24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

It is 10:00 am and I thought I'd be up around 7:00 am to finish last minute things. I am still in my pajamas and trying very hard not to freak. We are supposed to be at my in-laws at 11:30 am and I'm not ready! Aalyia has a 102 temp this morning and looks beat up. Roci wanted me to help her finish her christmas gift for someone and I thought she had finished it already.
We are supposed to take a van full of items to the church for Gage's Eagle Scout project in order to assemble gift bags for the Rescue Mission tomorrow. Oh, did I mention a TV crew will be meeting us to interview Gage at 3:00pm?
I wanted the week before Christmas to be relaxing. I got my Christmas cards out the day before Thanksgiving. I started shopping back in October. I got my baking done last week and delivered. I even pared down my list so I wouldn't have 60 people to deliver to! ( Sixteen was the limit!)
We are entertaining about 26 people at 5:00 this evening at my home. I haven't even finished cleaning:) Did I mention I could use a shower??
So, here it is on the eve of the memory of the Savior's birth and I'm worried about what?
I asked Roci this morning what her favorite thing about Christmas was and she said she couldn't tell me it was presents and spending time with her family because I'd get mad. We had a talk about the atonement and about Jesus being born and she said she knew it was important and she was thankful for His sacrifice. I thought at that moment, 'Am I focusing on what is important???'
So, I am taking a deep breath and counting my blessings. I am so thankful for my Savior. I am thankful that I have a testimony of Him and that I know Him. I am thankful that 12 years ago, my son's simple question of 'Is there a Heaven?', and 'Will you always be my mom?', prompted my husband and I to ask questions and look for 'something', to look for truth. I am thankful to have learned and still be learning of the purpose of life. I am thankful for my family and friends and all the material things God has blessed me with that I am so not worthy to have. But, I do know that Jesus has made it possible. In return, I will work on being a good person and share my knowledge of the truth of Him.
Now, I am ready to go through the rest of the day and weekend focusing on my Savior and, I'm sure, having moments where I will regress and freak out about running out of drinks and why my kids don't seem to listen when their friends are over. But then, I will remember to turn my thoughts back to where they belong this season (and every day!), and thank my Father in Heaven for my amazing life. God bless you all and have a Merry Christams!

15 December 2009

A visit with Leah

I have a friend from college named Joanne who is amazing! I am so grateful that we have formed a bond that has endured throughout the years! She is a great-aunt to a young girl named Alyiah (nickname, Leah) who is from Florida. Ever since my girls have been introduced to her, they have become the best of buddies.

Anytime Leah is visiting from Florida she asks to see my girls. Her parents drove out from Florida to be here for the birth of Sophia Riley, who happens to be Leah's new cousin. Well, as babies will do, Sophia took her time coming so Leah was left with some free time on her hands.

Joanne thought it would be fun to take the girls out to Yankee candle and treat them to some fun and food.

Roci and Aalyia have always wanted to make a hand wax mold so, of course, Joanne said sure!

This is my Aalyia's little hand. Isn't it small??

Here is Roci having hers taken off.

After the candle dipping, we went to Santa's workshop and closed the store there. We arrived around 5:00 pm so it gave us about an hour to tour the place and it was just enough time for the girls to enjoy playing around!
We went to Chandler's Tavern for dinner. The girls were very excited that Santa was having dinner at the Tavern and wanted to have their picture taken with him. Well, Santa was having dinner with 'select' customers that evening whom I'm sure paid a lot of money to have him all to themselves, but the girls would not be dissuaded. They stood behind his chair (while he was still visiting with the customers!), and patiently waited for him to finish so they could get their picture! Leah's mom, Elise, was the one who went with them and took the photo. She is brave because I know I didn't have it in me to be that courageous! Santa was very sweet and visited with the girls for a few minutes.

We had such a great time visiting with Joanne and her family. They were all so sweet. I felt bad for Emily, Joanne's niece, because she was the one expecting Sophia and she looked like she was ready :) Thanks Joanne for being such a gracious hostess! You've made some fun memories...

10 December 2009

Salem Cross Inn

Yup! That thar is Prime rib!!!!
Bobby's company Christmas dinner was hosted at Salem Cross Inn in W. Brookfield, MA. It is a 600 acre inn that has theme dinners and is known for their Apple Pie (and incredible whipped cream!) The company flipped the bill for half so we thought this would be the only way to afford taking the whole family.

When you arrive at the inn, they send you to a waiting area in the basement where you have appetizers and take a sleigh ride. You are also served a spiced cider (which was way yummy), and you are able to help prepare the meal you will eat. The girls were able to help peel apples and watch this amazing lady assemble the giant pies. I didn't get a picture of the rolling pin, but it was BIG. If any wife hit her husband on the head with it, he'd be dead on the spot.

It was snowing out so the sleigh ride was on! It was a wet snow, so I opted to stay in by the warm fire while Bobby and the girls got soaked. But, Mercedes was willing to run out and get this picture for me!
Here is the nice lady putting one of the pies together. Did you see the pan to the right with the five hundred pounds of apples in it???
After the prime rib is done, they bring out this huge black kettle to make fish chowder. The audience was able to participate by stirring the pot and throwing in the ingredients. They had like 5 or 6 different fish!

Roci wanted to stir but found out very quickly how hot is was in that fire pit! I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy eating.
The inn hosts a murder mystery dinner and we are hoping to get a group together to go maybe next summer or fall!

02 December 2009

Aalyia is growing up...

Here is a picture of my baby girl. Can you see her red eyes?? Those were caused by her mama.

She's had a lose tooth forever. When she first showed it to me I told her NOT to wiggle it. Why?? Because she's my baby, my youngest. It's bitter-sweet for me. Though I have NO desire to have another baby, I do want to enjoy my lasts; last first loose tooth, last learn to read, ride a bike, etc.

Well, Aalyia is a good listener and she did not wiggle her tooth. Her adult tooth was tired of waiting and decided to come up behind it. I know, I'm selfish. Anyway, I told her she needed to start wiggling it like crazy so her new tooth could come in straight.

SO, she started wiggling the little bugger and it wasn't really budging. Her sisters were giving her advice on how to get it out. 'Use a toothbrush and knock it out.' (that would be Mercedes),

'Let Mom pull it out.' I thought that one was a good idea. I've had lots of practice. Now, Aalyia is my most sensitive one. I don't mean she cries easily, she just really feels things deeply. She was uncontrollably sobbing at Merecedes' quincenera because she was so happy for her. She cries at sad parts in movies. She cried when Zachary was born. So, with her I try to remind myself to tread lightly because I'm not very patient. I decided to let her take her time. She was afraid of it hurting. Contrary to popular belief, I don't like to inflict pain. (Ask Bobby about his sunburn.)

After a few weeks, she started to complain about it hurting. I told her that since it is coming apart at the root that it would be sharp and would cut into her gum so it was going to feel sore.

On Sunday evening, I finally coaxed her into letting me start to wiggle it for her. She made me promise I wouldn't pull on it, just wiggle. I told her we could get some Coldstone ice cream if it came out. Well, we sat for about 2 hours chatting, wiggling, chatting, wiggling etc. We loosened it alot, but it wasn't coming out. Finally, I knew she'd had enough so I told her that we could continue on Monday and she should get some rest and, of course, I would still take her to get ice cream when it fell out. Well, Roci convinced her to give her a shot and she actually got it moving well. Aalyia came running to me and told me that she thought it was ready because Roci had helped her. Of course, I ask to see and I wiggled it and it was so loose that I just decided to pull it . Out it came and so did the tears! She told me it hurt. It was bleeding and Roci starts to yell, " Oh my gosh Mom! Look at all the blood!!' Aalyia had a panic look on her face and I tried to distract her by showing her the tooth. "Look honey! Look how tiny it is! Yea! Now it won't bother you anymore!' She tried to smile and wipe her tears as she cried.

Oh, how that broke my heart. I don't know if I'm a bad parent but when some of my kids cry it's like, 'Suck it up', and when others cry you want to just shrivel up inside.

Here is her before picture. She's so happy!

Now the tooth is out and she has it in a little zip lock baggie to show everyone. Now that the trauma is over, she is so thrilled! And she is patiently waiting to go to Coldstone Creamery after lunch today!

17 November 2009

Something to be thankful for...

I received a frantic phone call around 9:00 am Saturday morning from my brother. The conversation went something like this:
Adrean: "Someone needs to get down here right now, someone hit our car." (Yelling)
Me: " Adrean??"
Adrean: " I said someone needs to get the **** here because someone hit us. Melisa and Eli aren't answering their phones. Why don't they answer." (more intense)
Me : " Are you downstairs??" ( I was very confused.)
Adrean: " NO! We are on Parker Street and some maniac flew over the median and we got hit... it's pretty bad."
Me: " Uhhh..... I will be right there. Where exactly are you?"(trying not to panic)
Adrean: "We're hard to miss. We are in the middle of Parker St. near Boston Rd. and Walgreens. (a little more calmly)
Me: " I'm on my way ( I can hear a man's voice and he sounds like he's arguing)
It took me seconds to dress and run out the door. My sister called me just a couple of minutes later telling me she was on her way there. I told her I'd meet her there and hung up. She called me back just a minute later to tell me the road was blocked and that the accident was pretty bad. She said that there were several police cars and many officers. There were also three ambulances and they were putting mom in one and she wasn't responding to the paramedics. She told me to park at the Circut City and I could just walk into the street.
All sorts of things rushed through my mind. I thought about how many times I make my kids give me a hug and kiss when they leave because, 'I could get hit by a bus, you know. It happens', or ' It's not far-fetched for me to have a heart attack and drop dead, I am over 40 you know'. I also try to keep that in mind when I'm upset with my husband for being a husband and he wants a hug and I won't give him one because I'm upset and, of course, I'm right and want to be acknowledged.
I also thought about the last time I spoke with my mom and how I was preoccupied cleaning something and not giving her my full attention. I couldn't even remember the last time I spoke with my brother. I thought about how much I miss my father and nephew and the last time I heard my mother-in-law laugh. She had a great laugh. I thought about spending this holiday as an adult orphan.
Then, I got very angry. Angry because why does it take a tragedy to wake us out of our routines and remind us how short life is? Why is it that we have these tragedies and sometimes they are only enough to wake us for a short time, only to have us fall back into our patterns.
I used to think I wouldn't be able to live if something happened to one of my children, and my sister has taught me that as much as you want to give up, life goes on and there are so many people who love you and still need you here.
My sister-in-law and husband showed me how important siblings are when you lose a parent and how comforting it is to have that connection together and be there for each other. My family showed me that no matter what issues you may have with each other that when you lose your father, we are here for each other.
So how can these painful lessons be pushed to the back of our minds only to have them crash on us in a moment of ugly reality???
I can't tell you how grateful I am that I did not lose my mom and my brother in this accident. Had my mom been just a little further ahead in the road, just inches, she could have been killed. The SUV smashed into the front driver's side and was sitting on the hood of the car. That's a little too close for comfort.
I still don't understand why some people survive some things and others don't. I don't believe God causes these things to happen. I do know, though, that He is here for us as long as we seek Him and ask for His presence in our lives. He comforts, loves, and is merciful. and for that I am thankful....

15 November 2009

Our favorite Westside Fam

I would like to introduce my niece Jillian (above) and nephew Ben (below). Jillian enjoys playing soccer for West Springfield. Her team took 2 trophies at the end of the season; one for 1st place champs and the other for 1st place in the league. I knew those LONG legs would be good for something other than dancing! Way to go!
Ben's team, the Wolverines, did not win their last game against Agawam, although I hear they didn't go down without a fight!!! I must say he looks very striking in his uniform! Good job Ben and good luck next year!
I want them to know how proud I am of them and how blessed they are to have parents that are so dedicated. You don't know how lucky you guys are... then again, maybe you do;)

05 November 2009

Ghosts of Halloween past....

I came across this picture the other day and decided it to use it as a screen saver on my desktop. I smiled and put it on not really thinking much about it at first.
I have now seen this picture more times than I can count in the last few weeks and just today I was overwhelmed with feelings of home.
I grew up in Long Branch, New Jersey and have missed it since we moved here back in '82. Long Branch is where I call home. I grew up minutes from a beautiful beach and an amazing boardwalk where people from all over would flock to on the weekends for sun, fishing and entertainment.
Long Branch was home to gorgeous mansions on Ocean Avenue in the late 1800's. In the 70's, it was home to a boardwalk with runway games, roller coasters, carousel, bumper cars, storefronts, restaurants,a fishing pier, an outdoor roller rink that over looked the ocean and a saltwater pool with water slides! Cotton candy, saltwater taffy, rock candy, and all the junk food you could want! Stores that sold all the latest clothing styles ie; anything disco or disco like. It was also home to the Haunted Mansion. It was a huge, black house with windows covered in black paint. There were actors who walked the many themed rooms in the mansion just waiting to scare the pants off anyone who dared walk through its doors. It was scary and so much fun! I never missed a chance to go in when relatives and friends wanted to go, even if it meant that a lot of the time I left crying and had trouble sleeping for days after my visits. But I could not miss. You can imagine that around Halloween time the line to get into the mansion could be over 2 hours! But people waited. Every so often, the interior of the house received makeovers. So you never new what you were walking into or who was hiding where.
This day , in the photo, happened to be a Halloween where my uncles were visting from Massachusetts and we went to the boardwalk and waited to get in. My mom decided afterward that it would be fun to have a party at home so , along with my cousins and my little brother, we decorated our livingroom and came up with costumes to celebrate the occasion.
I was a clown along with my cousin Mary. My brother Gill, was a hunchback. My uncle Willson was the Incredible Hulk ( I won't tell you how much green paint was used on him!) My mom took one of here favorite jumpsuits (remember it's the 70's), tied the arms with lace and put some pipecleaners on her head and was transformed into a butterfly. My father had a thing for Elvis so that explains the gold dinner jacket and the frilly shirt that really needs to be buttoned up just a bit. I don't remember any other costumes that night or how many people were there, but I do remember my parents having such a great time! I can still hear them laughing! My mom showed us the bump and my father showed us his version of the 'freak', spanish-style of course. Actually, all of his dances had a spanish flare to them. Now that I think about it, I think it was always the same dance with a different name to it.

It is amazing to me how many memories you can recall from one photo. The picture above the fireplace is long gone, but the frame hangs in my room with a mirror in it. My father gave it to me before he moved to Puerto Rico. I recall many nights in front of that fireplace roasting marshmallows, popping popcorn and keeping warm. I remember hauling wood to burn and that awesome smell that has yet to be duplicated in a candle! I remember the fish that died in the tank over the fireplace because it was a little too warm for them! I remember the pair of cheetahs my mom made from molds and then hand painted. I remember many weekends dancing to the latest 45's my mom would pick up at the record store in town with all our cousins.
I would give almost anything to be able to travel back in time and just watch that night on the sidelines. Thanks for listening and letting me share a little personal history.

28 October 2009

Impromptu Halloween party...

I dedcided to have a Halloween Party for the little ones because my teens were having one at my sisters' and I offered to babysit for my neice and nephew. Apparently I have a way with young children. I was told that by my teens. My ideas for their party were not embraced but were good enough for preschoolers. So, along with my wounded pride, I went and planned a very simple and last minute party at home. They had so much fun. Heck, Bobby and I had a blast with them!
We played Bingo, decorated cupcakes, had wormy pasta for dinner, bobbed for apples and played pass the apple. I really appreciate having had the chance to plan and hang out with them. You can't put a price on memories like these!

Are you wondering why Caleb is upside down??? Is Bobby bathing him?,teaching him a lesson?
No, silly. He's teaching him to swim.
Roci, is that the stem??? Does that count?
Oh, another stem grabber...

Playing Pass the apple... this was a hoot! I have it on video and boy were they funny!!!!!!
Hey, no funny business... honest

Oh, Caleb did get his apple!

Decorating cupcakes

My mom took them to her company Halloween Party.

Echo Hill is really Yucky hill

I know that sounds harsh, but we went apple and pumpkin picking at Echo Hill last year and they did not have a good crop of apples. I threw out the four bags we picked. The pumpkins were okay.
So, why did we go back? Well, they have a tractor ride that is fun and their cider doughnuts and cider are very yummy. They also have a cute gift shop. I also love starting traditions. With my sister living so close, I thought going to a new place would be cool. (We used to go to Atkins Farm.)
Fast forward a year and we decided to try Echo Hill again.
Let's just say that the doughnuts were yummy, the cider nice and hot and the tractor ride was fun. Oh, the weather was nice to. Please don't ask about the apples or about the pumpkin 'patch'.

We did get to visit with Sparky from the fire department and of course we had fun visiting. I mean, come on. Who wouldn't have fun with us....

14 October 2009

ahhhh..... new york

My friend Jen invited me to join her and her sister Sara on a trip to New York. This is truly one of my favorite places to visit.
It was Sara's first trip to the Big Apple. Her husband got us a room one block over from Time Square! It was a nice room. For those of you who know how picky I am about my hotel rooms, you know this had to be real nice for me to say so!
We arrived Friday night, checked in to the hotel and went straight to Time Sqaure. It is most impressive at night I think. We saw that TKTS was open and I was surprised by that! We decided to get tickets for a show that night since we had the time and went to see The Fantasticks. ( Tickets at 6:45 pm were limited.)
I have seen quite a few Broadway shows in some of the most amazing theatres so I was stunned when we walked up to the Jerry Orbach Theatre and saw how small it was. Not just small, but on the 6th floor! When we got to our seats, I couldn't get over how small the theatre was. It was about the size of the Majestic in West Springfield and set up the same way. The 'orchestra' was a piano and a harp. I broke into a laughing fit and I could not stop. I was so surprised and a bit disappointed for Sara because it was her first time there and I felt she was being cheated of the full theatre experience.
I think she thought I was a little disturb because I could not stop laughing. I have to say though, that the show was wonderful and after the first few minutes my anxiety melted away. The music was great and because the stage was in the audience, we got a nice closeup look at the actors. I am ashamed to say that I did 'judge the book by the cover'. The show was great and recommend it!
We went sight seeing in Time Square and got back to the room after midnight.
The next morning we went to the pier to catch the Circle Line to the Statue of Liberty. We were just going to tour the harbor since there are no tickets available to the statue until December. It was kind of pricey, so we decided to go to Battery Park. We walked a while until we realized that it was much farther than it looked on the map! On our way to the subway, we walked down NY's finest streets! I know it was one of the finest because it held the sanitation department and the street was decorated with clothing and a variety of fine bottles. We were the only ones on the street so I figured it was very elite. We took the subway to the park and caught a fun trip on the harbor and saw the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

We then went to Canal Street to experience all the fine shopping it has to offer. You didn't have to worry about looking around because the vendors came straight to you and rattled off a list of all the wonderful handbags you could have; Coach, Louis Vuitton, Prada. Every few feet they were in stores, on the streets. Miles and miles of vendors. It was overwhelming.
We decided to eat at a chinese restaurant at... well, chinatown. Do you see the ducks in the window? I'd always wondered if they served them with the head on and they do!

it was a little windyAfter Canal Street, we took the subway again to Central Park. We rode with this not-so-cute guy in a polka-dot speedo with $1 bills tucked in the band. He really thought he was something else. I think that he is competing with the Naked Cowboy, which we did not get to see on this trp.

We went to Fifth Avenue to do some shopping and to St. Patrick's Cathederal and to Magnolia Bakery, which is my favorite place now, for some yummy treats. We went to dinner at a place called Azteca because my favorite Puerto Rican place closed. I was sad, but the fajitas at Azteca were yummy.
Jenn learned a painful lesson on this trip. Sometimes you have to sacrifice style for comfort. She wore sandals (I know), to walk around for the time we were there and boy did she pay the price! She had so many blisters that I cringed every time she took a step. She was a trooper, though. She did not complain ONCE. I can't say I would have been as nice.
I am grateful for the invite! It was a much needed break from reality!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kaleigh's Kindergarten open house

Warner School on Boston Road

Kaleigh invited us to attend her open house. She was so excited to show off her new school.

Her teachers had nothing but nice things to say about her. She's very helpful in class and attentive. Her teacher, Mrs. Gardocki, said she's always organizing and arranging things in class. Melisa said it must be her way of burning off nervous energy because she is always moving around.
I was very proud of her. She has her picture on a board in the hallway labeled 'superstar'.
She loves school and I'm sure she will continue to impress her teachers. How can you not be impressed with little Kaleigh?? :)

29 September 2009

How did you take those photos?

My sis in law told me today that she went on our blog to check up on us because she knows how busy we get and she wanted an update. She figured we must have been extra busy lately because the blog wasn't recently updated.
Well, here it is.
My friend Noel thought it would be fun to go to Forest Park Zoo. It is a super small zoo, but they do have some exotic animals. Always important is that the kids enjoy it so much.
So below, we have some type of primate:

Here the kids are facinated because the leopard is eating baby ducks. They sounded very crunchy,
An armadillo who needs his blankey washed,
Caleb is posing with a nasty snake,
Melisa is showing Caleb how fun it is to feed the animals... he is sliding it under his mouth,

Zach.....ary is taking a nap,
Noel is also showing her son Holden how much fun it is to feed the goats. Yes, she is wrestling Holden there a little,
Melisa attemps to wrestle Aalyia as well but, Aalyia outsmarted her and threw her cracker at the alpaca. Yes, the alpaca has stepped back and Aalyia feels she has done her part. It's not her fault if the alpaca doesn't know how to dive,
Group photo,
Here is Bobby going for the last swim with the chitlins' before closing the pool. It was a sad summer because it didn't really get used until late July, August.

I can't believe I put two of the same photos here!!!! That's okay, Bobby likes the attention,

Last but not least, is little Zach......ary. He's about 10 pounds now. How cute!!!!!!!!!!! We are loving him up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So there is our update. Oh by the way, I forgot to share that all these photos were taken with my new digital camera that my amazing hubby bought for me! Finally! I am digital.