Thursday, July 29, 2010


I remember last year reading in Parenting magazine or some "family" mag that "staycations" were the new vacations since the recession hit. At the time I thought 'if I tell my kids we are going on a staycation they will think I am nuts' so I just didn't tell them anything and we didn't go anywhere. We just spent time at home and probably through a few pity parties for ourselves I am sure. This year things have gotten a little crazier, times are even a little tougher and of course we are also dealing with the whole "grandma died" situation. This year the kids are a year older, they have over heard and been a part of the "cutting back" conversations and they understand the term "staycation" so this year we figured, what the heck we are going to make the best of it. We live in a nice house, we have a really nice pool out back. The casita has become our new getaway since it was redecorated and grandma is no longer using it (I know that sounds horrible, and I swear I am not cold, but it's the truth, we have this darling little guest house and we are using it... it is what it is). My big girl packs her bags and takes her friends out there and they can act like they have their own apartment. They love it. They are teenagers and it gives them a freedom they have never known and I think it actually makes Allison feel a little closer to her Grandma. Tomorrow we are going to put on our bathing suits, float on rafts and listen to loud music. I like to think I have the same dance moves they do so I like to listen to the music that they do and get down right along with the teenagers... yes, this totally embarasses them but who cares we're on staycation, anything goes!

This is where you will find us for the next 3 days...
Things kinda suck right now for our family and we are dealing with it every day but we also have so much fun together. I think that is what I wanted this post to reflect. I have been blogging/facebooking lately about the changes we are going through, how hard it has been to lose my mom and quite honestly sometimes it's depressing. But seriously I am so lucky. We have so much fun together, my family. The four of us sing inappropriate Kid Rock songs at the top of our lungs together as we drive down the street. We have been playing indoor golf toss. We have two puzzles out on the kitchen table that we have been working on together. My girls and I laugh together every single day, sometimes we do spit takes we laugh so hard. (I actually just did one an hour or so ago when Allison was telling her bff a story about her boyfriend). We bake cookies, my husband has channeled his inner Betty Crocker lately and has been baking up a storm. As a matter of fact Betty is his new nick name. If you have seen my husband you will think that is even funnier. We really do have fun and we really do genuinely like each other. I think times like this can be character building and hopefully we have learned a lesson. We have learned that when times are good financially we should be saving way more than we spend and once we find a house we like just stay there, we don't always have to have the next bigger, better house in the nicer development, the last house was fine. We will get through this and we will come out the other side stronger, wiser and closer than ever. I know it. I love my family and all that we have. I will embrace the good times and think positively that something good is on the horizon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Broadening and expanding... my vision of where we will land.

So a couple of posts ago I wrote about how I was jealous that our neighbors are moving to Orange County, because that is where I have been wanting to move for quite some time. It's where I have envisioned us ending up. When I log on the computer a few times a week I check on houses in Orange County, I am even signed up to receive emails from a couple of different real estate agents in that area and they send me daily updates of new listings. All because in the back of my head I have thought 'that is where I want to be'. If you have read my blog before or have known me for a long time you know that I have very little family left and absolutely none here in the desert (well, none that I have a relationship with) so holidays around here can be lonely when our friends are busy. So if we moved to OC we would be closer to my brother Danny and closer to so many friends so that has been my motivation. But then....Chris started looking for a job, a new job, a new adventure. Something that will provide us a nice living and some job security. We have not had either for a while now. We had 16 years of job security for him, he loved what he did, loved where he worked and was very nicely compensated for it and then two years ago along with the economy it all came to a crashing halt. We have been dealing with it for quite a while now all the while not really knowing what was going to happen or where we were going to end up. Then we discovered a website with jobs in his field. Lots of jobs. The only thing is, they are all on the east coast. At first it was just crazy talk. I mean come on, I am a California girl through and through. I have been born and raised here and have only left the state a handful of times in my life. I have lived a very sheltered life. I have been to New York one time and I loved it. It was amazing. All the culture, I mean my God those were my people, I have never seen so many Italian people in my life!! It was wonderful, but I didn't ever consider moving there or that someday I might live close to all that craziness. But then Chris applied for a job in a little town called Amsterdam in New York and the guy called him and was interested in hiring him. As soon as he called we started researching the area (nothing like jumping the gun, right?) and you know what? It was cool. It looked like a really great town. Since then he has sent out many, many more resumes and been contacted by several people. Every single time somebody calls my daughter and I are on the computer as fast as we can researching the town/city/state that they are calling from. I feel like I have been doing a report on small towns across the country. I have learned more about the geography of the east coast and southern states than I did in high school (of course I didn't have any interest in learning it back then!) I think the best part of this has been us talking about it as a family. Discovering new areas, talking about what it would be like if we end up moving. How we would cope, what we would do to make new friends.
Chris and I are not the kind of parents that hide things from our kids or wait until we know exactly what is going to happen before we tell them things. I don't know if it's the best way to parent, but it works for us. It has been working in this situation because it is helping our kids come to terms with the fact that they might have to leave their friends. They are both sad and excited at the same time. Some places for sure look more desirable to them than others and I have had to make a lot of promises to them that I hope I will be able to keep.
I have no idea at this point where we will end up. No idea what God's plan is for us. I do know that I have become an avid pray-er. I have been praying for wisdom, guidance and strength. I pray that when the right opportunity comes along we will know it and grab it.
I am looking forward to going on this adventure with my family and hoping that very soon there will be an answer. I will keep you all posted.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Twenty one years later.

Twenty one years ago today my life changed forever. It was that day that my mom called me to tell me that my brother Mike was in the hospital and that I needed to get there quickly, they didn't know if he was going to make it. It was 21 years ago when I saw a fear in my parents eyes that I had never seen before. I watched my parents go through the most gut wrenching experience any parent will ever endure. I, myself was going through the absolute worst thing that I had ever been through. My brother, my idol, my favorite person in the world was dying and there was nothing anybody could do to save him. I was heartbroken, scared, sad and beyond devastated. But you know what? I would go back to that time in a heartbeat. Without question, without thinking twice. Knowing what I know now I would go back just to experience being a family again. Just to feel something as a family. We were suffering, we were broken but we were a whole family. I had a mom, a dad, my brothers and we were whole. So much has changed since then. If someone would have told me that 21 years later they would be gone and the rest of the family as I knew it would fall apart, that there would be no cousins, no more holidays, no more traditions for my own kids to see I never would have believed it.
I am so lucky to have had the family I once had. So fortunate that we were so close and there was so much love. So glad that I knew that love and that feeling of being a part of a family where we all cared about each other and we all came together when we needed to. I never, ever want my kids or anyone else to read my blog and think I am ever feeling sorry for myself. I realize there are so many people who never had what we had. That never know how much their parents love them or never bond with their sibling the way that Mike and I did. I am so grateful that I had it. But you know that saying "it's better to love and lost that to never have loved at all?" sometimes it's true but sometimes it just sucks. When you love somebody or in my case your whole family and you lose them. It sucks. No two ways about it. I can be grateful all day long but when all is said and done it sucks to love and lose. Period.
I think I have written before about how I usually don't make a big deal about dates, I don't cry just because it's a certain day or remember somebody just because it's their birthday or the day they died, but for whatever reason every year on this day I get a little sad. I don't dwell on it or walk around with a mopey face, as a matter of fact at this moment there is not a sole in my house that even knows what today means to me. This year this day means even more, this year it marks what was the beginning of the end. The end was on May 18th when my mom died 21 years after her son. I know 21 years seems like a long time but you know what? It has flown by and I really feel like I lost them all in no time. All of these losses were not just mine, they were also my brother Danny's. He has also lost his whole family. All we have is each other. We rely on each other to remember stories, to recall recipes, to remember relatives names. Thank God we have each other.
Well the day is almost over and I am grateful for that too. I am ready to move on and to think of other things. The future is going to be bright, I know there is something big in the works for our family. I can just feel it. I wake up every morning and pray for it and go to bed praying for it every night. We are ready, we are so ready for big things.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I have always kind of prided myself on the fact that I am not really a jealous person. It's just never been my style. I am usually pretty secure in my relationships, either with my husband or my friends and jealousy isn't usually a feeling I get too often....until about 10 minutes ago. First let me tell you how much I didn't like it. I hate this feeling. I am so glad it doesn't happen often. Anyway, let me cut to the chase here.
For many years I have been wanting to move from where we live. We live in the desert in So. Cal and in the summer it is unbearably hot for me. I hate it. I don't have a lot of really close friends here. I have made lots of friends over the years but there still is nothing like the lifelong friendships that I formed with people I have known from "home". Oh and the couple of really great friends I have met here have both moved to Orange County. And that of course, is where I want to be. I didn't grow up in Orange County, but not far from it at all. I grew up in a smallish town in Los Angeles county called Downey. Downey was great because it was 15 minutes from the beach, LA, Disneyland...really anywhere that we wanted to be. I don't want to move back to Downey because for the most part most of my friends from there are now in... Orange County. (are you seeing the trend here). Recently my husband has kind of been searching for a new job. Business here for what he does is really, really slow. He needs a change. Now what I am going to say next is going to sound biased and I get that. My husband is amazingly talented, hard working and beyond loyal. (see I told you it would sound biased). But really it's all true. He is a cabinet designer. But really he is so much more. He is able to do it all, from conception,design to installation and project management. He has been doing it all for 16 years and has been very successful but the desert is a place where the wealthy people have their 2nd and 3rd homes and they are not putting money into them anymore and so he has kind of lost his niche. So (wow this story is taking way longer than I thought) he has been sending his resume out to cabinet companies and builders all over the place the last few days, and when I say all over the place, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida you name it. Which really, really scares me because really? I just want to move to Orange County. I am a California girl who has lived a pretty sheltered life. I am willing to go wherever he wants to go but I am hoping, praying and wishing that he finds something in OC.
OK so finally, I am going to get the jealousy part. My sweet, young twenty something neighbor just texted me tonight because she wanted to let me know that she and her husband (they were both born and raised here) were moving and their house was going to be empty soon. So of course then I said "aww, we are so sad you are going, where are you moving to? Well you already know the answer right? ORANGE COUNTY!!
Now let me just say that a few months ago this same girl said she had no desire to leave the desert, she has a baby and is pregnant again and didn't want to leave her mom, but now guess what? Her family? IS GOING WITH THEM! Shut the frickin door, not only are they moving but they get to take her fam with them!!!
HELP! I hate this feeling!
Please say a little prayer for my husband tonight and for me too. Ask that we can get to move there's where we need to be. My family is pretty much gone now and my brother Danny lives in Corona and we would be closer to him and my new brother Randy lives in Oregon and we are still getting to know each other and if I  move all the way to New York I feel like I will never get the chance to get to know him or his family. Oh and since we are praying and wishin maybe we can do something about this whole jealousy thing. Just sayin.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

So Relax

So Relax, that's the name of the massage place Korean torture chamber at the mall. OH MY GOD I swear I have just been violated. First of all let me just say that the word "relax" does not translate in Korean, I think in Korean it means "kick this ladies ass". My husband and I strolled into the storefront this evening to each get a 15 minute massage. Well let me tell you it was quite an experience. For the first five minutes I was waiting for someone to jump out and tell me I was on candid camera. My massage began with a woman, a smallish woman who had to lay her whole body on me to reach my shoulders. I am only 5'3". So as if her laying up against me wasn't awkward enough she then started my "massage". I seriously thought I was going to cry she was hurting me so bad, then all of a sudden mid-massage we had a "change" a man (who I like to think is her husband) started giving me a massage (hello, can we say awkward again). He thought it was a good idea to start that whole pounding thing that they do, which I totally don't get but whateves. Then he took my arms one a time and put them behing my back and made sounds as he pulled each one of my fingers, like a popping noise. I am not kidding their were sound effects. Oh and I forgot to mention that the whole time this was going on instead of soothing spa type music, all I could hear was the kiddie train's whistle blowing away on the lower level of the mall and all of the workers, (massage therapists) talking back and forth very loudly and I am pretty sure I heard one of them say "good job, I think you are going to leave bruises on the chubby ladies back."

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Loner.

That's me. The loner. I don't know when it began or how it happened but it has probably been longer than I care to admit. I spend most of my time alone. Upstairs alone in my bedroom. I am not up here throwing a pity party or playing the martyr. I just want to be alone. Sometimes I hate it, I won't lie. I don't hate it because I don't want to be alone, I hate it because it's so different from who I used to be. I used to love to be with lots of people. I loved hanging with my family at night. Tonight is a typical Friday night in our house. My husband and kids are downstairs watching a movie and I am up here on the computer, with the TV on as background noise and my book on my nightstand waiting to be read. and honestly that is how I want it to be.  I used to play bunco, I used to have lots of friends. I have shut them out, turned them away. Now here I am, and really for the most part I am so okay with it. My husband and I have a great marriage, I absolutely adore my kids but I just like being alone. As a matter of fact I am happy most of the time. I have learned to like myself a lot more. I have gotten to know myself so much better. When I was younger I wanted so badly to please everyone around me and sometimes lost myself and my own beliefs because of it. As I have gotten older I have gotten more opinionated, more abrasive and less tolerant of people that are offensive or annoying. I know that sounds harsh but that is the other thing that has happened. I have become brutally honest. I miss entertaining people and being with friends. I love to cook, I am a typical Italian mama in so many ways, but yet for now at this time in my life I am just happy to hang with myself. I think someday it might change and it probably has so much to do with everything we have been through in the last two years. We have lost a lot. We have lost income, material things and a way of life. I have lost my mother. So much of the time I feel as other people don't understand where I am coming from so I just pull away. I am writing this post because I want my kids to understand someday where I was at emotionally and mentally at this point in my life. I want them to know that it's not them I am hiding from up here in the bedroom. It's just me getting to know myself better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So here I sit, in my room. On the computer. I have a list, I literally made a list of things to do tonight and yet I keep finding reason after reason to log on. First, of course I had to check facebook.Then I had to research four or five different things. All the while the tasks on my list nagging me and making me feel bad for not doing them. One of the things on my list is to find my social security card. I have no idea where to look. Then I need to find a letter that I had found the day before my mom died. It was a letter she had written to me a few months before she died. I read it, cried and then put it somewhee for safe keeping. Well apparantely it  was a good spot. I also need to find a bag of jewelry that was my mom and my grandma's stuff. No idea where I put it. Oh and the other thing on my list? Laundry of course.
I guess while I am here I should talk about how awesome our 4th of July weekend was. We headed out of town to Orange County. We went to see my girlfriend Melissa, her daughter (who is one of Allison's very, very best friends since they were 3) and Melissa's boyfriend and his boys. We have made it kind of a tradition and this is the 3rd year in a row we have spent with them. The 4th of July where we live is typically pretty miserably hot and we are always so happy to get out of the heat. We had so much fun just hanging with our friends. We went to lunch, did a little shopping and then went to dinner on Saturday night. Sunday we hung at their house all day and barbecued and then we went to watch fireworks. It was so good to get out of the desert and get my mind on other things. I think it was good for all of us.

When we were driving  home yesterday I told my husband that when I was a little girl our neighbor died, she was the mother of the family. They were from Europe, I am not sure what country, maybe Yugoslavia. Anyway when she died I remember the whole family went into "mourning" I remember they had a specific period of time that they had to grieve, I think it was like 6 months. I remember thinking "wow, that's a long time" but you know what in some ways I think it's a good idea. Not necessarily for 6 months but the idea of having some sort of "official grieving period" isn't so bad. I know that there are some people that think we should be moving on. That we should be "over" my mom dying. I have another memory of my girlfriend coming over about 6 months after my brother died and my parents were having a particularly rough day and when we walked into my bedroom she asked me what was wrong with my parents, and I told her that they were sad, they missed Mike. She looked at me and said "still?" I thought 'hmm, she doesn't understand what it's like to lose someone. He was their son for 26 years, you don't get over that in 6 months. I don't think you ever get over it. I have had some people already make comments to me about maybe being "relieved" without having the responsibility of my mom anymore. That "relief" hasn't kicked in yet. The mourning hasn't stopped, the grieving comes and goes. We still laugh, we have fun and sometimes we cry. I don't know how long my "mourning period" will be. I guess it will just go on for as long as I need it to.
My mom died 49 days ago she was my mom for 41 years. I think I can still cry and be sad if I want to.
Today I met with one of my mom's friends. She was one of her friends that was actually here with her when she died. She was talking about how close my mom and I were and she said "you guys were so close that even when you were driving each other crazy you still had to call each other and give each other updates on your day" she said that my mom had said to her a couple of months ago that she really was going to try to stop calling me so many times a day. She knew it was bugging me and she knew I was too busy but still she called. She would call me all day long with random stories about what she was doing and how her day was going. She would call me and tell me what was going on in her different t.v. shows that she watched during the day. She particurlarly loved to update me on her court shows. Yes, she was a Judge Judy fan. She liked me to know what was happening with the feisty old broad. I am not a fan of court shows, nor do I even begin to care what was happening on the show. She knew it, she knew that I didn't want to hear it and still she called.
She would laugh right now if she heard me say this, but I am not kidding, today I would love a Judge Judy update.
I am going to log off now and I swear I am going to check at least one thing off my list before I go to sleep. I really am.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom

Dear Mom,
Today is your birthday. Well even though you aren't here we celebrated anyway. I made your favorite dinner, barbecued chopped chicken salad and Allison baked you a bundt cake just like she did last year.
I have to tell you mom these last 46 days or so have been really tough. I miss you so much. I think about you all the time and so many times I reach for the phone to call you.
 I know today would have been kind of a big deal to you because you talked about wanting to live until your birthday all the time. I am so sorry that you didn't make it. I am so sorry that you had to suffer so much.
Your friends have been so good to me and they really miss you too. I think tonight I will call Irene and see how she is doing, she is really sad without you.
I know I didn't say it enough, and I am so sorry for not saying it more but mom I love you. I wish that we wouldn't have argued so much. Now that you are gone I realize how much I relied on you for support, advice and just someone to vent to. You were a great mom to have and I am so lucky that I had you for the 41 years that I did.
I hope that you have found some peace and that you are with Dad and Mike. Everyone says that you are.
I hate being without you guys but I am glad that you all have each other.
Your grand daughters miss you so much too mom. They talk about you quite often. We always imitate you and say things that we think you would have said. I am so thankful for the time that they spent with you and for well they knew you. You were an amazing grandma to them and they will never forget you.
Well I am going to go wipe my tears, suck it up and have some of your birthday cake mom.
Happy Birthday.