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...
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Monday, February 03, 2014

Morbid or weird thoughts, anyone?

My husband and I have some pretty good conversations.  We can talk about almost anything.  I say almost anything, because he does cringe at certain subjects like female reproductive issues and anything that accompanies it.     But when it comes to the good stuff, the real deep stuff, we can really talk at length.
The other night we were discussing his very good friend who eulogized his mother at her funeral last Saturday.   Jeff was expressing how sad it was, seeing his friend break down a few times during his heartfelt tribute to his Mom.
 I didn't read my Mom's eulogy but I wrote it.   I was sure I couldn't do it.   I regret that I didn't even try.  Damn it.   Sorry Mom.     Jeff agreed that he is confident that he won't be able to do that for either of his parents.   In hindsight, I don't know why people hesitate.   I mean, it's a funeral, don't people expect you to be a blubbering mess, full of emotion that you just can't hide?    Surely, it's a right of passage for the grieving.

In having this talk, I told Jeff that I want to pen my own eulogy.  Complete silence in the car, but knowing me like he does, he knew there was a story coming.

I know that my mom felt much the same way as I do in thinking this way.   I want to know what my friends and family think of me while I'm still alive.  If you appreciate me or want to tell me how I changed your life, how I made you smile, then tell me while I'm here.    The thing about funerals and eulogies is that someone or someone(s) get up and tell a short story about who you were and what you brought to people's lives.  How they loved you and your funny quirks, how you were the life of a party, or the quiet guy.   I want to pen my eulogy and tell all my friends and family just how important and instrumental they were to ME, in MY life.  We should always let people know how important they are to us and how much we appreciate them in our lives.  But we don't.
I can't say that I do it as much as I could.

  My mom always said she didn't want anyone attending her funeral, who didn't come see her when she was living.   Makes sense.  I think I can say, with utmost confidence, who will attend my services... so I'm going to be sure to write everyone, I can think of,  in my farewell speech. 
I'm sure everyone in attendance will think "Well, this is new".... But as it goes on, there will be laughter, crying, reflecting.... All good things.   Unless you pissed me off in some way, I might have to put that in there and make you look like a fool.   HA!   Just kidding...

I know it's an odd subject that I chose to write about but I wanted to finally get it out on my blog - Sorry if I weirded anybody out.   Maybe you're thinking about it now too! 




Monday, January 06, 2014

Fare thee well 2013 - I hated you.

Hate is a strong word.  When we were growing up, if we said we hated something, my mom used to say "You don't hate, you dislike"  ...
We always had fun with that one. I'd say "Yeah, well I really dislike this/that an awful lot".


Even though I titled it as such,  I may not have hated 2013 entirely. There had to be some memorable moments about it and there were.
 Good memories, like Mother's Day at Smithville with my sister, niece and Mom.  Even though it was marred a little by an emotional Mom expressing her fears about dying and a story she'd seen on the news about a woman who had an encouraging tale about her lung cancer treatment.
etc.   I tried to nip that in the bud; the fear and the tears.
 I just wanted her to enjoy the day.  From the time of Mom's diagnosis (and even before- because we knew what we knew)...  I treated every holiday/birthday as if it might be the last.
 Mom's days were usually busy with radiation in the beginning and then chemo once the radiation treatments were through, coupled with regular doctor's visits, lab work, scans..  etc..  She never got a break, except on the weekends.  It was then that she wasn't distracted by the hustle & bustle and had time to just worry for hours on end.   So, yes, I wanted to talk about anything but CANCER on Mother's Day, with her.
 
I'm so hopeful that 2014 will be a good year, I'm almost convinced that I can will it to happen.   Mom shuttered at the number 13 -   So it's even more ironic that 2013 was such a shitty year for her AND her services were on the 13th of the month.   I get it now, Mom.   

I don't want to recant a year that was nothing but fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  But it did seem like it all happened so fast.   It was July 2012 when my brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer, then he had his emergency surgery on July 5th, which, one year later in 2013, was the same day Mom went into cardiac arrest at the same hospital.  
She died on July 10th.    So, there you go, July... I hate you too.  I mean, I dislike you.  A lot.  I know it wasn't just me or my family that had a terrible year.  There are blog friends who had an awful year, and at work?  Forget it.  I think I brought the black cloud with me.   So many losses, sickness, health scares, etc.    I guess when you work for a big company, those things are more apparent, but it has been crazy.   Someone lost his wife, I lost my mom, someone lost her husband and recently, a coworker lost his dad.   It seemed to be a year of pure hell.   My coworkers and I all agreed that it was trying and difficult but we made it through.  TOGETHER.

After Mom passed, I spent the remainder of 2013 on an emotional rollercoaster, that I am definitely still on.  It was tough getting through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas without her.   I have to be honest in telling you that the hardest holiday for me was.. Halloween.   I was driving home from work and saw the droves of kids trick or treating and I lost it.  I knew my sisters and nieces were meeting me at home and I was such a sobbing mess.   Thank God they weren't here yet.  I kept telling my husband I couldn't make sense of it.   Halloween?    But then again, Mom loved Halloween... We always loved it, even as kids.   Then when my niece came along, Mom's first grand child, it was an even bigger deal for us.  Each year, my sister, Mom, my niece and I would all go out trick or treating.  It was one of those things that brought such joy to Mom and we made sure it happened. 

I realize that 2014 will be the first FULL year without Mom in my life & I don't know how the days will go.   I won't get a Valentine's card or an Easter card, no birthday card.. She used to stay up until midnight to text me on my birthday.  She never missed it.    There will be a lot of firsts... But I will get through it the best I can.   This may sound crazy but, because I'm convinced that Mom is always with me, I try so hard not to cry about missing her, because I feel like it will make her sad.  My mom never liked seeing us hurt.   I often didn't tell her things because she felt it ten times more than I did.  Her heart would break for mine.    She didn't like to see any of her kids hurting.  Even when my Mom was battling cancer, she was concerned about MY health.  I guess that's just what a Mom does.  Not everyone's that lucky, so I do appreciate it and always did.

If I knew that 2012 was the last FULL year I spent with Mom, I would've really made it remarkable for her.   I did throw her a 60th birthday party that summer, and I know it made her day.  It was small, but it meant so much to her.    

I want 2014 to be a year of new beginnings & good health.. and I know that I am the beholder of those things happening.   I have to put the negative things behind me and hold on to the good that came out of them.    Because, friends, there really were good things.  My family saw major breakthroughs that really helped heal my heart, even if temporarily.    I think I finally got people to see that there aren't always second chances and you don't always get to say what you meant to say.
In the summer, there were giant steps made & then on Christmas day?  It might have seemed like a small gesture to my brother, but the joy that my heart felt outweighed any gift that I've ever received.     It was a gift that could only be FELT and it was the best, ever.   See, my dad and my brother have been estranged for a while now.   My brother and I haven't; we're very close, in fact.
So, I  reached out to my brother and asked him to come to Dad's for breakfast on Christmas morning.   I asked him to at least think about it.  Well, he came... and it was an emotional time for everyone, I think.  My dad was so visibly happy.   Maybe, just maybe, it was a clean slate and life will pick up where it left off.

I know I'm going to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding -  I know that the year ahead can be prosperous and promising.   I know it will be hard, without my mom, but that void will remain as long as I live.    I just can't let it dictate my life or hold me down - I have to be strong.

Happy New Year to all my friends ~  May you have a fresh new start, lots of new memories and awesome beginnings.  
My goals are to be healthier, exercise more and blog more regularly!  Here's hopin'! 

















Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Gradation Nail Polishes

I also received this fab fun polish set from Influenster, on behalf of Kiss Nail Art. (in my Rose VoxBox)  The first time I used it, it didn't turn out as nicely as the photo on the package, BUT then I read the instructions AGAIN and I actually did it right the next time around.   My fault.
This stuff is awesome!  When I was finished, it looked as if I'd just left the nail salon.  I'm so glad that I got it in the Noir color scheme because it's totally ME.  There are other colors that it comes in.  Check them out here..  http://www.kissusa.com/nails/nail_art/gradation_kit
It looks so nice!    If you like to polish your nails at home and are looking for a new, fun polish to use, this is it.   It's called Gradation because it gives you a layered, gradation look on your nails.   I loved it.
The kit comes with 3 polishes that you do in steps.   The first one you have to let dry COMPLETELY.
The other 2, you have to put on pretty close together in time.    I can't wait to try another color.  Especially the Exposure one.



Sunday, December 01, 2013

Turkey Day recap

Just as I anticipated, Thanksgiving went somewhat as usual.   With the exception of Mom not being here for dinner, not much waivered.   I was very moody the week leading up to Thanksgiving, I think because it was weighing heavily on my mind, that Mom wasn't going to be with us this year.  The first in several years.   I didn't know if I'd be overly emotional or not.   But, luckily, between going to the inlaws' for appetizers and coming home to spend dinner time with my sister, niece, husband and brother, I guess I was distracted just enough to not dwell on Mom's absence.  Of course, I thought about her ALL DAY, but I worked hard to not fall into a sad place. 

Friday, for some reason, seemed to be all together different.  I kept my niece overnight so we could do some shopping on Black Friday.   Yes, she is 7 ...but was really excited to do the "shopping" thing we'd talked about so much.    So, we went to the mall and did a little shopping and ulitmately met my sister for lunch.   It was there, in the mall, that I started getting really emotional - and I couldn't understand why.    The one store we went into, had a DJ playing some great dance tunes, and some of the customers were actually dancing!  How fun and upbeat!  I thought it was awesome but at the same time, I kept tearing up.   I don't get it... but it happened. 
Maybe because Christmas will be that much harder this year - I thought it was getting easier since Thanksgiving didn't prove to be that sad, but maybe it was just different for some reason.

We had our nice turkey dinner and I burned the memory candle for Mom, that we got at the remembrance mass a couple of weeks ago... so I know she was with us in spirit.   (I'll post about that too) -- It was really beautiful.
My sister whipped up Mom's recipe for stuffing, and man, did it ever taste just like Mom's!  She'd have been proud!   My brother came by, and we had birthday cake for him and his girlfriend.  They're only a day apart - the 29th and the 30th.   They weren't expecting the cake so that was a nice surprise.

Now, I'm all turkey'd out and looking forward to getting things together for Christmas.  Lots of decorating to be done.   I just dread hanging the lights on the house.  I always get the task of holding the ladder still, while Jeff climbs to hang the lights.  Scares the crap out of me every year. 

I hope you all had a great holiday with loved ones.   I'm thankful for so many things this year.
Even though we lost my mom to it, I'm very grateful for my brother being cancer free... and for my family coming together, even a little at a time.    I'm grateful for all of you too - You all keep me sane through this crazy ride called life...



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sunshine Blog Award



One of my sweet, real life friends, who shares the love of blogging, has nominated me for the Sunshine Blog Award!  I'm so thrilled & truly honored that my blog has inspired others & left an impression..You can check out Gina's heartfelt, inspirational blog here.     You'll be so glad you stopped by and I know you'll go back.  I really feel that Gina has inspired me to write more and stay more current with my posts.  She introduced me to She Writes and really encourages me to be all that I can as a writer/blogger.  I honestly think she has lit a fire within me.    I'm eager to dig down deep and see what I can come up with.  (Gina, you know that I nominate you and you inspire me to the deepest definition of the word) -- But, I won't tag you below - as I know you've done this once already and are busy writing your next book! ♥

Here's a little bit about the award:

The Sunshine Blog Award is passed on by bloggers to other bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”  There are a few rules that every blogger nominated for this award have to follow:


1.       Acknowledge the nominating blogger with a link and post about your award.


2.      Share 10 random facts by answering the questions the nominating blogger has created for you.


3.       Pass on the Sunshine Blog Award to other bloggers (up to 10) of your choice and let them   know you nominated them.


4.       Post 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer on their blog.

So, here are Gina's 10 questions to me -  Enjoy!   And don't forget to scroll down after reading, so you can see who I can nominated & my questions for those nominees.


1.       Why did you decide to create your blog?   I started this blog many moons ago.. I always wrote as a child and into my young adult years. I kept journals, diaries; anything I could record my thoughts in.  Good, bad, fears, hopes.... So when I learned about Blogger, I was eager to get started -  I find that typing my thoughts comes so much easier than actually writing.

2.       What do you enjoy most about blogging?     I find that keeping a blog is a way to record my memories and to express things that I might not be able to express in person... I like to share my experiences and read about others' life events & experiences as well.   It's a way to sit down and just let it all out.  When it's "YOUR" blog, you have all that control - and can be brutally honest and open when you want to.  (Not always without judgement, as we all know).    

3.       Tell us something about yourself that most of your fellow authors/bloggers do not know.
I think most of my followers might wonder if or why I don't have children to blog about yet. (I have envy when I see all those pictures and such)    I'm unable to have children - (on my own at least) - In all the 8 or so years I've had my blog, I only ever posted maybe twice about this

4.       At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?   I try not to do it at work, but I find some quiet time there.   My preference is at night, in bed, when all is quiet and my mind is at ease.

5.       What is your favorite cuisine?   Italian - Always has been and always will be.  Drove my mom crazy! Little ol' Irish mom.      I love a good chicken parm!   

6.       What are some of your favorite books?   I usually read 2 books at a time - One at home and one at work (lunch break) -  I enjoy Jodi Picoult, Emily Giffin, Nicholas Sparks - but I like to read non-fiction more, I think.   Alice Sebold's "Lucky" was an excellent read - as was Jeanette Walls "The Glass Castle" and I can't forget "Heaven is For Real", by Todd Burpo... Very enlightening.

7.       What are some of your favorite movies?  Save the Last Dance, The Notebook, Dirty Dancing, The Family Stone, anything with Robert DeNiro (especially Everybody's Fine)  anything with Ed Norton, (especially Primal Fear).  

8.       If you could travel anywhere right now, at this very moment, where would it be?  Why? 
       I guess I would say Ireland -  It looks so beautiful & picturesque - Something about it seems so peaceful.   I know it would be a serene place to visit for a week or two and just relax with my thoughts.

9.       If you could have an intimate dinner with six people who you will probably never meet in this lifetime, who would they be?  Why? (they could be celebrities, famous icons, bands, etc.)
        Pope Francis - I'd love to have a conversation with him.   Cesar Milan - I need help with my dog training.    Dr. Oz - I believe in his knowledge and advice.   Dr. Phil - to talk to him about a very personal matter.     Lady Gaga - She seems so unique and genuine.     Joel Osteen - I'd love a sit down with him, listening to his inspirational wisdom.

10.   What has been your best achievement to this date?    I found myself staring at the blank screen on this one.   I can't pin down what I think the best answer is to this.  I don't feel that I've made my best achievement yet... I'm proud of things that I have done thus far... Like helping the needy by forming my own food drives, organizing fundraisers, finding a great job that I'm actually happy with, having my (our) first home...

Now, please read below to see who I nominated for the SunShine Award and to see your questions!

I nominated: 

Brie:    http://www.abreezylife.com/   - I've been reading Brie's blog for a while now and only recently started commenting.  So I was 'lurking' I guess. HAH!   I enjoy Brie's blog because it's so damn honest and expressive.  She shares some of life's best and worst moments with her readers.   I appreciate her honesty and her fearless ability to share with us what most people can't or won't.   Brie's blog can be funny as hell, honest as hell, sad as hell.  It's well written and never loses my interest.   She writes about working on her marriage, her adorable little boy who has Autism, and life, as it happens.

     Marla:  http://www.luckfupus.com/   -  Marla happens to be Brie's sister!   I actually happened upon Marla's blog by way of Brie's blog.   Marla writes, candidly, about Lupus and the havoc is has wreaked on her life and her body.  It doesn't stop at Lupus, trust me.
   I love Marla's "tell it straight" approach.   Her blog is chock full of humor, facts, inspiration, she has said FUCK more times than an HBO comedy hour... and I love it!    I laugh, I cry, and I always go back for more.  

Sarah:    http://inmyblondelife.blogspot.com/     One of the first blogs I started following - I keep up with Sarah's posts and she is great about keeping current. (not that I know anything about that)...    Blogs like Sarah's are the milestone blogs, to me.   You can actually "go through" the different life events with some bloggers and I feel like I've been able to do that!   She always uses pictures in her posts whenever she can, which, as you know, really adds to the feel of the post!  I loved reading about wedding plans and now seeing all the updates and "stuff" going on as she starts married life.  I'm excited about the future baby posts already.  ??

        Insert name here:  (sorry I don't know her name,  I'm being tacky)   http://jer2911theplansihaveforyou.blogspot.com/     I want to say that I fell upon this blog by way of another friend's page.   I love reading this blog because it just MAKES ME HAPPY.    I can't really explain that but it's just full of happy things.  She blogs about her journey to adoption (she and her husband adopted 2 Russian children) .. It's such a wonderful story and even more exciting when you read about the phone call to bring home their 2nd bundle of pure joy.  Not every single post is all sunshine and lollipops; they've had their tribulations, but I just find it so wonderful to keep up with.   I think it might have been the first blog that ever made me actually sob.   The post where their beloved dog was dying and he must've known it.   I'm telling you:  sobbing, frog in the throat kind of stuff.  You have to read it.

    Insert another name here:  Same deal, I never saw or remember seeing her name.    http://catholicmomscorner.blogspot.com/       I found this blog when I was searching for information on a bible study we were doing at our church.   I really felt connected to her, through a lot of topics and we "discuss" different views and thoughts on things that center around Catholicism. Not just religion though, believe me.  It's a great read.
  I thought it was a very interesting story on how she came back to the church.  She's offered me a lot of wisdom and heartfelt advice on losing my mom, having lost her own mother a few years back.  I like her wit and her honesty and her style of writing.
  She talks about work, marriage, her kids....

So, carry on and check out the questions below that I have for my fellow bloggers above!
Have fun...

1.)   If he/she knows, what does your spouse/other, have to say about the "blog thing"?


2.)  Have you ever met one of your readers? 


3.)  What do you find easiest AND most difficult about blogging?


4.)   Have you outed your blog on Facebook or other social media?  Why or why not?


5.)  You won the megamillions!  Very FIRST thing you'd purchase...

6.)  Name something you think we'd be surprised to hear about YOU.


7.)   Have you ever had a reader leave nasty/ridiculous comments on your blog?


8.)   How many months or years have you been blogging? 


9.)   Do you do any writing besides on blogger?  Magazines? Newspapers?


10.)   Favorite vacation or most memorable moment...





Thursday, November 14, 2013

November

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month & truth be told, I was never AWARE of anything lung cancer until my mom was diagnosed this past January.    I hate that I knew so little before and even during her diagnosis/battle.  I hate that I dismissed her fears whenever she'd bring them to me... I hate that I didn't FORCE her to get that chest x-ray that Christmas when we were going shopping.   She just had a chest cold, right?  Doc was looking for pneumonia, right?   WRONG.   How stupid of me.  I knew nothing.....and I'm not ashamed to say so, just pissed off.

We never knew - 
I've always been the kind of gal that loves to capture the moment in pictures.  I have so many photo albums and loose pictures in photo boxes at home, my husband thinks I'm a pack rat.  I say I'm sentimental.    Pictures capture life in a way that's so amazing.   I rarely forget anything but if I do forget a special moment or event, it's not long before I land upon a photo that brings it all back.
Lately, I've been finding pictures of Mom all over the place. -  Most are ones that have always been out in the open, whether on Facebook or in my house in a frame... but it's the older ones that make me stop in my tracks. 
I find myself wondering, in all those photos, if Mom had lung cancer back then.    What we know of the type of lung cancer she did have, it was Non Small Cell, which doctors told us was the slower growing type.   That makes me believe that Mom had this lung cancer for years before it was detected.   And then, hearing it was inoperable, because it had invaded her chest wall, it really confirmed that this tumor had long set up camp years back.   So, yes, now I look at photos of Mom, through the past few years, and I study it, wondering if she had the beginnings of lung cancer back then and we never knew it. I literally ask myself EACH and EVERY time I see a photo now. And it's getting to the point of obsessing about it.
I have to know!  That bastard tumor was there, while we danced at my wedding, when my niece started kindergarten, when my sister graduated nursing school?  Fucker.   But she looked so healthy too... Makes no sense.






My stomach drops every time I see her in a photo at a party, or a dance recital, or a BBQ, and I realize that she'd already had lung cancer. 
All those months or years ago, it could have been detected.  But yet, it wasn't.   Mom never had any symptoms, other than what we thought might have been a cold, or the usual smoker's cough.   Nope, we found out all too late.  And not even because she was being checked for a lung condition.   She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, that we were confident she could beat, and it was during her pre-op testing that they found the lung tumor on a chest x-ray.   What the hell?    I still remember  the medical secretary from the breast surgeon's office calling me - she said I had to get Mom to the ER right then, because her chest x-ray results were "off the wall".   Kind of a strange play on words for a medical professional but I realized later that it was pretty alarming to see. (which I eventually did).      The tumor had literally consumed her left lung and had weighed it down.   Seeing the x-ray?   Bizarre.     
I can honestly say that I knew little to nothing about lung cancer until my mom was diagnosed.  I'm disgusted to find out that there is so little awareness for it and even less funding.   It sucks that, more often than not, lung cancer is found in the late stage(s).  By the time most people are diagnosed, the cancer is already advanced and the survival rates are so discouraging.   This has to change - We need to help make that change.    This month, shout it from the roof tops, post it all over social media ... Make your voice heard for everyone affected by lung cancer.   Talk to friends and family who smoke and even those who don't, but might be exhibiting some of the tell-tale symptoms.   Anyone can get lung cancer, not just smokers.   Yes, my mom did smoke, but she didn't deserve lung cancer.   She DID deserve to enjoy her grandchildren, to finally win at bingo, to enjoy more bonfires in my backyard, to see the fireworks on New Year's Eve.....
*I'm raising my voice this November & I want to be heard*