Happy 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”.

This year, the 4th seems to be a bigger struggle than last year….there seems to be a few more memories missing as a result of the MS.  I went on a hunt to find some pictures to go with the post and struggled to remember.  I pulled our the scrapbook I made for Belinda for her 16th birthday and was overwhelmed.  The pictures looked familiar but the memories of the experiences have slowly slipped away. It is times like this I am glad I started blogging before things were too bad because it helps me to remember at least a little bit….

Hubby and I were just talking about life in Ocean Grove  and how we would love to live there again.  The 4th of July was always a whirlwind of fun and excitement filled with July 4th parades and bar-b-ques with family. 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.

Then came the years Belinda was 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…

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and is filled with many memories.  I am grateful for scrapbooks – mostly since Belinda was born but at least there are some.  There was actually 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. Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family. Enjoy the moments and treasure them….

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…

Saturday Spotlight – Tranquil Transitions

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In 1999, my aunt, Elsie, passed away.  Elsie lived in the home that my grandparents had downsized to about 20 years prior.  Both of my grandparents had since passed away.  The house wasn’t very big but there was a full basement and an attic including a cedar closet.  Elsie never really changed anything at the house.  It was full of my grandparents mementos as well as all of the things that Elsie had brought with her when she moved from her home in South Jersey.  Can you say LOTS OF STUFF?  In addition to the house, Elsie had a business.

Preparing to sell the house and cleaning out the business was a monumental task.  There was Elsie’s sister, Edythe,  who had her own business and I.  I lived in South Jersey with my 12 year old daughter, Belinda.  Belinda had school and was on the field hockey team for school.  I worked a full-time job.  Are you getting the picture of how difficult this was?

We had a sale in the store to consolidate things.  At the house, we started with the process, one room at a time.  We found LOTS of things that none of us wanted so we tossed them.  Yup, out to the curb it went – FREE to anyone who wanted it.  I mean who had time to pull things together and take them to the thrift store or have an estate sale.  Then I met this wonderful antique dealer and I found out that some (or maybe a lot) of the stuff was worth some money.  Very late in the process, he made a trip to Ocean Grove.  After 2 trips with his truck, he took many of the things off of our hands.  This was a long exhausting process.

Fast forward to hearing about Tranquil Transitions… OMG!  I wish I knew about them back then.  Here is a company overview, direct from their website:

Tranquil Transitions is a New Jersey based Relocation company committed to guiding and supporting people through all facets of relocation and we specialize with seniors and their families through the potentially stressful process of transitioning to a new environment.

Whether you’re moving to a smaller environment setting and don’t know where to begin, our Senior Relocation and Move Management Services will help organize your space from years of accumulation; deal with the difficult decisions of estate dispersal or preparing a house for sale. We are here to help now. We move with care and compassion.

I had the pleasure of meeting Annette, the owner and Julie, the office manager.  They started the company in the spring of 2002 as a result of a request from an elderly friend who needed help with her move.  They decided to apply our skills to this growing market and assist seniors by developing a comprehensive and caring approach for their relocation needs.  They are committed to immensely reducing the stress and bringing peace of mind to those in transition.

Services Include:

  • Floor Plans
  • Professional Packing & Unpacking
  • Organizing
  • Downsizing, Estate Dispersal
  • Shredding – Protect yourself against identity theft & free up more of your space
  • Moving Arrangements
  • Custom Closet Design & Installation
  • Staging – house sells faster and for more money
  • Clean Outs – We will remove all the rubbish, old furniture, appliances anything we can not sell or donate on your behalf. Your home will be more attractive, livable, enjoyable and spacious by getting rid of the items you no longer want or need.
  • Auctions – On line
  • Real Estate -SRS
  • Paper & Financial Management – separate page
  • Household Repairs
  • Prepare House for Sale – leaving in broom swept condition
  • Home Improvement
  • Painting
  • Aging In Place
  • Car Transporting

Check them out and mention this blog!  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Memories of My Buddy

Has it really been 16 years since I heard your voice?  Sixteen years since I smelled snickerdoodles baking in the kitchen.  Mine just never taste as good as yours did.  Sixteen years since we spent hours talking. Elsie Marie Weston, my mom’s baby sister, lost her battle with breast cancer 16 years ago and will forever be known as one of the strongest women I know.

Elsie‘s battle with lumps on her breast started when she was about 18 years old. Always removed and always were not cancerous. Until the life changing diagnosis  – you have breast cancer. Her first mastectomy in 1990. Her second reconstructive surgery 6 years later to replace a leaking implant.  Then they found it in her bones. She went through medication regimines, and chemotherapy. She continued to fight through it all.

Sure, Elsie was family but she was also my best friend. Growing up, Elsie was privilege to some of my deepest secrets. I may have been the pesty niece that she was forced to babysit when I was little but that changed. She visited me in college. We partied at the Headliner when we both worked for Neptune Township. We both went to Atlantic City to open the Claridge Casino. We were roomates – Tuckerton and Somers Point. We weathered hurricanes, blizzards and life itself. Elsie was there when Belinda was born – she even cut the cord before heading out to attend a wedding.

Elsie and Belinda were buddies. From the time Belinda was born she was there to help. When I was in detox and rehab, she made sure life remained as normal as possible. I remember being in detox, not being able to have visitors – she helped Belinda make a sign and they stood outside the hospital window to show their support. When I came home from rehab, Elsie took us in when we were evicted from our home.

Elsie fulfilled one of her dreams by opening Small Wonders, a gift shop in Ocean Grove.  Belinda and I traveled up on weekends to help out. Belinda traveled with Elsie and Edythe.  They taught Belinda to bake while spending countless hours watching Disney videos.  When the cancer spread, to Elsie’s eyes, things got a little tougher but she was  determined to work every day in her store. We all helped – Belinda learned how to work the register and run credit cards at the ripe old age of 10 so that she could work in the store as Elsie was going blind.

Belinda put together one of her famous surprise parties for Elsie’s 50th birthday. Elsie was mad but she never stayed mad for long at Belinda. That would be her last birthday with us. On May 23rd, Elsie was admitted into the hospital – she had lost 95% of her eyesight to cancer and had given up her will to live. Seven days later she became another Weston Angel – joining her parents in heaven.

The imprint that she left on the world will long be remembered by all of us. She was a fighter. She was loving & kind. She was Belinda’s Buddy! A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about her. When there is a crisis or we are in the hospital, a sense of calm comes over me and I knew that everything would be okay – see all my Weston angels are always with me – Mom-mom, Pop-pop, Elsie and Edythe.

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Elsie, like the rest of the family, hated having pictures but this is a collage from the scrapbook we made for her 50th birthday.

Elsie, I miss you and I am sure that I didn’t tell you enough how much I loved you. Cherish the moments today – the good, the bad and the ugly for life is precious.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

Happy Birthday Elsie..

Memories of My Buddy

Today’s blog is about someone who showed me what courage and willpower were all about – Elsie Weston (top picture with Belinda). Elsie was my mom’s youngest sister – the baby of the family until I came around when she was about 9 years old.  I know that during her high school years, she dreaded having drag me with her but as we both grew up, our relationship changed.  When I was in high school, she shared some of my deepest secrets.  As we traveled to Atlantic City for new jobs – we were each others support systems.  When I had Belinda – she became Belinda’s buddy.  To most, Elsie was shy, quiet and very seldom stepped out of her comfort zone… sound like anyone you know?

When Elsie had her first mastectomy, she showed what a fighter she really was.  She went back to work and worked through the side effects of the medications never wanting to be pampered.  During that time, she also helped me through my addiction.  She showed me that if I really wanted something – I had to fight to overcome the naysayers, the Negative Nellie and the Tempting Thomas.  She didn’t judge me for my mistakes, she showed me how to use them to help others.  I am sure she never really knew the impact she had on me during that time.  She even helped me to manage my money in the early years of my recovery because I could have quickly slipped into a shopping addiction

After her second mastectomy, she struggled with fear and stepping out of her comfort zone.  Elsie had always dreamed of having her own business and it was after the second surgery that she took that leap of faith.  She moved back to Ocean Grove and opened Small Wonders – a gift boutique.  She really wanted to own a bed and breakfast and she hoped that Small Wonders would be a stepping stone to that dream.  DREAM BIG and she did.  As the cancer caused her to loose the majority of her sight, she continued to go to work each day.  She knew the layout of the store, she had helpers who stopped in and she continued to work as if nothing was wrong.  Those closest to her saw the changes but as long as she wanted to fight – we were there to support her.  Then on Memorial Day weekend of 1999, Elsie gave up her will to fight.  She had just returned from a trip with friends and told us that this was the end.  Not something we wanted to hear but we knew she had fought long and hard.

I have so many memories but her strength, her fight and her commitment to her family and her dreams are what help me to keep going when my faith starts to waiver.  I DREAM BIG and hold fast for I know that in God’s time, my Weston angels will help me to reach my dreams and my goals.  I am stepping out of my comfort zone and I know that she is right behind cheering me on.

Happy Birthday, Elsie.  I miss you and I know that even though you don’t like parties – there is one going on in heaven today just for you.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.