Sunday, 15 December 2013

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

No noHello Everyone,

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow and that's what it did all weekend! So much for Christmas shopping!
Snowball cookies and chocolate crinkle  cookies

No worries...Do you smell what I smell?

Homemade cookies! I took advantage of being snowed in and decided to start my Christmas baking. Thank you Pinterest for the many delicious recipes...snowball cookies, thumbprint cookies, crinkle cookies...

I decided to give cookies this year as Christmas presents. It's the thought that counts, right? Homemade cookies from someone are more appreciated than a cheesy gift.

398, 399, 400! Give or take a few cookies, and let's not count the ones my family gobbled up when I wasn't looking!

Looking outside as far as the eye could see was a magical winter wonderland and inside the house was filled with Christmas cheer and the smell of homemade cookies!

Could life be any sweeter?

I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Turn on the Christmas music and spread some Christmas cheer, bake yourself happy, and look forward to 2014...

Laugh more, complain less, look at your glass as half full...

You are blessed, you are loved...

Cheers and God Bless,

Sandra







Monday, 9 December 2013

Framily Moments To Treasure Forever!

Hello everyone,
I apologize for the late post...under the weather! This weekend was a nonstop party fest with friends and family...Framily! I was having this conversation with my boys about spending time with family and friends and one of my sons said, "Our friends are like our family, because we love them like our family!" I told him that he was an old soul. He was confused and I explained to him that he has the wisdom like someone who has a lifetime of experience and lessons to teach, but only in a kid's body.

Sometimes I wonder who is the adult and who is the kid!

I'm not sure what happens over the holiday season, but sometimes it feels magical, like anything is possible. This is the time of the year when faith is renewed and we adults have the chance to experience this special magic through our kids' eyes. This pure innocence from our children reminds us of our childhood Christmases. This weekend reminded me of my childhood and the special moments I spent with my cousins and family friends. Even though we are all grownup now and lead our own lives, it's nice to reconnect with loved ones. There's something to be said about strong family bonds. Time may pass, but the closeness and bond never disappears. It's almost like "you pick up right where you left off."
But what happens if you never had anywhere to pick up from? If the bond is strong enough, then you start from the beginning and make enough memories and eventually you will have enough moments when  it feels like you pick up "right where you left off." This Christmas for me is one of renewed faith, forgiveness, and framily moments!
The countdown has begun...baking nonstop until Christmas, buying presents for friends and family, sharing special moments with loved ones...

What is your Christmas wish? My son's is to keep only the Christmas lights on the tree and mantle, light the Christmas candles, make hot cocoa with marshmallows, and snuggle on the couch while watching a cheesy Christmas movie!
I'm there! Where are you?
Go make Framily moments with the ones you hold closest to your heart!
God Bless,
Sandra

Sunday, 1 December 2013

My Mommy, My Hero!

Hello, everyone!

This week's post is dedicated to the most amazing, dedicated, loving individual I know...my mommy!

It's funny how I didn't realize until last week that my sister and I refer to our parents as mommy and daddy! Seems kinda juvenile, doesn't it?

Not to me! Who are we to judge other people? When were we given the god forsaken right to pass judgement on someone we thought was less than perfect.

"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!" Jesus Christ

My mommy is probably the only person I know who if given a stone, would be able to cast it first, but she would never do it. Do you know why? Because it isn't in her nature to judge other people.

I never realized this until recently when our family's life changed forever, especially for my mom! The news was shocking and unexpected. What was more unexpected was my mom's reaction. There wasn't anger and resentment, but only unconditional love. The unconditional love that only comes from a mother.

My mom always puts her needs behind everyone else's needs. She never asks for anything, she always does her best to keep everyone happy. Does she get taken for granted sometimes? Yes, and I am guilty.

I want to tell my mom how much she means to me, how much I love her, and appreciate everything she does for me and my family.

I just love this!Mom, you are the strongest and most forgiving person I know. I hope that one day I can follow in your footsteps and be the person you are.

When I grow up, I want to be just like you, mommy!

You are loved, you are blessed, you are an angel from above...

My mommy, my hero!

I love you,

Sandra



Sunday, 24 November 2013

Strength In Numbers!

Hello everyone,

It's been a week of reflection, of wondering how to make a difference when all seems helpless. I recently discovered that a member of my family has an incurable disease. When I heard the news, I was left feeling numb and dumbfounded, unable to process what I was just told!

I quickly did what every person does when they don't have a clue about something...I googled it! I tried to learn everything I could about this disease and discovered that even though we haven't found a cure, all is not hopeless.

I believe that every person has a mindset, that every person deals with life's unexpected events in different ways. Those of us who view the cup as half empty, are quick to give up, admit defeat, and have no hope for the future...I am this way, but I also have many people in my life that I go to, that say all the right things when tragedy strikes, lift me up, and tell me that everything will work  out. Strength in numbers!

I decided that I could do something, even though there isn't a cure for ALS yet! I decided to send a message to all my fam and friends about my idea. I want to start a team, raise money and awareness for this debilitating disease, and give hope to those who are living with ALS right now! I couldn't believe the response I got and look forward to walking 5 km with everyone in June.

Family and friends give us strength when bad things happen to us. I am blessed to have an amazing group of people in my life and count my blessings daily! With the recent addition to our family, I feel more blessed than ever. I have someone else I can lean on when I am not strong, someone who knows what to say and what to do when all hope is gone!

This season is a season of new beginnings, of counting my blessings, of laughing more and complaining less, of sharing old stories and making new memories with family and friends!

An interesting quote to keep in mind! #quotes #cancerGod Bless,

Sandra













Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Next Chapter Of Your LIfe!

Hello everyone,

I spent this weekend doing the usual things, cleaning, laundry, groceries...Oh no! I forgot to do groceries this weekend. Thanks to my husband who stopped by Costco to get the bare essentials. I also spent this weekend preparing for the next chapter in my life...

I think we go through life in stages. We go through our day the same way everyday and after awhile it feels monotonous, like we are having an out of body experience and watching our life pass right in front of us...

This is the moment when you need to 'give your head a shake' or have someone do it for you and just break out of this monotony because life is not meant for us to just pass through. It is meant for us to leave a mark, to make a difference, to inspire someone deeply...

Reminds me of my sweet friend who often says, 'Do the last thing God told you to (not 20 yrs ago); then do the next thing (not what He plans for you to do in the future; and just keep moving forward (in step)  with The Savior.' {loose paraphrase} Thanks M.R. for consistent encouragement & your friendship. I love you!Life is a series of events that lead us to the path we are meant to follow. I thought I was on my path this summer, but this was just a curve leading me to my path. Yes, you too have your own path. You know you are there when you start to look at things in your life differently. You start complaining less and appreciating more of what you have rather than of what you don't have...

I am at this point right now. I am starting the next chapter in my life and let me tell you...I am scared! Scared of the unknown. Scared of failing and disappointing myself most of all.

But, I am also excited to begin this next chapter in my life. To get to know long lost loved ones and make lasting memories. I feel like time has slowed down for me, and given me the opportunity to enjoy the now and not worry about what will be....

Stop looking in your past to figure out your tomorrow...

The next chapter in your life awaits...

Grab on with all your might...

And savour every moment!


God Bless,

Sandra









Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Best Things In Life Are Free!

Hi Everyone,

Who ever said that, "Nothing in this world is free?" Did you know that some of the best things in life are free? Like family. We don't decide who our family will be.  It is already decided, before we are even born. I just received some unexpected news last weekend about my family that has changed my life forever. At first, I was shocked and couldn't believe the news. And now? This is probably the best news I've received in a long time. I've realized above all that no matter what happens in life, your family always comes first. Family, I will always have your back! All of you! I promise!

Some other things in life that are free are hugs, kisses, laughter, and smiles. Life finds a way of getting in the way and we lose sight of these small gestures. Promise yourself that even though your life is so stressed right now, promise yourself that you will hug and kiss your family members, smile at a stranger, and laugh hysterically at a not so funny joke! You will feel better. I promise you!

One of my favourite things that are free is sleep! My husband can account for this. Every chance I get, I will find a way to fall asleep on the couch. Some of my best sleeps are on my couch. I'm not sure what's been going on lately, but I have been feeling more tired than usual. I hope this is temporary because I feel like I don't have the energy to do all the things I love to do. I am making a promise to myself and my husband that I will only sleep in my bed so that I can do other things I enjoy...

Best things in life are freeMaking memories is another thing in life that is free. Remember, it's not the quantity of time, but the quality of time that matters most. You cannot go back in time and wish you had spent more time with family and friends. Make the time now. Go out and make memories with the ones you love and care for the most. I have memories from my grandparents that will last me a lifetime. I am the person today because of them and I intend to continue their family traditions with my family so that one day, they too can have lasting memories.

The season is upon us. Let us be thankful. Let us be kind to others. Let us go out and make some memories, hug a little longer, laugh a little louder, and smile from ear to ear just because...

God Bless,

Sandra













Friday, 1 November 2013

Expect the Unexpected!

Hello everyone!

Hope you had a scary Halloween! Despite the downpour and unexpected car trouble that delayed me and messed up the rest of my husband's day, Halloween turned out to be a good day. The kids at school enjoyed games, crafts, delicious apple cake (my mom's recipe), and roasted pumpkin seeds.

For me, October has been a month of unexpected events and revelations. I've decided to put this month behind me and look forward to the holiday season. What? Is it too early to think about Christmas? Apparently not at the dollar store. They've had Christmas decorations up next to the Halloween decorations. I made it a point to walk past this section until Halloween was over.

I've also decided to look past the unexpected events of this month and have decided to turn a bad situation into one of opportunity. Everything happens for a reason! Sometimes life decisions are made that can change our lives forever. The moment we decide to do a 180, is sometimes just the first step that will ultimately lead us to our greater purpose in life. I feel I am here now. I am in a crossroads with several paths to follow. The hard part is deciding which path to take. Do I take the path ahead of me, the one to the left or the one to the right?

Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.Only time can tell...Take the path less traveled? Maybe. One thing I know for certain is that it will always feel right when the right decision is made. You get a sense of comfort, of clarity when the right decision is made. I will know when I get there...

Uncertain roads lie ahead, new opportunities arise, the future looks brighter.

Expect the unexpected. Expect dreams lost so long ago to become a possibility!

I will!

God Bless,

Sandra

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Mom, Just Suck It Up!

"Mom, just suck it up!" was said to me by my son Joseph the other day. Can you believe it? How dare my son talk to me that way? I guess I haven't been doing a great job at raising him after all...or have I? I was stunned when these words came out and realized that this time my son was teaching me an important life lesson! I also realized that I am doing my job as a parent and that it's starting to pay off. He has been listening to my constant nagging and preaching and is on his way to becoming a responsible, respectful, and empathetic individual.

As we already know, life can throw us one curve ball after another. It seems lately that I've had one thrown to me after another. Just as I get up from being knocked down, I'm down again. I keep telling myself that this is temporary, that I have a lesson to learn, that God only gives you what you can handle...

I was told yesterday by a throat specialist that nodules have formed on my vocal cords. This occurs when a person uses their voice excessively and improperly. Can you believe it?  He recommended that I try not to talk very much and also suggested I go to a therapist that will teach me to use my voice properly so not to further damage these nodules.

Being there for the children of the world, our children, and being a good role model is so important. They ARE our planet's future. We can learn from them, too. Live your life with the honesty, eyes and heart of a child. Never lose that spirit, never become bitter, always ask questions and always dare to dream.Hello, I'm a teacher! Kinda hard with preschoolers! This may be a blessing in disguise for me. I intend to tell the children that I can only talk in a low voice and that I need them to listen very carefully. This will hopefully discipline them to talk in a quieter voice. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Joseph, I will take your advice and try very hard to 'Suck it up!' when life gets hard. Thanks again for being the inspiration for this post!

The road has ups and downs and curves for now, but it will be straight again. Life is too short to stress over the stuff we cannot control. The best time of the year is just around the corner...bringing renewed faith and hope in all of us!

Have a glass of wine and toast yourself!

Cheers,

Sandra


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day!

Hello Everyone,

Sorry it took so long to publish this post. I realized this weekend that I need to start making a realistic plan. There are not enough hours in the day to complete everything I need to do. I've decided to divide my wants from my needs and come up with a weekly plan of what I need to do and what I want to do. Sometimes, the need to do's go right out the window when unexpected things happen in life, which happens very often.

Planning to do something is easier said than done! Lately, I find myself setting very small goals for myself so I don't lose my motivation to do all the things on my 'want to do' list. The 'need to do' list is everything you need to do on a weekly basis (clean the house, laundry, and grocery shopping), all of which are not rewarding.

Don't sweat the small stuff.My 'want to do' list takes a little more strategic planning. I want to try a new recipe on a weekly basis. I have to say that I am mighty proud of this accomplishment. Last weekend, I made cabbage rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, and cranberry sauce from scratch. My family loved everything, particularly my brother. A compliment from him means a lot since he works in the food industry and my sister-in-law can start her own cooking channel from all the amazing dishes she makes.

So, what happens if I can't accomplish everything on my 'want to do' list? Nothing! I often tell myself, 'Rome wasn't built in a day', so get over it! And, so should you. We need to prioritize what's important and what's not.  We need to accept that not everything will get done and that's okay. It will get done eventually...

Take a deep breath when things are too hard and you feel overwhelmed. If you're lucky like me, you have a wonderful spouse who balances you and always finds a way to make everything better. I have learned to see life through his eyes and realize that sweating the small stuff is a waste of time and takes up too much energy.

The road to fulfillment is around the corner. Put yourself in fifth gear and enjoy the ride!

Cheers,

Sandra


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Pay It Forward!


Hello Everyone!

Hope you are busy preparing for Thanksgiving this weekend, well for those of us in Canada. Stuffing is prepared, cabbage rolls are made, pumpkin cheesecake is ready to refrigerate for tomorrow's celebration, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies will have to wait until tomorrow since I forgot the ginger. You can't win them all! Though, I still have time to write my blog!

Pay It Forward ...This evening, I stuffed everyone in my mini van and we headed to church! Four boys all under the age of 12, my mom, sister, and myself. I was sitting listening to the Gospel and wondering what will I write about this week! And then, it came to me. Thank you to the priest in Elmvale for inspiring my next post!

He was talking about a movement I never heard about before called "Pay it forward." It started from a couple who were inspired by a girl with cancer that was fund raising to help other children with cancer. This couple decided to do random acts of kindness to three strangers. They didn't expect anything in return, only for these strangers to do random acts of kindness to three other people and ask them to continue these acts to three more people. Hence the phrase, "Pay it forward."

How great is this? If everyone would buy someone a coffee, help an elderly person with their groceries, or pay for someone's meal, and ask for nothing in return, except that they perform acts of kindness to three more people, our world would be a better place for our children.

Yes, I know, life is busy and stressful enough and you don't have time to be kind and think of others before yourself. But, we should make the time. Just like we should make the time to teach our children this important life lesson. Helping others less fortunate than ourselves, raising money for a worthy cause, and just being kind to random strangers.

So, this Thanksgiving, after you give thanks for all you have and count your blessings, make a plan to perform three random acts of kindness and keep this movement going: Pay it forward!

Maybe one person can't change the world, but one person in every family can make a difference!

God Bless,

Sandra

Friday, 4 October 2013

Let Us Be Thankful!

Hello Everyone,

With just over a week before Thanksgiving, we are all busy making plans for this long anticipated family holiday. This holiday in particular is extra sweet for me since it's the only time when our whole family is together! Nine grandchildren under the same roof! Can life get any better? Nope! This is when family traditions are started and lasting memories are made. One tradition that I look forward to yearly is when my brother tries to pick up the boys at the same time. They are 12 now and both over 100lbs, but my brother can still lift them up! Maybe he should try to lift them up this year before we eat our Thanksgiving meal.


Be thankful poemWhat are you thankful for? I am thankful for the obvious, my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my friends, and my extended family. I am thankful for my health and the health of the ones I love and care for. I am thankful for all of God's creations. I am thankful to have found my calling in life and that I've had the privilege to inspire and shape the mind's of over 400 children, thus far. I am thankful for my grandparents who shaped me into the woman I am today. I am thankful to be one of the many this weekend who will run for a great cause: to end breast cancer forever! Breast cancer has touched all of our lives in one way or another. Maybe directly, or maybe a family or friend has had a difficult journey which they won or sadly lost. I am thankful for today's technology and the ability to catch this form of cancer in its earliest stages.  

Next weekend, begin a new tradition of asking each family member what they are thankful for and count your blessings! I am sure that if you look closely, you will find plenty to be thankful for.

I know I will!

God Bless,

Sandra

Friday, 27 September 2013

I Am Too Blessed To Be Stressed!

Hello again,

I was pinning the other day, in search of a perfect dessert for Thanksgiving when I found a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake. I haven't tried it out, but judging from my track record with Pinterest, I have yet to find a recipe that wasn't delicious! I want to thank this website not only for the recipe but for the inspiration for my next post, "I am too blessed to be stressed!"
thekitchenismyplayground.com/2011/11/creamy-pumpkin-cheesecake.html

Sometimes when life throws you one curve ball after another, something happens to let you stop abruptly and take stock of the good things in life. This happened to me the other day while looking for a cheesecake recipe. Usually when I choose a recipe, I like to read the person's blog and the story behind the featured recipe. Tracey was talking about the stresses of Christmas and all the preparation that goes into planning for a perfect Christmas, which of course includes baking. She mentioned how that even if Christmas gets stressful, count your blessings and if all else fails, eat cheesecake!

This phrase has stuck with me all week and I intend to try very hard to remember it when life gets too hectic. I am trying to prepare my children for adulthood by encouraging them to communicate their fears and frustrations to me so that I can give them the tools to deal with the everyday stresses of life. Easier said then done, especially when they see their mom having mini meltdowns. I explain to them that this is my way to deal with stress. I have to get it out verbally and then I begin coming up with a plan to do something about it, rather than just complaining. Children learn from example, so I intend to reiterate this advice to my children every chance I get. 

One, two, three, four...Oh, sorry, I was just counting my blessings! I have plenty to be thankful for and so should you! This Thanksgiving, start a new tradition with your family and ask each of them to share why they are blessed. I am sure that if you are truly blessed like me, you and your family will share special moments together and this will be a tradition that everybody looks forward to each year.

.
So when life becomes stressful as it always does, remember to take a deep breath, close your eyes and begin chanting, "I am too blessed to be stressed, I am too blessed to be stressed." Before you know it, all that stress will melt away and all that is left is a better you. Now you are finally living life to the fullest and seeing the glass as half full.

Counting your blessings, precious moments with those who matter the most, and laughing more with your children.


Life is good...never forget it!

God Bless,

Sandra    




Saturday, 21 September 2013

Calling All Parents!

Hello, everyone!

One of the hardest and most rewarding jobs is being a parent. Growing up, I always believed my parents were tough on me and didn't let me do anything. I remember telling my aunt that I wished she was my mother...I was 12 and didn't know what I know today.

My parents are the most loving, selfless, and dedicated parents and grandparents. They taught me strong family values, how to be respectful of others, and to take pride in every job I had. When I wasn't obedient, I got a few slaps.  Did this damage me as an adult? Not at all! I learned the most important life lesson...to treat people the way I wanted to be treated and that's with respect.

Having my own children made me realize why my parents did what they did. They made so many sacrifices for us growing up and still do to this day. All the words of advice that my parents gave me when I was growing up (I wasn't listening much then), I am telling my children today.

Today, times are different. Parents are different. Parents feel that being their child's friend rather than their parent is better. CALLING ALL PARENTS!!! Where are you and what are you thinking? Our job is not to be our kids' friends, our job is to make our children independent adults, with strong family values and morals, that are respectful, trustworthy, and caring.

Kids today are growing up with too much. Kids today have too much information. Kids today are not kids long enough!

Why are we taking their childhood away so soon? Why are we letting them decide what to say and what to do? I've met many children during my teaching career who tell their parents what to do and the parents let them decide everything. Why? Because we don't want to hurt their feelings and feel that spoiling them will make them love us more!

Guess what? Kids are little people. Treat them like little people.Show them respect and they will respect you. Our kids need us to teach them right from wrong. We need to make them aware of the many dangers that exist today, and keep them safe. We must also allow them to make their own mistakes and learn from them in their own time. We must always tell them that we love them no matter what, even when we are disappointed in them.

So why do parents today tell their children that they are great at everything, even when they are not? Why do parents today never make their children accountable for their actions? This generation of children are growing up thinking they are entitled to everything, that it's always about them, and that they can disrespect anyone because they were never made aware that this is unacceptable in the real world. They will get a huge shock when they reach adulthood and realize that life is hard or will they?

Not if mommy and daddy will always bail them out and never allow them to take responsibility for their actions.

Is it too late? Not at all! Start by giving your kids two choices. From the time they learn to say that two letter word "NO!", this is the point in their lives that they realize they are in control of us. For example, tell them,"You can wear red socks or blue socks." This makes children feel they have a choice, and they never know that these choices are really made by their parents. From the moment they disrespect you, this is the moment you explain to them this manner of speaking is unacceptable. Once children learn from a young age that they are accountable for their actions and that their actions have a consequence, they begin their journey to becoming an independent thinker and doer.

Parents, close your eyes and imagine your children as adults...Are you proud of them? If you answer, "Yes", then you are doing your job as a parent. Trust me, your kids will thank you one day for being tough on them, and allowing them to make mistakes and take responsibility for their actions.

I did. I even apologized to my mom for saying what I did to my aunt. My mom is the most dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother. She has taught me unconditional love.
A little something for my precious three daughters that I do love more than life itself...

Our children, our future!

Teach them well and let them lead the way!

God Bless our children!

Sandra

Friday, 13 September 2013

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining!

Hello everyone!

This week has been an emotional roller coaster ride that I wasn't planning on boarding but had no choice in the matter!

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, that we are all destined to follow our chosen path, and that there is someone, or in my case, many people, watching over us, when bad things happen.

Do you believe in divine intervention, or in guardian angels? I do! I  have lost many loved ones over the years, who are now my guardian angels! I've had many experiences occur in my life that could not be explained and in hindsight, I have come to accept that some other force was at play.

Life throws us one curve ball after another. Some we catch and move on, while others hit us with a full force and send us on a tailspin, feeling motionless and unable to process what has just occurred.

When God closes a door, he opens a window. Have faith, things will get better! How many times have we heard these words? I have and yet it is sometimes hard to believe that things will get better. But, they always do. Do you know why? Because when we are surrounded by family and friends who are supportive when bad things happen to us, we feel a sense of hope, that anything is possible, that every obstacle will be overcome, and that every "cloud has a silver lining."

I am thankful that the turmoil in my family this week has passed, that all is well, and that things can only get better! The power of prayer and guardian angels is a wonderful thing!

Take a deep breath, count your blessings, don't sweat the small stuff, and remember to never go to bed mad at anyone, because you never know what tomorrow will bring...

God Bless!
I will never let you fall..
I'll stand up with you forever..
I'll be there for you through it all..
Even if saving you sends me to heaven..

-YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL-
                                                    RODS :)
Sandra


Friday, 6 September 2013

My "Oh My Gosh" List!

Hello again!

Summer vacation is done, the kids and teachers (me alike) are back at school! I'm not one of those parents singing the Staples jingle, "It's the most wonderful time of the year...they're going back" since this also includes me.

This week has been a week of reflection, of self-discovery, of a new journey. Expect the unexpected in every "nook and cranny", around every corner, because you never know when someone will do something unexpected.

I had this happen to me this week by my children. As parents, we try our best to raise our kids with values and morals, to respect everyone, and to apply all this knowledge one day when they become members of our community. I always tell my children, "It's what you guys do when I'm not around that counts." My first "Oh my gosh" moment occurred on Tuesday evening. I didn't realize then that this event would become an 'unexpected' precious moment. I wanted to spend some quality time with my sons after their first day at school, so I decided to take them for ice cream to celebrate their first day of grade 7. The unexpected moment happened when Michael pulled out his wallet just as I was about to pay and said, "Mom, I'm buying you ice cream!" I couldn't believe my ears!

In a blink of an eye, I realized that my boys were on their way to adulthood. Where did the time go? Just yesterday, I remember taking them home from NICU after they reached their target weight of 6lbs.

The second unexpected moment happened on Thursday. I called home and asked the boys to walk over to McDonald's to meet me for dinner. I watched them from a distance as they crossed the street, holding my breath with every step they made, and trying not to hinder their independence. After dinner, Joseph realized he left his hat behind. As he was reentering McDonald's, I witnessed another 'Oh my gosh" moment. He opened the door for an elderly woman. When he returned to the car I commended him on his good manners and exclaimed, "Joseph, you just got 100 points on my "Oh my gosh list!" The look on his face made my heart skip a beat! I decided from this moment that I would begin my very own, "oh my gosh list" for myself, to remind me of what really matters.

 Unexpected moments happen all the time, and yet it's the worst unexpected moments that seem to affect us.  Why is that? We have lost sight of what's important. When these moments happen, we must grab onto them tightly and enjoy every unexpected moment as it unfolds before our eyes...


Don't blink or you will miss it!

Enjoy every moment,

Sandra



Saturday, 31 August 2013

My Big Fun Romanian Wedding!

Hello or Servus (in Romanian),

I just returned from Europe and spent almost a month with family and friends in Romania , seeing many beautiful places, learning to make many delicious Romanian dishes, and learning to speak broken Romanian, which makes my family laugh uncontrollably.

I also had the opportunity to experience an authentic Romanian wedding and had the honour of standing in for the bride and groom as their "little godmother." This has nothing to do with a person's size. During a traditional Romanian wedding, the bride and groom have two sets of godparents, one set from each side. I am so grateful that I was standing next to the bride when my almost "most embarrassing moment" would have occurred if it wasn't for the "big godmother" standing next to me. During the ceremony, we were required to hold a very large candle, that had a white sash wrapped around it, which connected the bride, groom, and respective godparents. As we were instructed to follow the priest in a circle, my very long, pink dress got stuck underneath my heel! I tried to inconspicuously pull it out, but I was not successful. My worst nightmare was about to happen...Thank goodness for fairy godmothers because mine was walking behind me, and pulled my dress out just in time!

Next, came the party and boy do Romanians like to party and dance! We ate amazing food and danced to many traditional Romanian dances until our feet ached!




Looking back at pictures from the wedding gives me much joy, but more sadness. It was difficult counting the days left after the wedding because I knew it would be time for us to leave our Romanian family...

Memories, that I will keep close to my heart, precious moments shared that will last a lifetime. We may be separated by an ocean, but the close bond we acquired over such a short amount of time, despite the language barriers, will always remain!

Sharing stories in broken Romanian, learning new family recipes for our Family Book, sitting around the table surrounded by the people closest to us...Love lives here, too!

I will post Romanian recipes that I learned first hand in future posts!  And by the way, Romanians don't use Windex for everything, they use sour cream! Yum!

La revedere! Til' next time,

Sandra



Sunday, 4 August 2013

Fun In the Sun!

Welcome back!

What is it about summer? The days seem longer and the memories are endless. Spending time with loved ones during the summer is something we look forward to every year and this year was no exception. Except the weather hasn't been so great and from what I hear from others around the world, summer overseas doesn't feel like summer at all.

But, does this matter to me? Not at all! This summer feels different, more relaxed, almost peaceful. Sitting on the beach this summer was pure bliss because I got to spend some quality time with my mom and sister. The kids despite their usual squabbles had a great time as you can see in the picture below!
Building castles with cousins
I had the opportunity to begin our family book with the kids. The kids were very enthusiastic and helpful during this process. I am very excited to begin my new project and intend to involve the kids in the whole process. It was also great to ask my parents about their great grandparents, though I may need to confirm some specific names and dates from my cousins in Italy who have already made a Family Tree. I am in the process of getting family recipes old and new, from my family and from our extended Romanian family and will be sharing these recipes in future posts! Yum!

Our Family Traditions.

Our Family Tree
One of my favourite family traditions is to spend time together at my parents' home up North, or our family cottage. We've had this house for more than 30 years and it has over the years, become a 'sanctuary' for me. I tell my kids all the time how fortunate they are to have a place to escape to, a place to get away from the everyday stresses of life, a place to reconnect with family and friends. I think they will appreciate our family cottage when they become adults and begin to bring their families up North.

I am raising my children to understand the importance of responsibility by explaining to them that if they want to keep the cottage in our family, then they need to help with the daily chores and the regular maintenance of the house. Who said that pulling out weeds isn't fun!



Thanks to my mom, she has the boys on a daily routine of fixing breakfast, emptying the dishwasher, and collecting the eggs from the chickens. The boys have a lot of free time, too! It's great that they have the freedom to ride their bikes around the subdivision, go to the tennis courts and play a few rounds, or just chill at home and chat with their cousins about what they will build on the beach that day!

My dad has been teaching the boys how to grow vegetables in his garden. Next to his family, this is his pride and joy. He wakes up early in the morning everyday to do whatever he does to grow his delicious vegetables. We have a rule in our family, "Eat whatever is grown in Nonno's garden. Look at all the wonderful garlic, 400 in total! I told the boys how important it is to learn how to grow vegetables rather than buying them in the supermarket.

400 garlic planted by Nonno
Nonno with the grandkids learning how to grow vegetables.
Next to his family, this is Nonno's pride & joy!
The days of summer, hot yet long lasting, lazy days at the beach, sharing stories and spending quality time with family. Sadness is setting in as the days are getting shorter and the summer is coming to an end too soon...

Enjoy it while it lasts!

 I'm in Europe right now trying to finish this post in Romania. The connection is not very good. I am in the courtyard where the connection is the best.  My next post will be about my trip to Romania visiting with family.

Cheers,

Sandra




Friday, 26 July 2013

Choosing Our Battles!

Hello Everyone!

Doesn't life sometimes feel like a battlefield? We win some, and we lose some! From childhood, we instantly learn that winning is something good and losing isn't. We try and teach our children that winning isn't everything, but they know better!

Is winning at a board game and winning an argument the same? I think so. When you win at something, others acknowledge your accomplishment and congratulate you, while others become infuriated because they wanted to win.

The same occurs when people argue.
Why do we argue? Is it to prove our point, to justify a decision made, to defend someone else, or is it just to be right, even when we know we are at fault?

All the above.
Recognizing when we are wrong is hard for most of us to admit. For some of us, we learn how to solve conflicts by compromising, by being the better person and admitting we are at fault, or by diffusing the argument before it goes too far! For the rest of us, we never learn how to deal with conflict!

We soon recognize at some point in our lives that in order to have peace, we need to choose our battles and walk away when conflicts arise!
This may be difficult with the people in our lives that know how to push our buttons and say the right thing to set us off and they learn this at a really young age.

They say that the people who we argue with the most, are the people who are most like us. I have a few of those in my life and boy do they drive me crazy!

I realized recently that this is part of the learned behavour we have all acquired since childhood and I've also realized that this learned behavour can be changed. We can change how we react to conflict and create new pathways in our brain and begin to solve issues in our lives in a healthy manner rather than a destructive one!

Difficult? Yes. Possible? Definitely!

Choose your battles! Let go of the little fights, otherwise you will find yourself surrounded by conflict all day, everyday!

Sometimes life has to hit us over the head with a brick before we realize our mistakes and learn that if we don't break this cycle, we will pass these negative behavours onto our children.

Children Learn What They Live Poem by Dorothy Law Nolte


Pass on life skills to our children to build their independence. Pass on effective communication skillls to build their confidence. Pass on your unconditional love and they will love themselves completely and then be capable of forming long lasting and loving relationships.

Children learn what they live, so let's give them the necessary tools to live their lives full of joy, love, and success!

Enjoy,

Sandra




Saturday, 20 July 2013

Bake Me Happy!


Hello, Everyone!

I would like to share my passion with you! Baking!

Have you ever met someone who didn't enjoy baking, or eating something homemade? Of course not! Like I mentioned in my first post, we need to surround ourselves with things and people that inspire us, that give us passion, that give us a purpose in life!

I found my passion with the help of Pinterest. Thank you, Pinterest for inspiring me to discover this passion that already existed. I found the recipes below (follow link) on Pinterest and spent countless hours reading comments and suggestions from people like you and I and discovered many recipes that have now become family traditions!

I discovered over the past months that baking is an art, a creation, an expression of oneself. I felt my love of baking in everything I created, in every piece of dough I kneaded, in every cookie I rolled, and in every cake I frosted! It's an indescribable feeling that I get after baking, equal to how you feel after you exercise, or when you see the joy of learning ignited in a child for the very first time! These feel-good endorphins are released in your body and make you feel like you can accomplish anything and overcome any obstacle!

The first time my nephew ate cake without eggs was a moment to cherish forever! This picture says it all!

"I can eat cake now!"Depression Cake: sweetlittlebluebird.com

I love that I can put a smile on someone's face, that I can bake someone's favorite dessert. These cream puffs were made for my uncle while he was in the hospital. The joy on his face was worth the many attempts to get this recipe right! I hope to bake these 'little pieces of heaven' for him when he fully recovers!

Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Cream & Bailey's recipenewz.com decorated by my son!

Seeing the look in many childrens' eyes and their mouths opening wide in anticipation of these yummy treats! Words can not describe this moment!

Mexican Wedding Cookies! from Hanielas.com

My first attempt at making a specialty cake for the love of my life! The look on his face after his first bite ignited my passion for baking and cooking!

Italian Cream Cheese Cake  lynn-southernwithatwist.blogspot.com

Finding something that inspires us, that gives us passion, allows us to live a fulfilled life surrounded by  loved ones, who share in our joys and sorrows.

Sharing stories around the dinner table, stories of the past, stories of the future, sharing food made from loving hands, recipes shared from the past for future generations to enjoy. Passing down family values and traditions that will last a lifetime, instilling strong family ties from one generation to the next...



Zebra Cake: recipebyphoto.com, I used Depression cake recipe!

Banana Cake bakeorbreak.com

"Bake someone happy" and take a picture in your mind that will last a lifetime...inspiring you to be the 'best possible' person you can be!

Life is short...make it count!

Enjoy,

Sandra










Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

Hello, everyone!

The good, the bad, and the ugly...wasn't that a great movie? Thanks to my big brother, I watched every guy movie growing up!

We all have loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and random people who bring these wonderful traits out in us.

How do you deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly days of everyday life? The good days are 'easy peezy lemon squeezey' as we often say in my classroom. It's the bad and the ugly days that often make you scratch your head and wonder if you handled that situation properly.

Family is Love
Life is what you make it! The people in our lives determine how we live our life and what decisions we make.  Like I said in my last post, "you are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with...so get rid of those who make you feel bad?

Aren't the people who are the closest to us often the people who treat us the worst? Why is that? So, do we get rid of them? Do we cut ties with family or friends who bring the worst out in us, who make us feel bad?

No...of course not or sometimes...depending on the person!
Family is everything, remember? Or is it? When we have a heated argument with someone, whether a family member or a friend, how does it usually end? You say or do  things that are hurtful, sometimes unforgivable...right? What happens next? Do days pass before you speak to one another?

How strong are your family ties, your relationship with the closest people in your life?

I have strong family ties...sometimes so strong that it's suffocating...but that's okay...do you know why? Because I am surrounded by love...love from my parents...more than I realize, love from my children...who love me no matter what, love from my husband...God he must really love me with all my daily 'drama' moments! Love from my lil' sis who often has to give my 'head a shake' and make me see the whole picture...and love from so many other family members and friends!

I had an ugly day the other day that has left me sleepless at night and feeling not so proud of myself. Guess what? I AM HUMAN! And so are you. We are allowed to have bad and sometimes ugly days. There is a reason for our actions and reactions. Maybe stress from work or home, a sick loved one, a failed marriage...whatever the reason, we tend to take it out on the closest people in our lives!

Not acceptable...but we do it anyway! This is learned behavour that has been instilled in us from childhood. We learn from example, though this is not something we want to pass onto our children.
Can we change this behavour? It depends on the person. Once you accept that your parents or grandparents are set in their ways, then the rest is up to you. Change the reaction, diffuse the argument, be the better person and walk away before it gets out of control. It is possible, but difficult!

"Learn to love without condition.  Talk without bad intention.  Give without any reason.  And most of all, care for people without any expectation." #inspiring #inspirationWith strong family ties and close friendships comes love, respect, and most of all, forgiveness. We forgive the ones we love because we know they are human and are allowed to have bad and sometimes ugly days. Once we realize that saying and doing hurtful things towards the people we love is unacceptable, we begin to fill our days  with wonderful memories and share moments that will last a lifetime.

The good, the bad, the good again, sometimes ugly but less often...the cup is only half full, following the path you are meant to follow...

Love lives here...surround yourself in it and count your blessings!

Enjoy,

Sandra






Monday, 8 July 2013

I Love You No Matter What!

This is a special post dedicated to my children!

Today, 12 years ago, my life changed forever! Why? Because two angels from above were sent to me...to me! Can you believe it! After many years of waiting and I got two! Miracles do happen...I look at them everyday and count my blessings!

Happy Birthday Joseph and Michael! You are loved by all of us!

I love you no matter what! These are words that I tell my boys everyday! Words that were passed down from my parents to me!

Celebrating at the cottage!

What do these 6 words mean? I love you no matter what you do or what you say. You will test me throughout the years, but that's okay. I did the same thing when I was your age to your grandparents.We share something together: a strong family bond between past and future...this bond is unbreakable because it is held together by unconditional love, you know what I mean...loving someone no matter what. This kind of love is different from any other love you will experience....it is deeper...the love between a mother and a child cannot be described, but it can be felt in many ways...in a hug, a kiss, a smile, with encouraging words...you will know and feel that you are loved...

Thank you Michael and Joseph for choosing me as your mother! I promise you both that no matter what happens over the years, my love for you will always be the same. I promise to be by your side in good times, but mostly in bad times. I will be the wind beneath your wings that lifts you up when you shall fall. I will tell you that no matter how hard things get, things always work out...things always get better when you have people who love you by your side...

I will love you no matter what Michael & Joseph!

Enjoy


 Love, Mom

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Doing the Right Thing or Not?


hard to do
Welcome back!

Did you ever find yourself faced with a difficult decision? A decision that could ultimately change your life forever? A decision that left you wondering and asking yourself, "Am I doing the right thing or not?"

I have... and many times throughout my life. I recently had to make a decision that was difficult since there were too many emotional attachments involved and years of wonderful memories to give up. I often struggled with this decision and asked myself if I was doing the right thing.

It was a long process that lasted almost two years before I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and told myself, "Everything happens for a reason." I made this decision more than a month ago, and though it has been difficult for me and the people involved, I realized that I was meant to begin this new chapter in my life...

Doing the right thing or not! Yes, I've always tried doing the right thing in my life. Decisions like getting married or getting divorced or leaving a job you loved after many dedicated years. Difficult? Yes! Yet, feeling a sense of peace after the fact...

What is it that makes us do the right thing? Our conscience? Other people's opinions? Wondering who this will ultimately affect? I think a bit of each. Then what makes us decide to not do the right thing?

Envy, anger, not wanting others to be happier than ourselves? Maybe...think about it and ask yourself if you did this recently. Did you get angry at someone in your life because you weren't thinking about their happiness but of yours instead? Did you resent them for making a decision that wasn't about you and your future, but of their future and well-being? If you answered yes, then ask yourself why are you not doing the right thing now? What is stopping you? Do you feel good about your decision? Probably not!

Life is too short...but not too short! You still have time to do the right thing and fix a relationship that will ultimately end if you don't do something about it!

Or maybe, this is meant to happen as hard as it feels and you just need to accept this unexpected turn in your life...

Things happen for a reason!

Twists, turns, ups and downs, the good and the bad, to inspire or to become inspired, setting goals and attaining them, back in the day, keeping family traditions...

You decide...

Enjoy,

Sandra

                                        SMILE




Friday, 28 June 2013

Back in the Day!

Welcome back, everyone!


Why is it that when bad things occur in our lives, family and friends come together, forgetting trivial differences which have kept them apart, and join together as a close knit support unit for another? It's because we are all connected in many ways. Family is connected from birth and this bond is unbreakable! I am not just talking about our immediate family, but about our extended family...aunts, uncles, cousins, and your closest friends. Life has gotten in the way of simple things like visiting a loved one or just picking up the phone to ask someone how their day went. When bad things occur, nothing else matters. We drop everything and become a 'shoulder to cry on' or the 'wind beneath someone's wings'...that's just what families do!

Back in the day, life was simple and the best part of it was summer vacation! I remember sitting for hours with friends and family under our big Maple tree in front of our house. Many memories were made here...unfortunately our 'Giving Tree' fell over recently. It was hit by lightning years ago, and despite its' weakened roots managed to stay upright for many years, until it fell over last year. It seems empty now in front of my parents' and now sister's house, though nothing can erase the memories made under this tree.

Back in the day, we were taught family values, we were given a smack if we spoke in a disrespectful way to our elders, and most of all, we didn't have a care in the world. Summer vacation seemed to pass slowly. Our parents were not bringing us to soccer or baseball tournaments. We were spending our time around the picnic table surrounded by family and friends, sharing stories of the 'good old days.' I miss those days...

So, "Don't just sit there like a sea potato!" (as we often say in my classroom), it's never too late to pick up the phone and call a family member, maybe your uncle or a long lost friend, and reconnect, share a story of the 'good old days', or just to say, "I miss you."

Back in the day can be today! It's up to you to continue on your family traditions and pass them onto your children so that one day when they share stories with your grandchildren, they will say, "Back in the day when I was your age...

Enjoy,

Sandra













Friday, 21 June 2013

Following the Right Path or Not?

Hello Everyone!

Hope everyone got past the ups and downs of the week. Don't some weeks feel like there are more downs than ups, or you have one bad thing happen after another, and you feel like your life is spiraling out of control? We've all had this happen to us many times throughout our lives. How about having one good day after another, or feeling like your life is heading in the right direction? How do you know when you are following the right path? Sometimes we just know and other times we don't find out until it's too late...

Following the right path can involve a chain of events resulting in decisions in our lives that take us on a new path, usually uncertain, but once on this path, we realize that 'things do happen for a reason.' and we happily follow this path in anticipation of what is to follow...

I am presently on this path in my life. I've had a series of events occur over the past year that have sometimes made me feel like I was spinning out of control, and it wasn't until recently that I realized that each event had to occur in order for the next one to begin. Ask yourself this, "Is the cup half full or empty?" Most of us will say it is half empty when life seems unfair. What a great feeling when we see the cup as 'half full' ! We need to change our frame of mind to see the cup as 'half full' all the time!

Following the wrong path occurs the same way and we usually learn a lesson at the end of the path. It might seem like an unnecessary lesson at the time, and it's not until we are back on the right path that we realize the learned lesson was necessary.

I have taken many paths in my life that have led me in the wrong direction, but in the end, have brought me back to the path I was destined to follow.

How do you know you are on the right path? It's that feeling you get inside...you just know...

Twists, turns, ups and downs, winding uncertain roads, the light at the end of the tunnel...

We have arrived at the end...finally a new chapter has begun...

Pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, now drink it. It is 'half full', isn't it?

Life is what you make it! So, make it a good one!

Enjoy,

Sandra


Friday, 14 June 2013

Things Really Do Happen For a Reason!

Hello Everyone!

Hope you are making it a good one with your family and friends. This post is dedicated to my family, to my closest friends who are my family, and to my friends who are my second family.

Do things really happen for a reason? I ask myself this question often. I strongly feel that people enter and leave your life for a reason, when you need them the most and when your life is heading towards the right path and someone is there to ensure you remain on that path. What about the people in your life who are always there for you no matter what...it's that unwritten rule you have with them...I am lucky to have many! Thanks for your support!

My mom told me the other day that my grandmother used to tell her when she was young that life is not a straight road all the time. It has turns and twists and obstacles and bumps along the way, but in the end, we end up back on the right path. My grandmother was a wise woman, full of love, compassion, courage, and encouraging words. She always had something positive to tell me even when all hope was gone. When she left my life, I felt like my heart was broken into a million pieces. I thought it would never mend, but it did with time. Bits of my heart was filled with the children I taught, years later my heart was filled with the birth of my children. I knew then that my grandmother left my life for a reason...to send me two angels from above!

Obstacles are part of life and I've had many, like I'm sure you've had. There were so many times that I wondered why things were happening to me. I didn't know at the time that I was meant to follow this path which led me here...

Did you know that we have pathways in our brain that have been created from childhood and determine how we process things, good and bad. Did you also know that you can create new pathways that will eventually replace the old ones, and eventually change the way you look at life?  CBT! Cognitive Behavoir Therapy! It works and I am living proof of it. Thanks to one of the most important people in my life today...Dr. Arnold Ein. I would have never believed it last Fall when he told me. Thanks Doc for believing in me!

Today, my thoughts are no longer filled with anger, regret, and sadness, but they are filled with thoughts for my next post, what I will bake this weekend, when I will run next,
and thoughts of what and who will inspire me next!

Twists, turns, bumps, goals in mind, new paths to discover, new friends and old, not certain of what's to follow, hesitant...take and deep breath and smile at the endless possibilities...you are on your way!

Enjoy,

Sandra






Saturday, 8 June 2013

Setting Goals and Not Sweating the Small Stuff!

Hello everyone! Hope you had a good week!

Have you figured out what inspires you, what puts a smile on your face? Maybe, watching a movie like "Big Miracle." Doesn't this make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Doesn't a movie like this give you that feeling like you can be "the best possible person you can be...that you can truly make a difference, even if it's small?
   It can be as easy as setting a goal, passing on a new family tradition, or just doing something for someone without expecting anything but a thank you. I experienced this the other day at school when I expressed a wish to the kids that it would be nice one day if someone would bring the garbage to the lunch room without being asked. Guess what? Someone did? I was amazed that someone was listening to my words and felt compelled to perform this action! It wasn't the action itself that amazed me but the look in this child's eyes as I acknowledged his 'good deed' and how he was beaming from 'eye to ear'  as I congratulated him in front of his friends! He did the same thing the next day! Wow! It's moments like these that remind me why I became a teacher.
   I have many goals I want to accomplish. Small goals like cleaning the storage room and organizing my closest, challenging goals like running the 1/2 marathon next year and continuing this blog, and rewarding goals like creating this family book that will be passed on from my children to theirs.
    Be realistic when you set a goal. I find that if you set realistic goals, there is more of a chance to attain them, and less of a chance to be disappointed in yourself if you fail. Remember, this is for yourself! Don't worry if you didn't clean out the garage this weekend because it was too nice to stay inside, so you decided to go for a walk to the lake with your kids and teach them to skip rocks. That reminds me when I took the kids to the marsh one day and asked them if they knew how to skip rocks. Do you believe that most kids never skipped a rock in their life! Well, this was my opportunity to teach them this wonderful past time.
   I realized recently that I have so many things I still want to do, like volunteer at a retirement home and visit with the elderly and listen to their stories. They have so much wisdom to share and nobody to share it with. I guess growing up I was always surrounded by older people like my grandparents, or working at my dad's hair salon throughout high school and university. I remember being so touched by their stories, listening to their stories about being captives during the war. And yet, these wonderful people, with all the horror they endured still had something positive and encouraging to say to me. I remember the last time I saw the look in my grandmother's eyes before she passed away, she was telling me to have faith, to never give up hope, and that she will always be with me. I carry her strength, courage and passion for life with me.
   Whatever goals you set out to accomplish, 'give yourself a pat on the back', you took the first step to a better you.
   Since I started this blog, I realized how difficult it is to write creatively, and to figure out what to write about next week. My mind is now filled with ideas of future posts. I am not sure where this blog is going, but I hope my words inspire you in some way!
   Stay tuned for updates on our family book. I will post pictures of our progress, maybe I will share some family recipes with you, that can become favorites in your family.
   Remember, don't sweat the small stuff! Tomorrow is a new day, a new way to look at life, to inspire and become inspired, and to 'wake up and smell the petunias for the first time!
 
Thank you for all the views!

Enjoy,

Sandra
 
 





Saturday, 1 June 2013

Grandparents Are Our Link to the Past and the Future!



Welcome back , everyone! Hope you had a great weekend with your family!

When I look at myself in the mirror, do you know what I see? Besides the wrinkles and gray hair , I see a little bit of my grandparents.. my grandfather's nose , my grandmother's rosy complexion , the love of dipping Italian bread in homemade tomato sauce from my grandfather, and the warm smile, bright eyes, and strength from my grandmother! "Coraggio e sangue freddo!" as she always said...these are words I tell myself often when life throws me those curve balls and I feel like giving up! Being raised from grandparents is a blessing! Count your blessings if you are lucky like me!

Italian donuts
Family values are disappearing quickly. Like I said in my first post, we need to keep family traditions alive. I can still remember Christmas when I was a child. My grandmother would make these potato and flour donuts fried in oil..."Cudraridri" is what we call them in Calabria, Italy. They are sooo good and sooo bad for you but...Life is too short! My mom learned how to make these yummy donuts from my grandmother and this Christmas was the first time my mom showed me how to make them and I have to say for my first attempt...they were like my grandmother's!

Whatever your family tradition. old and new, it is necessary to keep them in our family for generations to come.

Ask yourself a question? What has changed since your were a child?...yes I get it! We have to drive our kids to every sports tournament and ballet recital...but what have we lost along the way doing this? The most important thing of all...we have forgotten what really matters...it's the simple things in life...like stopping to "smell the petunias", listening to an elderly person's stories and taking a deep breath on that first Spring day and telling yourself that you're grateful at all you have...When was the last time you did something like this with your children?

Instead we complain, resent, envy, one another and always look at getting the latest electronic gadget for us and our kids...don't get me wrong I am one of you! I've done the same thing...but when does it stop?

I will tell you...when you wake up one morning and realize that the last 20 years have passed and you feel empty...Is it too late? Of course, not...Life may be short but this is our only chance to live it to the fullest and to be the "best possible person we can be". We already know that random acts of kindness are contagious, right? So, why not open a door for someone, smile at the grocery cashier and tell her to have a nice day...whatever it is...do it and don't forget to pass these values onto your children! Children learn from example!

I always told myself that I would never be like my parents...I would be cool in my kids' eyes...guess what? I am my parents! When I preach to my kids, do you know what I hear? All my dad's words, all his life lessons, and  the importance of school and saving for a rainy day and I also hear my mom's complaining to pick up my clothes and clean my room! Thank you Pa and Ma...I was listening after all! Thank you for being my rock when the boys were born! I never realized a parents' love for their child until that day!

I am not cool in my kids' eyes! Do I care? My kids don't need me to be their best friend...they need me to teach them how to be respectful to others, to be trustworthy and reliable, and to take pride in everything they do! They need me to pass on our family traditions because this is their foundation that will shape them into the adult they will become.

Grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren...the past and the future all together at the dinner table! Precious moments... many tears shed here...happy and sad...worth every moment!

This is your life, make it worthwhile!

Enjoy!

Sandra