Christmas with the Callaways

This post is only 2 months late, oops!  I thought that I posted it back on New Years!

Even though we have an extremely hectic life we still have found some time to squeeze in some fun this holiday season. It’s not always ideal and there may be fights, kicking, hitting and throwing of iPads (note… by the kids not me LOL).

I am so thankful that we had Owen, for a variety of reason.  One of the perks of having another boy is that we were able to experience the live experience of Thomas the Tank Engine.  I really did miss going to Strasburg, PA to see Thomas.  It’s always a wonderful day, we have been there so many times and each time has been a great experience for the boys.  This year was Owen’s first time.  He loved it.  And the older boys had an awesome time as well. I think that they forgot how much that they really enjoyed riding the train, and the gift shop. Of course, they loved the gift shop.  The kids haven’t played with the trains since they discovered the iPad but this year they HAD to buy stuff.  Of course, we gave in.

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We also had a great day picking out our tree. The first few years we used an artificial tree but I really wanted the tradition of going to a tree farm and chopping down a tree. I love it. Joey may disagree since he has to do the dirty work.

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After decorating the house for Christmas, we had a wonderful night celebrating with Ben and the second grade class during their Snowflake Spectacular.  They did an awesome job singing holiday songs!

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One night, my friend Wendi and I took the kids over to Shadybrook Farms in PA to see their awesome Christmas lights display!  Considering that we have 5 WILD and CRAZY kids in the car they did behave pretty well.  Wendi and I came prepared.  She brought presents and treats and I had a scavenger hunt for light displays.  It was an awesome night.

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In the midst of it all I had my 20th High School Reunion.  The St. Mark’s Class off 1995 ROCKS!  An awesome night with great friends!  It really was a wonderful night.

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Finally, on the 24th we had time to go and visit with the best Santa Claus in the world.  He is so sweet and kind and caring.  We have been to him every year for the past  7 years (even though I have a year or two without pictures)

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The kids had a wonderful Christmas.  We got to spend time with our families and it was great.  Despite some minor fights, they did have a great holiday. I just love seeing the smiles on their faces on Christmas morning.  Worth all of the stress and hassle.

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New Year’s Eve

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The only one who could hang with me until midnight!!!!

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 I hope that everyone had a nice and safe Christmas and New Years {and now a happy Groundhogs Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day and all of the other holidays that have passed since I originally typed out this email}!

Oh and Ben also celebrated his 8th Birthday recently… I will try and get a post up about that one shortly {hopefully before we hit Memorial Day}. I also have some posts coming on our blizzard, Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby Day, and a few other small ones coming soon. So keep on reading and check in often. I am trying to get all caught up!

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10 Years Ago… Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

So on this weekend 10 years ago my husband and I made the biggest change of our lives.  We were barely married a year when he decided that it was time to take a leap of faith and move out of the only state that we have ever known, the First State, Delaware.  We both were born and raised here and I even spent my college years at the University of Delaware.  Joey had been commuting to NYC on Amtrak for a year or so and figured it was time to jump into the city life.  So we sold our townhouse and moved to the city that never sleeps, New York City!

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At the time I hated it. I didn’t want to leave my family and friends. I was comfortable in Delaware.  I don’t like change and this was such a massive one for me. I really struggled with this but decided it was best for my husbands career and sanity if he was a little bit closer to his job.  He could never do what he wanted in Delaware and NYC was the place that he always wanted to work/live.  So being the wonderful wife that I am, we decided that he could give up his 4-5 hour daily commute.  I knew when we decided to move that I didn’t want to live in a tiny, stereotypical apartment.  I knew that I needed something a little bit nicer in order to not go too crazy.  Thankfully, we found a sweet apartment that greatly helped with that transition.  We chose to move into a brand new apartment building in Downtown NYC.  We were two blocks from Wall Street and two blocks from the World Trade Center Site.  It was an awesome building, Liberty Plaza.

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We were on the 32nd floor in a 700 sq. foot, 1 bedroom apartment.  Oh and if you tilted your head when you looked out our window you could see the Empire State building.  The building itself was awesome.  A doorman, a package room, a swimming pool and tons of other awesome amenities.  I loved our cute little apartment.  We even had hardwood floors and granite countertops.  It was a nice place of transition for me. It’s hard going from a 1700 square foot townhouse into a 700 sq.

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Now getting used to the city itself took some time.  I did figure out the subway pretty quickly. It’s very easy to get around the city.  Yes, some days really suck, especially when it’s raining and you can’t catch a cab or the subways are flooded.  But it really is the best city for mass transportation.  I was never afraid of getting lost or hurt.  The city is amazingly safe! Thankfully I had an awesome job at Ralph Lauren and seemed to settle in pretty well.  I had some low points but after some time I really did enjoy the city and everything that it had to offer.  We eventually moved to a smaller (WHAT?) apartment but closer to work and some more restaurants!  We found our favorites and had a great few years in the city.  Eventually we had to move out of the city. Benjamin was going to be arriving in the beginning of 2008 and we needed to get something a little bigger. We made the decision to move to New Jersey and commute to NYC.  I did that for a few months before I left to become a stay at home mom!  Joey still commutes everyday!

It was a scary time for me. I don’t like change {FYI – neither does Ben} but I know that it was the best thing for me.  I was able to come out of my comfort zone and move forward.  I did things that I never thought I would do.  I feel like in some ways that moving to NYC was my “going away to college” moment. A time where I became very independent.  I never really went away and this was the big step that I needed.  Now I am in central New Jersey, raising 3 boys and living a life that I never could have imagined.  Yes, it’s still hard some days being away from my family and friends but it’s our life now!  I wouldn’t change it for a thing!  Thanks to my husband for pushing me to take that next step!  Someday I hope to go back to the city. I really do miss it {I really miss the food ALOT}

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Wordless Wednesday

So here we are, it’s Wednesday again!  Today I have another busy day of doctor’s appointments {I will give you my week 16 update this afternoon}.  But in the meantime here are some pictures of Ben and I in New York City yesterday for his dermatology appointment.  I love when I can get this one on one time with him and taking him to New York City was great {despite his wild and crazy behavior}.

We took the train up around lunchtime for a 2pm doctors appointment.  Thankfully he slept most of the train ride because he was getting pretty antsy on the ride into the city.

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I had to wake him up in the tunnel and basically drag him up to the taxi stand.  He was a little out of it and if you have ever been in Penn Station people don’t have patience for a slow and sleepy kid!  But he survived the hustle and bustle and we hailed a cab over to the office. He wasn’t sure about the taxi ride.  Halfway through he asked me if there was a driver? Umm I hope so! He loved flying uptown passing cars and he especially loved the fact that he didn’t have to sit in his car seat!

After a quick cab ride, we made it to the doctors office!

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So the reason for the doctors visit…. When he was born he had a cluster of moles on his arm and after his first appointment at the NYU Skin & Cancer center we found out that it was speckled lentiginous nevus. Yeah, say that 10 times fast!  But in basic, non medical terms, he has one large “mole” and inside that mole is a cluster of other moles.  Now Ben’s large mole is on his right arm from the elbow down to his hand. If you see him in person you will notice that his arm is a lot darker in this area and I swear he gets a new mole / freckle every day.  He was born with about 9 and after a year he had around 16 but now, I couldn’t even count there are so many. Luckily they don’t bother him much and no one seems to make fun of him.  As of now they are just cosmetic but because of the melanoma and other skin cancers on my side of the family we have to keep an eye on these things! So every year we take the train up to the city to get them checked out!

You can see some of them in this picture. They were very dark when he was a newborn but have faded a lot.

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Doctor Update:  There’s no real update this time {which is a good thing}.  We go to the NYU Skin & Cancer clinic and a team of doctors and med students evaluate his pictures from last year and then come in to compare all of the changes.   He does pretty well with the group of doctors {even though one is snapping pictures of his arm the entire time}.  The doctor said that everything still looks healthy and nothing is at a high risk right now.  So we don’t need to come back again for another year!

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This appointment is pretty painless but it’s such a long day of travel and then having to wait for over an hour {because they are always running behind}.  But this year we hopped in a cab and went down to daddy’s office.  Ben got to see his desk before we headed out for some pizza.  Unfortunately it was raining and Ben was getting pretty wild so we didn’t hike up to Times Square this time.  We just took a subway to Penn Station and headed home!

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But it was a great day and I know that he was excited to take the train, subway & taxi.  Boys love this stuff.  I was pretty excited to be in the city again.   Quick trips into the city really make me miss living and working there! I just love the vibe and speed of the city!  Oh well maybe someday we will live back there again… when the kids are in college!

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Finish the Sentence Friday – Week #15

Welcome to week #15 of Finish the Sentence Friday.   This blog hop is brought to you by four awesome ladies! Make sure you stop by and like all of their pages. They are great. 
 
 

This week’s sentence is: ” If I could live anywhere I’d live… “


I had to think about this one a little bit because I couldn’t believe my answer at first.  Yes, If I could live anywhere, I’d live in New York City.  Now if you had asked me that question 10 years ago I probably would have answered with Los Angeles or Hawaii or something along those lines.  But now after living in NYC for a few years and then leaving it, I would love to go back. I moved to the city kicking and screaming. I did not want to go. But I am so glad that I did.  I was born and raised in Delaware and I never wanted to leave.  That’s where all my friends and family lived. I had a good job, a great house and was happy.  
But my husband needed more. He had always wanted to work and live in NYC and he figured if he didn’t do it, he might never have the chance.  He started his MBA program at Pace and then eventually got a job.  He commuted from Delaware to NYC everyday for about 9 months.  After those nine months we realized that it was time to move. So we sold our townhouse, packed up our bags and moved to Downtown NYC, right off of Wall Street.  You can read all about our different apartments here: Home Sweet Home.
 
After 3 years of New York life, we moved to the suburbs to have kids. I always say that if I had a lot of money, I would move back to the city. But we would need a pretty big place for these boys!  New York has the best restaurants, the best entertainment, the best museums and the best parks! It truly was a great place to live. 

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Finish the Sentence Friday – Week #6

It’s Friday, so you know what that means. It’s time for the Finish the Sentence Friday Blog Hop hosted by




 Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic (TwitterFacebook)

Finish the Sentence Friday
This week’s sentence to finish: ”The most-memorable Valentine’s Day I ever had was…”
The most memorable Valentine’s Day I ever had was probably the Valentine’s Day that Joey and I lived in NYC and went to one of our favorite restaurants called Piccolo Angolo. It’s a small little Italian restaurant in the West Village. There can’t be any more than 15 tables in the place. There’s just something about small restaurants with long waits in NYC. It usually means that they are fabulous!  It’s nothing fancy but the food is great, the staff is awesome and the original owner is hilarious (if you can understand him through his thick accent).  
We have gone to this restaurant a ton of times and taken a lot of our friends and family there as well. It’s just one of those places that you always go back to, the one that you can never shut up about! 
Now I can’t say that I was proposed to on Valentine’s Day, announced a pregnancy or anything special like that but enjoying a wonderful traditional Italian dinner with your husband in one of the best restaurants in NYC is pretty special to me!
Now after writing this post, I am dying to get back there for some of their baked lasagna or their basketball sized meatballs.  YUMMY!
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Home Sweet Home

I thought today I would share with you all the different homes that Joey and I have shared together. Now we have been married for 9 years this past October and together for 11.  (Feel free to check out our wedding pictures here).  The average person would probably move one or two times in those 11 years but lucky for us (and all the moving companies that we paid), we have moved 6 times.  When we first got engaged, I moved in with him to his first floor apartment in Wilmington, De.  It was a nice little apartment but it was on the block in between $750,000 homes and MURDER TOWN USA.  I was ready to move out of that place the first time the cops chased someone into our back yard when I was outside alone walking the dog! It was a cute apartment  with a lot of old city charm and I would show you more pictures but I am way too lazy to pull them out of storage (this was before we saved photos online and on chips). 


It was a quaint little first floor apartment that was very convenient to our jobs, but it was time to move on.


So we moved to Bear, DE. We bought a cute little town house that I thought would be perfect for a few years! We would work in Wilmington, DE and enjoy a quiet little life for a few years then move to our dream house and have tons of babies!


Our 1st and only Christmas in this house!


My large kitchen (some days I wish that I had the width of this kitchen)

Our cute little “great room”.


Well 18 months later we were on the move again. This time to New York City!  That was a huge shocker! The hubby was doing his MBA program at Pace University and he took a job in the city. He did commute from Delaware to NYC for almost a year before he decided it was too much. Since we didn’t have kids, he (err we) decided to move to New York City….You’ve heard of it before, right?  I always think of the Jay Z lyrics now for Empire State of Mind.


New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York,
New York


Well our dreams were made in a one bedroom 700 sq ft high-rise apartment in downtown NYC. It was at 10 Liberty Plaza  It was so much fun trying to squeeze furniture from a 3 bedroom town house into a tiny one bedroom apartment. Let’s just say that most of our stuff ended up in each of our parents basements. 

We were two blocks from Wall Street and the World Trade Center site.  For NYC, it was a gorgeous apartment. It was a brand new building with hardwood floors, granite counter tops, new appliances and we even had a washer/dryer. They had a gym (which I never saw) and a swimming pool (which I never saw). It was a pretty sweet place!  We lived up on the 32nd floor and if you leaned a little to the right when looking out the window you could see the Empire State Building. Below are some pics of the place (we probably rearranged the place 10 times but these are the only pictures that I have)

We lived way up there – 32nd Floor (floor not shown)

View from our family room into our kitchen and foyer

View from Kitchen into our Family Room
Our One Bedroom
Kitchen
We lived in this brand new luxury apartment for two years before DOWNSIZING (WHAT???) to a 500 sq ft walk up apartment.
We moved uptown to where there were more restaurants, bars and it was also much closer to our jobs. When I think back to that time, I cannot believe that I lived in such a tiny little place.  It was a TRUE NYC apartment. This was the type of apartment that you only slept in. You would come home from work, change then head out for dinner and drinks. You didn’t have friends over because there was no room but I did discover a ton of new ways to organize and store things living in such a tiny place. Now remember, our furniture was from a huge house, so most of it ended up at our parents places and what we could fit, looked ridiculous!  This apartment was not the fancy ones that everyone on TV lived in. It was maybe the size of the Monica and Rachel’s kitchen on Friends.  If the Friends apartment existed in real life, we would have been paying $15k a month in rent. 

Here are a few (horrible) picture that I did find of the place. You can see it’s not wide AT ALL.  Now imagine that the person taking this picture was standing in our kitchen and our bedroom was right next store and it was the exact same width. Oh and the curtains came with the place! Just sayin…


Our Tiny Little Family Room

Our massive kitchen! Ha! I never once used that stove. I think the only thing that was used in that kitchen was the microwave and the alcohol sitting on top of the microwave. If you notice there is no refrigerator in the kitchen! It was down the hall on the way to the bathroom. God I wish I had more pictures of this place!

It was a cute little walkup on a gorgeous tree lined street

BUT…..after a year there, baby Benjamin was about to make an appearance so we headed to the suburbs. There was no room for a new t-shirt in that old apartment let alone a baby and all that comes with a baby! So we moved to central NJ. We found this gorgeous brand new condo in a new town center that was 3 times the size of our apartment and we didn’t have to pay $450/month for a parking spot. Instead we each just paid that much to travel to NYC for work. 


Family Room (before painting)

Master Bedroom (I sure do miss this bedroom it was huge)
Master Bath

Hall Bath

My gorgeous kitchen



Ben’s Nursery (for 4 months)

I absolutely loved this place. My master bedroom was larger than the last apartment we lived in. I had a huge master bath and walk in closet and I was completely in love with my huge kitchen! 

Well we lasted in that place for only 9 short months (long story that involved loud music from the restaurant below us). So again, we called the movers and relocated down the street into a town house, where we still reside today. 

We are the second house from the right.



Dining Room/Living Room or our “great room” as they call them these days

Family Room
My tiny kitchen
Other Half of the Kitchen

We finished the basement last summer to give ourselves a little more space but it never seems to be enough. There are only a few things I would change in our house right now – a bigger kitchen, fourth bedroom and a larger backyard.  But for right now we are staying put.

And why would you want to leave this neighborhood. It’s absolutely gorgeous. We have a huge lake, walking trails, a pavilion with summer concerts and tons of kids parks. It’s a great place. 


PS – did you notice that those damn leather couches have traveled with us to every single house?  They started off at Broom Street in Wilmington, DE and continued with us to every single house (even our tiny NYC apartments where the love seat ended up in our bedroom in the tiny apartment). They are starting to show their age and travels….. 



Happy Wednesday!




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8 Things You Never Knew About Me

I decided that since I have so many new friends following me I thought it was the perfect time to share a few things with you about myself. If you have known me for awhile then you might already know this stuff. But if you are new to my blog here are some little facts about this mama! 

Number 8:
I spent the first 28 years of my life living in Delaware before moving to NYC and then eventually NJ.  I grew up in New Castle Delaware then lived a few other places around Delaware before moving to NYC in 2004. Then in 2007 we moved to New Jersey – which is half way between Delaware (where are family still resides and NYC where the hubby works). I have lived here in NJ now for 5 years and I still don’t know where anything is. Just ask my Jersey friends. They will ask to meet at a certain place and I ALWAYS have to ask where that is. I never know where people are talking about. But ask me anything about Delaware and I can probably help you out. I guess it’s time I better start learning about my new home state.

Number 7: 
I went to catholic school for 12 years of my life. I loved the education, my group of friends and the fact that I had a uniform. I liked getting up and not having to pick out an outfit – it made dressing in college a lot harder but I didn’t mind the uniform at all. From 1st grade through 8th grade I went to Our Lady of Fatima in New Castle, DE. Then for 9th -12th, I went to St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington, DE. Both were great schools and I wouldn’t trade the education or the experience for the world.  I must admit that I have horrible grammar (if you are a regular on the blog you know that one by now). Sorry guys! I just didn’t do well in English classes!

Number 6: 
I am slightly obsessed with cheesy boy bands and pop singers. I must confess that I still listen to New Kids on the Block, N’Sync and Backstreet on my iPod. Especially at the gym! I have also attended one or two NKOTB concerts recently oh and a NKOTBSB concert as well.  My obsession doesn’t end with the boy bands I still love Britney and Jessica. If either of them went back on tour I would soooo be there!!!! I know I am almost 36 years old but trust me after attending these concerts I realized that I am one of the “normal” fans. There are some crazy nut bags that stalk these guys!

Number 5: 
I am obsessed with football – most specifically the Philadelphia Eagles and the University of Delaware. I can’t help it. I grew up watching football with my dad and going to every UD game with my parents from the time that I was a little itty bitty baby all the way through my four years at the college. Now if you have been reading this blog for awhile you already know about this slight obsession. I just wish that I was little bit richer so I could start going to some NFL games and if we lived back in Delaware I would definitely be going to every UD home game!

Number 4: 
I am obsessed and I do me OBSESSED with celebrity gossip. I can’t stop going online to TMZ, Radar Online, Perez Hilton, etc. It has been an issue now ever since the website Gawker.com came out with a celebrity stalking site (a long time ago). When I was living and working in NYC it was an obsession. You could log on and read where people posted celebrity sightings all around town. So if you wanted to, you could go stalk them.  I promise I never did! I swear, I did have a job that I needed to go to every day. But then Perez Hilton and TMZ started and the obsession lived on. I check these sites all of the time and I love sharing the latest celebrity gossip with all of my friends. I even got my mom into those websites. But I do realize that the older I get, the less I know who the heck these kids are anymore that they are gossiping about. I was probably the last to know who the Twilight peeps were. I have less time these days to really read the articles but have kept up with the Kardashians and I know all things Britney and Jessica. If you were to quiz me in the latest celeb gossip, I know that I would get an A++. Just don’t dare ask me where a comma belongs!

My favorite TMZ starlet. She’s like a train wreck I hate to see the results but I can’t look away.

Number 3: 
I have a terrible (and I mean pass out on the floor) fear of blood and anything medical. From as young as I remember I always passed out if I saw anything gross or gory. I don’t know how I survived two c-sections.  Honestly I think it was better that I had c-sections than natural childbirth. The moment my kids were out the anxiety medicine was administered to me very quickly. I was okay during Ben’s birth until the end but with Sean I was hyperventilating the entire time. It was better that I couldn’t see a thing! Even though my husband did explain things that he saw later on. I am getting queasy just thinking about it.

I don’t handle my kids blood any better. I am dreading the day that they lose their first tooth (eww gross). Now I know that I get stitches at my dermatologist all of the time but I can take anxiety meds for that. I can prepare myself. I can’t prepare for the moment one of my kids gets injured. When Ben got hurt at school last month and busted his teeth/lips/gums, the teachers laughed that my first question to them was “Did the bleeding stop? Is he all cleaned up”.  I always thought that I would outgrow it but I haven’t. I still have the anxiety but I have gotten a lot better than I was just a few years ago! I mean just 6 years ago I never could have done the whole dermatology thing by myself. I always needed someone to go with me! Now I am an old pro. 


Number 2: 
I went to college at the University of Delaware and studied Consumer Economics! To this day I don’t think that I could explain my major. After college I worked in marketing at Wilmington Trust for a few years. Then when we moved to NYC I started working at Ralph Lauren Childrenswear – besides being a mom this was the BEST JOB EVER.  I did not have any experience with fashion or design whatsoever but that didn’t matter. It was such a wonderful job experience and there are a lot of days that I wish that I was still working there (and not just for the awesome discount). I learned so much about manufacturing and design. Oh and I made so many wonderful friends, had an amazing boss and overall it was such a wonderful experience.  It was just a great place to work. I miss being on the inside of the fashion world. Now I just live out my fashion life at Kohls or Target ! God, I miss Ralph!  
And the number one thing that you might not know about me is…drumroll please….
Number 1
I was born in January during the blizzard of 1977. Not that this is something special but I was born in an ambulance that was stuck on I-95 in that blizzard. My mom of course went into labor and had to call an ambulance (one because of the weather and two because I was coming quickly).  I just couldn’t wait and on the way to the hospital I popped out! I am just thankful that my parents didn’t name me I-95 or anything stupid like that. So as I tell people my 15 minutes of fame were the first 15 minutes of my life (I need to find my news paper articles about my birth to prove that I was sort of famous).  Now I know it’s not as cool as being born in a taxi or at a bus stop but still… it’s a fun story to tell. 
There you have it, 8 things that you probably never wanted or needed to know about me, but now you do! Why only 8 and not 10? Well that’s all that I could think of today! Ha!

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Gone Way Too Soon……

I read recently about a fellow blogger who lost her mom this week and it really got me thinking about this post that I have been trying to write now forever.  I think that I am finally ready to post it. It’s about losing a parent. I know it happens all of the time but when you are young and at the happiest point in your life it can be a real shock – especially when you think that your parents are invincible.

So, this one is going to be a long one. I apologize in advance. It might make you laugh and it might bring some tears to your eyes. It’s about my dad.  (FYI – Mom, you might not want to read this one)

For those of you that know me, you knew that I was daddy’s little girl. I had him so tightly wrapped around my finger it was awesome! I could just look at my dad a certain way and I knew I would get what I wanted. I guess I was just the good kid in the family (sorry Tara).

I got to spend 30 awesome years with him. Now I admit, I wasn’t always on my best behavior (but I was much better than my sister – haha). I could probably get away with a few more things than her.

But never in my 30 years of life would I ever expect to be there the moment that my dad closed his eyes and took his last breath (well I always knew that he would pass away but never so young).  I didn’t expect to give birth to my first son and within 3 weeks lose my father. I didn’t expect to hear that he had cancer one day and within four months he would be taken from us. Thirty years just wasn’t enough time. He should have been here to see my mom finally retire, he should have been able to retire. He should have been here to hold my babies and to see what a crazy mom that I have become. He would laugh his ass off knowing what my boys do to me on a daily basis. 


It’s been been over 5 years now since we found out he was sick. It started off as just a pain in his chest and after numerous test and doctors appointments they finally determined that he had a late stage of stomach cancer.  That damn “C” word that has ruined countless lives entered mine in a huge way. I was half way through my pregnancy when we got the news. It was devastating being away from him in NYC while he was going through treatment in Delaware. Thank goodness for my awesome mother. She became his nurse day in and day out. She took him to the doctors, the ER, took him to chemo and changed his feeding tubes. You name it, she did it. I never knew that she could be so medical! But she is a pretty awesome woman.

Thankfully my dad did hold on long enough to meet my son Benjamin. I like to think that this was the reason he held on for so long. He was in so much pain but I now that he was determined to meet my little baby!

The very first time that my dad got to hold Ben (see him rocking his UD hat – now you know where I get my love for University of Delaware football from).  These pictures are bittersweet. I love looking at them but they were when my dad was at his sickest so it’s also painful to see. But I am so glad to have these photos and I cherish them.

The very last time he held him before passing away a few days later.

Now I don’t like to remember my dad during those last 4 months of his life. Yes, it was reality but it wasn’t who he was. He had spent the previous 58 years of his life celebrating each and every day like it was his last. I know he was someone who lived with no regret. From a little child he was a hell raiser. I loved hearing the stories of him growing up in Castle Hills, New Castle – setting his backyard on fire and just being a little menace! Oh so now I know where my kids get it from! It’s all starting to click right now. 
The day I was born was an adventure to say the least. I will explain that one another day but I like to think that my dad caught me and never let go after that. 

I know that when Joey and I moved to NYC he may have been sad to see me go but I know that he was pretty darn proud of me. He loved coming up to the city to visit. He loved traveling all over and I remember on one particular morning before we were all awake he had already ridden the ferry over to Staten Island (or Ellis Island I can’t remember which) for a quick little trip. That was the type of guy he was.  He would always share with everyone that I was living in the big city working for Ralph Lauren! So I know he was proud of me.  My dad would come up for surprise visits and take me out to lunch! Of course that was just an excuse for him to check out the massive train system in NYC. The man loved his trains.

There was a time that I went through a really rough spot and my parents were right there to help me out. It’s not a time that I like to talk about but I am thankful that it happened because I was able to spend 2 months with my parents that I never would have had otherwise. My dad helped me buy a new car during that time and I will never forget those precious moments. Everything happens for a reason right? 

I know one of his proudest days was holding his very first grandchild, my niece, Molly.

He got to share that moment with his own father as well. Oh what’s with the checked shirts – like father like son.

Spending time with Molly and Alex was his life. He couldn’t go more than a few days without visiting them. The man would take off work just to spend a day at the pool with those kids. That’s how much he enjoyed his life. He enjoyed the precious moments. He thought he was going to be the cool grandfather with an awesome nickname “Dusty”. Well let’s just say that didn’t stick but “Who da pop pop?” was one that we did hear often.

Looking at the picture above with my nephew I can now see that he was sick. This was right before his diagnosis and he was already in a lot of pain. I could see how much thinner he was. Didn’t notice it as much at the time but I see it now. He was suffering but still enjoying life – spending an awesome vacation with his wife, daughter and two grand kids in Disney World. His last vacation….
He had 38 fabulous years with my mom. I know that there were many ups and downs but deep down they had a marriage that lasted. They brought out the best (and worst) in each other but their main goal was always to have fun and to make my sister and myself happy. They enjoyed their many vacations – which they did a lot more of after I finally graduated from college. 

He absolutely adored his friends. They were always smart asses but had the best of time together. I know that every single time together there was some inside hilarious joke that only the two of them shared.

Besides his family and friends the only other thing that was important to this man was University of Delaware Football. He was obsessed with the team and had season tickets for well over 3 decades. I find it funny that he didn’t even attend the school. It was just a huge passion of his – that he did pass down to me. I now have most of his memorabilia in my basement – my UD football room.  He traveled all over to watch them play and I must admit that I am so happy that he traveled to Chattanooga TN to see them win the championship game. It was I believe one of the highlights of his entire life.  He even met his idol, Tubby Raymond.

This was a man who lived his life to the fullest. If I sat down and wrote a list of all of the funny stories it would be longer than War and Peace. There were times that I wanted to kill him, like when he showed up to a HS dance because I wasn’t outside at exactly 11pm. How embarrassing. Or the time that he told me and my friends that the New Kids on the Block concert was canceled just to mess with us (well it actually was but he didn’t know it at the time). I could go on and on.

If you knew my dad, you knew how happy he was. I know he would be happy with how my mom, sister and I have moved forward with our lives. We still honor him all of the time and laugh about how he would react to certain things going on in our lives.  But we always stayed strong and never stopped living (just like him).  So this is how I choose to remember my dad. Not sick in a hospital bed, not stuck in a chair hooked up to chemo and certainly not saying our very last goodbyes. But I know I will see him again in heaven. I know this because one of his last words was “mom” and we were able to get it out of him that he could see his mother. So I know that she was there waiting for him and I know that when the time comes, he will be there waiting for me too.

Now this post has taken me three months and countless tears to write so I thank you for spending the time reading it.