Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The sister I never had...

"Thanks for the sunshine you've brought me. Thanks for the friendship you've taught me."
Approximately 14 or so years ago, I met my sister. No, she's not related to me by blood...we share a bond much deeper than that. Trina and I met when we were both living in Las Vegas. We started as Front Desk clerks at the Casino Royale Hotel. The connection was immediate...and I knew I had found my very best friend. Trina and I were born 3 days apart, she grew up in Vermont, and I in New Hampshire. It took us moving to the west coast to meet. :) For several years, we worked together...both becoming Supervisors. Oh the fun and laughs we had...those crazy times, the talks that lasted for hours (days?!) and the secrets those memories hold will be forever locked in my heart. I had Jared while in Vegas, Trina threw me a surprise baby shower...attended by front desk clerks & the entire housekeeping staff. I was speechless...no one had done anything like that for me before. She had been dating Todd at the time, and I was with Darin. Then came Doug...then went Darin. Eventually, Trina moved to Oregon with Doug. Not long after she moved, I too, ended up in Oregon. Several more years of happy, priceless memories...and a few not so great ones...like the time she hurt her foot and came crawling up the steps to my house. She had been at an interview and when she went to stand up...her leg was asleep and she fell. Then, I sprained my knee while she helped me move out of my apartment. On my 25th birthday, Trina and my brother Scott surprised me with a bouquet of "over the hill" balloons and flowers and we spent the evening celebrating together. I stood there as I watched Trina marry Doug, and her dreams came true. She was on the other end of many phone calls when I met Steve...as she helped to convince me that not every guy is out to break my heart. She was my maid of honor, as I married my Steve. Trinie lives in Idaho now, and I in Massachusetts. The miles have prevented us from sharing hugs as often as we'd like...but distance will never, ever change what she means to me. I could write a novel about the memories, the laughs and the tears...oh the tears. Trina has been my rock through SO many incredibly difficult times in my life. We share shoulders though, like when her Dad was diagnosed with and fought cancer, and the years of her struggling to have a baby. God blessed her immesely with beautiful Autumn Elizabethe 4 years ago. Then came precious Odin Walter. She is a wonderful Mommy. I only wish we were close enough for our children to grow up together. :(
Trina celebrated her 37th Birthday at EPCOT in Disney World. I called to have a cake delivered to her table (I hope she got it). I hope everyone has a Trina in their life. One of the photos above shows my "Trinie shrine" in my room. On my bureau is a photo of us on New Years Eve many moons ago (1996 maybe?), a floral card from her "To Kayl...I will always be here for you", a card she made me and the framed friendship poem from her. The last photo above was taken 2 summers ago on the beach here in Cape Cod. She came to visit me and we got to watch our little red heads playing together...it was so special. I can NOT wait to see her again...until then, I have lots of memories to help me pass the time. Here's hoping she had a wonderful Birthday. :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me...

I turned 37 years old today. It was a typical Saturday around here...soccer, soccer, more soccer. The air was chilly at the Heights...but it was a beautiful, sunny day nonetheless. I love that soccer field, you can watch your children kick the ball and then turn around and see the ocean across the street. Such a pretty piece of paradise. After the games, we came home to relax (?!) for the the afternoon.

The day was made even more wonderful by the presence of my Mom. I don't recall the last time my Mom was able to bake me a birthday cake!! How cool is that?! She and Curly treated us to pizza for dinner and a Granny-made strawberry cake with coffee ice-cream (my 2 faves).

The kids each made me special cards. :) Kasi colored hers blue and told me it was the ocean..."because you love the beach" she said. She sure knows her Mommy. :) Malia made me an adorable card with a heart and flower on the front. Inside she wrote, "I love you Mommy. I hope you have a great birthday". She drew a star, heart, monkey, flower and a road. The road leads to a castle...Cinderella's castle to be exact. ;) She sure knows her Mommy too :) Shawn made me a creative card. It is "3D" with me standing on grass, surrounded by hearts. He wrote: "I love you so much Mommy. I could never like a mom better than you. Happy 37th Mommy. I just know it will be good. Happy Birthday Mommy. from, Shawn." What a special son he is. :) Jared drew me a heartfelt card with hearts and Mickey on the front. Inside he wrote: "If I could do two hero projects, I would pick you because of what you do for our family. You not only feed us and let us do sports and activities, you bring us to amazing places where we can make family memories like Disney World." I'm blessed with TWO special sons. :) Sierra made me a unique card with foam stickers all over it. Inside she wrote: "Thanks for being such a great Mom, I love you and appreciate everything you do. I hope you had a wonderful day". Quite the special oldest daughter I have too, huh?! I have truly been five times blessed. :) Actually, make that 6 times blessed...Steve bought me 2 pretty tops from Ann Taylor for my (hopefully upcoming) Disney trip. :) He got me the sweetest card ever. He sure loves me, and the feeling is quite mutual. :)

Blowing out the candles on my cake...I made a wish or two. ;) I've been so blessed, most of my dreams have already come true, though. :) Healthy, beautiful, fantastic kids...an amazing husband...my Mom living nearby...yeah, it's been a pretty good year. :) Something came to mind that I could wish for. I won't give you all of the the specifics...because then it might not come true. :)

My thoughts have been CONSUMED by the Disney interview. It is next Thursday (the 30th) at 2:15pm. I am a bundle of nerves...and yet, I am confident that I would be an asset to them. I found a quote this evening that is going to be my mantra this week:

"See, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is you'll never run out of Wishes. They're shining deep down inside of you. And that, my friends,is where the magic lives." Jiminy Cricket

Here's hoping 37 is my most Magical year yet!! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dreams CAN Come True...

Wow...on the heels of my post from earlier today...I am now reporting that I MADE IT TO THE FINAL PHASE!! WOW!! I have a phone interview next week sometime...with Disney representatives! I am incredibly excited. Here's a bit from the email notice I received...

"On behalf of Walt Disney World® Resort, we would like to congratulate you on making it to the final phase of the selection process for the 2009 Walt Disney World® Moms Panel!
As you know, we received thousands of applications, and you are among the top candidates whose knowledge of – and passion for – Walt Disney World® continues to make a lasting impression on the judging panel. Your expertise and willingness to share the Disney magic is inspirational!"

Again, WOW!!! I am SO happy...and a bit nervous. Please keep good thoughts for me next week. :)

Mickey Dreams...

"A dream is a wish your heart makes". My heart is wishing...and I'm dreaming Mickey dreams.

*sigh* I am trying SO hard to not get my hopes up again...but it is getting harder by the day.

Last year, Disney introduced a "Mom's Panel" on which they'd have 12 Moms/Dads who possessed a wealth of Disney knowledge. These panelists would be members of an online forum which would answer questions for parents planning a Disney World vacation. I knew this was the job for me...as I am the "go-to" person for my friends and family. They accepted 10,000 applications, and I made it to the semi-finalist round. I was ecstatic, and then deflated when I didn't go any further. I wasn't entirely thrilled with one of my answers on the second round last time, so I was content with the decision. Still, I was thankful for the opportunity to apply...and the dreaming was fun.

This year, in September, they began the search for the 2009 panelists. This time, they accepted 20,000 applications. I just had to try again. You can imagine my excitement when I was notified that I had made it to round 2 again! It's coincidental that my best friend Trina, Steve's sister Judy, my Great-Aunt Rosemary, two of my neighbors and the mom of one of Shawn's friends have ALL contacted me in the last few months to help them plan a Disney trip. It is truly one of my favorite pass-times. Trina was telling me the other night, "if they need someone to vouch for you...have them call me. You've made planning our trip SO much fun and it's just going to be perfect." Disney does have a lot of little known facts that can either make your trip all you dreamed of...or leave you bummed that you weren't in the know. Having worked in the hotel industry for years, I know how much peoples vacations mean to them. Helping others to get the most out of their trips...ensuring a week of magical memories...means so much to ME.

The interviews for the finalists begins on Monday. Those of us in the 2nd round are waiting (im)patiently to know if we will be blessed with the opportunity to share our knowledge with the Disney executives in round 3. I should hear any day now. While I know I'll be disappointed if I don't move on, I am confident that I am extremely qualified. It is a challenge to answer the questions in 100 words or less (I AM a talker, after-all). I'll be content to continue to help others make their dreams come true. That is what I keep telling myself every day...countless times a day...to try to prevent myself from getting my hopes up.

Please keep positive thoughts for me, everyone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Art and Battleships...

I always loved playing the game "Battleship" growing up. While the game itself was fun, the idea of big ships has always interested me.

Tomorrow, Jared gets to go on a super cool field trip. His Pod is going to Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA. Check it out here: http://www.battleshipcove.org/ He is going to learn a LOT of very interesting facts and get the opportunity to explore the ships on display and visit the memorials for World War II, Korea, Vietnam and 9/11. The purpose of this trip is to learn about the naval vessels used in World War II and the technology of ships from that era.

Today, Sierra went to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. She was blown away by the artist Tara Donovan who is the current artist on exhibition. Check out her work. Sierra brought home pamphlets that show some of her amazing works. http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/onview/

Malia is going to the firestation this Friday.

The kids are so blessed to be able to have such interesting field trips :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Welcome HOME, Mom!

"HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS". I painted this on a plaque for my Mom years ago. Little did I know how much that quote would one day come to mean...

My Mom is moving to Cape Cod today. As I type, she is on her way here!!! The cottage she rented is fully furnished and all of her "prized possessions" (photos, trinkets) are in the camper, stuck somewhere in North Carolina. I wanted to make it feel more like "home" to her. The kids and I picked out a little pumpkin for her at the patch this weekend, and Kasi and I went shopping yesterday. We bought some of the "magnetic" frames for her fridge, and a few for the little shelf in the living room. We also hit "Cuffy's"...a store with Cape Cod items (she needed some things to welcome her HOME)!! Then, we went to work printing out some photos. The picutes on this page show what we came up with. In the smaller photos of the kids school pictures, the boys photos are from last year. As soon as we get the new ones, we'll swap them. For Granny, we got a "Shells of Cape Cod" mug that is big enough for soup or tea, a blue tee shirt with "Cape Cod" and a sailboat embroidered on the front, and a zip-up hoodie "Cape Cod" sweatshirt. The zip-ups are perfect for this time of year...and Spring too. For Grampy, we got a "Cape Cod" hat and coffee mug. We packed it all up and Kasi and I headed to the cottage. When they arrive today, they will find the two smaller bags and card in the bedroom. The card is a "Welcome to your New Home" card -- in which I put a bit about "Home is where the heart is", etc.
The sweatshirt for Granny is separate. It's in the big bag...just for Mom and her countless walks along the shore. On the side of the fridge we put Uncle Scott with Kasi, Malia and Shawn and Aunt Cheryl with Malia as her flower girl. On the front are the other magnets, including the one Mom loves at Disney World when she was "holding" Tinkerbell. She was so upset that photo ended up down south. You'll note the shelf behind the couch...complete with pictures of Michael and Megan, Scott, Steve and I, and our clan at the apple orchard (there's lots more space for new photos too). We put the pumpkin on the front entry table and headed out...Kasi said, "Granny is going to be SO surprised and SO happy, Mommy" !! If you talk to her between now and when she arrives....SHHHHHHH....IT'S A SURPRISE!!!!!!! :) Hope she loves it!! :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

His Hero

As mentioned below, Jared had to do a project for his English class. He had to answer 3 questions: What is your definition of a hero?
Who is your hero?
Why is that person your hero?
Bring in a photo of your hero.
Here is what he wrote...warning, it's a tear-jerker.
My definition of a hero: a hero is a person who goes above what is expected of them, just to make a difference in somebody's life.
My hero is: Steve Jablecki- My step-Dad
"I picked my step Dad as my hero because of what he does for me and my family. When I was about a year old, my Mom and my Dad got divorced (we had been living in Oregon then). Of course, because I was so young I didn't quite know what was going on, but I know now that my Mom was very hurt. Both of my parents were in a tough time of their lives. My Mom and my Dad both moved and both went back to their jobs. My Dad was at the beginning of his singing career and my Mom was one of the bosses at NorthStar. Also working at NorthStar was Steve. He wasn't a boss or anything, but he worked there. Steve hung out with my Mom a lot and they were very good friends, but then they started going out on dates. Then, finally in New York City, Steve asked my Mom to marry him and she said yes. I was 3 years old.
In 2000, we moved to Cape Cod. After my Mom moved to Cape Cod and my Dad stayed in California, I didn't really think I'd ever get to see my Dad as much as I would like to or ever get to have that feeling of seeing my Dad every day. When Steve came along, everything changed. He acted like a Dad to me. He makes me a better person everyday of my life. Even though I'm not blood related to Steve, he treats me like I'm his son. That's the reason I picked Steve as my hero, because when my Mom and Dad got divorced, Steve stepped in and treated me like his own son. Now-a-days, Steve and my Mom have had 3 kids together. So now it's me, my Mom, my step-Dad and my 4 brothers and sisters. Of course, I do get to see my Dad a few times a year. Me and my sister fly out to California a few times a year, but after that we fly back home to stay with my hero and the rest of my family.
The word hero means a lot to me. It means a lot to me because of all the hero's in my life. You already know that Steve is one, but my Mom and my Dad are hero's to me too. I have a lot of hero's in my life. "
What a beautiful, heart-felt tribute from my 12 year old son. :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nine Years...

Yesterday was our 9th Anniversary. Sometimes it feels like yesterday that we were married. Other times, it feels like it's all I've even known...to love and be loved by Steve. Life wasn't always kind to me, but God blessed the broken road that brought Steve and I together. These days, I prefer to leave the past where it belongs...buried, deep in the past. Suffice to say, "To the jerks in my past...thanks for the lessons you taught me". Nothing worth having comes easily. Peace...so hard to find, so worth having.

Kasi and I baked my "famous chocolate chip cookies" yesterday. She was so cute in her little apron, standing on her stool, helping me with the mixer. She suggested we make him a "really big one". We made a few dozen for everyone, and then a big heart shaped one for Daddy. I said, "do you know why I made him a heart"? Her response, "because he loves his whole flamily". I smiled..."you're right, and his whole family loves him too." "Yup, a whole bunch", she said. The cookies were supposed to be a surprise for Daddy...but when we ran to the store, he apparently came home and discovered them on the counter. Oh well. It's the thought that counts. We added some chocolate frosting to the heart cookie...and it was good to go.

He brought some flowers to me, they were beautiful. I got him some peanut-butter/chococate fudge. :)

Sierra's game was rescheduled and she got off early. So, we ordered pizza for the kids, let them have some cookies...and Steve and I headed to Siena for a quick dinner together. We had a great meal, and enjoyed some time to just talk. We caught up on the happenings in our extended families...and chatted about our kids. We were home in time to put the kids to bed.

While we were out, I told Steve about what Jared shared with me today. He has to write a project for English on his "hero". He chose Steve. I can't wait to see what he writes. I could write a novel about why Steve is my hero...but straight from the heart of a 12 year old boy who Steve has loved since he was 2...who's presence has made all the difference...this promises to be priceless.

The card Steve chose for me was beautiful, and the sentiment was perfect: "How many can say they have a true partner, friend and lover that they can count on in good times and bad? How many can say their love is even stronger for all they've been through together? Only a lucky few...like me." Then he wrote, "Thanks for all you do to make our lives and family so special. Love Always, Steve."

Nine years...who knew a lifetime could be measured in such a short period of time. Looking forward to eternity together.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who comes up with these ideas?!

Obviously someone WITHOUT five kids to deal with in the morning.

Sierra and Jared were on their way and I had gotten Malia showered and dressed. She was slowly eating her breakfast when I heard Shawn bellowing from downstairs:

"Mom, we're supposed to wear red, white and blue today...the whole school has to".

UGH. SO, I had to go search through Malia's clothes for something patriotic, while racing against the clock to get her to eat and get out the door. We already had a "red, white and blue day"...2 weeks ago. This, of course, was when the weather was better and she was able to wear a cute capri outfit. It's too cold for that now, and she doesn't own other things of primary colors. This is Malia afterall...the girl lives in pink and purple. She refuses to wear jeans...so finding blue was hard too. After trying on 3 pairs of old jeans (all of which she had outgrown) and negotiating for quite some time, I found an old American flag sweater of Jared's in a bin in the basement and got her dressed...again.

Meanwhile, I was able to find Shawn's clothes quickly. Being New England sports fans...both the Red Sox and Patriots are red, white and blue. So, I threw one of his jersey's on him.

NOT how I needed to start the day...again, WHO comes up with these ideas?! With NO notice?! Hope the whole school looked cute today and it was worth it. Oh wait, they wouldn't have time to notice...they were too busy turning around and sending them back home after a HALF DAY. Another HALF DAY of school...3 hours of school...then home. What about the parents who aren't home and have to pay daycare? Again, WHO comes up with these ideas? I now have a yard FULL of kids--10 to be exact--kids whose parents work and would have to pay daycare.

At least it's a yard full of patriotic kids.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Smart guy

Jared brought home his first Advanced Math test today. He scored a 96 -- "the highest in the class". :)

He also received his first mid-term report for Junior High. Across the board in all subjects, his achievement ranged from "Satisfactory" to "Very Good", his conduct was "Very Good" in all of them, and his work habits/effort rated "strong" in all subjects. Each teacher put, "Keep up the good work".

It is such a blessing to have Jared. He is polite, well-behaved, well-mannered, works hard...just brings a smile to his Mom's face and warms my heart. Great job, Jared :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pinch Me...

I've been a bit busy this past week. This post will go a long way in explaining my lack of blogging.

My Mom came to see us on Tuesday, she was coming down for a few days before heading home to pack. They sold their house in Maine and were heading south again. I haven't lived near my Mom in over 20 years...not for long anyway. Seems we're always a state (or 10) away from each other. I often watch friends with their Moms and I wish I had mine closer...to shop thrift stores with, to chat, to laugh, to walk on the beach, to watch the children grow....

Mom and Curly have land in NC and were planning on building a house on it, hoping that would make it more appealing so they could sell it. Fate jumped in when Curly caused an accident in Virginia. He was heading down with his truck and a 5th-wheel camper. Long story short, he is okay and the driver of the other car is too. However, both vehicles were totaled and the camper was damaged. Something in that illegal U-turn he took caused my Mom to make a U-turn with her life. She didn't want to move south...she was doing it to bide her time for now. Fact is though, that her grand-kids are growing up so very quickly. She decided she was going to fulfill her dream NOW and move to the Cape. She could have been in that truck and I would have likely lost my Mom that day. I almost lost her when I was 8...I don't care to ever go through that again. This entire ordeal has had God's hand-writing all over it. My Mom is the most self-less person I know. She has always put everyone before herself...to a fault. It is as if God put a 30 foot flag in the shape of a camper in front of her and said..."STOP, it's YOUR turn Rachel."

A bible verse came to mind: Your desire is what you long for, what or whom you long to be with. Your desire is where your heart is. Your desire is your greatest treasure and will be your reward. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God knows the desires of her heart, he knows she wants to be near her children and her grandchildren...and we all want her near us too. So, like a gift tied up in a pretty satin bow, the week unfolded before us. We looked at an apartment, we scoured Craigslist, we drove around to different parts of town, we dreamed. Then, today, we looked inside this gift from God and we found the perfect little cottage for rent. It is reminiscent of a little dollhouse. The owner is a sweet 83 year old man and he was very accommodating. He isn't going to lock her into a lease, he's okay with whatever works for her. A smile came over my Mom's face today...she was so happy, so at peace...we just know it is God's will that she be near her family...at last.

My little brother Michael and his wife Megan are planning to move here soon too. My Mom would like to get a home with them to share. I'm hoping my brother Scott does too. This would be a dream come true.

I could ramble on, but I think I'll go enjoy some time with my Mom. She heads home in the morning to pack for the new chapter of her life. We could call it, "A Dream Came True":

"If my dreams could all come true, Paradise would be
In a little bungalow somewhere by the sea."

Or, I may just call it, "Pinch Me"...is this really real?!??! I'm so excited I'm afraid I'll wake up and it will all be a dream.

The kids are SO excited that Granny is moving to Cape Cod...but not NEARLY as ecstatic as I am.