Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Someone Special

The intense feeling of longing that's present when you miss someone is something I've become very accustomed to. I can honestly say I've felt some measure of it every day for the last year and a half.  I never thought there would come a time when I'd desperately long to hang out with my little brother.   Guess you take the simple pleasures in life for granted until they are beyond your reach.  I've missed him a lot since I left, but on this day more than most for some reason.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Celebrating Life and Love

October 2nd is a special day for our family.  It is a day in which we celebrate life and love.

On October 2, 1915, in Matanzas, Cuba, a beautiful blue-eyed girl was born, the third child of what would soon be a family of five children. Her parents named her Angela.  When Angela was 21, she gave birth to a little girl she named Eloisa.  Eloisa grew into a lovely young woman and had two sons of her own, Miguel and Hiram.  When the boys were 7/8 yrs old, Eloisa moved them and her mother Angela to the United States.  The boys grew up in northern New Jersey.  On October 2, 1977, the two handsome young men married two special young ladies, Esther and Noemi.  Hiram and Noemi had three children of their own. Well, this is where I come in.  I happen to be one of those three children.  So yes, this past Sunday, October 2nd, we celebrated my great grandmother's 96th birthday and my parents 34th wedding anniversary.  Pretty special huh?

Here's a picture of my parents on their wedding day. 

Wasn't she lovely?  And that stud beside her...what a looker!

34 years later.  Still going strong.

 Three grown children

 Six precious grandchildren

Congratulations Mom and Dad!

Here are a few pictures of my beautiful Abuelita Angela, surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren.  I love her dearly and am very blessed to have her near. (She lives five miles away and comes to stay at our house every weekend Fri-Sun.)

  My little girl kissing her great great grandma

Here she is with all three of my children

Four generations of women, my great grandmother Angela, my grandmother Eloisa, myself and my daughter.  (Technically, my daughter is fifth generation.)

 My beautiful granny

Some of Abuelita Angela's family.  Top Row Left to Right:  Her oldest daughter Eloisa, two granddaughters (Julia's daughters), nephew.  Bottom row:  I'm the one on her left and her youngest daughter Julia is on her right.

A few of the great grandchildren and great great grandchildren

Yes, October 2nd is truly a special day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Birthday Princess

On a day like today, four years ago, our family was blessed with a precious gift.

She has captivated our hearts with her sweet smile.

She has filled our home with laughter.

She has astounded us with her beauty.

She has ignited us with her passion for life.

She is the love of mommy's heart.

Happy Birthday baby girl.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pinteresting Kitchens

My sister, over at The Pear Tree Cottage, has announced that she and her husband will soon begin their kitchen remodel.  Right now, they are totally digging the farm house sink with butcher block counter tops combo.  This brought to my mind the many beautiful kitchens I've pinned on my "Kitchens" board lately.  (For those of you not yet familiar with Pinterest, read all about it here.) 

Source: bhg.com via Stacy on Pinterest

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Something I Can Do

A few nights ago, I had an encounter that shook me to the core.  It was late, raining, and the streets were deserted. My husband, cousin, and I were driving home from dinner at a friend's house when we came upon a man and woman fighting.  The fighting had begun in their car and continued out on the sidewalk.  As they shouted, hit, and wrestled one another, a little girl of about 9 years of age struggled to separate them.  She was screaming at the top of her lungs and sobbing uncontrollably, first pushing one adult and then pulling the other.  Her clothes was soaking wet and she shook all over.  We immediately shone our lights on the pair and honked the car horn repeatedly. Startled, the man ran, and the woman began to chase him, crossing the four-laned street in her pursuit.  The little girl stood screaming in the middle of the road, still begging the the two to stop.  As my husband called the police, my cousin and I got out of the car and ran to the child, who'd returned to the sidewalk and collapsed onto the wet concrete.  I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly, whispering words of comfort.  At first her little body was tense and rigid, but as she felt the warmth of my embrace and heard my soothing words, I felt her go limp against my chest.  When the police arrived,  they followed in the direction that the man and woman had gone.  I was still holding the child when an officer returned with the child's mother.  Reluctantly, I relinquished her and watched as she and her mother climbed back into their car and drove away.  At that moment, I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of futility. I wanted to do so much more than just whisper empty words of reassurance.  I wanted to do so much more.  I wanted to help make things OK for her, to be part of the solution.  I wanted to make a real difference in her life.  Instead, all I could do was watch the car drive away.

When I got home, I went straight to where my children lay sleeping.  They slept peacefully, nestled in bed, without a care in the world.  My heart felt heavy as I thought of the little shivering bundle I'd held in my arms only minutes before and I cried for her.  She deserves to feel safe, to rest peacefully at night, to have a childhood free of worry, anxiety and fear. 

My sweet little girl

I'd heard stories about domestic abuse and seen it reenacted in shows and movies, but it had never hit home for me until that night.  The harsh and gut-wrenching reality is that there are thousands of children living in an endless nightmare of violence and abuse. The events of that night opened my eyes to a world of pain that lies hidden behind a semblance of normalcy.  I did some research and discovered staggering statistics about domestic violence and abuse in the state of New Jersey.  The most recent report I could find was for the year 2009 in which 73,709 domestic violence offenses were reported.  In 19,940 of those cases there were children present.  Sadder still is the statistic that 30% to 60% of perpetrators who abuse spouses/intimate partners also abuse children in the household.  Remember, these numbers represent occurrences in the state of New Jersey alone.   I know it is impossible to eradicate pain and suffering from every home, for every child.  I know that no matter how many children I help,  there are still going to be thousands of others that no one will ever reach.  But I also know that if I do nothing, the one child that I could have helped will continue to suffer, and I will be responsible.  I have made inquires and hope to soon begin volunteering my time to Shelter Our Sisters, a place where not only women, but also their children, can go to find help and refuge from violent situations. 

As odd as it may sound, I felt compelled to share this story with you because I want my voice to speak for her.  We shop, go to school, go to work and ride the bus with silent victims every day. We live in complacent ignorance of the horrors that they'll have to face when they get home.  It is the children that are the most vulnerable and that pay the steepest price.  Please, take some time today to think of what you can do to help. 

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
Helen Keller

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guess What?!

I'm being featured over at Remodelaholic today!  I am beyond honored and so thrilled!  Cassity has been so sweet and I've truly enjoyed getting to know her a bit more via email.   If you've never visited her blog, you're in for quite a treat.  Click on over there and check it out!  If you've come over from Remodelaholic and are visiting for the first time, welcome! 

I've been M.I.A. for a few weeks, busily enjoying every minute of this beautiful summer weather with my family, making memories that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Perfect Day

Some might say that the perfect day is one in which something spectacular happens.  Maybe you spend the day in some exotic place or you shake hands with someone famous that you greatly admire.  Maybe you eat some exquisite cuisine prepared by a world renowned chef,  get invited to a party for the elite,  or see a moving live performance.   My idea of the perfect day may sound quite ordinary to some, but I've learned that the greatest, most precious moments in life happen on ordinary days,  in ordinary places.

The perfect day for me begins with a sweet, wet kiss and an "I love you momma". A tiny little body crawling into my bed, wrapping pudgy little arms around my neck.    On the perfect day, I open  my eyes to the loving gaze of an amazing man whom I greatly respect.  Such a day is filled with the excited giggles of my little ones and the flirtatious teasing of my lover and my friend.   There is no need to go far to have a fabulous time.  All it takes is a trip to the neighborhood park, to the local restaurant, to the corner ice cream shop;  holding hands, telling jokes, laughing till our sides hurt,  sharing stories,  exploring,  learning, and loving. It doesn't require weeks of planning, traveling long distances, or  hundreds of dollars.   In summery, the perfect day for me is spent enjoying precious moments with those I love the most.

Yesterday was the perfect day;  a day spent romping around a nearby park, exploring and enjoying nature.  Then eating pizza at our favorite local restaurant and finally, arriving home to crawl under the covers for bedtime stories.  Yes,  there was a scrapped knee, some whining and many potty breaks, but those too are ingredients of my perfect day.  Kissing a boo-boo and wiping a tear, teaching independence and easing their fears,  how sweet it is. 

It borders the Hudson River, with a view of New York
and the George Washington Bridge.

 Beautiful winding road

Beneath the George Washington Bridge

 Steep wall of rock

Shots of the George Washington Bridge taken from the park

Huge fallen tree kept from falling down the mountain side by another slender tree

 Taking a stroll towards Ross Dock

 Long climb up Carpenters Trail

 Up steps, through tunnels, and up more steps

 Breathtaking view from the top


 Waiting out the rain under the trees

 Beautiful rainbow after the downpour

Bike riding in a large empty parking lot

 Yummy Cugino's Pizza

 Mmm-mmm good!

Lovin' mommy and daddy's comfy bed for story time

What is your idea of a perfect day?