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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Sweetest Thing

The play structure in our back yard includes this cool play house - almost like a fort. It's set about four feet off the ground, has stairs leading up to it, two little windows, and two little entrances. It's pretty darn cool.

Sydney asked a couple of times to spend the night in it this summer, and it just never seemed to work out. The other night, she asked again... I told her that it definitely can't happen on a school night, and that I would think about it if we had good weather this weekend. 

Then after some thought, I decided to just come out with it: "You know what, honey? I'm just really not comfortable with you sleeping in there by yourself.

Fully expecting to hear a bunch of whining and opposition, she surprised me and quietly let me continue.

"When I tuck my children in at night, I lock all the doors to the house. I like knowing that my children are tucked away safely in our home, all secure under the same roof with me. If you're in the play house, you're not only under a different roof, but those doors can't lock. In fact, one of them doesn't even close all the way. I just don't feel comfortable with that unless I'm in there with you, and we both can't fit. So I'm really sorry, but I'm just not okay with you sleeping in there." 

She looked at me and said, "That is THE SWEETEST THING I have ever heard you say, Mommy!" (She speaks very animatedly, so she said it just how it looks - haha!)

This girl is something else - she never ceases to amaze me with the things that come out of her wise and articulate little mouth every single day. She's seven years old! 

Fortunately she not only accepts my decision, but even agrees with me. I felt the need to record this; especially since I know there will be many times that I'm going to want some proof that she did agree with me about something!  =P

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Defining "widowhood"

Those who have been reading my blog for any amount of time know that I have been involved with a group called Soaring Spirits which is a top-noch organization for widowed people. They bring people together who have suffered the life-altering loss of the person they intended to spend their rest of their life with. "Diverse, inclusive, and secular" are some of the words they use to describe themselves. Positive, happy, full of love, and non-judgmental are just a few more words to describe them... I've been involved with Soaring Spirits right from the very beginning - merely months out of widowhood - and they have helped me and so many others immeasurably. I've also had the opportunity to give a little back to them in different ways over the years. I've made lifelong friends through them as well.

In addition to Soaring Spirits, I have become a member of a few other Facebook groups that also deal with the issue of widowhood - one is specifically for the younger set, one is for people with young children. I had also recently joined a local group from a different website (the only local group I could find) that was relatively new that I was so excited to find. I suggested to the organizer that he create a Facebook page since Facebook offers a much easier platform for the members to communicate than the original site they were on. I was worried members' messages would be easily missed - especially in a time of need. Messages would spontaneously delete halfway through typing them which made it frustrating and discouraging to communicate at all. He was very receptive to that idea and needed help setting it up, and I was happy to assist. I had only been a member for a couple of weeks at that point, and not very active because I was having such a hard time with the original site. 

While creating the Facebook page, I was also asked to assist with membership approval. At that point, I began to learn that inclusion into the group was likely limited to only those who were in a "traditional" marriage. My heart sank. As gently as I could, I suggested that unless the group is titled something more specific and that intent is made known upfront, I felt they should include anyone that has lost the person they expected to spend the rest of their life with - married or not. That kind of loss (aside from losing a child) is possibly the worst pain anyone can experience. If I am going to be involved in membership approval, I could not, in good conscience, turn anyone away grieving that loss. Unfortunately, that suggestion was received with ambivalent reluctance, and no clear decision was made, which made me believe he wasn't open minded to that idea. 

At that point, another member of the group also wanted to talk to me, quoting from the Bible for probably a solid ten minutes to give evidence of their now more obvious intention of excluding certain potential members. I ended up giving her a little speech that went something like this:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

More Father/Daughter dance stuff...

Funny all that took place yesterday considering it ended up helping me when dealing with a situation that came up tucking Sydney into bed last night...

Remember how I posted about Sydney's first Father/Daughter dance and how I agonized for about six months leading up to it? Well, last night I was tucking Sydney into bed and out of the blue, she said to me, "I wish Daddy could have taken me to the Father/Daughter dance. I wish someone could take me. I really want to go."

Of course, I'm caught only slightly off guard since I might be finally getting used to this. At least it doesn't take me as long to catch my breath and think of a response. 

She's on the verge of tears... My first response is, "I know, sweetheart- I'm so sorry. I wish that for you, too," being careful to not minimize her sadness, or try to "fix" it right away. But then I remembered something... 

I'm part of a widow's group (actually a couple different ones) on Facebook, and a lady had posted a couple of days ago about the Father/Daughter dance at her daughter's school and asked for some advice about how to handle it. Her final decision was to just go with her. That thought had crossed my mind very fleetingly last year, but I dismissed it thinking I would be the only mom there in a sea full of dads and I shouldn't go. Knowing that she went made me think of that as a possible option for Sydney. 

Keeping that Facebook post in mind, and the other conclusion I came to of giving Sydney the decision as to how we handle it this year, I asked her, "How would you feel about ME taking you? I mean, I have to be Mom and Dad anyway, so why not go with you to the Father/Daughter dance?!" 

Her face lit up and she said yes!!! She even said, "Now I don't have to cry!" My sweet baby girl. I'm so excited that I get to go with her! I'm sure a nice pants suit would be appropriate, right? I'm going to email her teacher tomorrow.


I wrote a post titled "Something" a little while back about my friend Judie. One of the things I'm also helping her with is her blog... She gave me the honor of writing her latest blog post - I think you'll like it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Newest member of our family....

When we were living in California, the kids and I adopted a couple of kittens. There were only two in the litter, and I didn't have the heart to separate them. Plus, my cousin who has worked at the SPCA for years told me that it's best to adopt more than one cat at a time since they are social creatures, despite what most people think.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Pepe Le Pew - the little lovesick skunk who always pursued the unwilling black cat (Penelope) with the white paint stripe down her back. Since our kitties were a boy and a girl (the girl being a black cat), I decided to name them Pepe Le Pew and Penelope.

Pepe Le Pew took off during one of our moves and never returned, and I decided from then on that Penelope would be strictly an indoor cat.

I always had dogs growing up, but our lifestyle is really not conducive to the needs of a dog. I've never had cats before this, so I think because I treat her like a dog, she acts like one; she comes when we call her, jumps on our laps, gives kisses, loves treats, and comes bounding down the stairs to greet us when we get home.

For as much love as she gets from us, I was getting the feeling that she's been lonely for another little furry companion; especially when the kids and I aren't home. When the kids and I get home from a weekend trip, she comes running to us and meows constantly the rest of the day like she's yelling at us for leaving her and trying to catch us up on all we missed not being here.

When I had broken my wrist in March, I started thinking more and more about getting a kitten. After one of my orthopedic appointments in April, I decided to go to the SPCA since it was near the office and check out the kittens. I met with my cousin Gina and told her what I had in mind. They didn't have any kittens available for adoption on their site, but she told me of a few that were available at their Grand Island location. As I was walking through the offices to leave, one of the ladies peeked out and said, "I hear you're looking for a kitten..."

Broken Bones.

Last winter was loooong, cold and snowy. Between living in warmer states the last several years and the fact that it was an unusually wintery winter even by Buffalo's standards, we were getting Spring fever pretty early on. We decided to take up rollerblading for something fun and different that we could do indoors (and eventually outdoors).

When I was growing up, my mother would take my sister and I to the roller rink and would skate our hearts out. Many times it would be just my mom and I on these outings. She made friends with an older lady that would go with her grandson, Jimmy. I was about six years old, and Jimmy was about twelve... He would roller skate with me while my mom and his grandmother would visit, and I pretty much fell in love with the kid. The last time I went roller skating with my mom, he was there... The song "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb came on, and he scooped me up and sped around the roller rink. We were going so fast that it felt like we were flying. I had my arms around his neck and was in my glory. I even got up the nerve to give him a kiss on the cheek! (I know, I know - I was only six, but love knows no age!) It was a day I will never, ever forget.

The next time my mother went roller skating, it was just her and my sister. In an effort to give each of us kids our own special time with mom, I couldn't go that time, and boy was I not happy. Jimmy was there with his grandmother, and he had given my mom a little blue stuffed octopus to give to me. How sweet was that?? My mother ended up falling and breaking her wrist on that outing, and we never went back. I still have that little blue octopus (I wrote on the bottom of it, "Jimmy 1979 Reunited"), and it was years before I could hear that song on the radio and not cry. By that time, they really didn't play it on the radio anymore, anyway...

When I started taking my kids roller skating, I promised them out loud that if I ever fell and broke my wrist, I wouldn't let that stop me and we will STILL go roller skating.


I probably have mentioned this before, but Sydney talks about her daddy every single day. She incorporates him into her daily life and talks about the daddy she hasn't seen since she was 18 months old as if she hasn't missed a day. Jacob thinks about him all the time, too, but he is less likely to say it out loud. Sydney rarely has an unexpressed thought, while Jacob has so many...

She says random things like, "You know what's really sad? Daddy won't be able to go to my wedding." She is seven years old and thinks of these things. I know in my heart he will be there, but my heartbreak for her is that he won't be the one to walk her down the isle.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Thank you...

I just need to pause a moment and thank the people who read my blog so faithfully, and any new readers out there... I'm always amazed when I find out anyone still looks at this thing, and humbled by some of the comments. Thank you for caring!

I hope that this somehow helps others who may be going through something similar, or those who want to try to understand a friend/family member going through a loss.

I will be writing more soon... In the meantime, I'm working on writing a BOOK!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Jacob and Sydney funnies...

Last school year, one of the field trips I went on was with Jacob and his class to Dairy Queen and a nearby park. While we were at the park eating our ice cream, one of Jacob's little classmates comes up to me from behind. She said, 

"Excuse me - Mrs. Row? Let me see you."

I turned around, somewhat taken aback by this and said, "Yes?"

I had no idea what to expect her to say next! 

She said,

"Are you Jacob Row's mom? You look EXACTLY like him. No offense!"


No offense taken, you little cutie - that's a big compliment to me!! Such a cool mommy moment.


A few weeks ago, Sydney said the sweetest thing to me out of the blue... She was referring to Jacob when she said,

"For me, it's gonna be really sad someday when we grow up and have to live apart."

Soooooo sweet how much she adores her brother!!!! He feels the same way, but he's a bit more reluctant to express it these days...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Arizona and Buffalo, 2014

Before we went to California, the kids and I had planned to visit Matt's parents in Arizona. It had already been about eight months since we've spent time with the best grandparents on Earth, and we just couldn't wait until August to see them.

It was only a five day visit, but long enough to make new memories of playing 10,000 and other dice games and cards. I wasn't raised playing games as a family like that, so it's always fun to get involved and learn more! It's a great way to connect, have lots of laughs, and even reinforce math skills with the kids. I need to get into a routine of doing that when it's just the kids and I... Brings me back to when Matt was around to play, too - he absolutely loved games with the family, and it was pretty much a guarantee that at some point something funny would happen to bring out his big, booming, contagious laugh that I miss so much.

Roy took Jacob and I on a great hike and as we walked along, Roy told us where the best places would have been to pan for gold. He also pointed out bedrock to Jacob, and he was ecstatic! Jacob is hardcore into a game called Minecraft, and there's a whole lot of bedrock in the game, and he was so excited to get to see it in real life. He even got to take a piece of it home with him! We also went fishing with Uncle Jeff, Aunt LaRae, Grandma and Grandpa and cousin Jeffrey. We didn't catch any fish, but Jacob caught a few crayfish and Grandma told him stories about when his dad and brothers were little, they used to catch lots of crayfish, bring them home and cook them up. Apparently they taste quite a bit like lobster. We brought the few that Jacob caught home with us, and boiled them up. Jacob was beaming as he watched those little guys turn from grey to red in the pot. He loves seafood, too, so he couldn't wait to get a taste.  I also had a little taste, but I have to say - they really didn't taste like lobster, but I can now say I ate a crayfish!

Roy has been making these gorgeous end tables and coffee tables out of Alligator Juniper trees - it's a very physically demanding process, too. May I remind you the man is 77 years old, had a quadruple bypass sixteen years ago, has chronic leukemia (maintained with daily medication), and was struck by lightning last July? He's pretty much my hero. He even puts some of the gold he finds from panning (and some pieces of turquoise - and probably anything else he would want to) into some of the divots and into spaces where there were knots with some special kind of varnish. Matt and I had gone panning years ago with his parents, and found some gold which has been stored in a tiny vial with water all this time. Roy just happened to have a smaller slab of Alligator Juniper, and I asked him if he would do me the honor of making a little table for me, and including the gold that Matt and I found on that trip. He is working on it probably as we speak. I can't wait to see the results! And what a treasure that table is going to be... Two wonderful men involved in that work of art.

This August, Ginny and Roy came to Buffalo for this year's Run for Row (another whole exciting post!!) and stayed with us for about ten days. More cookies, hiking and memories!! We are so blessed to have them in our lives. =)