Weekly Gratitude #11: My Four Grandparents

Every week I like to take a moment and reflect on one thing that I am grateful for.

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This week I would like to show gratitude for my grandparents.

I cherish my memories from my Boston-Irish childhood and my grandparents all played an active roll in my memories.

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This week was the anniversary of my paternal grandfather’s death and the anniversary of the maternal grandmother’s death will occur this week and these anniversaries have put me in a reflective mood.

I was lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents.

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Each of them was a pivotal link between me and our families past.  All four of my grandparents were children of immigrants (3 from Ireland and 1 from Canada) and told me stories about my great-grandparents.  I only have a few vague recollections of the only great-grandparent who lived long to meet me.

My grandparents instilled in me a sense of where I come from.  From my grandparents, I learned to appreciate corned beef and cabbage and that food just tastes better when you fry it.  I learned that punctuality was important and that you don’t leave the door open.  I wasn’t born in a barn, after all.  I learned the importance of working hard and the meaning of money.  I also learned to be honest and was instilled with some good ‘ole Catholic guilt.

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I m grateful that I had a chance to know all four grandparents.

I am grateful that three of my grandparents lived long enough to see me as an adult.

I am grateful one of my grandparents lived long enough to see me get married and meet my daughter.

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Were you fortunate enough to know your grandparents?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear about your grandparents.

Grandma Sullivan‘s Obituary Here

Papa Crowley’s Obituary Here

Nana Crowley’s Obituary Here

 

Weekly Gratitude #8: Christmas with the Casales

I had two Rounds of Christmas this year.

I had my Christmas here in Maine which has been shown prominently on my Instragram. (Can you blame me?  I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I am going to Instagram that shit)

Then I had Christmas in New York with my New York family.

My New York family is not biologically related to me.  But these people were there with me during Bryon’s last hours on this planet. They were with me at the funeral home when I picked out Bryon’s casket, helped write his obituary and made sure that his funeral had an open bar with wristbands.

They have been there for me throughout the darkest of my days and have never asked for anything in return, nor have they thrown it in my face.

And I know these people love my daughter more than most people on this planet.

I feel really awkward calling them “these people.”  They are so much more than that, but I don’t feel comfortable using people’s real names in my blog.  Usually, I ask people for input on their blog nicknames, but it is almost midnight as I write this and I don’t want to wake them. Especially since I may have woken them up with this hysterical picture of my daughter putting her sweatshirt on backwards.

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It was a rough morning.  First day back at school after the holidays.  My daughter and I laughed for a solid 5 minutes when this was happening and I wanted to share it with her Godmother and eventually the whole internet.

There we go.  I will refer to one half of “Those people” as her Godmother and the other half as Mr. Uncle V.

I did use their surname in the blog title, but that was because I am a bit of a word nerd and I enjoy the aesthetics of alliteration.

I am grateful for the time we got to spend in NY with our NY family.

Yes, they have always treated us like family and their extended family has always welcomed us.

Yes, they have a beautiful house and they served lots of amazing food.

Downton Abbey has nothing on them, except Mr. Bates.  I may have a bit of a crush on Mr. Bates.  I would have been alright if Mr. Bates was walking around.

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I also got to observe how homemade pasta was made.  It blew my Irish-American mind.  And it was delicious too.

I enjoyed a delicious drink called Rum, Rum, Runaway and drank some good wine.

My daughter’s Godmother and Mr. Uncle V are such great people and they are always surrounded by great people.  This makes sense since like attracts like.  I know they are busy, but they still always find time for people, including my daughter and me.

They are literally two of the smartest people I know.

And some of the most fun people I know as demonstrated by late-night games of Family Feud.

Sometimes I struggle with the whole concept of putting the past behind me and moving into the future. Sometimes I have to “numb out” to the past or else I will never move forward and my mind will go on like it’s binge-watching all the seasons of  This is Us only it’s Bryon that’s dead and not Jack Pearson.

It gets complicated when it comes to certain relationships.  Some people have left my life willingly.  Some were toxic and I had to proactively cut out of my life.

But some people I want to stay though sometimes the forces of life just feel like I am supposed to choose between past and present.

And I am grateful that there are people in my life who want to stay with me for the wild and bumpy ride.  People who love me enough that they want to see me thrive.  People who loved Bryon and also knew how deep my love was for Bryon, but they also want to see me move forward.

It might be a shocker, but not everyone feels that way.

Like, life dealt me this shitty hand and I am not supposed to grow from the experience.

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Being around my friends and their family and friends (now my friends…I think…I hope…) made me realize that I don’t have to give up that piece of my life.  I have spent so much time getting reacquainted with my younger self and my present self, but I have to accept that those political years are just as much a part of me as the younger years.

I am grateful I got to spend the Holidays with them.  And I am also grateful for the clarity I got about my life from being around them.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #20

It’s Friday!

You know what means- time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

Here are the 5 things I am grateful for this week:

  1.  Seeing H-bomb 

    I don’t really remember life without my cousin H-bomb.  My earliest memory of her was in my Nana’s kitchen.  I had to have been around my daughter’s age (3 and a half.  Can’t forget that half.)  My Nana was feeding H-bomb, who was sitting in a high chair.  I want to say that the Price is Right was playing on a black and white TV but I could be wrong.  If it wasn’t on, it should have been.

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    Crowley Cousins- Easter 1982- Woburn, MA (H-bomb’s siblings would arrive in 1983 and 1985)

    H-bomb has pretty much seen me through all stages of life- hyper kid, awkward middle schooler, high schooler, college kid, singleton, politico, wife, mother, widow and…whatever weird stage I am in now.  And she has been my best friend through it all.

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    September 29, 2012- Albany, NY  Photo credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

     

  2. Going to the House of Seven Gables 

    As I said in my last post about my trip to Boston, I finally got to go to the House of Seven Gables.  I had wanted to go about 20 years ago but no one wanted to go with me.  I was excited that H-bomb and the gang were going.We kept joking that all my dreams from 20 year ago were finally coming true.   I don’t know if the spirit of my younger self comes alive more when I am around H-bomb or if I am more in touch with it due to all my self-reflection over the past year and a half.

    I am also thankful I am getting this period of time to examine and reflect on my life and choose to live my life more deliberately.

  3. My future son-in-law’s birthday 

    Okay, I don’t know if this boy will be my son-in-law someday.  It started as a joke.  This little boy is the son of Bryon’s best friend.  He is 5 months older than my daughter and it has always been the joke that they will get married someday.14224804_1469396146411319_7112937204134600051_n.jpgThe other day we (my daughter, my future son-in-law, his mom-and one of my besties, her younger son and I) were walking out of daycare.  My daughter and my future son-in-law are ahead of us and there is a random lady there.

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    April 2017

    Future son-in-law (to random lady):  I am going to marry her.
    His mom/my bestie, me, and everyone within earshot: Awwwwww!
    Random lady: Can I come?
    My daughter:  No.

    We need to work on being more gracious and tactful.

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    This past weekend was my future son-in-law’s 4th birthday and we went to his school party at the trampoline place.

    On Tuesday night (the night before his actual birthday) we all saw Disney Jr Dance Party at the historic Palace Theater.  Ironically I only got pics with my daughter and the birthday boys little brother.  Ooops.

    Whether the kids end up marrying each other or not, it is an amazing experience to watch them grow up together and see their friendship grow.

  4. Spending time with my friend Gentel/Corks and Forks Event 

    Last weekend I got to see my friend Gentel (she blogs here).   Gentel and her boyfriend were in Albany for the weekend and invited me to attend the Corks and Forks fundraiser to raise awareness for Huntington’s Disease.   I didn’t know much about Huntington’s Disease.  You can read more about the disease here.It was a great event.  And it was great to spend time with Gentel and her boyfriend.

    I hope to see them sometime soon.

  5. Everyone in my life 

    I know this is a broad one but I am thankful for everyone in my life.images (1)For everyone who is there for me and my daughter.

    For everyone who messages me and checks up on me if they think I am sad.

    For everyone who has offered to help me.

    For everyone who listens to me.  And for everyone that shares their stories with me.

    For everyone who encourages me.

    For everyone who sends me funny texts and SnapChats.

    For everyone who helps me create happy memories.

    I think about close friends, new friends, old friends, school friends, work friends, political friends, widow friends, internet friends, Maine friends, New York friends and former friends.

    I truly believe that everyone has been in my life for a reason.  I am thankful for all the love, light and laughter in my life.  I am also choosing to be thankful for all those who have caused pain.  Because that pain has helped shape my character and taught me the importance of treating people better.

    I am thankful for all those who have played a role in my life.

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    What are you thankful for this week?

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Boston 2018: Kowloon, Salem and The House of Seven Gables

Last week my daughter and I took a whirlwind trip to the Boston area because my cousin, her husband and her friend were visiting.

If you are a friend of mine, please don’t be offended that I didn’t reach out.  I was literally in Massachusetts for 30 hours.  Well about 35 hours if you include my time on the Mass Pike…

I hate driving on the Mass Pike.

The main cast of characters (You met some here) in this story are:

My cousin: H-Bomb and her husband Tito
H-Bomb’s friend from Florida
H-Bombs friend in Massachusetts and her boyfriend, The Boat Captain
My daughter
and Yours Truly.

***I just want to note that I try to avoid using real names for people so I use nicknames.  Sometimes I will write and not have a nickname yet.  It does not mean that these people are not important.  Everyone is valued and loved.  It just means I haven’t thought is a wicked cool nickname yet***

My brother, Danimal the Party Animal also made an appearance.  He’s not really a party animal.  We just used to work at the grocery store back in Maine when I was in high school and he was in college and the produce guys named him that.

Because…Dannon Danimals.

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H-Bomb is a planner but I suggested we re-create this commercial.  My daughter can do everything that little boy does in the video.  Heck, she can probably do it better.  Because she is awesome.

I had a simple plan.

  1.  First, find a Bed and Breakfast that would let us shoot some picturesque shots.
  2. My daughter will run away from the water because the North Atlantic is effing freezing this time of year.
  3. Find an old man with a lobster boat. I will bring my daughter’s life jacket. It’s pink not orange but I think we can work with it.
  4. Find a town having a 4th of July concert in the town common. On a Thursday. In April.  My daughter can dance.
  5. Picnic baskets and marshmallows and a bonfire on the beach. Who cares about town permits?

Ultimately we decided against recreating the Spirit of Massachusetts video.  But we did decide that should we make one, it would include history, the Red Sox, a whole lot of Dunkin Donuts and Tito said that we needed to film one of us standing at an intersection in Boston looking completely dumbfounded.

Because Boston is not known for easy intersections.

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I had arrived in Peabody in the afternoon.  We just hung out and caught up.

Then we had dinner at Kowloon.

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I spent the first 15 years of my life in the Boston area and had never been to Kowloon.  I had always seen it whenever I drove on Route 1.  I know my Uncle (H-Bomb’s Dad) always checks in there on Facebook when he visits from Florida.  But I had never been.  Kowloon is north of the city and I grew up all the way out in Billerica.  Google maps tells me that they are about a half an hour away from each other and back then, that was the equivalent of being out of state.

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I was not disappointed.  It reminded me of the old school Boston Chinese restaurants I went to as a kid.  But better.

We toasted to friends, cousins and honorary cousins.  We all loved how my daughter joined with her fruit punch.

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We ordered several dishes to share including the quintessential Boston pu-pu platter

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We seem to have a knack for ordering almost just the right amount of food.  We all ate till we were stuffed and we didn’t have much left over.

We all drank our Mai Tai’s and read out fortunes.  Complete with saying “in bed” after the fortune.  Because I am dork like that and I won’t apologize for it.

The server kept bringing cookies so we kept reading them.

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We got our group selfie (groupie?) and then we went back to the house that belonged to H-Bombs Massachusetts friend and the Boat Captain.

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I read my daughter stories and put her down to bed.  And then us adults played games.  It was a blast.

Friday morning brought donuts from Kanes.  H-Bombs Massachusetts friend bought so many flavors that we cut them up so we could try more than one.  The Maple Bacon one was amazing.

We spent most of the day in Salem.

The kids played.  Well, Tito, the Boat Captian and my daughter played.

We took turns seeing a psychic and we had lunch at Brodies Seaport.

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We saw everyone’s favorite liquor store, Bunghole Liquors.

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H-Bombs Massachusetts friend asked me if I knew what a bunghole was and I was like “Yeah…Beavis and Butthead…duh…”

But apparently it actually has a more dignified meaning…

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I’ll be damned.

 

We also got a chance to see the House of Seven Gables which has been a dream of mine for about 20 years.  Last trip to Boston my 20 year dream of eating at the Top of the Pru came true.  All of 20-year-old Kerry’s dreams are coming true.

We showed up right as a tour was starting.

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You can think what you want about the time and date.  None of that was going on.  I just love patterns and thought that was cool.

We enjoyed the tour and the history lesson.  My daughter is only 3 but she was a trooper and very well behaved.  Between my trip to Philly the weekend before and being in Salem, I feel blessed for living so close to so much history.

I can’t wait to return to Boston.  I also can’t wait to see my cousin again which will be on my birthday trip.  I am planning something special for the big 4-0.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #19

It’s Friday!

You know what that means.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday.

Here are the 5 things I am thankful for this week.

1. Being busy

I am writing on my phone while travelling. The WordPress app always messes up my formatting so I apologize for that. I also apologize for the lack of posts and the brevity of them. I had a three day turnaround between Philly and Boston. Well, Boston-ish.

I am thankful for the excitement in my life.

2. Weekend in Philly.

Last weekend I went to Philly with the girls for friend bachelorette party. I am thankful for be a part of it and that my parents watched my daughter so I could be a part of it.

Philly post coming.

3. Boston with my cousins.

My cousin is up from Florida and I took a few days off to spend time with them.

Boston(ish) post coming.

4. Living near history

I love that I live so close to cities with so much history.

5. My bestie!!!

My best friend had her birthday yesterday and I am so thankful to have her in my life.

What are you thankful for this week.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #17

It’s Friday!

You know what that means…

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday

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I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago and Wisconsin and Easter weekend.

This week has been a whirlwind but I am thankful for it because it has been full of engagements with friends.  I am so thankful for my friends.

Here are the 5 things I am thankful for

  1. Easter Traditions, new and old

    On Saturday, my daughter and I went to our friends house for the second annual Easter egg hunt.

    Always a challenge to get them to look at the camera

    Fun with SnapChat

    After the Easter egg hunt, my daughter and I traveled to my cousins house in Massachusetts where we spent Easter with her branch of the family.

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    Again, hard to get them to all look at the camera at the same time.

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    I was also thankful that this was a Happy Easter because last year was not a Happy Easter for me.  I am thankful that I am past the raw stages of grief.  The good days outnumber the bad.  In fact, I don’t really have bad days anymore, just moments that hit me hard.  And I will always have those moments and I am okay with that.

    Last Easter I was very upset but this Easter I was happy and I am thankful that I can find joy again.  I am thankful that I am healing.

  2. A night out with my cousin

    While I was visiting my cousin, we had the opportunity to go out.

    We went to a local speakeasy called Less Than Greater Than which is located in the back an ice cream shop called New City Microcreamery.  We had to wait for seats in the speakeasy so we did have ice cream while we waited and it was the best ice cream I have ever eaten.  Legit.


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  3. Living in America

    I love living in America because we can all take part in each other’s cultures.

    Monday was Dyngus Day and while I am not Polish, my daughter is Polish.  I heard that there was a Dyngus Day celebration at The Hill at Muza, a Polish restaurant in the nearby city of Troy and decided to take my daughter.  I want her to know her heritage, including her non-Irish heritage.  And I heard that Dyngus Day was like Polish St. Patrick’s Day so I was sold.

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    It was a great party.  Good food, good music.  A very nice lady gave my daughter a pussy willow to tap her crushes.  Then she gave one to me and I was like “Haha…thanks…*awkward laugh*…”

    My daughter tapped every man that walked by.  They would turn around and then see her smiling at them.  I don’t know if she was flirting or if she was trying to set her poor mother up.  I mean, she signed me up for tinder after all.

  4. The birthday girl

    I have no pictures from this week with my friend who celebrated her birthday.  (She doesn’t have a blog name yet).  But here is a pic from when we went to the casino after Christmas.

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    She is one of my absolute favorite people.  Her interactions with my daughter are always cracking me up.  I have so much fun with her but our friendship is much deeper than fun.

    We also spend so much time talking about things like the meaning of life.  We read the same books and have deep discussions about them.

    I am a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding.  Well her and Our Favorite Community Helper’s wedding.

    I mean, it is 40% his wedding.

    Before you freak out, I am kidding.

    It is a How I Met Your Mother reference from Season 1 Episode 11.  When Ted is insistent that he RSVP’ed with a plus one to Claudia and Stuart’s wedding and Claudia says that he did not RSVP with a plus one.

    Lily [about asking to bring a date]: You can always ask Stuart.
    Ted: Can I do that?
    Lily: Sure, you guys have been friends for a long time, and it’s 40% his wedding too.

    Today I was helping my friend at her wedding dress fitting.  I have good fine motor skills but I was having trouble with the buttons because I was shaking.  I was getting so emotional seeing her in her wedding dress.  There is a 70% chance I will cry at the wedding but it will be tears of joy.

  5. Time with Robin Brillantes

    I got to spend time with another friend, who is a Spanish teacher.  It was her school break this week so I got to spend a lot of time together.

    We went to the mall.  We were looking for dresses because we have a few social events this spring.  We sat on those massage chairs and I took a very unflattering SnapChat pic.  I wrote “Let’s go to the mall…today!” and sent it to our friends.

    Two How I Met Your Mother references in one blog post…I am on a roll.

    Because it is hard to talk about my friends without references to How I Met Your Mother.

    Our Favorite Community Helper snaps back and said I had to refer to our Spanish    teacher friend as Robin Sparkles in my blog but it had to be in Spanish.  My friend said the closest Spanish work to “sparkles” was “brillantes” so she is officially Robin Brillantes.

    Robin Brillantes also came out to my daughters dance class, had dinner at Chipotle with us and then three of us got mani/pedi’s. Well, except Robin- she just got a pedicure.

    It was my daughters first mani/pedi.  She chose bright orange.  I felt it was important to let her express herself.

    We also saw a guy who looked just like Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.  Though #fauxmikeehrmantraut was much chattier and friendlier.

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Though now I want some Los Pollos Hermanos even though it doesn’t exist.  I used to say that to Bryon when we watched Breaking Bad.

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That is what I am thankful for this week.  What are you thankful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #11

It’s Friday!

And that means it is time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the things I am grateful for this week-

  1.  Our 70F degree day

    A 70F degree day is a rarity in the Northeast in February.  But I enjoyed it.  It was nice to walk outside without your winter coat and not be cold.

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  2. Being a Maine Girl

    Because the day after that 70F degree February day, the temperature dropped down to 31F and we got a few inches of snow.  But I am from Maine.  I drive a Suburu Forrester and I wear LL Bean coat and LL Bean boots.  I can handle it.

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    But I also take comfort in knowing the winter days are numbered.  Spring will be here soon.

    The snow did not ruin my cats plans.  He did what he does every day.  Living his best life possible.

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  3. Family dinners.

    I cherish the meals shared with my closest friends.  Friends who are so close that we refer to each other as family.  I also learned about a new wine and it was approved by Carter, the wine connoisseur.

  4. Chinese Food for lunch.

    It’s a favorite of mine.  Usually I would get sweet and sour chicken but lately I have been into pork lo mein.  This might become my Friday treat.

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  5. This moment.

    I am in trouble. But this moment is precious and it will stay with me forever.

    It was funny because when I was putting her to bed that night, I was alarmed that her neck was pink.  Then I remembered that she put A LOT of blush on her neck.

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    What are you grateful for this week?