Always thanksgiving

Oh, the holidays. Family has a way of testing our resistance or release of resistance. Maybe it's an unnerving comment or not so subtle criticism.  For me, it's being a first-time mama and letting the elders enjoy my daughter without being frustrated by their judgments on how I complete certain tasks related to N.'s care or how I relate to her.  In those most challenging moments, a prayer of thanksgiving is most appropriate.  

But before that, I say the serenity prayer . . . God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  

As we grow our family through birth and adoption, I am most aware that this first thanksgiving welcomes our three-and-a-half-month-old. We are blessed.  We continue to complete a whole new set of paperwork to keep our adoption application active, and it tests our faith in the process.  Sometimes I am so close to just cutting our losses and being done with it.  But I can't bear the thought when we've been in the process so long and have invested so much emotionally and financially.  We're certainly in no huge rush to have a second child just yet as we are still adjusting to baby N. However, we'd welcome less paperwork.  There's always some change in ICAB's adoption rules.  Or PSB, our agency, throws us some zinger.  When we actually pick up a sibling for N., it will be yet another miracle we will have witnessed.

Quiet moment
I well up while washing the dishes, one of my few quiet moments of the day, and I can't help but miss my Dad especially with the upcoming holidays.  How I wish he were here to meet N.  Oh, the holidays.  How they have a way of creeping up on us so quickly and awakening our souls.  Whether it's the hours in a day marked by N.'s next feeding or nap or how the calendar pages seem to turn apace on their own, my thanksgiving wish for others -- more quiet moments to awaken your soul. 

Thanksgiving prayer
Fall's breath gives me life
i exhale a smile
my neighbor
greets Sandy's survivors
as they too inhale Fall's breath
blessed are those
the strong in Spirit

[Dropped off some items at our local Storm Relief Donation Center this past weekend. How sobering it was when the volunteer asked us, "Picking up or dropping off?"  Many families just on the opposite side of town along the river were flooded out, their homes totaled by Superstorm Sandy.  If you're in Middlesex County, the Borough of Sayreville has established a Donation Center. Please take donated items to the Gillette Complex located at 287 Cheesesquake Rd., Suites K & L, between the hours of 10AM-2PM and 4-8 PM Mondays-Fridays and 9AM-5PM on the weekends.]



I know I married the right man. A. & I have been through a number of crises in our last nine years together, and he never fails to impress me.  We only stayed with my brother-in-law and his family for a night, and while we are used to spending time with them, watching A. & E. in action during Frankenstorm Sandy made me thankful yet again to have married into the T. family.  I witnessed A. & E.’s protective nature, and it moves me.  

(As a new at-home mama who is fortunate enough to have stopped working outside of the home temporarily, I am fully aware that A. & E. make tremendous efforts to be working dads.  Perhaps we don't credit men enough and their ability to withstand pressures to be employed full-time as well as staunchly involved in their family life.)

Despite our immediate family needs and busy schedules, A. & E. are there for each other, for their families safeguarding and providing.  Chopping down tree branches and gathering twigs for the fireplace, marinating meats and firing up the grill, accompanying each other on a  Home Depot/Walmart run to pick up extra survival gear . . . The T. men are mighty and solid.

It’s not the getting together for birthdays or holidays that mean the most.  It’s the two- or three-hour-long conversations munching around the kitchen table catching up with our nieces and nephew, my brother- and sister-in –law . . . exploring our oldest niece’s college options, learning how our younger niece’s first year of high school fares or what newest creative endeavor our nephew is up to.  Or knowing that I have little fret about leaving N. in E. & W.'s care.  It’s sharing our coming of age experiences with the kids and our new parental /life anxieties with E. and W. Those connections don’t always come easily in families, and I am blessed that we can relate and truly reveal ourselves to E. and W. and that they can (hopefully) do so with us.

Amazing how dire circumstances pointedly remind us what’s most important.  With an almost three-month-old in tow, whom I continue to be in awe of and daily still can’t believe she’s ours, I am overwhelmed by the gift of our Present.  Graced to be alive.  Grateful to share my heart with my partner, my daughter, family and friends. 

Post Sandy, carry on.  Seek Spirit.  Be rooted. 


Jersey Strong

Sandy Hook bridge
We live in the armpit of the armpit and sometimes get flack from fellow Jerseyans for our choice of residence. It's not the wealthiest of Jersey's counties, and we may not have the absolutely best school system.  But we're five minutes from the fishing beaches of Raritan Bay and just a few miles down the road from the pearl of the bayshore where A. & I enjoy spending time on the pier.  We are fortunate to have survived Superstorm Sandy.  Only had to endure a few days without power and heat.  We have family close enough and inland that we were able to spend a night at their home where they had a generator and working fireplace. A. & I might have continued to camp out at home, except with a newborn we were concerned about keeping N. warm. 

Morgan Marina
Whether it's channel NJ-12 or the NJ.com website, devastating images of familiar year-round shore spots like Keyport, Manasquan, and Sandy Hook leave me spooked, and concerns about my hometown Jersey City's recovery flood me.  Bayshore towns such as Laurence Harbor and Union Beach have been hit hard, and their residents are not those with the million-dollar oceanfront homes.  Our community borders these neighborhoods with working class histories in clamming and fisheries.  A.'s fishing piers have been wiped out, and my bayside boardwalk which stretches three plus miles is crumbled.  I watch the news and see fellow Jerseyans weeping at the loss of their homes, their hearts -- their personal belongings muddied and thrown out for the next trash pickup.  Surprisingly not paralyzed, they express their distress and somehow muster up the courage to believe that Sandy will make them stronger because they have survived her rage.

For a couple of nights, A., N., & I remained at home with hand-cranked radio, LED flashlights, batteries, candles, and our duffle bag full of emergency stocked food (rice, beans, crackers, bread, peanut butter, and jelly). We were the lucky ones.  No water flooded our home as we are above sea level.  We kept N. wrapped up in several layers of blankets and made sure to keep her cozy with our body warmth.  Thank goodness for Neosure formula in powdered form.  We expected a power outage, but not more than a day's worth.  We weren't sure if we could take a hot shower with the loss of electricity.  Figured out we could, and the hot water didn't run out.  We were only 60 percent prepared.  Having to face the decision about whether or not to leave our home in case circumstances worsened was difficult and has made us rethink our emergency precautions in the midst of (natural) disasters.  

Not sure what next spring will look like down the shore.  We look forward to the Jersey shore's comeback.  Superstorm Sandy certainly tested our survival skills, but she didn't break us.  And she won't crush our fellow Jerseyans. Because we are JERSEY STRONG.

Thank you to our friends and family who stayed in touch with us during the hurricane.  Peace, love & light.