Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
The weekend of August 12th, I attended the third annual Camp Widow in San Diego and again, had a fabulous time. It was held at the beautiful Marriott Marquis and Marina, and I was reunited with some of the wonderful friends I made from the first one in 2009, and made even more. I decided not to volunteer this time, and use that weekend for a true vacation. My sister-in-law and her new husband who also live in San Diego kept Jacob and Sydney for the weekend (thank you so much, Brandi and Scott!!). They hung out with their awesome cousins Heather and Trevor, visited with Uncle Greg, got buried in the sand at the beach, climbed on real trains, experienced canoeing for the first time, went for ice cream, attended a festival where they played tug-of-war and other fun games, got body paint, jumped in bounce houses, and in their down time, Sydney played dress up and Jacob's very loose top front tooth came out!
Not long after we returned from San Diego, we went to Buffalo for the second time since our move to California. Getting there was an adventure in itself... We flew from LA to JFK, and were supposed to take a connecting flight from JFK to Buffalo. All flights into Buffalo, Rochester, and the surrounding areas were cancelled due to storms, and there were no flights available until the next day. I ended up driving from JFK to Buffalo. That's the WAY abbreviated version, but someone please remind me to write the full one - it's a cool story!
This trip was much different than the last... Last year when I went back, I didn't really even want to be there. I was scared to death of going back, and while I was there, I wasn't really "there." This time, I could not wait to go back.
When I moved to California, I couldn't get away fast enough. I needed to be far away from everything- the house, the town, the people, the places we went to.... everything. I couldn't continue living the life that Matt and I had together without him there. Since my life had changed so drastically with losing Matt, EVERYTHING needed to change. It might not work for everyone, but it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I didn't escape the pain of his loss, and it didn't make me miss him less, but it made going about the daily motions more bearable, and allowed the kids and I to have new experiences that we never would have had otherwise being on the opposite coast. The sunshine and warmth was healing, I made wonderful new friends, and was closer in proximity to my brother and Matt's immediate family. Up until maybe six months ago, I didn't even have the capacity yet to miss anyone but Matt, so it was easy to leave.
About a month or so before I went to Buffalo for this most recent trip, I got the crazy idea that I wanted to move back. I don't even know where it came from, but it hit me like a brick and has been an overwhelming pull that I haven't been able to ignore. When it first hit me, I really wondered why I was torturing myself with the thought. I found myself agonizing over the decision. I obsessed over the pros and cons and drove myself completely nuts. At first it was pretty 50/50, but the more I thought about it and was as objective as I could be, it became very clear.
Friday, August 5, 2011
However, in light of what I've seen the past few years, I've come to a pretty confident conclusion...
CORPORATE AMERICA rules the country - not the government.
A bit of evidence:
PS- I have even more evidence, but I'm keeping my mouth shut - for now.
Matt's BMX bike hasn't been washed since he last rode it in 2008. Sounds crazy, but I just wasn't ready to wash the dirt off of it that he put on it. Dirt that came from where we used to live together. It was the bike he rode around the yard and driveway with Jacob. He had sold his mountain bike (much to my surprise) not too long before his accident because he knew with his new job he wouldn't have the time to ride like he used to, plus when he did have the time, the local trails were usually too sloppy from rain to ride on. His road bike went to his dad who has put it to good use.
I decided to finally wash his bike - he never would have let it stay that dirty. It's been ridden by my brother and me, and I'd like to keep it in the condition that Matt would have - especially since Jacob will enjoy riding it someday.
When I started washing his bike, Sydney came over and asked if she could help wash Daddy's bike, and also so I wasn't doing it alone. My barely four year old, sensitive, insightful, sweet daughter came up with that on her own. Jacob joined us, and the three of us lovingly washed Matt's bike together.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I got to be a grown-up and go see fireworks with a few friends for the Fourth of July (actually on the 1st), then the kids and I traveled to San Diego to be with the Rows for that week which is always such a great time! At the end of our visit, we all drove up to Six Flags Magic Mountain for another day of fun before heading home.
Matt's birthday was on July 11, and the kids and I celebrated his life in our usual way by getting an ice cream cake (his favorite), and the kids also wanted to get him flowers.
Jacob, Sydney and I headed out on July 16 for our first real road trip... I had decided the month before we were going to travel up to Northern California to visit friends and explore our new state, but I'd been so busy right up until the last minute that I didn't have much time to make very detailed plans, so we kind of winged it and it evolved as it went along. It probably ended up better that way than if I had planned out every little detail!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I love my sister so much. I texted her a few days ago to ask her if she still has her old phone since Verizon is charging us for not returning it, and fortunately she does. I called her today to share my victories in organizing my house with her, and she said that one of the first thoughts she had when she got my text about the phone was that I'm making progress because I'm actually looking at my bills!!! Hahaha!! She knows me better than anyone in this world.
For some reason, when someone is going through a difficult emotional time (I learned recently that this isn't just associated with a loss, but with a major funk of any kind), the bills seem to be the first thing that suffers. I don't know why, but it seems like any incoming mail (good or bad) ends up in piles and pushed aside. Bills or not, there the piles sit... It takes almost everything you've got to build up the gumption to sit down and open up the envelopes and deal with their contents. It's only very recently that I've started (mostly) keeping up with the mail that comes in. For some reason, the same applies to outgoing mail - that's even harder for some reason. I know I owe a million people thank-you's for a million different things, birthday cards, etc..... My apologies to everyone. I've thought about it LOTS, so if it's truly the thought that counts, then I might be in the clear.
My sister recognized the fact that I not only must have opened the Verizon bill, but actually LOOKED at it and am even questioning it! For her to "get" that was so amazing to me. It even opened up my eyes to see that I'm making more progress than I even thought! Thank you, Michelle!!!!
I've been living in California now for almost two years - it's only been two and a half since Matt's death - and it seems I might FINALLY be getting settled. Even though I may have made it "look" like I had it together shortly after we arrived, it's taken me this long.
And I'll let you in on a little secret.... There are probably lots of books, articles, etc. out there with tips and tricks for getting organized, but I had a simple revelation recently that put it all into perspective (and you're getting it here for free - he he):
Monday, June 27, 2011
Fast forward to this home, two and a half years later. Jacob found the John Denver CD that we used to play all the time. That played that day. He was SO excited to find it, and I was excited for him! Until he played it. As I listened to the music, my heart sank and took me right back to the last day I heard that music. It's been playing over and over again for the last 3 hours. Thank god it's bedtime (well, a bit past now) or I think I'd have to jump off a nearby cliff.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I did get out of a speeding ticket with The Widow Card (which, in my defense, I used inadvertently), but this time, I premeditated its use.
From the beginning of Sydney's preschool year, there has been a ton of turnover with the teachers. There is usually one main teacher for the morning and early afternoon shift and one for the mid to late afternoon shift, and each of those teachers have a teacher's aide. The first main teacher that started the school year was there for one day and left. Since then, there had been about six total changes in personnel. Fortunately, Sydney is pretty easy to adjust and has done well despite the constant changes in the classroom. I'm pretty easy-going as well, and it wasn't until this latest change that was the last straw for me. The "permanent" teacher that just started in Sydney's class a few weeks ago has a very experienced teacher (Mrs. S.) helping to train her and acting as her aide. Mrs. S. is respected and adored by all of her current and former students, as well as their parents. Naturally, Sydney and I have fallen in love with her, too. So when I heard that last Thursday was supposed to be her last day in that classroom, I had enough.
I spoke with one of the parents that has been very actively involved with everything happening in that room from the beginning of the school year about the issue. As Adrian and I talked, she kept saying, "THAT's what you should say to the principal!" She had already spoken with the principal herself, but the decision still stood. So in support of this parent and speaking on behalf of the others and the children (we certainly aren't the only ones who feel that Mrs. S. should stay at least until the end of the school year), I decided to speak with the principal as well, and tell her the same things I said to Adrian.
When I first brought up the subject to the principal, she kind of cut me off to tell me she already talked to the other parent and there are simply no more funds in which to pay Mrs. S. to stay. I continued, anyway: When I dropped Sydney off the first day of school, she was so excited to be there that she never looked back at me while I was walking away ("Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ma!"). She's not clingy, and enjoys school very much. However, lately, she's been clutching my leg and crying when I have to leave which is not like her. I blame the constant changes in the classroom for this. I didn't even know Miss Claudia left (one of the aides) until I asked Sydney where she was, and Sydney's reply to me was, "She's never coming back." When I heard her say this, lots of thoughts crossed my mind - how we (parents) had no notification of this, how utterly ridiculous the turnover has gotten, and just what is Sydney's understanding of "never coming back?" Does she think Miss Claudia died, or does she understand that she is just not working there anymore? I not only had no idea of the change, but I had no idea what, if anything, had been explained to the kids. With all this in mind, I wanted to make sure that Sydney understood that Miss Claudia didn't die (since my kids have way more personal experience with death than a lot of other kids their age), so I explained to Sydney that Miss Claudia is alive, she just isn't coming back to her job at this school.
At this point, the principal is near tears, which wasn't my intention, but at least she was listening.
I continued: Now that we have the permanent teacher and Mrs. S. in the classroom, Sydney hasn't been clinging to me as much, but I know that if there's another change - especially if Mrs. S. leaves- it's going to have another adverse effect on Sydney and I'll have to start from scratch prying her off my leg again, and I know she won't be the only one that will be affected. I understand there are budget issues, but even if Mrs. S. stays a couple of days a week, it's better than taking her away from the kids all together. At least until the end of the school year. The kids need some consistency and stability.
With all that, the principal said she would try re-working the numbers over the weekend, and lo and behold, they were able to come up with enough funds to keep Mrs. S. on three days a week!!
I only use my powers for good.
For more entertaining and inspirational posts about The Widow Card and the powers associated with it, check out this great source: Widow's Voice Blog
When I was growing up, my mom always dreaded the month of March. She told me nothing good ever happens that month. It started with her grandmother's death in March, then her mother, then her mother's sister (years apart, of course).
Fortunately, I never paid much attention to that, and March wasn't tainted for me. It's only recently that I've started to realize that March does seem to have a dark cloud over it. My good friend's wife died in late March, and soon as March 1st hit, I think of him, her, and the baby she left behind, and how difficult this month is for him. Our mutual friend's husband died that very same day, leaving her behind with two young children. March 4 was the 2nd anniversary of my friend Jeff's death, and he left behind a wife and three kids.
Last week, on March 6, at the age of 72, my godmother passed away. She was my mom's best friend for 43 years, and our families grew up together. She had seven children who all now have children of their own, and even some of those kids have kids. I so wanted to go back to Buffalo for them and for my mom, but the airfare and car rental for the kids and I would have totaled $3K (and that was the best deal I could find). My heart has been on that side of the country for the past week and a half. My godmother suffered - much more than she ever lead on, I'm sure. I don't like it that she's not here anymore, but I'm glad she's not suffering anymore, either. She's reunited with her husband, and probably having a beer with mine. My mom called me from the funeral brunch, which was taking place at the same location where Matt and I had our wedding reception. For that reason alone, I'm relieved that we didn't go - I could not have handled that.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Seeing as how I'm a week late with updating everyone on the status of the contest, your best bet for timely Soaring Spirits updates is to sign up to receive the monthly newsletter, Hope Matters, via email. Here is a brief excerpt from the most recent newsletter which was emailed March 3:
Thank YOU for your support!
Special thanks to the many friends of SSLF for your amazing support of Soaring Spirits effort to win a $5000 grant in a contest hosted by the Great Non-profits website. We are humbled by your reviews, and honored by the opportunity to be a part of your grief recovery journey.
We received over 200 reviews! Though we didn't win the grant, we did appreciate each and every effort made to help us along the way. You can read some of those reviews HERE to get a sense of how SSLF is impacting the lives of people all over the world. Thank you again for your help in our efforts!
Monday, February 28, 2011
Even though the contest for the grant is over (as of midnight PST, I'm guessing!), if anyone is still compelled to write a review, please feel free - it's so nice to hear how the organization helps to shine a light during some of the darkest times.
Michele Neff Hernandez and I have been working our tails off to get the word out about the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation so that it's less likely that someone going through the devastating loss of losing their spouse will feel alone in their journey. One of the things we're doing is calling every Hospice office in the country - yes - every single one (956 to be exact) - to verify names and addresses so we can send them brochures about SSLF and Camp Widow. The mailing alone is going to be expensive. Our long term goal is to be able to sponsor anyone who needs to go to Camp Widow who can't afford it. That's way trickier, but either way, there is a LOT we can do with the $5,000 grant we're hoping to win from Great*Nonprofits.
Please help Soaring Spirits win this grant by taking five minutes to write a brief review (http://www.greatnonprofits.org/reviews/profile2/soaring-spirits-loss-foundation-inc) about how you have witnessed how much the organization has helped me (and still is) since Matt's death, and how they've helped anyone else you know, or how they may have helped you.
Today is the actual deadline, so please don't hesitate. Thank you so much for doing this, and for all the support you give and have given (seen/unseen, heard/unheard). Every bit of it helps! Really!!
PS - If you already did this, THANK YOU!!! =)
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Jacob: "Momma, I hope you're still alive when I'm a grown up."
Me: "I'm gonna do my very best, sweetie."
Jacob: "Mommy, when I grow up and build my house and have all my furniture in it and babies, I wanna go here (pointing to Mekong River, Thailand on the map in his Animal Planet magazine) and see the giant stingrays."
Sydney: "Jacob claused it."
Me: "You mean 'paused'?"
Sydney: "No - it's not 'paused,' it's 'CLAUSED!'" (When talking about the movie that Jacob PAUSED to go potty.)
Sydney: "I had my tonsils out, and I can't breathe through my nose STILL!" (She's got a runny nose that she refuses to blow.)
Sydney: "I wish I could have my daddy back." Her wish when blowing on a dandelion.
Sydney: Helicopter is "Helidoctor"
Sydney to Jacob: "You need dad and I need mom."
When I was giving Sydney her bath today, I noticed she's got dark hairs growing out of the birthmark on the back of her leg... She asked me what I was looking at and I told her, and she grabbed her leg to look and said, "What da HECK?"
Jacob: "I don't want you to die." "Mommy, as soon as you die is as soon as I wanna die."
Me: "We're all going to die someday - some just die sooner than others. If I die before you, I would want you to live. You have a lot of important things you need to do in your life. I think I'll be alive for a long time, though, so you don't need to worry, sweetie!" Such a heavy thing for a six year old to ponder.
Sydney: "When can we have a baby?"
Me: =0 (she's asked this several times - I keep telling her not to hold her breath. She wants a little sister in a bad way.)
Jacob: "I love you more than trains..."
Jacob: "Momma, I have a question for you." - this is his opening line every time he asks me something.
Jacob to Sydney: "I miss you when we're not together."
Sydney: "Mommy, zero is not good."Me: "Why?"Sydney: "Because it's not a winning number."
Jacob to Sydney: "Sydney, you know how to say 'What the heck' in Spanish? 'What the heckA'!"
Jacob: "Hey Mom! When I wake up in the morning, you know what's gonna be on my face?" Me: "What?" Jacob: "A smile." - This is what he said after I tucked him in the night I set up the plywood on his train table so his Hogwarts Express train could fit on it...
"Santa's not a baby, he's a big boy!" - What Sydney said after hearing the Santa Baby song...
Sydney calls Marmaduke "Marmadude"
Sydney's taking a bath w/a barbie. She's pretending the doll is a mermaid with a tail and "ribbons." She proceeds to go into a long schpeel, including telling me the doll has ribbons like I do, and that I can ask Santa for more ribbons. I'm stumped because the doll is naked. "Sydney, where are her ribbons?" Sydney proceeds to point to the doll's boobies.
Gotta remember this stuff............
Friday, February 18, 2011
Please help the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation win a $5,000 grant from Great*Nonprofits by taking five minutes to write a brief review about how you have witnessed how much SSLF has helped me since Matt's death, and how they've helped anyone else you know, or how they've helped you.
They need only need 135 more reviews to win this -what an opportunity!! Thank you so much for your help with this, and for all the support you give and have given (seen/unseen, heard/unheard). Every bit of it helps!
PS - Almost forgot - the deadline for this is February 22!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
It was dreary - cloudy, cold and raining (I've become quite spoiled with the beautiful Southern California weather), and after dropping the kids off at school, I had to go to a doctor's appointment. Californians make such a huge freaking deal out of the rain. It took an hour to go ten miles on the freeway because everyone was crawling. Sitting in the van gave me too much time to think, and all I could think about was Matt, Jacob's grief, my grief, how for the first time I'm actually thankful that Sydney doesn't remember him just so she doesn't have to mourn his loss, and on and on. The van is a good place to cry with no witnesses. When I finally got to the appointment, all I heard in the waiting room were the news reports all about the rain. Well, I suppose there's nothing else to report on for the weather out here....
I parked across the street from Kaiser in a parking lot for a plaza. There were signs that indicated that Kaiser patients are not to park there, but you could park there if you are a customer of the plaza. Since I planned on becoming a customer as soon as I was done with my appointment, I left the van there.
Had my allergy testing done, discovered I'm allergic to grasses, some trees and dust, and headed back to the parking lot. Van was still there, and I headed into Payless to look at some shoes for the kids, but the awful Mexican music forced me out sooner - couldn't find anything, anyway. I was going to head to lunch at Fat Burger, also within the plaza, when I discovered that in the five minutes I was in Payless, my van had been towed. Apparently, "they" saw me walk across the street to Kaiser, but didn't see me walk into Payless??? I think the part that made me the angriest about that whole ordeal is that the fact that they took away my ability to get to my kids.
Rather than relive the ridiculous sequence of events immediately following, I'll skip to the part where I called Carlos who came to my rescue and picked me up. His friend Chris, at that very same time, was finishing up fixing my computer, so after we picked up the van (which cost $200), we headed to Chris's house. Chris probably saved me that amount of money that I might have paid to take it to a computer store to have fixed, so I really shouldn't complain. I would have rather given it to him than a stupid towing company, though.
The three of us went to lunch, where I was able to get some food and relax for a bit before getting the kiddos from school. Good friends and good food saved the day. I was also relieved to have my babies in my arms after all that.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
That afternoon, I went to pick up Jacob from his after school program and a few of his friends were hanging out with him. He got more goodies for Valentines day, and I don't remember what brought up the topic, but one of his friends asked something like, "Is your dad coming? Why can't your dad come?" Jacob ignored the question and threw himself more into his goody bag, so I answered for him and told his friend that his dad can't come because he's not alive anymore. His friend said, "Oh, that's so sad."
That evening, it was bed time and I had tucked the kids in. I went to bed early, too, to put as fast of an end to that miserable day as I could, and a little while later I heard Jacob whimpering in his room. I went in there, and he was crying hard, but trying to be quiet about it. My poor little love. I asked him what's wrong, and he said, "I miss Daddy so much!" This is only the second or third time (that I know of) that he full-out cried about missing Matt.
There's nothing I can do to fix this for him. There's nothing anyone can do to fix this. So I held him tight and we cried ourselves to sleep.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The preschool situation is resolved for the remainder of the school year, Social Security is up to date, and all of my ducks are finally lining up. Even all the toys have been washed and de-germed, and I moved the kids into their own separate bedrooms. Since Jacob is in the smaller bedroom, I got him a bunk bed - he sleeps on the top bunk, and uses the lower bunk as a train table. He is in his glory! It took Sydney a little more time to adjust to not sharing the room with her big brother, but now she's cool with it. I ended up rearranging every room in the house, and organized the garage by assembling two large shelves that now hold ALL the storage bins, and even hung the bikes from the rafters. I'm even getting to the little things I'd been putting off like fixing broken toys and hanging hooks and pictures.
The kids had their tonsils and adenoids removed a couple of weeks ago (five days apart). There's already a remarkable difference in them!
Sydney had sleep apnea and snored like an old man, was a mouth breather even during the day (to the point that she had to chew with her mouth open so she could breathe while eating), choked on her food all the time because of that and the fact that her tonsils were so big that they were touching each other. Her poor little lips were always chapped and bleeding because they got dried out even worse at night, then she'd wake up crying and screaming because she stopped breathing (she could never get into a good, deep sleep), and her lips would split and bleed. She also had a chronic sore throat. The doctor that did her surgery said that her tonsils and adenoids were abnormally large and filled with puss. My poor baby girl was being poisoned by her own body.
Sydney now sleeps through the night peacefully (and quietly!), and wakes up happy and rested. She's in a better mood throughout the day (she was miserable and cranky so much before), and has way more energy. She's even eating better and speaking more clearly! I never would have thought that her speech could be affected so much from her ailments, but it was. She even looks better - her cheeks appear to have filled out a little, and her dark circles aren't as noticeable.
Sydney had her surgery first, and in the short five day span between her surgery and Jacob's, she was sleeping more quietly. It made Jacob's nighttime breathing much more noticeable. He was starting to have a slight bit of apnea, and snored louder than I thought. In his case, his tonsils and adenoids weren't as large as Sydney's, but his airway is more narrow. His tonsils and adenoids weren't filled with puss like Sydney's, either. I think Sydney may have been the carrier, and Jacob was getting sick from her most of the time (Sydney wasn't sick as often as Jacob somehow). He says he feels better now than he did before his surgery, too.
As a result, I'm also sleeping better! My house has never been this quiet at night, and I didn't realize how much my sleep was being affected by theirs.
I am so, so happy and relieved that this is behind us. The closer the scheduled dates got, the more nervous I was getting at the thought of my kids going under the knife. Now, maybe, we can be among the living again - getting together with friends, going places and doing more fun things, and enjoying better health!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Matt was at the bar with his back facing us. I could hear him talking to the bartender - something about grapes. It was so noisy in there that I couldn't really make out exactly what the conversation was about, but I could distinctly hear his voice.
I turned to Roy and said, "It's so nice to hear his voice again!" and he said, "What?" As I began to repeat myself, it occurred to me that he might not be able to hear Matt talking, and if I finished what I was saying, he'd probably think I was nuts. I carefully finished what I was saying since I was already halfway through saying it as all this was going through my head, and then Roy noticed Matt at the bar next to us. Roy and I looked at each other, and I could tell from the look on his face that he could see him, too! He was wearing his camo shorts and ratty Corporate Challenge tank. A sight for sore eyes!
After a few minutes, Roy got up and walked across the restaurant to where Ginny was sitting, sat down next to her and told her what was going on. The four of us walked out of the restaurant into a narrow hallway, and I just watched and listened as Matt talked, walked, moved, smiled...
Monday, January 17, 2011
For months, I have had intentions of posting about this on my blog, but have had a hell of a time finding the words. I wanted them to be perfect and to do this book and the Fazzolari family justice. In agonizing over just the right words, I didn't write any... SO, I'll let Jeff's little sister Carrie say it for me through her beautiful description on Cliff's blog.
To purchase the book, click here, and help Jeff's legacy of love and laughter live on.
PS - Check out this GREAT article, too!!