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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.

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.




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. (Unfortunately, it wasn't covered because it wasn't "attached to the dwelling...")

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 some normalcy - 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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Death Sucks.

This one is really jacked up. Not only does this day fall on the same day of the week as it did when it happened (thus producing some vivid flashbacks and triggering major PTSD), but because it is now six years, this means I've been widowed as long as I was married.

Fuck you, Death.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Oh boy...

I've been trying to expose my kids to all the great movies I loved while I was growing up; so far, some of the ones we've watched Karate Kid, Back to the Future (all three), Goonies, E.T., and Adventures in Babysitting.

Tonight the kids and I were watching Hook (with Robin Williams and Julia Roberts). We got to the part where Hook stabs Rufio with his sword, and Rufio's last words to Peter Pan were, "I wish I had a dad like you."

Sydney chimes in, "I wish I had a dad."

Ugh. Here we go...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


For the first time since Matt died, I don't feel the urge to run by moving. For the first time since Matt died, I don't feel the need to put a band aid on by getting involved with a man. I've come a long way over the last six years. In fact, I've gotten further along in the nearly two years I've been living in our current home.

I've realized something for a long time - I've been a serial dater. Even being fully aware that this is what I have been doing, I wasn't deterred. There were many reasons for this - although I never in a million years would have thought I would ever want to be with another man other than my wonderful husband, I found myself going from relationship to relationship. I passed judgment on women like me in the past, so I guess this is another learning experience I may have needed to make me more understanding of others... Part of the reason for this was for the temporary thrill- the euphoric feeling you get when you start something new and different; when sparks fly, it's like a high. Avoidance of dealing with grief has been another big part of it... And part of it was also because I didn't want to be alone and let myself feel the painful pangs of loneliness. Before Matt came along, I was alone most of the time, and I didn't think I would ever have to be alone again now that he was in my life. I got spoiled.

A string of some pretty bad relationships, and then finally one of the worst ones being the last, have finally cured me. I'm actually grateful that the last one (which ended a few months ago) was SO lousy, that it makes me cringe when I think of getting involved with another man. I know I won't always feel this way. I know there are lots of good men out there and I shouldn't let a few bad apples spoil it for me. And it wasn't all bad apples; one of the things I learned was that I was seeing something in these guys that I WANTED to see - not necessarily something that was actually there... But I'm finally where I've been wanting to be for this whole time - not feeling the NEED to be involved with someone. I don't feel a sense of urgency to fill the void, or because I'm at the outer edge of my prime and feel like I need to make the best use of my youth before it slips through my fingers. Nope. I'm using all that good stuff for my kids and me - the way I should have from the very beginning.

I feel a lot of guilt that I "needed" more than my children to fill any void or create more distractions for myself, but what's done is done. Everyone deals with this stuff differently, and I guess that's how I had to deal, so I shouldn't apologize. It all got me through to this point. If I was looking at this objectively as if it was happening to someone else, I'm sure I would be a lot easier on them about it than I have been on myself. Isn't that how everyone is, though? I feel like every bad experience I have has taught me a very valuable lesson; although I'd like to take a nice, loooong hiatus from education.

If by some miracle, some really spectacular, deserving man comes into my life, and I'm open to the possibility of a relationship at that point in time, and the moon and the stars are all lined up to make it all a possibility, I will entertain the idea of letting love back into my life.

In the meantime, I am truly at peace with my life as it is at this very moment, and it's an amazing feeling. My children, my wonderful network of friends, and my family fulfill me. I have everything I need and want. At this point, anything beyond this would be considered a bonus. 

But ay, there's the rub....

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. =)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

West Coast Trip 2014, Part III

The next event on Friday evening was the Welcome Reception. I was able to spend some time with my very good friend Cara who I've been friends with for over twelve years. I've known Cara since about the time Matt and I started planning our wedding. In October of 2012, her husband and six year old son were killed in a car accident, and by a true miracle, their daughter Pearl survived. Cara wasn't in the vehicle... It's painful to think that my friend has to endure this journey, and in even more ways than I can understand. I'm thankful that I was able to introduce her to Soaring Spirits and Camp Widow where she could be among others who understand, and possibly connect with potential lifelong friends as I have.

At the time of Cara's loss, I had just moved to Delaware, which put me in a much better location where I was able to take a few road trips out to be with her and sweet little Pearly. The kids and I were a welcome distraction to them, and it made me feel good to have something to offer. Since then, I've moved back to Buffalo, and Cara and Pearl have found their place in Seattle where they are among more family, and are thriving. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to spend some long-overdue time with Cara at Camp, and even be her roomie!

My other roomie was my friend Abigail Carter, who is a very talented writer. She has written The Alchemy of Loss, and another new release called Remember the Moon. What's really cool is that Abby and Cara BOTH live in Seattle!

During the course of the evening, I heard from my friend Karin (who is also my neighbor - very awesome) that my next door neighbor had driven into the house across the street from ours. So much drama that I was happy to have missed, but holy crap! Everyone was okay, but it could have really been tragic.

Saturday morning was Michele's keynote speech, and as I was walking in there, I thought maybe this would be the year that she doesn't bring me to tears. Somehow, again, she managed to broach a topic that touched me so deeply that I before I even realized it, tears were streaming down my face. Fortunately there is always more laughter than tears, and always so much to learn. Love that lady!

Wonderful times with old and new friends, opportunities to help others, learning and teaching moments, gorgeous weather, and tons of fun. This is what it's all about, and why I keep coming back year after year.

I picked up the kids from Aunt Brandi's house, and then we drove up to LA. Our first stop, my friend and former next door neighbor's house. Probably THE best next door neighbor EVER. Living next door to her was wonderful. She had an awesome dinner prepared for us, and my brother met us there. It's always a little strange to look at the house next door and think we lived there for two whole years... Makes me a bit "homesick" for our time in California (and the killer view of the San Gabriel mountains from our front yard), but I'm still thankful to be living back in WNY.

The next day, we went to my brother's and spent the rest of our time with him and his beautiful kids. My very favorite thing to do there is after everyone goes to bed, I get to hang out with my big brother and talk each other's ears off, finally getting a chance to catch up in person. I've so missed our in-person visits that we were so lucky to have had when I was living there. He hosted a party for us that Sydney and I pretty much missed, due to her becoming violently ill from overdosing on the delicious elderberries that grow in his Garden of Eden of a back yard... Poor baby girl. She recovered, and we enjoyed the rest of our visit by having lots of beach time, and more delicious food.

It's hard to believe that after looking so forward to our west coast trip that it's already here and gone! Time seems to have been flying at an unprecedented rate, hasn't it? The year is more than half over! But we sure have been making some great memories, and I'm so very grateful. =)

Friday, July 25, 2014

West Coast Trip 2014, Part II

As promised, here is the continuation of the previous post... (and timely, I might add!)

At last year's Camp, I led a workshop that I so thoroughly enjoyed presenting, that right after, I proposed another workshop to Michele (the founder of SSLF) for 2014. She loved the idea of it, but with having moved just before Camp 2013, and all the work I've been doing on the house since, all the activities the kids have gotten involved in, etc., I didn't follow up with it.  I felt bad about that, but I did let Michele know that if she needed my help with anything - anything at all - for Camp 2014, I would be ready and willing.

About a month before Camp, Dana (one of her awesome volunteers and also my friend) texted me and asked if I would be willing to assist with the Segway Tour for the Alumni Track. The Alumni Track is the name for the series of events that have been set up for those of us who return time and time again to Camp, but don't exactly have the same needs as the others. We also really enjoy Camp almost as a reunion with the lifelong friends we've made through the organization. 

Segway Tour.... I wasn't quite sure what that was, but I was so happy that they thought of me that I eagerly agreed. About a week before, I decided to look up the keywords, "Segway Tour San Diego" to see exactly what I had gotten myself into.

So THAT'S what those things are called that I saw last year tooling around town that I vowed to never ride on.

Determined to not let my favorite organization down, I decided to suck it up. I mean, how bad could it be, anyway??? Lots of people think they're fun!

So Friday was the first official day of Camp, and as I mentioned before, Matt's birthday.  Assisting with that tour gave me some purpose for that day. My job was to basically get our group from the hotel to the Segway Tour office nearby (within walking distance), and keep track of everyone. We got from the hotel to the office without too much trouble. There were two tour guides that gave us all a tutorial on how to ride a Segway. They make it look so easy... It requires a fair amount of balance and coordination - two things I'm somewhat lacking in (I haven't blogged about how I broke my wrist and nearly my back while rollerblading with the kids this past March yet, did I).

We each took a turn on a Segway to get a feel for it and practice what we've learned. We were practicing on a nice, open, level space - perfect for this sort of thing. Once we felt confident enough, they would take us out onto the sidewalks for a tour of the beautiful gas lamp district of San Diego. I never felt very confident, but didn't want to hold us up any longer than I already had while trying to get comfortable on this thing.

The first thing we do when we head out is go down the sidewalk onto the road, then up the next sidewalk. All slanted, sloped areas that we did NOT practice on! I nearly lost it both times, but somehow managed to keep it together and make it down the block to the next crossing, but my nerves were getting increasingly frayed as we went on. Got down the one side, and by the time I got up to the other side, my nerves were completely shot, and I couldn't get a handle on the slope and ended up doing a 360 on the corner, nearly hitting a car at the stoplight. I'm yelping at this point and the guys in the car are laughing their asses off. The one guide was able to help me stop so I could get off, thank GOD, and told him (as I'm shaking and fighting back tears) that I am not getting back on that thing. The lady guide came over and I told her I can't get back on, but I'm willing to jog along with the group. She said, "No one has ever jogged and kept up with a Segway. You can go back to the office, and when we're done, we'll come back for you. Don't worry - we'll take good care of the girls for you."

I told her (rather emphatically), "Oh, don't worry - I'll keep up. I was put in charge of this group and I'm NOT leaving them."

She reluctantly agreed, and we continued on. Did I mention I was wearing flip flops?

I managed to keep up - for a total of SIX MILES. It was all adrenaline, people - I'm not a skilled runner.

At one point, though, we hit a long straight-a-way, and the Segways were picking up speed. At this point, I'm holding my flip flops and running barefoot to keep up, and was focused on my breathing so I didn't cramp up. I was in the zone. So much so, that I ended up losing two of the girls that were behind me- our hearing impaired widow (Donna), and her interpreter (Carrie).

So now, I've officially failed at the two main things I was supposed to do for this event in such an awful way.

Fortunately, the male guide went back and found them fairly quickly, but it took a while for them to catch up to us at the office. Thankfully, we ended up all together and accounted for.

Now, during the last nearly six years that I've been widowed, I have heard umpteen times someone say in various different circumstances, "In all my years of blah blah blah, I've never seen blah blah blah." Apparently, this was no exception.

The guides told me that in all the years they've been doing this tour, they've never had anyone keep up on foot - let alone in flip flops. They also have a policy that if you don't have a good time, you don't have to pay for the tour. This was the first time they ever let someone get the tour for free. One of the guys also mentioned that in order to keep up with a Segway, you need to run at a man's marathon rate. I highly doubt we were going at that rate of speed considering all the obstacles we encountered along the way, but it sure was a boost to my ego! Adrenaline, people.

Now that all that was over, it was time for our group to go to lunch before heading back to the hotel. One of the ladies knows the area well and suggested a place called Dick's Last Resort. I've never heard of the place, but apparently it's supposed to be very entertaining with an intentionally obnoxious (and politically incorrect staff). Totally fine by me, since I was too exhausted to have any political correctness left in me, anyway - and I just wanted beer. We were trying to tell Donna (who thankfully has a great sense of humor) where we were going. We said the name three times, and finally, I used a very politically incorrect gesture, and she immediately understood. =P

They had the biggest bottle of Corona I have ever seen in my life at that restaurant, and I was able to properly say cheers to the birthday boy with my widda peeps.

I'm sure Matt was watching as all this transpired, and was extremely entertained for his birthday!!

PS - Did you know the guy who invented the Segway apparently Segwayed off a cliff and died??? It didn't surprise me too much to hear this news.

One more entertaining tidbit - here's a fun video that my friend Matt sent to me after the "incident." Enjoy!

(PART III, to be continued...)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Catching Up (and West Coast Trip 2014, Part I).

In my usual slacker style, I haven't been updating like I always intend to.... SO much has been going on, and the more that goes on, the more I intend to write, and the longer I go without writing, the more overwhelmed I get at the thought of all I need to write in order to catch up! So without further ado, I'll just start from the present and work my way back. 

The kids and I recently returned from another glorious trip to the West Coast- my sixth Camp Widow in San Diego, and another visit with friends and family. We flew into San Diego on Wednesday and this time, I had the kids stay with me at the Camp Widow hotel (Marriott) so they could finally get to see where I go every year for Camp, and get to meet some of my good friends. They LOVED it. They loved being there to get to see where I go, and they loved swimming in the pool and hot tub! Uncle Greg and his girlfriend came out (they live right in San Diego) to hang with us at the pool for most of the day - and it was his birthday! 

Between traveling all day, the time difference, and then spending all that time in the sun and water, we were exhausted by dinner time. We went back to the room to freshen up for dinner, and Sydney crawled in the bed and said, "I'm too tired to care about dinner!" Poor girl! We decided to treat ourselves- put our PJ's on, and ordered room service. What a luxury! Right after we were done eating, we crashed for the night. 

I woke up in the middle of the night to hear some mysterious knocking on the wall... We were at a hotel, after all. =/

The next day, we went to Starbucks for breakfast (so cool to have the kids do the typical Camp Widow things with me!), and then walked around Seaport Village. I LOVE Seaport Village - it's so beautiful, the views are spectacular, and there are so many cool little shops to explore. We checked out the guy balancing rocks on top of each other, got some souvenirs, and so much more. Made our way back to the hotel, grabbed some lunch at the pool bar (that the kids barely ate - not their kind of food), and then spent more time in the pool and were able to meet some of my friends before Aunt Brandi came to pick them up. She kept them until early Sunday afternoon, and the kids had an absolute blast! They even spent time with their cousins. Aunt Brandi planned some really fun activities for them while they were there. 

The first official day of Camp Widow was on Friday, July 11, and it just so happened that it fell on Matt's 45th birthday. Aunt Brandi had the kids bake cakes, and then they did a beautiful balloon release in his honor. 

I felt that my way of honoring his birthday was by being at Camp Widow and volunteering to help with one of the alumni activities..... 

(This is an extremely entertaining story that I intend to continue in the next day or two. If I don't, feel free to harass me!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I'm sure this is a psychological term I've heard somewhere... In fact it is - I just looked it up, and here it is. I am the Master of Avoidance.

I'm gonna lay it all right out here, as honest and open as can be. It's been a while since I've done this, and I think I know why that is, too (that's another post)... This may get long, so if you're gonna read it, find a snack, a drink, and have a seat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Hairless Hairstylist.

So there's this beautiful soul that found me through my blog (actually, several beautiful souls have found me through this blog, amazingly)...  She has faced sudden adversity, but in a different way than I had. She was nearing her 30th birthday and dreading the big milestone like most people, when her perspective suddenly changed.

Here is an amazing birthday post that would make anyone grateful for a birthday at any milestone (and any in between!), and that shows just what a truly wonderful person this woman is - as is her entire family. Read on to see more of her beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring posts!!

Please join me in giving her and her family extra love, prayers and positive, uplifting thoughts so she may experience many more of these!!

I truly, wholeheartedly believe that by giving someone genuinely positive thoughts and prayers, that it somehow benefits the person not only receiving them, but GIVING them, so there's some extra incentive to spread the love.

=) <3 p="">

Friday, March 14, 2014


One of my very good friends and I are embarking on a very exciting project... 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fabulous Forty

I turned 40 years old in October, and I'm actually happy about it! 

It might sound strange to some, but not only am I grateful to have made it to 40, I finally feel like a full-fledged grown-up!

Finally following up!

"Y" has been a faithful reader of my blog for years now, and until recently, I only knew her as "Mrs. Prior" when she would send one of her sweet, supportive comments. When I posted about moving back to Buffalo this last time was when she realized that I'm from the Buffalo area - and it turns out she is, too! Her and her family were coming back to visit around Christmastime, and she sent me an email letting me know she had something she wanted to give to me. 

I can't tell you what a thrill I got that - first of all, she's still reading this even with these huge blocks of time between posts (which now will be less), that she thought of me in the first place, and she actually had a gift for me? How sweet!!!

We decided to meet at the mall where her sister has one of her salons. I was so looking forward to meeting this thoughtful woman, and for some reason, she was looking forward to meeting me! And if she turned out to be a nut, at least we were in a public place. ;) 

Well, not only is she not a nut, but she is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and loving people I've had the honor to meet and befriend, and I'm so glad our paths have crossed. She is the kind of person that brings joy and love to people's lives just by being in it, and no matter how much time passes between conversations, you can just pick up where you left off with ease. Here is her post about our visit from HER blog

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I know I said I was going to update with details from my previous post, but right now, I'm moved to write about this song I heard on the radio yesterday that I hadn't heard in a while...

"...If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, 
Threatening the life it belongs to..."

I've had insomnia going on a few months now, and I finally realized what I need to do to help me sleep. WRITE!! Gotta get these swirling words out of my head and write them down!

"...And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
'Cause these words are my diary screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to..."

When listening to this particular set of lyrics, I was surprised at just how starkly accurate this describes how I feel about this blog.  This is essentially my diary, but because it's "out there," people will use my words however they want to - good or bad. The good, however, far outweighs the bad, so I continue.

As I told Jacob yesterday (trying to get him to open up about stuff), something I've learned over the years about myself is that if I didn't talk about what I'm feeling, I was inclined to think I'm weird and the only one thinking or feeling a certain way. But, when I've talked about it to others, I found I'm not alone with those crazy thoughts and feelings, and there's actually nothing weird or strange about them at all - they're completely normal. That's something we can all do for each other.

There is something I would like to clarify, though... I've recently noticed there seem to be a few people who believe that some of the things I've written here indicate that I have not, nor cannot, move forward with another man because of how I still feel about Matt.

This had been pointed out to me a few months ago by one potential date who came across my blog while doing the obligatory google search you perform on someone when you first begin dating.  He actually told me that I wasn't ready to date. First of all, no one can determine that but ME. It could be six months or six years, and it's STILL only up to me as to whether or not I'm ready to date. Secondly, the person that feels that way seems threatened by the love I have for my late husband. It has never, and never will make sense to me how anyone could be threatened by a dead man, or by love, but you would be surprised by the number of people who are. In this one particular case, though, I think he simply didn't want to accept the fact that I was just not into him, so he created these other reasons to soften the blow to his ego. Can't blame him, I guess.

I realize that by keeping my blog public, I run the risk of this happening more often, but I'm willing to take my chances.

I will never apologize for that love or attempt to diminish it. It is part of me and my children, as is Matt, and it's truly a beautiful thing. Everyone should be so fortunate. I have plenty of room in my heart and a desire for more. I have come to believe (or at least CHOOSE to believe) that there is more than one person out there who we can have such compatibility with - the yin to our yang, the peanut butter to our jelly... soul mates, if you wish. Seeing as how much I detest the whole process of dating, though, I hope it happens sometime sooner rather than later.

Another thing I noticed that's kind of funny is how most people feel that talking about an ex is "against the rules." Maybe I felt that way in the past, but the rules somehow get changed with life circumstances. And with age. Who makes up these stupid rules, anyway?? In my opinion, the relationships we've had in the past have a lot to do with what shapes us and who we become. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes; even from other's mistakes. It's not all negative, either - we're also shaped by the positive experiences. Maybe I'm also more accepting of this because I don't want to be told not to talk about Matt. Sharing our past experiences isn't necessarily a bad thing - it can help us understand the person we're trying to get to know. In the alternative, going on and on about the SAME THING isn't helpful to anyone... (Um, am I doing this? Tell me if I do this....) =/

Occasionally, I get emails from people who contact me through this blog because they found me due to their own unfortunate circumstances. My heart aches for these people, but it makes me feel good that I can positively impact even just a few with what I've written here. Because I'm associated with such an extensive and beautiful network of other widowed people, I'm able to put the people who contact me in touch with others with whom they can possibly get the most help from - or at least I try to.

My point of this post? Not exactly sure - I don't like "explaining" myself per se, but sometimes it's good to give some details to help others understand things a bit more clearly from another perspective; especially when I've encountered some prime examples over the last few years of men who almost had me convinced that I should stifle or somehow even feel bad about the love I continue to have for Matt. I know better now. "Be true to yourself." It's a good reminder to me, too, to not forget a very important lesson.

"No one can find the rewind button, girl..."

More to come... =)