My Photo
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.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Online Dating WARNING

Ladies, (and I'm sure this could apply to men just the same), if you are involved in the online dating thing - whether it's Match, E Harmony, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, Christian Mingle, Tinder, etc., MAKE SURE you get the person's FULL NAME before you agree to meet with them. You would be surprised how many people lie about their actual name, age, and other important (and pretty basic) details.

If they're going to lie about this shit right from the beginning, then chances are they are just a plain liar. Do not get involved, and then block them.

Google, google, google. There is nothing wrong with that. It's not an invasion of privacy before agreeing to meet with someone. It's a responsible first step before putting yourself in potential danger. Please heed my advice. Giving them the benefit of the doubt only prolongs the inevitable.


Friday, February 6, 2015

"I think I know why my heart is so strong - because Daddy is in it."
~ Sydney


You and me both, sweetheart. <3 br="">

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lonely...

I have made many acquaintances with some pretty awesome people since my journey into widowhood began six years ago, and one of the most talented writers I've come to know is a fellow widow by the name of Catherine Tidd. She is the author of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, and I was truly honored that she sent me a complimentary copy of her book for me to read and review for her. I had taken a hiatus for a few years from reading books on this topic, but I have finally started reading her book and am LOVING it so far.

In the meantime, I've been friends with her on Facebook for a long time now, and I truly enjoy reading her status updates and the articles she posts. This one, in particular, has hit home for me and I feel the need to share it with everyone I know.


‘LONELY’ NOT POWERFUL ENOUGH WORD TO DESCRIBE WIDOWHOOD



She puts it all into words so eloquently that it's very possible that someone reading it who has not experienced what other widowed people have may actually get a glimpse of understanding. I recommend that EVERYONE read it - widowed or not... The people who haven't experienced this specific kind of loss can maybe understand their widowed friend a bit more than before, and those who have experienced it can be comforted by the validation that they are not alone in these feelings.

Keep writing, Catherine - you rock!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thank You's

The kids and I finally wrote out our thank you cards for the Christmas gifts that we received this Christmas! Sounds pretty boring, but it's actually quite significant - at least for me.

It's possible that we did some over the last six years - it's even possible that we wrote them out but just never ended up putting them in the mail... Do you know how many piles of cards (Christmas cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, etc.) I have found over the course of the last six years that never ended up making it to the post office? Although I had good intentions, very few thank you's were probably actually sent and I just hoped that a verbal thank you was sufficient. I've had so much guilt over this...

But today, with participation from Jacob and Sydney, we finally completed a whole set of thank you cards, addressed them, and even put them in the mail!! Woohoo!

This is a true testament that I really am finally getting my shit together. =D

Monday, January 12, 2015

Run For Row

When Matt passed away, his co-workers from his new job had gotten together and organized a 5K in his honor called the Run for Row. It is held every year on the third Sunday in August at Como Lake Park in Lancaster, NY. Their purpose for the event is to raise money for our children's education, and they have faithfully organized the event every year since Matt's death.

This past year, since we're now living back in the area, I was invited to the last meeting before event in August. As I was listening to the planning process, one of them mentioned that they had gone to a local grocery store asking for a donation of hot dog rolls for the event, but they were turned down because they will only donate to a cause that benefits more than just one family. I didn't hear much of the rest of the conversation because that immediately got my wheels turning... I thought, "it would be way better if this event benefited more than just my kids" among a hundred other thoughts all at the same time. Not only would it be wonderful to help other kids pay for college, but I would also be way more inclined to help with the event if I knew it was helping others. I haven't been involved in this process for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that it would just simply seem weird to help with a cause that benefits my own children - kind of like throwing a baby shower for your own baby. To me, it just seemed too self-serving to feel right.

I interjected an idea during the meeting... What if we were to change the objective of the event to raise funds for other kids who've lost a parent, and not just mine?

Then he told me that because the Buffalo plant (the plant Matt used to work at) is up for sale, that they decided to separate the Run for Row from the company they work for and form a non-profit corporation so that it is a separate entity. Because of that, they actually had to write the mission statement so that it reads that the funds raised will assist more than just my kids anyway, and they were going to ask me if I was OK with that. I'm more than OK with that - it thrills me to think we could help other kids, too! I'm now one of the directors of the corporation and am actively involved.

Education was so important to Matt. He got his associates degree right out of high school, and then at the time we met, he was just going back to college to get his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. When he graduated with that degree nine years later (just before I gave birth to Sydney), he had just begun his studies for his Master's Degree. He is the only one in his family to get a college degree.

One of the reasons it meant so much to him to get a college education is because it was so important to him that his children have a college education, too, and he felt he would be a hypocrite if he told them to go to college if he didn't have a degree himself.

As such, I am so pleased to announce that the Run for Row will now be raising money for scholarships for students in the Western New York area who have lost a parent. We are still in the beginning stages, but it's a very exciting venture and I will post about details once we get them figured out. =)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday (no matter which one you celebrate), and that the New Year brings everyone good health, love, happiness and peace. I have a good feeling about 2015! =)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Today is Friday, November 28, 2015- ten days since the beginning of Snowvember and the day after Thanksgiving...

After Matt's death two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2008, I decided at the last minute that the kids and I would go to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with his parents. Soon after that, I resolved we would spend every Thanksgiving with the Rows in Arizona, or wherever they congregated. We had done that a few times, but it hasn't always worked out that way since - either we were just getting settled after another move, or we just weren't up for travel for whatever reason. This year, I really just wasn't up to traveling - I need a nice, long hiatus from it, actually.

I guess I have this expectation that we should have some sort of regular tradition by now for all of our holidays - an established place for Christmas Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Years, Fourth of July, etc.  Most people I know have a regular pattern of tradition establish for all that stuff, but most people I know also have at least two local families that they split their time between (you know, like husband and wife kinda stuff)... I realize that this being our most recent move in not quite two years, I should have a realistic expectation that there will be more time needed to establish a regular pattern for traditions, but I just like knowing what to expect, and what I can tell my kids they can count on. I don't like things being up in the air. Consistency is stability for kids. I suppose it's also not such a bad thing that we're not so established with traditions in case it ever happens that we decide to share our lives with someone else, but that just seems so far off to even be a reality at this point, and I'm not holding my breath.

I kind of resent the fact that I've found myself waiting until the last minute before holidays for an invitation from family or friends... I'm a planner, and I think it's realistic to have a solid plan in place at least three weeks before a big holiday (is that realistic??), so I've decided that if we don't get an invitation around that timeframe, I'm just going ahead and making plans for us. I ended up planning a big party at my house for Halloween and about thirty adults and kids came! It helped a lot that Halloween fell on a weekend for sure.

If I could, I'd prefer to have my home filled with people we love - whether we're related to them or not - to celebrate a holiday. We are blessed to have so many people in our lives, and it just makes sense that we're not isolated on those days. I can't handle isolation at this point in my life, and I don't want my kids to ever feel that way, either. My brother and sister both live a distance away from us, and if it wasn't for that, I know we would be together all of the time. Although we have a million cousins and other distant relatives (most living locally), I feel like we may as well be living in another country. My mother is only a few miles away but her health is not good and her home is very small. My dad lives a few hours away and has issues of his own. For us, it's my friends I can usually count on, but that's not necessarily a guarantee, either, since they have traditions of their own.

I'd like to think I've been able to establish some consistency that my kids can count on during all of our flux the last several years, and that is that I try to make sure we're surrounded by loved ones somehow. Heck - I had a houseful of our new friends/neighbors four months after moving to California (only thirteen months after Matt's death) for Christmas Eve! All of our holidays have been so different every year, but I suppose change is inevitable, anyway. I still miss Christmas Eves and Thanksgivings at my Grandma's from when I was a kid.

It means a lot to me to have our house filled on the holidays like my grandmother did when I was growing up, and that's what we were able to have yesterday... I hosted one of my best friends (Karin) and her family, parents, grandmother, as well as my mother at my home.

The turkey actually turned out delicious! I prepared a brine the day before and had it marinating in it until it went in the oven. Only thing is, I left the bag of giblets in there by accident... When I cleaned the turkey before putting it in the brine, the only thing I could find to pull out of it was the neck and I thought it was odd I didn't find anything else! I must have been looking in the wrong place (how many orifices does a turkey have, anyway??)! It was only my second turkey ever, so I guess that wasn't too bad.

I guess it's ok to not have the same place to go to, as long as my kids are with me and we're around people we love. We're fortunate to have that anywhere we go, and somehow we've been able to pull together something fun on important days.

The moral of the story? We love where we live (even despite the weather), and have a whole lot to be thankful for.

"Snowvember" (pic heavy!)

This is what they're calling the epic snow event that just happened here in Buffalo, NY, and we just happened to be smack right in the middle of it!

Before the snow started falling, the weather stations gave their normal "winter storm advisory" announcements (which means it might snow) that eventually turned into "winter storm warnings/lake effect snow warnings" (which means it will snow). But they didn't just call it that - there was a mention of some kind of "event" and also saying it's as a result of a "polar vortex."

I kind of rolled my eyes as I listened to the reports, thinking that these guys have to call it something other than a "lake effect snow warning" (which means it's supposed to snow a lot) - now they need to come up with a more dramatic name to get people's attention. I wasn't buying it. I thought sarcastically, "Oooh - It's going to snow! Pu-leeze - Buffalo's turned into a bunch of wimps - they make a big deal out of a little snow these days."

I had no idea, and I don't think anyone else really thought we would get OVER SEVEN FEET of snow - a whole winter's worth of snow in four days. I didn't take them too seriously, so the only provisions I got to prepare for this was a case of Corona and some bananas. Good thing I'm a food hoarder by nature! Food and paper products, actually...

The night it began, we had some crazy "thunder snow" where there's actually lightning and thunder while it's snowing. When Matt was alive and would experience thunder snow, he would look at me all wide-eyed and say, "That's a sign of severe weather!" It was hilarious when he'd do that because he normally didn't get too serious about much, but I could almost see his face as those words sounded in my head. 

DAY 1 - I woke up at about 2:30 the morning of Tuesday, November 18th, looked out the window and thought, "Holy crap!! They weren't lying!!" There was already about a foot and a half by then, and it had only just begun. It was coming down very heavy... I knew the kids would have a snow day, so I just turned my alarm off (even though I didn't end up going back to sleep). By the time we all got up that morning, it had already nearly covered my four foot fence! By 8:00 am, the fence completely disappeared.

Going...

Going...

Gone.


My local friends on Facebook were cracking me up because their main concern at this point was if we had enough beer stocked in our fridges to hold us over while we're stuck! Fortunately, I had just gotten that case of Corona (and I had a bunch of other canned beer left over from a previous party), so I wasn't too worried. =P

However, by three that afternoon, I was getting nervous and feeling a bit claustrophobic... Snow had completely engulfed everything outside and was piling up over the windows of the house and up against the doors - especially the back sliding glass door. I remembered seeing a video (taken on May 11, 2013) a while back that took place at Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota.

"The footage is of snow getting pushed ashore in the spring - it's called an ice shove or shoreline ice pile up. It's a surge of ice from an ocean or large lake onto the shore. They are caused by ocean currents, strong winds, or temperature changes. It damaged homes within fifteen minutes..." (Thanks to Sharon Honning who gave that very clear description of the video.) It went up onto the shore and when it was stopped by homes, it went up and in, breaking down doors and going through windows.



With that image in my mind, I decided I had better start digging out the doors (especially the back door) before it got pushed in from the weight of the snow.





The next day, my neighbor had that very thing happen (see "DAY 2").

The Erie County Executive had announced that they called the National Guard to come and help everyone.

The kids got out to play a little at least... (looking out from the front door to the driveway)


By about 6:30 that evening, I remembered about not running the dryer unless the vent was clear, but it didn't occur to me about the vent for the fireplace on the side of the house, so I had to go out there to dig it out. Getting to the side of the house was a trick in itself, since the snow was pretty fluffy and already up to my chest... When I came back in, I realized the heat stopped working, and as I was thinking how grateful I am for our new gas fireplace, I realized that stopped working, too! Even the pilot was out. I called the guy who installed it and was fortunate to be able to reach him - he talked me through the process of getting it lit again, and it still wasn't working. I really didn't think it could have been the vent being clogged again since I was just out there to shovel it clear, but it turns out that's why the flame kept going out. After I dug it out again, I came back in and then finally got it going. I had to set my alarm for every hour and a half to two hours to go back outside to dig it out. The second wave of the lake effect band had begun, and by 11pm that night, we already had over 70". We were officially in a State of Emergency.

Just as I thought I had things relatively in control (even with the shoveling every two hours), I heard rushing water in the basement, like through a pipe... I asked Jacob if he had the water running upstairs and he said no. I said, "If I didn't know better, I'd say the front spicket was on!" I don't know that would have been possible seeing as how it was a ghost town at this point with everyone holed up in their homes and seven feet of snow piled up outside, but I had to investigate. I went out there and dug into that untouched pile of snow on the front of the house (I had removed the hose and made sure it was turned off a couple of weeks ago), and sure enough, the thing was running full force!! How in the world that thing got turned on, I will never know - I can only assume the pressure of the snow pushed the knob and made it turn, but even that doesn't seem to make too much sense. No matter, I was just glad I found the problem and it was very easy to solve - I was picturing the knob broken right off.

DAY 2 - My neighbor Mark who lives five houses away from me had his back sliding glass door completely pushed in by the snow (this picture went viral on the internet and made the news).

In fact, they ended up doing several news interviews as a result! Our houses are all pretty much set up the same on this street, and face the same direction. Anyone who didn't shovel their back door would have very likely had the same result. At this point, there are no such things as roads, driveways, sidewalks...
Our street...

Looking across the street from my front door...


Yet somehow, I easily convinced two of my great friends and neighbors who only live a few doors down (one on the left side of me, and the other on the right) to come over for a party that I ended up naming "Blizzard Bash 2014" - I had about five adults and seven kids over, and prepared a huge batch of oven fried chicken, seasoned potato wedges and steamed broccoli for everyone, and plenty of beer. It was so much fun!! I much preferred hosting this party than to have had to walk a few houses away to get here! Especially since I had to keep clearing the fireplace vent to make sure it didn't get covered again...








During the party, we realized the little gazebo in my back yard gave way from the snow... I just kept reminding myself that it wasn't the house, and that's what homeowner's insurance is for.




DAY 3 - I thought for SURE we would lose power because the drifts of snow on the overhang of the roof were so big and heavy, that they were visibly pushing on the power lines that are attached to the back of the house, to the right of the upstairs bathroom window. I called the power company and they came to inspect (I was surprised they did!) and said that it looked really bad but there was nothing they could do. I felt better just knowing they were aware of the problem. Turns out, pretty much everyone on our street had the same concern.



Seeing a high lift going down the street was like seeing a knight in shining armor!



By now, snow totals reached nearly 80" and Buffalo pride is high. We're not called the City of Good Neighbors for nothing...

I got a call from my mother who said she became very sick, and I was really worried because I couldn't have done anything to help her. Even though she only lives only about five miles away, she was outside of that band of snow and only ended up with less than a foot, so if she needed help, someone could have gotten to her at least.

At this point, I packed suitcase just in case we had to bail... Having had the heat fail, I figured if the power went out, too, we were outta here and would just go to a neighbor's.

DAY 4 - (November 21) The sun was shining brightly and gave me some renewed energy. Somehow we still have power, still have heat from the fireplace, and my mother is feeling better. I gave shoveling the driveway another shot, but it was literally over my head so I gave up. There were some people using bobcats on my street, so I chased one down and hired him. He made a path in my driveway so I could at least get the van out of the garage if I needed to, and I was even able to get someone to come over to get my heat back up and running! That night, the kids and I headed to one of our awesome neighbors' house for a visit. It was nice to have a change of scenery for a bit! Things were definitely looking up today.




DAY 5 - So many scary stories of casualties and close calls... I'm SO thankful we were home when this all happened, and that our roof held up. My next door neighbor is a volunteer fire fighter and found one of the men who became buried alive in his vehicle... Devastating. The two men buried alive in their cars both had called AAA for help, and help didn't come. Guess who is the head of Human Resources for AAA of Western New York? The same poor lady that was head of HR for Cameron's Buffalo plant when Matt was killed. I feel bad that this poor lady has to deal with more fatalities associated with her job... I know I gave her a hell of a time (that was her first experience dealing with a fatality)- I'm sure this is no picnic for her this time around, either.

The temperature was warming up drastically, and rain is in the forecast, so there are imminent threats of flooding. I decided to rearrange the basement just in case - getting things up and out of the way, preparing for the worst. I've only been living here less than two years, so I had no idea how this house would handle this sort of thing.

 View of the back of my house...

Boarded up my window in case those icicles aiming for it from the roof above decided to fall through it.

We spent a whole lot of time in this room (where the fireplace is).

 Huge pile of snow and ice fell off the roof, and somehow didn't take the power lines with it! 

DAY 6 - Found out schools are closed until December 1st, major thaw and flooding. Sleeping at night has been impossible this entire week, and then tonight the shower curtain rod somehow fell in the middle of the night scaring the shit out of me and I thought the ceiling caved in. Scared Sydney, too - poor girl... High lifts and dump trucks removing snow on our street tonight, and high winds and warm temps pushed a giant hunk of snow and ice off the roof, making the whole house shake. I'm tired.

View from my bedroom window...

DAY 7 -  Life is beginning to resume normality - grocery store for Thanksgiving Day provisions, dehumidifier for the basement, and a new shower curtain rod. We have even more to be thankful for - the house held up with all these challenges (except for the gutters, landscaping, front porch overhang, and gazebo in the back), but that's minimal compared to what could have happened.



Check out this spectacular sunset from that evening - looking out from my front door...


After all the drama from that week and being on an adrenaline high prepared for the worst, I crashed. I was worthless for about two days, and then pulled myself back together in time to get everything back in order and prepare for hosting Thanksgiving. That post will be up soon!










Happy Thanksgiving

Look at what my sweet girl gave to me yesterday... I don't know how she comes up with this stuff!!

So thankful for our abundant blessings, and wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving filled with peace and love. XOXO