SHE SAYS:

Today, our sons, Matthew, Michael and Joseph; our daughter, Julia; our daughter-in-law, Erika and Michael’s girlfriend, Jacque will be leaving on a two week trip to Japan and Vietnam.  We are in San Francisco to see them off.  About one year ago, Matthew and Erika and Michael and Jacque began talking about taking this trip.  The details of how it was planned and how Joseph and Julia ended up joining them are unimportant for the purpose of this post.  

As parents, you nurture and help mold your children into the adults they will become.   We all wish to create independent, knowledgeable and worldly adults with the goal that they stand on their own two feet and go off to make a life for themselves.  Then we all wish our children the success and happiness that comes with that independence.  At some point, you know they are going to leave the nest, but when they are gone, it makes you realize just how fast time passed and that your wish for them is being fulfilled.

Once upon a time, while on a family trip to Disney World, we were all sitting in the French pavilion in Epcot Center when Joe and I suddenly realized that time was passing quickly and before we knew it, Matthew and Michael would finish High School and move on to college.  It was 1996.  By then we had taken a family vacation each year to the beach in New Jersey; we had been to Washington DC, Boston and Florida, but not much beyond that.  At that moment a plan was hatched to start looking into traveling to other places so we could expand their horizons.  Our first thought was Italy, since we had been there for our honeymoon and it is the home of our ancestors.  Our second thought was London because we knew that everyone would speak English.

However, while my good friend was visiting from Las Vegas and we were telling her of our plan, she suggested we test our travel abilities by seeing more of the US.  Of course, she suggested we start with Las Vegas and maybe California.  Suffice it to say, our maiden flight in 1997 with all six of us, included stops in Las Vegas, California and the Grand Canyon.   The next summer was England, Scotland and France and the following summer was Italy.  Many other trips abroad followed as well as study abroad programs for some of them.  Since then, each of our children has traveled to many other places on their own and with friends.  I mention this because all the while we were nurturing and teaching our family about travel and other cultures, we also gave them their wings!

More than once during the planning phases of this trip to Japan they asked us to join them.  As much as we would like to see Japan, we felt strongly that this is their trip.  Although we feel a little nervous as they all take off together to a far flung corner of the world, we are so happy to see them make this trip together.

In a broader sense, besides the traveling our children do, they have all found their way in the world or at least are on their way.  We could lament and even get a little teary-eyed that our children have left the nest, moved away to other cities and forged relationships that bring them into the fold of other families all of which keep them away from us for much of the time.  Instead, I am instilled with pride and feel gratified that we have succeeded in nurturing these four little “birds” into loving, caring and independent adults who always know where they can find their original nest.

Jacque, Michael, Julia, Joseph, Erika and Matthew

Jacque, Michael, Julia, Joseph, Erika and Matthew

On Monday, Joe provides some tips for those taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease in “Alzheimer’s Disease, The Role Of The Care Giver”. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

SHE SAYS:

In September 2011, we closed out our third rental season of our Jersey Shore condo and I can honestly say that things have run smoothly most of the time.

When we first purchased the condo in September 2008, the decor was still screaming of the 1980’s.  We changed some of the furnishings; repainted; purchased new bedding, kitchen and bathroom accessories; added flat screen TVs, added a router for wireless internet; and bought some nice beach towels.

Prior to our purchase of the condo, when we were renters there, we would fantasize that if we owned this, we would…….   Now we were ready for OUR renters.  We knew that some tenants would be repeat renters since we bought the condo through the same agent who we rented from and would continue to use her for our rental agent services.  In addition, I set up a vacation rental by owner website to start to attract our own renters.

In August 2009, our first rental season, we had two new renters from our own website and our rental agent had two repeat renters.  By the end of the rental season, much to our surprise, several incidental items were missing such as three sets of new sheets, a new bathroom rug, some of the new beach towels, the new Dining Room tablecloth, and even some dishtowels and oven mitts.

Even though inexpensive items, we felt violated and betrayed especially since we had been renting this same condo for a number of years and nothing seemed to go missing year after year.  How could this happen?  Should we be in this business of allowing strangers to essentially live in our home away from home?  The hard part of running this rental business is not the complicated bookkeeping between our own renters and reconciling our rental agent’s statements, but knowing that people are using our things.  Although we run this as a business, we just don’t look at it as a business.  We definitely consider it our home that we happen to share with others.  As renters we always treated it as if it was our own, so we expected others to do the same and in that first year, we learned that was not always the case.

The rental agent had no explanation and told us to chalk it up to the cost of doing business.  We came close to not renting again in 2010 and just offering the condo to family and friends, but we decided to try again.  We chose to take our rental agent’s advice and not worry so much about the little ‘things’ as long as there was no real damage.  That’s not to say that we would not be unhappy or even feel violated if this were to happen again, but we put some safeguards in place that second summer that we didn’t have that first summer.  The new process held each tenant more accountable and gave us more peace of mind.  The summers of 2010 and 2011 were much smoother and the condo was no less for the wear.  So, it’s back to the bookkeeping and promotion as my focus after we reconciled the end of another season and prepare for the summer of 2012.

On Monday, Joe uses a different format to have some fun liberating his dark side in “The Dark Side”.

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SHE SAYS:

The cycle of life goes on and on.  Young people find each other, get to know each other, marry and many times create families.  The children in those families grow up and the cycle goes on and on.

Once again, I find myself wrapped up in our children’s milestones in our own ‘cycle of life’ as Joe along with our three sons and daughter-in-law, recently headed to Syracuse, NY for our fourth and final graduation.  The baby has graduated!   Unbelievable!

From 1982 when Matthew and Michael were born to 1985 when Joseph arrived and finally in 1990 when our little girl made her grand entrance into our lives, it was hard to imagine that in 2012, we would be where we are now.  Years fly by.  Work, school, sports and many other activities take over your life and before you know it, you are dropping your first child off at college or in our case, the first two.  Since all four of our children went to Syracuse University, (and our daughter-in-law, too!) we have spent a lot of time there in those 12 years between 2000 and 2012.

Joe made a great observation during graduation weekend.  We were all enjoying a quiet moment sitting on the giant front porch of Julia’s sorority house and he said that ‘40-something’ years ago, when he too was a student at Syracuse, he never could have projected forward to 2012 to imagine that he would be here again to enjoy his own children’s graduations.

In Joe’s blog, “The Cycle of Life”, he talked about Julia and that is just what I want to do now.  As long as I can remember, since Julia was a little girl, she talked about when she grew up, what she wanted to do.  At times, it was a Marine Biologist, a Veterinarian, a Pediatrician, a Plastic Surgeon and an Orthopedic Surgeon, just to name a few.  The choice was never clear, but it seemed sure that Julia would pursue something in Science.   As she progressed through school, she always had good grades, but it seemed that her aptitude was in Science and Math.  Therefore, it was not surprising that Julia chose Biology as her major with an eye towards possibly going to medical school.  During High School and then during her college years, Julia volunteered and interned in hospitals, nursing homes and a hospice care center.  She also shadowed doctors to get a feel for what operating rooms and surgical procedures are like.

Ultimately, Julia decided that going to medical school was not her passion.  She became intrigued and curious about the work our daughter-in-law, Erika, does.  Julia became more and more interested in becoming a speech and language pathologist.  This summer following her graduation, she will be interning in three different hospital rehabilitation departments so that she gains more experience and knowledge in the field before applying to graduate school to become a speech pathologist.  One of the hospitals where she will volunteer is in California where Erika works.  Julia will spend a couple of months in the fall, living with Matthew and Erika to experience living and ‘working’ in a new city.  While she is in California with them, she is lucky enough to be able to also join them (and her two other brothers) on a two week trip to Japan and Vietnam.  Happy Graduation!

I remember when Matthew and Michael were only weeks from their college graduation, we were visiting them at school and I was so excited that they would be graduating soon.  I couldn’t wait to see where life would bring them.  As we sat with them and a few of their friends, I said something like, “Wow! Graduation is so soon.  It’s so exciting!  I bet you guys can’t wait.”  I think the response was a collective sigh.  None of them wanted to leave college or the camaraderie of all of their friends.  To them, it seemed too soon to grow up and become part of the real world.  I remember feeling so surprised by this reaction because I had never thought of it from their perspective.  When Joseph graduated, he and his friends felt the same way.  I was less surprised by then, but still felt excited to see where life would bring him after college.

Now, I feel that same bittersweet ending.  I am very proud of Julia and excited for her as she embarks on the next phase of her life, but now I have to admit that the cycle of life has brought me to a place where I also have to face the end of one part of my life and the beginning of another.  It only seemed like yesterday when Julia made her grand entrance into our lives and now she is all ‘grown-up’!

And so it goes on.

Julia and the Dean

Julia and the Dean

All of our Syracuse Alumni

All of our Syracuse Alumni
Erika, Matthew, Julia, Joe, Joseph and Michael

All of us in the Arts and Science Box

All of us in the Arts and Science Box

June, 2013 Update:   Since graduating from Syracuse University, Julia followed through with her internships during the summer and fall of 2012.   Julia enjoyed her time in California as well as her trip to Japan and Vietnam.   Julia then returned to NY where she worked for a pediatrician in Manhattan while applying to graduate schools.  Julia has been accepted into the Speech and Language Pathology Master’s Program at Columbia University and will start her studies this Fall.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

SHE SAYS:

As a small business owner, I understand the value of teamwork.

Almost everything you do in life requires a certain level of teamwork.  As the oldest of five children, I grew up in a household that thrived on teamwork.  When my youngest brother started school, my mother returned to teaching and even though I was only 13 years old and my sister was 12, we became her ‘second pair of hands’ when it came to housework and helping care for our three younger siblings.  This was probably good practice for me when it came to keeping my own family organized.

Over the years, as our children grew up, each of them had certain chores to help our household run more smoothly.  Even though I was working full time, with the help and cooperation of Joe and our children, I was able to participate in a number of activities involving each child.

Even when Joe was the coach, I always worked together with the other parents on every baseball, soccer and swim team any of our children were on to help keep things organized.  Whether it was scouting, school activities or my stint as PTA president, various groups of parents cooperated for the benefit of the children which always created an element of teamwork among the parents.

The point is that no matter what the activity, cooperation and teamwork is an integral part of life.  As USFSB has downsized to a core group of people, it is more apparent just how valuable teamwork is to successfully operate a business.  With the exception of our IT department, there aren’t any employees who are knowledgeable in only one particular job.  Our employees are cross-trained in multiple tasks.  This creates an environment of cooperation and teamwork enabling us to work together for a single goal, to be successful.

On Monday, Joe gives his opinion on same sex marriages in “Marriage Is More Than An Institution”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

SHE SAYS:

Every day that we’ve been in our Arizona house, it feels more and more like home.  Last year, I talked about our first winter in Arizona in “Home is Where the Heart is”.  This year, we arrived in Arizona in late January and did not leave until May 1st.

In October, when we traveled through Israel, we purchased an original painting from a local artist and a handmade copper platter, both of which are now displayed in our Arizona home.  This is something we have done with other items over the years.  When we travel to foreign countries, we always like to bring back something unique and display it in our home in New York.  Now we have begun buying items with our new home in mind.   Adding these items of personal significance to our house in Arizona helps make it feel more like home.

Most of all, sharing our house in Arizona with family is what ultimately makes it feel like it is our home.  Our first family visitors were Matthew and Erika along with Erika’s parents and sister.  They arrived for a long weekend in late March so that we could all celebrate Matthew and Erika’s First Wedding Anniversary.  That was a very special weekend!  We all gathered together to prepare and enjoy meals and, of course, spend time at the pool.  We visited a couple of nearby places and generally just enjoyed each other’s company.  We have all become one big, happy family.

Only a couple of weeks later, it was Easter and we were lucky to have all four of our children join us along with significant others.  Julia came from Syracuse, Joseph came from NYC, and Matthew, Erika and Michael came from San Francisco along with a group of their friends.  My Mother also came from Florida.  In all, there were fifteen of us for the weekend.

For a few days before everyone arrived for Easter, I cooked and baked in preparation for the weekend making all of our traditional family recipes.  Just like last year, we put everyone to work on Saturday morning making dough for homemade ravioli and then spent a couple of hours putting them together for Sunday’s dinner.  Everyone loves the process and because of the team effort, the ravioli tastes that much better.

Part of the ravioli-making crew

Part of the ravioli-making crew

Some of the ravioli we made

Some of the ravioli we made

Getting ready to serve the ravioli

Getting ready to serve the ravioli

This year, I will share my family recipe for Easter Meat Pie as well as some pictures from the weekend.  The recipe goes back, at least, to my Mother’s Grandmother. 

Easter Meat Pie

Ingredients:

PIE CRUST
2 cups Flour
2/3 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/3 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Shortening
1 Egg
½ Cup Cold Water

FILLING
8 oz. Pepperoni, diced (optional)
4 oz. Cappicola, diced
12 oz. Fresh Ground Sweet Italian Sausage Meat
4 oz. Ham, chopped
8 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, diced
4 oz. Provolone Cheese, diced
4 oz. Prosciutto, diced
4 oz. Salami, diced
(All of the above are approx. amounts)
1 Level Tablespoon Grated Romano Cheese
1 – 1 ½ Pound Fresh Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs

Prepare the Crust:
 A.  Sift the dry ingredients together.
 B.  Blend the shortening into the sifted dry ingredients with a fork.
 C.  Mix the egg with the cold water and add to the flour mixture until a ball is formed.
 D.  Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.

Prepare the Filling:
 A.  Brown the sausage meat and set aside to cool.
 B.  Combine the ricotta and Romano cheese.  Add two eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg with a wooden spoon.
 C.  Add all other ingredients and blend well.   The meat to cheese ratio is a matter of personal choice.   Blend in as much cheese as desired for the amount of meats used. 

Prepare the Pie:
 A.  Divide the dough into two portions for the top and bottom crust.
 B.  Roll out enough of the dough to line a deep pie pan (approx. 2 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter) with the dough.
 C.  Pour the filling into the lined pan and cover with the top pie crust.   Trim the crust, leaving a ½ inch overhang.
 D.  Fold the overhanging dough under and back to flute thickly.
 E.  Cut slits in the pie to allow steam to escape. 
 F.  Lightly brush the top of the crust with beaten egg whites before putting the pie into the oven.
 G.  Bake in a 400◦ preheated oven for fifteen minutes, then lower to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 45 more minutes. 
 H.  Remove from the oven.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Can be served hot or cold.

Easter Morning Breakfast

Easter Morning Breakfast

Relaxing at the pool

Relaxing at the pool

On Monday, Joe offers a better alternative to the trial of the 9/11 terrorists in “Our Greatest Virtue Is Also Our Greatest Folly”. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

SHE SAYS:

If you follow my blogs, you know that almost one year ago, in March 2011, our son, Matthew, was married.  It was an exciting time for our family for many reasons, but it was also another “first” experience in his life and ours.  Matthew and Erika live in San Francisco, as does our son, Michael, so we don’t see them as often as we used to when they all lived in New York City and were only two and one half hours from us.

We have been fortunate to be able to visit with them twice since the wedding.  The first time was in September when we took a trip to Portland, Oregon and then drove down the California coast to San Francisco.  Our second time was recently for an extended weekend trip from our home in Arizona.  Ironically, the flight is just a little over two hours.

Michael shares his apartment with others so it is not conducive to hosting overnight guests, but Matthew and Erika purposely rent a two bedroom apartment so they can entertain out of town guests AKA the Parents.  This brings me to my observation-when children grow up.

In past years, as our three sons have rented various apartments in New York City and had various roommate situations (Joseph still lives there), occasionally, we were able to squeeze in an overnight visit and stay with them, but most times, it was just easier and more convenient to stay in a hotel.  Roommate apartments tend not to be as clean or comfortable as home even though it is home to them at the time.  Of course, with Julia still in college, she hasn’t had the opportunity to host us for an overnight visit.

There is a big change in Matthew’s surroundings now that he is married.  The décor is more coordinated and purposeful.  There are matching dishes and towels.  There are curtains on the windows and best of all, there is actually a guest room and guest bathroom!  It is such a pleasure to be hosted by our son and daughter-in-law, who each are proud and happy to reverse the roles and take care of us while we are visiting.

Not to minimize our visit with Michael, although he does not have room for us to stay with him, he lives in a very nice apartment and one of the nights we were there, he and his girlfriend Jacque did cook and host dinner for all of us at his apartment.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with all of them and had great fun with the many activities they carefully planned for us.  We look forward to many more “firsts” in our children’s lives.  Erika’s parents will soon make their second trip to San Francisco and then along with Matthew and Erika will visit us in Arizona to celebrate Matthew and Erika’s First Wedding Anniversary.

PS – Happy Anniversary to us!  33 years yesterday.

On Wednesday, Joe comments on how painful it can be when your trust in someone is lost in “Loss of Trust.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

SHE SAYS:

Within a few days of each other, I attended the wake and funeral of a ninety one year old woman and the wake of a twenty four year old woman.  There is an obvious difference between these two situations and that difference made me think about mortality and putting life in perspective.

During the eulogy for the ninety one year old woman, you could not help but admire this woman for the exemplary life she led.  It was clear how much she touched and influenced the lives of not only her children and grandchildren with wisdom and kindness, but of the many people she helped during her career and her life.  This woman was given the opportunity to live a long, full life and was a wonderful role model to everyone around her.  She enjoyed a rich and rewarding life and she will still be missed by the many people who will cherish their memory of her.

In sharp contrast, the twenty four year old woman was at the threshold of her life when it tragically ended.  Although she touched many lives in her short time here, her family will never experience the milestones she might have enjoyed if she had lived a long life.  They will never see how she could have lived to her full potential.  This young woman was not given that opportunity and no one will ever know why.  In the eyes of her family and friends, she will be forever twenty four and will also be missed by many people.

The grieving in each situation was so very different.

This experience made me focus on my own life. It not only made me think about my own mortality but it made me think about how I live my life and whether or not I have made a positive impact in my little part of this world and the lives around me.  In thinking about my own mortality and my family I am reminded that all life must be enjoyed and cherished because it is so fragile.

On Monday, Joe provides information on Living Wills and Health Care Proxies in “Dying With Dignity”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?