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My aunt Randi is celebrating her 50th birthday tonight with the girls and is my inspiration for this post. She is a firey red-head who has an impeccable fashion style. Her outfits often were a one-color theme, whether it was a red on red on red ensemble or a teal blue dress, shoe, pants and bracelets. A counselor by day AND a full-time mom of two rambunctious boys, Randi makes time for her family and friends. She creates fine pearl jewelry, delicious confections and personalized gifts for the ones she loves. She has kind way of talking to you about the most important of things, she is the one who can tell you what’s going on with who and she is the first person to extend a touch and kiss saying hello, good-bye or hello again. As she reaches her 50th year, may she always replicate the love she has been able to share. May she achieve all that she sets out to do. May she continue to listen to the voice within. Happy Birthday Aunt Randi, sending long distance love, hugs and kisses.
My aunt Wendi is Randi’s sister and from the Magic Mommy line. She is my most level of aunts, which is a great feat, especially when we are all together. Wendi has her hands full of hours and hours at Saltbox, being one of the best moms in the world to my boy cousin Justin and my girl cousin Cassie. She is strong and shows little fear to the outside world. Wendi has conquered the running, gyming and boxing world of the Upper West Side. In fact, I’d say she is looking damn good lately… She is also another of one the “Jewish Mafia,” making amazing foods and holidays. She creates the Magic Mommy way. The way you cook when there is heart and soul in the bowls, dishes and pots. Wendi has a soft voice and a direct message. We are the lucky ones that can hear it on a regular basis.
My aunt Deanna is my “little crazy Italian aunt.” She is married to my most favorite person, my Uncle Koz. They have two kids that are phasing out of direct parenting, being of the late teen and early twenties ages. Deanna creates the magical food and comfort daily. She has channeled her crazy Italian aunts and grandmothers to create homemade pasta, artichokes, stocks, stews, glazes and cuts of meat that melt in your mouth. The richness and sweetness of her dishes bring you to a happy place. Where you sit is rustic and antique all at the same time. Running a private hidden kitchen, creating magical events and feeding the soul is on the top of Dee’s to-do list. She also has a great passion for sharing the ways of the Slow Food movement, the teachings of Vandana Siva and how you can sustain nutrition in your community. There is a lot to learn from the spitfire.
My aunt Pattie is one of the kindest people I have ever met in my entire life. She is another fine example of a working mom in the real estate industry. She is also the ultimate cheerleader for everyone around her, whether it is a sibling, her husband or the people she cares about. Pattie makes sure to look at you when she is talking. She supports her local animal shelter and has dedicated hours and hours to breast cancer awareness and fundraising. She is gearing up for this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as we speak. Coming for an “extended” family tree line, I am blessed to have this “aunt” around for the last 20+ years of my life.
My aunt Ann is my biological father’s sister. The only women in that group of siblings, Ann has always held her own. She has been a strong single mother of my most beautiful and spirited cousin for as long as I can remember. Ann continues to be one of the great links to my Syracuse family. Her home is always open to me, her ear just a call away and her support unconditional. My fondest memories of her are mornings after sleepover at their house. We are around the table planning, skiing, shopping and other “upstate” adventures. I also remember when she lived in “the city” and how much fun it was to visit her apartment and office in the Empire State Building. I am also beyond thankful that she cares for my grandmother and looks in on her. Their relationship is a wonderful example of dedication and love between a mother and daughter. I know Ann will always be a straight shooter and a consistent part of my entire life, regardless of circumstance.
My aunts Carol, Michelle, Cheryl and Susan are also on that side of the family. They are bright and spirited women who have made me apart of the largest tree limb on my family tree. Marrying into this dynamic and strong family has brought them all together. Holidays, birthdays and reunions are spent catching up and keeping tabs. Like most women in my life, these aunts are strong and dynamic people who run businesses, homes and children (there are ten between them).
My aunt Judy is my mother’s older sister. She is the one out of all my aunts that has the most childhood memories attached to her. Holidays and birthdays were always a BIG deal. Judy made hand painted faced dolls, dollhouses and vanity sets all throughout my childhood years. Another foodie, Judy creates sweet treats and rich goodness for the people around her. She was proud of me for as long as I can remember. Her large heart is shared with those she councils, her two beautiful girls and her community. She has dedicated time to the Unitarian Church and encourages others to do so as well. I will always remember the possibility of someone new living at Judy’s house. As her couch was open to anyone in need for as long as they needed it.
My aunt Poppy is my mother’s oldest sister. And she is new, having only connected with our family in the last five years. Not knowing Poppy my entire life, she has taken a short few years to enter our hearts. My favorite qualities of hers are those that remind me of my Nana. She passed twelve years ago and I miss her all the time. So when Poppy reaches for a cabinet in the kitchen or makes a certain look of approval, I see my Nana. That is a great gift that she does not even know she is doing. Poppy is the mother of my Maine cousins, who are frequently brought, shuffled, and traveled for sports and school outings. She is a caretaker and counselor to others, making people’s lives easier to live. She runs with force, skis with spirit and says, “I love you” and means it.
My sister and I have known my aunt Linda as “Titi” for many years. She watched me after school from the time I was five and on and off for years later. She admired my non-picky eating as a child, let me in on secrets of the lettuce was really spinach, taught me to make her butter cookie and pasta fagioli recipes and cared for bumps and bruises. I stayed at her house when my sister was born twenty-one years ago. It was her late husband that picked me up from school on Friday’s because Steven (their son four months my junior) had been well-behaved and was being rewarded with a comic book. As the years passed, Linda became another one of my cheerleaders, keeping interest in my schoolwork, friends and jobs. At the last family gathering Linda said I looked beautiful. It was an important moment, as I knew she meant it.
“Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend.” ~ Spanish Proverb
This year has been INSANE. I don’t know how else to explain it. There are no words that could explain what happens when you take your life, dumb it upside down and inside out, move from the city to the country, start a new job, make new friends, make mistakes, travel, make things happen and lose yourself in an evolution of major change.
It is the time of year that we are faced with Yom Kippur. Since I already celebrated my one-year in the country, I feel that this is another anniversary of sorts. Marked by the year passing, what has transpired and what will be. By definition Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Atonement, one of the holiest days of the year. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. The holiday is observed by fasting and going to services. It also concludes the High Holy Days, the Days of Awe.
Appropriately, I will be dividing myself between the country and the city. Attending services the first night at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation (Kehillat Lev Shalem) with my wonderful extended family and then the next day I will go to services with my immediate family at Romemu. Having multiple places to worship is an interesting concept. To think it was not that long ago that people had to hide their religious preferences. And not too long before that when people were not allowed to even have a preference.
We have been throwing around the phrase “clean slate” around lately. Not sure I really want to start over though. I was thinking that I would like to continue this year with perhaps a lil more jazz. A lil more funk. And a lil more adventure. After all, it is the adventures that bring the greatest moments of discovery. I will not wish for anything though. Instead I am going to just ride the wave, pray for easy bumps and more time in between should I must have one.
May we all have the opportunity to start over whenever we like. Whether it be a designated holiday or when you know you have to.
No cheese. No alcohol. No white flour. No white sugar. No artificial sweeteners. No red meat. No caffeine.
Yes better skin. Yes smaller waistline. Yes happier digestion. Yes pleasant insides. Yes sense of accomplishment. Yes halfway there.
I am in the middle of a 30 day cleanse. I am trying to support some abnormal health “stuff” and get my system back on track. It seems that my body was not gonna take it anymore. In response I decided to take back my insides and make better choices. Are we having fun yet?
And to combat my decision there are the “why?” people in my life… Why are you doing that? How can you give that up? Are you miserable? When can you drink again? I even have friends that have sent me the chocolate is good for you articles and the cheese is healthy articles. Humph, that’s not really helping.*
Oddly enough, I miss diet coke and gum the most. I think giving up things that are toxic is a positive change in someone’s life. I strongly recommend taking a look at what you are putting into your system. And if you can’t read the ingredients label then chances are you shouldn’t be eating it. Better yet, spend seven days writing down what you eat. Go back and circle things that are lacking nutrition and natural ingredients. Go ahead, really look at what you are eating.
As I look a the rest of my 30 days, I am going to STRONGLY advise myself to not feel like it’s a sentence but rather an opportunity. I’m going to be all glass half full and sunny sunshine about this. Or at least I’m going to try. ; – )
*I feel it is necessary to point out that I also have some superfantastic cheerleaders in my life as well. They are ridiculously proud of me and tell me often. Thank you to all of the people who continue to support my crazy schemes, whether it be a 30 day cleanse or midnight baking or roadtrips to far off lands.
I’ve talked about perks before. Here. Here. And here. I’m adding one to the list. A perk being living down the street from the Port Ewen Fire Department. When you can walk out of your front door, turn left and witness the raising of the flag. And not just any flag, but the raising of a very large flag. I’m definitely proud of our country’s flag, what it means, represents and carries. And some how when it was raised at the end of my block the warm feeling in my heart was stronger than usual.
September 11, 2001 is a day that changed an infinite number of things. The way nothing surprises us, what fear means to children of those we lost, the men and women in uniform stateside and abroad, the transfixed look on our faces as we watched television for weeks and possibly the greatest change was the way we felt as Americans that day. An attack made us all as vulnerable as the person to our left and to our right. The attack made us all equal. Equal in that we all could have been there.
Some say that the 9/11 attack is much like the day that JFK was shot, as in you will always remember where you were. I was at home. It was my second year at Hofstra and I didn’t have class till later in the day. My phone rang, I said, “Hello.” “Turn on the tv.” “What channel?” “It doesn’t matter. I love you. I have to go.” I turned on the television and took a moment to focus on what was on the screen. And then from the left side of the screen I watched the second plane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center. I froze. There was no blinking, breathing or movement. And there I sat for the next three days.
I hope we never forget. I hope the memory lives on in all of those who were alive on that day. I hope it becomes a moment in history that is spoken about with not just sadness, but the amazing energy of the heroes. The supporters. Those who passed. And their loved ones.
May I always live some where there is a special memorial with a large flag on this day.
For my parents 25th anniversary I made a toast in front of our friends and family. May all anniversaries celebrate as much love, memories and accomplishments as theirs did.
25 Parental Successes From The Last 25 Years
25. Dinner at the table. At a very young age and all the way through high school, Ali, Mommy, Daddy and I ate dinner together at a table. We talked about our day, confessed, made/changed plans, laughed and shared a meal together. And even though we live in different places now, dinnertime with the four of us is still a very special.
24. Music. In our lives music is everywhere and all the time.. Ali and I have been exposed to Thelonious Monk to Dave Holland, The Band to the Grateful Dead, the Beatles to Ella Fitzgerald, backyard bands to living room jams.
23. Matzah ball soup and noodle pudding.
22. Consistency. There have been ups and there have been downs, but they are still here as together.
21. Putting up a good fight. They have taught us to believe in what you feel is true. Fight for it… and maybe even when to back down.
20. A roof over our heads. There was never a question whether a stranger, family member, friend or boyfriend could stay with us.
19. Kindness and compassion.
18. Holidays. 25 years of every holiday, BBQ, birthday, remission date, anniversary, graduation being acknowledged and celebrated.
17. Good names.
16. Education. Not only was education a priority for us girls, but tutors, study groups and flash cards were apart of our lives for years. Between the two of us, Ali and I have very expensive brains.
15. Dance classes and three-hour recitals.
16. Nana, Pipop, Nana, Magic Mommy, KK. The people that changed who we all were. They were always apart of our lives and always in our home because my parents made sure they were there.
16. Roadtrips and souvenirs.
15. Fish funerals, giving rabbits back to the pet shop, bringing Toto to the country and burying Jasper. Our animals were a big part about learning about death and we were taught how to manage the grief.
14. Reading and writing.
13. Art. Whether it was a handmade nameplate, a science fair poster, Thea for class secretary or Ali Blue’s 21st, we have custom art and décor in our lives. We also learned a deep appreciation for the arts and all the joy that they can bring.
12. Barbie’s pink convertible and matching speedboat. And every other toy or indulgence that we were given even though they probably couldn’t afford it or knew when the next one would be.
11. Moving. Ali and I have come and gone from this house and always had a ride, a truck or a rug when needed.
10. Coats. Big coats, little coats, furry coats, matching coats, hand-me-down coats, blazers, light coats, suede coats, we all have coats.
9. Italy. Ali’s semester abroad that gave her insight to the world beyond the states and our magical family trip together.
8. Charity. Give to those who cannot for themselves. Every nonprofit and cause has been support to the best of their ability, with money, time or resources.
7. Foodies. Clearly food and its nutrients are a part of their marriage, their children and the family around them.
4. Courage. We have and will get through IT – whatever IT may be – always.
2. Ali Blue. The most important person in my life is my sister, her kindness, determination and creativity is equal parts Mom and Dad.
May the next 25 years be full of laughter, love and light.