Thursday, July 31, 2008

Camp Comfort Zone and New York Life

Three years ago, I was able to volunteer for an amazing camp called "Comfort Zone Camp." It is a camp located in Richmond, Virginia that hosts free camps for children who have lost a parent, caregiver, or sibling. During the camp session, the children receive free grief counseling, group therapy, as well as fun camp activities. It was an amazing experience and I really would like to be involved again at some point. The other day, Darrell and I found out that the company he works for, New York Life, has given this camp a large sum of money! I think everyone should know about this camp, in case they need it sometime, or so that they can pass it along to families when a tragedy happens. The camp has now expanded to three states: Virginia, New Jersey (in response to the 9/11 tragedy), and now California. Here's a link to the camp:

Check it out!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A letter to heaven

This blog entry is a tribute to my mom. I have been missing her very, very much lately. Grief comes in waves, even after 20 years. I usually cover up my emotions, but I have tried to be more truthful and transparent in the past few years. I am hoping that by "putting myself out there" that I will not only heal a little more, but maybe help someone else in the process.
Dear Mom,

I've never done this, written a letter to you. Will it reach you in heaven? I have so many questions for you. Do you know that I have a wonderful husband who is also an excellent father? Do you know that I have three children, your grandchildren? And that two of them are BOYS! I know that is one area you wouldn't have been able to help me out with, the raising of boys since you raised three girls, but would you have doted on them?

Is there a window in heaven that you can peer through to see how we're doing? Were you there through the births of all my children? Would you have been there if you could? We were so far away from family, it was always only Darrell and I, but were you also there with us?I remember how loud you used to cheer for Dad when he played softball. Do you cheer for us from heaven? Do you let a tear slide down when we're going through trouble? Do you sigh when we make the mistakes that you wanted to warn us about?Do you know that I see glimpses of you......through Evan's sense of humor......

and Ann-Marie's sense of determination in everything she does.....
and Alec's free-spirited, exuberant ways? I see you in my children and through Carla and Sheila's children, evidences of you being lived out in your grandchildren.

You see, I took you seriously when you said you always wanted to travel, so I did it for you. I took you seriously when you said finish college and see the world. But doing those things didn't bring you back, but I like to think that you were somehow with me, bringing closure to a life cut short.

So, no, the grieving never ends, it just changes and the edges become less sharp with time. But sometimes, I don't want to be the mom, be the strong one, and I want to go running back into your arms. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like, to be friends with you as an adult, to have you as a Grandma to my children. Would we have a good relationship? Would you come to visit us often? Would you send letters and little gifts to my children and offer to babysit?

And finally, do you know that I am sorry. For being the bratty teenager when you died, for not saying "I love you" enough when you were alive. I know now, how much you did, how much you sacrificed, how much you loved us. Because I have a family now and I understand the intensity and complexity of a mother's feelings for a child. And I miss you so very much. So, maybe you received this letter through the window of heaven. If not, I believe that I will see you again, and maybe you'll be able to answer all my questions. And maybe, by then, they just won't matter because I will understand the fullness of the love and the plans fulfilled, even if I don't understand them now.

I love you, Mommy,


Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Idlewild park 2008

Friday was the Jerome extended family annual trip to Idlewild park. Idlewild park is a smaller amusement park, with rides for adults and kids, and a water park. My sister-in-law, Karen, told me that next year will mark the 20th anniversary of this tradition. Idlewild day ranks up there with Thanksgiving for our family with firm traditions such as having fried chicken for lunch, snacks and dinner; riding the scrambler first; staying overnight at sister-in-law, Toni's house; and the famous eating homemade pizza at 10 o'clock at night after everyone has made it back to Toni's after a full day of Idlewild. Darrell and I agreed that this year was our favorite because normally I have been either pregnant, it has rained, or we have had a newborn to worry about keeping cool in the shade. I took lots of pictures of Alec because he had so much fun discovering that he could ride rides like the big kids! Above is a three generation picture of Pap, Darrell, and Ann-Marie. We are so blessed to be part of a large family who love each other and can all still enjoy these traditions together.
Alec on his first ride without Mommy!
The boys....
And the day is loaded with junk food.....Alec ate his weight in Cheese Puffs!!!!
A couple of other updates: Evan had his allergy testing done on Thursday and he is allergic to too many things to's a the short list; three types of trees, grass, mold, mites, and cats. So now we know.....and we're thankful that they are all managed with medication and we can keep him comfortable. Lastly, I was taped teaching a body pump class this morning for the final step of my certification. Thank you to all my wonderful relatives that filled the quota for my class. It went well and I will let you know the results when I get them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something's missing.....

and it's Ann-Marie's 1st baby tooth!!! She lost it last night at Aunt Maura's house.
Here are some fun summer pictures from today. The kids love their slip 'n' slide....note that Alec has a swim diaper on here.....
Ann-Marie, not going very fast.....
Evan going too fast.....
And the kids posing. Now Alec has swim trunks on....hmmmmmmmmm....well we had a time of nakedness in the yard due to some bowel busyness in the swim diaper (for those of you not familiar with swim diapers, not only are they expensive but they are not made for bowel movements!) Luckily we have two hoses and Alec streaked to the second hose for an old-fashioned hose shower, then I dug out some size 3T swim trunks (which is why they look a little big for him) and let him hang loose. The toddler was lovin' the free spirit thing! Ahhh, the fun of summer!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Parenting is a never-ending life course

Well, here it picture from the last two weeks, which included a major holiday. Why? Well, we had some more parenting lessons to learn, which didn't include photo opportunities.....

1. When your 2 year old starts getting sick on Thursday, and the next day just happens to be the 4th of July holiday....take him into the doctor! Or, better yet, know that there is a Saturday morning pediatric clinic open in the area to take him to because he's really sick so that you won't have to spend 3 1/2 hours in the ER on a Saturday night. Lesson learned.

2. A one week summer camp for your very active 7 year old boy in the middle of summer will prolong his life.....and yours!

3. It will rain on the day you have an outdoor, swimming play date that you desperately need for your sanity.

4. Always say "YES!" to a family day planned at Lake Wilhelm (above picture) by your wonderful sister-in-law to preserve family harmony. (Another attached picture of Evan in a kayak may show up on the blog later.)

5. The restoration of mommy's sanity sometimes comes in odd forms.....a 14 mile bicycle ride towing a sleeping toddler in a bike trailer....ahhhh, the sweet sound of somewhat silent nature.

Next step....getting a babysitter so we can restore the marriage after this past hectic week....what??? My wonderful sister-in-law is also going to meet that need this week....thanks Maura!!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

pictures of summer

Despite the recent weather, we were able to make our first afternoon trip to Moraine State Park for an evening BBQ. This was our favorite summer thing to do last summer, and we've decided that it would be fun to continue even though we live 20 minutes farther away from it than we did last year (making the trip is now 45 minutes). We love going in the late afternoon, when the crowds are heading out, to let the kids play free on the sand and in the lake water (it's pretty shallow at the beach area). There's nothing like watching the lake turn from day to dusk. Here's a picture of the kids enjoying the sand: