One thing I really enjoy about not only going away, but also coming back from vacations, is gaining a new perspective. You tend to come home with a new appreciation for all that you have and what you are interested in changing in your life. From the moment you fly above the clouds, or hit the roads, you are not in your normal surroundings and that leads to a brain stimulation. Now that we are home, and it is early December, my mind is opened and I have made these 3 observations:
Flying above the clouds & you see the grand creation of this earth you wonder why trivial things get to you.
1. Fuss. We all want to leave a wonderful example. How often have a heard someone say…”I normally don’t bother with lights or a big tree but my grandson is visiting this year!” or “my daughter is introducing us to her out of town boyfriend so we decided to splurge and have tenderloin for dinner this year.” All of this “stepping up” seems so encouraging to me. It means we are trying more because we care that much more. How easy is it to throw in the towel and not fuss or prepare our house because of the effort involved? Hey, it’s Christmas, the day the Savior the World is born….let’s keep on fussing, we have all of Advent as a time of preparation!!
2. Holiday Lights. There is no questions that the days are short, grey and dreary. Just when you didn’t want to go outside past 4 pm anymore, Presto! Christmas lights! What a beautiful sight. From twinkling icicles, to illuminating wreaths, the effort people put into decorating the exterior of their house does not go unnoticed. I know it’s dark too early but because of these lights on the inside out outside of homes it is so joyful to see the beautiful lights. I made sure I already drove my mom around to enjoy the beauty of various neighborhoods. You cannot help but think “be the light, lights are happy, lights brighten the world you up. Light always conquers darkness”. And always compliment someone who decorated, they put in an effort to make this season more beautiful and bright, they deserve a compliment! Sing it loud..”This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”
Hang up decorations, decorate the dogs, spread cheer…and compliment those who make the effort.
3. Greens, greens and more greens. Green is becoming my favorite color, full of renewal and life. The evergreen tree is a little reminder to “be green” and be true to the Earth. The Evergreen maintains all of its leaves and needles throughout the year. Contrasting with all other trees which cycle through the seasons gaining and shedding leaves in their own beauty. Evergreens are full of stability, strength, and a symbol for the Christmas spirit. Representing our faith as unwavering, especially to prepare for the birth of Jesus. The natural aroma of pine will immediately uplift you, make you take an extra deep breath, and enjoy the season we are lucky enough to share.
“There’s a little note for you on the kitchen table”
In this busy, high tech world, I find myself missing the little notes left on the kitchen table. Like many of you, our little family has a group text in which we correspond throughout the day. The group texts read usually something like this…I should be home regular time….don’t forget about the event this Thursday night…and are you working this Saturday? Text messages are incredible. Fast, up to the minute, convenient, easy, and you can personalize with emojis.
Yet I know nothing beats walking into your home after a long day and finding a little note. It usually would come in the form of a quick scribble on the back on an envelope. Many times, its a simple reminder of an upcoming appointment or simply letting you know who called.
The little kitchen note was always there to welcome you when no one was at home. You know you could always grab the latest whereabouts on the kitchen table. “Dinner in crock pot. Be back soon.” or “Dad working late, does not need dinner.” You did not need to sign your name because your handwriting gave it away. Oh, and how slighted you would feel if you came home and no one was home and there was no kitchen note! Now that was a clear disappointment! You can almost hear the follow up when the first person arrived home…”Where is everybody? No one left a note!”
The other day, I woke up to a beautiful little note waiting for me on the kitchen table. I was so touched. It was from my daughter Caroline. She noticed things I was doing to make myself better. She didn’t text me her observation, she left me a little note on the kitchen table. The message was so much more potent and compelling than any text message because it was hand written. What a beautiful way to begin my day with that little note. It made me think of how much I value the little kitchen notes and the preciousness of the family. We can talk, we can text but when we write a little note with butter and coffee stains on it…it commands a little more emotion.
Never miss a chance to write a little note and leave it on the kitchen table.
Last night we went out for dinner to Bonefish Grill. I understand we are to patronize local restaurants but I do have a fond affection for this particular chain. It simply grew last night. You can always expect the white table cloth, a heavy strong silverware, deliciously prepared entrees and good service. Of course, we all are fans of the bang bang shrimp and since we were celebrating birthday week for our son, I did not want to over-indulge the first night of the week. I normally go for the tilapia fish or the scallops and shrimp but for some reason the filet mignon caught my eye on the menu. My husband looked at me and gleefully asked “do you want to split a dinner?” Absolutely!
There is no question that the serving size we receive is too big in America. Yet, splitting a dinner makes you feel cheap, or silly, and you want to apologize to your server. Have you ever been out to a restaurant where you are charged a fee for split plate charge? You are handed an empty plate and charged an additional 2 to 5 dollars? You can also tell the server is not thrilled with you. But my motivation is not to be cheap it is for my heath and to eat a portion size that is not going to risk a tossing and turning night ahead and an extra pound on the scale.
Here he is the Birthday Boy…find strength in lifting people around you up!
So today, my blog post is a sincere thank you for the lovely and accommodating service we received last night from our server at Bonefish Grill. Evan was so happy with his portion of the filet mignon and had a side of the garlic whipped potatoes. I was so pleased with my filet and garlic sautéed spinach. No split plate fee. Of course the birthday boy had a full dinner. But, he will always be, at least to his parents, “Our growing boy.”
I have a close friend who finds a great deal going to PF Changs for Happy Hour between 3 and 6 Monday thru Friday where you can take advantage of drink specials and starters and small plates for $6.00. “That’s all you need is a six dollar plate. It fills you right up.” It’s the perfect place for her to go with her daughter and catch up on her life.
Busted in another chain restaurant, but Panera has great options. Thank you Panera. It feels good to let people know how much they matter.
That’s my little tip today. Everything I do now I try to be more intentional. I use to think that once your kids are grown they do not need any fuss. Not true, because of Natalie and her desire to celebrate others, we are celebrating birthday week for our son, and tonight we are going to a local place. I’ll let you know if there is a split plate charge.
Folks, make the effort. Celebrate others. Never miss a chance to let people know that they are needed in this world. And never be intimidated to ask to split the dinner!
I’m going to give it to you straight. We really have no idea how much our loved ones need our prayers. I’m afraid that our culture is moving away from the need of masses, prayers and sacrifices. We are caught up in posting about them (guilty) and not doing what is the most essential… praying for their soul.
Save all the memorial cards of loved ones from funerals and tuck them in your family bible for safe keeping.
I want to share with you the….
“Top 3 Ways to Celebrate All Saints and All Souls Day”
Have masses said for the beloved dead. We cannot ever presume that they are in heaven, they may be in purgatory and getting closer and closer to Heaven. Visualize being able to see the finish line but just need a little more…c’mon…let’s help those loved ones get there and have masses and simply pray for them!
Visit the grave site. Fix it up. I have heard to sprinkle holy water around. Look up to the sky and pray for all the dead that are buried near your loved one. Take the time to show your children and others where family members and loved ones are buried. Imagine how much the souls appreciate your prayers. If someone helped you on earth, now we can help them by offering prayers on their behalf.
Offer it Up! Doing little sacrifices throughout the day help you to get through the mundane tasks with a smile. What the world sees as unimportant is often the most important to our Lord. The tedious, behind the scenes, no accolades or honors kind of work. It’s doing laundry or the dishes when you don’t want to, it’s resisting something to eat, it’s making dinner after a long day because in making these sacrifices you can “Offer it Up” to poor souls in purgatory who are in need of our prayers. What high value is now placed our ordinary and wearisome tasks!
This past week I had the privilege of speaking before the National Veterinary Associates who held a conference here in Buffalo. An established relationship with a friend that I met during our active years at the Junior League of Buffalo, Bethany Botzenhart who knew our story, asked me to speak about our dogs. She knew the power of healing these dogs gave us from following along on my Instagram account poodlewalker1. Bethany is a strong reminder that our associations are truly life enhancers.
I spoke about this blog. I spoke about how I use to write Christmas letters which were always filled with laughter with stories of everything that has always mattered most..faith, and family.
It helps to look back and see that even going back to my first posts confirmed that our life was deeply rooted in our Catholic faith. Those deep roots saved us. We needed to dig deep into our faith. We are so thankful our faith was in place. Faith does not prevent the tragedies in life but it is there to catch and save you.
Our dogs were also there. No matter how trivial it may seem…our dogs gave us immesureable comfort.
These crazy dogs Rory and Lucy held us together in a very real way. Yes, a standard poodle and a cockapoo. One a better listener, more attuned to our emotions, more obedient, with her only desire to please. The other is the one we call “Baby”, she is the one we give belly rubs and attracts children on our walks and to our home. They are quite a team and proof that size and breed doesn’t matter.
Here is Natalie with Rory at the Farmers Market in Buffalo not long ago. They are both natural beauties and reminders of all the beauty found in nature.
The dogs became our buffer, our way of coping of the painful reality of what has happened has really happened. Each of us, my husband, son and daughter needed those dogs more than we care to admit. Each of us has an unique relationship with each dog. When we needed time to grieve alone, a dog was grabbed before entering a room. We needed their comfort. We needed to touch, and feel and we needed to pet them.
There is no question that dogs live a selfless life and dedicate themselves to their pack. They look to serve their master and are constant companions in our home.
Dogs are life coaches without trying. They are certainly not our whole life yet they make a house a home and add wholeness to our lives.
It would be so easy to stay in our house and close the shades but the dogs depended on us for walks. Going outside and walking in all kinds of weather was incredibly therapeutic. The dogs reminded us how to breath in the outside air, how to look around, pay attention to all the little details on walks, the sights and smells, and the simple joy of walking. One foot in front of the other and looking up at the big magnificent sky.
Natalie with Lucy.
The most important benefit of walking was connecting again with our wonderful neighbors who are not only familiar with the dogs but also shared in watching Natalie grow up and flourish before their eyes. There was no barrier for people to stay away from us because we were out sharing hugs and compassionate conversations. To eliminate the awkward barrier was crucial. Those dogs made sure no one stayed away and our hearts are so filled with gratitude to all the examples of beautiful friendships and neighbors.
The dogs added an enormous feeling of life back into our homes. They helped us feel alive again. When you hear the dog toys squeaking, the paws pattering across the hardwood floor and the loud barking every time the mail carrier, UPS delivery or someone passed our house..you can’t help but feel on alert.
Dogs will always listen. I think that is why God created them with such big ears. Dogs never tell you what you are doing wrong, they simply enjoy that you are there. You are present. That is enough. Dogs connect us and without Lucy we would not have visitors like our dear friend Sylvia who we joke doesn’t need vaccinations because she has received so many dog kisses slobbered on her face.
Sylvia is a frequent visitor due to her friendship with Lucy.
I get a kick out of all the vocabulary words they know and how dogs know exactly what we are saying. Dogs even enjoy when we pray the rosary. Sure, they lay at our feet quietly and know that peace is filling our hearts.
Our lives will never return to what they were and our wound is so deep, yet we know Natalie touched so many by her smile and laugh, her kindness, her joy and her discipline and willingness to help others. We all miss her in different ways.
The dogs are looking out the front window ready to bark at any passerby.
It’s crystal clear to us now the more you focus on how temporary this life is the more you focus on what is important. Value life. Value each day. Love your family. Keep it together. Draw your strength together during good times and bad. Marriage is sacred. Be there. Be present. Be loyal like the dog. Show you care, be kind to each other, don’t blame each other, be gentle. Love. And above all else..Hold onto your faith. Celebrate the life rather than the death because the fullness of life is with God Our Father and Our Blessed Lady forever.
Oh, and you know that old expression, “Live each day like it’s your last?” I think we learned that from dogs.
One question I do not want to ask is “Where did the summer go?” I realized that when I was working and did not plan anything special. Summer would fly by and before you know it you would run right into Fall without feeling refreshed. Summer was always a special season for me as a child and thankfully one for Natalie and our other children Evan and Caroline. We formed new friends, new memories, new talents, went new places, but mostly enjoyed our favorite sport…swimming. Nothing better in my book than an outdoor pool.
The summer of 2016 was too hot. We simply had too many humid days. It was too dry. It was tough on farmers and even keeping our flower pots watered. But, like everything, we have a choice to complain or make the best of it. With the lack of rain, the lawn did not need mowing for 6 weeks! This was the summer that we had central air conditioning installed which was an exceptionally wise move.
The Hotel Hershey was a real escape and treat.
There are certain things about summer that are tried and true. I know that swimming outdoors is a must do. The Farmers Market, the Canadian beaches right across the boarder, and the inspiration of other peoples gardens are guaranteed to-do’s. This summer, Caroline and I had a glorious stay at the Hotel Hershey and so enjoyed the gardens, museum and pool. Hershey was a place I visited with Natalie, at her urging, and it is beyond a cherished memory.
I like to look at other people’s yards and get ideas for flowers and pots each summer. This one belongs to my friends Mary Louise. Love the elephant pot.
I think it’s important to reflect back and celebrate the season that we have just completed before we move onto the next. I choose to make this summer memorable. I choose to not let it go by and regret that I did nothing special. It can be as simple as making strawberry jam.
Here is a list of what made the summer of 2016 special to me
Birthday Dinner. This year for the first time, I gathered together 3 girlfriends who share June birthdays. We had a memorable night in beautiful Lewiston, NY and the laughs we shared and our shared attempt to be brave in a life that has thrown us all deep pains is a tradition I want to continue next June. The thing is, even if you only have a yearly dinner with friends, the year goes by and it’s something to look forward to and it’s better than ever taking the time to be together.
A group of friends who share birthdays in June.
New Places. My last entry showed you that we explored Montreal, Quebec City and we also visited the Thousand Islands. Seeing new places and experience different cultures helps us gain new perspective plus it deepens family bonds.
For the first time, we visited the 1,000 Islands. I had no ides we shared these beautiful islands on the St. Lawrence River with Canada. Here I thought they were all in NY State. Traveling expands our awareness.
Babysitting Clover. Caroline watched a cockapoo for a month and allowing another dog into our home for a month added simple joy. The joy of watching an adorable dog lie on her back for a scratch, jump on your lap for some extra coddling, whip a squeaky toy around the house and simply making friends with your dogs and having a new dog join you on your walk…was a highlight of our July. Dogs are so simple, so childlike, and such reminders of the simple joys available to us all on a daily basis if we just pause to realize it.
Here she is far right, our new friend that joined us for a month …Clover. Dogs are a perfect reminder of the simple things in life are the best…cuddling, playing and walking.
Olympics. I’m not sure if anyone watched and tweeted out the stories about the unraveling stories and thrilling performances by the athletes all over the world as much as I did! I mean, c’mon…what is better than watching the highest level of athleticism, learning about the host city, meeting the athletes unclose and personal, and seeing the human spirit just gets me every time. Thank you to Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps. Simone Biles, and Usain Bolt. The 100 meter freestyle when Simone Manuel and Penny Oleksiak tied, and watching Kerri Walsh Jenning and April Ross win the bronze like it was a gold will stay in my memory bank.
I’m a big fan of the synchro swimmers, here is Anita Alvarez from Kenmore, NY !! and Mariya Koroleva.
Blueberry Pie. Using fresh blueberries, and making a simple pie served warm with vanilla ice cream with your family…ummm baby….that’s good stuff. It’s the pie Natalie always made for us. I am simply continuing her tradition as best I can.
Natalie always would prepare homemade meals and treats for her family and friends. I push myself to make and do more for others in honor of her beautiful example.
Summer doesn’t have to be the only season to make memorable. Let’s set some goals for the Fall now. I think the peach festival is the first on my list. Thank you for reading.
Folks, it’s hard for me to admit this but I will…I’ve lived in Buffalo all of my life and have never visited Montreal and Quebec City. What the heck is wrong with me? Why not get the feel of Europe without the going to Europe? There is no time like the present they say…and off we went (my husband Evan and our daughter Caroline) and if you don’t mind, I’d like to share our trip with you. So here is goes…
Outside the Notre Dame Bascilia
10 Things I Learned
They speak French! Bon jour. Salut. Merci. It’s fantastic! I have gained so much respect for Montreal and Quebec City for preserving the French language. Montreal is the second largest city behind Paris for French speaking. Oui Oui!! What a beautiful language and hearing it spoken so easily and fluently only entices you to buy a Rosetta Stone package. It was so fascinating that you are greeted with a Bon Jour and if you respond with a Hello, you are immediately spoken to in English and visa vera. Imagine a city of bilinguals ! Who doesn’t appreciate a city that sets it self apart and holds onto their culture? The public school system requires French to be their central language, but they will start teaching both languages in 1st grade. Again,how easy it would be to throw in the towel and make English their primary language. Students are required to attend French speaking schools and the only exception is if you are a temporary resident or attend a private school.Most people in Montreal speak both French and English fluently. This makes feel more cultured and adds some European grace to the city.
A little bit of French and a little bit of English. Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world behind Paris.
Montreal and Toronto are rivals. I was not aware of this intense rivalry. Montreal had many of it’s companies move their headquarters to Toronto which has 6 million people and Montreal has 4 million. Montreal has the philosophy of work to live and in Toronto it is live to work. Montreal is home to a beautiful park system including Mount Royal Park is located on the mountain and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same person that designed New York’s Central Park and our very own Delaware Park. Montreal citizens love being outdoors, flowers, patio dining, parks and recreation, anything to enjoy life! They enjoy having extra money to enjoy life so much that they all prefer renting apartments and housing there, instead of owning, as owning has extra expenses such as insurance, updating, etc. They would rather rent and use whatever is leftover for enjoying their lives rather than being stuck in one place. They all move on the same day too- July 1st! Keep this in mind when traveling, for either a draw back, or free entertainment if you are there..haha! Disclaimer, I did hear the differences between the 2 cities from a Montrealer.
Churches. Notre Dame Basilica, Saint Patrick Basilica, Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, and St Joseph Oratory of Mont Royal. I’m just naming a few, honestly, they are basically on every street corner. Destinations for pilgrims!! Strong Catholic Influence which still remains their number one religion. 67% of the populations are Christians and the majority of those are Roman Catholics. But, rates of regular religious attendance has reduced dramatically since the 1960’s. If you want to see impressive and jaw dropping splendor do not miss these magnificent churches.
Inside the glorious Notre Dame Basilica…over 2 million people a year visit.
Montreal will be celebrating it’s 375 birthday in 2017. Yes, it was founded in 1642 and they are planning a big celebrations, they are redoing just about every road and fixing bridges, making the city even more beautiful than it is already. As history has it, Samuel de Champlain set about creating a fur trading post, in 1642 the first real colony named Ville Marie was established. It became known as Montreal because of the tallest peak on the Island known as Mont Royal.
The Underground City. One of the largest underground networks in the world, Montreal’s underground city is a series of shops and tunnels which offer citizens cool shortcuts and safety from the cold in winter months. You can literally live underground if you wanted to. Only problem is, there is no map of the underground, the only people who generally know all ways around are tour guides and engineers, although most Montreal residents may be more well versed than you think.
Montreal was home to the 1976 Summer Olympics, you know, the Olympics where Nadia Comăneci received the first perfect 10 in gymnastics’ history and Bruce Jenner won the decathlon. They were the first Olympics ever held in Canada, and it helped put Montreal on the map world wide. You can see the Olympic Stadium, pool, arena, village are all being utilized today, which is so much better than seeing pictures of venues falling into disrepair in cities where the Olympics were once held. Great job Montreal to keep using the venues.
Off in the distance you can see the 1972 Olympic stadium still in use today. It is covered now. It needs to be open air for the Olympics because the Greek Gods needed to be able to watch from up above.
Montreal is actually an island. I did not know this before I went there, but it is surrounded by water, and after this trip my family and I grew in your appreciation for the Saint Lawrence River and all it’s fresh water glory.
Beautiful architecture gems built of stone and brick were required materials as opposed to wood. You see, past fires forced lawmakers to completely outlaw this scenario. It makes for darling walks in Old Montreal, cobblestone streets, ornate details each more unique than the next, all beautiful and well preserved.
Maple Syrup. 85% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec, Montreal’s Provence. The maple sap collected used to make maple syrup is also used to make all kinds of maple goodies including maple butter, maple candy, maple water, marinades and even maple syrup on ice where it is rolled up on a popsicle stick. I will admit it, we tried maple and pepper homemade potato chips, oh my maple! Those exceeded our expectations.
Yummy maple syrup products
No big high risers. nothing can be built higher than Mont Royal. A reason for the city’s namesake, Mount Royal is a defining feature of Montreal. The mountain stands above the entire city, offering a great view of the skyline, and will stay that way due to building height restrictions which limit any construction from being higher than Mount Royal.
Bon Travail Montreal!
More Fun Facts
The french language was actually preserved because of the Americans. It was during the stages before the American Revolution when Britain first outlawed the French language in Montreal, Americans wanted to gain followers and a larger army against the British, and asked the citizens of Montreal to join their revolution. The people of Montreal at this time, did not know how the Americans would succeed, so they told Britain they were considering it. Through this action, Britain negotiated with them, saying they could continue to speak French if they did not join the revolution, which made the decision easy. Better to go with the evil you know than the evil you are unsure of, right? We won’t know, history has a beautiful way of influencing future, and as I mentioned earlier, I love how well preserved their language is.
All stone and brick buildings…streets in Quebec City
Eat like the locals…poutine (think macaroni and cheese with french fries and gravy), ketchup chips, croissants, Molsons, Carlsberg, maple leaf maple sandwich cookie. Wait, they eat and drink all that in Canada yet they look so fit? Hmm, oh, yes, lots of waking and lots of it hilly. But they get offended when you say that “h” word (hill), they prefer everyone use the term mountain, as Mount Royal is the focal point of their city…the mountain!
You guessed it…poutine
You know, we can all grumble, and in Montreal people grumble about their politicians, debts, construction, high rent, high taxes and cold winters….but as an outsider coming in you see the beauty with a pair of fresh eyes. You hear the tour guide say that the Catholic church is dropping in numbers yet the pilgrims come in the millions and there is not a single candle to light in Notre Dame Basilica. Look at what was done by those who came before us. So many looked for the greater good and put their hard work and talent into building these astonishing works of beauty in the churches, who set aside acres for parks, and built so much for the hosting of the Olympics and World Fair for all to enjoy today.
The Holy Door of St. Anne De Beaupre
Keep your eye on the good that surrounds us. Stay amazed at the workmanship and sacrifices that were made for us and future generations to see and appreciate. Such beauty.
Thank you all for reading,
Montreal in the background.
Look! It’s Samuel de Champlain…a fur trader who founded Quebec in 1608. Feels so good to remember all who have gone before us and given us all so much.
If you live in Buffalo and want a little escape, visit Skaneateles. There will be a treat waiting for you . Beautiful scenery, a crystal clear lake and fabulous restaurants. And that includes the best hamburger known to man. (*my humble opinion). It’s only 2 hours and 15 minutes away.
I know. I know. And I do agree. We need to eat more turkey, veggie, and more tofu burgers. But hey, if you want to try the best hamburger in the state of New York or even the world, (hey, I’m passionate about this) you need to try the Mirabeau Inn and Spa Burger in Skaneatatles, NY. Now this burger is going to cost you, it’s not your average 6 dollar burger, it’s a whopping 17 dollars. Keep in mind that that hamburger is only available for lunch. It’s so worth it folks, and the little ketchup container sealed the deal.
The famous Mirabeau Burger. 8 ounce prime beef, with portobello mushroom, balsamic braised onions, and gruyere cheese.
Caroline is getting ready to order the famous Mirbeau burger. What a beautiful place to enjoy the scenery over-looking the Koi pond.
The lunch menu at Mirabeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles.
Now, in case you want to enjoy breakfast at Mirabeau Inn and Spa, let me suggest the almond french toast.
The almond french toast tastes like an almond ring. So decadent.
Caroline notes how almost every menu now features small plates, roasted brussel sprouts and beet salad. Gilda’s in Skaneateles sells a lot of risotto balls and sweet fennel sausage pizza. Thumbs up on the restaurant trend. We love the simple homeyness of the menu placed on a sheet of cardboard with office clips.
At Gilda’s, we were real happy with our arugula pizza and roasted cauliflower. Perfect for a lighter dinner.
Looking for a more casual spot for breakfast and lunch that is absolutely delicious? Try the Skaneateles Bakery.
This is what the best grilled cheese sandwich looks like. The grilled gruyere sandwich with caramelized onions, sliced apple & whole grain mustard on marble rye.
Now you might be wondering if all we did in Skaneateles was eat, well, of course not. But that’s another blog. We had some great work outs, walks, and bike rides. There are other wonderful places to eat in Skaneateles but we highly recommend Mirabeau, Gilda’s and Skaneateles Bakery.
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I love being with my children and photographing them. Take the mini trip. Love them up. And you know one of my favorite topics is food. Oh dear.
A couple people have come up to me and asked me how I cope during Mother’s Day knowing what happened two years ago. I wanted to share this reflection.
I keep myself open to the messages from up above which maintain my faith and strength throughout my days. Last night was a perfect example. During the night, I was blessed to have such beautiful memories of raising Natalie flood me during her grammar school years. I was living the years that go by so fast in life. Natalie in her pony tail braids and wearing her favorite corduroys to school with her penny loafers. Natalie who was so obedient, cooperative, easy to wake and happy to go to school. It all came rushing back. What an amazing child I was honored to call our daughter.
I feel like God was leaving me a message…your years with Natalie are inside of you and will never leave you.
Natalie with her brother during their St. Rose of Lima School Years.
After daily mass, I told our seminarian Robert at St. Rose about my vivid memories of these priceless years and he paused and told me such comforting words. No one has the “right” to be alive. God gives us this gift of life. No parent has the “right” to have children. We must be grateful to God for giving us the gift, the magnificent gift, of children. If we lose a child, it is important that we do not regret or lose faith over the situation we are now living. Thank God for all the happy memories that we shared and blessed us with having Natalie. All the wonderful years that we were able to enjoy and love her so much here on earth was a beautiful gift.
Opening your eyes to a new perspective on this journey of life is so comforting. How wonderful it is to surround yourself with people of faith. Mother’s day is to be celebrated with a “Thank-You” to God on our knees for the honor and privileged to be a mother on earth. It’s important to love and nurture all children that cross our path. If the life we are given is not a “right” , why waste it? Live it fully, joyfully and gratefully. I know what a gift Evan Jr and Caroline are and what a gift it is to be Natalie’s mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
Everyday with Natalie was special. “Natalie was able to make everything hard in life easier” said best friend Katie Sieben.
EPISODE 6. The Family. Guest Katie Sieben. Click Here:
The family is the core of society. Nurture it. Value it. Love it.
Natalie and Katie on another adventure.
Here is the picture of the kids on our tour of NYC in 2006. Natalie was a junior in High School. Our kids had not left for college yet.
Inside the chambers of the United Nations building, the large picture shows the family being the core of human existence. Excuse the quality of the picture. It was taken on 2006 on our trip to NYC.
The family is really the core of society and human existence. When the family goes so does society.
There are a few things that can contribute to a closer more united family.
1. Don’t expect so much from your spouse. How often do we say “I wish he would do this..or that..why can’t he finish what he started?” “I wish he/she was more like…” Go easy one at other. After all, there is only one God.
2. Slow down the busyness. Talk to one another, ask how their day was, engage in each others lives. It is amazing how much conversation and compassion gives us insight into what one another is going through when you gather together. Light a candle. Pray. Understand what everyone is going through. Soon you will be asking what you can do to help lessen their burdens.
3. Turn off the Technology. We love everything instant in today’s world. But the old cliche of good things take time, is true. Good, lasting bonds come through spending time with one another rather than constantly relying on distractions and short texts.
4. Love each other’s faults. It makes all of us who we are. Too often we focus on negatives on each other, but it is more important to remember how many positive attributes there are to a person.
5. Open your home to others, and make a family of friends. Because life is just too hard to get through without friends. They are the family we are able to meet in various stages of our life.
6. Enjoy the everyday moments. Contradicting what the word everyday leads you to believe, everyday moments will not be everyday. We grow up, we grow old. But to the eyes of a family, we all remain ageless.
Inside the United Nations building, Natalie took a picture of the mosaic of the Golden Rule.
The everyday moments of having a family are truly the most treasuring. It is when you get to know each other at their best. You learn how one another likes their breakfast in the morning, their favorite sleeping top, what kind of tooth paste they use, how they like their sandwiches for lunch, how they tell stories, and you become more attuned to their emotional cues, both happy and sad. When asked to think of a favorite memory of those we are so close to, in our families, it is extremely difficult to come up with one specific example. More often than not, it is the essence and aura of a person that becomes your favorite memory. The stability and predictability of knowing someone completely. A strong family helps you achieve that loving bond, and through those loving bonds we all hold so close to our hearts, we are able to translate that into our everyday life, and serve our jobs, our friends, and even strangers with the love we have received from our family.
Families are not necessarily only blood related, a family can be created from friends, much like Natalie, Katie, and their other friends in Richmond, VA, who are away from their traditional families. The built in support system from being part of a family, is there for you when things seem to be going well, and they are also there when things take a turn for the worse. One of my favorite things that Katie mentioned was how Natalie made anything hard in life, seem easier. I hope we all have someone in our lives, wether it be in the family God gave us or the family God led us to crete amongst our friends, who we can turn to when things get hard in hopes of relieving our burden.