Opt-in now, It’s not over?

There is still so much going on about schools opening, opting in or out, blended learning, fully remote, etc… There’s a lot of people that truly don’t have the children’s best interest at heart but you also have those that care so unbelievably much you can see it bursting from their eyes. We have been fully remote since last year when COVID all began. We wanted to make sure our families were safe and remained safe. We wanted to help others stay safe and stop the spread. We did our best like many others to be informed and follow doctors advice and listen to all that was going on. It was all so new and everyone had an opinion. People were harsh and became obnoxious, conspiracies and hoax rumors began. This all while we saw life fading. People dying right in front of our eyes. People we knew and loved. People we never even met but felt the loss deeply. 

We saw hospitals being filled over capacity. Patients set up on the open streets surrounding the hospitals and in parking lots. Tents were set up, equipment was needed. We saw the tired passionate faces of medical staff and workers. First responders were working horribly extended hours too. We saw refrigerated trailer trucks pulling up to hospitals to store bodies of those who didn’t make it, to make room in hospitals for other patients. I can still these images playing in slow motion in my head. Visions that will never leave me. 

Our eyes were permanently glued to the news as we cringed and watched in fear. The unknowing is the fear that builds so rapidly in our bodies. This feels like a lifetime ago but it was a year ago, and at the same time feels like only yesterday. And it’s still not over, but the relief I’m sure we all felt was when those refrigerated trailer trucks pulled away from hospitals never to return. Vaccinations becoming available. 

Now we can continue our part by getting vaccinated. Helping those that can’t get to a vaccination site or can’t complete the proper protocols needed to get an appointment. We need to continue to help each other so that more lives aren’t rapidly taken away from us. So that hospitals aren’t once again over filled. We need to keep COVID away or help reduce the deathly scary symptoms. The vaccine doesn’t make it go away but it reduces the risks of hospitalization, being put on a ventilator, and helping to maintain the symptoms especially for our elderly and immunocompromised family and friends. Together we can help. There’s no room for selfishness here. We are one world under God. Let’s help him help us.

Now let me go back to why I began my ramble about schools. There has been a lot of confusion. A lot of lies being told both to families and school staff. I get it. No one knows and people are all trying to do what’s right. We are tired. We are scared for many reasons. As a parent there’s a lot of fear. Fear for our kids safety and health. Fear of making the wrong decisions for our children. Will they learn or regress? Are they so far away from real socialization that it’s taking a toll on their growth and well being. There are so many factors and feelings going on in my head as I’m sure many others are going through similar emotions. 

I keep beating myself up trying to figure out what is right at this stage. 

Vaccinations are more available now. We are fully vaccinated. There seems to be light coming in through all the linings that have been forming around us. The opt-in that was told to us in the very beginning is now available to families once again. Things are feeling a bit better but things aren’t over and not close to being over. But there is now hope. A hope that was fading is now coming to life.

I heard such horrible stories about schools and staff but I am thankful for the school my children attend. Thankful for all they have been doing to stay vigilant, a head of it all (even though it seems impossible), to keep us informed, truly caring about their students, even if it comes at a   higher price at times. As much as I always want my kids in school, I am thankful that we had the ability to keep them home throughout all this time. We finally found a groove and consistency that worked for our family with the help of amazing teachers and staff. My fear of our kids lacking or not learning disappeared after seeing how excited they were about seeing their teacher. Hearing the excitement they still had for school. 

After our first parent teacher conference, I truly got to see the love their teacher displayed for not only our kids but all her students. Then the second parent teacher conference hit and she spoke of our children’s growth, participation and all the wonderful things she shared thereafter. It opened my eyes to confirm how resilient children really are and how hard they keep trying and striving to do the best they can even in these crazy circumstances. Of course, we have the outbursts out of the school day. Little things you can see they have picked up as their way to cope and deal with all that is happening right before them. 

How can they not? As a parent and an adult, I struggle and I try to find my own ways to deal with all that is going on so that my children do not suffer or pay for my actions. 

We are all dealing with it the best way we can. Even struggling not only within ourselves but also with family members. Trying to figure out what is best for our family with different minds coming together can be hard. Agreeing isn’t always there but we look past that to see the bigger picture. Maybe the decision is one sided and needs getting used to or maybe we come together after a lot of “what ifs” but we do it. 

It’s not without heavy hearts, and constant discussions pleasant or not, it’s what has to be done. 

What helps is that I know my school has protocols in place that are being followed. I know teachers (who I call friends) truly care about their kids. They care so much that it hurts them when they can’t hug students and comfort their kids when it is needed but they have found other ways to get them through it. They are “not” babysitters but educators. They are the inspiration that keeps children looking up and moving forward. They are providers of tools that they need each day to reach higher. Each teacher in their own field provides so much for the mind and soul. They keep our kids happy and learning, moving and growing, singing and dancing. They are steps that help them climb to a new level. Sometimes while stumbling they provide support so they don’t fall and if they happen to fall, they make sure they know someone is always there while at school to help. 

Not all teachers, principals, and school staff are the same but if you have that special group, you are one of the lucky few. 

All this doesn’t mean I’m not afraid or my heart doesn’t sink several times a day, it just means we are getting through it all, we have to. 

I’m grateful every day that I have someone at my side to be my strength when I’m crumbling. I am thankful that through it all he’s been a pillar of strength and flat out bluntness. That he’s researched every aspect of every situation and gave me the ability to see things more clearly. Even when I am frustrated and we see things differently, which definitely happens he allows me to feel it through. Who agrees anyhow, right? But for right now, it’s going to carry us and damn, it has to!

Gio and Isa’s Miracles – March for Babies 2021

It’s the time of year when I ask family and friends to join us on our journey through March for Babies. It’s a personal, touch my heart pull at my strings kind of time. It’s meaningful and very emotional. It’s about strength, hope, faith and love. It’s about sharing losses with so many mom’s and families. While also sharing and honoring those that are growing and thriving each day.
This year like last is very difficult for many of us. Last year with Covid increasingly growing and taking beautiful lives with it, I halted my fundraising efforts to allow people to grieve and grab onto all they could and needed to get by. I know we are still in this craziness of Covid, and I understand that you are limited in donating but I need to fulfill my duty in spreading the word and love to all that can hear me.
I am sharing our story with you as I do every year. Most of you have taken the journey right along with us. Sometimes walking side by side with us or by your words of support, your donations and your outpouring of love. We thank you. This year we are going to try and walk that walk proudly and very far apart, if allowed. If this year continues to be done virtually we will be there as we did last year.
We are honoring our sweet twins Giovanni and Isannah during this special time. Even though we are thankful for every moment of the day, even when they make me want to jump out the window, we support them. We honor them for their strength and determination to be here. To be present and live in this crazy world.

During this journey we remember infant lives taken too soon and we walk for them. We walk for friends and family who went through similar experiences as we did. We walk for the angels that are watching over us. We walk for friends and many others that go through it every day. We walk for hope that one day all babies win this fight.

Please read our story at https://www.marchforbabies.org/caramia626 and donate if you can. As little as a $1.00 helps. Share our page and believe in your heart that hope, LOVE and faith will bring us together.

Thank you for listening and taking the time to be with us. For those of you who have donated in the past, we appreciate you and thank you. If you have a company or work for a business that would like to sponsor our team, Gio and Isa’s Miracles, please let me know.
Stay safe, healthy and well. Thank you!

Farewell 2020

In just a few hours we will say goodbye to 2020, and its ouster not a moment too soon. 

Oh, how it all started with beautiful promises. Cheers with family and neighbors. Watching our block New Year’s ball drop from a street light pole as it has done for many years. A tradition I am thankful and happy to experience, and be a part of every year. The hugs that we freely gave and received. Embraced with a full heart of love. I miss those hugs. The closeness you felt when you were able to just take each other in and feel the love and appreciation in just a hug.

What happened to the promises of 2020?  The new year we were all so excited to welcome came to a halt. Instead of watching life grow surrounded by family and friends, we were watching the news in fear as a virus blew through Italy like a wildfire spreading to all of Europe and taking so many lives with it. We watched in fear with clenched fits and jaw dropping stares while feeling an unfamiliar pain in our hearts. 

Hoping it wouldn’t come to our side. Praying it couldn’t get to our home but here it was on our front door.  A map of hope and travel became filled with red dots of pain and life lost. It seemed as though hope was disappearing and hate and divide were holding strong. People who wanted so much to just help. Show support. Protect themselves while protecting their family, friends and life. While others were in denial. Following those saying this is a false truth. Not caring for the wellbeing of human life and not protecting themselves and others. 

There was so much pain. So many lives lost, from the healthy to the weak. This year has taken far too much from us but it stops. It has to stop! 

I will bring in a New Year. I will welcome 2021 with hope, love, faith and courage in my heart that it will be a better year. I will dream a dream for my kids to grow surrounded by the loving arms of family and friends. To grow where they can experience the happiness a hug brings. The kindness that an encouraging touch brings. I want them to dream and know that all things are still possible. I pray that they can experience school in person with some amazing teachers that show just how much they are cared about every day. 

I want life back. In 2020, not only did we learn pain like no other, and many firsts that could never be expected, but we learned the true value of family. We learned that if we come together we can build beautifully. 

Praying that 2021 brings so many deserving hugs. Much belly filled laughter that causes your cheeks to ache from smiling so much. That family can reunite not on a screen but in your home standing only inches apart. 

Wishing you all of that and so much more. Here’s to bidding 2020 adieu and welcoming 2021 with good health to you and yours.

Traditions

Traditions are so important to me especially when they bring family together. Making special memories with my mom walking each procession every year. Bringing Giovanni and Isannah with me, so they too, can experience these moments with their Nonni and all the family that comes together. Moments that become memories that will grow each year as they do. Bringing Giovanni and Isannah to church with me to experience the beautiful services. I love knowing that they can listen to the messages and allow it to carry in their hearts. All the traditions big or small, they are lasting and remain in our heart and memory. 

They lift us on the days when we are feeling down. They bring a smile to my face when I find it hard to smile on my own. 

Traditions for and during the holidays. The same foods, the decorations, the family games, music and laughter that are always present during this time. Even when the year is hard and the fear is great, or when there is an empty place or two at the table, the comfort and love of the holidays bring us hope for a better tomorrow, all while embracing and appreciating what we have now. I look out and see faces staring back at me and all I can do is smile because this will be a new memory because of these traditions. 

There is another new one that is very special and dear to my heart. It started when Giovanni and Isannah were just born. My childhood friend and her family, who we are blessed to have as neighbors too, came over at Christmas. They brought gifts for the kids and stayed with us for a little. This became a beautiful tradition that still happens every year because of the kindness and heart they share with us. All the kids open their gifts and share a moment together. We take family pictures by our tree and just feel the warmth and happiness of their company. They are friends who are family and that will never change. 

This year was different thanks to 2020 but it didn’t change our tradition. Our friends made it happen again. Thankfully the weather held up and we were able to meet outside with masks and distance. We stayed safe and just had our special time. The kids played together and laughed. I stared out at them and couldn’t believe how big they all are now. How small they were when it all started. Their daughter wasn’t born yet but their younger son was always with us. Now their son has grown and their daughter took his place in our tradition.I still have the first gift that our friends brought for the kids. Two little picture Christmas Stocking ornaments. One pink one and one blue. To this day they hang proudly on our tree with a picture of Giovanni and Isannah in each one.

Traditions mean the world to me. I hope Giovanni and Isannah will feel the same and keep every memory in their heart so that they will carry these traditions as they grow each year. 

We all have different beliefs but traditions are what you make them to be.  

Create them, old or new, carry them and keep them going and growing.

Eve of Christmas 2020

On this Eve of Christmas, my mind drifts to family gatherings of years past, and my chest feels heavy. Remembering all the hugs we were able to receive and give. The laughs that filled the houses we visited. And the laughter of generations of family members all under the same roof. We could see the many expressions on their face. Faces that I have been missing. All these moments that turned into memories blurred my vision of what was directly in front of me today.

This year we took a hit, some more than others, but a hit was felt all around. The sadness and fear leading up to the holidays could make your body tremble. Knowing that people would be missing at the table. Less noise and laughter, fewer generations under one roof, made my chest close and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had to take a moment to step away from my memories and be present. Yes, the holidays have felt a little lighter and leading up to today, Christmas Eve a little scarier, but we are still here. We are healthy and safe. Things won’t be the same but are they really ever exactly the same? We do the best with what we have every year because that is life. We want to bring family together for our children. We want them to experience all the magic of life and the holidays. We do our best to make things seem better than what they are at times.

Although our group was smaller than before, it was perfect. Being able to see Giovanni and Isannah sing, dance and laugh because of their Nonni is priceless. The way the kids light up when Nonna comes through the door is what the holidays are all about. This year we may be lighter but our home felt full. We are here. We are healthy and we are safe. There’s so much to be thankful for, and family is the most important of them all.

Wishing you and your family a magical Christmas. Hoping you can find the blessings that surround you and allow love to fill your heart.

The Spanish Dance

Every year around this time Isannah performs in the Nutcracker for Cobble Hill Ballet. Leading up to this time she gets so excited and begins talking about what part she will play when she auditions. Every year she tells me how much closer she is to auditioning for the part of Clara. In her ballet school you have to be a certain age to audition for Clara. And boy has she been counting the years. 

This year with all that is going on with COVID they are unable to perform the Nutcracker at the theater. Isannah was really sad about it but still happy that her ballet school was coming up with a plan to bring the Nutcracker to their students. Classes were given a dance to work on and Isannah’s class was doing the Spanish Dance.

She would sneak in her room and practice in private so she wouldn’t ruin the surprise for us. She was pretty giddy and the smiles were real as she left her room. Those smiles are definitely needed right now. Anything that can keep her smiling makes me happy. Her love for ballet is definitely one of them. 

This year the costumes weren’t distributed. The girls in her class were able to create or use something they had that was red. They could make it all up as long as the costume made them feel comfortable and happy to perform. 

It took Isannah quite a while to figure out what she was wearing and how she wanted to style her hair. It all finally came together and she was happy with her selection. 

On the day of her performance, her nerves set in. She was nervous but in an excited happy way. She quickly got dressed and was ready for me to apply some make up. She had been looking forward to wearing red lipstick. Sadly, there was no point in wearing lipstick when her lips would be hiding behind a face mask. 

The time had come to make our way to ballet. As we were walking out the door Isannah turned to me and said, “everyone usually comes to see me in the Nutcracker. Bubbe and Bubba come to visit all the way from Chicago. Nonna, Nonno and everyone else is excited to see me. This time no one will be there to take pictures, to cheer or to wave to me from the audience. It will just be me and my friends in class.” I could tell she was beginning to feel a little down. I quickly changed the subject to something that could bring her joy again. After all, her ballet school was recording the performance to be able to share it with family members and friends. We are all very much looking forward to watching her performance together.  

This year we were missing a lot of family. The excitement of the audience cheering. The waves and screams of support and love. The rushing around to get her to all her shows on time and the many flowers she would be presented with. 

We missed a lot but we still had a happy ballerina working hard to perform her heart out which she did. 

This is my beautiful ballerina.

Family Bike Ride

We had a little break from COVID fears, school heartbreak and confusion just to be together as a family. Smiling, enjoying being outside together (with masks) and just experiencing the beauty that is still around us. Today was the first time we went on a bike ride, all four of us, together. It was the first time the kids rode in the street with us the entire time. Asher was the lead then came Isannah, Giovanni and I was the back end. I had the best view. I got to enjoy the little legs pedaling trying to keep up with their dad. I heard the laughter and saw the happiness of biking just by their body language.

It was a beautiful experience. One that was overdue.We got to bike along the piers and took a break to look around and take it all in. There in front of us was the city’s skyline. Home in Brooklyn but a view that can make anyone smile of the city. It was a beautiful sunny day with a hint of a cool breeze. The perfect weather for a family bike ride and a perfect day to spend together outside. It’s days like this when the stress of forced decisions being made evaporates and the love of life and family are present.

So many questions, where are all the answers?

This is the first time I am lost for words. My head is about to explode and I can’t help to release as I usually do by writing. Each time I feel like I have so much to say, then I sit down with my pen and paper and I freeze. It’s making things so much harder. 

What is going on? Maybe my mind is on overload and I keep jumping from emotion to another. When I have something on my mind and I’m about to release 15 more things pop in my head. I just keep feeling things with heaviness whether it’s happiness or anger, impatience or failure. They all are currently present. I know everyone feels a certain way sometimes as I do, and that’s okay but something is going on right now and I can’t shake it. It’s making me sick to my stomach, maybe because I’m angry. I feel really angry and that anger is turning into a lot of uncertainty, a lot of pain and tries to block any of the good and light I try to allow in. 

My heart is aching and my chest hurts. I feel like the weight I’m carrying is too much to bear. I’ve experienced so much loss since March. I’ve seen the pain and the emptiness in my friend’s eyes and in the eyes of people I don’t even know. Why are so many more suffering right now? How can you take babies, children, mothers and fathers so quickly? How can we fill the huge void in our heart? I see my friends and I can’t imagine their hurt. I don’t want to even begin to imagine if I was in their shoes. How could I walk? 

We almost lost our son that night he was born. Both my children are fighting in the NICU. They’re here now and I don’t ever want to go back to that place. Although my mind drifts there from time to time and I cry. Boy, do I cry. I see them now thriving, growing and laughing and it brings me back to today and allows me to soften and smile. Even now as I write I’m crying. My chest is closing in and that weight is there again. I want to scream but at what? Who can I scream at because screaming and abusing myself makes everything so much worse. How am I not completely broken?

In this lifetime, I’ve experienced abuse both verbally and physically from people I trusted and loved so much. I’ve experienced failure and a lot of it. Depression so badly I questioned my existence at scary levels. I’ve experienced self-doubt, hurt, and loss a lot of it. 

But I also experienced miracles, love, compassion, encouragement and happiness. I witnessed life and dreams that came true. Does the latter help outweigh the bad? Can the beautiful memories I stored and reflect back on block the evil memories I try to push away?

There has to be a balance right? I look at my family and I try to take them in and hold them so close. I breathe them in hoping they are so close inside me that they can replace all the hurt that is there. I still feel belittled at times and it breaks me piece by piece. Why do I still let people have power over me? What am I doing wrong? 

I am the best listener. I can problem solve and heal others with the advice I give, the love I share and my heart that is open to help others comes easily. When someone is hurting, I do my best to take away their pain and just sit there with them. Knowing having someone just be with you can make all the difference in their world. I love being that person especially to those I truly care about. It comes easily to me and just flows. Why can’t I do that for myself? Instead I allow the heaviness to stay and weigh me down. I genuinely care with all that I have and give all of me with no restrictions. I am empathetic. I’m here. Even with all the hate in this world and the ugliness that is shown to us on a daily basis I still want to believe. 

I still want to show my kids what good is. What life can be. I want them to know this world is beautiful and I want them to dream and never stop believing in themselves and this life. 

I want them to be humble and kind. To know their life makes a difference and they were gifted this life for a reason. I don’t ever want them to feel unloved or unimportant in any way.

I’m ready to allow healing. I’m ready to take another step forward. I have to. There’s so much I want to experience with my kids. I want to stare into their eyes and see all the wonders of this life as they do. I want them to always feel my love even when I lose my temper or I become impatient. I want them to always know that I’ll never stop loving them. I wish they could look through my eyes and see how beautiful, amazing and how proud I am of them. I want them to carry that feeling everyday of their lives no matter what happens in their life or what journey they are on. They can always take those with them. 

When I am no longer here they will always remember they are the best miracles of my life.

Sometimes it’s too much

Lately there has been so much pain in this world. We are surrounded by death, hate, heartbreak, uncertainty and fear. I can think of a few others but I will leave it here. The past few days have been especially hard. Losing someone you love dearly is devastating but losing a child, well, there are no words that can possibly describe that horrible pain.

We’ve been learning as each day passes how heavy this life is and how fragile. It leaves you to question why these things are happening? Why can an innocent child be taking away from her parents so suddenly? Why is this world so angry and hateful? Why do people still believe that COVID is a hoax or not as bad as it seems? Why, why, why? Where are the answers? How can we achieve them or make sense of anything that is going on? Where is God?

I always do my best to stay positive. I try to understand that if there was no evil we could never truly understand and appreciate the good. There always needs to be a comparison to balance things out but we all have experienced it before. Why do things have to continue to hurt?

Am I naive to think that love will conquer all? That if we all love each other the world can be better. If we can love thy neighbor as we love thy self, then this world will be a better place?
I want my kids to grow in a world of peace, love, hope, and faith. I want them to open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds them and take in all of the possibilities that are out there. Be strong, confident, healthy but be humble, kind and respectful. I want so much for my kids but am I shooting too high? At this point, is it even possible? So much doubt and so much fear turns in to anger and then hate.

Life is scary but can be beautiful. Sometimes it’s not about opening your eyes to see all the beauty that is out there. Sometimes you just need to close your eyes, breathe in and imagine all the beauty that you can see. With eyes closed you can see the beautiful memories you’ve made. You can even feel a touch, or smell that smell that brings you comfort. Although it’s hard, especially now, you need to search for that space that is good. Look for that glimmer of hope that’s been pushed way back in there and bring it to light.

After returning home from a funeral the other day, I felt like something blew out that tiny light that shines within me. My body felt heavy and my stomach began hurting. I felt nauseated and sick. I couldn’t shake that feeling but I knew what it was about. I also knew it was doing something to my heart. My heart has been broken and pieces have been breaking off little by little but I always manage to bandage it. I have so many cracks where the light shines through but there’s no way to close it tightly as it once was. But I keep going on knowing that somehow my heart will help someone else. Knowing that the care that pours out of me will help someone in need.

That night as I was washing dishes my daughter kept asking me to do ballet with her. I told her to wait until I was done cleaning. Not shortly after, she asked me again. It wasn’t until that moment that I remembered all that happened earlier, and just stopped what I was doing. I turned off the water, put the dishes down and said, “yes, let’s do ballet.” I looked at her and was so thankful that she was mine and she was standing in front of me just wanting me to share this time with her. I kept staring at her and I couldn’t stop. At one point she asked me, “why do you keep staring at me today?” I told her it’s because I love her so much and I hope she will always know that. Then I said, let’s do ballet. And we did.

I need to really think about how I react when the kids want to do something with me. It shouldn’t matter that the house is a mess and dishes are piling up. I need to just stop what I am doing and give them my time. They are small for just a little while and they are here now asking for me. I don’t know how long we have together or when things will just stop so I need to enjoy them every chance I get. Listen to the laughter and the giggles that fill the room. Those giggles are contagious. Be in that moment with them. The dishes can wait.

Here’s to 12 years!

Monday, August 10, 2020 we celebrated 12 years of marriage. Several years ago we were gifted the time to travel on our anniversaries. We were able to celebrate just us again. Each place we traveled we laughed, loved and lived. We escaped to new places to get back to the place we said, I do. That day brought two souls together and grew two hearts. It was a day of new beginnings and a day that lit the way to our new journey.
Whether we were traveling to The French Riviera or driving Highway 1, we have been blessed to see things through a different lens. We learned and grew.
This year we were unable to travel because of COVID. Instead, we celebrated it together as a family. Our children sang a Happy Anniversary song to us. My husband drove us to Sonic Drive In. This was a big moment and treat. He knows I love Sonic from my way back Texas days so this was our travel adventure. It was our children’s first time eating there and LOVED it. After enjoying coneys and slushes with happy full tummies we headed back home.


Not more than 20 minutes after we arrived a tornado siren went off. Next came the beeping on phones with tornado watch warnings and TV tornado warnings telling everyone to go to the lowest floor of the house. My husband grabbed flashlights and our dog Griffin. Giovanni, Isannah and I followed him to the basement. It was the kids and my first time in a tornado watch so it was quite the experience. As we were in the basement, I couldn’t help but stare at all of them. My children, my husband, and our dog were curled up on a beam bag. During all that has been going on this year and all that was going on in that moment, all I could do is smile. This was 12 years. This was family and this always will be.


My husband and I managed to have alone time during Griffin’s walk. My husband, Griffin, and I went for a stroll as the sunset was beginning. The wind was softly blowing while the colors in the sky began changing. The beauty that was surrounding us on our walk made me think of the many sunsets we experienced together and the many more we will experience again.

Here’s to crazy number 12.