Traditions…. & the value of family

Good morning! I have a few thoughts nestled in my brain and heart. I traveled for October thru most of November. Enjoying my granddaughter and the peace and tranquility of Spain. I arrived back in New York and realized that November was almost over! Thanksgiving is tomorrow. The turkey is defrosting and I so enjoy the warm, hearty, comforting meal. I really love morphing leftovers into something super delicious too. What I realized was lacking was a sense of traditions. What I deeply grieve and miss is….family. Our family members are scattered about. Some are in different states and some are close by. The pattern that emerged over the last decade was each family didn’t appear to care about spending time together. Yes, we received an invite or two to travel to them. I often invited a nephew whose family lives down south. Last year, he didn’t bother to show up. Didn’t even text to cancel. Sometimes your expectations often leave you disappointed. Over the last few years, I expressed my feelings to my siblings. I think the hardest part was the silence on the other end of the phone. The other day, I stated NOT to send any “gift cards” or presents. It’s another added expense and I said, quite frankly, we do not share the holidays together, the gift is meaningless. I received silence again. I really sit and reflect on all these feelings. I have a few theories and revelations. The first being, their state of mind. Their inability to focus on Joy or family traditions and the desire to be together. The lack of empathy, holiday spirit, bonding, and negating making any memories for their own children. This, is the demise of traditions! When I was in Spain, my daughter wanted to do a traditional Thanksgiving meal. She really seemed to enjoy being with us and celebrating an American tradition and holiday. I’m glad we did it. I’m proud that she is teaching her child the value of sharing a meal and celebrating together.

When a friend asked me yesterday, what are your plans? I told her… nothing much, just a quiet, simple dinner. I could hear in her voice she was concerned or a bit sad for me. I wanted to remind her….I’m kinda used to this. When my parents were alive, there was always a big family dinner and lots of pie and memories to be made. Today, my life is not the same. Traditions died, family remains separated (by choice) and now I read the ad’s for all you can eat Thanksgiving feasts for $65 a plate. I haven’t sunk that low yet. I am glad I told my siblings what I feel, how I am missing them, missing “US”. No, it didn’t change anything. What it did for me was reinforce where my heart is. What matters most to me. A few years ago, after my son died, I would cook and bring meals to kids and families in need. It brought me so much gratitude. I fundraised one year and provided groceries and a full Thanksgiving meal for 10 families in need. Again, It filled my void, it taught me to be humble and kind and thankful for what I have.

So, for this Thanksgiving, I challenge you to think about GIVING rather than receiving. Volunteer to help serve others, donate food or clothes to a shelter or a rehab. Make a few pies and drop them off at the Vets center or a nursing home. Thank a Nurse! A special caregiver, a house keeper! I bought special chocolates for the flight attendants this year. Their smiles and appreciation made me feel so good. It’s the LITTLE things people. Donate to your favorite charity or just sign up to do something for a child or the elderly. Remember your teachers, your religious instructors, the bus driver or the pastor. It doesn’t have to be grand. Just reminding someone, You are LOVED and cared about. That is what Thanksgiving means to me. I couldn’t close this post without remembering my beautiful parents. Thank you for teaching me traditions and what truly matters.. I miss you both so so much. & To my boy, Michael, who ate so many mashed potatoes! and loved every holiday… I miss you the very most my beloved son.

May your holidays be filled with joy and thankfulness and good health. God bless.

~ leelee

The light changes in Autumn

I sit quietly this early morning. Before the sun rises. Before traffic and cars. That moment, the stillness and quiet makes me reflect. I realize today may be the first day of Fall. Autumn in New York…upstate to be specific, is spectacular. I live around a few lakes on this island, and the show of light and the hue when I visit them is different. Nature and photography allows me to center and feel peace. I love exploring different spots.When Autumn rolls in, I embrace it immediately. A middle + aged woman truly appreciates a cool night and refreshing breeze! The humidity starts to fade away. My Dad would say, I LOVE this weather. Yep, Dad, me too. I have been taking on the 30 day de clutter challenge! Tik Tokky totally Hypes it UP and it semi motivated me to clear out all the hoarding I’ve done when COVID came into town. Escaping to a thrift store felt like a total “reward”. I remember they taped up all the dressings rooms and blocked them off. Trying on clothing is NOT permitted. Lots of changes and restrictions. I still managed to find special treasures to decorate or craft with. Most of the impulsive buys have been re donated! I THINK I learned a few lessons. To be choosy. To take a second and remember if you already have one or two or twelve! I still escape by myself and find great things that bring me joy…it’s a hobby! I enjoy it. I’ve just become more selective! To conclude; I am fully aware that I am saving the landfills and the planet while I shop. You can thank me later.

In the last few seasons, I managed to re design, redecorate, organize, remove or repurpose a lot of things and “stuff”, most, I already had. I donated three car loads last week. I have zero regret or attachments. My goal is to live with ALOT less and be twice as happy with that! It’s a work in progress. I totally dig re -doing stuff, sprucing up a room. Changing up the curtains and pillows and bedding. I’m now MY Mother.. into linens and lace, it’s definately an Italian thing and I embrace it fully!

My sweet granddaughter turned 1 in May. They came to the USA, first time since COVID! So, We had a great big Party & celebration and lots of PINK and Unicorns adorned. She had a great time and enjoyed meeting our entire NY family. It is hard to put into words the love you feel for your child’s child! It’s like a fairytale. Watching her grow and be happy and loved does wonders for the soul. I thought being a “mommy” was the icing on the cake! Being a Grandmother is the icing and the cherry on top! Such joy. I can’t wait to visit them again soon in Spain! I don’t want to miss the smiles or the milestones. I miss them all too much daily, with the magic of Face Time, we remain connected. Life is about celebrating the gifts we have “here” present, with us. I’m glad she was born. It healed me. She heals me. Holding her in my arms is what matters. I’m already packing for my trip in October! Crazy Nana! I love spoiling her. My other precious Granddaughter in Greece started school last week. She sent me a video of her first day and her smile and kind words always warm my heart. One Day, Anna Lisa, Nana will see you again. One day you will figure out who your Dad is….& my darling, I can’t wait to tell you all about him.

Today, is a perfect, sunny, peaceful day. I embrace everything around me and all that I have to be grateful for. I finally sat down for a spell to write this post. I love writing. I love sharing my heart and my thoughts here. I walked my gardens early today and picked a few zinnia’s for my luncheon later. I’m always amazed at what a few seeds sprinkled in dirt in early summer can become. A symphony of ever giving beauty. It’s the little things…remember* that*. May you find your peace & beauty today~



December moments ~ 2021

Good Morning Blogggg Land! Whew!!! …I’ve missed you all and I have been writing wonderful blogs in my head. I want to find the time and energy and space to write them all. Ok.. whatever, I’ll start here. Hi, I hope this finds you well and rested. I hope the twinkle of lights and morning quiet center you with your hot brew…nice… peaceful and calm. I awoke extra early for a baking marathon of sorts. I’m excited that I have the ooomph, the energy, the desire to create and bake this year. Seriously!… I miss having my daughter as a sous chef. We could whip out 3 nights of marathon Baking and create an enormous mound of cookies! I will do my best! I am attempting… drumroll please!, to duplicate and perfect my beloved mom’s Italian sweet butter cookies. It’s time to get it right, in total honor of our Mitzi, aka Nanny Yac. My Mom was not a “baker”. Never her bag. But, damn she was a good cook. My sister D, in New Jersey, bakes 10 pounds of them and ships them to ALL our siblings. How freaking NICE is she! Thanks Nini. We love your cookies! I think it’s my turn to master this family recipe. Wish me luck. I did a test run this week and had a few friends sample. I added a tiny spoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt THE – NERVE leelee! NO! Like, I’m NOT freakin Martha Stewart, what was I truly THINKING? Tampering with the OG buttah cookies! How Dare I? hehe. So now I VOW to stick to the original recipe card from my Great Grandmother! It was passed along to my Mom. Oh.. & our sweet little sister, Denise Ann, aka Nini, hand wrote the recipe for ALL of us to have. Grateful for all the memories that surround this buttery delight….love you Mom.

Speaking of Memories.. yesterday, I was donating some goodies to a family who just had a baby and a 4 year old. They just got placed in an apartment and the Mom was asking for toys and decorations for her daughter. I knew I could help with that! I went through my stock pile and closets, filled my car up and dropped them off. I have been donating and volunteering for years to help anyone less fortunate. It’s been MY saving grace and healing since I lost my son Michael 5 years ago to an overdose. She sent me a message and attached a small photo of my son. You see, she found it in the bottom of a box. He was 4…or 5. A Christmas photo shoot at Sears Roebuck! IT was a thing back then. He has on a cute festive outfit with suspenders and a cheeky, drooly smile. My mind drifted back….back in time. I wrote her back and told her that was my son. I told her, he died 5 years ago. I wished her well and gave her beads that said “Becoming Radiant”…I gave her a stone that said “strength”…my goal was to instill a drop of Hope. Our world needs this so bad! I try and do my little part.

I returned home & Then….THIS happens! I opened my email and I came across an email from my niece in N. Carolina. She is my brother Michael’s oldest daughter. She writes; I have been doing a project and digitalizing all the old VCR tapes from our family gatherings. I froze for a moment. First, I remembered we didn’t have a camera when my kids were growing up! My dad and brothers did. I was freaking OUT! Video’s!!!! My niece, lovingly, sent about a dozen precious videos of our family and my children. I can’t express in words the gift of hearing your child’s voice after many years of not hearing it. I watched some last night. A variety of Christmas’s and birthdays, BBQ’s. All Priceless. I stared at my children,sweetest memories, elated, screeches & smiles, tons of laughter and music and food and celebration. Then, I felt like I was there again, in the living room with my whole family. I felt the warmth rush through me. Beyond grateful and So blown away from the love I was experiencing and feeling. I stare at my two beautiful children. So loved, and safe and healthy.. I remember it all. Oh, you bet I cried. Lots of tears. But, it’s OK! Tears, the extension of emotions pouring down our cheeks….Tears of grief or joy. Tears, are just another expression of undying love. I let them flow. I savored the moments. I stared and listened to everyone. The voices…hearing them speak again! My Dad behind the camera, taking his new “job” as videographer, VERY serious. I hear his soothing voice. I hear him directing ALL the children to smile at him. Mostly, I remember how proud and loving and doting he was. My mom looking beautiful, me watching her running with her granddaughter in the yard. They were so happy, my parents. Filled with Grandchildren everywhere!…..those WERE the days my friends. I treasure these videos. I wrote her a note last night. I thanked her for creating these memories for us. I thanked her for giving me a priceless gift this year. All night long, I was filled with vivid, colorful, beautiful memories of my beautiful son Michael. My brother Thomas, and my beloved parents, Tom & Mitzi. We had it ALL Mom & Dad. I knew it then as I know it now. Love is Love. It never leaves our hearts or our souls. Also, all the (Ex’s) are in ALL the videos. I imagine that not being funny to my siblings. (sorry, they were a part of your life!!!!) But, a most precious moment of my husband. Watching him with our children, playing, teaching, filming them…it really was beautiful to witness that. A father’s love and pride. Trust me… You Blink! &Twenty five years later here we are. Not all of us, but, we are still here. Memories mean SO much more when you lose someone you love. So make as many Memories as you can. Be kind and patient with your children. Hug your parents! & God… Stay close and hold and love & kiss your babies often.* Remember* it’s the little things that wind up meaning the most ~ Peace & Love to All..<3 xoxoxo ~ leelee

She enters our world with Grace….

Good Morning from beautiful Long Island. June is a favorite month for me. Everything is blooming, growing and thriving. The sun is warm and bright and the birds are happy and chirpy (especially at 4:30 am). So, I get up early and plot my day. I stroll my gardens and sip my much weaker coffee than I got used to in Spain. But, I am grateful that I slept well. I am grateful for lots of things today. If you are able to open your heart, again and again, many beautiful gifts surface and grow. My daughter is a June baby, a Gemini. I swear she was born with a college degree.

I went to Spain in April. International travel was still closed. My daughter was able to get approval from the Spanish government for me to join her for the birth of her baby. I was so shocked that I got a special “ok” from Spain. I knew she needed her Mama. I hadn’t seen my daughter in a year and a half. So, off I went. I luckily was vaccinated and felt safer to travel abroad. I was very excited and eager to get there. She had her baby two weeks after I arrived. Our Granddaughter, beautiful little sweet pea was born right before Mother’s Day. Mommy and baby were healthy and I prayed many times during her long labor that all would be ok. I prayed to my son in heaven, please HELP your sister! Five minutes later, she was born. Our precious Emilia was born at 2:34pm. I immediately remembered my son was born at 2:37 pm. I smiled, thinking he may have been helping all along. It was a beautiful experience. Sharing all of it with her and her husband. Holding my precious, perfect Granddaughter in my arms. I felt love bloom even stronger than when I had my own! She continued to fill my heart in so many ways. She expanded our family and didn’t even know how healing and special she truly is.

I am so proud of my daughter. She had a clear vision and a commitment to caring for her baby in the most beautiful, organic way. She and her husband were a team. They both found a rhythm and a schedule. I was amazed at how mellow and content her little baby girl was. She mostly…eats, sleeps and poops like a pro. She cries little and is easily soothed. She filled my heart with such pure love. Each day, watching her thrive and grow and feed, feed, feed! I was so happy. I took a zillion pics and videos. I couldn’t even think of leaving her. I allowed myself to cry ALOT, simply because I didn’t want to leave them. Goodbyes can be bitter sweet. The cab ride to the airport was a snotty, hysterical mess. I tried to keep it together? Then I thought. Don’t hold back. Tears are our way of expressing the deep love and admiration we hold for those we love and cherish. I know I will return. I know they will come back and visit. We are lucky to have face time and whatts app. Yesterday, as Emilia turned 6 weeks, her Mommy got her first smiles from her. I can imagine that LOVE spreading through my daughter. I reminded her that it just keeps getting better. The bond grows stronger, she becomes more alert and adapts to life outside the womb. She will fill your heart and soul…like no other. Love is a beautiful thing.

This circle of life. One we certainly dream of, but, we can never quite predict the outcomes. I’ve learned to truly embrace and cherish the “moments”. I’ve learned to collect beautiful memories and write about them often. I’ve learned that love spans across countries and continents. I never even dreamed my Grandchildren would live in Europe. Up until 2019, I never even travelled outside the USA. Now that I caught the “bug”, I can’t wait to explore Europe over and over again. In my previous post, I shared about exploring Spain and how humbled I was by the culture and lifestyle. Life’s lessons. They keep coming if you open yourself up to new experiences and adventures. Embracing the GOOD….heals us. Expands our horizon. She is our Light…our little sweet pea of Hope and everything good in our world today. As I finish this post, my daughter sends me a video of her exploring her activity center. She is wide eyed, GORGEOUS, and kicking up a storm. Her little voice and excitement fills me with such pride and joy and I am teary typing this. A precious child, a Gift from God. Thankful beyond the heavens. One beautiful moment before I left Spain, my daughter was feeding her baby. She looked up at me and said… Mom, when she sleeps and closes her eyes, she looks and reminds me of Mikey. I was speechless for a moment. Then… I remembered his big, beautiful, sparkly eyes. The kind that can take your breath away. I’m so glad she see’s a glimpse of him in her baby. I like to think he is forever watching over her and his sister. It’s the little things…that become unforgettable, irreplaceable and forever in our hearts. Our sweet grandchild is our most precious gift of all.

Love & Light