Archive for the 'family' Category

Long time, no blog

Well, what can I say? Life happens. After a long time of neglecting the blogs I even read, I stumbled across one of my favorite blogs The Glamorous Life Association and was inspired – for the first time in a long time – to write a post myself.

Imagine my shock when I went to my own blog and saw a huge blinking snowman wishing me Christmas hugs. Has it really been that long since I posted? And truthfully, this is not a “real” post, is it? It’s merely an image I submitted in a post weeks before, with a planned date of Christmas for the reading pleasure of all my zillion blog followers.

Truth is, I haven’t felt much like posting on the blog. I haven’t really had a lot of positive things to say, and my urge to write just hasn’t been there – which is quite unusual for me.

Those of you who are close might know some of the things I’ve been through. For the others….

My in-laws were on their way here only a few days before Christmas. Their intent was to move into a house in a retirement community and spend the rest of their days here in sunny and warm Arizona rather than snowy and frigid Western New York. Unfortunately somewhere along the way my father-in-law had a heart attack.

My mother-in-law Suzy (who has Alzheimer’s) continued driving, guided by my FIL’s keen sense of direction, even in his poor state of health. His heart attack was not too apparent actually, and once they got here on the 23rd we knew he was sick, but did not realize how badly.

On Christmas Eve, it became apparent he was in need of professional medical help and Terry brought him to the Emergency room. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, Ray’s vital organs failed him one by one – first his heart, then his liver, his kidneys, and finally his lungs. On December 28th the family made the difficult decision to remove him from artificial life support. That evening he quietly passed away at hospice with Suzy, his first and fifth sons (Terry and Ted respectively) and myself closely by his side.

The next few weeks were spent in the frozen tundra that was Rochester, NY (remember those horrible storms in the northeast over New Year’s?) dominated by funeral home and memorial service arrangements, learning about the process of cremation, dealing with differing family opinions and personalities, and taking care of logistics like bills, mail, figuring out the financial situation, legal issues, etc., all throughout the mourning process.

Our saving grace was being able to stay at the home of a true angel, Bunny Mannix. No matter how difficult our day was, she made sure that we were always comfortable and cared for, and had somewhere safe and warm to sleep after an exhausting day.

Once all that died down and we were back in Arizona, there was still the issue of what to do with Terry’s mom Suzy. Although she is not yet at the “serious” stage of Alzheimer’s, it was apparent she was not able to care for herself. Lord knows how she got by over the past couple of months in New York. Ted stayed with Sue in the home she and Ray had leased for January and February, while the two of them and Terry searched for assisted living facilities for her. After weeks and weeks, visits to countless places, they finally found a suitable place that would work for her financially and she moved in last week.

And of course while all this is going on, life does not stop. We exchanged presents but never really had a “Christmas”. I had three business trips including two conferences I had to run, my assistant quit, Justin broke his wrist, the dog had two different ailments (one causing me to take him to doggie urgent care) and various degrees of colds have passed through our home. We just kept thinking, when will this all stop?

Fortunately things are better. Now that Terry’s mom is in a safe and truly nice place, it will be easier to tie up the loose ends. But it’s still not easy, and for that I ask for your prayers.

It has been a difficult time for us, but we’ve gotten through it. The support of our friends was immensely helpful and I am personally forever grateful to my sister Danielle who was there for me when I had to be there for everyone else.

I normally don’t like to post on the blog about things that might bring the mood down, but I did think it was important to put the information here for those who might not already know. It was also somewhat therapeutic to write as well.

My prayers to God to give us strength and clarity to get through this situation have been answered and for that I am forever thankful. It’s going to be okay.

Random thoughts and reflections

As we are coming to the end of the year, it seems appropriate to look back at 2009.

Some things have not changed – the kids have very obviously grown a few inches each, but they are the same lovable Eric and Justin. Same personalities, likes and dislikes, and the same challenges. Work continues to present challenges for both myself and Terry, and my travel schedule was pretty hectic at times. We had some good times with good friends, especially over the summer, though not as often as we may have liked. We enjoyed another season of football for Justin. Next year will be his last before playing for high school, which is a whole different world.

Some things have changed quite a bit – we welcomed a new and furry family member, Duke, who has easily settled into our home and our lives. We’ve made a few new friends in the neighborhood as well as through football. One of the biggest changes: Terry’s parents will arrive today or tomorrow, making Arizona their permanent home. Their first move since 1972!

I logged the frequent flyer miles with trips to Sacramento, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas. Of course our vacation in Hawaii was the best of all. Terry got to travel a bit, with a business trip to Las Vegas and of course Lake Tahoe where he won the Hawaii trip – he can’t wait to go back to Tahoe next year in hopes of getting another prize like that one.

We enjoyed some family visits – Terry’s Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Vern visited us from Ohio and Terry’s brother Tim came with his brood all the way from Switzerland in April. Easter was spent with them as well as Terry’s cousins Russ & Sherri and their family. My brother Damian visited over Thanksgiving and my Mom and stepdad just left last week after a 2-week visit.

2009 presented many challenges, but truly challenges are opportunities. I hope that 2010 holds many good opportunities in store for us as well.

Best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving holiday come and gone. This one was wonderful as well. We had a feast of course, and enjoyed the company of our friends Todd and Barbara as well as my brother Damian.

We also took advantage of the long weekend by doing some fun things together like bowling on Friday then hanging out with friends Jim and Kathy Friday night. Yesterday/Saturday we enjoyed a pancake breakfast, leftovers for lunch and then went to see The Blind Side. Afterwards we enjoyed a spectacular dinner at The Keg. We’ve also played lots of games – Farkle, Loaded Questions, and Wii tennis-bowling-boxing. Today we’ll probably just kick back and relax, watch NFL football and later I drive Damian to the airport.

One thing i did NOT do is go shopping on Black Friday. I guess there were some really good deals out there, but honestly not worth the crowds and standing in a long line. I did accomplish a bit of Christmas shopping online, including getting a great deal on a nice present for Justin. Of course I can’t mention what it is since we want it to be a surprise :)

The coming week will be super busy, with my Mom and Dave coming in on Wednesday night. We also have Justin’s football season party on Tuesday evening and that pretty much only leaves Monday to do cleaning, chores and packing for our trip next week. I’m so excited that next Sunday we will be waking up in Hawaii!

Great day – and Friday to boot!

Great day today. For one, I got a lot done at work. Then as I was on my way to an event, I drove by the construction site for the newest Phoenix Culver’s – only about 1/2 mile from the office! Actually this is both good and bad – good for the tastebuds, terrible for the waistline!

The event I went to was the National Speakers Association’s Fall Conference. One of my associates from Meeting Professionals International asked me to be on a panel of meeting planners, and I was very flattered. The session was fun to do – not the first time I’ve been on a panel, but our moderator was exceptional which made the 90 minute session literally fly by. After the session, one of the attendees – a very well-known and esteemed meeting planning colleague – sought me out to compliment me on my speaking voice. That comment literally made my day!

Today Terry stayed home to drain the pool – something we desperately needed to do. I guess when the water is “old” it’s more difficult to balance, and according to the pool store who analyzed our water sample, it hasn’t been done for a long, long time. At any rate, right now we have an empty pool – which is kind of weird. Tomorrow it will be full again, and hopefully easier to maintain as well.

Of course I can’t believe it’s nearly Thanksgiving. This year we will not have a huge group but there will be 7 of us. My brother Damian is coming for a short visit, and I’m really excited about spending some time with him. I haven’t seen him in about 3 years, most of which he spent in Japan (he’s in the Navy). Also coming to dinner will be our friends Todd and Barbara, who of course are like family to us.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I really need to work on organizing the menu and my shopping list – tomorrow I will be joining the masses of home cooks and stocking up for the big day next week. Woo-hoo!

Halloween festivities

We enjoyed Halloween weekend with a Friday night party (I won the costume contest and $100 cash for dressing as a 50’s housewife!) and a Saturday evening neighborhood gathering/pot luck/trick or treat. Justin went to a surprise birthday/Halloween party for his friend and decided to dress up as “emo”. Not having any daughters, I never thought I’d be putting eyeliner, lipstick and earrings on one of my children! He looks good though – and pretty convincing.


Above – Barbara as a cop and my winning costume. Honestly nothing outlandish but I was thrilled to beat out about a dozen trampy costumes. Nice to know you don’t have to be a tart to win something like that!

For the block party, the dish I brought to pass was the ever-popular Chicken Wing Dip. Also got a new recipe, someone brought an awesome fruit dip:

Caramel Apple Dip

1 tub Caramel sauce ; (used for apples – 16 oz.)
1 package Cream cheese ; softened
1/2 cup Chopped peanuts ; unsalted
4 Granny Smith apples ; sliced

In medium mixing bowl, combine caramel and cream cheese using a hand mixer. Transfer to a glass pie plate and spread with a spatula to smooth and even surface. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top and use the back of a clean spoon to push them into the sauce just lightly enough to make them stay put.

To serve, place the pie plate on a tray or larger plate, and surround with sliced apples.

NOTE: To keep apples from browning, toss them in a bit of lemon juice just after slicing.

Blessed be dog forever

Justin, Duke and Fr. Greg Schlarb

View more photos by clicking here

Justin and I took Duke to church today for the Blessing of the Pets – a tradition some Catholic churches observe in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. I think this might have been the first time St. Anne’s had it, but years back we took Lady to our old church’s ceremony.

We’ve seen lots of dogs, cats, mice, lizards, birds, guinea pigs, snakes, tarantulas and all sorts of creatures in the past. This year someone brought a sheep, which got spooked by some dogs (just doing what they find to be natural) then broke its leash and ran away! Fortunately a couple dozen people were able to help round it up before it got out into traffic.

Duke made a lot of new friends, but I think he kind of expected it to be like the dog park where he can run, jump and play. It was hard to keep him restrained but overall he was a good boy. He even laid down a couple of times, surprisingly enough.

It was a beautiful morning, and a lovely ceremony.

A prayer for our pets

O God, you have redeemed all creation
through the incarnation of your eternal Word;
Protect our pets, your creatures,
who provide us with joy
and nonjudgmental companionship;
Give us respect
for all of your Word-redeemed creation,
that we may care for creation
as just and humble stewards;
We pray this in the name of the same Word, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
~David Bennett

Football, school, work and travels

Oh blog, how I have neglected you. I’m so sorry. I think with the advent of Facebook it’s just quicker and easier to post updates and photos there. But when this is done, details get left out and creativity is limited. On the other hand, I hate duplicating work, so I think my blog suffers for it.

We’re deep into the throes of football – yesterday was Justin’s 3rd game of the season. I have been collecting photos and videos to do another team video like last year, and hopefully even better. Terry is doing a great job of coaching the offense. It’s hard work – like a part time job. He takes it seriously and it shows in the results – the team is far better than last year at this time. It also helps that many of the players have been playing together for a couple years, and the several inches each player grew doesn’t hurt either. Justin himself grew 3″ from the end of last season to the beginning of this one!

The kids are also about 5 weeks into school. Eric is struggling as usual, but the other night he and I went to a college information presentation at the school and it was encouraging. He decided that he wants to go to a nearby community college for the first 2 years and get his Associates Degree in Aviation Electrical Mechanics or Airplane Mechanics, then continue to a state school for 2 more years and his Bachelor’s. We are thrilled that he has a plan, and also think this is a good one for him.

Justin continues to do well in school, maintaining a 3.3 GPA. He is loving 7th grade/Junior High and the world of “girls” is beginning to open up for him. The other night he went to the mall and got two phone numbers – one was for a girl in high school! Apparently he told her he was in 8th grade. Yes, looks like the fun is just beginning…

I have been very busy at work lately. I hired a new assistant who is doing well, but a lot of my time is spent training – of course I still need to get my own work done which is touch, especially since I’ve been traveling quite a bit. I was in Orlando for a site visit a few weeks ago, then last weekend was in Hollywood for a planning meeting followed immediately by a trip to Las Vegas for a trade show. Next month I will be going to the Caribbean – probably the Bahamas – for another site visit. Yes, it all sounds fun and glamorous – which I guess it kind of is – but it’s work all the same. Long days with clients, lots of walking hotel hallways and meeting space, ending with long fancy dinners, then doing it all again the next day. At least I’m raking in the frequent flyer miles and hopefully will get back to my preferred status soon – flying coach really sucks, especially when you fly as much as I do!

Of course we are very much looking forward to our vacation to Hawaii in December. That will be no work and all play and I’m even considering leaving my computer at home believe it or not. We’ll be spending 5 days on Maui (with a possible day trip to Lana’i) and then 3 days on the Big Island. I can’t wait to share a Hawaiian experience with Terry – as you may remember, when I was there last year (for work) was when he broke his elbow.

Well time to get ready for the football game – GO DAWGS!