Forgiveness is Freedom

8 Jan

I know. By the social media side of things, Andrew and I have this fantastic relationship. We are always smiling and laughing and totally conquering the adventures called marriage and parenthood.

It’s true. We are perfect.

Are you still reading? Then you know me well and are waiting for the punchline. I don’t have one. Why? Because what the Hell does perfect mean anyway?

I’ll tell you why we’ve worked so far – we communicate. We listen. We care. We are friends. Because trust me, we fight. We fight nasty too. Like it gets reality show, throwing shit off decks, up in here sometimes. But at the end of the day, we care to do better for each other and our family. He is my best friend. He says I am his. (And I believe him.) We put up with each other until we can’t and then we let the other one know why we’ve had it. We’ve broken each other’s trust to the point of heartbreak. We rebuilt it because I wouldn’t want to do partnership any other way.

My words aren’t meant as a slam to those who had to part ways. I would never want two people to stay together who didn’t want/couldn’t work toward the same thing. My words are meant to try to shine a light on the shadows of a seemingly perfect marriage. I like to say perfect-seeming usually means someone is hiding something – a third nipple, so to speak. Everything looks great on the outside – at social media views – but more times than not there’s something hiding. I don’t show you all our fights. I don’t show you all the times I felt betrayed or we broke each other’s trust. Why? Because we forgave each other and moved on and that’s what matters. Besides, do you really want to hear me whining/being negative all the time? I don’t want to be that way so even if you want to hear it, sorry. Seek elsewhere.

I’ve learned, in my situations, forgiveness is freedom. Safeguarding my joy and deciding what matters. My heart is lighter and my friendship is stronger than it was when I was holding anger and resentment. Pretty perfect to me.

I Was. I Am. I Will.

3 Jan

I was a child who made mistakes. I was a teenager who made poor, selfish choices – especially involving my relationships.

I am now a woman who’s learned a lot but still has a lot to learn. I am trying. I am grateful.

I will do better to be better. I will be kind to myself.

Just a few “I” statements I needed to release. Declarations of Nicole. I don’t have high expectations. I’m looking at it more as a treatment plan. My own therapy. Co-pay to myself. It’s not that anything is wrong or bad or in need of resolution. It’s more that I like challenges.

Any Other Way

17 Jun

My way: “(Insert kid name), I understand you are upset about not getting what you want but you need to …”
His way: “No.”

My way: Awake, worried about something involving the kids.
His way: Asleep, after counseling me through it, knowing it will all be ok.

My way: “How are we going to get it all finished?!”
His way: “Done.”

My way: “Use your wrestling take-down move on the kid who shoved you.”
His way: “Use your take down move and punch him until your arms are tired.”

My way: “Kids, you need to not yell in the car.”
His way: “Zip it.”

My way: “Let me see your boo-boo. I’ll kiss it and make it better.”
His way: “You’re alright.”

My way: “Eat three more bites of peas and then you can be excused.”
His way: “Finish your peas.”

My way: “Sorry, momma can’t play right now.”
His way, even if he just sat down after cutting the grass: “Sure. Let’s go.”

My way: “I don’t understand that homework question. Ask daddy.”
His way: “Let’s work through this together.”

We wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re our favorite, Andrew. Happy Father’s Day.




Fingers Crossed

26 Jan

Ever have your fingers crossed tightly for so long that they start hurting?

I have both hands working on this hope. Aching fingers willing what I want and wish will happen.

Change is stressful and tough for me and I’ve been apprehensive and a bit sad about what lies directly ahead for me career-wise. I’ve loved what I’ve done for the past several years. Spoiled, really. I suppose I was due for a push out of my comfort zone. What if it’s something I love just as much — or maybe more? And if it’s not, I can and will change again. We are adaptable and it certainly won’t be the end of the world. My priorities are clear. Family first and always. When I look back on my life, my jobs won’t be what I will hold dear. I just want to enjoy and be valued for the time I spend away from my main priorities.

No matter the waves or weather storming around me, I steer this ship that exists to help my family stay out of the water. Just with fingers crossed …

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Even Air Balls are Something

1 Jan

I turn 39 years old this year. It’s cool. I’m great with it. I used to put crazy expectations on myself. All the things I want to do before the next year. Goals are good and healthy. Pressures and beating of yourself for failing (or not even attempting) are not. 

When I was little, my grandma and grandpa had this ping pong basketball boardgame I think was my dad’s or uncle’s when they were younger. At least, that’s what I told myself. It was awesome but yet so simple. You aimed for little hoops attached to two thin pieces of cardboard that were inserted on either end of the boardgame box. A small metal lever let you fling the ball through the air to the hoop. I played it for hours while grandma and grandpa cooked (argued) in the kitchen or watched their beloved Sanford and Sons and Mama’s Family while grandma played solitaire on the folding table permanently set up in the living room. 

I keep thinking of that game. I wonder what ever happened to it? Such a piece of my memory. How many times I would try for the hoops. Over and over. Not caring if I missed or scored. Just trying and repeating no matter what the outcome. 

Something to help me through a new year of challenges and adventures. Take a shot. If we miss, try again. It’s in the try after all, right?

Dog Sons 

13 Sep

“Whose idea was it to get two dogs?” 

It’s a question Andrew and I will ask each other when things like canine messes or vet bills or daily dog obstacles happen. After our first dog son Joey died in July 2014, we took our time before opening our hearts to another pup. We waited until late December to start scrolling through the local humane society web pages. Even then, we were gravitating toward dogs that looked like Joe-Boy. One even motivated us to drive to the shelter. We were too late to be his rescue family. Fortunately, someone had already saved the sweetie so that meant we could save another. We kept looking. 

There he was. He looked so sad — like he needed us. We visited him. He was intensely shy. Wouldn’t come out of his kennel. When he finally did, he only came to Nate and then he went straight to a kennel two spots down from his to lick another dog through the fence. We finally got him outside but he had to be carried and wanted to go back to the other dog. That made us curious. We took that other dog out. He led us back to his buddy’s kennel to sit next to him. 

Separately, they were timid and almost unmovable. Together, they were happy, trusting and playful. Turns out, they were brought to the shelter together as strays. Someone found them on the road. Bonded. 

Naturally, we left with both. 

We named them Charlie and Linus because they are best friends and Linus needed his security blanket. Linus saved Charlie and they both saved us by filling the piece of our hearts and family that was missing after Joey.

Whose idea was it to get two dog sons? We all take credit. 

Vines and Pipes and a Year Gone By

9 Sep

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written. 

No. That doesn’t do it justice. 

I couldn’t remember my username let alone my password to access my blog. 

I gained 20 pounds since I last wrote. 

My kids turned a new age. 

Parts of the roof blew off, the A/C needed repaired, the dryer that’s older than our marriage is on the fritz, Andrew and our friend Mitch fixed our deck, we had a road trip or two, fortunately had no major illnesses or injuries but got lice again (guess I never told you about that first time), the turtle and the dogs are swell, we’re still employed, still in debt, still running and still making the most of each day. 

Sounds about right.

Got me thinking about when I was little and didn’t have a worry in the world — except whether or not so-and-so talked to me. I used to stay at my Grandma and Grandpa Rafaiani’s house and explore the neighborhood with friends. Of course, that exploring would take us to places we were told not to go. The gully — where lonely vines begged us to hug them for a swing and large pipes that stretched across a deep valley dared us to crawl. 

We never thought about what if the vine snaps or what if we slip off the pipe. We just enjoyed and came out smelling like metallic pipe and nature on the other side of the adventure. I get a whiff of it every now and again on the kids or after a run on the trails. Still tempting but then that worry thing starts to happen. Maybe next time … 

On Strike

10 Oct

That’s it. This mom is going on strike. 

I am tired of having capable beings in this house not doing their age-appropriate part. I know I’m to blame for this. I spoiled them too much. We make them pick up after their messes but don’t ever make them do set chores. 

Let me break it down.


  • When the 12-year-old only washes her lunch dishes and ignores what else is in the sink or drainer to put away.
  • When the almost 10-year-old who can make an awesome diving catch for an out in baseball and always knows the next play can’t seem to figure out how to put his dirty clothes in the hamper and not stashed in hidden (or not hidden) places of his room.
  • When both children leave their shoes and dirty socks scattered about the house.
  • And did I mention the food wrappers and trash they “throw away” on the tables or couches or bedroom floors?!
  • What about that time when aforementioned children put clean clothes they were supposed to properly put away for a week back in the hamper because they couldn’t tell what was dirty or clean?! And no, they don’t get credit for putting in hamper because I had to say something to them FIVE TIMES before the mix-n-match pile made its way to the hamper. 
  • Then there is the attitude I get when I tell them to contribute and help. 

I must simmer down now. After all, I’m on strike. No more washing their clothes. Nope. Not doing their dishes either. Just Andrew’s and mine. He helps beyond measure and I’m so thankful for him. He is most definitely in the strike-free zone and I know will support my stance. 

Done. And done and done. Starting now. 

Homemade Sauce, Lyrics and a Little Girl Growing Up

5 Oct

The time to clean out the kids’ clothes is always tough. As if the actual task of sorting through it all isn’t a drag enough, there’s that whole sentimental hurdle we have to face while conquering the closets. 

It’s such a tangible sign of how they are growing. This most recent gutting was especially stinging. Even more so than the time we first received this keepsake for the students to wear on the first day of Kindergarten.  

Then, 2021 seemed so far away. Sure, it still made us aware of its presence but that would be something like 12ish years away. Now, it’s less than SIX school years away. I gasped at this slap in reality and then gently folded the shirt and placed it in the pile of “special” things to keep safely in storage.

I didn’t fully feel the sting from the slap until later that night while I was making the homemade spaghetti sauce I learned how to perfect from my mom who learned how to perfect from my grandma Nancy. Nia was sitting at the kitchen table doing her homework and we were listening to “mommy’s” music. I’ve known and felt the lyrics from James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” but never like this. That night, they had me adding tears to the meatballs. I looked at Nia as her eyes tightened at a thought she was writing, unaware of the emotional montage I was producing in my mind.

No matter where that brilliant brain and lovely personality take her in life, I will come running. 

Class of 2021.




3 Oct

Who taught you makeup, fashion and overall “beauty” tricks? Sure, I had plenty of motherly and sisterly guidance in the form of taking care of myself and style but what I secretly obsessed and studied were my sis’ Cosmo mags. Photo linked from and Pinterest

When I was 10-14 years old, my sister was 18-22. I remember absorbing every page — from the perfume ads to those relationship-solving quizzes. I most loved the makeup and fashion tips with featured products. I soaked up every word of these magazines like a soap opera and couldn’t wait for the next one. 

Not that I ever attempted the tricks though. None of it seemed like real life to me. It was a sensual and extraordinary fantasy world where I would live on the weekends when I visited daddy and sis. Kind of like the TV Guide or J.C.Penney catalog at grandma’s. Marking the shows like 90210 and New Kids on the Block appearances I didn’t want to miss and the toys and clothes I desperately needed. A wish list and a plan, charted out with blue-inked circles and stars. 

This memory got me to thinking about what our kids have that mirrors this. Sure, magazines like those still exist but my kids don’t see them. They do spy an occasional People or Us Weekly though. I’d imagine they feel the same land of pretend when they flip through one. Right after they leave the land of Minecraft, that is. 

Ah, young minds. Such a maze with so many maps to explore. Cosmo didn’t prepare me for this. (I did learn how to entertain sleepover buddies with great romance stories about winning over the hot lifeguard named Jordan or Donnie though.)

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