves it and is very good at it. I have heard a lot of what she goes through, and it is not easy.
Knowing how caring the operators on the other end of the phones are was a great help when we recently had a scare. We were preparing for a party, and my cousin, my friend Ellie and I were busy scurrying around getting things done. Apparently, Laura’s 4 year old grandson Trevor wanted one of us to do something, and I guess we were too busy? All of a sudden I hear a blood-curdling scream as Laura walked into Trevor’s room. I was getting dressed in my room next door and in the split second I ran there to check, I was thinking – ok, she’s over exaggerating. She wasn’t. There was blood all over the floor, all over his arm and hands. Somehow, he took a knife from the kitchen and tried to cut one of his toys out of the plastic casing it came in. Screaming, she tells me to call 911. Laura was freaking out, and Ellie stepped in to calm Trevor. I called 911 and got the Operator. They were wonderful. Saying to me quickly in every situation there is a calm one and a not-so-calm one (she could hear screams from the two of them), I stepped outside to describe exactly what happened. He sliced the web part of his hand – between the thumb and first finger. It was very deep. The operator told me what they should be doing, and that’s exactly what was being done. This operator then calmly updated me as to where the paramedics were, and how soon they would be there. In between updates, we spoke about my future daughter-in-law Amanda. There was a sort of kinship in the call. Eventually, the paramedics arrived (it couldn’t have taken more than maybe two minutes). As I walked in with them, they rightly assumed I was the calm one. Taking one look at Trevor, they knew he would need stitches. The paramedics took Laura and him to the hospital, and I cleaned up the “crime scene” (because that’s what it looked like) with one of our other party guests.
After only about ninety minutes, they arrived home. None worse for the wear, we can only hope Trevor learned his lesson.
So here is my Amanda, and the injured Trevor…

Some of my very best Thrift Store Finds…

I am a very big fan of Thrift Store shopping. Over the years, I have been very lucky to have found some amazing deals. I realize that “thrifting” as Christine and I call it is not for everyone. Some people have qualms and concerns about pre-owned items. In my thinking, once an item goes through my dishwasher or my washing machine, it’s now mine.
My best overall find (which turned out to be for profit) was a pair of Ugg Clogs. Initially, I bought them because I thought they were cute. And they were, but they turned out to not really be for me. Knowing Ugg is a good brand and is well sought after, I decided to list them on eBay. I bought them for $3, so I listed them for $6. I was hoping to double my money. Imagine my surprise when the bidding ended – my shoes sold for $53. Now I don’t have a math mind, but that is a BIG return. The picture below is of a pair that are the same as the ones I sold.
ugg

Another great find I found was the beautiful red gown I wore to my then-niece’s wedding. It was absolutely gorgeous. Putting it on in the dressing room of Salvi’s (which to everyone else is Salvation Army), as I walked out my sister and friends almost gasped. They knew it was the dress for me. It was $14.99 but then we realized something even better – the ticket was the color of the day, so I got it for half of that. I brought it to an alterations studio, and they had to do nothing to it. It fit me like a glove. It cost almost three times the cost of the dress to dry clean it than to purchase it. The pictures of me wearing the dress seem to have disappeared, but the one below was very similar (except it had shiny spaghetti straps on it).
red-dress-1

We lived in Denver for two of the Broncos three Super Bowl wins. John Elway was (and still is) the closest thing to an absolute hero there. So when I found this jersey at a thrift store here in PA, there was no question of whether or not I would buy it. I was even willing to spend full price, which was only $6.95. It’s a little big on me, but that’s fine. It looks good with capri leggings, and if I’m in PA or another god-forsaken cold place, I can wear it with long sleeves underneath and a pair of jeans. What do they say – if God isn’t a Broncos fan, why are sunsets blue and orange?
john elway

I like nice things. I really do. But I am not willing to pay terribly high prices to get them. So I usually search for look-alike items to match what I’m wanting, or to look for knock-offs. I do not mind using a “fake” whatever, because to me that’s good enough. Guess maybe I’m getting a reward of sorts. I purchased a very nice looking Coach bag for $8.90. The quality seemed to be very good, and this purse was in excellent condition. Showing my find to a woman at work who knows purses, she told me she is pretty sure the one I have is REAL. That’s good enough for me. I don’t want to try to sell it – if it’s not real, people might think I’m trying to run a scam. And it is the only real Coach purse I will ever own. The picture below is the same as the one I own (it is currently still at the storage unit in Florida – with some luck eventually I will get all my things out of there).
sd3281-coach-soho-black-leather-pleated-handbag-tote-bag-purse-excellent-2

My single best household purchase and the one with the most use has to be our Tupperware Pastel Large Tumblers. As a family, we must have used them every single day for over 25 years – no joke. When our marriage broke up, and even before – the boys were moving, going into dorms, into apartments. I found myself with no more Tumblers. Kevin especially always liked them. I found a set for $1.90 recently at Goodwill, and scooped them so fast. I gave them to him, and now they are proudly in the kitchen cabinets at the house he and Amanda built.
tupperware

I used to transport patients at a hospital. I wore knock off Dansko shoes, which were very comfortable and looked exactly like the real thing. With using my feet to flip brakes on wheelchairs and gears on stretchers, my knockoffs got pretty beat up pretty quickly. I found a pair of Dansko’s like the picture below, and decided to get them. I thought maybe they would hold up better. Realizing they probably would not, I listed them on a local Facebook site. The nurse who bought them was SO happy to get practically brand new Dansko’s for $20 (new they are well over $100). It worked out for both of us.
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The last great buy comes from an unexpected source – my ex. Once he “humored” me while we were out, saying we could stop at Goodwill. I quickly went to the departments I liked, while he rummaged through whatever he wanted to look at. When it was time to go, he came towards me holding a 20 gallon fish tank, complete with decorations, a filter, gravel – the whole set up. It all seemed to be brand new. He had such a look on his face, saying “can you believe all of this is only $20?” Trying not to gloat, I just said that yes, you can find great deals here. Didn’t do the “I told you so” comment. He had many fish tanks, and his bargain probably ended up looking even better than this one below.
fish tank

An odd way to meet someone, but…

I have been in Pennsylvania for over two weeks now. Despite the cold weather and the nasty, disgusting snow I have loved every moment of it. A great part of this visit was spending time with my friend, Ellie.
How did we meet? Well, it was…odd. Somehow, someway we met through this man we were both involved with. He was and is without question a good guy, though he is misguided. He brought us together, and for that I will be thankful to him always.
After we met, we left him in the dust so to speak. I knew he was a player. I had known it for a while. Ellie and I met in July of 2017 – fast forward to now. I live in Florida, and I just love it. Ellie is still figuring out her feelings for him, though she deserves far better. After she visited at New Years, my Florida family fell in love with her. If I could convince her to pack up everything and move, I would.
So when her and I are old, and in a nursing home (as roommates) we will forget we met through Paul (who we will secretly always be grateful to)…
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Saved money, but maybe I didn’t want to?

This is an unusual statement from me – the ultimate bargain shopper. The one who always wants a deal, and wants to pay the least amount possible. I was shocked by what happened recently.
My cousin (who is exactly my age) and I went out to dinner with a friend, and with Laura’s son and grandson. We had a very nice time, and the food was delicious.
As the boys went to the restroom, our checks came. Looking at my bill (we got separate checks), I realized the cost was very reasonable. Checking out the other bills, I realized the truth – my cousin, her friend and I got the SENIOR DISCOUNT.
Initially horrified, I felt insulted. Insulted that she didn’t even ASK if we were Seniors, she just assumed. I felt old, and felt labeled as a SENIOR. Old is an understatement. I felt ancient.
Looking in my wallet, and seeing the limited amount of cash I had – I came to a realization. It really didn’t matter. Bottom line is I want to save money. And if I have to be classified as a Senior to do this, so be it. Years ago, we were moving from one part of our town to the other. The Moving Company representative classified me as a Senior, with a wink. He was trying to save a young family money. I went along with it, because then I was young. Now I am not.
As much as I say age is just a number, it does tend to sting a bit in certain situations. So the money I saved on this meal will be used towards…whatever. Maybe a Dunkin coffee as I’m running around doing errands. This was not a bad thing – it was just a reality check. Sigh.

Thrifty Meal Deal

I am a person who is always looking to save money. On everything. Food included. I have come up with a sort-of system. It’s based on items costing a dollar. For reference, I will use one of my favorite stores (Dollar Tree) as an example. Note that these recipes were for times when I REALLY wanted to keep costs down. Regular, routine meals were a little more extravagant. I always splurge for special occasions.
When I was married and cooking for a family of five, I tried to keep the cost to $ plus 1 – hence, the total of $6 for us. When I lived with my sister and her family (we were four people) I kept these meals to $5. Of course, none of this is etched in stone, and some of the extras I usually had on hand.
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS – I would get a box or two of pasta (sometimes Dollar Tree had boxes that were more large in size, 24 oz. instead of 16). Let me say next that my family has always preferred frozen meatballs to homemade ones (despite many recipes being tried). I would usually use two bags of meatballs. If I was wanting more leftovers, I would buy three. Lastly, I would get a jar of the spaghetti sauce they had on the shelf (my family was not picky). If we needed more sauce or wanted garlic bread with the meal, those were things I usually had on hand. This was always a successful meal that my family enjoyed.


CHICKEN SANDWICHES – A quick, easy meal. Two packages of the Chicken Patties that are round, look like burgers and fit on the same rolls. If we had lettuce on hand, we would include these on the sandwiches. The same with cheese. Use or not use. If you are lucky, you will find the potato rolls at DT. They usually sell fast, so you may end up with regular rolls. No wories, those are good too. To go along with this meal, you could always grab a bag of shoestring fries or those little tater tots. Mmmmmm.
BREAKFAST FOR DINNER – At Dollar Tree, this can be accomplished in different ways. You can get a box of pancake mix, one bottle of syrup, if you don’t mind turkey bacon, for $1 you can fry that up, a bottle or two of 32 oz. apple, orange or cranberry juice. And add a bag of frozen fruit. I always liked having strawberries, but that’s just me.
Also you can get two boxes of waffles (they have a few varieties), the bacon, the juice and the fruit.
And then the eggs. My local Dollar Trees usually have packages of 18 mediums – the potential here is endless. You can get a loaf of bread and turn these eggs into French Toast. You can get a package or two of bagels and make egg sandwiches. You can scramble a bunch, add them to shredded hash browns with some cheese and make a casserole.
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SOUPS – Again, many options. Say, for Chicken Noodle Soup – one or two containers of broth (beef or chicken. It doesn’t matter). One or two cans of canned chicken. A can of carrots. Cook all together, make pasta on the side. Combine it all. Pair it with those scare-the-hell-out-of-you pop biscuits (or whatever you find, or have at home).
carrots
Chicken with White Bean – one of my favorites. Again, one or two cans of canned chicken. One or two containers of broth. A can of canned spinach. A can of white beans (or if you want to be real frugal, in advance soak and use those hard beans). Rolls. Breadsticks. Saltine crackers. Whatever you have to perk up the dish…