Friday, September 27, 2013

Falling In Love

Remember when you fell in love?  The swell of emotion, the way that joy oozed from your very being?  Recall breaking into an ear to ear smile at any given moment?

Lucky me.  I not only have those memories with my sweetie, John, but with each one of the children that came into our life over the years. 

Love at first sight does, indeed, exist.  When my babies were first placed in my arms, I wanted to love them with every ounce of my being.  In fact, I couldn't do anything to stop myself from loving them that way.

The cycle of life, bringing a child into being, carrying them inside, seeing them as they make their debut...going forward with them as they take their first steps, speak their first words...onto school, and adolescence, ups and downs...and then, one day--how did it happen?--they are all grown up.  Like the day they took that first toddling step away, they now take their first adult steps. 

There's something about those steps that causes something of a bruise inside the mom.  It aches.  Sometimes it feels like that little contusion begins to heal, then something comes along to open it up all over again.

Today as I drove through the park, everything 'looked' right with the world.  The early autumn leaves, tinged with vibrant reds and oranges, cast long shadows over the grass.  Ducks glided across the still lake, and the sun's eastern glance reflected on the surface.  It's Friday and I have the weekend to look forward to.

The sky peeked down at me, cloaked in the most flattering shade of robin's egg blue, but tears formed inside the rims of my eyes.  A lump stubbornly planted itself in my throat.  All this because I spied the spot near the fountain where Maria posed for prom pictures in May.

Suddenly I missed my dear sooo much.  I'm so proud of her.  She made the decision to pursue higher education; and she stuck to her plan, moving away and going to college.  How is it that one moment, she was still my little girl, and the next moment, she's a young woman, on her own? 

Just because she did what she's supposed to do--grow up--what do I  do with that part of my soul that is wrapped around my child like a delicate, yet powerfully strong, spider's web?  I never expected to feel like this.  I had not anticipated it.

I think I understand why this is Earth, and not Heaven.  It seems that at no time in one's life, is the heart every truly content.  When all things seem right, there is always that 'something' that is off. 

Each of my children is everything to me.  I can't choose a favorite; they are all my favorite.  They are all my 'only' love.  They are all the best blessing I have known and will know. 

Being in love means sometimes feeling too deeply.  But I would never trade it for anything.  I miss my Maria today.  I think of her impish smile and dimpled cheek, and feel that swell of emotion.  There's nothing in the world as wonderful as being fully immersed in a sea of love.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


It's a rainy day today; I awoke with a migraine after a restless night of quasi nightmares.  That tells me that the headache was approaching while I slept.

I've decided to ignore the fact that I have not washed any clothes yet this week (OOOOOH, that is sooo not good), that the house is a mess, and that I need to start planning what's for dinner tonight.  Instead, I've gone back to my cozy bed to rest between a frenetic morning and a booked schedule for later on.

I know that an ignored migraine does not go away.  It only gets worse, and worse can turn into debilitating.

With that, I can justify lying here, listening to a solitary bird whistling a happy tune, with a backdrop of quiet dripping rain.

I'm thankful that today is the last day of school.  I realized as Therese jumped out of the van with her bag full of teacher's farewell gifts, that this was my final time to drop off a child at the elementary school.  For 20 years I've had children at the elementary level, so this is kind of a big deal for me.  One one hand, there is really a lot of relief, and yet, it's a bit like I'm losing an old friend.

At her 'graduation' yesterday, I wondered about us humans.  For twenty years, I've been witnessing certain boorish parental behaviors that have long since grown old.

When Therese's class was called to stand up, many of the parents rushed to be closer to the archway to take pictures of their children as they passed through it.  They were invited to do so, and I have no problem with that.  But, I was seated on the bleachers and decided to stay put and snap a photo from there.  One of the fathers planted himself square in front of the archway, with his back to the bleachers, preventing me from seeing my child when she arrived to get her diploma.  I had to slide over to snap a picture, and he still shows up in the photo. 

Now, I appreciate that he wanted a good place to get a photo of his daughter, but maybe he should remember that other parents love their children, too!  Would it have killed him to crouch down until the time his daughter was receiving her certificate?

I've grown weary over the past couple of decades with this kind of rudeness.  I see it over and over and over.

Tonight I will witness Maria graduating from high school.  I'm so proud of her; she worked darned hard through her entire school career.  I think back to the day she walked across the elementary gym to get her kindergarten graduation diploma.  How adorable she looked in a blush pink party dress made of tulle and satin, with a mortarboard cap on her head that couldn't stay put.  I laughed and cried all at once!

It did not help that I was in the first trimester of pregnancy with Therese and my hormones were on hyper drive.  I went through a lot of tissues that day.

Maria has had a busy senior year--directing her first play in the fall, starring in the Spring Musical, singing in the choir and chamber choir, enjoying Homecoming and Prom, all the while keeping her grades up to graduate in the elite top 10 of her class. 

That little girl with the slippery hat has grown into a young woman!  I hope she has better success in keeping her cap on tonight!  (Which makes me laugh at another memory--when Tony graduated from kindergarten, an adult helper taped the top of the inside of his cap to his hair!  It was a painful experience when he tried to take his hat off!)


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Seeing With The Eyes Of Faith

The morning after our local elections, I've awakened with a dull headache, and a sort of hung-over weariness.

For the past few months I've walked down a path untrod (for me), and come through with a fresh sense of wonder.

As many of you know, I've been working and campaigning for my younger brother in this election for Common Pleas Judge.

Jim is a man that everyone should have the honor of knowing.  His soul is saturated with the presence of God; his word is gold, his integrity is stalwart; he is sign of hope in a dark and hellish world.

I admit disappointment in his loss at the polls; yet strangely, I feel invigorated with hope for him. It seems that God has ordained Jim for His cause--and no matter what Jim's 'Divine assignment' will be, it will show its face when the time is right.

I will never forget the day Jim came into my life and changed it forever.  I was 3 years old and Mom went off the hospital.  I remember weeping in my bedroom, missing her, and not thinking much at all about the new baby.  I just wanted my mom.  When she brought him home, I felt bewildered; I thought he would be an immediate playmate, but all he did was lie in his cradle, sleep, and cry. 

But I instinctively wanted to hold him, to care for him, to protect him.  I marveled at his tiny features, his precious golden curls, his crystalline blue eyes.

As he grew, I carried him, I danced with him, I played with him, and jealously guarded my baby brother.  I loved being like a second mommy to him.

Jim was already plotting his course in life, even before he knew it.  As a little boy, his favorite dress code was a suit and tie!  He and his best friend/cousin, Pat, would dress up as children and each time they parted, their goodbye was this: "Meet you at the office!".  What child would say such a precocious thing?  My baby brother, that's what child!!! 

That same little boy had a fondness for impish pranks.  I remember the first summer we travelled cross country, he was but seven years old.  He bought a huge rubber snake in one of the Midwestern states and he got a huge kick out of scaring our elderly aunts with it.

As Jim grew into a young man, I was there to watch him do his first solo in an airplane (holding my breath as I watched him take off!).  Jim was best man at our wedding at the tender age of seventeen, toasting us with a wine glass filled with root beer.

Jim found the love of his life, Kristina, just at the point where he was entering a new phase: he was in college, carrying 4.0 GPA and working full time at the local music store.  He completed his bachelor's degree (with highest distinction) in three years. 

Jim married Kristina after a long distance engagement (she, in Houston, he in State College), and they began their wedded life as he was entering law school.  Jim continued working and going to graduate school, learning to navigate the crazy roads of downtown Houston each day. 

 Law School, to those of you who do not know about it, is grueling.  It is intellectually, spiritually, physically, and mentally a test of great magnitude.  Jim told me that daily, people dropped out.  The classes dwindled until there were only a handful of students left at the end of the semester.

The college kept psychologists on hand to deal with the students who couldn't take the pressure.  There were suicides and nervous breakdowns.

Add into that the stress of moving numerous times, working a job outside of school, and starting off a marriage, and you've just earned a new threshold off the 'stress' Richter Scale!!!

Jim came through it all, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  It was not easy, but he pulled it off.

The next phase was passing the Bar Exam, and establishing a practice.  Jim moved back to Pennsylvania, and Kristina was happy to oblige him.  She left her family, her established business, and came north to support her husband and start a new life.  Kristina started a new business here in the healthcare field and is thriving!  These people are made of something rare!

One of Jim's lifelong dreams was to be master of his own 'castle'.  He realized that dream when he and Kristina purchased a three story historical home in our town, sorely in need of a complete restoration.  Jim is restoring the mansion to its original grandeur, one plank of wood and a handful of nails at a time. 

This past February, a local judge announced his retirement, which left an open seat for judge.  When Jim came to us, his family, and excitedly told us about his plans to run, we were all gung ho.

For the past three and a half months, we all have been at his side, doing whatever we could to help him.

I don't feel the results of the elections as a loss because of all the good that I witnessed.

Old family friends emerged and went that extra mile to lend Jim not one hand, but two.

Our family worked together as a team, making phone calls, contacting people, praying, strategizing, and supporting.

I can't begin to tell you all the details, it would take much too long.

 I'll just say this: I'm grateful to have witnessed our coming together for a common goal, a group of dedicated and caring people.  Some of them are friends, some of them are family, some of them are BOTH!

I was able to behold the goodness of the human heart.  There was no 'monkey business', we came to this day with the clear conscience of they who can stand before God and proclaim, "I've done this all with honesty, perseverance, integrity, and love."  There is nothing else we should say, because we know where we stand in the light of God, and that's a good place to be!  We have no shame because we have fought the good fight.  Jim truly is a winner this morning. 

Thank you, Lord, for giving us this task of supporting and encouraging Jim.  It has made me a better person, and I feel enriched because of it.

When another opportunity such as this arises, I will come full of knowledge that I did not have back in February--I guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks.  I never knew any of these things that I have learned about running a campaign.  Now, I am a seasoned pro.

Thank you to my husband, Jim's most unwavering cheerleader!  You worked yourself to the bone for Jim, and it was worth it. 

Thank you to my dear Mom and Dad, who threw themselves into this race with a youthful zeal.  Jim couldn't have better people to call Mom and Dad. I love you two more than words can say.

 Shaun, our older brother in Florida, who campaigned through prayers and long distance support (and his family), thank you! 

My children, who were able to learn the ins and outs of running for public office,  you gained so much, and gave even more.  Thank you, especially to Ian, Jacob, and Tony, who spent most of their day yesterday standing in the hot sun, campaigning at the polls with no complaints. 

 JohnPaul, thank you, too, for your support, and-yay--you got to earn volunteer hours for your school! 

And, Therese, you went with me to finish out the poll work after school.  You behavior and patience were very mature!  Thank you...hope you enjoyed your Yumberries afterwards!

Maria interceded spiritually, and Danny was praying on bended knee from Africa for their Uncle Jim.  Thank you both for your love and concern.

Jim Ryan, you've just taken a step towards a splendid horizon.  I wait with bated breath to see what God has planned for you.

HUGSxxx Annie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can't Take The Sadness...

We'd never tolerate it if we knew that someone would deliberately cut this kitty's throat, or crush her head, or snip her spine with scissors, would we? 

Then, tell me, please, why are we not horrified that this is happening to precious little children?!

I have had it with all the arguments about 'women's rights'.  I'm SICK of it--literally.  I can't take another moment of knowing that these innocent babies have *no* rights at all.  My frustration leaks out from my eyes--I can't stop weeping for them.  What can we do?

I pray every day for a change of heart for the women who are contemplating abortion.  I pray that abortion 'providers' will see the horror of their deeds and turn away from this scourge on humanity. 

I've been blessed over and over with my family--each child that I've been honored to raise and love.  I would gladly take these unwanted ones into my home and give them the love they deserve!  My brothers, each of whom is married--one who is child-less--the other who has only one child, wouldn't hesitate for an instant to do the same. 

Give these babies life!  Give them to me!  I would cherish them! 

I'm so sad today.  I can't make heads or tails of our world, how sick it is.  We need a dose of medicine to heal us and help us stop this cruel practice.  What and where is the medicine?  Who can heal us?

  Jesus, I Trust In You!

I cannot stop the tears.  The Human Race is so deeply fractured, we need Divine Healing.

Hugs.  Annie

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I'm a 'thinker'.  I enjoy meditating on things, and looking at the layers past the surface.  I've always been wired like that.

Today at Mass, I had a few of those moments where I gained a little deeper insight into a few things...

What is a musical instrument, but a useless contraption without the master's skills putting it to its proper use?   What is a tool without the owner's skillful use of it? 

It is the same with us.  We have bodies--are they merely ornamental?  Are they merely there for our own pleasure?  God gave us physical bodies for the highest of all purposes--to show love and to reflect God in our lives.

If we use our hands to care for the sick, our tongues to comfort the afflicted, our feet to carry us to the needy...these are the noblest uses of our bodies.  We express affection for others, we feed our families, we work to earn a living.  This is why we own the instrument we inhabit--our bodies.

It's very easy to fall prey to the selfishness of using our bodies to attain inordinate sexual pleasure, to indulge ourselves in gluttony, to be lazy when we should be doing something productive.

With the instrument, music is the fruit that we appreciate.  Music is a language, a delight, it touches us and moves us.  We cannot have music without the instrument.  It is the same with love.  If we do not have bodies, we cannot experience or give love.  It is not the body that we seek, but the love that our bodies can express.

The other thing that occurred to me was this:

I have a friend who is an atheist.  He argues against religion because it does not make 'sense'.  He believes that reason should guide us.

I realized something about reason today.  It's relative to our age, our experience, our station in life.  For instance, a child within the womb has such limited experience, he would never choose to be born if someone were able to communicate the idea to him.  He would probably object, "But, I'm warm.  I'm soothed by the sounds of the womb.  I am never hungry or uncomfortable."  He cannot fathom that outside the womb, his whole life begins.

What if we are at a stage that is not unlike the womb?  We have progressed to this point, but what is beyond the veil of this existence?  What if we are like the fetus and do not yet have the ability to understand what will happen when we move from this world to the next?

What if a whole new life awaits us, something beyond our comprehension?

How can we be absolutely certain that we have piqued as adults?  Perhaps there is much, much more for us to learn and experience.

Of course, as a Christian, I do believe, wholeheartedly, that there is a life after this one.  I guess I wonder how it is that a person could be so certain, that he wouldn't at least open the door and question these things, wrestle with them, give them a moment's thought.

Just my thoughts...

Add some of your own if you feel inclined.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Love Those Beauty products!

Just thought I'd share my thoughts on a few beauty products that I LOVE!!!

The best thing about them is that they are available at a drugstore near you--at a very reasonable price! $$$ 

Coming in at a close second is the exceptional quality of these products.

I was, once upon a time, a beauty advisor for (oooh la la) Estee Lauder.  What a fun job that was--loved learning about all their products, attending seminars, doing makeovers, and making the sale!  But, face it girls, if you're not rolling in the dough, you have to cut corners with your pocketbook, and that's where I am--always looking for the best deal for the price.  Estee Lauder, as well as other high end department store cosmetics, is shockingly expensive.

I've tried many drugstore brands over the years, found things from Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon, Almay...etc....that I really liked, but now I'm getting into the brand 'Rimmel'.  Their stuff is really good, and the prices are phenomenal.

I was not blessed with long or thick eyelashes, so mascara is something I wear most days.  Rimmel has this particular kind called Scandal Eyes Curve, and it is awesome!  The brush is lush, and I place the curve of it against the very bottom of my lashes (where they grow out of my eyelid), and sweep in an upwards motion.  My lashes literally seem to triple in length and fullness.  And, at Wal-Mart, this little baby is under $5.00!!!

Now, they have this brand new item called BB Cream, and it took me by surprise--it was that good!  This miracle cream has light moisturizers in it, and is a creamy foundation that covers nicely without a heavy look. 

I've never had that 'perfect' complexion that women all envy.  When I was younger, I had breakouts now and then, and my share of freckles.  As I've matured, the freckles have turned into age spots, and I've developed discolorations, and uneven spots--yuck!

This foundation works really nicely.  I pair it with another of their products called Match Perfection Concealer.  This is great for undereye darkness, blemishes, and dark spots. 

BB Cream is great!  It has full coverage, looks naturally, glides on smoothly, and has a light fresh scent.  It also has a sunscreen of SPF 25 built into it.

And, last but NOT least, I just got a fabulous new lipstick called Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss in a gorgeous hollywood red--a la Marilyn Monroe.  This lip color lasts a long time, and it brightens up my entire face.  The matte and bold shade makes me feel glamorous!  The retail price for this was just under $5, too!

Next time you're in the market for new makeup, check out Rimmel of London.  They have a large array of products for all your beauty needs.  I think you will find that they have attractive prices and even more attractive products!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Spouse Tales

I've been married for 27 and a half years to the same guy, and every day I love him more than ever!  The bond I share with him is solid and ever-renewing.  I marvel at that!

Our house leaves much to be desired.  I have honestly never been happy with it, although I am grateful to have a home, and there are countless family memories tied in with this humble house.

That being said, one thing I have always wished we had was a shower.  The bathroom here was an afterthought(by some former owner, probably back in the 20's or 30's)--put in to a cut- out portion of a bedroom, so it is an awkward room.  The tub is a claw footed monster, heavy and ancient; the sink is of the same era.  Washing up in the sink is interesting because the hot and cold taps are on opposite sides, so you risk scalding or freezing yourself, because you can't get a nice mix of the two!  (Lukewarm, anyone???)

Thankfully, at one point, we replaced the toilet, which was the ugliest contraption you ever wanted to see.  It sounded like a mini hurricane each time it flushed!

Because the lavatory (throw back word to my childhood parochial school--ha ha) was built into a place that originally had an outhouse, it is teeny tiny miniature.  This room is narrow, only about four feet wide, and is about 10 feet long.  The cabinets are built at eye level next to the tub, so there is nowhere to put a shower.

For years, John has rigged up a shampoo hose (available at the local beauty supply shop) for me to wash my hair and rinse off with, but I've always wished I had a shower.

On Christmas, I got a huge suprise from my dear husband.  He had visited a local store called Warehouse Sales, which has been around since...forever.  It's an old fashioned tool/home improvement store.  He consulted with the workers there, bought the equipment, and behind my back, he fashioned a real shower for me!

I must say that was not an easy accomplishment because we only have one bathroom.  I do not know how  he did it without me knowing it.  The shower can only be used if one is sitting, because of the cabinets, but I'm thrilled that I can turn on the water and enjoy the exhilirating spray of a real showerhead!!!

To those of you that have modern conveniences, don't you dare laugh at me!  This gesture of love means more to me than I can ever say! 

These things are what makes it wonderful to be married.  That, and, taking a ride in the dark of night with him, and stopping for drinks along the way. 

 Or, putting tons of laundry away as a team. 

Or, walking the dog together...

or knowing that he gets up early each day to go to Mass before work to pray for me and the kids...

or smelling a freshly brewed pot of coffee he put on for me...

or finding the ice scraped off my windshield and the gas tank on 'F'. 

This is why I love my man!  Thank you, John, for being my true love!!!

What kinds of things can you do for your spouse to make them feel loved and cherished?  That's your homework assignment today! 

If you want to be fulfilled in your relationship, don't count the things that are wrong, take note of the things that are right!