Category Archives: Babies

Coronavirus 2020…from my perspective

Coronavirus 2020…from my perspective
Coronavirus 2020…from my perspective

It came creeping into our lives from clear across the globe. We all saw the images of mask and Hasmat clad Asians fighting this intruder that came to steal lives. But, we continued living life, denying any possibility it could touch us personally, something so far removed from our comfort zone thousands of miles away.

Then it was reported there were additional cases popping up around the globe. Italy was struck with a vengeance reporting numerous cases, China began to report deaths and more European countries disclosed rising numbers. When the virus had reached US shores with active cases reported in Washington DC, New York and California the level of fear escalated. Suddenly we were forced to consider the dreadful possibilities.

Now the federal government took heed. Slow at first to respond to the world wide outbreak, it was no longer possible to ignore. The President brought together the worlds top disease control experts and heads of corporations to consider next steps. And they began to take action.

While all of this was swirling around the globe, our own little space was preparing for our annual PLAYERS party. For twenty-seven years we held a week long party for friends, neighbors and customers. Living on the perimeter of the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Golf Course first tee box and just steps from the guarded entrance to the PLAYERS, we loved the event and the world-wide notoriety it brought to our sleepy beachside community. Club trucks pulled into the normally vacant lot next to our house and PGA Tour golfers paraded past to see if they could change the loft of their driver or try a new putter, in preparation for Thursday’s first round tournament play. It was all very exciting.

Houseguests arrived daily, friends who had been making this annual trek for many years appeared around our outdoor bar. It was a wonderful camaraderie that had developed surrounding this event. While uncertainty swirled around us we felt removed from fear and doubt and happy to have perfect weather as we walked the cart paths of the pristine TPC Sawgrass Stadium course unaware of what was to come just days from then.

Governor DeSantis appeared on television to report the first cases in Florida and necessary mitigation steps needed to be taken to slow spread of the now deadly virus. Those with compromised immune systems and underlying health issues and the elderly were most susceptible to death from the virus. He explained the new term, “social distancing” to remain self quarantined and avoid contact with others thru hand shakes and hugs and wash our hands often.

Well, I thought to myself, I will be careful. However, accessing our group and the number of compromised or elderly invited to our home throughout the week and to the celebration of life party Friday evening, made me begin to worry and consider steps that might need to be taken to ensure the safety of our family and friends.

About forty friends and family paraded through our home Wednesday to watch the practice round. It was perfect weather to walk the grounds and perhaps sit on a hole as my father in law loves to do, watching as the pros play through. Our cares seemed to drift away with each drive of the golf ball.

Early that day the television screens in our outdoor bar turned from golf to a press conference. Jay Monahan, PGA Commissioner of Golf announced with regret there would be no spectators allowed on the course. This was necessary to keep players, volunteers and fans safe amid the Covid -19 spread. This announcement would change the complexion of the entire tournament. I was glad I had made a decision not to walk over to the tournament. I needed to be careful.

It was eerie sitting around our backyard bar with only a handful of friends. Fear and uncertainty was slowly building. Thursday however, the number of visitors began to increase, We all wanted to support the tour. We had made our plans, tickets had been bought, flights had been taken, hotel reservations confirmed. Most were here…now what do we do? We decided to make the best of it. We continued to watch golf and band together amidst this unfolding nightmare.

Then Thursday late afternoon Jay Monahan made another announcement that shook us all to our core. The 2020 PLAYERS was cancelled at the end of play of the first round. This would be the first of many cancelled tour events. And, they were cancelled not postponed. This was serious.

On Thursday I shared my concerns with Tommy about holding the celebration of life party. It was not responsible to continue our plans. We agreed to cancel.

Over the weekend our family pressed in. Beach gatherings were perfect as the children played together in the fresh air and we huddled under the sun tent sipping our beverages. Even though there was not a cloud in the sky a dark cloud was hovering over us. Uncertainty could be felt breeding fear.

Mass on Sunday was half attended. Very few children could be seen and we all prayed for discernment. No holy water, no touching with sign of peace, no wine for the Holy Eucharist, rules that needed to be followed to protect one another.

Friends and houseguests made plans to return home as further mitigation eluded to the cancelling of flights and possible quarantine. Monday I dropped my father in law off at the ghost town of an airport. There were very few cars on the road. Schools were out on spring break so no school busses. Many employers ruled employees must work remotely from home. Grocery stores had turned into scenes of chaos as shoppers hoarded toilette paper, tissues, wipes, sanitizer, water and food for what might be weeks of quarantine.

What was happening? It seemed like something from a movie…an apocalypse. A global pandemic had been declared.

Each day government authorities made more closures. School would not return after spring break, businesses cancelled huge trade shows and meetings having an impact on local economies cancelling flights, hotel and restaurant reservations. Restaurants, bars were forced to close. Nursing homes were off limits to visitors. You can find broker online if you need any kinds of investment advice. .this meant I could no longer visit my 95 year old Mother, nor could my brother. Social distancing needed to be practiced now more than ever as the arrival of tests revealed increased number of cases now reaching to every state in the US. The stock market roller coaster dips and gains grabbed us all where it hurts. Sell or continue to watch our life savings diminish?

Watching all of this unfold before my very eyes I began to see some good come from all of the negative. Parents were finding great projects online so as to slow any possible decline in their children’s educational advances. Families were preparing and eating dinners together. Our busy lives were coming to a complete halt. We were forced to slow down, press in and trust God, that He would control all of it, that there would be good coming from the chaos.

My friends began to share God wink stories. Personally, I thought of how the Holy Spirit had nudged me to make a decision to take a break from chemo last November, allowing my extremely compromised immune system to build a bit before Covid-19 hit. If this had happened in November, surely I could be even more susceptible.

One of my friends had lost her 99 year old Mother who lived in assisted living facility where she would visit her twice daily a month before Covid-19. She would never have been able to stay away from her sweet Mother nor would she understand why her loving daughter was not visiting. Surely God had taken her before these restrictions were put in force.

A beautiful baby girl was born to my dear friend’s daughter, her first grandchild. St. Patty’s Day would forever hold new meaning for this family. But, God sent them something to focus on, to ease their fears.

Seeking a deeper meaning to the situation revealed the positive results swirling around me. The world had come to an immediate halt. I believe most of us secretly longed for this respite. Families were forced to be together inside their homes for two weeks or more. Working from home remotely, virtual schooling, nursing homes and hospitals refusing to allow visitors, all sports cancelled, beach closings, churches closed and offering virtual masses, dentists offices closed, social distancing, no hand shakes, hugs or kisses. Everyone urged to wash hands frequently, keep six feet apart, no more than ten people gathering, special early hours for the elderly to grab what they needed from the grocery. Restaurants offered take out service as they closed their doors to dining in. Unlikely corporations turned to manufacture of ventilators, masks, gowns, drug companies rushing to find drugs that could be effective in fighting Covid-19.

Suddenly everyone was joining together to stop the spread of the virus as our homes became our best refuge in the storm.

But…everyone isn’t fortunate to have safety and refuge at home. Some are faced with limited food, verbal and physical abuses we can hardly imagine. While we are tending to our own, we need to pray for and consider how to help those who need us.especially the children. Maybe a phone call, a delivery of groceries or information on any options available.

The virus had effected everyone regardless of if they were infected.

Pull together by thinking of ways to fight this global pandemic. Let’s all do our part. Stay safe and pray.

A little Irish boy

A little Irish boy

The glass dish crashed to the floor. Did I assume it wise to give a toddler a glass plate filled with chicken cubes, sliced strawberries, ketchup for “dip-dip” and “troll trees” (broccoli, because you have to make it fun)? Duffy, our twelve year old Yellow Lab, waiting beneath the chair where Mick stood/sat eating his lunch ready to lick up any bits that might fall or be thrown. Just inches away, I quickly turned to grab Mick as he climbed the bar stool to the floor. He was DONE eating and off to the next thing that piqued his interest.

Grabbing the roll of paper towels, I headed toward the shattered dish and food bits pushing Duffy away as he coughed and smacked his lips, he had scored at least a couple of licks.

Suddenly I looked for Mick. He had climbed on the kitchen table and spinning the lazy susan around he had found the salt and pepper shakers, pushed the plastic caps on the bottom inside each. Both shakers were emptied on the table as he smiled in amazement. What was this spicy mixture that was causing him to sneeze continuously?

This is life with our 7th grandchild Mick Francis Garrity. 

All of the grandchildren are unique in their personalities which is always amazing to me. How can a child be so different from a sibling when they hear the same words at the dinner table, receive the same corrections and directions? But, they are!

Mick’ s name is perfect for him…the rough and tumbling little three year old he is. Polar opposite from his brother Jude. But, the name conjures up images of a stocky boxer with flaming red hair and freckles. Our Mick is smaller than his brother was at this age, but he is filled with fire and energy. Yet he has a huge heart when he is willing to share it. 

I cannot wait to see what adventures this little guy will take us on.

Love you Mick Francis Garrity.

I got a “Save the Date”

I got a “Save the Date”

Yesterday I had a CT scan as a follow up after my last appointment confirming the beast had returned…I now have pancreas cancer mets to my lungs 100% confirmed. My radiology oncologist entered the room with a piece of paper, my scan report from the radiologist.

On the paper he had numbered 8 entries. Each entry documented the slide number where a nodule showed up and in comparison to the last much it had increased in size in those six weeks. When I had the lung resection in late June I had 8 nodules. They removed 3. My math skills are pretty good, so that would leave me with 5 right? Well, at the last appointment they said there was a new nodule in the left lung…that would be a total of 6. And now there are 8!

Only three out of eight nodules had shown slight growth, one, more than the other two. My head was swimming. It seemed there was always an increase in the numbers. Dr. Ko explained “these nodules are just not acting like pancreas cancer. They are not completely round and they are not growing rapidly like most pc tumors grow. They are still acting like lung cancer nodules. But, we have the DNA reports that conclude they are in fact of pancreas cancer origin.”

These visits are mentally exhausting. We hang on every word coming from his lips. “What is your recommendation for treatment?” my Joseph asks. “Can we just remove them all by radiation?” The doctor hesitates as he forms his response carefully. “That would not be safe and I believe it would not change the outcome. I will defer to your oncologist who might suggest chemotherapy, however, your quality of life is so good at this moment…none of your doctors wants to change that. Go out live your everything you want to do while you are feeling good. That would be my recommendation.”

“How will these nodules progress? What will happen when they grow? ” we asked. “They will grow (and multiply) to where they press on the oxygen sources inhibiting breathing. We truly can’t predict when that would happen but based on the tracking we have done..two years.”

My faith tells me that this is what the doctor must tell me based on science. He is doing his job. He can’t turn to me and say without equivication it is up to God, not science how long you will survive. I know he has no idea of what God’s plan is for my life and nor do I. My sister Carmen always reminds me..”Just cause the doctors say it doesn’t make it so.”

We agreed to discuss with our oncologist going back on the three month scan schedule due to the continued slow growth. Tom looked at me with a smile on his face and said excitedly… ” That takes us to Napa for the fall crush, NYC for the Thanksgiving Parade with the babies and then Christmas.” We smiled at the thought.

When the recurrence was confirmed I received a save the date from Jesus. How lucky am I? I have the warning most don’t ever receive. I look at the picture of Olive who is approaching her second birthday on New Years Day. Mick was two years old in late May. I will cherish every moment of every day. Who knows, God might figure I have so much more work I can do to make a difference in this cancer that He leaves me here a little longer. Nothing about my cancer has been short of miraculous. Why should I believe it will be any different now?

If you received a warning that your life was ending soon would you live it any differently? Please think about that and make sure you enjoy every day and you share with others what is in your heart.

Today we meet with my oncologist, Dr. Mody. I bet he will concur no treatment yet. At least that is what we are hoping for.

Joseph said to his brothers, ” I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob”. Genesis 50:24

Aurora is why

Aurora is why

Aurora received a cranial helmet from JT Townsend Foundation.

Early 2013 I received a frantic phone call from a local therapist advising me of an emergency situation and asking for help. A three month old baby was sedated on the operating table awaiting surgery to correct a very serious condition called Craniosynostosis that could prevent her brain from growing and potentially cause brain damage. The surgeon had been advised that insurance had denied coverage of the surgery and treatment as “cosmetic”. They needed $2500 to pay for the helmet she needed to help form her skull after incisions had been made to relieve pressure and act as growth plates that normally would have developed. The company providing the helmet would absorb the difference in cost.

We immediately went into action and approved the grant so the surgery could be completed and the parents could be assured we would pay for the helmet, plus one or two more that could possibly be needed within the next year of healing they could not afford.

Since 2013 we have granted helmets to several other patients. Here is the story of little Aurora.

“Aurora was born in November 2017 and we noticed something was up right away. At almost 5 months, Aurora was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis and had surgery less than 2 weeks later. Following the surgery, she has to wear a helmet for a year. Enters the social worker, who I mentioned the inability to pay for 1 helmet, let alone 3, and she directed me to JT Townsend Foundation. In less than 1 day, I received a phone call from Miss Carmen, who is absolutely wonderful and caring. They paid for the first helmet for miss Aurora, and did so in a timely manner without causing me any stress over the situation at hand. What a spectacular foundation. They go above and beyond to ensure that they take care of those who need it! Words cannot express my gratitude.
Now, enjoy some visuals of my darling, Aurora, with her first helmet! Thank you so much, again, Carmen and the JT Townsend for your hard work and dedication to your community.”
Aurora’s Mother -August, 2018

The JT Townsend Foundation is truly changing lives on Florida’s First Coast. Most of our applicants have no where to turn when they come to us with their requests for adaptive equipment or financial assistance. These families have all of the normal expenses we all have plus the staggering expenses of a special needs child. Insurance covers a wheelchair and limited medical expense. JTTF can help when insurance denies. Thank you to everyone who supports this amazing non-profit.



The tart yet sweet scent of the juice took me on a mental journey back to my youth. My Grandma Kathy would eat a ruby red grapefruit every morning. The sharp knife made it’s way around the rose colored fruit as I carefully released it from its’ skin being careful to get as close to the pith as I could so I didn’t waste any of the precious fruit. Next I sliced each section as closely to the white membrane separating each piece. I always preferred tart tastes to sweet, Margaritas, sour patch kids, lemon. If she wanted to be fancy she would add a cherry to the very center before she served it up. I wanted to reach for my phone and call my Grandma Kathy to tell her about my blessed life. I wanted to share the news we are expecting another new baby early next year. She always loved the babies so. They were new and held such great possibility. They were hope of a new and unique chapter to add to the story of our family.

It had been too long since I had delighted in a grapefruit for breakfast and many years since I had enjoyed a conversation with her.

I looked at the bowl of fruit on the counter where five more rested. Tom had remarked yesterday, “Those will go bad before you eat them all.”

I hoped not.

Pompeii and Vesuvius

Pompeii and Vesuvius

To the east, just around the bay of Naples, a 25 minute drive, you will find Pompeii and Herculaneum. These two cities are the most completely preserved cities of classical antiquity along with their nemesis, the volcano Vesuvius. The volcanic ash and lava from the eruption on the morning of August 23rd, AD 79 of Il Vesuvio preserved these towns almost exactly as they were on that day. This left them not just archeological ruins but precise replicas of daily life in this ancient world. Our family enjoyed a two hour tour by an informative guide who unveiled the mysteries of this ancient ruin.

This once bustling commercial center with a population of 10,000 to 20,000 covers 160 acres. Approximately one third of the ruins have been unearthed. Our family walked along the tracks of chariot wheels cut in the pavement. The rings where the horses were tied still remain near the sisterns which allowed them to drink the fresh mountain water while their charioteers enjoyed a beer. Pompeii’s frescoes which are painted in vibrant reds and orange have remarkably retained their vibrancy. You could feel the presence of the people as we wandered past what once obviously was their home.

Our entire family stood in awe of the plaster casts of those overwhelmed by the eruption left in situ. The Orto dei Fuggiaschi (Garden of the Fugitives).

The temperature was around 86 degrees but the gentle breeze made the two hour walking tour seem short. Even the children enjoyed this part of our Italian adventure.

“Two Monkey”

“Two Monkey”

Jude with Two Monkey sleeps with Poppa

Not even certain when “two monkey” arrived. I do know he replaced “Silly Monkey’ a blue and brown monkey Jude had snuggled from birth of similar shape and size. Silly Monkey was lost somewhere along the way and fortunately we had the sock monkey ready to stand in.

It was a seamless transition at one year old.

But, as time passed, sock monkey (who was never called sock monkey) became his snuggle choice at every nap, watching movies or just cuddled up on the floor during reading time.

Grandmothers have a way of knowing this could develop into a problem should Monkey suddenly disappear. There have been several times he was left behind and Dad had to make a special trip to recover him before bedtime.

In an effort to avert this difficult situation I purchased several sock monkeys from the toy store and hid them away. And, of course, the day came when it was necessary for us to pull one out.

But, this intuitive toddler immediately knew the difference asking, “Where is two-monkey?” None of us really know how the name Two-Monkey came to be. When I asked Jude how he could tell the difference he said, “This one doesn’t have the same face, my two monkey has a big smile.”

Life lesson, it is not possible to attempt to pull a fast one on a toddler who is in love with his lovie.

Medicine….a science

Medicine….a science

Today they call me a miracle. Everyone remarks how healthy I appear. They tell me, “You look great.” They know what I faced four years ago, how close I was to death. Yet, today I am feeling good, able to function very well and look like I am in perfect health. I give God the glory for each day I can babysit my grandchildren, or look my husband in the eye when he asks me, “How do you feel today honey? “and truthfully say…”I feel good.”

Sharing sunflowers with my Olive.

There is much to say about medicine today, the strides that have been made in cancer, in cardio vascular health, in treatment and surgical techniques. So much progress…yet…so much more to discover. New ills present themselves. New strains of bacterial infections that even our strongest antibiotics can’t suppress. Health evolves based on food sources and environmental conditions. What we consume is bad for us one day…good the next. It is difficult for all of us to keep up.

We strive toward a more healthy lifestyle. We eat organic and monitor our steps and activity. We focus on quality of life as we approach old age. Often an age most of our grandparents never believed they could reach.

They call medicine a science. I never really understood how true that is. Run a test, processes of elimination. Is it this? Could it be that? It is likely to be this. Percentages are bantered about like so many tennis balls.

“You have these nodes in your lungs we have been observing for eighteen months now.” “They are slow growing, but two or maybe three of them are concerning.”

Started with two now there are eight.

Tommy and I have learned so much about pancreas cancer since we started on this journey April 29th, 2014. We know how difficult it is to detect. We know after it has attacked the pancreas it typically moves on to the liver the lungs or the brain.

“Let’s do a biopsy.” We need to determine if these spots are lung cancer or metastasized pancreas cancer. If it is lung cancer, it is highly treatable. If it is mets of pc…we have an entirely different ball game. Lung cancer….the number one cancer killer…lung cancer. I am praying these nodes are lung cancer. The biopsy, so difficult a procedure to locate that less than a centimeter node and extract tissue from it, came back negative for cancer.

But you say they are cancer, just not 100% sure what type?

When Tommy, Abby and I were in Washington DC advocating for funding for pancreas cancer with PanCan we attended several breakout sessions where we listened to clinicians, researchers who are working hard to learn all they can about how a normal cell progresses into a full blown pancreas cancer cell.

On the screen in the room appeared two images. The left was a slide filled with breast cancer cells. The various sizes of maybe fifty pinkish red cells were jammed into the space. To the right of that image was another slide filled with pancreas pinkish tan cancer cells. There might have been five. So, you are sticking a needle into the tumor to extract these cells to determine what type of cancer it is. What if you miss the cells altogether? A false negative biopsy would result.

But, when it means life or death….how should you feel about that?

Precancerous cells are found in everyones bodies. When they will begin to mutate into cancer is not predictibe.

The only way to determine what these nodes truly are is to remove the ones that are solidly formed and look at them under a microscope.

I have cancer in my body and I need to know it is not the beast….it is not pancreas cancer that has now invaded my lungs. June 26th we will head to surgery.

I am praying for lung cancer. Yes, I am praying for lung cancer.

God is in control. He knows best what the outcome will be. But, we are prepared for whatever His will for us is.

Life lessons….things I learned the hard way

Life lessons….things I learned the hard way

Sister sunflower

Before you begin reading these lessons…please know that this is how I attempt to live my life. I am not always successful with all of them, but I do try.

1.) Let your “NO” be no and your “YES” be yes.

If you commit to something, follow thru. Never change your plans because something better came along. People are counting on you. Be a person of strong commitment. This is one of the characteristics of being a responsible and dependable person.

2.) Never give a LOAN to anyone.

If someone comes to you with a request for money think long and hard. Pray about it. Is this going to help this person or do you need to consider “tough love”? Don’t be an enabler. However, if you see a true need and you are able to provide the funds requested, do so never expecting to get the money back. That way you will never build up resentment toward this person. Most of the time the money is not repaid, so approach it that way from the start and you will never be disappointed in anyone. Give it and forget it. Never share your generosity with anyone, except if you are married you should make these decisions jointly. You can sign up for Jensen Family Law take the best financial decisions for you and your family.

3.) Respect other peoples possessions as well as your own.

If you borrow something, return it in the same condition or better than when you received it. And return it promptly.

4.) Live your life as if each day is your last.

If you begin each day with thanks just for waking up and breathing, you will never be disappointed. Gratitude is a key factor in happiness. Do what you can within your personal limitations to make each day full. If you have a bucket list….get busy. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

5.) Tell the ones you love how much you love them.

If those around you don’t know how you much you care about them, tell them. This encourages love, respect and nothing but positive emotions. Oprah once said, “You want someone’s eyes to light up when you enter a room.” Be sure the ones you love KNOW this love. (With social media, even a text or a tweet can show you are thinking of someone.You don’t even have to speak to them.)

6.) Never forget your priorities.

God first, family second and the rest last. If you live your life with your priorities in proper alignment with your faith, you will have NO regrets. God will smile on you.

7.) Live a life of giving.

When you give, you are showing others God’s love for them. You are His hands. It needn’t be anything more than a smile. Give as much as you can and do service to others and you will reap rewards you never imagined. Remember that giving is not always dollars.

8.) Love on older people.

I am sure you have heard it said, “Older people are just young people in wrinkly skin.” There brains are still back in their youth. Even if they forget things, they still are living and breathing as they did in years past. Show them respect and encourage them to share their life experiences with you. You might just learn something. Plus, it makes them feel they still have value, something to offer to this world.

9.) When you go to church go to honor God.

If you go to church only to have your faith nurtured you are going for the wrong reason. Go to give God one hour of your week in respect and gratitude for the many blessings He has given you. If you learn something from the homily along the way…..wonderful. Go out and practice what you learned.

10.) Only speak positive words.

If you surround yourself with positive people and speak positive words, you will have a happy and stress free life. The old saying.”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” applies here. Who wants to be around a negative person? NOBODY.

11.) Look for the good in everyone and everything.

If you look for the good in every situation or every person, you will forget about the bad. There is a silver lining in every situation, and sometimes it is more difficult to find it than others. But it is there…as bleak as it may seem. I promise this is true.

12.) Always tell the truth.

I used to tell people things that I felt would make them fell better or what they wanted or expected to hear. Sometimes these things were far from the truth. (Rules 10 and 11 apply here.) It is always difficult to remember untruths. They will often turn into a chain of lies and then you are sunk. You probably can never remember it all. Stick to the truth and unless you have Alzheimer’s disease you will not fail.

13.) Teach your male children to always open the door for the ladies. Tell your female children to always act like a lady. Wear clothes that express your feminism not sexy. And, Father’s, teach your girls how to be treated by a man thru your words and actions from the day they are born.

They may not always be ladies, but he is always a gentleman. Tell your children to always be faithful. If they wish to spend time with someone else, break off the relationship. Be honest and fair and respectful of everyone.

14.) When children are introduced and a hand is offered make sure they look them straight in the eyes when shaking their hand.

15.) You get what you you get and you always say “Thank You”.

Enough said.

16.) Always pay your bets.

If you play games and monetary bets are made ALWAYS pay your bets. This is something you should learn early in life. Nobody wants to play with a person who justifies not paying up. And, even more importantly, don’t sit at the table without money in your pocket. It’s best not to gamble at all. But, these are rules that you should follow and in some crowds, it can be dangerous if you don’t honor the code!

17.) Teach your children about the commitment of marriage.

When they think they have found the person they want to share their life with you need to ask some hard questions. Did you pray about this person and did God give you a clear message they are the one He has chosen for you? Do you believe you can live your entire life with him/her? And, the final thing is, when you are married, you are married for life. But, if you find that you made a mistake in marrying him/her, be honest and fess up. Tell them immediately, seek help, and do not see another person until you are honest with your spouse and the marriage has been terminated. Be respectful of one another above all else. You married this person and believed you would love them forever. Find out why you don’t and fall in love all over again. Don’t wait until it is too late and things have been said that cause hearts to be torn apart.

18.) When you meet someone and you think they might “be the one” wait six months before you do anything drastic. It takes six months before the true self is shown.

19.) Don’t demand respect from your children…..earn it.

Enough said.

20.) Never throw your sibling in front of the bus.

The last two of my children were eleven months apart in age. When they were teens this came up. I wanted them to remain close throughout the teen years and into adulthood. While this is difficult for parents, it is wise. Ratting on your brother or sister causes them to lose trust in you. No trust….no deep relationship. Today, while they have strong opinions and voice them to each other, they remain very close. Nobody understands you like your sibling. The love between sisters and brothers is a deep and unending love. Don’t lose out on this blessing from God.

21.) You are only as good as your five best friends.

Do they make you a better person? Do they lift you up or tear you down? Do you want to be like them or do you sometimes justify why they hurt you or others? Choose wisely and embrace strong and nurturing friendships of those who share like values or those you would aspire to.

22.) If you get the opportunity to take travel on your own….do it, if only for a few days. The sense of adventure is exhilarating.

23.) Pray for God’s will, whatever it is, not for what you want….He already knows that.

The most important thing I can share with anyone is to pray for God’s will. It is the single most “freeing” rule I can give you. That is why I saved it for last.

If you pray for what YOU want, you will be disappointed. God doesn’t always work on your time schedule and He certainly doesn’t listen to your plan. He already has everything all worked out. He already has a plan for you. He WILL give you your hearts desire. I promise it will be bigger, better, more loving and more dependable than YOUR plan ever could be. I am the living breathing truth of this.

If God had answered some of my prayers, I would not be what I am today, where I am today and probably not half as happy and loved as I am today.

As Garth Brooks puts it. “Thank God….for unanswered prayers…”

The olive branch

The olive branch

My sweet Joseph and I feel as if God showers us with His blessings with these amazing little gifts He sends called babies. Two of our boys had blessed us with five special angels. We loved watching them grow and develop into little humans with individual traits that distinguished them from one another. Slowly time slipped past us and they were no longer infants or toddlers. We missed that innocent stage where each new discovery was met with awe and increased curiosity. While we watch with amazement at their accomplishments in sports and academics and social skills and see their faith life growing we are thankful and proud. He continued to gift us as we watched them grow.

Suddenly our younger children began to marry and we knew it wouldn’t be long before they would experience what true love really is all about. Since 2014 God has sent us three love gifts, and our hearts are exploding as we watch with eager anticipation each small development, a grin, a smile, a belly laugh or the moment when their eyes connect with ours. It is all so surreal. We count these days as some of the happiest of our lives. Days that transform our lives. Days that will bring us through the difficult days.

These tiny infants, completely dependent upon their Mother and Father for food, warmth and love have stolen our hearts and teach us once again that life is precious and fleeting and so very special a true gift.

January 1st we were blessed again with Olive Adelle Zitiello, weighing just 6 lbs. 9 oz. and 20 inches long. Finally a pink bundle to dress in soft pink and bows. We are thrilled beyond belief, every one of us.

She came quickly and naturally and perfectly formed..thank you Jesus.

Her name held great significance. Adelle is Tommy’s Mothers legal name and beautiful. She was the greatest Mother, Grandmother. We are so pleased Olive’s parents decided to honor her in this way.

We realized shortly after we heard it, her first name Olive evolved from early planning of Louis and Emily’s wedding. The theme was chosen by Emily – Olive branches, simple and full of meaning. The leaf signifies the truth of faith and it’s fruit, the olive is the good of charity. From Emily’s shower to Louis and Emily’s wedding the olive branch was used to decorate the wedding cake, the tables and even the crown on our brides head. It was a single 5 letter word that held great significance for these two parents. Emily’s push present from her husband, a delicate Tiffany olive branch necklace. But, the true gift was this little pink soft being…Olive Adelle Zitiello.

A Mother’s love

The family began to pour into the maternity ward to meet the newest member. We gathered to share our thanks and wonder at the miracle of birth.

Little Jude was amazed when he saw Olive for the first time.

We had told Jude for many months that baby Olive was in Emily’s belly. Now he could see her.

Joseph and I have realized how fleeting life truly is. This is what age does for us. We know that God sends us these miraculous gifts to perpetuate our existence here on earth. We are blessed beyond our belief and truly thankful.