Talking on the phone – now vs. when I was 15


In 1993, I had a best-friend.

I’d rush home from the bus stop (Yes, I rode the bus home in high school – that’s because we had busing back then and my parents worked.) and immediately run toward her.

I held her in my hand, sitting at the kitchen table and pure magic happened right there.

I’d punch in the phone number of my other best-friends, and from 3 until 4 p.m., I’d just sit there and talk, talk, talk.

I’d talk my life away – literally – seconds and minutes would tick by and I didn’t care. That was the one hour of ME time. My parents were still at work and my brother, still at school. I was the ONLY one home.

And then, oh, and then, when three-way calling was invented – Oh Lord – that was the best thing since Rave Hairspray at the time. No, of course, I didn’t have three-way calling (I didn’t even have a phone in my room, despite my constant begging and pleading) – but my friends did.

The kicker was … I had just seen my friends all day at high school, but there was something extraordinary about talking on the phone.

And I loved it.

I loved it so much that eventually even though I never had a phone in my room, my dad did buy a 10-foot phone cord that I stretched all the way into my room – choking anyone who walked in the hallway.

That three-way calling came in handy when my one friend called the boy I liked and had him on the other line, and I was there too – secretly listening in their conversation.

“So, would you go out with Melissa if she asked …?” “Do you LIKE anyone in your English class?” “What about a dance … would you dance with her IF she asked you?”

Girls these days have no flippin’ idea what it was like growing up in the 1990s. We didn’t have texting, or email for that matter. We were forced to talk to people either in person, on the phone or by way of a folded-up piece of paper that looked like a triangle.

And now, the world of communication is wide open.

Cell phones that text or even voice-text; email; and social media messages.

Gone are the days of me having to use a phone to actually converse with another human being.

Now that I am adult … when I can go into any room in my house and carry my phone with me to chat, I refuse to do it. The thrill of talking on the phone is gone. The excitement of “having the phone call be for ME” has vanished. I’d rather NOT have the phone call be for me.

Am I the only one who is openly admitting that “I hope you can’t hear me now?”


Hell is indeed freezing over

snow flake

Parents from the Midwest to the East Coast are currently at the threshold of hell.

And it’s all thanks to Mother Nature and Old Man Winter. I think they are having one hell of a fight over something because according to Time Magazine, a “BOMB CYCLONE” has formed off the East Cast that “could bring the coldest temperatures in 100 years.”

According to the article, a bomb cyclone brews over the water where drops in barometric pressure can make it an EXTRA forceful weather event. The article also noted the “storm” could trap the “bone-chilling cold” and put the United States in a deep freeze over the Atlantic coastline.

Really, all they needed to say was “Hell is Close to Freezing Over – Be Prepared/Stock Up on Alcohol and Milk.”

But, meteorologists actually gave this hell-freezing-over a name – “Winter Storm Grayson.”

I used to like the name Grayson, until about two seconds ago.

Grayson has forced schools to close; flights to be either delayed or canceled; and amusement parks in Florida to close.

It’s actually SNOWING in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It hasn’t snowed in those states in nearly 30 years! Kids who have never seen snow are now making snow angels and having snow ball fights according to Twitter.

Do you know what kids in Ohio are doing today? Well, for starters, they are not in school. Nearly 100 schools have been closed in Northeast Ohio alone.

And while some parents are absolutely thrilled with the extended winter break, I am “this close” to hiding in a closet with my Kindle and “share-size” bag of Skittles that I found in my pantry. I don’t even care how long they have been there because as the day goes on, I plan on dropping a few into a wine glass to give my Pinot Grigio an extra KICK.

The last time my kids stepped foot inside a classroom was Dec. 20. It’s now Jan. 4. You do the math.

All I know, it feels like it has been forever-and-a-day since they have opened a text book.

Currently, my near 15-year-old is still sleeping; and he’ll be that way until I go into his room, turn on the light and unleash the hounds known as the twins in his room. The twins are playing a new version of “hide-and-seek” using their cell phones. They are using the GPS-type function to locate each other within the 2,400-square-foot house that as the week has dragged on really feels like a 400-square-foot studio apartment. The good news, we have already taken down Christmas inside the house (so, it’s slightly less cluttered), but as a friend of mine said, taking down the lights and decorations outside, well, that probably won’t be happening until JUNE at this rate.

And to everyone telling me to “take them someplace FUN” – It’s OHIO. There is nothing to do here. And even if I opted to take them to one of those indoor trampoline parks, I am THAT mother who will indeed turn into a HELICOPTER PARENT because I can honestly close my eyes and visualize one of my kids landing on a trampoline the wrong way and breaking an arm or a leg. Which would end up costing me an arm and a leg at the ER. I don’t even watch when my kids ride bikes. I am that crazy – but at least I can admit it.

And I can’t send them outside because it’s so damn cold that their snot would freeze inside their nose. (That was my husband’s idea – and he also wanted them to shovel and chisel the driveway, but only if I put the space heater on in the garage where they could go and warm their hands when needed. Yeah, OK … that sounds like a wonderful idea!)

Sure, I could take them to see a movie, but we can do that here IN the house and save myself $50 in snack food money. Plus, I also need gas in my van and there is no way in hell I am standing at the pump to even insert my credit card into the machine, let alone pump the gas.

So, I’m at a stand-still … a holding-pattern if you will … of just sitting in my house while looking out my frosted-over windows at hell literally freezing over outside.



Coping with community deaths


Death …

I don’t even know where to start.

But I do know this … while searching the Internet, scrolling for the right inspirational quotes to help me get my start, I came across two.

The first one read: “Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”

The other read: “Today only comes once.”

Well, in our tiny village, we must be the BEST strongest soldiers because within the past five days, we have endured two life-altering battles.

And we are still here for one another, holding each other up through all the pain.

We will not break, oh no … but we are allowed to hurt.

And we are.

On Saturday, a mom whose children once attended the Keystone Schools, passed away. She was 36; and left behind two children. Her smile was infectious and her hair, stunning.

While parents were left wondering “Why?” and “How did this happen?” all while trying to explain to our children that Jessica is “in a better place” we are really trying to understand … is she really? Is there a better place other than being here on Earth with her two little ones?

So, for five days, parents living and working in the same community that Jessica once did, did the best we could to enjoy the Christmas holiday with our loved ones, all while trying to cope with our own grief.

We put on smiles, ate too much and watched as our kiddos opened presents on Christmas morning.

I’d like to say we were slowly coming to realize our worst fear had come true – Jessica was indeed gone too soon – but I still think most of us are in a state of denial.

Then, just as we began to piece our lives back together, our community and spirits came crashing down.

On Wednesday morning, the word that a 17-year-old Keystone High School student died from injuries sustained in a single car crash spread through the LaGrange and Elyria communities like wildfire.

Kayden Williams – a football player with a heart of gold who was loved by all families in the area – will never step on the football field again. He will never walk the halls of Keystone High. He will never live the life his parents dreamed of for him.

The worst part of Kayden’s death? I had to tell my son, a freshman at the same school, that a fellow student who he saw on a daily basis, died. How does a parent even do that? There isn’t a book, outlining the steps on how to tell your son that someone who had his entire future ahead of him has died. That there is no rhyme or reason why Kayden is no longer spending the holiday break with his parents and siblings.

My 9-year-old daughter said it best … “I know he’s in Heaven with Jesus, but Mom, he didn’t even get to play with his presents from Santa.”

So, on this Thursday – a day when I will be paying my respects to the York family – I will keep my head up.

I will be a soldier for my children, to let them know that bad things happen to good people, and there really is no explanation.

And then, then I will remind them to live each day like it is their last … because TODAY only comes ONCE.

RIP Jessica and RIP Kayden


An infectious smile, and stunning hair


“And with a broken wing, she still sings
She keeps an eye on the sky
With a broken wing, she carries her dreams
Man, you ought to see her fly”

– Martina McBride, “With a Broken Wing”

The infectious smile was the first thing I noticed about her.

And then, then it was her stunning hair.

But her life was more than her smile and hair.

She was a devoted mother, sister, niece, friend and employee.

Everyone loved her. And she loved them.

The last time I saw her was at a Jennifer Nettles concert at Lorain County Community College. She wore a vibrant pink dress, pink lipstick and white hair spiked up an inch high.

Never in a million years could I pull off that trendy/hip look. She OWNED IT!

Like a lot of people in our small community, our paths crossed mostly through Facebook or at local functions/sporting events.

Every day, she posted a new selfie on Facebook. She was the Queen of Selfies. But not in a vain way. She just wanted to give everyone a smile. It was her way of giving the world a gift. My personal favorites were of standing next to a country singer. Oh, how she loved her country music singers!

And her gift of going out of her way to help others in need. She would take a moment out of her busy day to help others by listening to their concerns, offering advice and just letting them know she would be there for them.

One time, after volunteering to help a local family in need by way of a benefit, she told me: “I wanted to help but wasn’t sure how. Apparently a couple other people felt the same way. I didn’t hesitate for a single second to offer my help in any way that I possibly could!”

And that was Jessica. In a nutshell.

Now the world is left without her smile. We will never see her vibrant hair – whatever color she wanted it to be – because she left Earth far too early. No one knows why. No one will ever understand the reason.

So, to you Jessica, may you Rest in Heaven. For those of us who knew her, I pray we will come together as a community and never let her kiddos forget the woman who smiled to all of us every day.


A ‘Gramma’ for all of us

We were not the “cool kids,” but we certainly thought we were.

In reality, we were Catholic-grade school kiddos who twice a week walked about two blocks from our private school to the public middle school just to “be in the band.”

Not a rock band either – concert band.

There were seven of us – Lisa, Fidel, Devon, Allison, Matt, Michelle and myself. Lisa played the drums; Fidel, Matt and Allison were trumpet players and rest of us, clarinets. And none of us were THAT great. But, twice a week we got to mingle with the PUBLIC school kids.

And that alone made us “cool” in our minds.

I don’t remember what time we had to leave, but I do remember we always told our private school teacher that “we had to be there early” … that was our code.

We never had to be there early. In fact, most of the time we didn’t want to go – we just wanted out of school.

So there we went – in the rain, snow and any type of weather in between. The seven of us.

But, secretly, we were making a pit-stop.

You see, in between our school and the public school, in a two-story white house Lisa’s grandparents lived.

If I close my eyes, I can still remember walking into the side door and then up three steps into the small kitchen. Inside the kitchen was a table – making it even smaller, but no one ever sat in the dining room. Everyone congregated inside the kitchen.

And there would be Lisa’s grandma – we all just called her Gramma Sanchez – offering us nothing short of a meal. Wearing her button-up smock, Gramma Sanchez gave us warm tortilla shells – made with love and tasted like heaven.

Eventually, we forced ourselves to leave her house, but we knew we’d be back.

After we all graduated from Catholic school, the seven of us were never in the house at the same time ever again. But, that didn’t mean we never saw Gramma Sanchez again.

She was everywhere in our hometown – what with having six kids and too many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews to count – she stayed busy.

Gramma Sanchez was the most loved Gramma in my opinion. No matter how busy she seemed to be, she never shooed us band kids out of her kitchen. She never told us to stop coming. She never stopped making tortilla shells or tamales. She was a gramma to all of us.

Today, Nov. 2, she was called “home.” There, she was welcomed in the arms of her daughter CeCe, her husband and countless other relatives. I am pretty sure she is smiling down at her children and grandchildren left on Earth – watching them with that careful eye that only a grandmother has – all while telling stories of those crazy kiddos from St. Mary’s who never wanted to leave her kitchen.



Time is slipping away

It’s happening.

On Monday, my firstborn will enter high school as a freshman.

Wasn’t I just feeding him a bottle and putting him down for a nap?

Weren’t we just in the beginning stages of potty training?

Weren’t we just teaching him how to read a book and write his name?

Somewhere after July 17, 2008 time seemed to blur – that was the day the twins were born and life as I knew it before being a mom to one kiddo evaporated.

Within a few short hours, I went from devoting all of my time to one kid to sharing it between three.

What I would give to have a few moments left where I just had one child. That’s not to say I don’t love my other kids. I do. I just miss the one-on-one time spent between my firstborn and myself.

Sure, we make time to chat, but gone are the days when I was his world.

For more than five years, he was my everything.

He was my errand-runner, picnic-partner, pool-entertainment and my only son.

Then in one quick swoop, I had to share my time, energy and love.

Eight years seems to have gone by in eight seconds.

One day I was watching him get on the school bus at the end of our driveway, crying as the bus drove away. The next, I sat in the back of a classroom listening to all the required requirements for graduating from high school.

Excuse me. No. This cannot be happening! I refuse to believe I am old enough to have a freshman in high school. In my mind, I am still 25 years old. I don’t feel old enough to have a kid in high school.

But I do.

During orientation, I saw his name on the PowerPoint presentation as class treasurer. At varsity soccer games, his name is announced over the loudspeaker as goalkeeper.

I am just a sideline spectator now – watching with baited breath that he makes the right decisions and chooses the right path in life.

And while I am not 100 percent OK with that status, I accept it because after all I was a high school freshman once – 24 years ago – and I’m pretty sure my parents felt the same way.