Sunday, May 6, 2012


Last week, I went to a $10,000 fundraiser at my work.  Truthfully, I had no intention of going but my parents bought a ticket to the raffle and since Michael is back working I figured I could spring for the $100 ticket with the hopes that I would win the $10,000 and build my emergency savings back up.  A girl can never be too safe, you know.

My parents and I drove together. Michael stayed home with the kiddos and enjoyed movies and nachos. I have to admit I had my typical lottery mindset.  I was already planning on calling home with the great news - should I put all of it in savings, should I buy the curtains I want from Ballard Designs, should I, should I, should I... my mind was racing with possibilities. Thankfully, my mind did not have to spin for long, my number was eliminated before I finalized my plans.

I am not even sure why, but on the way home, we started talking about my dad's religious upbringing. He was raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism when he married my mom.  Because I did not know, I asked if he was active as a Protestant. He told me my grandmother "Limbacher" taught Sunday School when he was growing up. I never knew that.  When I got home I spent all night wondering what else I did not know.

My "Limbacher" - the name I lovingly gave my grandmother when I was a little girl remained my name for her until she passed when I was 33.  In fact, I still refer to her as "Limbacher" and my kids know her by that name.

I know that she was a meticulous woman. Her craftsmanship was unbelievable.  She made me handmade doll house furniture when I was little.  She made her own daughter, my aunt, outfits with matching outfits for her doll.  She painted furniture that adorned her home.

My favorite thing she made was Ukrainian Eggs. She would hand-blow the eggs and then using hot wax and dye she would create intricate, authentic designs.  Her patience for crafts was obviously a bit stronger than mine. 

She displayed the eggs in her home in beautiful, crystal bowls.  She was not afraid that they were going to break.  She even talked about not worrying about it. She felt that they were meant to be out and enjoyed and if something happened so be it.

I am always afraid that things are going to break. Sometimes, I think, I do not even put things out so I will not have to worry about them breaking.  Seems a bit pathetic when I think about it.

When my grandfather died, we visited Limbacher at her home in upstate New York. As we were leaving, my aunt gave me a little round box. As we drove away, I open the box and inside was one of Limbacher's eggs.  I cried. I have never had the guts to display the egg. It has sat in the box in my jewelry drawer since I brought it home.  Every once in a while, I take a peek. I do not always peek, I simply feel comfort in knowing that it is there. 

After the night spent wondering about all the things I did not know about her life, I saw the box in my drawer and opened it.  It was broken.  I was a bit shocked and burst into tears. Not the gentle roll down the cheek kind of tears, but the ugly cry.  I could not even pull together why I was so upset.  My daughter saw me crying and reminded me that my parents had a bunch of her eggs at their house in the cartons....and then, to myself, I got even more sad. 

I did not even honor her.  She never would have kept the egg in her drawer.  She would have proudly displayed it. She would have shared it - she would not have been afraid that it would break.

I am not saying that she was without fear - In fact, I did not know her enough to even know that. But I know that fragility of these eggs did not scare her...and I know that fragility scares me.  I get anxious, sad, and worried that things will end - and maybe if I keep them in a safe, little box I will be spared.

But, as with the egg, even when things are kept safe and sound - life happens - and sometimes things break.  The memories do not break. Nothing changes to all that you know and do not know. 

I kept the egg. I took it out of the box.

I have slowly, but surely, started going through my house.  I have started unpacking the fragile - literally and figuratively.  I have started tossing the things that do not mean anything to me, to our family or to our journey.  I am taking the fragile head-on because it might be just a little bit easier to say good bye if I have enjoyed it along the way.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Love, Your 41-year old future self

Happy New Year! I have been quite absent from the blogging world...I dare to say this past year has been a bit stressful.  Sometimes when I am stressed it is easier for me to stay busy than to slow down and really focus on the worry. 2012 is my year to get back into my blog....

I watch the Today Show every day. I have watched it for as long as I can remember. It was a regular in my house growing up and to this day it is how I start my day - and thanks to my dvr - sometimes how I end it. 

Last week, on one particular segment, a question I have heard before was asked, "What would you tell your 16 year old self? " I have heard the question before.  I have heard about the book,  Dear Me, a compilation of heartfelt letters from celebrities answering and offering insight. 

I have never thought about my answer.  I have never read their answers.  But this time, I paused. 

I am not even sure why, but I have been focused on the question all week.  I found myself grabbing my notepad in my purse and scribbling things down.

It is a great question and a book I will definitely read...but not until I write my own in the spirit of the book and the question that has been pausing me all week, here goes....


Dear Me,

It is difficult to see it now, but you are on a journey.  There is no right or wrong course. In fact, you should be prepared to take turns along the way and change direction, when it feels right. You should begin to listen to YOU for the answer as to when it feels right, because only you will know.

You should not be afraid to ask for direction - there are people all around you who will come into your life for different reasons. Surround yourself with these people. Don't be afraid to learn the lessons they can teach.  They may be family, friends, bosses, teachers, doctors, and even your children. There are lessons in every situation and from everyone - Some positive and some negative.  They will all teach you - be open to hearing their voices. 

Be open and share - not just the proverbial toys in the sandbox - but yourself. You may be faced with challenges that don't seem fair...they may seem scary...they may rock you, but I bet if you are open about your experiences and challenges, you will help others and in doing so help yourself more than you will ever know.

It is important to plan, but it is more important to be prepared. There is no perfect.  You cannot even pretend to know the curves that may be thrown your way, but when you are true to yourself you will know how to handle them with grace.

Remember to laugh. Really laugh.

Remember to cry.

Remember to breathe and try not worry so much.  Try your hardest not to let "the worry about things that may never happen" derail you in your every day. More often than not, the worry is worse than the what if.

Remember to volunteer. It is important to give your time and energy to causes that are important to you.  Use your voice to make a difference. Admit when you make mistakes, and do not gloat when you are right. 

Take time to appreciate all that you have been given in life - and I am not talking about material things.  You are not entitled to anything.  Appreciate and show gratitude for it all.

And finally, remember to be in the present. Work hard at staying in the moment. Look people in the eyes and don't let distractions take you away from being right where you are. Because right where you are is right where you are supposed to be.


Your 41-year old future self


Friday, July 29, 2011

What's in a name?

I was a communications major in college - the public relations, writing, and marketing side of communications.  I was not very into the media side - however, I did take some classes in that arena. One of my favorite classes of all time was "Women in the Media." It is a class that I carry with me today. The messages were all about self respect, strength, and determination.  My professor's name was Madeline.  She was fantastic.  I remember her lessons and her teachings based on the curriculum, but it is the life lessons that get me still.

I remember one time I came into class and I bumped into the desk.  I said out loud to the student sitting beside me "I am so clutzy."  Class had not started and Maddie (as she was called) heard me.  She made her way over and said "I heard what you said - you should never talk negative about yourself, you should always be strong and never put yourself down" What a moment.  I do not think I ever heard those words so directly. I still hold them close when I think something negative. When I think I cannot do something.  What would she tell student Jenni.

I think a good part of my love for the name Madeline came from my professor. Her strength and her ability to share her strength really struck a chord with me.

Fast forward many years.  I found out I was having a daughter and I could only focus on the name Madeline. I did not even entertain any other possibilities.  I did not even think for a moment that my husband would not go along. I would have a Madeline.

About a year ago my Madeline and I were talking about names. I told her the story of my professor Madeline and how strong she was - and how she taught me about strength.

This evening Maddie and I were cleaning up her room and hanging up her clothes.  I am getting her used to hanging up her clothes and taking care of her room.  It was a nice time - not fun cleaning, of course - but in sharing some fairly quiet time with her. 

Out of the blue she said "I know why you named me Madeline"

I said "Why is that?"

And then she said - with full conviction "Because it is a name that girls with courage have - and you knew I would be able to handle any troubles that came my way. Remember your teacher in school."

Boy, do I ever. Sometimes I have to be reminded that my Madeline is only 7. She is full of spirit and determination. She does not often take no. She puts me to the test - every day. But it is in the quiet moments - that don't happen often - that she opens me up to her soul - and for that I am grateful.

recent photo that was in the local newspaper
love the no shoes and shorts??!!
too much fun in the playground!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Entitlement...Get Over It!

I am blogging again.  I have to admit I took a break for the last two months.  It is not as if I really wanted to - I just couldn't get it together.  I would start to write and I would be blocked.  Rather funny since I write at work most of the day.

It finally hit me today.  I was sitting down on the couch with our kitten in my lap relaxing.  My mom took the kids as I have been having some problems with my MS in my eye and she wanted to give me a few hours to myself.  I was thinking of a conversation I had recently and how I was complaining that it felt like the universe was colliding with me.  My boss, a priest, said maybe it is.  I was a little stunned and a touch annoyed.  I never thought of that.  And I did not even process the thought until this afternoon.

Here I am worried and complaining to myself about my husband being laid off from work over a year ago, how worried I am that we are going to go through all of the emergency savings, how tired I am, how much I have to do for the PSO, how scared I get when my MS acts up and I lose some vision, how our renovations seem like they will never be done, how I don't have time to do the creative things I goes on.

I even confessed I am a little mad at God.  And then it hit me.  Why do I think I am entitled to have everything work out the way I think it should work out?

Here I am praying each day for strength and yet I still need to be in control. I am trying to hold it all together, and all the while the outside me is so positive but the inside feels like an egg about to drop. Why can't I let go and believe that there is another plan? Maybe the next steps will be as good if not better than the old steps. I guess that is what faith is - and it just took me a while to get the message.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nothing Strange....

Mom and Rosemary - (not on Black Friday!)

Before today, I thought there were two types of people.  Those who like shopping Black Friday and those who don't.  I did not dawn on me that there was a third category.

There is. I hate to put myself in a group - but as the expression goes "if the shoe fits...."

There is the category of people who like Black Friday, leave the house at 11 to meet their best friends and get to the store by midnight only to find that the store does not open until 4 am. Who knew?

Best friends + comedy of errors = great time.  So, we spent four hours in the middle of the night in the rain sitting in the parking lot of Target drinking coffee that took us an hour to get at McDonalds.

What's strange about that? Nothing strange to me. Not when you laugh until your sides hurt.  Not when you are grateful for friends and friendships that pick up where they left off - like there has never been a day apart. Nothing strange when you realize that you don't even care if you get the door buster but simply enjoy just being with your mom and your close friends.  There is nothing better than wrapping up my favorite day of the year with an all-nighter with best friends.

And to keep it all going we woke up today and did it again.  Well, not the midnight run and the parking lot hangout, but a trip to CTS and a lunch full of laughs to fill our soul until we all get together again. I am grateful.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Maddie the Dino - A last minute switch from Pebbles!

Michael the "Skeleton Robber" this is the back of the costume!
So funny when he ran!!!

It has been a busy couple of weeks - between birthdays, Halloween, cousins, and everyday life, I have been going 'round the clock.  I know this is the reality for so many families - that is not lost on me.  I am a gal who needs down time.  I need to be able to connect with a book, a project, even a tv show to decompress.  I guess it is the connection that I crave. 

This week I certainly got the connection I needed. 

I am a touch of a pack rat. Kinda. I have always saved "things" that are important to me.  Growing up I had a lot of Ginny Dolls.  As an only child, I remember playing with them for hours on end. My mom would take me to The Granite, the local five and dime at the time, to buy outfits for the dolls.  I loved dressing the dolls in the outfits and sorting the clothes. 

It comes as no surprise that I saved these dolls.  I have been waiting for the "right" time to pass these dolls on to my daughter.  This weekend, as I packed away the Halloween decorations and costumes I can't bear to say good-bye to, I pulled down the dolls. 

I think I was even more excited than my daughter but, according to her it was "the best day of her life!"

I also pulled down my dollhouse stuff.  I have a whole bin full of doll house furniture and accessories.  It is hard to put into words all that this bin means to me - then and now. 

As a little girl my dad made me a doll house - and my grandparents, Limbacher and Grandfather made me furniture.  Not just basic furniture - deluxe furniture.

It is difficult to explain without seeing the furniture first-hand or without you knowing my grandmother but I will try to put it in words.  My grandmother, who I lovingly referred to as Limbacher, was meticulous.  Her craftsmanship was exceptional. She made beautiful Ukrainian Easter Eggs, delicious food, doll clothes, and doll furniture just to name a few of her talents I treasure. 

The doll furniture includes couches, chairs, ottomans, tables, a hand-painted chest with my initials, and a red velvet chaise lounge.  With grandfather, she built hutches and bureaus.  I always knew how amazing it was. But when I opened the box as a grown up, I was blown away by the true labor of love that stood before me.

I shared it with my kids - both son and daughter alike took joy in opening the box.  I had enough to not only fill several houses, but a general store.  When I used to visit my grandparents in New York, my favorite spot to shop was the general store. It was only fitting that I asked my Dad to make me a general store.  I have shelves, a pint size cash register and general store goodies to make the experience genuine.

Through it all, all I could think of was Limbacher. I wondered what she was thinking when she made the furniture. I wondered if she ever thought when she was making the furniture for me if I would save it for my kids to enjoy one day.  I wondered if she ever had her own doll house when she was younger. 

I stopped wondering and starting wishing. Wishing I could tell her how much I had played with the furniture and that I saved it all these years.  But mostly, wishing that I could tell her all about my kids and how much joy they are having playing with the furniture.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


In honor of me today, since it is my birthday, I thought I would post a picture of one of my favorite days at one of my favorite places.  During the summer, we frequent a beach with dear friends. "Float Around Beach" is hands down one of my favorite places The current is such that you start at one point of the large ocean circle and literally float around the entire area.  It is difficult to explain.  It is easier to let go and float. 

I have floated around this location many times.  Sometimes we use boogie boards. Our kids use life jackets. Both grown ups and kids float. Often over and over. "Ready for a float around?" Music to my ears.

In this particular picture, on this particular day, I learned to let go.  Seriously let go.  I can honestly say in all of my days I have never felt so free. It is hard to see, but if you look close you can see I am in full float. I felt as carefree as I look. I could hear the water rushing by and feel it moving my body around. I was not even sure of the direction I was heading. And not even caring.

I think it is a good lesson for me.  Not the not caring part...but the part about not being worried about the direction I was heading.  Sometimes I get caught up in the direction I am going. As long as I am moving forward, I need to let go.

I turned 40 today. I have to say I know it is a hard birthday for some people.  It is not difficult for me.  I don't want to get all MS here, but it is an issue. Fourteen years ago when I was diagnosed with MS, I would not even let myself envision what today would look like. I did not know what tricks my body would pull.  My visions of MS were "old school" - they were worst case scenario Polaroids developing before my eyes.

I am not those Polaroids.  I am strong, positive, and fortunate.  And this is not to say I am without problems. I am. But it is not how I choose to look at it.

I mustered up the strength without breaking down to explain to my husband this morning. That I do not need anything for my birthday - I really do indeed have all that I need.

Some of my girlfriends took me to a wonderful lunch today.  I was truly surprised by it all. I was overwhelmed by their generosity.  Each of these women are so different, but we share so much of the same.  They are "islanders"  If I was to be stuck on a desert island - they are people I would want beside me.  They give to their families, their community, their friends.  They inspire me to be a better person. To listen more. To share more.  I am fortunate that they shared today with me. And in the spirit of not being worried about the direction I am heading, I can honestly say that today I am heading down the right path.