Celebrating the 4th of July

According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain”.

For me, the 4th brings up bittersweet memories….. I’m grateful for them since living with MS has robbed me of many of them.  The many pictures I have of these celebrations allow me to reflect and remember.

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many July 4th parades and bar-b-ques with family.  Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, and hats…

Sitting on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried Belinda would get too close to the  trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and has lot of memories for us. I mean there was a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so it was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove… Yes, I squirreled!

Want to check out a GREAT “Christmas in July” sale?  Stop by my Thirty One website to grab some awesome deals.  The sale goes through July 11th.

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family celebrating today…

Happy Easter 2017

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”

As the sun begins to rise on Easter morning, I think of Easter’s past…

Growing up, I went to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach. Then home to get ready for church. New outfits for church. Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park. Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family. Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth”.

As the years passed, life seemed to get in the way – no more fancy Easter outfits, no more Easter baskets combined with a feeling of not belonging. Then I was blessed with my daughter, Belinda. Childhood memories and traditions came back to life starting with Belinda’s first Easter. Four generations – Grams, Mom, me and Belinda.4 generations Easter

Easter was different. Easter baskets were filled with toys and games because Belinda didn’t like chocolate – I know SHOCKING, right? It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house. I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket. I even remember making her Easter outfits and heading to Atlantic City for the traditional Easter parade. That is my cutie in one of those outfits!

Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together. The family was smaller – Edythe, Elsie, Grams, Mom, Belinda and I but we were blessed with 4 generations at dinner for several years.

This year is just a little different…. the miles stretch between us, as we each celebrate Easter with extended family. Hubby and I will have dinner with his family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy. Our loved ones in heaven will be celebrating together while those of us left behind will struggle with making new traditions.  This year is even tougher since heaven gained an angel this week – my Dad.  This is one of my favorite songs…

Blessings from Laura Story:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I am blessed. I have a loving, supportive family, and a devoted husband. I have a faith which at times is as small as a mustard seed but is enough to get me through the toughest days. For I know even the trials are blessings from God.

Share your Easter stories and pictures with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Easter!

Happy Birthday Baby!

Belinda copyAt 7:57AM exactly 28 years ago my baby girl was born – Belinda Joan Heldreth Steinel.  I am sure she is cringing at me calling her my “baby” but she will always be my baby no matter how old she gets.

When I found out I was pregnant, there were a whirlwind of emotions. Belinda’s dad opted to leave us since he “wasn’t ready to be a dad”.  Was I ready to be a mom? Probably not.  This fun-loving, workaholic, partying women thought “I can do and have it all”.  Whatever “all is” right?  Reality quickly sunk in as I was banished to bed for most of my pregnancy.  I will admit I was a party girl – drugs, alcohol, late nights and not eating healthy all contributed to high blood pressure and being toxic during my pregnancy.

Life was a little, okay ALOT, crazy but I knew we would be okay.  I had family and friends who were there for me.  I searched high and low for a book on what a busy career woman could do when she became a single mom – YIKES!  There was no book, no script and most of my friends had never had a baby so tips were few and far between.

The morning Belinda arrived, I was due for a stress test because despite the doctor’s prediction, she was NOT early nor was she a preemie!  When I called the doctor to tell him I as in labor, he was like “I will see you for the stress test”. NO WAY!  Within an hour, the pain was unbearable so off Elsie and I went to the hospital.  We arrived at the hospital and admissions said “we need paperwork”. REALLY?  I was here and did it already.  I just want the pain to stop – NOW!  I was having contractions but the doctor said it was too early for pain meds.  By the time the doctor came back in it was too LATE for pain meds.  Yup, 100% natural labor along with a vow I would NEVER had another child.

belinda & me wedding

It was always “you and me kid”.  You were the reason I got clean during my addiction.  I picked and chose my battles while you were growing up.  Some things just weren’t worth it.  I was blessed.  You were basically a good kid.  A gymnast (thank you Edythe & Grams).  A field hockey player.  An All Star Cheerleader.  A hard working girl at the age of 16.  You always said “I never want to disappoint you” and I can say you never have.

Yes, I had tremendous support from my mom and the rest of the family.   But at the end of the day, it was “you and me kid” snuggled in our mobile home getting through life with the cats and Tinkerbell, the dog.

Do you remember the first time the realization hit you your “baby” was a grown up? Was it when they went to HS? How about when they got their first job? Or was it when they got their driver’s license?  Most will say, it was when they went off to college.  For me, the realization came as Rob and I walked her down the “aisle” to the waiting arms of her finance.  Yup.  It took that long – just one year ago.  I was not ready for the flood of emotion I would be hit with as we drove back to Jersey after the wedding.

2015-08-29 15.17.19

Belinda, you have grown into an amazing woman.  I have always been proud of you.  I love your giving heart.  I love your energy.  I love your self-confidence.  Yes, I even love your lack of tact when telling people how you “really” feel.  You have inspired others to reach for their dreams.  You have fought for those who could not fight for themselves. You have blazed a trail advocating as far as Capital Hill for the things you believe in.  You stand up for what you believe in even if it goes against the norm.

Our family has grown – Rob became your step-dad and Ashley your wife. And we are blessed to have them.  They love us for who we are – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Yes, mom is shedding a tear or two as I write this.  We are not physically together today but our hearts will be bound together forever.  I wish you a day filled with love and happiness.  I hope all of your dreams come true.   Happy Birthday Baby!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy 4th of July

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According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain”.

For me, the 4th brings up all kinds of memories that are bittersweet…

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many 4th of July parades and bar-b-ques with the family. Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes were made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, hats…

Sitting on the side of the parade route on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy that was thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried that Belinda would get too close to the trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and has lot of memories for us. I mean there was a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so that was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove… this is so off topic. Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family celebrating today…

Happy Easter..

EASTER cross
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”

As the sun begins to rise on Easter morning, I think of Easter‘s past…

Growing up, I went to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach. Then home to get ready for church. New outfits for church. Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park. Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family. Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth“.

As the years passed, life seemed to get in the way – no more fancy Easter outfits, no more Easter baskets combined with a feeling of not belonging. Then I was blessed with my daughter, Belinda.  Childhood memories and traditions came back to life starting with Belinda’s first Easter.  Four generations – Grams, Mom, me and Belinda.4 generations Easter

Easter was different.  Easter baskets were filled with toys and games because Belinda didn’t like chocolate – I know SHOCKING, right?  It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house. I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket. I even remember making her Easter outfits and heading to Atlantic City for the traditional Easter parade. That is my cutie in one of those outfits!

B & me Easter

Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.  The family was smaller – Edythe, Elsie, Grams, Mom, Belinda and I but we were blessed with 4 generations at dinner for several years.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Hubby and I will spend the day with friends and hopefully Mom and Sal.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy. Our loved ones in heaven will be celebrating together while those of us left behind will struggle with making new traditions.  This is one of my favorite songs…

Blessings from Laura Story:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I am blessed. I have a loving, supportive family, and a devoted husband. I have a faith that at times is as small as a mustard seed but is enough to get me through the toughest days.  For I know that even the trials are blessings from God. Count your blessings – even those that don’t seem like them. I know that I do.

Share your Easter stories and pictures with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Easter!