Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Jen, a friend and former teaching co-worker of mine had a piece she had written published in the Buffalo News (click here to read it). Her writing is very inspirational. Jen tells of her own breast cancer journey and wonderful blessing of early detection. So for Jen, I am doing what she asked in her writing, to "tell your mothers, sisters, co-workers and friends my story. "
By the way I am getting my "boobies checked" on November 13th. When is your appointment?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The weekend was a multi-purpose weekend. My siblings helped to empty out various items from my mom's home. (My mom passed away in May, only 18 days before leaving for Russia to adopt Madeline) Certainly, I am sure you can understand, even if you have never had to go through it, the emotional aspect of emptying your parents' home. Also, that weekend we held a service to put my Mom and Dad's cremains into their final resting place - again an emotional event. On the lighter side, my siblings and I attended a reunion for the grade school we all attended. It was so much fun to tour the old school (which has been closed for many years). It is fun to reminisce but sometimes nostalgia can be sad because it reminds us of something that has been lost forever.
Of course the baptism was an emotionally joyous occasion due to the Sacrament that Madeline was receiving. But again, the occasion was nostalgic because we had chosen to have Madeline baptized in my childhood parish, St. Gerard's, rather than my current parish because of the church's history. Not only was I baptized at St. Gerard's and it was my family's parish until 1988, but my grandfather and great uncle did much of the artwork inside of the church. But my greatest deciding factor to have the baptism there was that the church was to be closing at the end of the year (2007) as a result of the Buffalo Diocese's restructuring. This church, which was modeled after "St. Paul's Outside the Walls" in Rome, is so absolutely beautiful inside, but is now closed. There are, however, talks of moving the structure to Norcross, Georgia. At least, if that were to happen, the structure would find reuse as a house of worship as opposed to the inevitable decay as a vacant building on the East Side of Buffalo (but that is another story). Below are two photos of the interior of the church.Because the parish had only a few short months of existence left, my family was able to get a historic tour of the church after the baptismal mass. We were even allowed to take turns ringing the church bells on the church's massive bell tower. Afterward, we celebrated not only Madeline's baptism but also her 2nd birthday (1st with us) with a party at our house.
Despite the bitter-sweet events of the weekend, the "sweet" completely outweigh the "bitter". Despite the sadness that my mom was not there to witness this joyous occasion and the fact that a major transformation (motherhood) was occurring in the midst of mourning my mother, I know that I was being watched over by my mom and dad (and other angels). Look at the photos below. Check out the orb in the (top) photo with me, David and Madeline. In this picture, the three of us are standing in the room that used to be used for baptisms. This is the room where I was baptized. In the other photo (bottom) check out the jagged bird-shaped white figure that is hovering near me and Madeline as we ring the church's bell tower. There were several similar photos taken of various family members ringing the bells yet this is the only one that had such an image. Neither of these photos were altered in any way.
So, I am discussing this as Halloween is upon us. Eerie? Some might consider it to be. Yet, I find it comforting that we were being looked upon during such an important time. During a weekend that was filled with emotional ups and downs, we were not alone. Eerie? No! Instead, I would rather say hopeful.
Monday, October 27, 2008
While browsing one of the other mom blogs I read, I was humored to read her take on the "High School Musical 3" phenomena that has recently hit the movie theaters for hormonally crazed teeny-boppers. My friends' daughters are all about Troy (Zac Efron) and I would quietly snicker to myself and roll my eyes as the girls get absolutely giddy at the mere mention of his name. A few years ago, I was teaching 5th grade and the students were all abuzz about the 1st HSM. In fact, my class would try to act out scenes from the first movie during their recess periods.
While reading Army of Mom's take I began to think was there an equivalent in my day in age? Ah....Yes, and "Grease" is the word! The movie Grease came out in 1978 when I was only 8 years old. My girlfriends and I would also try to replay scenes but we would always end up in an argument as to who would get to play Sandy (Olivia Newton John) and likewise no one wanted to play Rizzo (Stockard Channing). Watching Grease now as an adult, I can't believe that I was actually allowed to watch that at such a young age. The movie was filled with references to teen sex and teen pregnancy. But at 8 years old, that all flew way over my head (I am sure kids today are a bit more, ahem, "worldly"). I was content to see the fancy foot work, sing the songs and get sucked into the craze that was all the rage. The difference, however, between me and Army of Mom is that I am ultra-nostalgic. I am "stuck in the day". Therefore I would say I am still 13 rather than Army of Mom's "39 going on 13". But the fact that Madeline is only turning 3 surely has something to do with that. I guess I'll catch the next wave when Madeline turns pre-teen.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
After removing the guts out of our pumpkins, I knew that I wanted to roast the seeds. Why? Because that is something I remember my mom always did when I was a child. I was always so filled with anticipation waiting for those seeds to come out. Every year, I would scoop some into my mouth and every year I would wonder what the fuss was all about. Nevertheless, the thrill of the tradition sticks with me today. In wanting to give similar memories to Madeline I committed myself to roasting them. Instead of simply plopping the seeds in the oven with salt, I decided to try to make something a bit more appetizing than the snacks that always ended up being disappointing to me. I got online and searched for some ideas. I decided on basting them with a mixture of melted butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. The problem is that in changing up the tradition set forth by my mom, I felt that I was somehow unfaithful to her. What bizarre thoughts go through your mind after the loss of a parent.
Despite my feelings of guilt, I enjoyed wonderful aromas wafting through the air as I waited for the fall spiced seeds to toast. Yet, just as when I was a child, I was greatly disappointed. I guess I just don't get the attraction. Regardless, next year, I am sure I will commit myself to this ritual and as thus commit myself to that same internal struggle of doing it as Mom used to or trying something new. (Sorry, Mom)
Fast forward to today. The "Dirtyfoot family" went to church. Madeline was very well behaved in church today (not always the case). At the end off Mass, the priest proceeds to the exit of the church as greets people as they leave. As we pass the priest, David directs Madeline to say bye-bye to the priest. She looks up at him with that innocent wonder in her eye and exclaims, "Santa Clause!" Sigh....I think I'll need to work on my "Jesus is the reason for the season" lesson.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Living in the baby home in Astrakhan, Russia, Madeline got very little, if any, male influence for the first 20 months of her life as the care givers were all female. The day after our "Gotcha Day", it began to sink in for Madeline that these changes were permanent and she was "stuck" with us. Having Mama around was groovy, but who is that man? At that point, Madeline cried anytime David tried to go near her. She would cry if she looked at David, if David looked at her or even if I touched him or he touched me. Needless to say we had some very stressful times during those first few days as a family. Actually, most of that first summer was touch and go. Often times Madeline would wedge herself between me and the kitchen cupboards while I was making dinner so that she didn't have to deal with Papa.
Times have surely changed! Mama is still groovy, but no way near as nifty as Papa! Most every morning the first words out of Madeline's mouth are "Papa home?" When David comes home from work it is play time - Papa is all fun and games. And this weekend, Madeline asked for Papa to do the night-night routine with her instead of Mama. Without a doubt, David is her shining star. I can't compete with that. Mama lays down the law all day and Papa is fun and games when he is home (see video below - yes, she is in a flying shopping cart!). But I don't want to compete with that. I know that one day, Madeline's hormones will kick in and she'll be embarrassed by every move we make. I know that eventually, we will "know absolutely nothing" and be so totally uncool. I know that she will eventually dread being seen in public with us. Teenagers do that, unintentionally hurt their parents, and all too soon Madeline will be there. Hopefully these memories of being put on a pedestal will help David get through those dark teenage days. But in the meantime I hope the two of them continue to build that pedestal of David's higher and higher. It is in those memories that they are making now that will be the sweetest memories of Madeline's when she outgrows those hormonal, peer-centered teen years. And it will be in those memories that are being made now that will be the sweetest memories of Papa's (and Mama's) when we enter our golden years.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The old neighborhood that I grew up in is nothing like it used to be. What used to be a tightly-knit neighborhood is now deteriorated and crime-ridden. The parish, St. Gerard's, used to be a thriving parish but is now closed, along with its elementary school which I attended. But, remaining, are the friendships that formed decades ago. There is nothing formal that would cause us to stay in touch. That is, we do not work together, nor do we live in the same parts of town. Our families no longer live in the neighborhood in which we grew up. Our bond is our history.
Tonight, I met my friends Christina, Lea and Tracy for dinner at Bravo. It was so nice to spend the evening together. We haven't always been as good about getting together on a regular basis. But through the years we would continue to touch base again, each time picking up exactly where we left off. We now try to meet every three months. This evening, we spoke of our children, relayed news of shared acquaintances, and reminisced. Very much like siblings, who else knows and understands so much of from where we each came? In so many ways, my reunion with my childhood playmates felt like a homecoming. And for this I am grateful.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Snow drifts from above,
of tulips below.
My friend Andrea got Madeline to "practice" trick or treating. Andrea closed herself in the bathroom and Madeline knocked on the door. Andrea opened the door and Madeline had to say "Trick or Treat" in order to get a piece of candy. Now, each night after dinner Madeline gets a piece of "trick or treaters" as dessert. Of course, Mama and Papa have to have some too. To no surprise, I had to get some replacement candy (what was I thinking?!?!?!). As you can see, the bowl is emptying again! I guess now I know why stores put out the Halloween treats around Labor Day. Yes, that's right, for fools like me. This will be the third time I will be stocking up. I will now wait until Halloween day for my next stroll down the candy isle.
Monday, October 20, 2008
"a person who is very very very interested in food. Foodies are the ones interested in food in any gathering – salivating over restaurants, recipes and radicchio."My mother was the greatest of all foodies and I either inherited this trait from her or maybe it is just simply a dominant trait of the Polish heritage.
So as I sit here further reminiscing about the Behemoth girls getaway, what does my mind get stuck on? The food - in particular, the french fries! My brothers' blog often refers to the "best (fill in the blank) of the universe". I would have to say that this weekend, I experienced the best french fries of the universe at one of the park's "Hot Potato Fresh Cut Fries" stands. Maybe it was the fact that the weather was chilly and the warm fries with gravy hit the spot. But no, it was more than that! I could pretty much say I experienced a love affair with them. The fries had the perfect texture. They were certainly not soggy fries. Even the gravy didn't turn them soggy. They were perfectly crisp. The brown gravy added flavor and the perfect amount of salt. All of this from an amusement park's concession stand. I told Tammy and Kelly that I would buy a season's pass to Canada's Wonderland just for the fries.
But aside from the mouth watering memory, I recalled a sign at the concession stand that advertised that they sold poutine. What is that? I know I heard of that before but I couldn't remember. No, no, no, I was not getting it confused with the slang word "pootang". Come to find out, the reason poutine sounded familiar to me is because it is a French-Canadian dish that originated in Quebec, Canada. (David and I spent some of our honeymoon in Quebec City and returned to the city a few times since, thus the reason for the familiarity of this word. We did not try poutine, however). Wikipedia defines poutine as,
"a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients. The freshness of the curds is important as it makes them soft in the warm fries, without completely melting. It is a quintessential Canadian comfort food, especially, yet not exclusively among Québécois and Maritime Acadian Canadians."Ugh....no thanks! Cheese curd on fries sound slimy. The consistency of snot? I think I am glad that I stuck with what I ordered, the fries with gravy only.
So it is decided! Yep, I'm a foodie. Anyone that can write this much about french fries definitely has issues! Yes, that's right, I am a foodie. I am indeed my mother's daughter!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, I went to Toronto, Canada (only a two-hour ride from Buffalo) for an overnight girls get-away with my friends, Tammy and Kelly. The cosmopolitans we are toasting with in the photo above, are just as much toasting our friendship as they are toasting the fact that we survived our Saturday's daytime activities.
We began our day in Toronto by going to Canada's Wonderland, an amusement park located just north of the city. It was a perfect autumn day for an amusement park. The temperatures were in the 50's and the lines for the rides were minimal. The biggest thrill was their feature roller coaster called the Behemoth (which I rode three times - one time with my hands in the air!).
After almost seven hours of riding amusement park rides, we headed back into downtown Toronto to check into our hotel and get ready for dinner. We had a leisurely dinner at a Spuntini Ristorante, an Italian Bistro-type restaurant. After dinner, we shared a few Raspberry Stolis & 7-Up. We shared a few toasts, and several good laughs. Although we continually teased Tammy about how she *had to* dance, we did no such thing. The saddest realization was that we are not as young as we used to be. Although we all talked a great talk in our planning stages of this getaway, I think all three of us would've been completely satisfied to have gone back to our hotel room after dinner to go to sleep. Don't get me wrong, its not that we weren't having fun, it's just that we are not as young as we used to be and a day at an amusement park really conked us out. Despite the fact that we were dragging, we closed the Martini bar attached to our hotel with the cosmos we toasted with and still stayed up in our hotel room gabbing until after 2am. The next morning, reality called us home and back to our Mom duties. After staying up until after 2am, we awoke shortly after 8am in order to get on the road and back to the responsibilities that awaited us. For the most part, the ride home was somewhat quiet. I think that was partly because our butts were draggin' but also, I think it was partly because we were savoring the remaining moments of our girls getaway. We returned home as better wives and better mothers. We returned home with not only a greater appreciation of our girlfriends but also those duties which we so badly need a break from. Surely, we had a great time but most importantly, we came home to those most important to us, feeling refreshed and renewed.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
You know that you have hit Celebrity Status when your blog is being formally introduced on another's blog. Granted, it is my brothers' blog, but don't let the nepotism diminish it, they were a 2006 Weblog Awards Finalist. Therefore, I feel like I should start scheduling autograph signings soon. Anyway, the post that they had written as an introduction (click here to read it), was much appreciated as it offered the supportive love only siblings can do.
I do "give props" to their blog, Mazurland Blog, as they have a very definitive political view that they believe in and express. While I don't always agree with them, I do appreciate the conviction of their point of view. As a result, some serious debates, gentle ribbing and late-night noogies often occur between my brothers, sisters and me at our annual family campouts (MCOs). These differences of opinion may have further herded me into the "black sheep" pen, but despite our differences, political and otherwise, I must say my brothers (and sisters too) are, without a doubt, the best.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
"The judge asked if I wanted to continue ... thumbed through all the paperwork .... asked if the current US financial crisis would impact us, to which I could only say, 'I hope not!' "
While shopping we spent time looking at the shelves of those silly mechanical Christmas things. Madeline (and Mama-Dirtyfoot) were having a ball setting them all off. Normally Christmas displays before Halloween would make me crazy, but it is not bothering me this year. I guess because I am looking forward to the season so much. Things are really starting to "click" for Madeline so I am really excited about getting her prepped for the season.
Monday, October 13, 2008
It has been two years since Buffalonians woke up to the damage left behind from our surprise October storm. That is, you awoke to it only if you slept through the sounds of trees crashing and transformers exploding. I remember this well because my sister, Margaret, who lives in Ohio, was stranded in Buffalo with her two kids while visiting my mom. The next day, my sister, niece, nephew and mom spent the night at my house as much of the Buffalo region was without power and therefore without heat. David and I escaped most of the snow and electrical outages. Margaret and her kids left town the next day while my mom stayed on at my house until she regained power (almost a week). Today, 2008, two years later, my mom has since passed, her house has sold, we have a great daughter, and the weather in Buffalo was a picture perfect sunshiny day in the upper 70's. What a difference two years can make!
My second shopping mission was to scope out the Halloween costumes. We got a great hand-me-down costume from Madeline's cousin, Anna, but we still wanted to look around to see if there were any costumes out there of characters that Madeline follows more closely. Since we watch very little television here, those characters are limited but I thought I would look just in case we found a cool Cookie Monster or Elmo costume that doesn't make her look like a little boy. I did come across a monkey costume. I thought this was perfect because Madeline loves Curious George. Uncle Marty and Aunt Vicky got Madeline her first Curious George book and a stuffed monkey. We now have a few Curious George books and check more out each time we head to the library. Madeline kept snuggling with the costume in the store and dug it out of the bag when we got home. How absolutely perfect, I thought. That is until we tried to try it on! You would think I was torturing her. I told her she had to wear a costume in order to go Trick-or-Treating (which we have been "practicing" after dinner each night ever since Andrea introduced the idea to us). I have no idea what was going through Madeline's head. Did she think she was being eaten by George? I pulled out my photo album from last year and a Piglet figurine. I showed her the figurine and then pictures of herself in the Piglet costume. I put the monkey hood on my head to show her that it was a costume (to which she replied, "Too small, Mama"). I then grabbed the other costume from Anna and she tried it on with no problems. She saw herself in the mirror and liked looking at herself dressed up. I figured now that Madeline understands the idea of costumes she would be willing to try on the monkey costume. No go! Here is a clip of part of this afternoon.....(sorry the video isn't that clear, I took it on my cellphone)
So, now you know, Care Bear it'll be! Thanks for the great costume, Anna. I will make sure Madeline does the costume justice. Oh, and by the way, I didn't want Madeline to be afraid of George now so we read her "Curious George Goes to a Costume Party" book before her "nap". She was even more interested in the book than usual because she now understands costumes. However, she put George in for nap time in the guest bedroom today instead of his usual spot of honor, the top of her pillow. Hmmmmm......I think I started a monkey phobia.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
After a nice family day, we stopped at a local gourmet food store. While browsing, I spied this crocheted shopping tote pictured above. The reusable totes are all the rage now with the push for Green, Eco-friendly options. But this green bag literally took my breath away. Something so silly triggered memories of my childhood. My mom used to have a similar crocheted bag that she kept in her pantry. I don't ever recall her using it. She may have used it and I just don't recall or it may have been a gift that, in her mind, cluttered space in her pantry. Yet it was used in some capacity. This crocheted bag rolled up into a little ball. As a child, I loved to roll it and unroll it.....but better yet, I liked to put it on my head and pretend it was either (1)one of those hair accessory nets that ladies but on their up-swept hair or (2) a hair net (I must have had some desire, long ago, to be a cafeteria lady). As I stood looking at this silly net bag in the gourmet shop I reminisced and I wondered, "What ever happened to that?" I thought to myself, maybe my mom tossed it when we moved out of my childhood home. Yeah, that's probably what happened to it.... But then I thought, how strange. Here, my my mom could mindlessly throw something like this away. Don't misunderstand me. I am not annoyed or mad in any way. In my mom's mind, this bag was probably a silly rolled up net ball that was taking up space in her pantry. Yet, for me, it was a piece of nostalgia from my childhood. I kind of snickered to myself at the idea of how different ones perspective can be- especially between a parent and a child. And I wondered - what "mindless clutter" will I eventually discard that Madeline will remember? We do not know how we affect each other, in even the smallest of ways. By the way, David, Christmas is coming and Mrs. Clause needs a green Eco-friendly bag.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
As I sat and colored with Madeline the other day I wondered at what point in time does one loose the joy of giving a picture they colored from a coloring book. At what time is the giving and receiving of these simple pleasures lost? I am sure you would think that an older family member lost their wits if they sent you a coloring book creation in the mail with nothing material attached to its greeting. How much of ourselves we would give by doing this as an adult - such a simplistic gift of ourselves. Are you up for the challenge?
Friday, October 10, 2008
I guess the only "problem" with opening the door to others is that I think I might be a bit more guarded with my thoughts/words. For example, for today's post I was searching the Internet for a fitting picture to match the title of this post. In my mind, I knew that I wanted a picture of someone hanging onto a tree limb. Even better, I thought, the graphic could have a kitty cat clawing to hang on to a tree limb after it climbed a little too high for its own good. On my search, I came across a picture (different than the one I chose) of several cats high in a tree. Obviously, one of the cats was a female in heat. The female and the most daring of the males "took care of business" with an audience of several other tom cats and ALL of these cats were way out on a tree limb. So, although, the ridiculousness of the picture made me laugh out loud, I refrained and opted for the cleaned up version you see now.
Once again newcomers, welcome to my world. The explanation of "Mama-Dirtyfoot" is noted in my first blog entry below. You will see that, the decision I have made regarding the format of my blog is to *not* make a decision. Therefore, you'll get a taste of whatever happens to strike my fancy. So, take off your shoes and join the adventures of Mama-Dirtyfoot.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
So why am I so stuck on deciding what to post about? Maybe it's because the other blogs I follow are families in the process of adoptions and our adoption journey ended over a year ago. Maybe it's because I haven't clearly defined the purpose of my blog in my head before creating it. Should there really be another "I'm the Greatest Mom On the Planet" Blog floating around on the Internet? Do I want to be a hormonal femme blasting hot air through the keyboard- you know, the blogs that you can tell exactly where the author is in her menstrual cycle based on the post? And as far as political blogs go, my siblings have left a bad taste in my mouth over those!
I guess the issue is, other than my husband, I haven't even told anyone about my blogging. So, maybe I have a block because I feel that no one is reading what I post. Does anyone even care what I have to say? But why haven't I told anyone? Maybe I just feel that if I told others of my blogging there would be more pressure to post. And maybe, just maybe, I would open myself up to criticism? Hmmmm.....and what if even my family and/or friends didn't even follow my random ramblings? Whoa!! Talk about psycho-analysis! Something for me to sleep on tonight....
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The next question I would like to address is "What is this blog about?" I guess I'll just say, I'll let you know as soon as I do. I have been inspired to start my own blog after following the adoption stories of several families that are traveling to Russia for adoptions. I have enjoyed following these blogs because I could totally relate to the stories of these families. There is definitely an unspoken bond between families touched by international adoption. It is truly an experience; one that I joked was like "Survivor: Russia". My travels to Russia are behind me yet I continue to share this understanding with the families that are currently on this journey. My current journey is one that is also shared with millions. The journey of being Mama. Instead of "Survivor: Russia" I am in a new season of "Survivor" yet in this season, no matter how difficult the challenges are throughout the day, I always win the rewards in the evening as Madeline hands out hugs and kisses and hollers "DaWoo (Love you) , Mama" as I walk down the stairs after tucking her in for the night.
So, again, what is this blog about? "Survivor"? Yes! But also (excuse another television reference) this blog will be a bit "Sienfeld". Wasn't that a show about nothing? So here you have it. A cross between Survivor and Sienfeld or shall I say, the Adventures of Mama-Dirtyoot.