Saturday, November 23, 2013

True Love

As I sit down to actually write this post, I'm overwhelmed with emotion. To be quite honest, I can be a bit emotional (ask ANYone), but when it comes to my family, I believe the emotion is extremely well deserved. And...I'm not ashamed of it.

It is always important to be thankful for the many blessings that life brings you. In the month of November, we are on "high alert" of thankfulness because we celebrate Thanksgiving. As with every day... I am thankful for the life I have been given. Most importantly, I am thankful for the one of a kind, truly beautiful family that God has made me a part of.

Side Note: In blogging world, you aren't supposed to put last names, locations, etc. so for this blog, I will refer to my amazing family as the "A Team." :)

Today is Nov. 23.
Nov. 23 is a special day for the A Team. 

 Nov. 23, 1946 began what I believe is the greatest love story.of.all.

My grandpa, Paul A was born June 24, 1921. Three years later, my grandma, Helen E was born on June 26, 1924.
Both, were born into large Catholic families. 
Paul had 7 brothers & sisters, Helen had 6 brothers & sisters.

This was the beginning of...

True Love.

Not long after Paul and Helen fell in in love, Paul was sent to fight in WWII. 
He asked Helen to wait for him. 
While he was away, they wrote love letters back and forth... 
She could not wait for them to start their lives together!

True Love.

I absolutely love that she signed it "All my Love & Kisses, Yours Alone"

As she promised, Helen waited for Paul. 
When he returned, they were were married at St. John's Catholic Church on Nov. 23, 1946. 
One of my favorite stories about this day is that while celebrating at the reception, some of Paul & Helen's BFF's snuck out of the reception, pulled some pranks & trashed their house without them knowing (for example: they sewed their underwear together). 
These friends remained close their entire lives. 

True Love.

Once they were married the baby boom began. First came...

**Ronnie (Cindy)**
*Rosie (Allen)*
Johnny (Janis) 
Kathy (Jim)
Michael (Denice)
David (Jan)
Chuck (Sarah)
& Donna (Vic)
"The A Team" Part 1

*My Parents*
**My Godparents**

Rosie D taught me how to pray for my aunts and uncles by saying their names really fast!
 I am still super good at it!

True Love.

Paul & Helen were extremely hard workers. Paul was a farmer and worked for a paneling business. Helen was a stay at home mother (how could she work with all those kiddos??)

They were not monetarily rich, but WOW, were they rich in love.

The kids helped around the house and the farm.
They picked pickles and cucumbers and tomatoes...

In their home, all 3 girls slept in one room and all 6 boys in the other. There was ONLY 1 bathroom.
There was ONLY 1 rotary phone (You had to ask for the operator back then)!
And somehow they *almost always* got along.

True Love.  

(Oh the memories, running around, walking barefoot and driving up that gravel road)
   Some Interesting Family dynamics...

Helen NEVER drove.

You read that right. Never. Paul took her anywhere and everywhere she needed to go.

Uncle Steve, was mentally handicapped. 
He lived at home with Paul and Helen until they could not physically take care of him any more. 
Paul was 83, Helen was 80. 
Even then, though he was at a special home, Paul & Helen picked him up 1-3 times a week and spent the day with him at home. 

True Love. 

As their children grew, so did their family.
They were blessed with 19 grandchildren (my amazing cousins!)
& 15 great grandchildren (+1 that's now on the way!)
My cousins were my first best friends!!! Some of them are STILL my best friends.

True Love.

"The A Team" (missing some) Part 2
(Ugh, I was late and did not make it into this photo)
(Cousin Macky Mack & me!)
 Above & Below...4 generations of A Team "Men!" These pics (& men) are pretty special!!!

I will talk about my favorite A Team childhood memories for the rest of my life...

The ones below are just a FEW of them...

 Grandpa, his green thumb, & his strong hands...

The Porch...
the place for cousin portraits... especially on Easter!
but specifically I remember playing the "car" game with Grandma!
Pick a color, count how many times that car goes by the house.
At the end, if your colored car passed the most, you win! 
(it's a long game when you live in the "country")

Grandpa and his magnifying glass.
Everyone crammed into one room with the Christmas tree.
He'd pick up each package, one for each of us.
 He would read, "To: Jess, From: Grandma & Grandpa"every time he picked up a present.
We all patiently waited until everyone had their packages and then we opened them together.
It was the best. It's something I miss, but will remember every Christmas!

 Games for days!!!
Grandma and Grandpa loved to play games. 
We would sit down at their kitchen table and play, well, you name it...yahtzee, rummikub, chicken foot, euchre (a family tradition) etc.
Grandma taught so many of us, with great patience, how to play these games.
Grandpa was my (& everyone's) favorite euchre partner.
I'll always remember beating Big Al for the first time with Grandpa as my partner!

BUT you couldn't play games without snacks.
Grandpa would bring out the soft drinks from the utility room and snacks from the "forbidden" & "steep" stairs. 
Some favs... Chex Mix, Peanuts, Pringles, & Bugels, just to name a few :)

What great memories were shared around their kitchen table. 

I'll also never forget once when Gpa was in the ICU, waiting to get discharged to a regular room. 
My aunt Sarah, Uncle Chuck, gpa and I played euchre together in his room.
 I'm pretty sure that's the most rowdy the ICU has ever been. 

I could go on and on and on and on with the memories.......
 (I think I got that long story telling gene from my gpa!)

All these memories equate to...

True Love.

On April 7, 2011, uncle Steve passed away at 59 years of age.
He lived longer than doctors ever imagined, but that didn't make the goodbye any easier.
Steve taught our family so many things....
to love the radio, that everyone is different, that all people deserve to be loved, patience, to choose happiness...not anger (or to go outside if you wanted to fight), and that a smile can mean so much when it comes from the right person.
I'll never forget that smile of his.

One short month later, on May 6, 2011, beautiful Helen went to heaven to be with Steve. She was 86.
When he passed away, Grandma finally decided that her time, too was complete.
She stayed on earth to make sure that her son Steve was taken care.
It was too soon for all of us, we hadn't even gotten to say goodbye to Steve.
I will never forget the pain my Grandpa felt. It was heartbreaking.

I loved her sweet disposition and above all, how she loved her family.

Grandpa gave us a few scares shortly after they passed. Aunt Denice described it as if they were tugging on him to join them and we were holding onto him saying, "Please, not yet!"

This gorgeous rainbow at their home appeared after one of Grandpa's scares.
It was a reminder it all of us that Steve and Grandma were watching over us...

Just like when he was at war...Grandma waited for Grandpa.
We got a little bit more time with him, but of course, not enough.

Grandpa lived for the next two years at a retirement home where he could practice his faith, be visited daily by family, and watched over by others.
Oh how we showed our love for him the next two years.
We knew how much he was missing his beautiful Helen and his son Steve.
We threw him the most amazing 90th Birthday party... 
Our family compiled a book of 90 reasons we loved him...

   And I know he felt it.

True Love.

On May 7, 2013 Grandpa finally decided to join Grandma and Steve.
Of course, he held on for a few extra days because he wanted Grandma to have her own death day.
Two years and one day after Grandma died, they were reunited. 

(Grandpa's flag after his funeral)

Born 2 days apart, 3 years apart.
Died 2 years and 1 day apart.



True Love.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of my grandparents.
The love and example they were for each other, for their kids, for their grandchildren, for their extended family, and for their friends.

This love is incomparable. 

True Love.

I know that they are together again, holding hands and watching their family from a distance.
I know that one day, I will see them again and know the unimaginable happiness they are experiencing in heaven. 

I just really miss them here on earth.

It is also because of these two that I am immensely obsessed with true love.

So much, that I take pictures (while driving) of random strangers exhibiting it...

I gush over that part of the movie "Up" that tells the love story of Carl & Ellie...gets me every time....

And am in awe of stories like Fred & Sweet Lorraine!!!

Today would have been 67 years of marriage for my Grandma and Grandpa!
I will forever celebrate this day, Nov. 23, knowing what great love came from the marriage of those two individuals. 
And of course, with all those grandkids, you know that one would have a birthday that falls on their special day...
Happy Birthday Cousin Kyle!!

Just as we saw them waving goodbye so many times...
I will always imagine them just like this...


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turkey Thursday!

Attention all Teachers (& friends with kiddos)!!!

Since I am working on my masters in Reading and Literacy... I have been thinking a lot these days about kids books. There are a million books for every season and I pretty much get a kick out of them all! However, since I think this upcoming, wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving often gets overlooked by the overwhelming hoopla of the Christmas season, I wanted to recommend the perfect Turkey Day book! (Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, too, just AFTER Thanksgiving!)

What is the perfect Thanksgiving book for kids? Turk and Runt by Lisa Wheeler! It is a hilarious book about the turkey's at Wishbone Farm. Turk is the best of all the turkeys. His parents are so proud of his attributes and accomplishments. Runt, on the other hand, is the skinny, forgotten turkey of the family. BUT he knows his brother is a "goner!" on Thanksgiving Day! There are many activities that could be extensions with this book at school or it would be great for a bedtime story. It could be read to a wide variety of ages, so the whole family could read it together. I just love it! Yes, I know I am a nerd!

The family that reads together, stays together :)!!! Your kids are never too old to read to or with. :)
I am a sucker for books that are written for kids, but really the adults are the ones who get the jokes!
I have read this book to all of my classes and to my nephews! I promise, you'll be glad you have it! 

Be Grateful....for good books :)!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Proud Moment!!!

Ladies and Gentleman...

Match Article

I can say that it is hard to put into words what this title means for PHS Volleyball and SO MANY PEOPLE that are a part of this program! Like I mentioned in my previous post, it has taken a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, (& way too many years) to earn a state championship (& dynasty) like the this one. This was a victory for everyone in the PHS volleyball family!!!

So thankful and proud for PHS volleyball to be finally be able to relish in this moment!   

I am also proud of head coach (& BFF), TP!!! 
What an accomplishment for this amazing woman. 
Not only is she awesome coach, she is a stellar mommy and terrific friend! 

She landed herself 2A Coach of Year at the State Finals Banquet! 

I know what time, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice it takes day in a day out for her to coach this team because I have been a part of and watched her do it for many years!

Also, PHS earned a $1000 scholarship in the name of senior Abby Spitz for earning the Mental Attitude award! Way to go Abb! Mental Attitude Article

Proud moment for the players.
Proud moment for the coaches, past & present.
Proud moment for parents & extended family.
Proud moment for players' friends & classmates. 
Proud moment for PHS volleyball alumni.
Proud moment for Providence!!!

Tears of joy were rollingstreaming,  pouring out of my eyes this weekend out of pure happiness!

Now that we have claimed our first title, we have many more to claim in the years to come!
I can not wait for the future!

will forever remain infamous in PHS volleyball history, but now because of victory!
and I'm here to tell you...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Motivational Monday... 11/9!

Motivational Monday.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that it is the only thing that you can think about?

Like eat, drink, sleep that "thing?

Nothing could stop you from doing it.

There have only been a few things in my life like this...and this Motivational Monday post is about my love for volleyball! 

I like to think of my life in book format. For a while I am in one chapter and then when change occurs, that chapter ends and I go on to the next, and so on. As I continue "to grow" my book keeps getting thicker and thicker. Something that flows over into each and every chapter of my book is volleyball.

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with it. Bouncing the ball during my sister's volleyball games, begging anyone and everyone to pepper with me, waiting for the day that I too, could play! When this chapter ended, I played on...loving and learning the game. During this time, I started getting better and better and more competitive. Hour upon hour, practices, games, club ball tournament after club ball tournament. If you've ever loved a sport like this, you understand the commitment.

Commitment to Excellence. 

My volleyball filled life has taught me SO MUCH MORE than just the game of volleyball! 
It has taught me discipline, leadership, passion, patience, endurance and many more things.  
 I had many bumps along the way of accomplishing the goals I wanted for volleyball. Often these bumps would lead me in different directions than I'd ever even planned or imagined. 

Volleyball truly was my first love (& I love MANY things!)

Lots of people were around for the journey. Some picked me up, some brought me down. I made some lifelong friends and a few competitive enemies. I played in high school and then volleyball paid for my education in college. Then when I returned from college, I coached. That taught me a whole new understanding of the game. I think coaching made me a more knowledgeable player. I started to play in leagues and tournaments with some of my best friends. (That's about the best this "old lady" can do anymore!) In fact, joining a volleyball league was also my first baby step to making friends when I moved to California!

I have always made and continue to make the BEST MEMORIES playing volleyball!

The best and worst memory of all was 11.9.02
At the State Finals (OUR ULTIMATE GOAL!)...we lost in 5 games...
Game 5: 
I agree with Megan's Flashback Friday Post that the final point will forever live in infamy in my mind. 
I will never forget the look and sound of the crowd, the gut check that I felt before taking the court and knowing I would never put my pioneer jersey again.  #11

Why am I bring this up you wonder?

As 11.9.13 approaches, the Pioneer Volleyball team heads back to the State Finals.

I just feel it in my bones...THEY WILL BE STATE CHAMPIONS! 

This evokes so much emotion and passion in all of us who love this volleyball program. It has been referred to as a "cult" and a dynasty (which it definitely is) but I prefer the words family! Every player has been guided by remarkable coaches...first Dottie, then DeeDee and for the past 14 years, by one of my best friends...Terri! 

This victory will be for everyone who has made the PHS program what it is today. 
And these girls are the best team that have ever stepped on to the Dottie GZ Court! 
They deserve this!

 THIS IS IT!!!! ;) 

Motivational Monday is the day the pioneers use to get "motivated" during the season.

Thus my theme song back then and still today is what I leave to motivate you with on this Monday!