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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, December 17, 2013

Need to write SOON!!

There is so much waiting for me to write about.... getting to meet one of my faithful readers in person, a plug for an awesome book written by one of my hilarious widowed peeps, prayers going out to a couple of my readers (one being The Hairless Hairstylist) and just some of the stuff that's been on for the last few months. Stay tuned!

Right now, I'm just trying to keep my head above water preparing for the holidays - ahhhhh!!!!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE! XOXOXO

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Perfect.

He was 6'4", handsome as hell, fun, crazy smart and had a heart of gold. He loved us like no other man could ever love us.

He wasn't perfect, but he was perfect for me.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dear Matt...

Five years. Your brother Jeff counted 1825 days... It seems like an eternity, and to think of how much more time we have to be here without you is really depressing, but I count my blessings to be alive and able to raise our children - especially since you would probably give anything to be here with us to do the same.

In some ways, I've come a long way in these five years, and in others, I'm still kind of stuck. Thankfully, I've talked to some of my fellow widowed friends, and it's a normal kind of stuck - at least for some of us...

I'm finally done running away, and numbing the pain with the excitement of new relationships that don't last, trying to find someone to fill the void in vain.  Now I need to face some things head on that I'm sure I've been avoiding for the last five years. I'm not quite sure exactly what they are, but I think it's just a matter of staying put in one place and finally getting settled that will allow for more healing. At least I'm doing it with my head on a little straighter, and with my best friends by my side.

I still can't grasp the concept that I'm now older than you...

You would be so proud of your kids - they got all of your best traits! Your good looks, your intelligence (particularly for math!), and your spunky personality and sense of humor. Don't get me wrong - I take some credit... We were similar in some of those ways, too, which is probably why we got along so well!

Jacob dances to the beat of his own drum just like you, too. He thinks many rules don't apply to him, like you. ;) He is kicking ass in all his classes. Even though he's only in fourth grade, if I had to help him do as well as he is doing in math, I'd be lost. He thinks outside the box and comes up with unique solutions to problems. He has the kindest heart of anyone I know. He loves planting seeds and nurturing them and watching them grow. He harvested seeds from our bean plants so he can plant them again in the spring. Same thing with the marigolds. We've been having a lot of fun with gardening!

Sydney is a spunky little spitfire and gets more beautiful by the day. She's doing so well in first grade, and loves to read. She especially loves math! She takes ballet and enjoys every moment of it. She still looooves to talk. A lot. She adores babies - oohs and aaahs over them where ever we go. She has such a nurturing personality. She's talked about wanting to be a doctor when she grows up - I told her she might like to be the kind of doctor that delivers babies or takes care of babies. She might do a little fashion design on the side. We have lots of time to figure that stuff out...

Jacob and Sydney still play together well for the most part, but that sibling rivalry is kicking in a bit now with their ages. Fortunately, we're now living close to Karin and Connie and all the kids love playing together - plus, there's lots of kids in the neighborhood and that that we've met through school. The school is awesome and their teachers this year are really wonderful.

You know all this, though.... I know you're with us every day, and I'm so grateful for that. I'm especially grateful when I can feel your presence. I'm sorry for all the times I've cursed you out for leaving, even though I know it wasn't your choice.

We all appreciate you lending a hand with keeping your dad here a bit longer. Please give some extra love to your little cousin Jake who really needs your help. He is literally going through hell right now.

I love you and miss you every moment of every day. Every day until you're there to greet me at those pearly gates. I can finally say that I hope that's not for a very long time, though (for that, I've come a long way). I want to be fully present for our kids and help care for our grandchildren someday.

All my love forever...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Interior Painting 101

I recently finished painting nearly every room in my home with pretty decent results. During and after this process, some of my friends have been asking me for advice on painting. I'm so honored that people think I did a good enough job to ask my advice - even the contractor who redid my kitchen and bath asked me for advice on the textured paint I used in the downstairs half-bath!

I'll do my best to cover any possible questions...

The first thing I did was go to my local Benjamin Moore paint store.  Matt and I always used Benjamin Moore with excellent results, and have a great rapport with the owners of our local store. It's Aurora Paint Pot in East Aurora, NY, in case anyone is wondering - they're awesome! (Benjamin Moore has a built in primer, goes on smoothly, and tends to dry quicker making it possible to apply a second coat sooner.)

Choose the paint colors you would like to use in the room(s) you would like to paint. This may take some time - you want to be sure of your decision because you're only gonna want to paint once. Bring swatches home, and if you really like a color, you can get a bigger swatch or even get a paint sample. Look at it in different lights. Too dark could make a small room seem smaller, too light could be blah. Be a little daring - color is fun! (After Matt and I built our house, every room was painted "bone white" until we could decide what colors we really wanted. Matt was afraid of color until I finally went over his head and made Jacob's new big boy room fun with color, and then he wanted to re-paint every room in the house!)

Next, get all the supplies you will need:
Paint (the store will give you stir sticks when you buy the paint)
Painter's tape (I highly recommend the green Frog Tape - it seems to be better at not letting paint seep underneath, and it comes off easier without ripping)
Paint can opener
Good angled brush for cutting in
Rollers and disposable roller covers
Roller tray with liners
"Handy" paint pail with liners
Damp rag for quick clean up of goofs
Drop cloth or old sheets for covering up furniture/floors
Step stool
and if you're doing ceilings, an extender pole (you can actually use the pole from your push broom if you have one - the head will unscrew from the pole, and the pole and paint rollers are compatible sizes)
Don't forget some good music!

Because I didn't want to keep putting all the paint supplies, etc. away every time I did a room, I decided to keep them out and paint all the rooms I intended to paint, one after the other. It was about a two week process, but with the mess that comes along with painting, it was worth it to have two weeks of mess and then clean up for good, then to drag out the process. I keep everything in a large Rubbermaid bin.

DOWN TO BUSINESS...

Take everything off the walls in the room you're working on and move furniture into center of the room. This includes switch/outlet plates. Make sure you do any repairs to walls beforehand so the spackle has time to completely dry and the surface is sanded smooth. Sand any bumps from previous paint jobs, and if painting over a somewhat glossy finish, rough up the service with some sand paper, too. The paint will adhere better that way. Wipe down surface of walls with a damp cloth. Tape all trim, light fixtures, etc. and throw sheets over furniture, etc.

Depending on how much time you have, you may want to do your paint prep the day before the actual painting. This process can be more time consuming than actually painting, but it's up to you.

Mix the paint and put some in the handy paint pail. Start cutting in with the angled brush - take your time! This is one of the reasons I tend to paint the ceilings the same color as the walls... (If you want to leave one wall in a room the same color and paint a different color on other walls, you can tape the wall you're not painting, and it makes a perfect line.) You may need two coats where you're cutting in, so go ahead and apply a second coat if needed. If you have to walk away from your project for a few moments while in the middle of it, put your paint brush in a ziplock bag so it doesn't dry out. If finished, clean off brush immediately.

Once the cutting in is complete, pour some paint into the tray and get your roller ready. Don't go too fast with the roller or you'll splatter more than necessary. Once you make your way around the room, you'll be ready for the second coat (another great thing about Benjamin Moore). If you're painting your ceilings, I would do them first to get them out of the way. Also, in case you splatter the walls with paint from the ceiling, they'll get covered up when you paint the walls.

When you're all done, carefully remove the tape. If the paint is dried over the tape, use a razor knife to make a slit so the paint doesn't end up peeling off when you pull the tape off.

TEXTURED PAINT.

I was going for an old-fashioned Mediterranean plaster look on the walls in my downstairs half bath. I researched it online, and several sites suggested using some expensive Venetian plaster with multiple steps, and requiring skill. I neither wanted to spend that much money (paint is expensive enough!), nor did I have that kind of time or those kinds of skills, so I wasn't willing to go forward with that plan.

I ended up getting sand-based texture paint (also Benjamin Moore) in the half-bath, and it turned out AWESOME. I found using a brush as opposed to a roller gave me the desired effect. I did up and down strokes, then went over them with side to side strokes. It's VERY messy, so use a drop cloth or sheet that you're willing to just throw in the garbage when you're done. Trying to use a roller will result in a bigger mess. Mix the paint VERY OFTEN - the sand settles quickly.

Whatever color you would like your textured walls is what you will paint them OVER the textured paint, and after it has dried (the textured paint might not have been 100% dry on my walls before painting them the desired color, but it still turned out good). The paint will provide a protective covering over the texture, making it also easier to wipe your walls when needed.

Well - I think that about covers it!! If anyone has any other questions, feel free to ask away! Happy Painting! =)



Friday, September 27, 2013

I get it...

Thank you so much to those who gave their input to my last post.... I've come to the conclusion that the biggest issue has to do with my own, and not necessarily Sydney's. As a matter of fact, when I think back, I was JUST like her. Huggy, kissy.... I chased boys around the classroom in 2nd and 3rd grade trying to kiss them (actually it was just Scott Parker) and the classroom bodyguard (Dan Sanford) protected him from me. That was the beginning...

Her being that way doesn't necessarily have anything to do with not having her daddy here (my dad was part time as it was/is)... It just could be the way she's built. Maybe she's like me. Needing/wanting the  extra reassurance that we're loved, wanted, valued. Doesn't everyone want that?

So her problem isn't her problem - it's mine. There's nothing wrong with my girl - I suppose there's a part of me that doesn't want her to seek comfort and love from anyone but me. It just seems safer that way.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sentenced to Life.

Matt is so present with the kids lately. A day hasn't gone by recently that Sydney hasn't mentioned Daddy's name - either to ask if he liked that song on the radio, or if that song was out when Daddy was alive, or that she wants to show Daddy something or give him something, and then imagines his reaction to it. 

I'm a bit concerned that Sydney clings to men as much as she does... My boyfriend is awesome, but I don't necessarily want her to be all over him, or the uncle I rarely see, or my nephew who visits every so often, or my friends' husbands... Is this normal for little girls, or just little girls who are craving/deprived of daddy's attention and presence? What do I do about this??

Jacob and I have been talking about him more often, too. 

It warms my heart to think that even though Matt's not physically here, his spirit and memory will be with the kids and me always, and in the same way, it still fucking hurts. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Time Flies...

Fifteen years ago today we met, and danced for the first time...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I was named a "Top Widower Blogger"?!

To my great surprise, I received an email on July 22 that said I was named among many other great widowed bloggers as being one of the top. I honestly had no idea anyone was still reading (since it takes me so darned long to post), let alone qualify to be on this list! I'm truly honored.

You can read the announcement HERE.

Thank you SO MUCH, Julia Lawrence!!

Miracle...

Two weeks ago, Matt's dad was struck by lightning on the golf course. And somehow lives to talk about it. Everyone's pretty convinced that Matt had something to do with that...

Roy and three of his buddies were on the golf course in Arizona (where they live) and were at the last hole when the sky started to get really dark. They figured they would finish up the last hole before the rain started, and then bam. Roy got a direct hit right on top of his head, and it knocked down his three buddies who were standing nearby.

When his friends looked over at Roy, he was on the ground - not breathing, already turning grey, and had no pulse. His heart had stopped. They did CPR on him until the paramedics arrived, and at some point between there and the hospital, his heart stopped again. Again, he was revived.

He spent a few days in the hospital, and was anxious to go home. He suffered many burns, his hat was pretty much torn to shreds, his right eardrum ruptured, and has excruciating pain in his hands from some pretty severe nerve damage. Ginny has been keeping us updated through Facebook with his progress. His energy is extremely low, but he's starting to improve - is sleeping a bit better and eating again.

The man is 76, had a quadruple bypass fifteen years ago (when Matt and I had just started dating), and has leukemia which is managed by daily medication, and has now survived getting struck by lightning. Amazing!

Sydney said at the dinner table the other day, "If Grampa Row died from the lightning, I would be crying right now."

Then she demonstrated with her loudest ugly cry, which lightened it up for all of us!

SO much...


The kids and I have been really enjoying being back in Buffalo! When I look at my old school paper calendar from before we moved, there was hardly anything written on it. The moment we hit Buffalo soil, the calendar has something written in it for every single day! It's been busy, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm back with my lifelong best friends, and close to my family. We love our home and neighborhood, and I'm able to be close to my parents who have been having lots of health issues recently. I'm happy that I live so close to my mom that I can help her with grocery shopping, taking her to doctor appointments, etc. That part's not easy (especially with two little kids home on summer vacation), but it would be way worse if I wasn't around to help. I live close enough to my dad to take a day trip to see him and my step-mom, and set up a little impromptu clam bar for us to enjoy. 

Jacob has been involved in Little League (machine pitch) and his season just ended. His team, the Yankees, were in first place, won the playoffs, and even won the championship!! What an awesome first year experience for him! Matt and the rest of the Row boys were all in Little League, and it meant so much to me that he got involved (now that we're not moving anymore), and that he enjoyed it so much. The coaches were so wonderful and told me they were shocked at how far he had come from when he started until now. I told them I wasn't too surprised - he gets his natural ability from his daddy who played his whole life, and played well.

I had signed the kids up for day camp for one week in July, and that week came before we knew it. Jacob was doing the mountain-biking portion of the camp, and Sydney was doing the regular camp which also included archery, swimming, canoeing, and lots of other fun activities. They had SUCH a great time! I figured while they were gone during the day, it would allow me to take my mom to some doctor appointments without having to drag them with us, and to get my front yard project done.

When we moved into our house, there was virtually no landscaping in the front – just two scraggly little bushes. I had done some research about landscaping, plants that would be good for that part of the front yard, and getting prices for it all. It was way too expensive for me to hire anyone to do the work, so I was fully prepared to do the work myself. I had gone to a few different nurseries a couple of months ago to get some advice and look around, and I ended up getting some really great advice from a man (John) that worked at one of the nurseries. I decided that now that I was ready to embark on this, I would go back to him for some final planning advice and get the plants.  When I was telling him about my plans, he asked me how I was going to remove the bushes in the front. I told him I just planned to tie a rope to them and then tie the other end to the hitch on my van, and drive. He looked a bit surprised, and finally asked, “Where’s your husband?? He should be doing this!”

Of course, that leads to a conversation that neither one of us were expecting… He told me that his dad died when he was 11, and he had two little sisters (he’s now in his 60’s). He offered to draw up a plan for me for free, and told me to come back with printed pictures to help him. Wasn’t that awesome? It gets better…

I told John that I had my "bi-annual" hair appointment in ten minutes, but when I was done, I’d swing home, print the pictures and head back over.

I had my phone off while I was getting my hair cut, so when I checked my phone when I was done, I was surprised to see that I had two messages from him. I thought, “what in the world could be so important for the nursery guy to leave two messages?”

When I called him back, he told me there were two guys in my front yard, and that they were digging up the grass and weeds in that area and pulling out the bushes! Oh my goodness!!! I couldn’t believe my ears. He said he still needed the printed pictures, so to come back with those. At this point, I was pretty sure that John was the owner of the nursery.

When I got there, he asked me what I wanted to plant, and I showed him my list. He let me know which ones would be better, and which ones wouldn’t tolerate the shade and wind they might be subject to. With his help, I picked out all the plants, and I think he must have given me an employee discount or something because I was expecting the bill to be more expensive.  By this time, one of the guys had returned to the nursery from my house, loaded up the plants into the truck, and headed back to my house.

He told me that he was paying the guys to do all this work for me. They made a beautiful shaped spot in the front, filled it in with three yards of bed soil, planted the plants, fertilized them, put in mulch, and even gave me the proper watering hose to maintain them with! The one guy doing the work said in the 26 years he had been working with John, he never did anything like that before. I’ve been getting a lot of those kinds of comments the last few years (“In the blah blah blah years I’ve been doing so and so, I’ve never seen yada yada yada”), but this time it was for something great!!

My sincerest gratitude for such a hugely generous gesture…. He said no thanks were necessary, but somehow even the edible arrangement doesn’t seem enough. Now I just have to keep these things alive…. =P

My mom has been so appreciative of all I've been doing for her, and she said that she wished there was something she could do to make it up to me. I told her that I'm glad I'm here for her, and that I'm getting rewarded in other ways, too... God is good. 

California 2013


Soon after the school year ended, the kids and I took our annual trip to California to visit family and go to Camp Widow. This was the fifth anniversary of Camp Widow, and Soaring Spirits went all out for the milestone. I even was asked to lead a workshop entitled, “Hindsight is 20/20 – Lessons We’ve Learned the Hard Way.” I still giggle when I think about the many reasons why Michele Neff Hernandez chose me for that one!

We flew into San Diego the Tuesday before and I am THRILLED to report that there was nothing to report from that trip out. The flights were uneventful for once – no drama of any kind!  We hung out with Ginny and Roy (Matt’s parents) who drove from Arizona, and we all stayed at Matt’s brother Greg’s house. It’s always fun getting together with the Rows!

Since my workshop was one of the first ones taking place early Friday morning, I decided it probably would be best to get to the hotel Thursday night, and after seeing posts on Facebook from my widda peeps all beginning to arrive, I was even more anxious to get there. My buddies Candice and Jodi let me bunk with them in their hotel room – bless them! Much better than trying to commute first thing Friday morning from my brother-in-law’s, and WAY more fun!

The workshop was a group discussion about some of the things we’ve learned during our widow journey that we’ve gained some life lessons from. Of course, I had plenty of humorous examples to provide to get the ball rolling, and it ended up more like a stand-up comedy routine. It made me feel good to make these hurting people laugh, but no one was willing to embarrass themselves quite as much as I did and disclose some of their not-so-shining moments (by the way, there are no mistakes – just opportunities for growth). Slowly, some of them started opening up a bit. Laughter, tears, camaraderie– exactly what Camp is all about. I just hope the people in the group got half as much out of it as I did. I’m really excited to be leading another workshop next year - TBA!

That weekend (which I was able to extend to Monday, thanks to my awesome in-laws taking care of the kids) was (and is always) so therapeutic. I used that opportunity to really connect with a lot of people – friends I haven’t seen in a long time, made new friends, offered support and love, and just relax. I ate a TON of ceviche at the hotel- just couldn’t get enough of it, and I’m still craving it! I may have found a recipe for that particular kind, so I’m going to have to try it out very soon. I haven’t had much of a chance to breathe since we got back from California, let alone make ceviche – I’ll get to that in a bit…

The day after getting back from Camp, the kids and I took a road trip up to LA and met my brother, Paul and Elise, Claire and Sammy at the beach (poor Henry was sick and couldn’t go). It was scorching hot the whole time we were in CA, and a perfect time to hit the beach! The kids and I stayed with my brother that night, hung out most of the next day with him, then headed back to San Diego. Celebrated the 4th of July, then had a 50th birthday celebration for my brother-in-law Greg. More family came out for the occasion, including my brother and his son, Daniel.

Swam at the neighbor’s pool a bunch and the kids got to play with their cousins and the neighbor’s kids, and just had a blast.

Got a call from my sister while we were away that my mom had fallen and broke her wrist…

Between my mom’s health problems, her broken wrist, and all the issues and surgeries my dad (who lives in Syracuse) has had with his eyes (three eye surgeries in a matter of about two months), my brother decided that he was coming out so he could give our parents some hugs.

The same day the kids and I got back into Buffalo, my brother arrived in Syracuse.

Got up the next morning looking so forward to a cup of my own coffee, and when I opened up the fridge to get my French vanilla cream, discovered that the refrigerator was dark, warm and stinky. It must have bit the dust about a week before we returned (we were gone for two).

I needed to do some grocery shopping for my mom since between her wrist and cataracts, hasn’t been able to drive. I also needed to find a new refrigerator for us. Boy did I hate having to throw out all that food…

The next day, the kids and I packed it up again for an overnight trip to Syracuse to visit with my dad, his wife, my sister and brother, and then we brought Bryan back to Buffalo with us. The day we returned, Jacob had a double-header, so while he was at the diamonds with the kids, I grocery shopped for us. I was really hoping to be done before the end of the last game… They won both!! Championships were next!!

Had an impromptu party with friends/neighbors, my brother, and my nephew Michael even drove out from Rochester for it. We manage to squeeze a whole lot out of a short period of time. 

It was a crazy few weeks, to say the least! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Greatest Gift.

We've been so busy getting settled and just living life in our new, familiar home... I've written a million posts in my head but haven't taken the time to sit down and write, but today, something so wonderful happened that I need to make it a point to record here.

The kids have three half days left of school next week before the end of the school year. I was going to wait until then to give them their surprises, but I just couldn't (patience is not a virtue of mine - can you tell?). With all the moving, changes, etc. that's gone on in their lives - particularly the last year - with changing schools mid-year, etc., adjusting to a tougher curriculum back in NY so quickly, maintaining good behavior and grades, they deserved something they have been asking for for quite some time... Samsung tablets (well, they were asking for ipads, but there was a Mother's Day sale on the tablets that was more within my price range). Then, I downloaded Minecraft and I've got them eating right out of my hands.... =)

Jacob particularly is over the moon with all this - especially because he's had a chance to play this on his friend's ipad and fell in love and talked non-stop about it to his sister who could care less and was getting annoyed with the constant Minecraft chatter. Now that she's had a chance to play and has also fallen in love with it, the two of them were talking endlessly about Minecraft in the back seat during our errands today. It was SO cute. Jacob is thrilled that he can now share this with his sister and she's actually interested, and willing to carry on a conversation with him about it!

So, Jacob asked me to guess what his number one favorite present is that I've gotten him. I said, "The telescope?" (since that was his birthday gift and he went NUTS), and I guessed a few other things, but none of them were it. He told me his answer: "SYDNEY."

I almost had to pull over to hug the two of them and cry tears of gratitude. Sydney grabbed his arm and hugged it tight with the biggest smile ever, and I just GUSHED about how that was the most SWEETEST STINKING THING I've ever heard in my entire LIFE. How I got so blessed with these two amazing little souls, I'll never know, but I am eternally grateful.

(Remind me of this when they're in their teenage years..........) =P

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So embarrassing....

The kids and I were at Target (sooo happy to live close to a Target again! And WEGMANS!! Oh how I've missed Wegmans!!! sorry - off on a tangent) and were in the medicine isle near the pharmacy. I ended up running into a former co-worker of mine and hadn't seen him in probably a few years.

He and his wife were together for as long as I can remember - they were a few years younger than Matt and I, and adorable together. Both really good-looking people, too. Well, he told me they had just recently divorced, which was a shock! I'm so sad to hear that - it seems like people left and right are splitting up lately.

Well, here's the funny part...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We made it!

We've been back in Buffalo for a little over a month now and we just fell right into place. We LOVE our home, and our neighborhood rocks! There are so many kids on our street/block, the park is close, and one of my very best friends only lives three houses away! After being in isolated hell for so long, being back is such a huge relief, and the kids and I are THRILLED to be back among our lifelong friends and family, and are already making lots of new friends.

It was a bit of a rough start...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Strange....

Today is four years since my friend Jeff died. It happened four months after Matt died. I didn't realize today was the day until I saw his sister's post on Facebook, and his brother's post on his blog. But what's really weird is how "off" I've felt today. Like, crazy off. And what's even more strange is how much Jeff has been on my mind lately. My heart is with his family and friends right now, and sending them all a whole bunch of love. Grief SUCKS.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mommy brags... with pictures!!

My kids are doing awesome in school, and I'm so proud of them!

Jacob got on the honor roll for the second marking period in a row (apparently they start honor roll in third grade - I didn't know this, since it was a loooong time before I ever made it as far as I remember). His behavior in class (for years) has been a challenge because he is so high energy and has a tendency to distract his classmates or do things he shouldn't while the teacher is addressing the class (like read, draw, etc.). We had major issues with this last year, but this year despite a brief slip, he has been able to keep himself mostly in check.

As a reward for his hard work with school, behavior, etc., we went shopping and he picked out a Kinex toy - the one that you create a roller coaster with (for ages 9+). That kid worked non-stop on it for two straight days until he put it together according to the instructions, and it turned out amazing! He LOVES it. It was beyond the price limit I put on the reward, but was so worth it!

Sydney is learning to read in kindergarten and is doing phenomenally well! She knows all her sight words without missing a beat, and words she doesn't know, she does an awesome job sounding them out. Because her report card was also excellent, she picked out a toy as well - a little horse drawn carriage for her barbies.

She has her very first loose tooth (that I thought was going to fall out any minute but it's hanging in there), and also learned how to blow bubbles with gum! Her sweet little face was so full of joy with those first bubbles!!

They both have been completely deprived of playing with other kids outside of school (aside from our sweet little neighbor Jessica), so I'm hoping that once we move back to our hometown where we'll have TONS of kids their age to play with, they will feel more fulfilled.

Jacob and Sydney still get along exceptionally well for brother and sister - especially being three years apart, but he's getting to the age and stage where his little sister is starting to annoy him. He needs to be around more boys his age. Same thing with Sydney - she is craving other little girls to play with who enjoy dolls, dressing up, and a break from her big brother who tends to criticize.

We're moving in three weeks, and we are all looking SO forward to it!

Kinex roller coaster to the left, and Jacob's latest train track creation front and center:


One of Sydney's first bubbles! 

Dance party!! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

They don't make anything like they used to.

I'm gonna sound really old here, but I've been researching washing machines for our new place (the sellers are taking theirs with them). In all the research I've been doing so far, I've come to one major conclusion (ok, maybe a few):

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One more time.

Did I say we're not moving again? I may have mentioned that here...

I'm sick of even typing the words "move" and "moving" at this point, let alone doing it. But there's one more left in us.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

50 Months.

Strange little side note...

When I was on the plane heading to Florida, the flight attendant made an announcement over the loudpseaker that one of the couples on board was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. My first thought after hearing that was, "This is my 50 month anniversary as a widow."

Now, I haven't been counting. Honestly. Not in terms of months, anyway. But after that thought entered my mind, I counted just how many months it's been, and lo and behold, it IS 50.

I guess there is a part of me that still gets twinges of jealousy at those couples who've been able to be together for so long.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Girls' weekend!!

On a much happier note, I had a glorious weekend with my besties from high school last weekend! Karin, Connie and I all met in Kissimmee, FL where our other high school best friend Jennifer lives with her beautiful family.

It could NOT have come at a better time. It's the first time we've done this in over 20 years (God - when I think about the rediculous amount of time that has passed, we can't let that happen again).

We went without the kids which was weird and liberating at the same time. My awesome neighbor/friends took good care of my kiddos for the three days I was gone. So very grateful to have these people in our lives - I know the kids were happy and in good hands. We're really going to miss them when we move back to Buffalo (again). That's a topic for another whole post that I may not even end up posting about. Some things don't need explanation...

We stayed at Jenny's house and it was like a slumber party when we were teens, but even better. We went dancing the first night and while I didn't think I had it in me to stay up past 10pm, we didn't get home till 3am!! We had such a blast. Then the next day we went to Universal Studios and got to see an awesome Harry Potter set up (Jacob would have been so jealous so I haven't told him about it- I feel kind of guilty that he wasn't there for it) and I got my picture taken with the Grinch (yeah - some guilt again that neither of my kids were there for that, either). I had a turkey leg (those are AMAZING) and all kinds of other treats. I think that's the BEST part of going to theme parks - the FOOD! I'll have to post some pics once I get them uploaded - it was so much fun!!

I am so incredibly blessed with the most amazing friends anyone could ever wish for. For all that has gone wrong in my life, my friends are SO right. I couldn't be more grateful. =)

Friday, January 25, 2013

F@%* Cancer.

I'm not even sure how to start this post...

My sweet friend Deena passed away from complications of her treatment of breast cancer. She fought long and hard. She had an extremely aggressive form, and if it wasn't for her tireless advocacy, wouldn't have made it this far. She not only became a strong advocate for herself, but for others as well. She did everything she could to survive as long as she did - mainly for her children. The thought of leaving them was pure torture to her. As if going through the fear of cancer and the treatments wasn't agonizing enough. I can't even imagine the hell.

Her son is 8 and her daughter is 5. Same ages as Jacob and Sydney...  I wrote about our visit with Deena and her beautiful family in this post when we were living in California. During those four days, we talked about life and death. It made me feel good that our talks about death brought her comfort. She said everyone was afraid to mention the word or the idea to her, and it was a relief for her to be able to talk about it with me. I think that after being touched so intimately by it and it being a part of me, I'm more comfortable discussing it.

We always seemed to have a connection - from the time Matt was trying to encourage me to move to AZ when Deena and Rob lived there, to having our kids at the same time (she was due with Ryan about the time I was due with Jacob, and I ended up going before her because Jacob was a month early). She had such a beautiful light about her. I am so incredibly grateful for that time in California with Deena, and to have been her friend for so many years.

I've said this already to some of our mutual friends, but I have a very strong feeling she wouldn't want people to say that she "lost her battle" with cancer, because she didn't lose. She fought valiantly. Her body gave out, but she didn't lose. I, personally, hate that expression - which could explain why I feel like she might not like it, either.

Our incredible group of friends wrote letters to her while she was still alive so she could read them and know how much we love and admire her. Another one of our friends organized a greeting card drive for her. We each got her cards for specific occasions so Deena could fill them out ahead of time. It ensured that through the years as her children grow, their dad could give them a card from their mom.

Another mutual friend of ours wrote a beautiful article about her here.

Although we knew it was inevitable, nothing in the world can quite prepare you for the end. I just can't believe Deena isn't on this earth anymore. I can't talk to her on the phone or text with her anymore. My heart aches for her husband and children, and for everyone else she leaves behind.

Here's one of the photos of our kids together - they were like two sets of twins and got along great!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Realizations.

After four years, I think I've finally realized something pretty important.

I will never get over Matt's death. Never. And it pisses me off - I mean, really, truly angers me deeply, when someone implies that I should be over it. I wouldn't have expected that reaction from myself at this point; especially since I thought that's where I should be at by now, too. But having gotten to this point, I now have an understanding that only those have who have been through a similar experience:

You don't get over it. You get through. 

I'm not saying I will never love another - I'm still open to that possibility someday, but if/when I do, he will not "get me over" losing Matt. He will have to accept that Matt will always be a part of me. A part of our children. A part of our lives. And hold a big part of our hearts. He will have to be patient, understanding, empathetic and kind. And patient. Did I mention patient?

But I am so not in a place in my life right now where I'm willing to invite that "someone" into my heart. I was, but not now. Not for a long time, and I'm completely OK with that. I've finally gotten it through my head that what I need and want in my life are my children, my friends and my family. That's all. And some peace.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Year of Learning.

Or, the Year of Mistakes (same thing, right?). Or, Four Years of Insanity.

Whatever you want to call it, this year trumps any bad decisions or lapses in judgement I may have had over the last four years. I guess you have to hit rock bottom before you can start going up.

2013, I believe - I pray, will be a better year. 2012 was the year of major follies. I'm trying to forgive myself for them. I hope everyone else can, too.

All I can do is be thankful that my children remain well adjusted and happy, and that I can mostly afford to repair some of the damage that's been done. And, that my friends and family will forgive me. I need to work on doing that myself, but if the shoe was on the other foot, I would forgive - especially if it was one of my kids. Everyone makes mistakes, and if God can forgive, I should be able to, too. Easier said than done, though.

One of the other things I've learned is that although I've felt sane mostly throughout these four fucking insane years, this is the most insane I've felt - at least in a long time. I don't look back on my posts, so I'm sure I've posted something about insanity at some point.

Anyway, I have a theory... I'm kind of thinking that when you feel the most insane is when you're actually gaining clarity (and sanity). I'm probably seeing things more clear now than I have in four years, and it's a really bitter pill. Bitter, painful, etc. I kind of like the clarity, though. But it makes me realize just how "bat shit crazy" I really have been over this time period (thanks for the quote, Paul).

As I'm sure I've said before, I'm infinitely grateful for my awesome kids, and the endless support and love from most of my friends and family. I really don't think I could have made it without them. I'm grateful I'm still alive and breathing at four years out, when I thought for sure I'd be dead at four days out. And aside from losing Matt, I'm pretty damn blessed. (Does that cancel each other out? Well, you get the point...)

I have a lot to live for. My kids are the number one reason. My friends and family. Aside from losing Matt, and from all the stupid mistakes I've made since, my life really isn't bad at all.

I just need to get over this latest hurdle. Please pray for us.