Twenty Years Ago

This September marks the Twentieth Anniversary of St. Mary’s Life Teen in Dedham, Massachusetts. It’s a significant milestone for the program and for myself. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was pregnant with Sophia and attending the Tenth Anniversary dinner. Here we are another ten years later and I wasn’t able to attend the dinner and I won’t be at the Anniversary Mass but I still hold the program close to my heart. Simply put, I would not be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for this program.

Twenty years ago I was 13 years old. I was about to enter into my Freshman year of high school. I had attended high school orientation to go to Watertown High School in New York but just before the first day of school my parent split and my mother and I moved to Dedham, Massachusetts to live with my Nana and Bumpa.

Let me put in a little disclaimer here – this is my story. I do not at all judge my parents for divorcing. I love them both and have amazing relationships with both of them. I don’t ever remember being angry at them for separating and in no way blame my troubles on their decisions. I will never fully understand why they chose to get divorced but again that was never my decision and I do not hold any of it against them.

As a child I don’t ever recall a weekend when we didn’t go to church. My mother is a devout Catholic and made sure I attended Mass every weekend and pretty much all of the Holy Days of Obligation as well as the Feast of Saint Blaise for the Blessing of Throats. We were very active at every church we attended. My mom continually volunteered with the Religious Education program, and was even my Catechist a few times. I was one of the first female alter servers at the chapel in Fort Drum, New York. Over the years I have served as a reader, cantor, choir member and Eucharistic minister. I confess though, since we left Virginia I have not been as active in the Catholic church as I want to be. I have struggled with the church but that’s another story. I will say that I am trying. All of our children have been Baptized and are going through Religious Education. We also recently started attending Mass on a regular basis again. Yet again, a story for another day…this story is about twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago I was the new kid in town. I was tiny – under 5 ft tall and not even 100 lbs (I was a late bloomer in life). I was a dorky kid who was thrown into a new world. Even though we had visited Dedham many times, it was not somewhere I thought I would ever live. I found myself in a new environment and my mother being the person she is immediately turned to the Church. My mom jumped through hoops to get me into High School on such a short notice and I know people at St. Mary’s helped play a role in making sure I could start school in time.

Twenty years ago my mom took me to Mass at Saint Mary’s of the Assumption in Dedham. After Mass she introduced me to Father Chris Hickey – the Hickey Family and the Baronie Family (my mom’s family) go back to being neighbors in the projects. Father Chris then introduced me to the Youth Minister, Sean Flynn. Sean-o then invited me to attend a back-to-school Luau later that day. If I could pinpoint a major turning point in my life this would be one of them – actually, I’m pretty sure I wrote about it for my College application essay and spelled Luau wrong too but thanks to homework days and Sean proof-reading that essay I got into all but one of the schools I had applied to [Boston Conservatory was the only school I didn’t get into by the way – I blew that audition but again – another story].

Twenty years ago I reluctantly put on a Hawaiian shirt. My Uncle Doug drove me to the Luau, gave me a little tough love sort of pep talk because that’s just the sort of guy he is, and told me when he would be back to pick me up. We didn’t have cellphones back then so I was pretty much stuck there for the next couple of hours and I was nervous as heck. I wanted to throw up. Those nerves quickly went away when Sean and a couple of upperclassman girls approached me and hugged me! HUGGED ME! ME! They hugged me! My glasses wearing, petite, awkward, dorky self [y’all there are pics somewhere to prove how awkward looking I was] was immediately welcome with literal open arms! I was also instantly dubbed “Lil’ Liz” since there were two other Liz’s already. By the end of the night when my Uncle came back to pick me up I didn’t want to leave. It was the most amazing feeling in the world.

Twenty years ago I was the new kid in town. Although I was warmly welcomed at St. Mary’s that wasn’t the case at school. I had a very difficult time at school. I was nicknamed “Brooklyn” just because I had moved from New York [even though Watertown is way closer to Canada than it is to Brooklyn]. I was made fun of a ton – I was even shoved into my locker – oh and had received some death threats too. It was a miserable transition for me. There was a lot of uncertainty in my life. Yet one thing was always certain – being welcomed with open arms at St. Mary’s Life Teen. Even though I was mercilessly picked on at school, at the end of the day I could walk into the Life House and know that I was loved.

Twenty years ago, when I was starting high school my mom was starting a new life for herself and those years were not financially easy. When I say that Life Teen fed me and clothed me I literally mean it – especially the feeding part, I knew at least once a week I would be having dinner there, Monday night: Pizza and Prayer. Through Pizza and Prayer I was fed body and soul. In my darkest days as a teenager going through some difficult stuff, that very few people realized because I have always been a pro at smiling through most of the sadness, Life Teen was there as my light, my reason to smile.

Twenty years ago I met one of my best friends, Christina, through this program. One day, when I was stuck by myself, in the rain with no way home and nowhere to go, she literally took me in and brought me to her house to dry off and her family has been my family ever since.

Twenty years ago my world as I knew it was falling apart but thanks to the amazing parish that is Saint Mary’s and the Life Teen program it didn’t. It crumbled a bit for sure but it also formed me into the woman I am today. Without those difficulties back then and without the love and guidance and power of prayer I simply wouldn’t be who I am today. When people ask me today how I do it all I know it’s because of the many experiences I had back then. The retreats, the deep connection to God (even when I struggle with the Church I know He’s still there and well, Mary is my home girl too). St. Mary’s Life Teen taught me to know my worth. So even though I would be shoved into lockers, picked on, etc…thrown down literally and figuratively through the years, I knew my worth and that I couldn’t be kept down.

So why this story now…why a glimpse into my life back then? Well, the program can’t happen without the generosity of others. I am hosting a thirty-one gifts fundraising party over the next few days as my way to give back to a program that gave me more than I could ever repay them. Fundraiser details can be found on my Facebook VIP group page. Or you can go directly to the St. Mary’s Life Teen Go Fund Me Page and make a donation. This program literally saves lives – it saved mine.

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Blank Calendar

This is our main household calendar. It is the control center. It gets updated every 2-3 weeks [Tedy tends to erase the bottom two weeks]. Right now it is blank. Soon it will be a rainbow. Every person in this house has a color. Heck, even the dogs have a color. There are also colors for special events. Soon it will be full of appointments, end of summer trips, back to school events, etc. The quote at the bottom should read: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”

Tedy of course has peeled off some of the letters, but I know the message. I try to live by it. Random Liz DeLise fact: Gladiator is one of my all time favorite movies.

Staring at my blank calendar before it becomes a rainbow got me thinking, which led to blogging…

Life and this calendar are flexible. Nothing is set in stone. It can easily wipe away. Our lives change and unbeknownst to us it can easily be wiped away in a moment.

Yet we try to control it all. We try to make set plans and we often become slaves to our schedules.

“Death smiles at us all. All a (wo)man can do is smile back.” Not to be all gloom and doom but I’m often reminded how much this rings true. How it can also be applied to craptastic situations in life as well.

I’ve been hit hard by some craptastic times this summer. Being an Army wife means that my calendar has to be extremely flexible. Yet it means I also stare at it a ton and count down the days until Troy comes home from yet another assignment that has meant time apart from our family. While at war Maximus knew exactly how many days he had been gone from his family “two years, two hundred and sixty-four days and this morning” I know that time frame as well though I am not the soldier. I look forward to being reunited and I am ready for a new adventure, hopefully together. Yet until then I must remember all of these words as well as my most favorite Gladiator quote: Strength and honor.

My mother is one of my biggest supporters even though we can be like oil and water at times. She reminds me of what I already know but sometimes lose site of. When I call her bawling my eyes out [thank you Younique for making an amazing mascara so it doesn’t stream down my face] she reminds me of these things. She reminds me that no matter how tough life gets. No matter how much I lose in this crazy battle of life that I can get through it. She reminds me to live in the rainbow. To realize that even though I get struck down time and time again that I embody strength and honor. To smile back, to embrace life and accept that even though it may wipe away at a moments notice that it is a beautiful rainbow. That it is full, that I must stay true to me and remember that what I do in life echoes in eternity. That what I do in life will have a lasting impact on my children. In times of sorrow when other people have me down my mom often tells me to not let others run around rent free in my head. She’s right. You hear that mom?!?! I admit it, you’re right.

So I guess that’s part of what this blog post is for. To help me through and maybe help someone else through. To start with a new blank slate and to move on and turn it into a beautiful rainbow. That my children will remember those rainbows of life and not dwell on the darker times. This is the Rambling Mom blog, I tend to ramble but hopefully you’ll get something from my ramblings too.

What’s said on the run…

Rule numero uno of the code of the Sole Sisterhood is: What’s said on the run stays on the run.

Or so I thought…

After many discussions with my husband, Troy, he said point blank: women’s running cliques are just modern day sewing circles; you gossip more than you run. When he said this, at first I laughed it off and chalked it up; he didn’t get it, he wasn’t on the run with us, he didn’t really understand.

Then I noticed on my runs people saying things to me and asking questions about things I hadn’t told them. Some of these were very personal things I had mentioned to someone else while running. Troy’s words started ringing in my ears and I didn’t find it so funny anymore. It hurt.

I’m going to call myself out on this post so let me make that clear right away. I admit that I played into the gossipping.

However, there’s a lesson to learn and it was hard and hurtful for me to learn. Once I realized Troy’s words were true, and that it was gossipping, I tried to make a change. You can only change yourself though. You can’t change the actions of others. Sometimes if others choose to continue a behavior you’re not comfortable with the best thing for you to do is to step away, and I have after the issues got worse and I got hurt a bit more.

I’m not going to go into details about the tipping point incident for me here on the blog because that would defeat the purpose of this post. What I will tell you is this…be careful with what you say while on the run. Just because something is said on the run and is repeated by another person during a different run doesn’t make it right. When that happens you take a piece of someone – and think of it this way, would your Sole Sister truly want to hear those words about herself if she was present at that run? Is that really being a Sole Sister in the first place? No, it’s violating rule numero uno of the Sole Sisterhood.

Rule numero dos is defined above. It has multiple parts though. They all go hand in hand so let’s break it down real quick.

Part a) listen – that means that you give all involved in the run an opportunity to talk. You shouldn’t always be the one talking (this is coming from a talker – I know I’m a talker – I’ll admit it can be a fault of mine at times and is something I’ve been working on, to actively listen to others as well).

Part b) doesn’t judge – DOES. NOT. JUDGE. If a Sole Sister shares her goals with you, those are HER goals. You can give constructive feedback but ultimately it is HER decision and HER life – not yours! Sometimes you won’t agree with each other and that is fine. Sometimes your goals won’t be aligned with each other and that’s fine. That’s the beauty of it, we are all different, running unites us. Do. Not. Judge – there is no room for any form of pace shaming in the Sole Sisterhood.

Part c) makes running fun – FUN!!! Don’t constantly be dumping (I use dumping instead of venting because you all know what I’m talking about and know the difference) on your Sole Sisters. Celebrate. Celebrate your accomplishments. Don’t dwell on things of the past that may have gone wrong in a race. Celebrate. Have fun!!! When a Sole Sister is down in the dumps allow her to vent but don’t make the entire run a bitch session ) gossip run…HAVE FUN!

That’s all folks, the code of the Sole Sisters is very short and easy. Please make sure you’re adhering to it. When the code is broken you really are just another gossip / mean girl circle. Oh and talking about the mean girls is being a mean girl yourself by the way. Again disclaimer, I’ve broken the code – I ask my Sole Sisters to forgive me for having done so and pledge to do my best to be a better person than I was yesterday. We cannot dwell in the past, races aren’t run in reverse, we must keep moving forward.

Outlook 

Today is day 15 for #31daysofskirtsports and the theme is outlook…again…oops.  There was a slight error when making this years theme calendar and outlook was placed on it twice.  Instead of posting another picture for this theme I decided to write about it.  

Many other Skirt Sports Ambassadors chose to post pictures of gorgeous views.  You can check them out on Instagram by searching the hashtag #31daysofskirtsports.  I thought about hiking up Comanche Lookout Park and getting a pic of the San Antonio skyline but the day got away from me and we didn’t make it up there.  Which is totally ok, we still had an enjoyable day but it got me thinking about outlook a bit more and some of my reasons for running.

out·look

 

\ˈat-ˌlk\

noun

  • : the way that a person thinks about things
  • : a set of conditions that will probably exist in the future : the future of someone or something
  • : a place where you can look out over a widearea ; also : a view from such a place

Joy…I run because it brings me joy.   It is not a chore for me.  Even racing brings me joy and I like to have fun when I run, especially when I race.  I am not a pro.  I don’t get paid to do any of this.  So what’s the point in stressing over it?!  Yet just because I run for fun doesn’t mean I’m not competitive.  I am.  I am very competitive but I compete with myself and only myself – well, actually the clock too but you get what I’m saying.  Just because I have fun and will walk at times doesn’t mean I don’t have goals – I do, I just don’t share all of my goals with people because they’re my goals and when I race it’s my race, my pace.  Running as an adult is an individual sport (minus the few rare times I participate in relay events) for me.  

There are 20 possible answers in a magic 8 ball.  “Outlook not so good” is one of my husband’s favorites to use when he’s not so sure how to answer a question.  He often pretends he has a magic 8 ball in his hands and shakes it and reveals his answer – I got him a real magic 8 ball as a gift once because of this.  

What does a magic 8 ball have to do with outlook and running?!  It’s all about perspective.  It’s all about your outlook.  If your outlook is not so good then you’re going to have a miserable time as a runner.  You’ll get caught up in all of the nonsense that can happen.  You’ll get burnt out on running and racing because you’re constantly stressing and worrying about this and that.  

There is power in outlook.  When you use it negatively you’ll get a negative return.  When you use it positively you’ll get a positive return.  The journey to some of the most gorgeous views, to some of these outlooks posted today, is hard!  Yet if you have a positive outlook on your way to the outlook it’ll make the reward that much sweeter!  

So when the magic 8 ball of life tosses an “outlook not so good” at you, take a moment to acknowledge it but don’t dwell.  Move on, accept that this journey may be difficult.   Accept that racing or training is going to be hard some days.  Then, pause, take a look at the beauty all around you.   The beauty in simply being alive and being able to move and be out on the course or trail or road, wherever you may be.  Breath it all in and soak in the positivity – trust me – it’s better when you’re having fun.  

Mom Philosophy?!

As a mother of five I am often asked many questions about mothering.  I take a look around and wait for someone else to answer the questions because, really?!  Am I really the one being asked for motherly advice?!  Don’t these people understand that I’m just basically winging this whole mom thing?!  Yet apparently I must be doing something right because the questions keep coming.  I never really thought about what my Mom Philosophy is until I was asked to by Skirt Sports (they rock by the way).  Naturally, I polled some of my closest friends who have seen me in the ups and downs of motherhood over the past 9+ years.  I was told that I say things like: “Kids are washable” and “Just let them be kids.”  I was told that I am resilient, and that there’s laughter in my house even during the toughest of times.  As I pondered these things and thought back on how I’ve grown as a mother and how I would like to continue to grow, I settled on one word: adventure.  According to the dictionary, the definition of adventure is: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.  That’s it, that’s my Mom Philosophy – ADVENTURE!  I hope that I am instilling a spirit of adventure in my children.  I hope that with all they do in life that they don’t ever fear adventure but embrace it.  As Amelia Earhart famously said: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

Nuby Review 1 – EZ Squee-Z Feeder

A while back Baby Cinco and I were chosen to be testers for some Nuby products.  We received these products in trade for an honest blog review on them.  First one up for review is the Nuby BPA Free EZ Squee-Z Feeder.  Let me start off by saying that I have been a huge fan of various Nuby products for almost 10 years; so I was super excited when I received a response back that we had been chosen to test out and review some products.  The Nuby EZ Squee-Z Feeder is a good product for babies who are eating level 1 foods.  It works well with jarred baby food or even well pureed homemade baby food.  We like to use it for apple sauce.  I’m all about honesty so I will say that it was a slight pain in the butt to load the food into the feeder.  It doesn’t hold a ton of food but that’s what makes it great for babies just started on solids.  The feeder has tiny holes in it so the food squeezes out when baby chomps down. 

Hhhmmmm…how does this thing work…

ah ok…I got this mama.

As you can see in the pictures above (taken when we first used the product a couple of months ago, so Audie was about 7ish month old) the design of the Nuby EZ Squee-Z feeder is easy for baby to grasp and hold himself.

Not pictured it the top that goes over the feeder.  Since baby has to chomp down to get the food out it makes for a mess free snack to carry in the diaper bag with you.

When the food starts to get low you do have to give it a good shake down to get the most out of it.

Now let’s talk about cleaning real quick…

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this but considering how people found mold in other baby feeding products (not naming any names) I can easily see that happening with the EZ Squee-Z.  Please be sure to take it completely apart and thoroughly clean and dry it to prevent molding!  Note: putting it back together is a little bit tricky so pay attention to how you take it apart so you’re not spending too much time like I was to get it back together.

The Nuby BPA Free EZ Squee-Z Feeder comes in three colors: Blue, Pink & Green.  It can be found at your local Babies R Us store so go check it out!

Be sure to check back soon for another review on another Nuby product.  Also, give Nuby a follow on Instagram for the latest on their products.

What’s Up Wednesday – March 15, 2017

I’ve been doing a little weekly VLOG series on my YouTube Channel.  Just trying to get out there a bit more and share some of my thoughts and feelings on certain things and items I like and answering questions people may have recently asked me etc…

Today was very difficult to post.  In about a 6 minute video you get a glimpse into the chaos of my life.  Into what it’s like to have a child with Autism.  A child on the non-verbal end of the spectrum, where we may never be able to have full conversations with him.  I know there are success stories out there but I can’t compare those experiences to ours.  Every child is so different.  Autism is a puzzle and you’re not always sure if all the pieces are even there.  Or you start solving the puzzle and something comes along and decides to toss it off and jumble the pieces back up or turn it from 100 piece puzzle to 1,000 piece puzzle.

I have lived some parent’s worst nightmares.  I have lived through my child escaping out of the house via a window and being on the porch roof.  I have lived through my child running away from home.  I have lived through my child running away from school.  I have lived through my child having meltdowns in public, and I have learned to ignore the nasty looks at these times.  One of my worst nightmares is that since my son can’t really speak, that something will happen to him, where someone will harm him and he won’t be able to tell me about it.  This has happened, more than once, and it happened again today in a way that has left me fairly speechless and my mind is completely boggled.  I work so hard day in and day out to keep his world as safe as I possibly can.  I work so hard to make sure he receives all the therapies and services that he needs.  We research providers, and have left providers that we didn’t think were a good fit for our family.  Y’all, IT SUCKS!  That is all – it just simply SUCKS!

I’m not sure how many times I said “it sucks” in my VLOG today but it seemed like it was all that I could say.  I just need you all to know that.  Just please allow us to say “it sucks” and acknowledge that yep, some days it really does suck.  Do not apologize to me about it because you have nothing to truly be sorry for.  It’s not your fault that he has Autism, it’s no ones fault, it’s just the card we’ve been dealt for whatever reason.  Saying “I’m sorry.” to me about it puts me in an awkward spot honestly.  If you’ve said it to me before don’t worry too much about it, I don’t have any instance in mind but from here out just take a moment of pause and instead of saying you’re sorry for what happened just acknowledge with me that “it sucks.”

It’s March 15th – “beware the Ides of March.”  *sigh* yep… what I mean is that as a parent, and especially if you’re a parent of a special needs child, we must always beware.  Don’t let the fears control your life but use that “spidey-sense”, that tingling you get, that sensation that something just isn’t right, that this just isn’t working…acknowledge it and trust your instincts.  Just because something may have worked before doesn’t mean it’ll always work.  Once that “mommy instinct” goes off, trust it.  It may suck to adjust through but usually that instinct is there for a reason.  Mama Bears everywhere, good luck.  Be brave when you “beware the Ides of March” in your life.