Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Photo Memories - Becoming attatched

Look at that child and tell me I was not the most adorable thing on the planet. Seriously, try it. I mean check out how awkward I was, the priceless expression on my face, my pot belly. How awkwardly wonderful.

This was my wheel barrel. I'm not sure why I loved it so much, but I really loved that wheel barrel. My grandparents on my dad side got it for me one year for Easter. My grandma loved to get us gifts for any holiday. Sometimes they were bigger gifts, and other times just random small things that always brought joy to me because they were from the heart. I never wanted anything material from my grandparents, I never expected anything from them, but gifts small and large were what my grandmother loved to do. She did not shower us with stuff all the time, but she certainly enjoyed giving.

So anyway, I got this thing and apparently my whole day, week, month was spent with this wheel barrel, my family thought it was the cutest thing ever. Don't believe me how much I loved this thing? My parents wanted photographic proof apparently to show me later in life, check it out.....

Yes, that is me sleeping with my wheel barrel. My mother said it was not there when she put us to bed, but when she came back later to check on us I had dragged it into bed with me.

It wasn't the last time I got attached to a material item. I find myself often getting attached to the most random things. Sometimes they actually have sentimental value that I can't seem to detach from the item itself. Sometimes the sentimental value is just so strong and causes such great emotions to that item. I often wish I could detach myself from everything physical, to be able to just let it all go. To often we get caught up in the chase of these material items we lose value on whatever is really important in life. It's different to everyone, sometimes it's the love of their family, quality time with friends, whatever it is to you. The chase to acquire these things clouds our vision, it clouds our judgement, and can end up changing our perspective.

I would love some new furniture, I would love a new computer, I would love to fill an entire room with movies, but do I need them? I've spent years working on devaluing material items in my life, some days it's easier than others. There are days I get so lost in anger or sadness because I can't afford to buy the "things" I really want and it takes me awhile, sometimes months to back away from it and realize it's nothing that I need. I sometimes lose sight at the fact that I have everything I need. It has helped in the past when I haven't had the money to buy much of anything for long periods of time to reevaluate things like that, but when I start making money again, it's like my mind goes straight back to valuing my life based on the things I own.

I think the hardest part of this life is finding value in who you are, not what you have to offer other people. I'm still working on it, how about you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Photo Memories - Lost

This is me and Julio in Greenfield Village when I was two. I do not remember much about this trip except one thing, getting lost. My mom says that I managed to wander away in a crowd and away from the family in a split second like kids often do. It wasn't as big of a deal back then because that was before predators and pedophiles. lol. But like I said, I remember being lost.

I still remember that terrifying feeling of being alone, terrified as the crowd cleared and my family was no where to be found. I remember being at the end of a building, similar to this one and being completely alone and I was terrified. I'm sure my screaming and crying is how my mother found me, I could scream and cry with the best of them. I remember feeling the relief of seeing my family again, the warm hug after being found. That feeling is still inside of me. Now it's not always when there isn't anyone around, it sometimes happens in groups as well. Not as often as it used to, but the feeling is still there from time to time.

I still don't always like being alone, I still feel clingy in crowds of new people, I still feel like that child lost and looking for a familiar face. I find it odd that I still feel this way at times, isn't that something you grow out of? I've been working a lot on being alone, being o.k. in a crowd of strangers and trying to reach beyond my comfort zone to be able to talk to new people, to be able to be the first to speak to someone. I'd like to not feel like an obligation to the friends that take me places to stand or sit by me constantly to make sure I'm alright. No one has made me feel like that, but it's what it feels like to me, like I'm still that needy and clingy child. I don't like that part of me and I'm working hard at moving past it.

I'm not sure what that looks like in the real world, I can make it look right on the outside, but the hard part is getting rid of that feeling of panic inside in those situations, to allow myself the luxury of just being, no matter what the situation. It's a long road, slowly but surely I'm making my way down it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo Memories - Aunt Julie

Not every family is lucky enough to have an Aunt Julie, I was pretty lucky. She was young enough to have the time to give us, she was energetic enough to put the effort in, and she was genuine enough to give us something to believe in. That's me she's holding obviously, I guess it was one of the nights she was watching me and my parents came home to find us sleeping. I was not an easy baby, I was constantly sick, constant ear infections, and very, very clingy. It took some energy to watch me, ask anyone that did it. lol. It wasn't until I was school age that things got even slightly easier for my parents.

My mother said that as a child I used to sneak down stairs to their room at night after they moved me to my own room and would either crawl into bed with them or they would wake up and find me sleeping on the floor in the corner of their room. For awhile they gave up fighting it and put a fold away bed in the corner of their room for me. I told you I was a clingy child. Things haven't changed all that much for me. lol.

I mean seriously, how could you not love an aunt who wore footie pajamas too? And yes, she totally taught me how to dance. lol. I blame it all on her.

O.k. so we did wear her out from time to time, but even when she collapsed on the floor in exhaustion, we still played. We had some really great times. What is up with the curls on my head!? Seriously!

So anyway as Julie got older she started dating my now uncle Marv. From day one we latched on to him as he was just as fun as she was and seemed to take us in as if we were his own as well. Instead of losing our aunt Julie, we gained fun uncle Marv, who is still just as much fun today. Marv grew up in big family, but a different kind of big family. A family that just didn't treat each other very well, most of them don't speak today, and will verbally confirm that they don't speak and come up with some off the wall selfish reason as to why. Marv has tried countless times to mend fences, but both parties need to want to fix it before it can be fixed. Eventually he gave up. He always said he didn't need two big families, he had ours and that made up for the bad in his.

He was one us from the very beginning. Remember when I was talking about being clingy? Well that was really evident at their wedding. They had me be the ring bearer at their wedding, I got all dolled up in a new suit, got to carry the pillow with the rings and I was pretty awesome if I do say so myself. It is one of my earliest memories. I remember standing up at the front of the church, I remember one of the grooms men picking me up and holding me because I was getting restless and sitting on the church step was just not sufficient for me. lol.

At their wedding I remember wanting to spend time with Marv and Julie and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't let me. My parents kept pulling me back and keeping me from playing with my aunt and uncle. If I didn't remember and if I wasn't told all the time about this there is always photographic evidence......

That is me, tagging along during their first dance as a married couple. Usually the dance floor is empty except for the bride and groom as they dance to their wedding song, but that meant nothing to me, I walked right out and tugged on her dress and walked the dance floor with them. I mean seriously, clingy doesn't seem to cover it.

SO, there we go. My aunt Julie.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo Memoris - family

So early in our family we were linked with another cousin. My family seemed to multiply in pairs and sometimes threes. Each of us on my mom's side has a cousin that is within a year or so in age. It's freaky and makes me think things I don't want to think about when it comes to family. lol. So here is two examples. Julio is the blonde kid on the left and Gretchen is the girl on the right. They are a little over a year apart. Then there is me next to Julio and my cousin Jason to the right of me. We were born about a week apart, one in New Jersey and me in Ohio.

Growing up our cousins were our friends, it's not to say we didn't all have friends outside of the family but our family used to get together a lot so it was always nice to be able to have your cousin by your side to play with. Jason and I were as close as we could be with so many miles between us, what helped in my case is that my cousin Andy who I've spoken about on here before was born less than a year later. When we were in Jersey or they were in Ohio it was always the three of us. We have many pictures together, some of which I'm sure will appear here as I get through these stacks of pictures.

Our families have always been close, we would celebrate each kids birthday with a family birthday party at who evers house, we would get together for nearly every holiday as most families, and sometimes we would just randomly gather. They are some of my favorite memories, all of us together. The older we got and the larger we grew the harder it became for everyone to gather under one roof, somehow we still manage, but these days it's so very rare to get everyone under the same roof at the same time. I don't think that has happened in nearly ten years. Grandma had hoped that when grandpa died it would happen, but sadly not everyone was able to make it back, even for her 80th birthday we were not all able to make it back. I made the funeral because I was able to, but I missed her birthday.

My cousins have spread themselves pretty far, there is still a vast majority of them living in and around Nappy, but I still have a cousin in Jersey, one in Cleveland, one just moved to Iowa, a few in Columbus, etc. It's been interesting to watch us all grow up into adults and see how the relationships change. Even amongst my aunts and uncles it seems to have changed, everyone ages and grows differently. They/ we all love each other but personalities were formed and some clash now. It seems the old we have all gotten the more we have started to separate into our own family units. I think much of this is how little time everyone gets to spend together with their own families and so we stick together in the large group to our own smaller groups.

I'm very thankful for this large family growing up and to be honest there are several members of this family I didn't grow to appreciate until I was an adult and I could actually see and respect them for more than just being an aunt or an uncle, but as a human being and a christian. They are all pretty amazing people, each with their own quirks, but if you know what they are and accept them for what/who they are, the relationship can continue to grow.

Good families are a pretty amazing thing, always there when you need them, and always there even if you don't need them. We have always been there to support one another, attend events that others are participating in, and just there to watch each other grow. Next year the last of my first cousins will be graduating, all 20 of us will be over the age of 18 and that's so weird to me, it's even stranger to watch the next generation begin to come around, there are now 6 great grandchildren. It's weird that I never imagined us all growing old and having children of our own, I don't know why, it just seemed to happen over night.

9 weddings for 8 grand children (my brother hogged two of those), 3 divorces (for 2 children, once again Julio hogging 2 of those), 6 next generation children, it just goes on and on. While I really love the people that my family have brought to the table (with the exception of Julio's first wife) and I love their children, I miss the simplicity of the old days. Of monthly gatherings with my extended family and the laughter we all shared over the years. It's still there, it's just not as simple as it used to be.

But then again, what is?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Photo Memories - Kitchen stuff

This is proof that my obsession with kitchen items goes all the way back! Granted I don't still chew on them.....for the most part. I could always be found as a child in that drawer constantly pulling out kitchen stuff, then after my sister was born and she started to get kitchen stuff I was all over that stuff like white on rice. Somewhere there is a picture of me a little older than this somewhere messing with my sister's toy kitchen. She could never even cook plastic food right, I always had to correct her.

What's funny is for years I never had any interest in cooking. I loved food obviously, but was never into cooking for myself. I tried a few dishes when I was growing up with my mom's help, but never really got into it until I moved out on my own the second time. The first time I was just too poor and busy to worry about cooking anything, but I'll cover that when the pictures from that time frame comes up.

I love to create and I guess that feeling has poured over into food. It also helps that after years in food service I just don't get into fast food all that much anymore. It wasn't until I bought the store and actually had people to cook for that I really started to play around in the kitchen. I had a huge beautiful kitchen when I sold the store, a kitchen that took me so long to get to. I will again someday have a big commercial type kitchen because of all the things in that building, I loved my kitchen. It rarely felt like work when I was in there, preparing deli salads, or making lunches for that year I did homemade lunches every day, fruit trays, deli trays, etc. I would spend time in there a lot. I had my t.v. mounted, the stereo hooked up, all that was missing was air conditioning. lol.

I love to put foods together and experiment with flavors and textures and colors. I love creating a home cooked meal and even more I love sharing that food with others. Growing up we had meals at the table, all together, good days or bad days, we shared them as a family around the table. I have seen families that don't have time to sit down and eat together, someone prepares something and leaves it on the stove for people to eat where and when they can or want. That was so not our house. Dinner time was dinner time. No phone calls were answered, no door bells answered, nothing but us and a dinner.

My mom hated cooking, her deal with my father was she would cook 5 nights a week and that was all. When she wanted to, she could really whip up a great meal but sometimes she made due with what we had and the time she had. We had some pretty bad meals, but we also had some really great ones. On Friday's we would eat out somewhere. It was usually some place cheap, but dang near every Friday we would go someplace and either actually shop for necessities, or just window shop and then if we were good we would stop somewhere to eat. Friday's were always my favorite day, it wasn't always about eating out, it was not knowing where we would be going that night, or what we would be doing. My parents liked to surprise us with stuff like that.

On Saturdays my mom would usually throw together something easy like grilled cheese, or a frozen pizza or something fun that we could eat off of paper plates and eat in the living room watching a movie or just general t.v. Eating in the living room was a pretty big deal in our house and it was special, and we treated it as such.

Sunday's was dad's day to cook. He was not much of a chef, but he did pretty well. Usually sloppy joes, or fried potatoes, or whatever he could think of. Hot dogs was always an easy fall back. lol. We used to, and still kind of do raze him when he cooks, he learned how to cook, he knew how to cook, but we were a very 50's household. Mom ran the inside and he ran the outside, it works for them. My mother used to get upset when someone would talk about "women's work" to her it wasn't, it was mother's work.

Food has always been a part of my life and I guess there are a lot of emotions tied into food and the consumption of it. There is probably something very wrong with that, but if it's done in a healthy way, there would be much less wrong with it. So I guess to me, food brings people together, whatever the gathering, there is always food, and people like the food aspect of it. It means they didn't have to cook it, it means they can just enjoy it. I enjoy making people happy, I enjoy cooking a good meal for people who appreciate a good homemade meal, it just makes me happy. Don't get me wrong, I love other people cooking for me too! lol.

So that's me, a kitchen junky. I collect gadgets and gizmos and appliances, some I use regularly, others once a year maybe, but I love them all!! I keep trying to expand my culinary skills and the flavors that I'm comfortable using. Slowly but surely I'll get there, I haven't had too many complaints so far. lol.

By the I cute or what?!?! ;)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo Memories-Pool Time!

It's summer time!!! We waz livin large in Nappy! Check out the awesome pool. We were so popular everyone came over to enjoy the pool, it was like lifestyles of the rich and famous up in there. Seriously though, this was big time for us, we used that pool to the last inch of its life. That's me being held by non other than my aunt Julie. That is my uncle Jon in the back of the pool with the dark hair, my brother Julio is the very blond kid reaching into the pool, and I'm not really sure who the other two kids are, I think the girl standing up is my cousin Kathy, she is about Derek's age, but I have NO idea who the other blonde kid is.

You can see all the diapers hanging on the clothes line behind the pool, back in the day when people still used cloth. The yard is looking kind of rough, but honestly I think there is something wrong with their yard because it has never really looked nice. No matter what my dad does to it, he just can't seem to get it right, it's either the soil or the trees in the yard, which amazingly there are none in this picture. Keep in mind they had just bought the house a year before this picture was taken.

I have always been a water bug, I loved being in the water, I still do for the most part. The only problem I have now is I get bored, I have a hard time relaxing, it's no secret. I do well if there are other people in the pool to talk to, but if I'm alone I can relax for about 10-15 minutes before I start thinking of the hundred different things I could be doing at that time, or the hundred different things I need to get to. I think there is something wrong with me. lol.

During the summers my parents would get season passes for us to the city pool, mom considered it a great babysitter. She would work from 8-11:30 then come home for lunch and then we would be ready and she would drop us off at the pool on her way back to work at 12:30. We would be on our own all day until she came back to pick us up at 3:15pm sharp. We spent nearly 3 hours every day (except rainy days) in the water, usually with our cousins. Oh the summers I spent at that pool. It's about one of the only places in that town I can remember only the good times, I know there had to have been some moments when it wasn't good, but my mind only lets me remember the good and I don't push it. From doing handstands, seeing how far you could swim underwater with a breath, just so many random games.

I love the feeling of weightlessness in the water, I feel so good. Somehow in all of that swimming every summer I never managed to lose any weight, no matter how active I was, it didn't seem to do anything for me.

But anyway, my aunt Julie was always around, always active in our lives and was always there for us. She was so much fun and knew how to play with kids because really, she was still a kid herself. She was the second youngest in my mom's family. My uncle Jon is the youngest, he's the one in the dark hair, he and Derek are only about 6 years apart I think. It's a strange dynamic, but it always worked for us.

You'll see a few more posts about my aunt Julie because she was in a lot of pictures as she has always been such a big part of my life.

Funny, I think two more kids in that pool and it would have busted at the seams. lol.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 things

There are a basic ten things everyone should know about their debit/credit cards and I thought I would share this little bit of knowledge with you.

1. You do not own your card, it is property of the issuing bank and can be taken back, turned off, or destroyed at any time. Overdraft too much? They can shut it down, making crazy charges that look like fraud? They can shut it down. Depositing empty envelopes in the ATM? They will shut it down. It may be your money but it is their card they are allowing you to use.

2. Your activity is monitored 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If we suspect someone has stolen your card, or if we think someone has counterfeited your card, we will shut it down. If this is going to be a problem, make sure your bank has all of your correct contact information because if we can't reach you, you have to wait until the bank is open to figure out why your card is not working.

3. Planning on traveling outside of the US? Take a moment and either call the bank, stop in at the bank or call your customer service department and let them know and they can note the account because if we don't see any signs of travel in your account activity, we're freezing the account, and besides that there are MANY countries in this world that unless the bank knows otherwise, your card will not work. There are entire countries blocked at the bank because of high fraud in those countries and if they don't add your card number to the exclusions list, you will not get your card to work. Oh and by the way? Contrary to popular belief, Canada IS a foreign country, and yes people of Texas, so is Mexico. Just because you can walk there doesn't mean it's not a separate country.

4. Plan ahead, fraud happens every day to everyone. Don't use your card online? Doesn't matter. Don't use the pin on your card? Doesn't matter. Fraud finds you. If you are traveling always have a second form of payment, you do not want to be stuck in another country when we shut down your card and have no other way to pay for anything.

5. If you are traveling inside of the US you're going to be o.k., if you plan on spending large amounts of money at your destination simply use your card at some point along the trip, it's not a necessity but it helps the detection specialist see you are traveling. Most smaller amounts will not alert the system unless you are in North Carolina and are a capital one customer, then you might have some issues.

6. Making a large purchase online completely out of the norm? You may receive a phone call to verify the purchase. Just expect it because we are looking out for your money as well as the bank's money. You are not held responsible for fraudulent charges but it can sometimes take up to 5 weeks to get your money bank depending on the bank, so if someone calls you to verify your charges, just be glad someone is watching out for you.

7. If you shop online and you find a deal that too good to be true? It probably is. Fraudsters are very good at creating fake websites, if they were not good at what they do, they wouldn't get away with it. Do some research before you order from websites you have never heard from before, or have never used before. A simple google search will tell you all you need to know about it. If you find a Northface jacket for $15 at christmas time, I wouldn't recommend ordering it, just ask the lady that went into Christmas missing $1800 and missed her mortgage payment.

8. The bank is not your enemy, they are not your friend either, but they are not your enemy. They are out to make money off of your money, it's no secret. Thanks to the US government there is now a cap on how much a bank can make off of a debit card transaction of something like 12 cents maximum per transaction. It cost the banks more than this to offer debit cards so they want us to shut more cards down at the slightest thought of fraud, so be prepared. If the gas pump doesn't take your card the first time, either go inside or find another pump because you swipe that thing more than twice and we will shut your card down. You might be amazed at the things that flag in our system, just use common least the people reading this blog I know have it, but still.

9. When it comes to your debit card, trust no one. Don't leave it laying around because a camera phone can capture the number and that's all they need. Don't lose it and think you'll look for it before calling the bank, if that sucker is not in your possession, call the bank and tell them you are looking for it, but that you don't have it. Most banks offer a temporary hold option for the card while you look, some up to 30 days. A lost or stolen card can empty an account in less than 10 minutes, a trip to a local store that sells gift cards and your car payment is going to be late that month. They are fast and they are good, sometimes they swipe it at a pump at the gas station to see if it's a good card and then get online and spend thousands before you even realize your card is not in your wallet/purse. In this day in age, take nothing for granted, that card is serious business and for the love of all that is good and holy......DON'T WRITE YOUR PIN NUMBER ON YOUR CARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You would be amazed at the people that do that and then are upset because if we can't find a surveillance tape to prove it wasn't them, they are personally responsible for that money.

10. Last but not least, if you ever do get that phone call verifying a purchase and you are rushed and just say yes because you don't have time to have your card blocked, you will be legally held responsible for any and all money that is withdrawn or spent from your account. Fraudsters will sometimes use what we call test charges, a very small charge usually less than $5 and then return it right away so it would never appear on your statement, if we call and verify transactions like that and you just say yes to get off the phone, you just bought yourself a world of debt because within a week that card is going to be used in many foreign countries, or online somewhere enough to clear out your account and sometimes even more than that and you would be held accountable for any debt as well over draft fees that occur because of it. You can't fight it because we asked you about it and you said it was o.k. and it's pretty easy to track it back to those original test charges.

This isn't meant to scare you, well actually to a degree it is. People are often so flakey about their debit card because it's just a piece of plastic, but that piece of plastic can cause you months and months of stress and financial hardships. I have been in banking for less than a year and have heard countless horror stories about what happens. My sister had her card compromised because someone finally hacked into a system the bank used and pulled several hundred card numbers. Her bank offered her a temporary interest free loan until the paperwork was done, but this is not the case with all banks. Many banks make you wait up to 5 weeks while the paperwork gets done before they release any funds to you, can you afford to have your account emptied and wait 5 weeks to get any of it back?

Just think ahead and don't be stupid.

That is all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Photo Memories

Ah yes, the day I arrived home from the hospital. Oh what a glorious day, the house was never the same again. That's my older brother there holding me, I've taken to calling him Julio thanks to Bethany. lol. He looks so happy to be that close to me doesn't he? It took another 21 years for him to smile that close to me again. lol. That's my grandma (mom's mom) to the left of me, beaming about her 5th grandchild in what would turn out to be a list of 20 grandkids. lol.

That picture was taken in our living room. That couch lasted about another 6 years at least and that afghan is still in my parents house somewhere, maybe the attic. I believe there is also a piece of that blanket in the attic too, but I'm not sure they were the same thing, my blankey might have been from something else, I'll have to ask my mother.

My brother and I had a rough time growing up with each other. We didn't get along very well as I'm sure most brothers don't. We fought like crazy and were two completely different people. We were complete opposites and went together like oil and water. He thrived on pushing all the right buttons pushing me into a terrifying rage most of the time. Sure you'll see him again in several more pictures all smiles, but it's probably because he had just really got under my skin. To be honest, he still can, but I have a better understanding now, some 34 years later.

We fought like that until the mid ninties when he had moved out and was getting married. It was then we started talking and visiting and getting along as adults. I'm amazed at how our relationship has grown and changed over the the last 16 years since then, how we've grown closer and have grown to appreciate the adults (eek! did I just say that?) that we have become. We've gone through our own stuff but in the last 6 or 7 years we've started to go through it together, we have formed this shall I dare to say friendship that I honestly didn't expect us to.

It's all these years later that I discover how much he watched out for me growing up, defending me to the bullies in the neighborhood and sticking up for me when I wasn't around. How he beat up a kid that used to harrass me when I was walking home from school, all this behind the scenes. He still doesn't tell me many stories about it, I hear these stories from the people from the old neighborhood. Stories from his friends and sometimes when I look back at different times and situations I can see things differently.

We just never appreciated each other at the time. My friends always thought he was more fun so they would go run around with him, but then I remember the times he included me in things when he didn't have to. I remember one summer night he and our cousin Tony decided to camp out in my dad's old tent in the back yard and asked me if I wanted to join them. I was all for it. That night we got no sleep. We waited until mom and dad finally passed out from exhaustion from yelling at us to keep it down out there because their bedroom window was open and could hear everything and we took off on foot through our neighborhood. We had a pretty quiet neighborhood, we walked all over that night and ended up at the Shell Gas station at the edge of the neighborhood somewhere around 6am to get pop. We had to get back before dad woke up so at that point we headed back.

Of course when dad got up and noticed our cups from Shell we got an ear full, but it was still so much fun. It's amazing how times have changed, I would never allow my kids (if I was ever tortured with any) to sleep in my back yard in that neighborhood these days. I think about how different things were then, we knew everyone in a five block radius and they all knew us, we were related to at least half the people that lived on our street and the manager at the shell station we frequented was one of my best friend's dad, and the store on the other end of the neighborhood (which I would buy years later) was owned by family. We couldn't get away with anything, and we rarely ever did.

Baseball behind Nick's house every day during the summer, football behind Jeff's house in the fall, kick ball at our house in the side yard, bike tag up and down the streets in a five block radius, trips down to Shell to sneak packs of garbage pail kids, hours in Tony's sand box building cities, sneaking down to the family store to buy some candy only to be ratted out by our cousins that ran the place later that day when Dad would go in for his beer and newspaper. We would jump our bikes on the ramp created by the storm sewer over at Neil's house, GI Joe or cops and robbers at Shawn's house, T.V. tag at Joel and Jennifer's house.

It all feels like a hundred years ago when I think of where everyone is today, and yet it can still feel like yesterday when I put myself back there mentally. I really did have a great childhood.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Photo Memories

Ah yes, another one from the day of my baptism. I apparently had changed into some more comfortable clothes for the party, I was a fashionista even then. Of course you'll notice, I'm once again sleeping. Being the life of the party is no easy task let me tell you.

The man holding me is my uncle Denny, my dad's brother. Yes, I used the term uncle, which is strange as this was probably the last time we were really close. I never really talked to my uncle Denny all that much but I had no bad feelings towards him either. He and my aunt Betty were not able to have children and I just don't think he ever got used to being around small children much, especially as we were growing up, but he did think of us. When he and my aunt Betty built their house they built a house slightly bigger than they needed for themselves because they knew if anything ever happened to my parents it was in the will that they were to raise us. They considered that as they built their house and aunt Betty even told us that.

Uncle Denny is just a quiet guy. I respected him because he always did what was right, wouldn't hurt a fly and always took a distant interest in us. It's just who he was and who he still is and I can relate. He and my dad are very similar in a lot of ways so I guess I always understood uncle Denny a little better than some. He was the kind of guy growing up that would stand in the doorway at christmas sipping his beer watching everything and randomly pull out a squirt gun and shoot one of us kids and just smile when we would try to figure out what had just happened. He is the type of guy that didn't smile much but when he did/ does you know he's up to something or was up to some kind of mischief. I talk to him if I see him, but neither of us go out of our way to make that happen, it's just how that side of the family is.

I felt bad for him when grandma died. They lived across the street from my grandparents and every day after work he would stop at grandmas house, have a seat in the garage and my grandma would come out, they would share a beer and chat. 5 days a week, it was a routine. That day he showed up and grandma didn't come out, he went in to check on her and was the one to find her on the bathroom floor. He was very close with grandma, she was a part of his daily life and I can't imagine how he felt at that moment. He got stuck in the middle during the aftermath, trying to not take sides between his brother and his sister, trying to stay as far away from the situation as possible.

This was particularly easy because the day of the viewing he had a minor heart attack and spent the next week in the hospital and was not able to attend the funeral service for his mother. I can't imagine the pain he was going through. He's better now and back to his old self, but it could not have been easy for him.

Aunt Betty was the peace maker in the family. She tried so hard to keep the family from falling apart at the seams. She was the one that broke up the screaming match between my dad's sister and my mom when things got heated one thanksgiving, yes, my quiet mother, in a screaming match. I still think I have never been more proud of her than that day she stood up to her. Betty was also the one that sent out birthday cards to us every year, the one that would make sure each time she saw each of us she would have a conversation with us individually, she was the one that wanted so badly to continue our family gatherings on the holidays, but she just wasn't strong enough to mend the holes in our family that had started so many years before.

Most of us tried, my brother and sister who were rarely talked to or even noticed by my dad's sister gave up the day grandma died. In their eyes, when grandma died, so did dad's side of the family, they were never treated very well in the last 10 years, when Linda divorced she seemed to have gotten bitter towards my father who's marriage was still together and strong. The first Easter after grandma died Linda decided to host the gathering and I was the only one of my siblings to say they would go. I didn't want to but I felt grandma asking me to so I did. It was weird and awkward, the dirty things my aunt did after grandma died were still very near the surface to my family, we had not yet reached forgiveness so it was tough to begin with but we pushed through, and then at dinner, things fell apart.

We sat down to eat at the table, we didn't notice at first because it was covered in cloth and we might not have noticed had it not been brought up, but my aunt asked us to all notice we were once again seated at the same table that we sat at in grandmas house. It was like a knife straight to our hearts. This, the table that started it all. I guess in order to understand I need to tell the story, hope this isn't too long for you guys.....

The year my grandparents were to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, or was it 25th? I don't remember the exact year, but it was a parents were in a tough spot financially. They had three kids at home and my father had just gotten laid off after many years at the factory. Money was tight so they didn't know what they would do for a gift. Well several years before my grandma was at an auction and fell in love with this old beat up dining room table that reminded her of when she was growing up, she got it cheap and put it in the barn to store until grandpa could refinish it for her. Well grandpa was never one to actually fix much from the barn, once it was in there, it was just decoration. lol. My father went and got the table from the barn and brought to our house where he spent the next 6 months working on it. He stripped it down to the bare wood, fixed all that needed fixed and put his heart and soul into that table. He said he had never seen grandma so happy as when he brought it back to the house and showed it to her. It was her pride and joy, and it really was beautiful, she sat at that table for hours everyday, if she wasn't in her recliner, she was in her chair at the table. My grandmother being who she was always told my father that when she was gone she wanted him to have it back.

Well my grandmother had a list of her favorite things, and beside each item she had a name of either one of her children, their spouse, or us grandkids. She didn't care about anything else in the house except what was on the list. She put a lot of thought into each item and to her, that was her legacy. We all knew of the list, we all knew where she kept the list because it was important to her that we were all aware of it. Well the day my grandmother died we all went to the house as people do to prepare for the coming events. My father being the oldest was put in charge of a lot. He went to get grandmas clothes and things for the funeral home and discovered that her favorite rings were missing. He asked my aunt and she said that grandma must have sold them because she hadn't seen them. Really? she wore each of them at least once a week. Dad was getting suspicious already.

The funeral came and went and it came time to talk about the estate. We all gathered at grandmas and the lawyer asked for the list, my father went to get the list and discovered it was no longer in its place. His sister then says suddenly that grandma hadn't kept the list there in quite some time and that she had the list that grandma had revised over the last year. She presented this list that had grandmas signature on it, but everything else was scratched out erased and had my aunt's handwriting all over it. She said grandma had been changing it. When the lawyer read off the list we discovered the table was suddenly going to my aunt, my sister no longer got the wedding band, she instead was to receive one of the end tables from the attic, my brother was no longer to receive my grandfathers army stuff, but instead the aluminum boat which he had purchased from my grandmother two years before and had at his house, I was no longer to receive the quilt from their wedding, instead I was to receive a writing desk my uncle designed that she had already given me well over a year before.

Somehow my father was to receive grandpas old tools (which were pretty much all gone by this point because grandpa had been gone for nearly 6 years), and my mother was to get the rocking chair in the attic. My aunt to was the get the table, the china and all jewelry, her son was to the get the antique china hutch (which never made it to his house, it too is in her dining room) and his army uniform, her middle daughter was to receive the silver candlesticks and the antique spinning wheel (which is in Lindas living room), her youngest daughter was to have the good silver and the antique dolls from the bedroom upstairs.

Now don't get me wrong, it's just stuff, it's just materialistic stuff, but it hurt, and hurt bad. From that point forward my dad's family changed, the family he thought he knew, just all changed. It has never been the same since. Like my mother says, it's not so much the table, my mother didn't like the table all that much anyway, it's what it meant, it was what happened in that very moment that destroyed my father. The table is just a table, but it's what it represented that created a chasm in the family that can never be crossed again.

That was the last Easter I ever spent with dad's family. My aunt Betty knew why we were quiet the rest of the day, she heard me tell my mother I would never set foot in that house again, and she heard the things my father said under his breath as we made our exit. Nearly ten years later and my father has only been back to her house once. It was my aunt Betty that called my parents and invited them and our family to Thanksgiving at her and Denny's house and it was because of that, that my parents accepted and I accepted as well. My siblings have not seen that side of the family since the auction at grandmas house just shy of nine years ago. I have been to thanksgiving a few times, Betty makes it tolerable. I have not been there in the past three or four years and I feel bad, only for Betty, because I know it hurts her like I'm sure it hurts grandma, but somethings can't be repaired.

I'm not sure when I'll see them again, my sister is still hurt and does not talk about it and will change the subject over and over again if someone brings it up. She has not been to grandmas grave since the burial, she drives out of her way to avoid driving anywhere near their homes. My brother is aloof to the whole situation, he acts as if he never even knew that dad had family. I, well I struggle with it often, but then again my grandma runs deep in my veins. My dad still tries to talk to his brother as often as he can and vise versa, he has even reached out to his sister and all the kids go out about three or four times a year to neutral ground for dinner, and my parents still manage to make it to thanksgiving at least every other year.

Wow, all that from a picture from my baptism. I'm not sure it's so good that those memories are all tied together, but I guess it's all a part of it. Things I treasure most from my grandparents are the pictures I have, the writing desk that my grandma went out of her way to get for me from Texas, that's another story, I treasure the memories I have of them because that's all that really matters. I miss my grandparents so much.

On the lighter side did you see the killer Hi-Fi system my dad had in our rec room? Check out that Pioneer reciever (that can still be found in the garage at my parents still playing polkas every Sunday). I'm not sure what ever happened to that pinball machine, I don't remember it growing up, which can only mean one brother broke it before I was old enough to play with it. lol.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


O.K. so I can't post it on Facebook because the announcement at work has not been made, but I am not the one that got the supervisor position. I'm o.k. with it, I really am, I thought it was a shot in the dark anyway and I don't regret going for it. All this means is that this position is not right for me, at this time. In a company that is growing by leaps and bounds (we hired over 80 people this month) there will be plenty of opportunities and I'm o.k. waiting it out right now. I'm a little disappointed that I won't have the nice pay check, but it's really o.k. My boss's boss met with me in person to let me know and told me that I will make a great supervisor and she has no doubt in my abilities, she just had a candidate that had 8 years of actual fraud supervisory experience with a specialty in one of the systems that we actually use, and also had a great personality so she had to choose her.

I told her I was o.k with that, I have been on both sides of the table and know that if someone with more qualifications comes along that's the choice you have to make. I'm not upset about it, I told her I just don't like to live thinking "what if I had tried for it" and any other "what ifs" and she seemed pretty shocked by that. I think she was shocked how easy it was to let me down. I thanked her for telling me in person and looked forward to trying for another position at another time.

What I did learn throughout this process is that inside of me is this voice, this voice that advocates for me and believes in my abilities. A voice that is confident and speaks from the heart about what I believe and who I am. This crazy voice that has been trampled on for so many years, stuffed away into a deep far away place of my mind. It totally reappeared when I needed it and it shocked me but filled me with something I hadn't felt in a long time, belief in myself.

I like my job, sure it gets boring some nights, sure the pay isn't the greatest, but it's certainly a ton more than I have been making in recent years. lol. I enjoy most of my coworkers and I like the company I work for, what else can one person want? Bigger opportunities are on the horizon and one of them will be right for me, and I'll be ready. Good things are yet to come. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photo Memories

So I decided to finally get started on a little project I have been thinking about. I'm pulling photos from my past and going to do a post on them. We'll see how long I can keep this up, but I think it could be fun, I love old photos, well before I hit that awkward stage in my know around the age of 5-present. lol. So here we go, hope you enjoy!

The year was 1977, it was a warm spring day....well I don't really know what kind of day it was, but anyway I was born and here is a picture of my on the day I was baptized. I had three official sponsors, two of which are seen in this picture. The one on the left is my dad's sister Linda and the one of the right is my aunt Julie. Oh and that little cute adorable want to hug and him and squeeze him baby in Julie's arms? Yeah, that would be me. Not much has changed really right? :) My third sponsor who is not pictured is my aunt Bonnie who was not able to make the trip from New Jersey that weekend, but since I didn't really remember the day, I guess it wasn't too important. lol.

I don't remember that day, as you can see I slept through most of it, much like years of my adult life. I could probably go on and on about how that day changed my life, but really as a baby, it was another day, the only thing different was the man that put the water on my head and the party after wards. I didn't fully appreciate being baptized in my life until much later in life, I would never downplay it's importance in my life, nor the impact of it today, it's just another post for another day.

The fashion of the seventies leaves something to be desired does it not? My aunt Linda looks so happy in this picture, I don't know what happened to that happy aunt, somewhere in her life, her rough marriage and her bitter divorce we drifted apart, there wasn't far to go since we were never really close anyway, but in the present tense I use the term "my father's sister" because of some bad things that happened after Grandma died. I have since forgiven her, but I do not forget or make mistakes like that again. Once again, another post for another day....or maybe I've already posted about it. Eh, who knows.

My aunt Julie is still as happy as she was in that picture. My aunt Julie didn't live to far from our house, she would baby sit us, she would spend the weekend with us, take us all over the place and would just have so much fun with us. She was and still is a big part of my life, she has a zest in life that is hard to match but an infectious laugh and smile. Knowing her as an adult is just as much fun as knowing her as a child.

The patio in the background is pretty the same as it is today except the door in the picture is now part of the family room and the window is now the door. It shows the years of wear and tear more than the two adults in the picture do. We used to spend an awful lot of time on that patio. Our house was on the smaller side so inside parties were never fun so we always had them on the patio. Even when there wasn't parties we kids would spend our time out there, we would bar-b-que there, we would swing on the swing, take naps and just live life out there.

Dad said when they bought the house the patio was not there, there was a giant tree stump where the swing is in the picture and it took him nearly two years to get it out of the ground. I wouldn't know because that patio was poured the year before this picture was taken so I wasn't around. The fact of the matter is, things change, people change. Some for the better, some not so much, but things change, constantly. The question is, do you change with them? Do you fight the change to stay the same and complain about how everyone around you has changed? Is it really change or is it growth? Growth happens with change, you learn from your mistakes, you learn from your victories, you learn who is with you, and eventually you learn who is really against you.

My life is nothing like it used to be and yet sometimes, it feels the same, but the same of the good way. I still find comfort in that old patio, I still find comfort in the faces in the picture, even after all that has happened between us I didn't know any better at that time, when her life changed, she chose to change with it and perhaps to someone closer to her it was for the better, perhaps we were never meant to be a close knit family with my dad's side, I don't know, but that's what it is. I wish her no ill will, I hope someday she can find that smile that she has in that picture again. I hope my aunt Julie continues to change in her life and yet continue to hold on to that smile and zest for life, and I hope I can continue to change with life, roll with the punches and keep coming out on top.

It amazes me at times that this picture was taken 34 years ago, where has the time gone? I look at myself asleep and at peace with the world and think, wow, you have no idea what you are instore for. The good the bad the crazy, it's all so wild, and then I wonder, what will I think 34 years from now looking back at this very moment?

If the next 34 years are as great as the first, I can't wait, well I can because I'll be pushing 70, I'll go as slow as I can, but these last 34 just seems to have flown by. All I can say is Thank you to God for this life, for the people that were a part of it so far and those that will be a part of it in the future. All in all I have been blessed and continue to be blessed every day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Firm Belief

It is a firm belief of mine that if you are having construction done and intrupting my lunch hour, the least you can do is hire some hunk construction workers to make it worth my while. I mean really! How rude. Lol.

The kitchen remodel has begun and it is already making me crazy. I just spent half my lunch figuring out the lumber I have to pick up in the morning. Not to mention the countless moments I've spent pondering the electrical situation, the plumbing situation, the flooring situation and the cabinet situation.

On top of all this I have to figure out the situation happening in my mouth and the legal and financial situations because of that. I also need to plan a menu for the weekend for my family visiting while we have no kitchen.

I realize this is not really my house to stress over, but can I cry too? I am living there and doing most of the construction myself......oh, and I'm working ten hour days.

I know the lord only puts on us what we can handle, but man my shoulders are getting heavy. Pray for my sanity over the next thirty days.