A Budding Blog…

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Well, it is with a fair amount of fear and trepidation that I’d like to make an announcement.
Before your mind starts to wander too far, I am not pregnant. That would cause mind-boggling fear and trepidation, and would, in fact, be a miracle.
This is “Not That Big a Deal” which is also the name of my new blog. Yes, friends I have “bitten the bullet, jumped in with both feet, leaped into the breach” and it scares the crumbs out of me. But, I enjoy making people smile and laugh and forget, even if just for a little while, their troubles. I think it’s something we all need now and then. I really do believe that “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” So, here I go…
My blog link will be posted on facebook and twitter tomorrow and, hopefully, every Friday after that. I hope it does its job. I hope it makes you smile. 

 

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When Blogging Friends Are Challenged

I have friends. I do. Not surprisingly, some of those friends are bloggers. Right now, three of those blogger friends are participating in The Ultimate Blog Challenge. What is The Ultimate Blog Challenge? Good question! So glad you asked.  It is a Challenge requiring that for the entire month of April, you are writing a blog EVERY::SINGLE::DAY!!!

I was asked to participate in this Blog Challenge, but politely declined, partly because I knew we were going to NJ in April with my parents; partly because my students research papers all need to be read and corrected in April; and mostly because the thought of keeping up with a “Challenge” like this scares the bejeeebers out of me.

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Posted in America, Americans, Attitude, Blog Challenge, Blogging, Challenges, Christians, Courage, Friends, God, Humor, Life, Marriage, Sports, Squat Challenge, Teaching, The Human Spirit, Uncategorized, Writing | 5 Comments

‘Ohana Means Family…

I’ve had my DNA done and though I am many things, Hawaiian is not one of them. I actually learned this phrase watching Disney’s Lilo and Stitch with my grandchildren. Wanting to make sure Disney got it right, I looked it up and found this…

” ‘Ohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.” ~ Wikipedia

“…remember one another,” no phrase could be more fitting.

Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to bring my parents back to our home state of New Jersey to visit family.  Each of my parents has one sibling there, my Dad’s only remaining brother and my Mom’s sister. Dad is one of 15 children, 12 from my grandfather’s first marriage (can hardly imagine why his first wife died) and 3 from his second marriage. My Dad is in the middle of the second batch. Mom is the youngest of 3, all girls. They are all getting older and enjoy their time together no matter how brief the visit.

We flew from Orlando to Newark. I love my home state and no matter where I live, I think NJ will always have a sense of “home” to me, but guys, I have to say, the highways there are really dirty. We saw beautiful forsythia bushes along Rte. 78 in Newark that looked like they were being fertilized with newspapers and beer cans. It was a sad and sorry sight. Our first stop was our hotel, the beautiful Red Roof Inn in Parsippany on Rte. 46 and yes, I am being facetious. For those that don’t know, it’s an inexpensive hotel which we remembered as being fairly new when we lived there. Of course, that was 20 years ago. Still, it was clean and the beds were very comfortable, so we were fine. The cyclone fence down the median of Rte. 46 was a bit of an eyesore, but that’s probably just me.

First sibling visit, Aunt Lois, Mom’s older sister. Aunt Lois lives with her daughter, my cousin, Donna. Fun fact, Mom and both of her sisters all had daughters within 6 weeks of each other. Aunt Nancy had my cousin, Cher the end of August; Mom had me mid-October; and Aunt Lois had Donna the beginning of November. Each of us girls are now happily caring for each of our mothers in one way or another, just like our mother’s cared for their mother. Though Grandma Moon lived with my parents, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Lois were still a part of her life. It’s what we were taught as family.

After breakfast on our second day, we drove by our old neighborhood, Grove Place in Whippany. It has changed some, but all of the houses are still there and mostly familiar. We recalled who lived in each when we lived there. Most of the neighbors have moved on or passed on, a few are still owned by the original family. Amazingly, the neighbors on either side of our house are originals. We stopped in for a surprise visit to one of them. It was only 9:00 am and though they were still in their pajamas, they invited us into their living room and we remembered life as we knew it back then. It was a brief, but wonderful visit!

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From Whippany to Ledgewood to see my Dad’s brother, Uncle Nick and his wife, Aunt Irma, probably one of the funniest women I know. My cousin Robert and his wife Anna were also there, because they, too, are now caregivers. When asked about food, we told them a light snack would be fine, but they are Italian, and there is no such thing.  So we ate and we talked. We laughed and we reminisced. My Dad and his brother had some time to themselves sitting on the couch and talking about life as they now know it. It was precious. It is family.

A quick nap at the hotel and off to dinner at our old home in Boonton, now owned by Cliff’s sister, Carrie and her husband, Greg. When we lived in Boonton, we owned this house together. They lived upstairs, we lived down, one house, two families, and only two bathrooms. All the neighbors knew was that there were 9 children in that house and none of them went to school. They were never sure who belonged to who, but they were always the best of neighbors. When we moved to Florida, the Babcocks bought us out and I’m so glad they did. Though it’s different from when we were there, it’s still the house where we raised our family and still filled with the precious people we did life with.

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Our last day included breakfast with my sister Jeannine, her husband Dave, and their daughter, Melody.  Followed by another nap, and lunch with a bunch of friends that we went to church with, because they, too are family in the purest sense of ‘Ohana.

In each visit we came together to remember. We came together because we are drawn together. We came  together because we are family, all of us…together. Because whatever else you may call it, family really is a very big deal!

Posted in Aging, Airports, America, Americans, Christians, Cousins, Family, Fellowship, Florida, Food, Friends, Growing Up, Home, Humor, Italians, Life, Memories, New Jersey, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

You Shall Not FAST!

Over the course of the last year or so, I made a very disturbing discovery. My gut can no longer tolerate one of my favorite and most pleasurable, to me, food groups…sugar. I don’t know why and, evidently, neither does anyone else. But, there it is. When I’m thinking like a mature, responsible adult, I know this is in my best interest. But, I don’t think like that very often, especially when it comes to food.

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Posted in Attitude, Faith, Food, Health, Humor, Life, Lord of the Rings, Love, Prayer, Red heads, Uncategorized, Women | Leave a comment

I Was a Middle-Aged Census Taker

In my lifetime I have been many things, some chosen by me, some dumped in my lap, and a few gifted from the Lord. Back in 2010, I was a census taker. I chose this one.  I thought it would be fun and to some degree it was. I enjoy meeting and talking to people, so I signed up. The pay wasn’t bad, my co-census takers were nice enough, and I got to work in the general area of my home. One woman in our group got to do a large, beautiful, gated community exclusively, mostly because she lived there and knew the gatekeepers. It really does help to know people, high places or not. Me, I was assigned a few nice areas, some desolate areas, and the occasional really weird place. I don’t know any gatekeepers.

After some training meetings and a security clearance, we were sent out. We were not sent out two-by-two, in fact, we were not allowed to bring anyone with us. So I was, knocking on strangers doors in desolate areas, occasional weird places, meeting occasional weird people, and a few large pitbulls, all alone. Not the safest job I’ve ever had.

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At first, I was fine. I had a couple of really nice neighborhoods. I still decided it would be safer not to venture into anyone’s home, but to ask all of my questions standing outside the front door. We were told to introduce ourselves at the door or as we were walking onto the property if a person was outside.

“Hi, my name is Roxanne and I’m with the Census Bureau. I’d like to ask you a few questions.”  That was our sch-peel. We were told to be friendly and non-threatening. Of course, the homes and people we were approaching had no such rules.

The initial really nice neighborhoods were easy. People understood the importance of the census and were fine with my questions. I did run into a few stay-at-home Dads, asking my advice about their children but, overall, it went well.  The next week was a little more interesting. I had a few houses with very long dirt road driveways that were more than a little bit creepy.  I didn’t like these properties. You can’t see what you’re getting into from the road.

The first one brought me about a half mile into the property and opened on a ramshackle home, with a swayback roof, and a lot of land. I was hesitant. Then I saw a man on his tractor, mowing. I opened my car door and started to get out, thinking I could speak to him outside the house and within sprinting distance of my car. I proceeded to leave the safety of my vehicle. At this point, I would like to take a moment and “Thank God” for the gift of peripheral vision; for there, out of the corner of my eye, emerging from the woods at break-neck speed was a large pit bull. He was obviously very fond of his many, many teeth because he was showing me all of them. I jumped back in my car, once again grateful for my gift of forgetfulness in locking the door, and I waited. Soon he and his very white, very large teeth were on the other side of my window, greeting me rather ferociously.  The owner heard the noise and came to my car. For all the teeth the dog had, his owner had none, and he chewed tobacco. I don’t know how. He answered my questions, the dog chewed on my tires, and I silently prayed that they really were steel-belted.

My favorite “visit” was in an older neighborhood to a home that belonged to Mr. Johnson and his sister, Marilyn. They were sitting on their front porch. As I walked up the driveway introducing myself, I heard Mr. Johnson ask, “Why would the Census Bureau send a pretty little thing like you out to ask their questions?”

My answer,”I guess so that little old men like you will answer them.”

“Fair enough,” said Mr. Johnson. “Ask away.”

They were both in their late 70’s, and though Marilyn had never married they had different last names. I had to ask. It seems Mr. Johnson, aka Fred, met and fell in love with a very large woman a few years ago. He asked her to marry him and she said she would, but only if he changed his last name to hers. He agreed. They married. It didn’t work out. They divorced. And Fred is now contentedly living his life as, “Mr. Johnson”. Fred tried to tell me she married him for his money, but Marilyn assured me he had none. They told me their life story.  I sat on their front porch, drinking sweet tea and listening. I thoroughly enjoyed Fred and Marilyn. It’s almost 2020! I’m thinking maybe I’ll be a census taker again, but if not, it’s really not that big a deal.

 

 

 

 

Posted in America, Americans, Census Takers, Christians, Courage, Humor, Life, Memories, The Human Spirit, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Many Moons

We aren’t big people, but we are a big family.

My Dad is one of fifteen, twelve are half-siblings most of which have passed. I think only two of Dad’s half sisters are still with us, but I have a myriad of cousins who I’ve only ever “met” on facebook. Of his two full-blooded brothers, only his older brother Nick, his wife, their son and his family, are still with us. The younger brother, Guiseppi, Uncle Joe to us, passed three years ago. My Dad’s family is big but, with the exception of his brother Nick and his family, not very close.

My Mom is only one of three. Her two sisters are still with us and I have five cousins from them, all girls but one. We are all far from one another, but still keep in touch. But, somehow, on Mom’s side there is more…so much more…for there are many Moons.

The first Moons in America were not great travelers. When they came over from Ireland in the mid 1600’s, they essentially got off the boat in New York, found their way to northeastern Pennsylvania, found a nice chunk of wilderness and settled there. This chunk of land was known as Moon Road. It is still Moon Road and, until a few decades ago, all of it was owned by the Moons and their descendants. Until the mid 20th century, the Moons lived there, farmed there, raised their families there, and died there.

My grandparents generation, began the great migration to life in the city and, I’m guessing, better job opportunities. They sent their children back to “The Farm” every summer when school was out and they all had to work. All of the little Moons stayed with their grandmother, who was a more-than-a-little-bit cranky old woman who hid watermelons under her bed; a pretty clear indication that there was a little more than just ‘crankiness’ going on. Of course, having all of her five children, send their children to live with her for an entire summer might have something to do with that. She fed them all pancakes. Pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes for lunch. Pancakes for dinner. She fed them and set them all loose in the woods, the hills, and the neighboring farms. When they were thirsty they drank from the spring, which, as far as I know, is still there today and provides the freshest, cleanest, coldest water I’ve ever tasted. It was those summers that bound the little Moons, not just as cousins, but as so much more.

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My Mom and her ‘cousin’ Bonnie are a testimony to this bonding. They each have been a part of the other’s life since those days in Pennsylvania. I remember visiting ‘Aunt’ Bonnie for as long as I have memories. She remembers me for longer than I have memories. Since she and her husband, Uncle Fred, didn’t live far from us and since all but one of Aunt Bonnie’s kids were the same age as my Mom’s kids, we would visit almost weekly.  Eventually, Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Fred took their kids and went back to Moon Road. We would still visit, though not as often. Time and distance became a factor. When we did visit, Mom and Aunt Bonnie would set us kids loose in the woods and hills and we would drink from the spring. The Moon blood still flowing through generations.

Today, though they live many miles apart, with a little help, they still manage their visits almost yearly. They always pick up right where they left off, as if they’re visits were still weekly. They have managed these visits for the good part of 70 years. I’m thinking, hoping, they will manage them for many more. They are a very big deal.

 

 

 

 

Posted in America, Americans, Childhood, Cousins, Family, Friends, Humor, Irish Roots, Italian Roots, Life, Love, Memories, Siblings, Uncategorized, Women | Leave a comment

The Fellowship of Women

When our oldest daughter, Rachel was born my roommate and I had a great time together.  The ladies in the maternity wing shared a room back then. I think it was much less boring than lying in a room all day by yourself, but that’s just me. Her name was Julie, her new baby was named Susanna, and her four-year-old daughter was Juliette. She was very friendly and informed me that she was a self-proclaimed “Jewish American Princess.” In other words, she refused to eat hospital food and had her husband bring her food in every day. I didn’t mind because she would order her hospital meals and graciously give them to me.  I have never been overly particular about food, especially not after giving birth.  The ability to eat six meals a day at that time was nothing short of post-partum heaven!

There are other things I remember about Julie, in fact there are two of them. Julie had the biggest bosoms I’d ever seen in my life. I am not exaggerating when I tell you she could nurse hands free, sitting straight up, reading a magazine, with her baby lying comfortably in her lap. It’s not that I was staring or anything. Even at the age of 24 I knew hospital room etiquette enough to know to avert my eyes when my roommate was feeding her baby. It was she that pointed them out to me when she said, “Look at these things! I could feed Mother Russia.” I felt it was my duty to provide affirmation for her, because I was pretty sure she was right.

Overall, the thing that was most impressive to me, aside from the gargantuan parts of her anatomy, was a quilt.  She had made it for her new baby. I had never seen a handmade quilt before. I had never even thought about them. The design was called Grandmother’s Fan and she’d used the fabric from the dresses that her older daughter had outgrown. She wrapped her new baby in this thing of beauty and I knew I was hooked. This was something I had to learn. And so, 35 years ago with the birth of our oldest daughter and at the hands of one of my oldest friends, Kathy Buckingham, I became a quilter.

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My friend Kathy was and I’m sure still is, though she lives many miles away, an amazing woman. She was a gatherer and an organizer. She was one of us, a young mother with three small children. But, she made time for us. She would gather some of the young mothers of our church fellowship together once a week or so and she would teach us, sometimes without even realizing. It was she and her sweet mother-in-law Ellen, who she affectionately referred to as “Ma”, that taught a group of us ladies how to quilt. The teaching was a gift, but it quickly became the fellowship of women that most impressed me. We shared our lives. We prayed for one another. We had tea and muffins together. We walked through the season of new motherhood together. It was unforgettable. It bonded us and molded us. This is what I think of when I quilt. The memories, the gathering, the sweet fellowship of women. I’ve heard it said that quilting is a lost art, maybe the lost art is not the quilting, maybe it’s the gathering, the fellowship, and the sharing of our lives. Maybe it’s a big deal…

Posted in Children, Christian Parenting, Christians, Church, Faith, Fellowship, Friends, Home, Humor, Jewish American Princess, Life, Maternity wards, Memories, Moms, Nursing Babies, Quilting, Teaching, Uncategorized, Women | 3 Comments

Grateful for Jesus at the “Happiest Place”

When I think about it, I have a lot of “happy places”.  I’m happy sitting on the beach. I’m happy at home. I’m happy when I’m teaching. I guess you could say that I’m a happy person. Because, for the most part, I can be “happy” almost anywhere. But, one of the places I am most “happy” is the “Happiest Place on Earth”, otherwise known as Disney World.

Living in the Orlando area makes this easy and having a husband who is also “happy” in the “Happiest Place on Earth,” makes it even easier. Of course, being with my husband in the “Happiest Place on Earth” is what makes it “happiest” for me. And there I will stop with the “happy” rant. I don’t want to run the risk of being “slap-happy”. And so it begins, our latest Disney World adventure…

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Cliff and I have Weekday Only Seasonal Disney passes; partly because it’s supposedly less crowded on weekdays and mostly because it’s the cheapest pass you can get. Friday is our Disney day. A day for just us. Between the two of us, Cliff is the planner. This  makes things even more enjoyable for me, since my only job is to get in the car. I can do that. Last Friday the plan was for Animal Kingdom.

Though Cliff plans our day, I have a few little things that I like to do. For instance, I like to drink a lot of water on our 40 minute ride there, because then I don’t need to drink a lot of water while I’m in the park. (I don’t like to carry things including water bottles. I don’t like the warm water in the fountains in the park. And I don’t like to pay $3.00 for a bottle of water.) As you can imagine, this also means that by the time we get to the park my molars are beginning to ‘float’. I like to walk from the parking lot into the park. This is my version of a good workout and is very doable for most of the parks. And finally, when we’re almost there, I like to tell Cliff that before we do anything else I need a “potty stop,” he already knows, but I like to tell him anyway. Usually, this all works for me, last week it almost did not.

I told Cliff part way through the parking lot trek that walking in may not have been a good idea. Pretty much too late, but I thought he should know. Then I got the giggles. I had to stop walking a few times to engage my sphincter muscles. It was a close call, but I finally made it to the ladies room at the entrance of the park intact.

It was a very busy day at Animal Kingdom and we didn’t have a lot of Fast Passes. Our Safari Fast Pass wasn’t until much later, so we walked towards the Safari to see if we could get on in the Stand By line. The Safari is my favorite. The line was over an hour long, so we headed toward the Lion King show. As I was about to sit down, I had the horrific realization that I’d left my phone in the ladies room stall on top of the toilet paper dispenser at the entrance to the park. We did not watch the Lion King show at this time. We walked, quickly, back to the ladies room. I didn’t have the giggles this time. This time I had a sense of panic as I thought about all of the family pictures, all of the information, all of the everything that is in my phone and the thought that someone might have taken it. So, I did what I do when I panic, I prayed. “Lord, please help me find my phone.”

When we got to the bathroom, it was not in the stall. I went to the Guest Relations line, which was almost as long as the line for the Safari. Cliff went to the facilitator standing outside the Guest Relations area. I am married to a very smart man. He told him what happened, described my phone, and the guy went into the Guest Relations building and found it. Turns out while I was praying to Jesus, Cliff was talking to Jesus, because that was the facilitator’s name. Cliff called me out of the line and brought me to Jesus. And there, safe in Jesus’ hands was my phone. I said, “Thank you, Jesus!” and really meant it. All was well, and in the end it really was not that big a deal.

 

 

 

Posted in America, Americans, Animal Kingdom, Animals, Christians, Disney World, Faithfulness, Florida, Humor, Life, Love, Marriage, Prayer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment