Sunday, May 31, 2009

Now We Wait....

After a few late nights we finally got our house de-cluttered and staged for showing. Now that the house is so roomy because it is so "empty" it almost makes us not want to move. But we know, realistically, we can't live like this permanently - thus we move forward. We had two showings on Friday, one on Saturday morning and then an Open House on Saturday afternoon from 1-3pm. Yesterday's Open House was promising. There was one young couple that was still at our house when we returned after 3pm. I guess they were at our house for over an hour, took some pictures and called their parents to come in to see it too.....(just goes to show how young they were! They were engaged to be married and this would be their first house.) So, now we wait and see if any offers come our way. But, just in case, we need to think about scheduling another Open House soon.

I do have to say, that now that things are very much in order at our house, Madeline's school is over for the year, swim lessons are done for a while, dance class is winding down and we are done with traveling and house guests for a few weeks, we don't have anything to do right now. I must say that this weekend has been extremely relaxing! It's a nice change but I know that this is just not the way we operate so I am sure we will be up to something exciting soon. Until then, please continue to cross your fingers for us that all proceeds well with the house situation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So Much To Do ....Not Enough Time In The Day!

This entry will be VERY SHORT....I have sooooo much to do! We just got back last night from Indiana. Now, the task at hand is trying to de-clutter this house in preparation to show it. We have two showings on Friday and an Open House on Saturday. I am trying to box up all the extras to give the appearance of more space in the house. Boxes of stuff and extra pieces of furniture are being taken to storage. Actually, as soon as we got home from our 8 hour drive last night, David and I took a couple trips to our storage unit with a few items that would need two people to carry. Today, I tried to manage continuation of progress in this area while also trying to entertain a 3 year old. I hate to admit it but the electronic babysitter came in handy today. Thank God for Disney! Luckily, tomorrow David is planning on coming home earlier in the afternoon. Hopefully we'll be able to tackle the remaining items between now and Friday's first showing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Today was a very enjoyable family-filled Memorial Day. Mama-Dirtyfoot, David and Madeline all slept in this morning and it felt GREAT! We headed down to breakfast at the hotel and once again, Madeline strapped on the feed bag. Afterwards we changed into our swimsuits and headed back downstairs to enjoy some swim time.

Later, the three of us stopped at Grandma's house for a little bit. We ended up eating our lunch there but then headed back out to visit a small festival in New Buffalo, Michigan. Mama and Papa had a lot of fun with this and Madeline had a blast riding the rides. She even played some "winner every time" kiddie games and was quite proud of her sticker "earrings" and mini rubber duckie.

After the carnival we headed back to David's parents' house for dinner. It was a gut-bustin' dinner with enough food to feed an army. We had steak, two types of pasta, cold slaw, fresh tomatoes, corn on the cob and bread sticks. For dessert we had fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries(which Madeline pretty much devoured) as well as a yummy strawberry jello/cheesecake dessert.

The food was yummy but the family time (both the time of just the three of us and also the time with the entire family was quite relaxing) I have included some additional pictures below...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Indiana - Day Two

So that Mama and Papa can hang out in the "Living Room" area of our suite after Madeline goes to bed we are putting Madeline to sleep in our bed. We then climb in with her when we are ready to sleep. This is a huge treat for Madeline as she doesn't typically sleep in the Mama/Papa bed at home. But, it is a nice treat for us to snuggle up with Madeline too.

Although we got up at 8:30 (not a bad time) there is an hour difference in the time zones between here and home. So, in actuality, it was as if we slept until 9:30. It felt great! And finally, I got a decent night's sleep (the past few nights I have been sleeping crappy due to my cold). We headed down to the hotel's breakfast. Madeline was in food-inhaling mode. For breakfast she ate 1/2 of a Belgian waffle (the full waffle was the size of a plate....huge), a sausage patty, a hard boiled egg, a few spoonfuls of yogurt and a handful of dry fruit loops!!!!! Don't worry, she probably wore all that off on our trip to the pool this morning. (But she polished off a banana for safe measures when we returned from the pool.)

With David growing up in Indiana, it is inevitable that a little boy would grow up to be a man who is a fan of the Indy 500. With that said, David wanted to watch the race. Madeline hung out with Papa and Grandma while Mama-Dirtyfoot shopped 'til she dropped at the Outlet Stores here in town. I don't get as much of a chance to shop as I used to so I was able to pick up a bunch of summer clothes for Madeline. Above is a picture that David sent me (from his cell phone) while I was shopping. I guess Madeline sat and had a snack with Grandma. I am not sure what she is eating in this picture but apparently, during the visit she polished off an entire container of raspberries.

In the evening, we met up with David's sister, Carolyn, and brother-in-law, Dan, (aka "Uncle Go-Go-Dan"). With Carolyn, Dan, and David's parents, we headed out for Mexican food. I took out my camera to take a picture of our group but my batteries had died. I think I'll try again tomorrow.....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

We've Arrived!!

We've arrived!! Yesterday, we left New York late in the afternoon but only drove half-way - to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (Yes, geographically it makes sense for us to go through Canada to get to Indiana!) When we got to the hotel yesterday, even though it was past Madeline's bedtime, we decided to enjoy some time at the pool. We were able to sleep in a little bit this morning and be leisurely for the remainder of our trip.

When we got into town we checked into our hotel. Madeline had her yogurt from breakfast and taco sauce from lunch all over the front of her shirt. I couldn't exactly take Madeline to Grandma's looking like that!! We are quite pleased with our hotel room. We have a two room suite so we can put Madeline to bed in the evenings and hang out in the other room while she is sleeping.

After we arrived and got settled in the hotel, we headed over to David's parents' house. We visited for a while. Madeline also had a chance to play outside while at Grandma's and she quickly found some neighborhood kids to play with. David's parents had tickets this evening to see Lee Ann Rimes so we ended up going out to dinner with them before they headed out to the concert. David was in a pizza kind of mood so we headed to Albano's, a local pizzeria. The pizza was very good but I must say, nothing beats a Buffalo pizza!

After stopping at WalMart to get a few items for our room, we are now sitting, relaxing and enjoying our room. Let's hope Madeline sleeps in tomorrow!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Miss You Ma!

I can't talk about today without at first going back. Two years ago today my mom died. I really can't believe that amount of time has passed. But today was a very sad realization of the amount of time that *has* passed.

Let me take you back one year ago - to the one year anniversary of her death. Each anniversary of the events that led up to her death weighed on my mind. The entire month of May last year my mom was in my every thought. I remembered waiting for 8:30pm, the time of my mother's death, to recognize it and remember it.

Let me also go back to a blog post from my brother's blog that recognized our family's mindset. It said:

I just got done reading an email from Mazurland's baby sister Amy. It was a touching, and for me jolting reminder that today is the anniversary of Ma Mazur's passing. Amy, like many of the rest of us, has had frequent occasion over the year to recall Ma, and in particular the various stages of her final journey... "a year ago Mom fell", "a year ago Marty was in town", "a year ago Mom called for the priest", etc. And in the note, she recalled some of these things, and things that have happened in the year since. I remember thinking a couple of weeks ago, "Can it be that it was a year ago that I zipped up to Buffalo to help Amy take care of Ma, that one last time?" And then my memory was strangely quiet of memories of Ma. Until today. Amy's rambling, but beautiful note was what shook me. And the last sentence broke me up:

"See you all tonight as I am sure we will all be in Mom's extension at 8:30."

The extension to my Mom's house was the family room where everyone met, ate, talked, watched TV, played games. It's where Ma died. Amy's final sentence made me appreciate the power of séances. Yes, we are separated by hundreds of miles from each other, and in one case by a thick veil. But we will be there. See you.

I knew the anniversary date was approaching. I knew we would be leaving for Indiana on this day. But today, it wasn't until I opened my calendar for another reason, did I notice the note on today's date. Until I saw that note I had forgotten this today....and I felt guilty. I realized my thoughts were not consumed with the loss of my mom.....and I felt guilty. I am saddened that my mom is not here to see (yes, I know she sees from above...but still...) all the changes in my life that have occurred since she passed. I did not reflect on "8:30pm", until about 10:30pm...and I felt guilty. As I sat to blog my thoughts today I was extremely saddened by the realization that I can no longer remember the *feeling* of being with her. Please, don't misunderstand that last sentence. I remember everything she did as my mom, all the great things she taught me, all the silly things she did on her own as well as the silly things we did together as mother/daughter. I have great memories...priceless memories. Although I know she is watching over us, I can no longer capture that *feeling* of sitting in a room with her.....and I feel guilty. Today, after these realizations, I feel that another piece of my mom has slipped away from me. Today, I am mourning her loss again. I love you, Mom!

Bittersweet

The For Sale sign is now in front of my house. When I saw that, tears rolled down my face. I am very excited about the possibility of a new house yet saddened at the idea of leaving our current home. I am quite sentimental and the are 11 years of milestones and memories in this house. This transition will be a tough one for me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Feeling my age!

I am getting old - plus, I am out of shape. I was busy all day today! Madeline had school this morning so I decided to run out and get some items for landscaping. We need to hurry to get our house in shape for showing....but we are leaving tomorrow for a trip to Indiana to visit David's parents. I thought I would be more productive than I was actually able to be. It's not that I was slacking today but rather I was unrealistic with my goals for the day. I thought, "Why bother calling for a delivery of mulch, I don't have time for that nonsense." So I ended up lugging 10 bags of mulch, 6 bags of top soil and numerous flowers from Home Depot. I also made a stop at Rite Aid for DRUGS as I somehow caught another cold! (This is the most amount of colds I can ever remember having in one year...it's ridiculous!), and a stop at the grocery store for enough groceries to get us through the next day and a half until we leave (I was hoping to try to avoid buying any more food before we left). Once I was done with that it was time to pick up Madeline.

After changing Madeline out of capris and into shorts and a tank top (it was in the 80s today), throwing in some laundry (gotta get that caught up in order to pack) and making Madeline lunch it was almost time for the realtor to come back to our house. I didn't have time to wait....had to get out there and start working. David has been out of town on business (all the house offer stuff has been handled long distance!!). He has been so busy that he didn't get a chance to mow the lawn before he left. So, that was the first task at hand. Half way through mowing the front yard, the realtor came. Stop....wrangle Madeline back inside, pop in a movie, conduct business, head back outside, continue mowing.... Now, since we have been so busy prior to all the house stuff, we have accomplished no spring landscaping work. Time to trim bushes, cut back tulips, etc, etc, etc, while chasing a 3 yr old and wrestling with a weed whacker that I was having a hard time figuring out how to start. At this point the day is almost over and I realize that I was completely off on how much I thought I would be able to accomplish. The problem, though is that we are getting a photo of the front of our house taken tomorrow to post on the on-line listings for sale. How I wished to get those flowers I bought planted....that won't be possible....I just realized I have to just get the front trimmed up and presentable.
Wait, stop....where's Madeline??? Stop everything again....oh, she is back in the garage again....
Wrangle her out, continue working...
Pull some weeds, cut back flowers....my neighbor's kid *really* needs to stop talking to me! Where is Madeline??? MADELINE....GET OVER HERE!!!!!
Pull, rake, cut, trim. Oh God, I *rarely* talk to these neighbors...why are they feeling the need to be social today. Madeline, Stay OUT of the garage...I NEED to see you! Yep, there will be a For Sale sign up tomorrow....well, we gotta sell the house first. Madeline....PUT DOWN THOSE SCISSORS!
Is it dinner time already? Sigh....if it were just me I would work through dinner time......Stop everything, make dinner. Don't bother cleaning up kitchen.....back outside.
OMG, if that neighbor kid asks me if I am in a "Math Mood" one more time I might scream....I think I hear your mom calling you.....
DAMN, I worked my butt off all day but feel like I failed just because I won't finish all the jobs that I hoped to. I was wayyyyyy off on time estimation.
Okay, Madeline, we need to start picking up our toys. NO, I am not getting you that purple ball until you put your chalk away...Didn't I say put your chalk away???
I told my other neighbor (some of you know her as the bitter one) she wasn't surprised in the least. She told me "we've surmised that was coming"...WTF does that mean? This purchase took us buy surprise but they "surmised??" I swear she listens in to our baby monitor....
MADELINEeee. get away from the street!! Ugh.....where did this day go? I am starting to get sore.
Whewwww, all cleaned up - as good as I can accomplish for the day.
OH CRAP.....all that mulch and dirt that I didn't get a chance to do anything with is still in the car. I cant leave that to bake in my car over the long weekend.......CRAP!!!!
Unload 10 bags of mulch, 6 bags of top soil and flowers. I'm going to have to get a neighbor kid to water these flowers while we are gone. Almost time to go inside...
Oh no....the neighbor kid, that Madeline was dying to play with all day, just came over. Okay...run around for a few minutes. I will sit and drink a bottle water.
Time to go in now.....Tubbie Time!! Wait, Mama HAS TO shower first. Madeline play in the bathroom while I shower. Hmmmm, she's quiet out there.....Madeline, put down that Vaseline! Okay....time for Madeline's Tubbie Time!!MADELINE, STOP putting that water in your mouth its dirty!
Good night. Love you!
All I want is a glass of wine, and Facebook time.....but noooooo.
Clean up the kitchen from earlier. Straighten up the scattered toys.....I need to get better at making Madeline clean up after herself....
Change loads of laundry...think about packing
NO WAY!!! It is 10:30pm!!! WOW...I am really kind of sore! I am sooo out of shape!
Should I pack? It's just too late....
glug, glug, glug (sound of pouring a glass of wine)....Facebook time.....time to catch up with friends and family....speaking of which, I miss David....Why are people so reluctant to join Facebook???...that's another day's rant.
Man...it feels good to have my feet up! Hmmmm.... will people understand the style that this blog post evolved to today? Whatever....I'm too tired. I feel another sneeze coming on...I can't stop blowing my nose!
Hmmm....if I take cold meds, I doubt I'll be able to get my butt out of bed for Madeline's speech teacher appointment. Sigh...suffer through it and pray for a good night's sleep....another long day tomorrow.
ZZZZZzzzzzzz...........

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CRAZY DAYS

It's always something here!!! Latest news flash...we put a bid in on a house and it was accepted this evening. Now, we have a 30 day contingency (which could potentially be renewed, if needed). So, our house needs to get sold, quickly. This was pretty unexpected. We have been looking at houses for awhile, off and on, but only half-heartedly. Actually, we stopped looking over the past few months and were considering getting estimates for an extension. Yet, this past Sunday, David and I had nothing pressing to do so we headed out to scope out an open house....and viola!

It's not a done deal yet. Our house has to sell. I am just trying to keep the attitude that if it is meant to be, it will happen. In the meantime I will be busy de-cluttering our house and trying to stage it for showings. Above is a picture of the house we bid on.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brace Face???

Today, Madeline and I headed to the dentist for our 6 month cleanings and check-ups. We both did well - no cavities! Madeline now has 20 teeth. The dentist, however, did tell me that braces are definitely in Madeline's future. He explained that baby teeth should be more like a "picket fence". This way, when the permanent teeth begin to grow in, there is room and one would then have a chance of not needing braces. My dear daughter is already crowded so as she starts to get her permanent teeth there won't be enough room for them to grow in straight. Sigh... If braces are in Madeline's future that means they are in the future of our wallet. It's time to start stuffing money in an orthodontic piggy bank.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Queen Tim Bit

I just love this picture and had to share!!! It was actually taken while we were in Ohio last weekend. After dinner, David and I decided we needed some coffee so we drove through a Tim Horton's. Madeline is conditioned to *need* a Tim Bit (donut hole) after we drive-thru a Tim Horton's. I looked back in the back seat and Madeline and her cousin, Kate, were having a blast playing. But the remnants of the powdered sugar and jelly Tim Bit were all over Madeline's face so I had to pull out my cell phone to take a picture. I just love this shot!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dress Rehearsal

Dance Recital time is just around the corner (6/13). Today was the dress rehearsal. Yep, Madeline will be the one on stage doing her own moves or day dreaming & standing still.....but she'll look cute. (Note on green costumes: All the girls will have tan tights on the day of the recital) What I find amazing is Madeline is just about as tall as the other girls in her class and she is by far the youngest...between 6mos and 1yr younger!

Lazy Days

Things have calmed down here for a little bit. Although we will be heading to visit David's family in Northwest Indiana for Memorial Day Weekend, that will be a relaxing trip. We have no activity commitments while there other than visiting. It'll be nice for the 3 of us to hit the road again, have some time together as a family (David has been working a lot of long days) and relax. But other than this upcoming road trip, things have begun to calm down here. The reunion chaos is done (although I am working on organizing next year's function), swim lessons are done (at least for a little while), pre-school ends at the end of the month, dance is done in a couple weeks and Madeline will not continue with speech during the summer. Sigh...I won't know what to do with my time! Here is a glimpse of our lazy day activities. Now if only the weather would be consistently warmer so we could move the activities outside!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Swimming Drama

Yesterday, Madeline had her last swim class of the school year session. I might continue her during the summer but it depends on the dates that the sessions run. I would hate to pay for sessions and then miss half of them due to summer vacation travel. However, after yesterday's swim episode, I am really hoping to continue Madeline in swim!!

From the photo above, you can sort of see how the class is run (Madeline is in the polka-dotted bathing suit). There are small groups of swimmers. For the small handful for children, there are usually two lifeguards giving lessons to the children in this small group as well as another lifeguard sitting on a perch nearby. There are different small groups (based on ability level) with the same number of lifeguard coverage in the various corners of the pool .The guards that are giving the lessons take the kids out a short distance into the pool while the other children sit on the ledge and wait for their turn.

Parents are not required to stay for lessons but since the class is only a half hour I do stay. I am normally watching Madeline but yesterday I saw a mom at the pool that came to my MOMS club open house the day before so we started chit-chatting. I look up and see the lifeguard that was on the perch grabbing Madeline from the pool. I guess Madeline reached for one of the toys that they use in the lessons and fell in. Everything is fine. She didn't even really take in water but it was enough to freak her out (temporarily - she ended up joining in with the lesson again. I didn't want her to end up with a fear of the water) and give Mama-Dirtyfoot a heart attack. It just reinforces the thought of eliminating houses (in our house search) that have an in ground pool as well as the need for us to continue these lessons, whether this summer or in the Fall.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back Home Again

Here we are home again (although the photo is of the three of us at Margaret's house on Mother's Day. Oh yeah...that *is* the same outfit I wore to the reunion but shhhhh don't tell anyone). We had a great time visiting Margaret and her family in the Dayton, OH area but it felt good to be home, veggin' out last night. Despite that, I am already antsy to travel again. What I *need* to do when I get restless is to get productive doing all the things on my list of things to do.

Anyway, Sunday was an enjoyable day. Margaret (aka Martha Stewart) put out a huge breakfast buffet for us. She made a breakfast pizza, fruit tart, raspberry waffle bake, hash browns, and cherry & almond danish. Everything was delicious but I feel terrible that Margaret did all that work on Mother's Day. Later in the morning we headed over to church as Chris was being confirmed at the noon Mass. The Confirmation itself was quite moving and I was honored to have Chris choose me as his sponsor. Then in the late afternoon we headed out for a late lunch/early dinner. We went to The Melting Pot......ugh, I am still full!! Everything there is fondue-style. It was fun to "play with your food". There is a Melting Pot in our area too but we haven't been there. I would go back but it was not exactly the best place for a 3yr old. Although Madeline was fairly well behaved, this restaurant is more conducive to sitting and dinning for a couple hours. Great place for a romantic date night or a girls night out gab fest. In the evening, Margaret and I hung out on the swing in her back yard. We watched Madeline and Kate playing in the yard while the moms sipped on some mixed drinks that our hubbies made for us. Madeline had a blast playing with her cousins - especially Kate because they had fun playing girly-girl stuff together. As the girls were outside, the guys played Wii in the house.

David, Madeline and I traveled home yesterday. It was nice to have a quiet evening at home. I rented a movie that we watched after putting Madeline to bed. The movie was that "its so stupid that its funny" humor that Will Ferrell is so good at. The movie we rented was Step Brothers. Again....disclosure....it is really stupid! But, David and I were in the right mood so we got some pretty good laughs out of it.

Today, Madeline and I are just sort of hanging around. I have a lot to do - unpack, laundry,straighten the house, grocery shop, etc, etc, etc. Instead, I am being a big blob. Tomorrow, I need to be productive.....and that includes re-examining the Weight Watchers program. I am NOT a happy camper with my "strap the feed bag on" feeding frenzy that I have been on lately. The attached photos (and video) are proof! Below is a video of Margaret, Kate, Madeline and I on the trampoline. I pretty much stayed on all fours as I was afraid to fall on Madeline and crush her. I did take a few turns by myself during the course of our visit.
video

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mother's out there. But....I AM ASKING EACH OF YOU to say a little prayer for the mothers in waiting. I am not talking about expectant mothers but rather the women who are waiting to become moms and are, for whatever reason, having a difficult time obtaining this dream. Before Madeline, for about nine years, Mother's Day was one of the most difficult days of the year for me. Unless you have personally experienced the pain of infertility it will be difficult to fully understand the degree of pain that is felt. Madeline has wiped this all away for us and without a doubt, although I did not physically birth her, I am her mommy. I have been blessed to have this void filled for me however, there are many mothers in waiting out there. Please take a second to say a quick prayer for them today to ask God to grant them peace and hope today.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Greetings From Ohio!

Sometimes I think we never stop moving. We are on the go again....this time we are in Ohio. My nephew, Christopher, is making his Confirmation on Sunday. I am Chris' godmother and I was honored to be asked to be his sponsor for Confirmation. This past week has been absolutely crazy for us - the reunion, house guests until Monday, Madeline's 2 yr. post placement visit from our social worker, our sump pump died.....yep, things have been hectic. But, it was nice, with all of that stuff behind us, to hit the road as a family and have some down time. We did decide that we were going to start out our trip by driving only part way and breaking up our trip in Sandusky, Ohio. We stayed overnight at the Great Wolf Lodge, where there is an indoor water park. I was not sure if there would be enough age appropriate water activities for Madeline but the place had TONS to do! Madeline had a blast! They had smaller sized water slides that emptied into shallow pools. This was perfect for Madeline's size and Madeline even went down a few times by herself. There were a few larger water slides. One of them, I was actually able to coax Madeline down with me on a double inner tube. Occasionally, David or I would take turns watching Madeline in the smaller pools while the other headed out to do a bigger water slide on our own. The good portion of water activities were appropriate for the Maddie-sized (or up to about 10 years old). Although there is a Great Wolf Lodge closer to our house, it is in Niagara Falls, Canada and therefore, because of the location, the prices are inflated. Our rate in Sandusky was very reasonable and I would make the trip again.

This morning, after another trip to the water park, we hit the road again and arrived at Margaret's house in the late afternoon. It is always nice to visit Margaret, her husband Mark, and their kids, Chris and Kate. Madeline, had an absolute BLAST playing with her cousins. Kate and Chris are older than Madeline but they were so patient playing with her. Madeline especially enjoyed playing with Kate because of the girly-girl aspect.....Kate even treated Madeline to putting on lip gloss!! The picture above is of Chris and Kate playing with Madeline. Below is a video of Kate and Madeline on the trampoline (sorry for the video quatility, it was taken on my crappy cell phone). Mama-Dirtyfoot even got on the trampoline and was having way too much fun!

After playing outside and working up a huge appetite, Margaret and Mark put out a gut-bustin' steak dinner. Yummy!!! And for dessert, Kate made a sinful chocolate-peanut butter pie. Double yum! Tonight, Margaret and I are just kind of hanging out and sipping on wine. David and Mark headed out to see the new Star Trek movie .....I just don't get the attraction of Sci-Fi.

video

Two Year Post-Placement Visit

I can't believe that we are coming up on two years since we were in Russia! Wednesday our social worker came over for our 2 year post placement visit. The post placement report needs to be in Russia by the anniversary of our court date (6/14/07). I just can't believe that amount of time has passed. I can barely remember a time that Madeline wasn't in our lives and I can't imagine her not being our daughter. She is growing up way too quickly!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Makeup"

This morning, while Madeline was at school, I ran out to Bath & Body Works to get something for Madeline's speech teacher's birthday. After picking up Madeline we needed to hurry home to wrap the present as her speech teacher was coming over shortly after we got home. Go figure, I was out of gift bags. I decided to have Madeline decorate a paper bag with drawings and stickers. Madeline was very busy with her artwork so I began to wrap the items in tissue paper. Madeline was quite quiet......hmmmmm, she must really be getting into that artwork. I turned to check on her and discovered that Madeline decided to use the marker as make-up. I am having a hard time removing it. Let's hope it comes out because our social worker is coming over tomorrow for our 2 year post-placement visit!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Post-party Blues

The reunion, after all of the planning is over. Paul, Rachel, Marysia and Margaret have left Buffalo and are back at their homes. The house is quiet and I am feeling the post-party blues. I am feeling let down that it is all over already.

I know that I have neglected my blog during all of the recent chaos but I made up for lost time. In addition to the entry you are reading right now, I made 5 other entries today to fill you in on what I was up to all week. In order to read the events in a chronological order I suggest scrolling down and reading today's entries from the bottom up.

But before you do that, I want everyone to know that my sister, Marysia, lied to me!! Marysia told me that she had forgotten to pack the items from my mom's that we have been passing back and forth. I should've known better - but instead I let my guard down. As I was straightening the house after every one's departure I noticed, hidden in plain sight among the guest room's furnishings, were the ceramic clown bank, the anchor relic and the vinyl-stuffed cat. Don't worry, Marysia. They are resting comfortably and plotting their revenge ;-)

Sunday (5/3) recap

Sunday was my nephew, Tommy's, 17th birthday. Marysia obviously wanted to get home so that she could spend the day with her son. As a result, Marysia flew home Sunday morning. After dropping Marysia off at the airport I came home to make some breakfast for the gang. Sunday was a very pretty day so we decided to head into Buffalo and take a walk on the Riverwalk that is along the Niagara River. The day was very pretty although the temperature got quite chilly near the water. It was also fun to watch the crew teams racing in the Erie Canal. After our walk along the river we headed to Buffalo's trendy Elmwood district for a stroll and a little shopping.

Unfortunately, David also had to attend a work-related function on Sunday night. For dinner, Paul, Margaret and Rachel wanted to plan dinner and cook for me. It was absolutely wonderful! They dropped me off at home after the Riverwalk and they headed to the grocery store. I took advantage of that time to take a nap with Madeline. When they got home they started to prepare a feast and I wasn't allowed to help. We had yummy grilled salmon, homemade cheesy au gratin potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and garlic bread.

We had a pleasant evening together. We sat around talking and having a bit of wine together after dinner. The meal was yummy and the evening was relaxing. Thanks again!!

The Big Day - Reunion Day

The reunion was a huge success! Our final count that was given to the hall was 275 and the alumni spanned those that graduated through the 1930's to the 1980's. This was much more than a grade school reunion. It is so difficult to describe exactly what this event meant to myself and so many others but I will try.....

St. Gerard's Catholic Church was the parish my family belonged to when I was a child. This church was located on the East Side of Buffalo. Buffalo has a large population of Catholics. Within a one mile radius of the house that I grew up there were probably 5 or 6 Catholic churches, each of them having their own parish grade school. Previously each of these schools was able to have enough families in the surrounding city blocks to fully support each of the schools with great enrollment numbers. Previously, St. Gerard's would have 8th grade graduating classes with closer to 80 students (obviously split among a number of homerooms). As population began to fall in Buffalo, families moved to suburbs, and a various number of other reasons, population in these neighborhoods shifted and consequently enrollment began to decline. To this day, the Buffalo Catholic Diocese is still consolidating parishes and schools. However, due to various changes - one of them being a change in demographics of the neighborhood, the church's school closed in 1986.

You must understand that the relationships created in the school and neighborhood crossed generations. St. Gerard's classmate alumni got married, had children and settled in the same neighborhood that they themselves went to school at. Their children played with the children of other long-time neighbors. *Everyone* knew each other.....not just people in your class, but those older and younger than you. These families were huge too! I came from a family of six and that was about average. I went to school with other kids that had 8, 12, or 13 kids! I can't imagine that now, but that was common place. In addition to the school, each of there generations went to church at the parish, which was very active. In the mid 80's the neighborhood began to decline and now it is considered crime-infested inner-city. You would be hard pressed to find a family that remained in the neighborhood. The fixtures of the neighborhood that were important to grandparents, parents, and ourselves are now gone. And even the church itself (which my grandfather and great uncle painted much of the artwork of & where we chose to have Madeline baptized) is now closed - as of January 1, 2008.

Was this a grade school reunion? Yes. A church reunion? Yes. A neighborhood reunion? Yes. A reason to get together with old friends? Yes. In addition to the reunion aspect of the event it was also a fundraiser. Gerard Place is a non-for-profit agency that is housed in 2 of the former campus' buildings -the old primary grades building and the old convent. Gerard Place provides transitional housing and supportive service (GED classes, job training, etc) to homeless single parents. (If you are interested in donating or getting more information check their website at gerardplace.org )

Everyone had a wonderful time! In fact, many of us carried the party on afterward to a karaoke bar. Many people I talked to asked if we could do another reunion again next year! What a wonderful opportunity it would be for us to reunite with this "family" of our past. At the same time, what a great opportunity for Gerard Place to acquire a whole new group of support for their organization.

Below are a few more pictures from the evening...

Those in attendance from the class of 1984














Margaret won a basket in the basket raffle














My Aunt Sue and her close friend & former schoolmate, Teresa














Me, Paul, Margaret & Marysia














Me and Kim - We were closed friends in grade school














Me with my friend Tony, his wife Jen and a good friend of my family, Cathy














Me with a group of St. Gerard's friends














Ummmmm......yeah, that would be me on the far left doing karaoke when we went out after the reunion.

Saturday (5/2) pre-reunion recap

Saturday morning I got up to take Madeline to dance. While Madeline was at dance I got my toes done for the evening....I love pedicures! Unfortunately David had to work all day Saturday but Paul was able to accompany David during the day. This made the afternoon a quiet girl's day. My sisters - Marysia & Margaret, my niece - Rachel, Madeline and I just sort of hung out all afternoon. After lunch, we did surprise Rachel with a little birthday celebration (I can't believe that she is turning 20 on the 8th!!). We also watched Aladdin (Madeline's new thing is to watch tv from inside her Dora tent). In the evening, while we headed to the reunion, Rachel was nice enough to babysit Madeline. Thanks Rachel!!

Friday (5/1) recap

Friday morning I had to get up early to set up the hall for Saturday's reunion. Margaret came along to help and Marysia offered to stay back at my house to watch Madeline. Margaret and I stayed at the hall for about 2 and 1/2 hours before heading home. Later in the afternoon we girls headed out to get some shoes for Saturday's reunion.

After a successful shoe store trip (Madeline was having a blast trying on all the displayed shoes!) we headed out to visit my Aunt Sue and Uncle Ron's house. They live about an hour south of me. It was decided that we would meet my brother, Paul, there as he was en route to my house from Pittsburgh picking up my niece, Rachel, from college. Aunt Sue planned a wonderful dinner and we had a very enjoyable evening.

When we were growing up, my aunt and uncle lived just around the corner from us. We were lucky enough to see them often. Aunt Sue entertained often. She and Uncle Ron were always very hospitable and her parties were always great fun. Now, the only thing that has changed is the geographical distance between us. As usual, Aunt Sue put out quite the spread. When we arrived we had excellent hors d'ourves and lots of laughs. It was so nice to spend the time with my sisters and Paul visiting our aunt and uncle. Aunt Sue also invited her very close friend, Teresa. For dinner, Aunt Sue made a delicious pork roast, mashed potatoes & gravy (with Polish mushrooms!), cauliflower, green beans and asparagus. For dessert we had sinful tiramisu. It was such a nice evening (and a lot of fun!). I was so disappointed that I forgot my camera! I would've loved to get some photos, especially some of Madeline interacting with my Uncle Ron!

Aunt Sue and Uncle Ron have a beautiful Golden Retriever, Heidi. This dog is a very gentle dog but Heidi sort of freaked Madeline out. It's not that Madeline was scared, it's just that she was a bit leery of Heidi because next to Madeline, the dog was just about as big as her. My Uncle Ron was trying to show Madeline how gentle Heidi is. He fed Heidi cheese and gave some to Madeleine to give to the dog. Still, Madeline was a little leery. Uncle Ron explained to her that Heidi was gentle. Again, he demonstrated this by placing a chunk of cheese in his mouth (partially dangling out) and Heidi gently took the cheese from his mouth. Uncle Ron gave Madeline another chunk of cheese, thinking that she would hand it to the dog. Oh no....Madeline decided that she liked the idea of feeding the dog the same way Uncle Ron did. Before you knew it, the cheese was in her mouth and the dog gently grabbed it. I about died but Madeline thought it was the funniest thing......of course she did it two more times! I wasn't fast enough to grab my cell phone to take a picture or video. I did, however, get a video of another trick they taught Heidi. Sorry for the poor quality of the video as it was taken with my cell phone.

video

Thursday (4/30) recap

Thursday, Madeline had school in the morning. Marysia and I dropped Madeline off at school and had a couple of hours to hang out. We ended up getting some coffee and a bite to eat and fit in a little bit of shopping before we had to pick up Madeline. Thursday was a beautiful day here. After picking up Madeline we got some fresh air while Madeline played outside. As per Madeline's request, we even ate our lunch outside.

Thursday evening we had to pick-up my other sister, Margaret, from the airport. Margaret's flight was arriving late so Marysia and I decided to have a late dinner before heading to the airport. After David got home from work, Marysia and I headed out. We first went to the mall and I actually managed to find something to wear for the reunion. We stayed at the mall 'til closing and headed out to a bite to eat at 9pm. Marysia and I dined leisurely at the Creekview Restaurant in Williamsville. We lingered until well after 11pm and headed to the airport to pick up Margaret. Margaret's flight came in at about 11:45pm. When we got home from the airport we sat and chit-chatted for a little while. However, knowing that I had to get up early the next day, we didn't stay up too late.