Monday, September 29, 2008

Marvelous Monday Mail

I'm not usually excited about Mondays, but today I am. I got up groggy as usual for a Monday and did my regular morning routine. I went out to get the mail and when I opened the mailbox was shocked to find it jammed full of mail. I had at least 10 envelopes to open, let alone 3 magazines plus some junk mail and advertisement postcards. I will give you a highlight of the wonderful mail I got today!

  • I got the latest issue of one of my favorite magazines- Ready Made
  • I also got Better Homes and Gardens, which came with a great insert full of coupons.
  • I got coupons for free entrees from Michelina's because I emailed them to let them know how much I enjoyed their frozen entrees.
  • I also got an AWESOME PG Brand Saver (Proctor & Gamble) coupon insert in the mail (because I filled out a survey) with coupons worth over $74-this is the same insert that was in yesterday's paper. Oh my gosh, I was in heaven yesterday clipping coupons and today when I got a duplicate of what I got yesterday in the paper I almost had a heart palpitation. They are awesome coupons!
  • I got 3 coupons for $1 off ANY Huggies product because I emailed them to let them know that I enjoyed their diapers and baby toiletry items. This sweet coupon deal means I can probably get some wipes for less than $1!
  • I got my Home Made Simple Coupon Booklet!!! Awesome coupons (like Mr. Clean, Swiffer, Cascade) that can be doubled, plus a coupon for a free item!
  • I also got a school fundraiser thing from two of my nephews. Really great magazine subscription rates. I may have to get something!
  • I got an insurance claim "receipt" saying that some lab work for Benny wasn't covered and I may owe my provider $1.00. Yes, just a buck. :-)
  • Ben's pay stub :-D
  • Vehicle insurance statement/bill and its $20 less than last month's bill!
  • Verizon bill arrived and we have a credit of over $200, so we don't have to pay anything this month. How did that happen? We must have paid twice one month. It's pretty awesome, though.

And then I check my email and I have a friend request on facebook from someone I knew when I was like 12 or 13! She served a mission in my home ward and I would go on splits with her and she was just the sweetest sister missionary and I had been wondering what had happened to her.

Oh, just lots of fun and happy surprises today for me! I hope this is a forecast for the rest of the week! All I need now to make this day almost to perfection is some chocolate! Hehehehe

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Cricket and the Package

We have a cricket in our basement-in the laundry room (hence yesterdays nasty post about crickets). It hasn't stopped chirping since yesterday. Well, I'm sure it has at some points, but for the most part it has gone on and on and on.

At one point it was very close to the door from the laundry/storage area to the finished part of the basement and I was freaking out that if I opened the door it would jump on me. So I waited for Ben to get home and he went in to see if he could find it. It was still loud, but no where to be seen, so who knows, maybe it got itself into the wall. The point is I want it dead and if Ben couldn't find it, I sure as heck am not going to look for it myself. So all I can do now is cross my fingers that it dies quickly and SOON!

The noise is just horrible to me. Anyway, moving along....

I got an awesome package in the mail yesterday!! I ordered this free "kit" for moms from Quaker a couple of weeks ago and had completely forgotten about it. It arrived yesterday late afternoon and I brought it and opened it. To my understanding it was supposed to be a sample and a coupon for a granola bar or something.

To my surprise it was much more than that!!

2 sample sized boxes of Cinnamon Life Cereal
2 whole granola bars, the new Nature something or other that Quaker has just put out
2 sample sized packages of Chocolate Granola Mix
1 WHOLE SIZED box of 8 granola bars-the kind of box you'd buy at the store
1 cool blue bracelet for Benny (like the Livestrong plastic band bracelets)
1 coupon for $2 off a Quaker product.

This was big! I was already a fan of Quaker brand, but if they went through all this trouble to send me these awesome freebies, they've definitely got my business! It made my day and drowned out the nasty cricket for a while!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

Well today is a special day in my heart. 7 years after 9/11. I remember it like it was yesterday. I actually dreamt it happened the night before it did.

I was preparing to move out here to Indiana and I had been going over to Boulevard East, this strip of street that's right on a cliff that overlooks the Hudson River and has full view of the New York skyline. Anyway, I had been going to Blvd. east to think and be alone. Preparing to leave, knowing that it would never be the same to be back there. So I had planned on taking pictures of the skyline and the night before 9/11 was when I had planned on doing it. I got to Blvd. east, which was only 2 blocks up from my house and realized I forgot my camera at home. Feeling lazy I said to myself "Eh, I'll do it tomorrow, the skyline isn't going anywhere."

I had feelings of regret the next morning when the skyline was drastically different.

It was scary. The amount of helicopters and low flying jets over my roof was overwhelming. It felt like we were at war. I saw people walking waiting for the bus, people that had just gotten off the ferry down below Blvd. East. Some were covered in soot. Some looked frazzled and scared. I wanted to comfort everyone somehow, but yet I was in need of comforting, too.

I remember very vividly the smell. I'd never smelled burning flesh, but once I smelled it, I knew that's what it was. The winds were blowing fiercely south the next few nights and you couldn't open a window without smelling that awful smell. I could hear their voices, their screams, I could hear their fear. I had nightmares for years after.

I visited the memorials on Blvd. east that night. It was beautiful. The love and outpoor of comfort in the community. The candles, the respect, the love that was felt among strangers. I'll never forget it.

I'll never forget what it was like to visit Ground Zero, either. I went about 4 or 5 years after the tragedy. It was very emotional for me. More so than I expected it to be. I hope to be able to go back again really soon. It was almost a healing process. I stopped having as many nightmares after I had been there.

I knew of some people that died that day. I know of a little girl who died on one of the planes that hit the WTC.

I used to visit the WTC every week. I would take an extra ride on the PATH and get off to look around at the shops and stuff on my way home from school. It was very hard taking the PATH afterwards and seeing that the light for the WTC stopped didn't turn on anymore, or it was dimmed.

I'll never forget. I never want to forget.

God Bless America.

There's that empty spot. I hope the memorial will be finished soon so it can be filled again!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Wilbert Orlando Alonzo Jr.
My brother.
My friend.
He spoiled me and tickled me.
He left this earth 17 years ago.
I miss him still.
He was baby #2 for my parents.
The middle kid and the only boy.

How do I make him a part of my children's lives without being all weird about it? I mean, I guess its simple, no? Just talk to them about their uncle, my brother. Tell them what he was like and how tall he was and what he liked to do. I have many memories of him, but sometimes I feel that they're not enough. I try hard to remember more, or to remember things with more details, but it never changes. I have the same memories, they don't change.

I love hearing stories about him from my sister. She was very close to him, as they were only 2 years apart. She tells me about things they did when they were kids. Like the time they went through every nook and cranny of the house-inside the couches, under the beds, in closets, in coat pockets-all over-looking for loose change. They looked until they had enough to go to the corner grocery store and bought ice cream for the both of them.

Willie loved to skateboard. He loved to draw! He played football, too. I remember him getting his uniform on. Willie loved, loved, loved to dance! He would often go clubbing. He would listen to music really loud, too. His favorite kind of music was freestyle, back in the 80s. Some songs still always make me think of him. I still have some of his drawings. He loved to laugh and I also remember that one of his favorite shows on TV was "The Price is Right" we would watch it together on some mornings. I still remember some of the girlfriends he had. They were all very pretty. I also remember the way he ate. I remember very clearly the way he would chew his food and shovel it in his mouth! lol Willie would switch what side he would chew on several times within the same bite. Probably because his mouth was stuffed with food...he had to!

Willie was adventurous. He was brave and to me, seemed like he was never really afraid of anything. When he was 18 he decided he was going to move out. My mom begged him not to, but he was determined to be independent. So he moved out.

But he would come home every day to get his clothes ironed by my mom and to eat whatever my mom had made for dinner that day. He realized he had it good at home and he lived like a king, so he moved back very quickly. lol My mom loved it!

This is Willie with two of my mom's sisters. He loved going to Mexico to visit. I think this was the last time he went to Mexico before he died. I think it was a 1989 or 1990. Oh, what a lady killer. My aunts loved him, he was so sweet and attentive. He was a great nephew.

Can you believe this hairstyle was popular once? He's still a cutie, though. He loved to go camping. It was one of the last things he did with a group of his friends before he died.

I still have the last birthday card he ever gave me and the wrapping paper of the gift he gave me. It was for my 8th birthday and baptism. He took most of the pictures there. I remember how happy I was when he showed up!

I remember Willie big and strong and tall like this. He was in great physical shape. He worked out-I still remember all the equipment he had! He even appeared in some hotel brochures for some hotels in Cancun. This particular picture is in one of those.

This is the last picture that we know of that was taken of Willie before he died at 21 years of age. He was at a baseball game a few weeks before the motorcycle accident. He was a jeweler. I still have some of the jewelery pieces that he made. My dad wears a ring that Willie made, too. He made jewelery for my mom, too. He was such a lively person. I could literally go on for hours about the stories I remember and the many memories. He gave me a ferret, named Nina (well, it was actually his, but he let me play with her all the time). He would tickle me till I cried and throw me high up in the air so my head would hit the ceiling squares. Then my mom would yell at him. lol He even painted my nails once. He was my hero. He's my big brother. I love him.

I wish I had had more time with him. I wish Ben would have had the opportunity to meet him. But I know that he knows me and I know that he is around me. I feel him sometimes. I dream of him sometimes and I know that he still loves me. I didn't used to have a brother, I HAVE a brother. I am so grateful to know Heavenly father's plan for us. And I am indebted to Him for the opportunity to have an eternal family so I can be with Willie again someday.

This is what I will teach my children.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The cat's outta the bag

Well, the baby is asleep and I thought I'd pop in for a quick blog.

This weekend is finally gone! What relief! It was a big weekend for us, because we had been let know that Ben would be released from his calling as Branch President on Sunday. We both had nightmares during the week that Sunday never came, or that the Stake Presidency never showed up-something seemed to happen so that the release wouldn't come through. Sunday didn't arrive fast enough for me-the anxiety was very suspenseful. It was more than I wanted it to be.

Anyway, Sunday morning arrived and we both got up really early and went to church really early. Sacrament meeting started and I started getting butterflies in my tummy. After the sacrament hymn Pres. Connolly announced the changes. Oh my goodness, you could literally feel the shock in the room. After the sustainings, the new Branch presidency sat up front and Ben continued to conduct the meeting, per Pres. Connolly's request. Testimony meeting was now on the old and new Presidency. Ben was asked to speak first and he gave a great testimony. Then, I had the privilege of bearing my testimony next. As I went up there I felt light headed. I was so nervous! Anyway, I said all that my heart felt and showed support for the new Branch President. Afterwards the new counselors went up and gave their testimonies. Then we had the closing hymn.

My anxiety for this day wasn't only because I knew Ben was going to be released form his calling, but also because of the news the branch was going to get. Ben and I decided that when he gave his testimony on this day that he would announce to everyone that we are moving to New Jersey at the end of the year. Our families already knew of this decision and also some friends from church and Pres. Connolly, but no one in the branch knew. We didn't feel it was right for them to know yet, since we didn't know if Ben would be released soon or closer to the time of our leaving Indiana.

When Ben said those words-that we were moving out of Indiana at the end of they year, and that's why the change was made sooner, you could hear a pin drop. The room went silent. I think everyone was more shocked at hearing this news, than that of the changes in the Branch Presidency. It was almost eerie.

The relief that I felt after sacrament meeting was over was unbelievable. It was a literal feeling of weight being taken off my shoulders. No more hiding the fact that we're moving and plus, no more having to have the responsibility of knowing that Ben was in charge of this congregation. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't anxious for him not to be president anymore, but the responsibilities are consuming and I knew that Ben had his plate full. With going back to school and craziness at work and plus having to help take care of me and Benny while I'm preggy is a lot-let alone the meetings and staying after church and getting there early, and mutual and then phone calls and interviews and missionary exchanges and welfare issues and the list goes on and on-it was just a lot.
And on top of it all, we're getting things ready to move to the east coast. Phew! It tires me out just typing it!
We knew however, that if he wasn't released now that it was because that's the way Heavenly father wanted it and that we would be given the strength to deal with everything that we have.

It felt right, though. It felt comforting. I know this was the way He wanted it to be for us and for the branch.

No one at work knows about the move yet, and we're going to keep it that way a little longer.

This ride is over. It was so marvelous. We served the best we could. We saw people grow and learn and accomplish miracles. We'll never be a part of their lives the same way. We're leaving soon and when we do, our relationships with them will never be the same, either.

It's very Bittersweet. For Sure.

But thank goodness the weekend is over! :-)