Tuesday, August 18, 2015

a sweet find

Literally.    It was a SWEET find, on many levels.

I'm always on the hunt for something to satisfy a sweet craving, but, since I have a tree nut allergy, my options are usually scarce.    Sometimes, and not too often,  I'll happen upon a product that I can actually eat.
Which is exactly what happened when I went to Sam's Club last week.  Meet my new favorite:
 Mrs Thinsters. 
 These cookies were on a display, right at the entrance.    So, naturally, I picked them up and looked for the SIGN!  The one that screams "Yes, Dawn, you can eat these!"   -   Well, ok, to you it looks more like "NUT ALLERGEN FRIENDLY".     There are times when I just need a sweet treat and my choices are always so limited, it seems.   So I was so glad to find these yummy cookie thins.
And the bag was a good size!     I'd never heard of these before and Sam's only had this flavor, but I'm itching to try the others.  ESPECIALLY the brownie!   One of my favorite sweets - in a cookie??!   Yes, please!

In addition to the Nut FREE factor, the other bonuses with this delicious treat are:


I really hit the jackpot with these Cookie Thins.   They're so good!  I can't tell you how often I pass up cookies, cakes, and other sweets because of my allergy.   It stinks.   But I keep these in my drawer at work and at home, so they're handy when I have that craving for a sweet snack.
I'll be keeping an eye out for the other flavors and will post my reviews.   I can tell you that the one I did get; Birthday Cake, is pretty darn good!

** This review was not solicited nor compensated.   I purchased the cookies and decided to share my excitement **

Monday, August 03, 2015

PINCHMe, I must be dreaming

I'm a big fan of FREEBIES, as if anyone out there, is not.  Right?
So, when I found out about PINCHMe, I was really eager to hear more about it.  I was also apprehensive because I feel like almost everything has a catch.   Nothing is FREE.  But, with this site?   It really is.   The only thing you have to do in return, is provide your honest feedback for the items you receive!    Yes, seriously!    I have received a total of 14 boxes already.   I've liked everything but I do have my favorites!     I'm not qualified for samples, every time they're available, but I make sure to keep my profile updated, answer the pop-up questions and always provide my feedback and ratings on products that I do get.   That's how you stay active on the site and that helps to ensure future free samples coming your way!
The first photo is a box that I won on another blogger's giveaway post, but it was provided by PINCHMe.  So it gives you an idea of some of the fantastic finds that are in the PINCHMe boxes. 

You really should join!     PinchMe

***This not a paid endorsement by PINCHMe or any of the brands pictured.   I received all of the products free from PINCHMe, but was not compensated for this post or any product reviews**** 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Hydration

In the summer months, I'm usually a fanatic about staying hydrated.  It's so easy to get caught up enjoying the outdoors and forgetting about getting plenty of fluids.
 I'm not a water drinker, at all, but when the heat hits, I'm so afraid of dehydration.  This is one of my concerns when my husband goes to work during these months.  He's a welder and the shop is not air conditioned.    I'm always reminding him to stay hydrated.      It's important to note, however, that our bodies can face dehydration, in ANY season.  In fact, almost every time I have my annual labs done, my levels show that I am slightly dehydrated.  I really don't get enough of the electrolytes that I need because I don't drink enough water.
When I qualified for the DripDrop mission, with Smiley.com, I was really eager to see what it was all about, BUT really anxious to try it out.    It was convenient, in little thin packets, and easy to prepare: One packet per 8 ounces of water.   I found it was a good idea to keep some 8 ounce bottled waters on hand, so there was no measuring or wondering.  What is it?  DripDrop is a medical grade hydration powder, used by athletes, military personnel, seniors, etc, and it's a great hydration tool for anyone who has come down with a stomach bug or virus, where you would normally lose electrolytes and have to replenish.  It works 2-3 times faster than most remedies and clinical studies have showed that it works 34% better than water alone.   DripDrop comes in two flavors (at least for right now) Berry and Lemon.  
I actually liked both, but favored the Berry.  

I tried a couple of packets, while we were doing yard work and spending time outside, but gave the rest to my husband to take to work.    He comes home, some days, with aches and pains and will say that his urine was really dark.  I know that these are tell tale signs of dehydration.  I think this is a fantastic product and I'm really pleased with the convenience, as well as the taste.  I'm not the kind of person that will just try anything that is touted as the latest craze in the way of supplements, beverages, etc.  No matter what the claims and reviews are.  But I have to say that I was a little more interested in this product, initially, because it seemed like a genuine, tried and true product.  What really grabbed my attention was that DripDrop was created by a Mayo Clinic trained physician.   I'm already planning to purchase more DripDrop at my local CVS, so that we can have it on hand at home.   I love this product and I'm comfortable using it because of what I've learned about it.  There's so much more I could say, and much more information that I could share, but the website is really wonderful and covers it all.    Check it out here:   DripDrop    

** DISCLAIMER:  I received FREE samples of DripDrop from Smiley.com, for testing and reviewing. **

Friday, July 10, 2015

I wonder how long....

It's amazing, the dates you remember as time goes on.    Some are of the best memories you have and some are of the worst.    I thought, after my mom died, that I wouldn't always recognize the day.  I said I wouldn't.   I promised I wouldn't.   But, I can't just let the day pass without mentioning it.
It just seems too fresh, still.  Only 2 years.
I was listening to the oldies station at work yesterday, and the song "Take Good Care Of My Baby" came on.  Mom always said this song reminded her of me.   She said it was her song to my "future" husband, if and when I got married.    When I heard it yesterday, it made me laugh a little, because now I had a baby up in Heaven, who I was sure is with my mom.  That song has so much MORE meaning now.

I still cry when I think of my mom, when I miss her and when I need her.   On the way home from work, some days, I feel guilty, because I can't remember if I thought of her that day.  Then I realize, that I always do.   There is always some reminder.   A song, a scent, a phrase.  Lots of phrases, in fact.  I was even reading a book a few nights ago, where a character in the story used one of my Mom's familiar lines.   It struck me.   Times like that, I think that's Mom sending me a message.  I smelled her in my car the other day too.   It kind of freaked me out for a second.  I was a little shaken for a bit, whipping my head around to look in the backseat.  But then, I just smiled, like I always do, and was just glad that she visited.

There are times that I look at my mom's picture and have that sudden bolt of reality - "Oh my gosh, she's really not here anymore".   Almost as if you've been in denial, all this time.   It's such a sad realization.    I get so pissed off when I hear of, or see, friends who are feuding with their moms or dads, and are just not able to forgive something petty.   Dragging out the disagreement for far longer than necessary. In fact, it's never necessary.  It's usually just a hard headed person trying to prove a point.  If I could have those people feel my loss and my grief over my mom's death, but with their Mom or Dad as the subject, I am fairly certain they'd rethink it all.  Hell, I wish I'd had that day back, or even the fucking year.  

I hear myself sounding like her so much, lately.  Her phrases, her catch lines.   I actually like looking at my hands because they look so much like hers.    Over the weekend, I had my hand on the window ledge, as we were driving down the road.   I said to Jeff, "I can't believe how much my hands look like my Mom's.  It's liking look at hers!"  I don't know how many people end up with their parents' hands, as opposed to eyes, or nose.  But I love it.

  More than anything, I wish I could hear my mom's laugh, or see her smile.  I miss her voice.
The text messages and the voice mails.   Her sense of humor.   Maybe I miss how she'd come to my house and make the bed, and do the dishes.  What a riot.  ; )

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pond's Rejuveness and Clarant B3...

I was fortunate enough, to score these 2 face creams, from Influenster.   I'm so glad that I did!

I was excited to try these new creams from Pond's but I was equally apprehensive, becuase I have had some bad experiences with face creams, in the past.    My skin is very sensitive and doesn't really take well to many things that I put on it.   I've even had reactions to foundations that I used in the past. The end result is usually stinging or burning and nice big red blotches on my face.
But, when I applied the Rejuveness and the Clarant B3 creams, my face was fine.   No stinging, no itching, no reaction at all.

Aside from it being Dawn friendly, I have to say that these 2 creams are pretty awesome!
I plan to use it until I run out of it and the buy more.  But, for the 2 week challenge, I wanted to concentrate on the areas that I really knew I needed this intervention, for both creams' indicated uses.

With the Rejuveness, I concentrated on the areas around my forehead, and my cheekbones, as well as the eye area.  (not around the eye itself, but where I apply shadow, and I can see the wrinkles the most).    Well, 2 weeks later, I am so impressed.  I can see the difference.  My skin is tighter in those areas!   I can't believe that I can get these results without expensive procedures, in a doctor's office. It's amazing.

With the Clarant B3, I didn't have (knock on wood), too many dark areas on my face, but plenty on my hands and forearms, so I concentrated on those areas for the challenge.   One spot was really big and really stood out.   Well, lo and behold, I can see that it's already lightened SO MUCH there. It's truly  I know, as I continue to use this cream, the results will only get BETTER.

I will be out buying these, as soon as I run out of what I have.   They're that good!

**I received both products, from Influenster, for testing purposes.  These are my honest opinions and reviews.**          #SeeForYourself

Thursday, May 14, 2015

my cup does not runneth over

I try to post reviews:

1.) when I think of it
2.) when I actually remember to
3.) when a product really knocks my socks off  (I'm not too high maintenance, and somewhat easy to please, but I still like to give credit where credit's due).

So, that brings me to my current review.    The Cool Gear tumbler that I seriously can not live without.   I've always been on the hunt for the perfect chiller cup, that is cute, durable and can hold its' own.  { see what I did there?}      I wanted this type of tumbler, because I am so guilty of not drinking enough water.  I just don't like it.  Never have.  Unless, I'm so parched that I'm on the verge of chugging it.   I know, I know!  It doesn't have a taste, so how can I not like it?  I don't know!  I just don't..  Now, stop harassing me.

I did find, however, that I will drink water.....  in a boat, with a goat. Wait, what?  I got distracted for a second.

What I was saying:    I found that I will drink water,  only if:
 1.)  it has ice in it
 2.) if it has a straw.  

So, for the past few weeks, I have been scoping out the ol' tumbler cups, with straws.  Well, wet my whistle and call me hydrated! .... I fell upon this gem!
  It was less expensive than most I've seen... and the design, naturally, caught my eye right away.  

Why do I love this tumbler?   Because it listens to me and tells me I'm pretty.
No, seriously,  it holds hot OR cold beverages.   It's double wall insulated, BPA Free (which I really don't even pretend to know about, just that it's a good thing) and it's really durable. (even for me, who my mom affectionately nicknamed 'tornado' back in my adolescence).  It doesn't sweat all over me, or my desk, or my cup holder in my car.  It never leaks.
Here's an example of how true to its' claims this cup is:    I made iced tea, at work, before I left yesterday.  It was around 4pm-ish.   I used ice from the ice machine. (I know you wish you worked here too, now!)      When I was headed to bed, around 9:55,  I picked up my tumbler, to wash it out, and it still had ice in it!  I'm not talking a few pieces, I mean enough to actually chill a beverage.  I was floored!   I actually showed it to my husband and exclaimed "this ice has been in here for almost 5 1/2 hours!"  I can't believe he didn't share my excitement, but that's ok.    At least I can tell you!    If you're into the 'water with a straw' thing, or just need a new tumbler.. or want to swap stories, periodically with me, on how much you love yours too... (because, trust me, your husband won't be supportive) .. then you need to get one of these!   Check them out here.  

** Disclaimer:  This is all my own opinion and corny humor.   I was not paid by this company, to promote their product. But if they want me to, I'd be much obliged.  ; )

Thursday, April 02, 2015

...and that's who I am.....

I've seen so many pregnancy announcements in the past few days, and it makes me feel so many different emotions.   When I think of where I would be right now, in my pregnancy, I feel a little twinge in my heart.  I would have been 5 months already and due in August.  Shoot, I would've been more than half way through.   Sporting a nice big belly and maxi dresses ALL summer long.
 I don't want to feel anything but HAPPY for anyone who is pregnant.    I guess it's just normal to feel this way.  

This morning, I was reading a new blog post about a mom-to-be, and I remembered when I first found out.   I was, first and foremost, shocked and EXCITED.   After I came back down, from Cloud 9, I started to consider who I'd tell and who I wouldn't, until later on.   I actually told my mother in law, that there was a part of me, that was apprehensive to tell friends who I knew were unable to have children.   I was that person, for over 10 years; more so, all my adult life.   So I deserved that joy I was feeling, as did my husband.  But I couldn't help but feel for those around me who it wasn't an option for.    Those same women who were in my same shoes, all those years.    I thought about them, before I thought about me.   It actually made me a little nervous to announce it to those particular friends.   I had to remind myself that this was my miracle and I shouldn't feel bad in sharing the news.
I think it's just a common thread that we women share, with infertility struggles.   You're eager to shout out the great news, but you're equally as apprehensive.

It's a wonderful, joyous occasion .... Pregnancy.    I don't begrudge anyone that opportunity.  (except maybe those heathens who abuse children, hurt them, etc).    I love reading about pregnancy journeys and then seeing babies growing up!    I do!   I just have moments where I quietly mumble "bummer, that could have been me".    But I know that my time is coming.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Reviews by me

I really thought, in the 6 weeks that I was home, I would have read more books.  But I couldn't get my head into it most days.   I did however, read quite a few books in the last few months.   I love to get recommendations from bloggers who love to read, so I figured I would share my recommendations.   I realize everyone's taste is different... But I do recommend each of these.

These are the books that I've read in the past few months and my thoughts.. I don't think I was disappointed with any of them, they were just slow in getting my attention, in some cases.

Cage Of Stars - Jacquelyn Mitchard 
Absolutely loved this book.   It kept me so intrigued, the whole time.  I read this pretty quickly; I was so anxious to know the ending, and equally surprised with it.

Family Affair - Debbie Macomber 
Such a cute, feel good book.   But,then, Debbie Macomber doesn't really write much that isn't.  I love her stories... and this one was pretty adorable.   It was actually a quick read, with only 102 pages.
I finished it in no time ... but enjoyed it.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
I had high hopes for this book, after all the attention it got with the movie.  When I first started reading it, I was sure it was going to lose me.  I couldn't get into it.   I didn't get that warm, fuzzy feeling with this book.   I expressed my disappointment and several friends told me to stick it out.. so I did.  And I'm glad I did.  They were so right, about it getting better.  It did.   What a thriller.

Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult
Jodi is one of my favorite authors, so I knew I wanted to read this book.  It had those chapters, where you just wanted to skip over them, because it was just useless to read them.   They did pertain to the story, but I found them boring.   I was floored by the ending ... I hadn't seen it coming.  Not even a little bit.  I would love it if they made this one a movie.

The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult
I think I remember seeing this movie on Lifetime.  But I had never read the book, until recently.
It was a pretty suspenseful, law and order (ish) book.   Where you think you have it figured out and then realize you don't.   A good thriller, I thought.

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky - Heidi Durrow
Oh my gosh...    This one, I literally couldn't put down.   I took it everywhere with me!
It just "had me at hello"..

** What are you reading right now, or what have you read, that you suggest? **

Friday, March 27, 2015

A good smellin' man

I was one of the lucky folks that scored a free sample of Reveal by Calvin Klein, compliments of Influenster.  
My husband loves aftershaves and cologne, and not all of them, were scents that I would have picked for him.   I usually buy him colognes that I like the scent of.   I think I have good taste!
So, when the Reveal sample came in the mail, I was eager to see if it was one of those "must have" colognes.    And it totally was!    
I love this new scent.   As you know, perfumes and colognes are either a hit or miss.  There's usually no in between.   You either hate it or love it.   This one?   LOVE.   It's not a strong, overwhelming scent... it's just right.   It's that "man" smell that we women just love.  
This is going to be a future birthday or Christmas gift, for my husband.  But, it's more for me, than him, I suppose!  

Next time you're in the department store, where there's a beauty counter, check out the Calvin Klein Reveal for men.  You won't be disappointed, ladies and gents!   Yes, it's that awesome.

(images were pulled from the internet - I lost some photos in my iPhone, but this is what my sample looked like) 

(this is what the full size looks like, if you're looking for it!)

* I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes * 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I've talked previously, albeit briefly, about my struggles with fertility.   I'm one of the bazillion women out there, who "has wanted a child, for as long as I can remember".    It just wasn't going to be easy for me.    I knew, for many years, that it wasn't going to 'just happen' naturally.   I knew (but didn't accept) that I'd need medical intervention to conceive a child.     I was so stubborn; I refused to take meds or see a specialist, because I believed that one day I would do it all on my own. 

Finally, last July, after another quick conversation with my gynecologist, she suggested trying Clomid.    I was apprehensive, naturally, but after a few weeks of thinking, and talking with my husband, I decided to give it a shot.   And so started the charting of ovulation, periods, cycle days, and figuring out when to "baby dance".    Even being 38 years old, I never really understood how the female reproductive system works when trying to concieve a child.   I charted like it was MY JOB.  I marked everything down.  I followed it to a science.   And I guess I did pretty well.

I took Clomid for 3 months:  August, September and November.  (I skipped October)
 for reasons that even I don't know.       Maybe I was starting to get discouraged or reluctant.   
Even though I skipped October's round of Clomid,  I attended a St. Gerard mass with my sister and my niece.  If you don't know about St. Gerard, he is the patron saint for Motherhood and I have heard so many testimonials either in person, or on the internet, of women who have called upon the intercessions of St. Gerard.    I was sure, at that mass, that something miraculous was happening.  I really did.   It was full of emotion and HOPE.   My sister and I both cried.  In addition to the general prayer that was said for all of those attending, we were also able to have our own personal prayer and blessing given to us, individually, by one of the attending priests.   I honestly know that we walked away with such a feeling of just knowing that it was going to happen.

Then, on December 13th, not really thinking about it too hard, I took a pregnancy test. This wasn't unusual for me, because I was taking them a lot during those 3 months of Clomid.  But since I was so used to getting NEGATIVES, it floored me when I saw 2 lines show up!   I remember dipping it in the cup of urine, leaving it to sit and figuring I'd go back in a few minutes.   I wasn't expecting to see a positive result when I went back to look at it.  It was so usual for me to do this; it had become a way of life.   I just remember seeing those 2 lines and GASPING out loud "OH MY GOD!"...  It was too good to be true.   So, I took another one, using another test strip that I had bought in bulk.    Positive!
I ran out to tell my husband, who at first thought that I meant I'd gotten a positive on the ovulation stick.    He was used to me telling him that I had, and then rushing off to "do it",  so he assumed this was one of those times.    Then I told him it was a PREGNANCY test.    We cried, we hugged, we laughed.  I even had a brief sob, thinking about how my mom wasn't here to experience this with me.  She'd be soo happy.   I know she was there with me though.   Then Jeff ushered me off to the store to get a "real test".  He didn't trust the strips I'd bought on Amazon.  He needed to see something that he was sure was legitimate.

Talk about being over the moon.  At that moment, it seemed as if my world had changed and only for the better.  It felt like there was nothing anyone could say or do to ruin my day or the way I was feeling.    After trying for so many years and being so disappointed & discouraged, it was amazing and miraculous, all at once.      I did go to the doctor on 12/22 after having some bleeding, but she assured me everything was ok and even 'saw' the sac on the ultrasound.  That was my green light.
We knew we couldn't keep it a secret from everyone, until Christmas, so we told his parents and my sister.    That was it.    We used the next few weeks to bask in the joy that we were already experiencing and that we knew was to come.    We also planned out how we'd tell our families.   My dad and stepmom host Christmas breakfast each year, with just my siblings, and our spouses.   So I wrapped up a "gift" that my dad and stepmom had to open together.   It was a cartoon-ish picture of a baby holding a sign, announcing a baby in 2015.   The reaction that morning was MORE than I could have ever anticipated.   The tears, the joy, the emotions!   I had my sister (who already knew), record it on my iPhone.   I watch it sometimes just to smile.  But it always makes me cry, no matter what.   Jeff and I went to his parents' house for Christmas dinner and his mom made an announcement, by calling everyone out to the kitchen.   It was so awesome .. I think, mostly, everyone was shocked at first.. but equally as happy for us. 

I never thought that joy would be so short lived and I can't say that it was entirely.  I still have that happiness of it all happening.  I still have the memories of it, from December 13th on.   I can't ever say that particular period was a sad one in my life.  It was just AMAZING and beautiful. 

BUT, the days that followed?  Not so much.  

It was later decided that my pregnancy was ectopic.   This diagnosis came after 6 ultrasounds (both abdominal and transvaginal) indicated that there was no gestational sac.   The doctor realized that it had to be in my tube, because my HCG levels were rising as they should have been, but without seeing the baby on the ultrasound, it could only be an ectopic pregnancy.   So, on December 30th, after a ton of STAT blood work, I was sent to the ER for a shot of Methotrexate.   Never even heard of the drug before that day.  Methotrexate stops the growth of rapidly dividing cells, such as embryonic, fetal, and early placenta cells. (Web MD).     So, in layman's terms, it was supposed to stop the baby from growing.    But it didn't.    A couple of weeks later, on January 15th, I finally had enough pain, pale skin, and just feeling awful, to go to the hospital.    Once I got there, it was discovered that I'd been bleeding internally and needed a blood transfusion.  Two to be exact.   Then 2 more in surgery.   My left tube had ruptured, somewhere in the days before I actually went to the hospital.   (guess the little one got comfy and continued to grow).   I went into emergency surgery that night.  They couldn't do laparoscopy as once thought, because the situation was too bad when they got a look inside.  My tube, when it ruptured, had adhered to my bowel.   The general surgeon was called in to help my doctor with the surgery, at that point.   She was afraid she'd tear my bowel or worse.   After the first surgery was over and I was sent to recovery, I started hemorrhaging.  So they had to get my husband's consent to take me back in and open me back up.  The bleed, ended up being residual, as far as they could tell.   But it was a frightening experience.... for them and for my husband and sister who were patiently waiting in the family area, when the doctor came out with the news and the consent form.    I can't imagine being on the receiving end of that experience.  Yes, I was the patient but I was worried about THEM.   I was coherent enough after they put me in recovery to know and hear that something was wrong.   I don't even remember being wheeled back in.

I spent the next 5 days in the hospital & and came home with an order of 6 weeks medical leave.
I think the emotional aspect of this whole ordeal, was the worst.   I hate the physical scars that I have, (cut straight across my stomach)... but the emotional scars are so much harder to heal.  If they ever do.   One minute, I was up in the clouds and experiencing what I'd never thought I would.   The next minute,  it was all being taken away from me.   Even though it's not often, there are some days that I can see the upside:

1.)  I can finally say I have been pregnant!   and I think it gave me the boost my body needed.
2.)  I can share some of the early and COMMON symptoms I had ..before I even thought to test.

Of course, I also, at times,  wish I hadn't gotten so excited, so early on.  But I could hardly contain my excitement.  I wanted to share the miracle that was bestowed upon me.   I started filling out my 'pregnancy book' that my niece gave me.. (and bought with her own money - she's 9!)    I also created a wish list on Babies R Us, but that was when I was trying to conceive.   Yes, that's how hopeful and optimistic I was.   Nothing wrong with that.   

I have every hope and every reason to believe that I will conceive again.  This was a huge step and an even bigger accomplishment for me!   When you think it'll never happen and it does?  Pure amazement and disbelief.   Just because things didn't go well, and my little bean ended up getting himself in a real pickle.. I still feel extremely blessed.    I think what's encouraging is, I hear so many stories of women who have gone on to conceive with no medical intervention at all, after the first time, whether the pregnancy failed or she carried to term.   That is such encouragement for me.

We will see what the future holds for me and our dreams of being parents.  I will continue to keep the Faith and will not give up my Hope.  That's for sure.    I think I will get my rainbow baby and I'm at peace that I'll even see baby #1 someday.    

Monday, February 16, 2015

The #WishForOthers Capital One Campaign

Back, before we came upon the new year, Capital One ran a pretty awesome campaign, called #WishForOthers.   They gave people the chance to wish for something, that they could gift someone else, and it really took off on Twitter!   I saw a quick post about it one day, and I decided to give it a shot.
I knew what I would "wish" for almost immediately.  

I wanted to give memorial jewelry to 3 young women, whom I don't even really know, in remembrance of their mom, (Jeannie) whom I did know, through work.   Having lost my mom in 2013, I could relate to so much of what I was sure they were going through.  It was very difficult and continues to be, even for me, at 38.    Jeannie's girls are all under 30; the youngest still a high school student.  I feel lucky that my mom was here for so many of life's milestones, with my siblings and myself.  Like graduations, weddings, babies. I can't imagine how hard it will be for her 3 daughters to go through the rest of their lives without their mom.

I was sure that Jeannie's daughters have plenty of pictures and trinkets to remember her by, but I wanted to give them something personalized.    My initial plan was to get them each a necklace with Jeannie's fingerprint.   My sisters and I each got one when my mom passed away, and it's my most treasured piece of jewelry.   Unfortunately, I had to go through the funeral home, that handled Jean's services,  to secure the fingerprints.   They never replied to my request, so I had to come up with an alternative plan.   I searched for days/weeks and found a beautiful birthstone necklace and a precious picture frame.   With the help of Capital One's Wish For Others program, I was able to purchase these items for the girls.  I'm so grateful that Capital One chose my wish and made this happen.  I've thought about Jeannie's girls since she passed away last April and I was constantly wishing I'd been able to do something like this for them.   Capital One brought it all to life!   What an amazing thing to do. 

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get the gifts to the girls yet.  I had an unexpected health issue that has kept me out of work for 6 weeks.   But, I realized the other day, that the 1 year anniversary of Jeannie's passing is this April.   So now, I think that April would be a good time to present these gifts to the girls.  I'm sure it will be when they can use the comfort the most.   I've attached pictures of the items below.  The inscription on the necklace says "I'll hold you in my heart" and the birthstone is Jeannie's birth month.   As for the frames, I have photos at work that I am placing inside.   I'm sure the girls will change it to a favorite of theirs; I just thought it would be nice to actually have a photo of their mom in it when they receive it.  The inscription on the frame reads  "Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down, to let us know they're happy".        Along with the gifts, I have a beautiful remembrance card that I'm including, where I've written a little something inside.   I still have to get some gift bags so that I can have the gifts wrapped nicely before I send them off!  

I won't lie - At first, I was a little apprehensive because, as I said, Jeannie's daughters don't know me.
I figured they'd think I was a bit crazy for doing this and not even knowing them.  But then I tossed my fears aside and said "Why not?".      I hope these gifts bring them some comfort.  
I can't thank Capital One nearly enough, for helping to bring this to fruition.

Friday, December 19, 2014

♪ ♫ I wish you a Merry Christmas ♪ ♫

Can you believe it's almost here?   I know I can't.   I'm pretty sure I was just taking a big, fat turkey out of the oven a few days ago.    Christmas really snuck up on us this year.   Everyone says it's because Thanksgiving was so close.   All I know, is that it's next week!

I'll be totally honest in saying that I haven't bought a SINGLE gift yet.   And honestly, I'm not worried about it.  I'm just going to get all my gifts on the 23rd, after I leave work.   I could go on Christmas Eve, but come on, I'm not that crazy.  hehehe    The good thing is that I know what I need to buy.    I'm not going out without a plan and a list.    

We're also having an ornament exchange party this weekend and I'm really looking forward to that.   I was going to have a trim-a-tree where each guest brought an ornament for our tree. Years ago, I knew a lady who did that every year, and I thought it was so cool.   Then I decided that an exchange would be more fun and everyone will benefit.   I'm excited to see how it turns out.  I encouraged guests to bring something non-traditional.   Funny, stupid, ugly, corny, creepy, ....etc  
I've been to some great ornament stores where the selection is just amazing.   I still have to get out and get our ornament for the party too.   Trying to think of something funny.

Our Christmas tradition is that we usually go to my dad's in the morning, for a nice breakfast and gifts, and then in the late afternoon, we head over to the in-laws' for lunch/dinner.   It's always buffet style, which is a lot easier sometimes.   You can just eat as you like and when you want.   That night, we usually come back to our home and my family kind of trickles in at different times.  Things are always changing so I don't hold anyone to it.   I only see my immediate family on Christmas.. We don't do the big gatherings with cousins, aunts & uncles.    Wouldn't it be cool if we did someday? 
I'd love to have a huge family Pollyanna.      Christmas is one of my favorite holidays because there's just such a different vibe in the air and I love nothing more than spending time with my family, making new memories.   I miss my Mom terribly; this is our 2nd Christmas without her, but I'm staying positive and keeping her close in thought, of course.    

One family tradition that we always had, growing up, was opening one small gift on Christmas Eve.
I really looked forward to that as a child.   And now my husband and I do this sometimes too.  
When we were little. we'd listen to the radio station that broadcast Santa's journey to our town!  
I remember hearing "Santa's just been spotted in........"  and I'd ask how far that was from us.  Each state, they'd announce it ....  That was really exciting for us.   

Christmas also is about more than just ME or my family.   It's about Jesus.   It's a time to reflect on what the season and the day is really about.   We often lose sight of that.  "The reason for the season".  
I hope you have a fantastic holiday ~  And an even better new year.  

Friday, November 07, 2014

Influenster Review - Vaseline

I wasn't expecting it, but I was so stoked, when I received the Vaseline Vox Box from Influenster!   I'm a regular lotion user - whether it's in the summer or the winter months.   Of course, I need it much more when the cold hits.  Right around that time, my hands start to really dry up, but the worst problem I have, is my legs.  I'll be totally honest: I wear tights a lot, in the fall/winter, and when I take them off at night, all you can see is that white specks that my dry legs have left behind.  Disgusting. But I know I'm not the only one.   Unfortunately. I'm also a victim of ITCHY, dry skin in the winter months.  That can be worse than the dryness alone, sometimes!   I've had nights where I forgot to apply lotion before bed and the itching was such a nuisance, I've gotten right out of bed to put it on!        This Vaseline lotion goes on after the shower, before bed, and any other time I need it.
 I was anxious to try this new Vaseline Intensive Repair lotion.   I usually choose the Vaseline brand over most other brands, anyway.  I tell my husband to use Vaseline on his hands all the time, because they crack so much in the winter, with him working in a welding shop.
I've always felt that it was the best line out there... and actually HEALED the skin, where most other brands just claimed to.    Besides the fact that this lotion was amazing and truly did make a world of difference in my skin, I especially like that it's fragrance free.  That's really important to me; I don't know how many times I've had cracked skin in the winter and have used a lotion that just burned my skin!  When you're trying to heal dry, cracked skin, the last thing you want to have to do is wash the lotion off in a panic, because it's so irritating to your already suffering skin.     I think a lot of gals go for the cute, smelly lotions, but they don't do much in the way of actually repairing your skin or giving it the moisture it needs.  The fragrance is nice, but the ultimate effect on your skin?  Not so nice.

I went ahead and did the 5 day challenge with the Vaseline Intensive Repair and I'm not kidding, when I say, it's definitely my new favorite.  (see my pic below)   I can feel the difference in my skin already.

 This lotion, by the way, is NOT greasy, at all.  What a nightmare that is, when you use a lotion that's greasy and you only end up washing it off, because you can't really function with slippery hands.

If you buy ANY lotion this winter, you need to grab this one.  You won't be disappointed. Trust me.

 **I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.**

Monday, October 27, 2014

journey of a thousand cycles...

Weird title?  Sorry, I couldn't come up with anything clever.  It's still early and I'm listening to a typewriter in the background at work.  (yes, I said TYPEWRITER).  We still have one and it still gets used.  Something to do with contracts or legal documents of some sort of.    
But, back to the subject at hand...baby making.
Or the lack thereof.  

I mentioned a while back (in this post) of my struggle with infertility.  I never really went into all the details; probably because there weren't a whole lot back then.  Even though I'd known for many years that children wouldn't come easy for us, I wasn't willing to use medical intervention.  I was relying on my Faith in God to bring about the miracle of a child.  I clung to the theory that it would happen, on its own, if it was really meant to be.  I wasn't willing to manipulate my body; I felt it was unnatural.  I also didn't want to go through grueling testing and costly procedures, only to find out that there was no hope.   I rarely discussed this with anyone, except my husband (obviously), and my mom and sisters.  (when my mom was still here, she was probably the one who encouraged me the MOST to pursue all the avenues I could.   She wanted a "little Dawn" running around.   She was all set to take care of baby L, while we worked.   I couldn't think of anyone I'd want to do that MORE than her.)  Of course that won't happen now, but I feel like she was instrumental in helping me make the decision to just take the leap, finally.

For the past 5 or so years, each time I went for my yearly exam, my gynecologist would ask if I still thought about having children, and/or did I want them.   Of course I had!  I've dreamed of being a mom since I was a young girl, as many women have.  BUT, I also knew that it wasn't going to be easy.  I was so bitter sometimes that it couldn't "just happen" for me, like it did for others.   My doctor knew, based on my history, that I needed a specialist.  So, on one occasion, she'd given me the business card for a reputable fertility specialist in our area, who'd come highly recommended by her and her peers.  I kept it in my purse for a long time and eventually tossed it in the garbage.   As badly as I wanted to have a child, I was hell bent on believing that it would  happen, with no help.   But it hasn't.   

Then, when my mom died, I swore that I'd definitely never consider having children, because she wasn't here.  I felt like I was slighting her, because I'd never pursued it further, while she was still living. She probably wanted me to be a mom, just as much as I did.   I went through a weird phase where it wasn't even an option anymore. I couldn't do that to her. 
Then, this July, I went to the doctor again, (for my yearly appt).   I pulled up to the office and looked at my clock.   It was 8:26 -   My mom's birthday.    Hmmm..    
 Two pregnant women were already sitting in the waiting room. (this wasn't unusual).  I was signed in and soon brought back to the exam room.   Of all the years I've been going here, I was always grateful that I was never put in the room(s) with the sonogram machines ..although I'd often heard other women in the (thin walled) rooms, listening to their babies' heartbeats, and it was just as saddening.   What were the chances that this day, I was actually put in a room with a sonogram machine.   I felt like maybe my mom was giving me some signs, and if she was, I wasn't really getting it, at the time.   Per the usual, my doctor came in, examined me and then asked the loaded question:  "Are you still thinking about having children?".   I said I was still considering it but wasn't sure what my next steps would be.   She went on to tell me that based on my age, I should decide soon, because soon my eggs wouldn't be viable, and if we needed to go the IVF route, they only store your eggs up to age 40.   We talked a bit more and she said she'd give me a script for some prenatal vitamins, a script for a 21 day progesterone check, and a prescription for Clomid.   I walked out of the office that day, so anxious and excited.  I felt like I was ready do this!   But it was equally as scary, as it was exciting.    I kept the prescription in my purse and thought about it all month. Of course, my husband was in on the "thinking".    It's not something I would decide on my own. He'd be very instrumental in this venture too.  *wink wink*     We both, very much, want a child.  He just never really pressed the issue because he knew early on that it was an obstacle for me.   We dodged the "when are you going to have kids" question so many times.   NEVER because I was ashamed, but more so because I didn't want to "get into it".   I hate that some of our family and friends think we just didn't want children.  Trust me, people, if I didn't struggle with infertility, I'd have had kids long before now.  Unfortunately, my reproductive malfunction started as early as 17 years old.   It was a mystery for years - even after 2 (holy hell,  painful) endometrial biopsies, I hadn't really been given any answers. I finally was diagnosed with PCOS and as a result: anovulation.    Fun, fun, fun!    So, fast forward to the Clomid diaries.  I finally started it in August... The first dose definitely had some interesting side effects like major hot flashes.  But the 2nd one wasn't so bad.  I skipped October, because mentally, I just had too much going on and couldn't handle the stress of charting everything.   I think I bought some serious stock in ovulation predictor kits.   Those things are neat!
Of the ones I took, those 2 months, they did indicate that the FSH hormone was present but I later found out that it doesn't mean you will ovulate.  It just meant that the hormone was present in my body, that would indiciate I should ovulate. Apparently we (women) all produce it.  We don't really know  if there was ovulation until I get the 21 progesterone test, which I didn't do that first month.  This month, I went without the Clomid but am still going to get the labs done to see if my progesterone numbers indicate ovulation.  That would be sweet .... But we'll see.

Two weeks ago, my sister and I attended a St. Gerard mass at a parish not too far from our own.  It was such a beautiful mass with speakers and prayer.   Lots of babies were present with their grateful moms who were true testimonies to their Faith in St. Gerard, as well as pregnant Moms and gals like me who were hoping to conceive.  We were able to touch an actual St Gerard relic and were given the opportunity to have a personal blessing with one of the attending priests.  Of course, I couldn't pass up that gift.  That was so emotional for me and my sister both!   (we both cried during the blessing and my niece thought we were nuts).   Before we left, we were able to take a blessed St. Gerard medal and a prayer card.   I don't expect all of my readers to believe in those things, but I do.   If I didn't, why did I go?
I have been wearing my medal on a medallion bracelet (because I can't take off my mom's thumb print necklace).   So I hope that wearing it gives me an extra "in".   I know I won't 'try' forever, but at least until the end of the year.  Truth is, we're not getting any younger.   I will keep praying and thinking POSITIVE.    And hopefully one day I'll get to post a Big Fat Positive story.

This was just never something I wanted to put out there because it is a very personal, very difficult struggle.
Lately, I've been thinking 'why not share it?'.   I'm creeping around on Instagram reading about others' journeys with infertility but I'm afraid to put myself out there because I don't want to have one collective let-down.    So, no more of that... here it is.   Raw and real.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The year that was

 "Someone once told me that when you give birth to a daughter, you've just met the person whose hand you'll be holding the day you die"     - Jodi Picoult - Change Of Heart

A year ago today, I (we) made a decision that I never imagined having to make, and was left with a sadness that is beyond any description.   I wasn't sure how I'd ever get through ONE day, let alone an entire YEAR.  When you lose someone you love, that first year without them, is probably the hardest.  It's full of all the FIRSTS.   First birthdays, first holidays.   I had gotten so used to Christmas with Mom, that I hadn't imagined her ever not being there.   Thanksgiving, Halloween?   The same void.  One of the harshest realizations, I found, was that none of our holiday pictures would have Mom in them, from this point on.    That, in itself, took my breath away.  Sometimes the acceptance just isn't there.  Then, one day, you suddenly gasp audibly and stammer "Oh my God, she really is gone".
 I'm so grateful for my friends who checked in often and helped me through that first year.  Especially, the texts that said "I know today must be hard for you.  I'm here if you need me".  I never called... but I was glad that the offer was there.   
We got through it as a family, and continue to.  We do it with humor and laughter, most times.  There was a lot of that with Mom.    My family probably hasn't ever been closer and I do find that comforting.  Life works in crazy ways.  A once broken circle is starting to come together again. Albeit slowly, I will take it.   
 Getting used to Mom not being here was and continues to be such a struggle.  I was so used to her phone calls after work, her text messages every day; just being able to talk to her about anything and everything.  All the things that we take for granted so often. Things that YOU probably do too.    She made sense of everything.    Moms really do have a way of "making it all better", no matter what age we are.      I always try to remember that she is with me, day in and day out.   I truly believe that she "visits" me often.   I pick up her scent sometimes and I immediately know that she is checking in on me.  Even the funny incidents at church, during her birthday mass and memorial mass.  Oh man, that was a hoot.  That was Mom's doing.   We know it.   We look forward to those instances now. 
In the beginning, I would stifle my tears as much as possible because I was sure Mom was watching over me and I didn't want to make her sad.  She wouldn't want that.   She was always concerned about her kids being happy, and if she thought we weren't, it really affected her.  Even battling Stage IV cancer, my mom could forget about it and call me to talk about how she thought one of my siblings was heartbroken.  It really troubled her, and maybe even broke her heart a little more.   
 I rarely let her see me upset.   My mom defined "a mother's love" in every aspect.   She gave, she sacrificed, she loved unconditionally.   She thought I hung the moon.  And I assure you, I was not the perfect daughter.  I was not without flaws and I could have done much better, when it came to taking care of her.   But she and I just had a bond that most of my friends were envious of.   My mom always called me "sunshine".  She used it when she texted me "good morning", and she wrote it in all the cards she gave me.   She said I made her smile or laugh, even when she didn't want to.   But she didn't realize that she had that same effect on others.  Her wit and her humor were one of her best traits.  One of many.   I did inherit my quick wit and humor from her, but I wish I'd picked up other things too.  Like her 'take no shit from anyone' trait.       Her 'tell it like it is' attitude.    I know I'd have a lot less stress in my life if I were able to be  more like Mom in those ways.    No one would treat her or her kids like shit and get away with it.   She was a GOOD person, but everyone knew that she was a force to be reckoned with.  She didn't let people take advantage of her, or hurt her.   
For years, my mom would tell me that I should always say "I love you".. and she never knew why I had such a hard time saying it.     Hell, I don't know either.   I said it, but not as often as one should.   I can vividly remember, I stood at her bedside last year and whispered "I know I didn't always say it, but you know I love you".  Maybe she heard me, maybe she didn't.   But she had to know that I thought the world of her and I loved her more than I could ever say.  She was right, that day may come where I'll wish I had said it.   And come, it did.    Mom was always right. 
My challenge to you, today, is to call your mom.   Just to talk, and tell her you love her and appreciate her.   Make a lunch or dinner date.    If she's gone, then call someone else whom you love and do the same.   Don't wait until the chance has passed you by.   

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

keeping a memoir

I'm "that" woman, who likes to keep lists and notes.   I'm also "that" woman who has to buy the keepsake memoir books at Barnes & Noble.    You know the ones.   They're full of questions/lists and you fill out all the private little details?   I bought one for 2 of my good friends, for their 30th birthdays.  I thought they were a unique gift; something that no one else would have given them.  I was right.  They loved the idea and were excited to start on them.  
No one really thinks about those things, at least not like my corny self.

 I've got all of the record/keepsake books pictured below.    I haven't filled them out completely, of course.  I imagine not everyone does fill them out in their entirety right away.  It might take a lifetime, in some cases.  Especially if there are milestones to be told of; marriage, babies, grand babies.
   I think I have one other one that isn't pictured.    

I honestly think that we should all have at least one of these memoir books, in our lifetime.

I really wanted to get my mom one, well before she got sick, so that we would have it in the years to come.  Like a keepsake.   With her having grandchildren, I thought it would be something precious for them to see in time.   Then, when Mom was terminal, even though I thought about it even more, I didn't think it was a great idea to bring it up to her, or to just buy her one.    I didn't want to freak her out.   She'd already had trouble with her diagnosis etc.   But some days I wish I had just picked one up.  I think she would've liked to start one. When my mom first passed away, I was so eager to find a letter that she'd written or some other memoir.    If I'd only thought ahead, I could have given her one of these books for a birthday or Mother's Day.  

I guess I like the idea of these records books, so much, because I want to leave my story.   We all have a story.  Some good, some bad, some are a little of both.   But, the bottom line is that we have one.   So, why not tell it?   I guess it's much the same as penning your life story, from scratch, but these memoir books kind of give you a guide, with the questions and scenarios all laid out for you.  
It conjures up so many memories and events in your life ....

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mother(less) Day 2014

I wasn't sure how it would go and I was contemplating just skipping over it all together.  But we have a Mother's Day tradition of going to Historic Smithville.  (pictures below) 
Everything I read on grief says that you shouldn't feel obligated to observe holidays or other events if you don't want to.  In fact, some articles just say you shouldn't at all.   I guess it's all up to how you feel at a certain moment.    I know Mom would've wanted us to go enjoy the day and not sit home feeling sad.   

It was a pretty great day, from beginning to end, even with the crazy family that sat in front of us at lunch!   I really think that was Mom's doing somehow, because man, did we laugh a lot.   These women were nutso and the kids with them?  Wooo!  My niece was actually afraid of getting hit by the one kid, so she left her seat across the table and she stood between my sister and me.   This kid was going bat shit crazy!   He started pummeling the other boy at the table, who we overheard, was his cousin.  And instead of the grandmother and 2 mothers telling him to stop, they told the other kid not to hit him back, because he was not in the mood.  Ummm, what?  I'd have kicked his ass.  I mean, the kid being beat by him, was older and bigger so he should have fought back.   Odd, I tell you.    Then, the grandmother sends her Reuben back to the kitchen because it had Russian dressing on it!  What the hell did you think a Reuben is?   I've never seen it come with the dressing on the side. Ever.  What a weirdo.    Then she takes forever to find something else on the menu and finally tells the server, she's not ordering an alternative, because she'll have to wait forever.   So, the waitress brings a refill for one of the kids, with a lid, of course.  He grabs it by the lid and naturally it spills.    Then the grandmother is whining "Oh, it wasn't on right!"...  Yes, it was granny.    You don't grab it by the lid, it'll bend and then come off the cup.    At the very end, the grandmother is examining the bill with a fine tooth comb and proceeds to say "They should have offered us free dessert for all the aggravation".    I wanted to yell out "YOU were the source of the aggravation!".     So that was the entertainment on the deck for lunch.  Crazy shit.   

We did some shopping, had some great laughs, took pictures, had lots of candy that we didn't need and just really enjoyed ourselves.    Of course, we talked about Mom on the way down and then while we were there.   After all, it was Mother's Day.  I'm sure she was with us, in spirit.    

For lunch, we shared Buffalo Wonton and Caprese Salad with prosciutto.   I had a Seaport Salad - It was delicious!   

We even ended up at Red Lobster for dinner later on....so at the end of the day, my heart was happy and my tummy was so full.   

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Mix Up

I only titled it Monday Mix Up, because I have a feeling that I will be all over the place with this one.
I've had so much that I could blog about and yet, when I sit down at the keyboard, I just freeze.   I've heard of writer's block but jeez, how long does it last?  Is it chronic?   Hope not.

I've eased up, a bit, with my grief posts.   Certainly not because I am 'fine', but I just took a step back.
Even though it's my blog to do what I wish, I don't want to chase my readers away with depressing posts all the time.   I will still be 'talking' about the loss of my mom though and keeping her memory alive.  As I've said before, writing is my outlet for my emotions, whether they are good, bad, pretty, ugly.    Writing, I think you'll agree, can be very therapeutic.

I saw that someone on Twitter was recognizing her 'so many years' as a blogger, so I decided to look at mine and see when I first stumbled upon Blogger.   It was December of 2005.   Holy shnikeys, almost 9 years?
Much has happened in that 9 years.    I'll be sure to submit the blog-iversary post when it comes!

As for updates, I have few..  That can be a good thing sometimes.
Let's see ...  

Like the rest of NJ, I'm patiently waiting for Spring to arrive.   Yes, I know that it is said to have already arrived on or around March 21st, but I think it's a scam.   I haven't seen much tell tale signs that it's here.   I'm still freezing my ass off every day and my nose is so cold I think it might shatter.
My flip flops think that I'm mad at them because I haven't shown them any attention and usually by this time, I've worn them at least a few times.  Don't lose hope, flip flops!  Momma's comin'!
The last nice weekend we had here, it was like the skies opened up and rained $100 bills!   We all went ape shit.  AND then, it was all over in the blink of an eye.   Wahh, wahhh, wah... That's what you hear; I know.     If my biggest problem in life is still wearing a pea coat in April, then I'm a pretty lucky woman. 

Work has been crazy busy.   I can't believe how much time I've lost for blogging.  It's an outrage.
When am I supposed to be socially active on Twitter and Blogger and Facebook, if I'm so busy at work?   Damn.    I'm going to bring this up at the next meeting.   Maybe I can take a longer lunch. 
Something must be done.    All joking aside (if I was joking)... I still love my job.  It's just been hectic learning a new system they're implementing.  It will be beneficial in the end and much more modern but right now we're working through the wrinkles. 

I recently joined the rest of the cool people and set up an Instagram account.  I love it.  Seriously.
I'm a big fan of taking pictures and also sharing, so this is the bee's knees!  I even follow people whom I don't even know... and I comment too, like it's not weird.    So, I ask you, is it?
  I don't know proper Instagram etiquette.   I was, however, flattered, the day I posted a selfie and 2 teenaged boys 'liked' it.   Actually, I wasn't sure how I felt about that - I'm lying when I say I was flattered.    I was afraid to even click on their profiles for fear of Dateline showing up at my door, with the crew from "To Catch A Predator".    Hey, you can't be too careful these days.  

So, {in my best Al Roker voice}  "that's what's going on in my neck of the woods, what's going on in yours?" 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A 6 month post .... a little late

I don't know how I missed the 6 month mark, but somehow, I did.   Maybe I reached the point of not always realizing when the 10th rolled around.    For the first few months, it stood out nice and BOLD.  I wanted to skip over it and go right to the 11th.    

I was reading over my 3 month post and trying to see how things have changed since then.  Or how I have changed/grown since then, in my journey with grief.    I can say that I feel like I cry a lot less than I was.  Not because I'm any less sad, but maybe I'm making some progress in getting to that acceptance stage.   Sure, certain memories and places still summon the tears.  Even simple conversations can lead to a minor meltdown.  Like this past weekend, when my sister and I were talking about Mom's last birthday we celebrated with her.   We both cried and then just as quickly, we recouped and went about our day.  We almost always talk about Mom - But it's not always sad; we have so many funny memories of her.  Believe me, when I tell you, there were very few moments with Mom and us girls that were uneventful.  We could easily have a story for every day of the week.
We'll always talk about her and keep her memory alive - It'll never get old.  I know that.   

What I can - still - say is that I continue to think about Mom every day.  I think I'm at the stage where I'm wrestling with a lot of guilt.  A lot of 'what ifs' and 'should haves'.   My husband asked me a while ago, when we were working through a sob fest with me, if I had any guilt and he said that I shouldn't.   I said very quickly that I certainly did have plenty of guilt.    It's the kind that eats at you, because you start wishing you'd done things that you kept saying you'd get to.  Now, the chance is gone and I have to live with it.  

- I wish I'd taken Mom dancing at Adelphia when she asked and not figured we'd get there eventually.
- I wish I'd filled out the correct disability paperwork so Mom had money coming in...BEFORE she died.(she hated not having her own)
- I wish I'd brought her over for the weekend, like she'd asked a month or so before... 
- I wish I'd asked more questions of the doctors and had been more educated about lung cancer.
- I wish I'd listened to her and not dismissed her fears - 
- I wish I'd really just asked her what she wanted to do in regards to her treatment...
I feel like she did it for us.

- I wish I'd seen that email on July 4th when she emailed me late at night - The next day, she was at the ER and never came home.
- I wish I'd answered her last phone call - 
- I wish I'd been more affectionate with her  
- I wish I'd had more patience sometimes
- I wish I'd sat in the hospital room with her longer - even though she was unaware of my presence.

I could go on and on but I won't.   If any of my friends or family read this, I know they'd say that I'm so wrong for feeling this way.  Even the monsignor at mom's funeral mass said so... but I struggle with it, still.  I hate all these what ifs and should haves.  I just want that chance to do it over and it differently.   When we knew she had breast cancer, we felt like we had a fighting chance - then she was diagnosed with the lung cancer not even a month later, and we suited up and went to war.  Sometimes, when I sit in the quiet and really think about it, I realize that it was such a fast moving journey.  We just didn't get the TIME we needed.  Mom didn't get the time SHE needed.

 Grief really bites the big one and I guess this is the kind of thing you go through.    A few months after Mom passed, I experienced a crazy ass panic attack at Wal-Mart... of all places.   I had no idea what was going on, I just knew that I felt like a basket case and couldn't wait to get out of there.   I was shaky, felt like my feet were not touching the ground and I needed to hold onto something.  I remember grabbing onto a Doritos display closest to the checkout and just kind of stood there. (this was actually funny when I was relaying the incident to my sister).      But that really scared me.   Then in the months that followed, it seemed to happen more.   I finally realized that these were panic attacks.  I'd  never experienced that in my life before.  A few days ago, I had another one and now I can't help but wonder if it's something like PTSD, that I'm experiencing.  Does that happen to people who have suffered such a personal loss?   Not liking it, at all.  (nope, not at all)  **that was for you, Tam**

I just wish that we were granted one last conversation with someone who has passed on - I need to know that Mom's not mad or upset with me or us... That she feels we did what was best for her.   I hate this feeling.  The doctors are quick to console you and tell you that "this is the right decision" .. and it's "what's best"..   She's just a patient to them.  She's the woman in Room #4.     She didn't talk them through their first heartbreak, she didn't run them to CHOP in a snowstorm, in a taxi, because she wanted to save their life,  she didn't wipe away their tears or nurse their skinned knees from roller skates and bike wheelies.   They didn't call her Mom... We did.  She was (is) our Mom and she's gone.   I don't know how anyone ever gets over that.  Sometimes I awake from a dream and then gasp out loud "Oh my gosh, Mom actually died"..  What the fuck?
I thought it was weird at first, but one day I had a long conversation with Mom.. Well, I guess it's not a conversation unless more than one person is talking... so I guess I was just talking to her.  Once I started, I was so at ease with it.   (I'm listening to music on my iPhone while writing this and a song called "You're not alone" by Meredith Andrews just came on).   Thanks Mom.

When I was looking through last year's Christmas photos, I realized that there will be no more pictures of Mom in the coming holidays etc.   It's a dreadful feeling, deep down in my gut.  I can't stand the thought of it.  It almost makes me lose my breath, just considering it.    I'm a big fan of Jodi Picoult and some of the lines in her books have stuck with me forever...  These come to mind, so often:
“There should be a statute of limitation on grief. A rulebook that says it is all right to wake up crying, but only for a month. That after 42 days you will no longer turn with your heart racing, certain you have heard her call out your name. That there will be no fine imposed if you feel the need to clean out her desk; take down her artwork from the refrigerator; turn over a school portrait as you pass - if only because it cuts you fresh again to see it. That it's okay to measure the time she has been gone, the way we once measured her birthdays.”
―     Jodi Picoult  - My Sister's Keeper
 "Someone once told me that when you give birth to a daughter, you've just met the person whose hand you'll be holding the day you die"     - Jodi Picoult - Change Of Heart
I'm sure it's because it's still early, but I catch myself referring to Mom in the present.  I'll say "Oh, my mom says that".. or "My mom likes that too".      I don't know if people pick up on it and frankly, I don't care what they think about it.. It's just that I notice it.  It's a silly thing to even worry about.
I just have to pray each day for strength and wisdom to work through this as best I can.   It's not the easiest thing in the world.   There are good days and bad days.. but I do think it's getting easier. 
I'm sorry, if you're a follower of my blog, and you're already sick of my posts about grief, loss and all that good stuff.   I've always been a writer and have always found peace with journaling my emotions.. whether they were good or bad. 
I decided to post some pics of Mom today, so that there is a face to go with all these posts - She was so cute and tiny.   The first one is a picture after the Johnny Maestro concert that I took her to.  She had no idea where we were going but was thrilled when she saw him come out on stage!   The 2nd pic is Mom and her cousin.... at my bridal shower.   They look like sisters...