Tag Archives: memories

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 … 

Gone But Not Furgotten

15 Jul
The Joey picture Andrew carried in Kosovo

The Joey picture Andrew carried in Kosovo

We met him on a September day soon after we were married. His name was Martis and he was one of many who needed a loving home. We were told he was part Chow Chow and were shown his brother who was a puff-ball of fur.

We lived in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor of a complex at the time. Having a dog in the apartment meant a pet fee and multiple walks a day. That, mixed with all that fur, meant work.

Besides getting hitched and picking out the washer and dryer, he was our first real decision together. He was a good one.

We named him Joey – Andrew’s middle name and the name of a special doll I had when I was a little girl.

We spoiled him with toys, treats, a huge crate, his own food table and love. He spoiled us with destroyed toys, lots of trips to the nearby woods because of all the treats, a messy crate and house with clumps of fur everywhere and the sweetest unconditional love we could ever imagine. He kept me safe and sound through Andrew’s military deployments and kept things interesting with all of his eating adventures. (He must have hated that hardback book about the First Ladies. Tore through it like it was threatening him.)

Loved to Play

Loved to Play

People would remark what a pretty pup he was – some even asked if he was a dog model. They wondered what breed he was and as he grew up he started to look more like a shepherd/collie mix to us so that’s what he became. He certainly exhibited the herding traits of those dogs. Always under our feet and near the person he felt needed it most (babies, little kids, pregnant friends, our moms). He always had to sit right by us and when we got up for even just a glass of water, he followed.

He traveled through states with us – feeling both snow and sand. He moved three times with us and got to spend seven years of his life in the big fenced yard he deserved. He knew the comfort of our bed and couches and left his fur mark and warmth all over them. He loved to be Andrew’s pillow and my foot therapy. All of that fur he had was so fluffy and soft and he would  let me rub my feet over him as he rested near me.

Bean and Joe-Boy

Bean and Joe-Boy

He impressed people with the tricks Andrew taught him. Barking when Andrew would just open his mouth, low crawling when Andrew pointed to the ground and sitting just by Andrew moving his pointer finger up and down. Joey cared for our guests and family – escorting them around the house as well and often “baptizing” them with his dripping mouth after a drink of water. He earned nicknames like: “Joe-Boy,” “fuzz buckets,” “fuzzy butt,” “Joe-do Baggins,” and when he was in trouble “Joseph Martis.”

Joey and Andrew in downtown Savannah

Joey and Andrew in downtown Savannah

He was as old as our marriage – 14 years. He was Andrew’s first dog and the first dog who was truly mine. Our first dog to have to decide it was time to say goodbye and give him peace.

There are a lot of ways to help determine you’re officially a grown up — getting married, picking out a pet together, buying a car or a house, paying bills, replacing a roof, that kid stuff, having another life you love in your hands … He helped us grow up. I hope he liked growing up with us.

That dog. That good dog.

Sweet Boy

Sweet Boy

I’ll never forget you, Joe-Boy. Especially since I have a feeling our dark blue couches will never free some of the fur you shed. I remember when that drove me nuts. Now, it brings me to tears.

I’ll be thankful every day of my life for you.

Pretty Boy

Pretty Boy

Papa Talk

23 Mar

“We talked for 41 minutes!” A happy Nia processed in her brain as she looked at her phone after hanging up with her Papa.

She couldn’t wait to call him that night. She wanted to talk to him about what she learned in class about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She knew Papa is better than google or any book she could read when it comes to history. Forget about playing a game with trivia with him, unless he’s on your team.

I know she will always treasure their talks. I think he will too. After their history lesson, he sent me a text. “Thanks for letting Nia call. Were you trying to get her sleepy by talking to me?” Silly, smart Papa.


When You Look Back

31 Dec

Will you remember how you played hide-n-seek all over the house? Tucking yourself under blankets, squeezing in the pantry and linen closets, taking in the comforting detergent scent of the towels?

Will you remember how you counted to twenty while jumping on the blow-up mattresses that left only a small maze of floor space for walking?

How you counted so fast that your two cousins on the other team barely made it out of the room to hide?

Will you remember how you giggled at the dinner table over silly talk and words that made zero sense to adult ears but perfect punchlines for a child’s?

How you all loved black olives?

How you played “library” with the books in your moms’ childhood room? How when the piles of books you were “checking out” would get too tall it would slide over and some would drop off the shelf and bounce loudly down the stairs, hitting the door to the room? (The first few thuds had the adults worried and we’d investigate. After that, we knew it was an avid reader’s books.)

Cousin Library

Cousin Library

Will you remember how you laughed like you never did with others as you tried to destroy a candy-stuffed pinata?

How you played board games and negotiated the rules so all the ages at the game could play?

Will you remember how you spent thirty minutes chatting about all the world’s problems (“Nia says bedbugs are real.”) in Nate’s room when you were supposed to be sleeping?

And then, when morning came way too early, the only boy cousin in the house crazily “makes a sandwich” by throwing the twin air mattress on a full size air mattress of giggling and screaming girls. Sometimes that craziness turns to tears and scolding from the parents – but will you remember that?

Cousins. Our first friends. I can’t wait to remember the kids’ memories with them.


Getting “ready” for bed,

Team of the Night Memories

20 Jun

Chopper and the Orioles

They played a fun season of tee-ball as the Orioles and got to celebrate it all while creating lasting memories as the Team of the Night at the Gwinnett Braves.

Moments I will cherish include:

  • How Nate was excited to get some players’ autographs without having any idea really what the word autograph means.
  • How he told me an hour before the event that he was going to hold his hat on his heart for the “prayer.” (National Anthem)
  • How Nate held his hat on his heart and stood so still and silent during the National Anthem.
  • How he trotted in pace with the First Baseman, Mauro Gomez, as they took the field while both of their names were announced to the stadium.
  • How he looked so tiny compared to the 6’2″ player while standing at First Base.
  • How he didn’t look scared while standing a field away from me next to that 6’2″ player he didn’t know except from “He’s number 30! He hits home runs!”
  • How he loved sitting and watching the game with is teammates and then couldn’t sit still because a mock game of their own started.
  • How he picked the green eyeball that hasn’t won all season and it WON.
  • How he got to pose for a picture with Chopper – something he’s been wanting to do for some time now.

I wonder what he’ll remember most from all of it. Every bit of it made him beam. Even the score. G-Braves won, 8-2.

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The Toys That Remain

28 Nov

Barbie McDonald’s: More than 20 Barbies served and 20 pieces lost and then it closed for business.

I loved that unhealthy themed toy. It was red and yellow and came complete with a soda dispenser and a Big Mac container with tiny bun and burger circles. That’s all that remains of that beloved toy. The Big Mac container.

It, like so many other things I hold dear in my memory, are gone. Either given away or sold at a garage sale. At the time, I didn’t care. I had outgrown them and didn’t realize how much I would want them in my nostalgic years. My She-Ra dolls and castle. My three-story doll house that had working lights. My Legos that I built with my Grandpa. My Barbie and the Rockers’ stage shaped like a guitar.

On the flip side of that list is the list of those toys that remained. My Barbie and Muppet Colorforms. My Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies’ puzzles. My, now unscented and half-dressed, Strawberry Shortcake dolls in their strawberry carrying case. A huggable Strawberry Shortcake baby doll, along with my Rainbow Brite and Cabbage Patch dolls.


And then there is my most favorite toy of all – my Barbie Dream House. The house that I found hidden under blankets in the basement. The house that revealed the truth about Santa to my young mind. The house that helped me create soap operas and romances for my Barbies that would never be possible in real life.


This house now welcomes new, young guests and offers them hours of fun at grandma’s. I’m glad it’s still a part of my childhood home but even when it’s not, it will always reside in my memory and heart. Right there with the doll-sized Golden Arches.

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Surf, Sting, Sleepover and Some Other Super Stuff

6 Sep


Our recent trip to the beach showed us our children view the whole surf and sand experience very differently. We couldn’t get Nia out of the water and it took forever for Nate to finally get into the water. (Or even close to it.) Nate didn’t even want the “mud” on him.  (That’s what he called wet sand.)

Instead, for a large chunk of three days, he worked up the nerve to run lightning quick in the shallowest of water, cried some, chased and fed birds, built a few castles, played his video game and then, eventually – toward the end of our time – tackled and conquered his fear of the water.

Beach Beauty

Beached Boy

Cool Wave Rider

Brave, Unbeached Boy


As the pictures above show, our beach beauty couldn’t get enough of the waves. Even a nasty jellyfish sting didn’t keep her sidelined for long. A lifeguard saw Andrew carrying her as though something was wrong and gave us some “Jellyfish Squish” spray. The sting beached her for a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels and that’s about it. She went right back in the water and acted like we were making too big of a fuss out of it.

Sweets Gets Stung

Chocolate Makes It All Better


This adventure marked the first time Nia and Nate shared a room. It featured two twin beds and a television that was almost as big of a deal as the beach. (They don’t have tv’s in their rooms.) The first night was a bit of a challenge for all of us. We let them watch some tv but then after that we heard quite a bit of commotion and then Nate came crying out of the room. When all the drama was calm, he informed us he had been building a “bridge” from his bed to Nia’s bed when he slipped and hurt himself on the bed. It’s all fun and games until …

Nate's Bed Bridge

Some Other Super Stuff

This beach trip also offered some great quality time with friends and a first for Nate.

We had such a wonderful time visiting with the Heidel family, who sacrificed their college’s opening weekend football game to spend Saturday at the beach with us. (Did I mention they are great friends?)

Snacks are better with buds at the beach.

After a day at the beach, we enjoyed dinner, drinks and caught a few innings of the Savannah Sand Gnats’ game. This is where Nate’s first comes in. He’s never seen a professional fireworks show before. This weekend though, he experienced two of them. One after the Gnats’ game and the other while sitting on the beach in celebration of the Labor Day weekend.

Enjoying the Fireworks

Nia also got a very special treat. One of her bestest buds ever, Miss Avery, visited us. Nia and Avery were basically born to be friends. Exactly a month apart, they were side by side crib mates at daycare and became inseparable until we moved away. The time and miles apart have not hurt their friendship at all. They picked up right where they left off and immediately began playing pretend “iCarly” while hitting the waves.

Reunited Friends

Our mini-vacation to the beach was so nice and memorable, Andrew was already, seriously, asking when we could go back. Nate, on the other hand, was ready to head home. Nia was just fine whatever we decided (as long as she’s getting a souvenir or two). Me? Well, I’m happy just making memories with them – even if one of them involves a jellyfish.

Happy Beach Fam

Sick Days

28 Aug

Nate recently had a run-in with some germs. The germs were unwelcome but the sick days together were not. I cherish the time we got to spend together and the memories that were made.

  • I learned that while many kids say boy and boat starts with the letter B, Nate prefers to use baseball teams to learn his sounds and letters. “Braves and Brewers start with B!”
  • Nate is perfectly content watching baseball highlights on “Quick Pitch” over and over again – even if it’s repeats. I actually think he likes it more because he feels proud knowing what’s going to happen.
  • Even when he’s sick, he tries to act out baseball. I told him he wasn’t allowed to run so he walked. Then, I noticed he wasn’t in the living room and that his bedroom door was closed. When I opened it, I found him with his Braves hat and glove on, lying on his belly with his gloved arm stretched out like he just dove to catch a ball. He looked so guilty and hilarious.
  • The boy can play the board game “Memory” continually. He is awesome at it. A champion. (And I am trying to win.)
  • He is such a comforting cuddler.

Sicky, Sleepy Boy

I’m glad Na-Nate is feeling better and hated he was sick but I also can’t help be a little thankful for the precious time we spent together.

Bouncy Birthday

28 Apr
Nia’s 6th birthday bash was a blast!  As usual, all of my pre-party stressing was for nothing.  Everything turned out just fine – there was plenty of favors and food for everyone, the only tears shed were from a little boy whose mom didn’t let him get a temporary tattoo, only one “I’m Nia’s best friend” argument was overheard (thanks Paul! Also, Nia handled it super, saying “You can have more than one best friend.”) and the princess of the party seemed pleased throughout!
Out of all the moonwalk businesses out there, I’m so glad I picked our town’s jumpy place.  Our group had the entire space to ourselves and the owner and worker were so accommodating and nice, they really helped us create great memories.

I’m just so glad Nia enjoyed herself.  I’m finding it’s getting harder to keep coming up with different, fun ways to celebrate the kids’ birthdays.  After this party, it seems like we can’t go wrong with jumpy places!

Love you Sweets!

Birthday Bliss

Nia: The Headliner

7 Oct

We just taught Nia the joke that goes, “Why was 6 afraid of 7?  Because 7, 8, 9!”

She then came up with, “Why did 9 cross the road?  To run away from 7!”

She even acted it out like she was running across the road.

Such a great memory.

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