Visiting Alex

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A few weeks ago, Miss F and I followed Alex up to UCONN to have breakfast and walk around the campus. It was such a fun day. When I went to UCONN, a gazillion years ago, I learned so much more about myself in those 4 years than I learned since. I learned that if I have a goal and I work my arse off, I will definitely achieve it, but with a lot of hard work and a lot of faith in myself. I learned that having friendships of personal value will keep me afloat during the tougher times of life and teach me the value of reciprocity and trust. I learned that getting into trouble can be so fun and those same friends won’t ever spill the beans.  And the same goes for me for them. I learned that you only get out of school what you put into it. If you study and fork over your insane drive to party and hang out all day eating ramen noodles and drinking and doing shots for breakfast, your GPA will thank you. And you will probably thank yourself a few years down the road too. I learned that college is not cheap, and without my parents belief that I wasn’t throwing their hard earned cash away, it would have taken me longer to get there.

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Walking around with Miss Fin and Alex, I still felt the old UCONN even though what I saw was completely different. Immaculate buildings, paved paths, commerce city rising from where fields once were. People sitting in coffee houses chatting with lap tops on tables. None of that existed when I was there. Even though this UCONN of today is probably far more superior, I still would’t trade my version of UCONN for the new glistening one. Although, I have to say the UCONN that Alex loves will always lay in her soul ever so slightly when she is older. Creep in of moments of quiet, and she will love what those memories bring to her mind and heart. UCONN, no matter what version, will always represent possibility, vision, life and immeasurable relationships that will be hard to ever replicate in value or importance.

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We ate breakfast at The Dog Lane Cafe. Walked to the swings by Mirror Lake, and went to the co-op. I took Miss F to my old Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house. I loved everything about that old house. Now, it sits empty with the Greek Village up on the hill.  Instead of a house, the sisters basically live in dorms. I would of hated that. Our KKG house was truly a home.

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We walked to the Student Union and met up with Alex and then went to the Dairy Bar. Delicious ice cream, milk shakes, you name it. And ended our visit with a ride up to the hill to see the cows.

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It was a prefect day spent with perfect girls.

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Life and stuff

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Being someone’s mother has been nothing like I thought it would be. These little beings are tough. With their own personalities, dreams, fears, likes, dislikes…you name it. They are people for crying out loud and are nothing like me and everything like me all in one. There is no manual for how to do things right, and I hope I am not scaring them too much with my errors in day to day life. I try. I fail. And sometimes I score. It’s a crap shoot really.

I forget that me being an only child is so different than how my kids are living out their childhoods. I never had to share with a nagging brother or sister. I never had to go on endless car trips to watch my brother or sister dance or play soccer. I never had to come home from school and realize someone had been in my room taking my stuff while I was not there. I never had to give in first just so my brother or sister would stop crying. Either way, both childhoods have great points. And really, all that a kid really needs is to know that he/she is loved.

But then again, I think about how wonderful that is for them. I love how they can play school with each other, take a ride into town on their bikes. Cuddle in bed with each other and read to the littlest one. I love how they can count on one another when they need to. All that they have from and with each other is so special. They might not think that now, but eventually. My oldest said to me one day that I just didn’t get it. And in that one second I did get it. All she wanted was a few minutes alone without her little sister asking her 1,000 questions. I got it. And I made it happen for her, I delivered her some peace and quiet. But I still wouldn’t change the route that they are on. I love that they actually have someone to nag, bicker, fight, love, hug and laugh with. That is just so amazing. I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. I think it is teaching them life skills that they can hopefully use when they are older. Plus a loud house is normal…right?

It’s all good.

Summer

So now that I am back, what exactly took all our time away these last few months? Here is a quick trip down memory lane.

The beginning of summer was all about dance, Irish Dance. We had recitals, Irish Summer Festivals and a dance trip to Montreal. It was Miss F’s first time dancing and she had a blast trying to be like her big sister.

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Miss F and I visited Mr S and Miss P for flag day.

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I really think Miss F loved the whole idea of getting ready to dance. Bun, tights, ghilles, tutu and all. Every single second of it.

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When we were in Montreal, the Mr became a paparazzi and snapped Lady Gaga as she was leaving her hotel room. Madness.

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We went to a water park and a dinosaur park. It was a bit chilly, but they went through it like troopers.

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We took boat rides, caught crabs with hot dogs and went to beach concerts.

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Miss P was in the play Treasure Island and she had a blast!

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Miss P used the ocean as a back drop for her never ending quest for the perfect jump hold.

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And let’s just say that having a lemonade stand was very lucrative and very exciting.

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And Mr. S in his glory.

Fun times.

Grandma

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When you think of your grandma, how would you describe her? My Dad’s mom, who we all call Grandma, could be described as the quintessential Grandmother. Always smiling, eager for her great-grandchildren to dance, act silly and just be kids. Visiting her at her home is never a quiet visit. She loves her Price is Right on the loudest setting, and would think nothing of my kids hooting and hollering, laughing and jumping around. The rowdier the better time we all would have.

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Growing up, my Dad and I would visit her and Grandpa almost every week. She taught me how to play Gin Rummy, make paper airplanes and hats. We would walk to the local drug store and buy candy or get ice cream at the local diner. Every now and then I would go to Saturday Mass with her, always sitting in the same pew. I cannot think of ever a time when she didn’t make me feel special or for that matter loved.

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When I resigned from teaching, I was able to reconnect more with my family. Looking back now, it was a blessing and I would not change leaving my job for a second. I was able to bring Mr.S and Miss F and visit her more often and watch them make her smile and laugh. I now can look at all those pictures I snapped on those visits and see that every single one had her laughing and my kids rolling on the floor. Those are priceless moments forever captured. Moments in time.

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I never fully appreciated or recognized how amazingly strong and loving my Grandma was until I became a mother. Life has a way of handing you devastation unexpectedly , and how you learn to process a new life through grief and try to find joy in a new way of living can be unbearable or impossible for many. A feat that no one ever wants to imagine facing. She did exactly that for most of her life after the loss of her beloved daughter. Every holiday, special family event, or any normal day, she showed us all love and happiness despite how deeply she missed and grieved her daughter. A lesson we can all follow in our lives when we sweat the small stuff.

Her love of her family showed in her requests for a quick picture at every visit. Her walls adorned with photos of her family.

Our Grandma passed away on August 16th at 91 years young. Exactly one month ago. I find myself putting on Price is Right at 11 weekdays, because I know that that is what she would have on if she were still here. As we celebrated her life on a warm beautiful cloudless sky a few weeks ago, I could not help but feel comforted knowing that she was with her daughter and Grandpa. I decided to make a conscious effort from then on to SMILE, LAUGH and CHERISH what I have just the way she lived every single day of her life.

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I love you Grandma.