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Archive for the ‘memories’ Category

Stars.

My best friend Bernadette believes in stars. Stars bring comfort and light. Stars reflect earth’s dreams. Stars are God’s promise of morning.

And stars are reminders that her dad is watching and guiding from heaven.

Tonight, there is a star-garden filling the entire universe. Twinkling stars. Diamond stars. Wishing stars. And angel stars… stars with bright and beautiful wings that dance across the night sky.

I know that one of these angel stars is Caroline Patricia, who with her great-grandpa keeps perfect time in the evening dance of miracles.

Caroline is Bernadette’s granddaughter. Caroline was born a baby angel on June 14th, and she was laid to rest today. The love for sweet baby Caroline is beyond words. Greater than time and eternity. Infinite in its power.

The grief, the sorrow, the sadness, the pain in losing Caroline is unspeakable… unbearable.

Broken hearts. Questions. Faith. Searching for the eternal. Knowledge of God and God’s purpose.

And the love. The running, leaping, jumping, flying love for a little girl who danced inside her mommy all through the fall and winter and spring… right to the entrance of summer. The little girl who commuted to Boston by train with her mommy each morning and evening. The little girl who listened to her mommy and daddy and grandparents cheer on their beloved Providence College Friars at each home game. The little girl who would be welcomed with unrestrained joy and happiness.

It seemed that the world had come to an end.

This morning, the rising scent of summer flowers was sweet. The earliest birds delighted waiting branches. Dew glistened as the sun swelled in the sky.

God promised that the world would continue turning. I know this because the day turned into night.

And the stars began to dance.

The night sky is a celebration of promises. Especially now… with heaven’s newest angel, with her bright and beautiful wings, dancing in the night sky in the arms of her loving great-grandpa.

Caroline. Darling sweet baby Caroline. Your dance is dreams remembered and your light is the pure flame of life.

A diamond in the sky. An angel star.

A miracle.

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PR guru and all-around cool guy Peter Shankman wrote a post yesterday in which he gave advice to this year’s graduating class. And it got me thinking about my own experience as a high school graduate 10 years ago. Ten years ago TODAY, to be exact.

Wow. Ten years. Exactly 10 years ago today I said goodbye to the first (and most lengthy) phase of my education, grades K-12, high school diploma in hand.

And boy, was I ready to get out of there.

I thought about the future then, but on a much more short-term scale. At the time, graduating from college seemed light years away. Getting married, buying not one, but two houses, starting (and sticking to) a career… these things weren’t even on the radar.

And yet, these are some of the significant, life-changing things that these past ten years have brought.

It’s amazing how quickly time passes when you’re busy living life.

The high school years were not the best years of my life. At some points, they were downright horrible. Even back then, I remember thinking , “It has to get better than this.” Once I had that diploma in hand, I was ready to begin the next chapter of my life, leaving the rest behind. And I did.

I went off to college. I took 2 years off in between my sophomore and junior years. I transferred to Brown. I became an aunt. I became a first-time dog mom. I started dating the man who would become my husband. I graduated from college. I started my first real job. I bought my first house. I got married. I bought my second house. I helped start a company, Pinks & Blues and have watched it grow… so much so that we’re renaming and rebranding it as Mom Generations (like, soon!). I started a new job as the Social Media Manager at Mom Central.

All of these things – college, career, marriage, family – they were floating in my mind 10 years ago today as part of the future… but the way that they would be concretely reached within the decade could not have been determined. And I kind of like it that way.

Regrets? I don’t believe in them. Sure, sometimes I wonder how things would have turned out if I had done something differently. But there is no other place I would rather be in my life right now, so somehow everything turned out as it was supposed to.

In many ways, I am the same girl I was back on June 11, 1998. But time and experience has made me a bit more sure of myself. A bit more confident. A bit more assertive.

There are some things about that girl that I have held on to. Her penchant to root for the underdog. Her empathy for others.

Her excitement about the blank slate known as the future, just waiting to be filled with experience.

I didn’t attend my 10 year reunion last month. I felt no need to relive that uncertainty and insecurity that 10 years has taken me to the other side of. If someone had told me then that 10 years from now, things would be better, things would work out, things would be good (actually, maybe my parents did tell me that…!), I may not have completely believed them (or been listening).

But I do now. Because now I know.

- Jane


My senior portrait

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Yesterday was William’s last day of preschool.

He made it. He made it through his first year… !

Last year around this time I knew William needed something. I wasn’t sure what that “something” was, but I knew it had to do with being around other children, and not just his younger brothers! :)

My husband thought we should look into preschools… maybe just a 2 or 3 days-a-week thing. So we did. We started to make some calls. The first school we looked at – we just knew. This is IT! This is where we want William going to preschool. The classroom was beautifully decorated. The teachers had been there for years and years. The projects that the kids did were amazing. And most of all, it just looked FUN!

Only problem… all the 2 and 3 days-a-week program slots were full. The only slots that were open were the 5-day morning or afternoon programs.

I remember thinking… “Would this be too much for him? He’s never been away from Matt and I, plus he would only just be turning 3…” I had a few sleepless nights (literally) about this decision because well, William is my FIRST child… and you know how it is with your FIRST. You don’t have any idea – everything is based on heart and gut.

And that’s just what we relied on – our hearts and our guts… and we enrolled him in the morning 5-day program.

It was the BEST decision we ever made. I felt that wonderful feeling the first day of school as we dropped William off (even through “hysterical” tears on my part once back in my car). And I said this to my husband last night after we tucked William into bed (again, through a river of tears!).

But these “hysterical” tears are tears of joy and delight and amazement.

I can’t thank his teachers enough for their love, patience, passion for teaching, humor and kindness. They took a boy… my little boy… and gave him a true love of learning. They sparked a love of “school” in my son… something that you want your child to have, but you just hope and pray that their first school experience will be the first step in that design.

Each Monday, I would get the “curriculum” for the week. There was always a weekly theme… and each day there were different activities that would go along with that particular theme. And in addition, there was a swim day. A kids gym day. Even a singing day.

Every single day for William was 2 1/2 hours of fun. Not only with his teachers and their assignments, but with his friends. And that’s how it should be.

As I smiled through my tears yesterday at my last pick-up before summer vacation… I had all the other mothers there with me. Some with the same tears. Some with smiles telling me, “Ahh… wait until kindergarten!” Even some grandmothers… “Oh, just wait until college and then when they move out and are on their own! You want tears!?”…

And it made me feel good. This is what it’s all about. These moments in life. These times that we will always remember and know that we aren’t alone on this motherhood journey.

I even had a good laugh last night with my husband as he told me… “I just hope they are ready for 2 of our boys together in the same class next year!”

Oh, yeah… start preparing yourself now for William AND Alexander! The adventure will continue…

- Audrey

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Swish, Sweep & Grin

I still remember the day that Audrey and Jane got back into my car after picking up a couple of hot dogs at our local hot weiner joint… and Jane said, “Grin gave us two extra ones.”

Without batting an eye, Audrey added, “Grin knows you love the ones with extra onions.”

OK. Two extras were good. I guess.

I do love extra onions.

But… who (or what) was Grin?

Grin? Oh, he was the guy who didn’t talk much. But he always had a great big smile.

When I finally realized that Jane and Audrey had nicknamed this hot weiner worker based on his, well… GRIN, I couldn’t help laughing out loud.

There was no malice. No libel. Nothing disparaging or malevolent.

It was simply an observation.

Of course, I had to explain that although it was true that the nice man did GRIN, it certainly would not be necessary to call him that outside of our car. Or home. And certainly not at the hot weiner joint.

But my initial laughter at the appointed nickname did create an avalanche of sorts that did not stop at Grin, and that has continued to this day.

We’ve had Swish… the ever-efficient woman at the Dunkin’ Donuts counter who opened bags in such swift swish motions that she became known to us simply as “Swish.”

The frazzled lady at the ice cream shop who self-admittedly one day said (to Audrey and Jane) that she was a train wreck. OK. She became “Trainwreck” from then on.

Or the guy who meticulously swept his bagel shop around customers as they dropped anything… even morsels. How could they resist the name “Sweep?”

And how could I forget Shift. “Shift” worked at our neighborhood pharmacy… and I cannot recall her EVER not being there. On the job. Covering her never-ending Shift.

Then a kind-of really gross one. Shell Toes was the older (well, he was probably the age I am now) boyfriend of our next-door-neighbor. He had crusty, yellow, clam-like toenails, and he ALWAYS wore sandals. The nomiker “Shell Toes” was downright kind!

And due to that pesky little thing called genetics, this nickname thing has found its way to Audrey’s little guys. Yes, it happened today.

It was William’s last day of pre-school, and Audrey told him that he could pick out a special toy from Toys “R” Us to celebrate his wonderful first year. Once inside, William looked wide-eyed at all his choices, and finally settled on a Star Wars Light Saber. There was one left with a torn box, so William’s solution was to ask Fingers for one with a good box.

Fingers?

Seems that William had seen one of the stock-persons stocking the shelves.

And yes. He had the longest fingers that we had ever seen.

Oh, boy. History does repeat itself!

- Sharon

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Last night my husband and I took my mother-in-law out for dinner. This was not how the evening was supposed to go… but that’s what I love about life, because the night turned into a lovely golden thread of beautiful memories for all of us.

Actually, my mother-in-law was scheduled for surgery this morning but plans changed when she was diagnosed yesterday with an infection. With a round of antibiotics, the surgery will be on again, probably next week. But of course she was very nervous, then frustrated, so my husband and I eased her angst by taking her out for her favorite dinner at a little gem of a place here in Rhode Island. Yes, the Alaskan King Crab Legs, sweet potato, spinach, and tons of bread and buttah (as she calls it) were just what the doctor ordered, and soon she was cracking up with laughter at my husbands’s jokes and antics. He knows just how to make anyone, especially his mom, feel bettah.

My mother-in-law is 89 years old. She drinks beer. Tells jokes. And still bakes treats for her kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids. So I wasn’t surprised when she brought along a gift bag of her famous cinnamon twirls to drop off at Audrey’s home. Yes, she not only remembered Audrey’s birthday, but spent the day before her supposed-to-be surgery baking Audrey’s favorite cookies. She placed them into a Tupperware container that she remembered Audrey loving as a child, and birthday wrapped them in a beautiful presentation. But remember… this is all on top of being worried about the surgery that was canceled at the last minute.

But anyway… Flo got to talking about the baby shower that she “threw” for me when I was expecting Audrey, the shower that happened to be 30 years ago yesterday. Yes, the exact date as our little dinner last evening. She reminisced about what she baked that day, who was there, what I wore… and especially about how I carried things up and down the stairs that day as she warned me that I would be having that baby sooner than I should.

Well, she was correct. The shower was on May 21. Audrey was due June 26. I went into labor 30 years ago today, May 22.

I knew something was going on when I felt a whirlpool-like swish that woke me up from a sound sleep. I knew something was going on when I saw a little pinkish-ness on the morning toilet paper. So as soon as I arrived at school that morning (30 years ago today!), I rushed to our school nurse and told her of my “condition.” She smiled and said, “Honey, you’re in labor.”

“But I can’t be! The baby isn’t due for 5 more weeks!” I said. Well, cried.

So began my day. Me in total denial. But my denial was not something Audrey was considering, so at 10:00 am, as I stood up to teach a class, my water broke. I was so huge that I couldn’t see my legs and feet, so I asked my team-teacher if there was water… or blood… on the floor. She saw nothing, so I knew the liquid had to be clear. Thank God.

Thank God, too, that my husband and I taught at the same school, so I sent a student from my English department to the Math department to PLEASE get my husband.

My husband was there in a heartbeat and off we went to the hospital. I was admitted immediately. My husband made all the important calls. His mother said, “I told her not to be going up and down those stairs.” And we waited.

And waited.

But it seems that Audrey had changed her mind.

I had contractions all that day, 30 years ago today. But none so alarming that the baby seemed imminent.

At midnight my husband was sent home to rest up for the next day, when I would be induced further.

I remember staring at the night sky and the stars from my hospital window. I knew my little baby was a bit too early to be coming, but I prayed and prayed for a healthy baby. I thought of all the shower gifts that were piled into a corner of the un-prepared nursery. I thought of my dad who had died three years earlier, and who so wanted to be a grandpa. I knew he was smiling from above.

The next morning, May 23, was a spectacular warm and sunny May morning. And I labored that morning, that afternoon… until a cesarean delivery was “ordered.”

My husband was allowed into the delivery room with me… and I watched my husband’s eyes as he watched our baby be born into this glorious world. And at 5:53 pm our little girl made her beautiful appearance. She weighed 4 lbs. 9 oz. and measured 17 inches. She was the most beautiful baby. She was whisked away for all the necessary premie things… and I woke up a couple of hours later in recovery.

As I opened my eyes, our pediatrician was standing over my bed. He told me that my baby was perfect… and he wanted her name so the nurses could put it in big letters across her incubator.

That moment defined my baby girl. I had thought Allison Audrey was a lovely name. My husband LOVED Audrey Allison. And at that moment, I knew just how loving and special and perfect this daddy was for this perfect little baby girl.

I whispered, “Audrey Allison.”

Our Audrey Allison has always loved her name. And each time I say it, I think of my husband’s eyes as he watched her come into this world. His first daughter. His first little baby girl.

And I think of my mother-in-law… scolding me for walking up and down those steps on the day of my baby shower.

And guess what? She was still scolding me last night! Ah, yes… we had such a wonderful time talking and smiling and laughing and being scolded about those days when our precious little bundle of joy was making her way to us.

So Audrey… happy almost 30th. 30 years ago today I was thinking of my baby… you!

And thanks, Nana Flo… for all the wonderful memories of that special, special time.

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When my kids were young, my mother-in-law had a special cabinet in her home.

This cabinet was to the right of her oven, filled to the brim with every conceivable unbreakable child-mesmerizing item, and just big enough for a small child to climb into when empty.

But to eventually climb in… the contents had to be removed, of course. And it was in the removal of items that created most of the fun.

There were pots and pans and lids that caused lots of noise. There were wooden spoons to pound on the turned over pots and pans and lids. My father-in-law was a Big Band era drummer, so these sounds were, literally, music to my mother-in-law’s ears.

Then there were the Tupperware products. Colorful tumblers and containers of all sizes and shapes.

There were old place mats and cloth napkins. Salt and pepper shakers. And plastic utensils and plates. These were for the “dinners” that the kids would prepare.

And for the “restaurant” times, Nana had scraps of paper and crayons for “orders”… and even a calculator for check-out.

Then there was the jewelry. Magnificent “pearl” bracelets and necklaces. “Diamonds” and gems of all kinds.

Nana even had a couple of wigs in that special cabinet. Audrey and Jane were little blondies… and they thought it was so funny to become brunettes for the moment!

But then the empty cabinet. A cave. A tent. A tunnel. A tree hollow. A spaceship. Whatever and wherever an imagination could take them.

Little did I know then that Nana’s kitchen cabinet would become the keeper of so many memories.

Little did I know that some day I would have my own kitchen cabinet, filled with things to make noise and dinners and brunettes! I thank God that my mother-in-law, 89 and going strong, is here to see the memories of a new generation being formed in my kitchen cabinet to the right of my oven.

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I don’t know why I’m always so surprised… because my mom has bought me 3 special “coming home from the hospital outfits” for each of my 3 boys.

And her tradition continues with Henry.

With 5 weeks and counting… I was greeted this morning with the first gift of his coming home outfit. Talk about getting my heart pumping with excitement!

(Brown University is both Matt’s and my alma mater. And the place where we met on a beautiful October morning… making these pants even more special.)

There’s nothing I love more than crisp, summer whites! Henry is my first summer baby!

- Audrey

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An ode to my Mom

I always knew that I had a special relationship with my mom.

But it took me awhile longer to realize that not every daughter had a mother like mine.

I guess, when I was younger, I thought that all mothers were just like mine.

I thought that all mothers woke their daughters each morning with a loving kiss and a declaration that today would be a great day.

And that when their daughters would say, “Just let me sleep a few more minutes,” all mothers would gently tuck the covers back around their daughters and wish them sweet dreams during those extra minutes of sleep.

I thought that all mothers would stay up late with their daughters as they studied for a big test or finished a big term paper, checking in every once in awhile with snacks, cups of hot tea and encouraging words.

I thought that all mothers had the right words to say, at the right moments, whenever their daughters needed them. That all daughters saw their mothers as the first person to go to whenever they needed to be comforted.

I thought that all mothers and daughters laughed together and genuinely enjoyed each others’ company.

Because that is all I have ever known.

By the time I got to high school, and girls started to “hate” their mothers, it began to hit me that I had something with my mom that not many other people had.

My mom has always just been my best friend, even back in high school.

If I had a fight with a friend, or if I wasn’t invited to something that everyone else was invited to, or if a boy broke my heart, or if I needed to vent about a teacher or a coach, or if a friend put me in an awkward situation… she was always the first person I wanted to go to.

For her advice. For her words of wisdom. For her love.

She never tried to be that “cool mom” who wants to be best friends with her children because she’s trying to act like a teenager.

We never had fights, or didn’t talk to each other. I never told my mom I “hated” her.

My mom just is, and always has been, the first person I go to when I have news to share… good, bad, funny, interesting or otherwise. I genuinely enjoy my mother’s company, and her opinion and her approval mean so much to me.

When I have (human) children of my own someday, I will know I have had the best role model, who has tought me just what a mother should be.

And until then, I will continue trying to emulate the kind of wife, daughter – and woman – she is.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,
Janie

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We took the boys to Philadelphia this weekend. William is obsessed with anything and everything Star Wars. My husband read online that the Franklin Institute was holding a Star Wars Exhibit through the first week of May, so we decided to make a weekend out of it.

Oh, yes. William. Alexander. Benjamin. Pregnant me, all 7 months. And Daddy.

Quite the crew.

The Star Wars Exhibit was great. William loved it. Alexander loved it. And even Benjamin seemed to get a kick out of all the costumes.

After we were done at the Franklin Institute, Matt and I thought it would be cool to take the boys to see the Liberty Bell. And really any other historical landmarks I could physically walk to.

The Liberty Bell was all I could do. Not only was it tough chasing the 2 older guys around, it was an amazing 82 degrees! Just gorgeous.

After waiting in the 30 minute line to see the Liberty Bell, and taking the appropriate family photos in front of it (you know, with none of the boys looking in the direction of the camera at the same time!)… we decided to let the boys run around and let loose on the grass field in front of where the Liberty Bell is housed.

And that’s when it happened.

There was a group of about 50 tourists from Korea visiting the Liberty Bell when we were there. I could tell they were getting a kick out of our boys waiting in line and taking some photos in front of the bell. They were smiling and laughing at the antics that went into getting them to pose. (It’s never easy!)

So imagine our surprise as we were letting the boys run free on the grass and the whole group starting snapping photos and taking video footage of them and Benjamin, who was watching and laughing from his stroller.

Their translator approached me and told me that they thought the boys were adorable and they couldn’t get over their big blue eyes, and asked if my husband and I minded. I could that they were just getting a kick out of the boys (believe me, I would never allow anything that I didn’t feel comfortable with), so I said it was fine. After all, my boys seemed to rather like the attention! They even started playing “tag” for photogs. It was hilarious.

But it got even better. The boys eventually wanted some water, so we packed everything up and started walking… and they followed and kept snapping photos! Of ALL of us.

I heard one woman say to her her husband, “I wonder who that family is…”

Oh yes, “that family” was us.

And this continued until we came to a little cafe down the street. This is when we parted ways… my little family and the “papparazi.”

We even had another woman see what was going on and she started taking photos of us too, probably thinking… well, they have to be “somebody???”

I kept saying to Matt, “Oh my God, where are these photos going to turn up?”

At first it was funny… but then it got to be a bit too much. Especially for the kids. They are not used to having people in their faces with cameras like that. You know, besides Matt and I! :)

So Brad and Angelina… I feel for you. I do. I don’t know how you guys do it day in and day out. Hats off to you. Bravo.

Because as different as it was for us, and as crazy and as silly as it got, I knew that once we got away, that was it for my family.

So, the force was with us on Saturday, just a little bit of a different force than we thought! But it was all good… and quite filled with memories to last a lifetime.

- Audrey

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It’s interesting that Audrey, Jane and I never discuss our blog posts prior to posting them.

It’s not some Pinks & Blues policy…

I guess it’s just that we spend a great deal of time planning, organizing, researching, discussing, emailing, and meeting with so many people about our Pinks & Blues reviews, giveaways and features that, well, the blog part is the one very personal and special perspective that is all our own. Until it is posted, of course.

And just as I look forward to opening and reading so many fellow bloggers’ posts each day, I look forward to reading my daughters’ post too. I love reading blog posts. They are like personal letters from great friends. They give me eyes to see other horizons…

As Lord Chesterfield wrote, “Few men are of one plain, decided color; most are mixed, shaded, and blended; and vary as much from different situations, as changeable silks do from different lights.”

I see these different and beautiful shades and lights when I read my daughters’ posts…

So today I glimpsed at the “butterflies” of Audrey’s first spark of love with Matt. And now I will write about the unexpected love-at-first-sight possession that my husband had (and still has) on me from a hot summer day many, many years ago…

We were both teaching summer school. You know, the high school kids who didn’t quite accomplish what was supposed to happen all year and then are forced to come to this place each day for several weeks to learn the lessons during the hottest days of the year. Barry, my future husband, was (let’s just say it) my supervisor. It was my first real teaching job. I had heard wonderful things about this guy, but as of my first day of summer school, I hadn’t met him. I was told by many fellow teachers that Barry had an amazing way to connect with kids… primarily through sports.

But what I didn’t know was that he would be coming to summer school on that first morning wearing shorts.

So… as I waited in the very large cafeteria for my classroom assignment and then kids, I looked around nervously. I was fresh out of college. Most of these kids were bigger than me. None of them wanted to be there. And I began to think, “I don’t want to be here either…”

And then I saw them.

Legs. Well, not just legs. The most gorgeous hunk of legs that ever walked. I couldn’t see who was attached to these legs because a petition hid the upper part of the man. (I assumed they belonged to a man!)

I can’t get too descriptive here because I know my children will be reading this…

But my heart pounded as these legs took entire possession of me.

Within seconds, the man emerged from behind the half-petition, and ah… the upper half was conveniently just as perfect as the legs.

This was my summer school supervisor. This was the man with the amazing connection with kids, particularly kids in troubling situations. This was the man who would become my husband less than one year later… and the father of my children and grandfather of my 7, soon to be 9 grandchildren.

Audrey, thank you for your post today. Thank you for bringing my glorious first spark to life again.

And I would love to hear from the rest of you out there today! Make your own day by writing your first-spark story down and sharing it with the world! Sign Mr. Linky below if you decide to join in!

- Sharon

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