My Kids

I really like my kids. I mean of course I love them but I also like them as people. I like spending time with them. This morning Alyssa, Lelly and I went thrift shopping. It was nice to be with them and pick out different things and get their blatantly honest opinions. But we do more that just shop together. There are times when it’s just me and one of the girls here at home and we end up talking about anything that is on their mind. Sometimes it’s a conversation I’m not quite ready for but they are and that’s what matters.

My girls confide in me. I was pleasantly surprised the first few times. They tell me that some of their friends don’t talk to or confide in their moms and that made me appreciate our relationships even more.

I say we aren’t always shopping but the more I think about it that is the bulk of Alyssa’s and Lelly’s and my together time. Most of our talking occurs in the car though. I’ve discovered that the car is he best place to have a deep conversation. You have a captive audience for better or worse.

In the car is where I’ve discovered Samantha’s love of Christian music. I only listen to contemporary Christian music in my car. Alyssa and Lelly listen along too but Samantha will actually sing along to the songs and put the station back if I unknowingly change it from a song she really likes. At first this surprised me I didn’t think she liked “my” music. I was wrong.

Being with Thomas is different than being with my girls. He’s very honest and knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like. There isn’t much middle ground with him. I enjoy being with Thomas more now that he lives closer to us. Visiting with him now isn’t as rushed as it used to be when Thomas lived up in Yonkers. We often go to ShopRite together on Saturdays when I’m doing the food shopping for the week. He’s so well behaved it’s a pleasure to have him with me. And when he’s ready to go back he clearly says so. No bones about it.

It’s funny because life was so stressful for so many years when they were all small. It was hard enjoy them all at that time. We had a lot of good times that I treasure those memories but…I don’t miss those years at all. I prefer this time in all of our lives.


Thrifting day !

Yesterday after I dropped Samantha with her friends at the mall carnival, I headed to one of my favorite places, the thrift store!  My kids have taken to calling it my “happy place”, ha ha!  My actual happy place is the beach, but the thrift store is in my top 5 favs.

Last week I scored Stella McCartney denim!  I almost fell over when I was going through the racks and bam there they were in all their fabulous excellent condition glory. Yesterday I found more premium denim and a really cool top by Philipp Plein, a German fashion designer who sells really expensive clothing. I had no idea until I googled the name and educated myself very quickly while standing there holding the top with a white knuckle grip, lol!

I know thrift shopping isn’t for everyone and some people are even grossed out by it. That’s ok everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just love the treasure hunt aspect of it. I don’t think about much when thrifting. I put on my thrifting face and get down to business. I always say hello to the people who work there; they are the nicest people. They aren’t overly chatty which is nice because I’m not there to be chatty.

A couple of months ago I scored my biggest find yet; a Chanel bag. I almost skipped out of there after I paid 6.99 for it. The bag needed to be cleaned so I sent it off to a reputable designer restoration business. A week later she was back with me and looked beautiful. I’ve yet to take her out for a maiden voyage. Maybe next week if the weather stays nice.

I always think of my dad after I go thrifting. I want to call him and tell him what I’ve found. I know he passed down to me some of my thrifting genes. The rest come from my grandfather on my mother’s side. He used to take us out every Saturday when our parents worked to yard sales or to old dusty shops in Manhattan. It was a great time to be with him. We really enjoyed those adventures.

So here’s to future thrifting adventures and awesome finds!


Oh My Soul…

This song by Christian musicians, Casting Crowns from their latest CD “The Very Next Thing” hit it me hard when my dad was first diagnosed with liver and colon cancer. The lyrics stayed with me all through the next 16 months of daddy’s life until his passing on Feb 4 of this year. Now when I hear that song on the radio or on CD I can’t help but think of him and how much I miss him. But then I sing along to the song and I realize his passing and my grieving is “the valley”. And I find my faith in God helps the pain of missing him. Being that daddy was a believer I know he’s with Jesus and all who have passed before him. I imagine them all gathered together, talking and laughing and being in this incredibly peaceful place. So peaceful we couldn’t understand it here where we are in the other side.

While listening to Oh My Soul this afternoon I remembered how hard daddy’s diagnosis hit us. Like a ton of bricks. He had already beat lung cancer twice. To think he was going to have to fight cancer again was surreal. But he did fight it; hard. And we were graced with his presence not for three and a half months like they first told us, but for longer. I never stopped believing in God or became angry with Him because my father had cancer again. Instead I saw how wonderful God is to us. Daddy had excellent care given to him by my mom who happens to be a nurse. We saw the grace of God when we went to the beach and like magic this beach wheelchair appeared with strong young men to wheel daddy down to the umbrella we rented. When it was known that daddy was dying and my mom initiated hospice care I witnessed the kindest and most angelic of nursing care ever. To the one nurse who made sure my mother had the correct medication to give daddy in his last hours to the other nurse who worked 18 hours and thanked us for letting her be a part of this season in our lives.

“Oh my soul…you are not alone…” Such beautiful words because we are not alone. God is with us always; in the songs he inspires others to write and the people He sends to help us along the way, whether we’re in the valley or standing on the mountain top.

I Had a Great Day

I had a great Mother’s Day. I went to church this morning with Samantha and I loved the pastor’s message. He’s been speaking on “Lifehacks,” things to make your life easier based on the book of Proverbs. Today’s message was about women of course, from Proverbs 31. “The Godly woman blesses those around her.” And there are two way blessings, “a woman blesses others and they bless her,” said Pastor John. My children have blessed me in many, many ways. My girls especially show their admiration in the way they speak to me and confide in me. Each of my 3 daughters have their own gifts they bring to the relationship. Some days their uniqueness is hard to keep up with, other days it’s beautiful because I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thomas on the other hand can be more obvious in his blessings.  He’ll straight out tell me he loves me out of no where at home or in the middle of a store, where ever the mood strikes him. I’m blessed by him just as much as I’m blessed by the girls. Probably even more so as Thomas is wonderfully transparent. When he’s happy or appreciative there’s no mistaking it. Unhappy or doesn’t want to do something such as get a haircut? The answer is a firm no and there’s no mistaking how he feels for better or worse. Thomas has probably blessed me in more ways than the girls in that he was my first child and  he is special needs. It’s because of Thomas that I found my voice as a mother and as his advocate. It was through Thomas that I saw how mighty our God is and that The Lord not only hears our prayers but answers them as well.  When Thomas and Alyssa and Lelly played Upward league basketball for church it was through the half time devotionals that I was saved.

My day wasn’t all about church, it was about the way I was treated and appreciated by my family. Tommy planted flowers in the kitchen window box and he bought me a gift card to get my nails done. Alyssa and the girls gave me beautiful earrings from one of our favorite stores and a card that told me how much they appreciate me. Thomas bought me slippers to wear to the beach. They all hit the nail on the head gift wise but I really hit it out of the ballpark with this wonderful family I get to call my own.



Mother’s Day

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I’m fortunate to have my mother and mother in law here to celebrate with. Tommy offered to have dinner for us all, none of us have to cook; a great idea from my very loving and thoughtful husband.

On Sunday my church is having photographers come in and mothers can sit for a photo for free. I think that is such a great idea. I did it last year but with only 2 of my kids present, Thomas and Samantha. This year I doubt Thomas will be at church so maybe I’ll have 3 of them there for a photo. It’s funny when I imagined Thomas living here I had this sweet vision of us attending church together. Turns out that was a nice thought, but not the most enjoyable way to spend Sunday morning. While attending church Thomas became increasingly high maintenance week after week and I left there feeling not great. Thomas knows about Jesus and that The Lord loves him so him not attending church is not the end of the world. It’s funny because most of the scenarios I had pictured that involved Thomas and us being together more often never quite turned out the way I had hoped they would. And that’s ok. It is what it is. Thomas is Thomas and we’re still his family. Sometimes expectations don’t live up to reality. Lesson learned.

So getting back to Mother’s Day…I am extremely grateful to be able to have my mother and mother in law together to spend time with. My mother like all mothers taught me so much; so much that it’s difficult to name it all. One thing in particular she taught me was to advocate for Thomas when he was a baby. He had so much going on before he was even a year old. We had no idea what the future held. My mother always said,”There’s only one Thomas…” So I always remembered that when dealing with doctors or therapists who were cold or not helpful.

My mother in law taught me how to cook quite a few meals including how to make meatballs. That alone is invaluable in an Italian family. She also taught me to wear “good” shoes. I always think about that when I’m tempted to purchase poor quality shoes. That I’ll pay for it later and you know what, she is right.

Im looking forward to Mother’s Day and hanging out with the two of the most influential women in my life.



Saturdays with Thomas

The past 3 weeks I’ve been picking up Thomas from his group home and bringing him food shopping with me and then we go back to my house for lunch. Thomas has been excellent company to go food shopping with. He’s pleasant and follows directions and doesn’t ask for anything which is more than I can say for most people who I’ve been to ShopRite with. Today he went and got me milk and was so proud that he “helped” me. It was sweet.

I made him lunch a little while ago and now he’s patiently waiting to go “somewhere” with us. I don’t know what our destination will be but Thomas has $7.00 burning a hole in his pocket that he has to spend…today. When he has money or a gift card there’s no stopping him from spending it and no distracting him from his goal. Some days it’s amusing other days not so much. Today he’s being so good I don’t mind him perseverating on his $7.00.

I’m fortunate to have my Thomas. We’ve been through a lot together. More than a typical mother/son relationship. I think of the days when he was younger and I wish those days had been easier. I wish he was more enjoyable as a child. I have great pictures from years ago that show us as a “happy family” but behind the scenes…not so much. These days when I take pictures my kids are genuinely happy even after the camera is put away.

Its been a little big tough road raising my Thomas. He has made me who I am today. It’s because of him I became an outspoken mom. It’s because of him I learned to advocate, not just for him but my other children as well. It’s because of him I have more patience and compassion.

There is also a dark side of my life that is because of Thomas. A side that caused horrid depression and anxiety. I don’t resent him for that I truely don’t. He couldn’t help his behavior and I couldn’t help my reaction. Because of that dark time I know I am a stronger person. I am fortunate to have that outcome. It is only by the grace of God that I got through it. My Lord and Savior placed people in my path who’s purpose was to get me through the dark time. And they did. There are no coincidences, there’s only God’s perfect plan and timing.

So now we’re off to “somewhere” for Thomas to spend that money of his. It wii certainly be an entertaining time of that I’m sure.

Worship Night in America

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend a big Christian concert called Chris Tomlin’s Night of Worship. It was a-mazing!  Chris Tomlin is famous in the Christian music world and he put together a concert that included other famous Christian music artists, such as Tauryn Wells, Kim Walker Smith, Matt Maher and a couple others I can’t remember. I attended the concert with my daughter Lelly and my friend Claudia and her 2 daughters. We all danced, jumped, raised hands and sang in worship of the one true God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To see the whole venue (The Prudential Center in Newark NJ) up on their feet united in praise of God was wonderful and overwhelming at times.

We also had the pleasure of hearing the pastor of Chris Tomlin’s home church preach. He spoke of the seven different Hebrew words that have various meanings of the work “praise”. It was so  enlightening. His name is Darren Whitehead and he’s originally from Australia. Him and Chris Tomlin wrote a book called, “A Holy Roar” If his message was that great I can only imagine what the book will be like.

My daughter and I danced and cheered and praised our Lord like there was no tomorrow. This morning I gave thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to praise and worship Him last night. It was truely a blessing to have been there.

3 Months

On Friday it will be 3 months since my Dad died. It’s been a terrible time of raw, honest grieving with some sprinkles of healing here and there along with a smile or two of remembrance. I miss talking to him. Still. I suppose that will never go away. I want to desperately tell him about how I had to drive my husbands pick up truck when Alyssa borrowed my car while her’s is in the shop. Daddy had one piece of stern yet loving advice to anyone driving an unfamiliar vehicle, “Just drive it!” And that advice stuck with me even to this day when driving Tommy’s truck. I would have made him proud and he would have laughed.

I miss being able to tell him that Daniella is now a proud licensed driver. I know there will be many other milestones I’ll want to tell him and wish he were here for.

He would have gotten a kick out of my work stories especially those concerning co workers. I work with really wonderful people and some of them are real characters with unique views and a quirky sense of humor.

To me it’s hard to believe only 3 months have passed since daddy died. In some ways it feels like it’s been so much longer but not in a good healing way.  It feels like I’ve been missing him longer than 3 months. Yet some days it feels like it was only last week that he left us. I guess all things in grieving are “normal” meaning there is no normal.