Thursday, June 22, 2017

44 Years of Mountains and Valleys

Marriage is a series of mountains and valleys. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, events that we could not have foreseen when we first started. In the beginning, you have an idea of what marriage will be like and then reality hits you in the head and you find that it isn't even close to what you thought it would be.  There are those times when everything is going the way it's supposed to go.  Life is filled with romance, laughter and good times.  Then suddenly you hit a rough patch...inlaws, money, jobs, responsibilities or just those tiny habits that annoy you.  And with every rough patch, you are faced with a you ride it out until the high comes back or do you give up and walk away?  Now days, it seems many find it easier to throw in the towel and hit the road.  Now I am not saying that every rough patch requires staying power.  Sometimes the rough patch is more than that and leaving is the best choice.  No, I am saying that just because life has led you into a valley, it might not be bad enough to throw the marriage away.

In 44 years, my husband and I have encountered our fair share of mountains and valleys.  We have seen friends and family end their marriages for one reason or another.  We have, in the heat of the moment, threatened to leave the other and go it alone.  But in the end, we always start climbing the mountain again...together.

I remember something my mom told me the morning of my wedding day when, in my nervous state, I asked her how she and dad had stayed together so long.  She said, "When those times come and you are not sure you are on the right path with the right one, think about tomorrow or next week or next month or next year.  How do you see it...alone or with him?  That will be your answer."

In 44 years of mountains and valleys, I have never been able to picture my life without him.

Happy 44th Anniversary, Butch....Love, Ellen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"5 Things I Am Glad Were Invented"

There have been many things invented in the world over the years that I like very much and there are some that I scratch my head and say, "What was the purpose of inventing that?" However, there are 5 things that are my very favorite inventions and I thought I would share those with you today.

1.  Sticky Notes.   These are a super invention.  When I was teaching, these were an important item on my school supply list.  They identified papers, were mini notes to myself and others, became part of lessons and activities, super organizational tools and so much more.  At home, they were great for attaching notes for husband, sons and myself onto mirrors, tv screens, refrigerator doors, telephones and the occasional backpack and or child.

2.  Caller ID.  This is such a simple but great invention.  No more answering the phone thinking its friend or family but instead finding out it's a telemarketer (and yes, I am on the "do not call" list but still get calls). 

3.  Mute Button on TV Remote.  I love this button.  Press it and the most annoying commercials (which are most of them) become just a picture of moving mouths and politicians become automated robots that are easier to look at without hearing all the empty promises.

4.  Slo Cookers.  This is one of my favorite kitchen appliances.  Put the ingredients in the slo cooker in the morning and by dinner time you have a meal.  This is an especially great alternative to turning on the oven in the summmer and turning the kitchen into a sauna.

5.  Coffeemaker.  I adore coffee.  My day starts with coffee and keeps going thru the day and into the evening with coffee.  I love being able to set the timer and wake to the sensual smell of coffee first thing in the morning.  I love how I can make a new pot of coffee in less than 15 minutes.  Growing up my mom had one of those coffee pots you used on the stove.  Many a time, it was forgotten and then there was boiled over coffee all over the stove.

Your 5 inventions might be entirely different from mine and that's ok.  Sometimes progress brings good things in the midst of all the negatives.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Fathers' Day

To my dad, Joaquin Gomez, who has been gone 25 years.  You taught me that there is nothing I cannot do if I set my mind to it.  You taught me the importance of family.  You taught me to judge people not by their race, religion, gender or lifestyle but by their words and actions.  Even though you are not here in body, I know you are with me in spirit.

To my husband, Butch Fassbender, who has been my partner for over 40 years.  You are the most wonderful father to our sons.  You have given them your time, love and guidance throughout the years.  You have been there as the backer for their dreams, the shoulder for their questions, the laugh when they are down and the heart when they feel alone.  No matter the circumstance, they know they can count on you always.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God's Reminder

It was one of those quiet Mondays.  My husband and I had finished dinner and I was watching the tv news with disappointment in the behavior of some of the humans on this planet.  My husband was outside finishing up some yardwork.  There was a knock at the door and who should be there but the little girl who lives across the road.  In her arms was a bouquet of beautiful flowers that I knew had come from her property.  She handed me the bouquet and said, "these are for you because you love flowers."  I smiled so big and hugged her, telling her "she had brightened my whole day with her thoughtful gift."

Sometimes in the midst of disappointment in some, God sends a reminder that there are good examples of His creation.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 3rd Thought

On my desk, I have a daily calendar that not only tells me the date but also gives me a thought for the day.  As I flipped the page to June 3rd, I was struck by the daily thought.
                                 "God adores the sound of your to Him often!"

How often do I talk to God.  I just mean talk to Him not in prayer but in conversation as in talking to a friend or family member.  Since I do not always pay attention to that specific activity, I decided to take my daily quiet time to answer the often do I talk to God?  I realized that I talk to God all the time and not always about anything special, just life in general.  For example, today I mentioned to God that whoever invented coffee was a gem and should get points for it.  I talked to Him about the beautiful day He created this morning and all the lovely birds, chipmunks and squirrels who came to enjoy the bird feeder.  Watching the news, I wondered if He was ever sad or angry at how His children were taking care of His planet and each other.  I made my daily requests of His care of my sons in whatever they were doing and asked Him to keep at least one eye glued on my husband who seems to forget how old he is and not capable of doing things as he did when he was in his 30s.  I discussed the patience I sadly lack and I laughed at how it must be His doing that I am looking and sounding like my mother every day.  Yes, I think I can safely say that I talk to God often.  How often do you talk to God in your daily life?  Think about it...the answer might surprise you.

Friday, May 12, 2017


In honor of my mom on Mother's Day, I decided to list all that is her in me (no, I am not talking about her genes).

1.  Hands.  This year I noticed that my hands look just like my mom's.  It's hard to explain how I make this connection....a hand looks like a hand.  It is not like the color of your eyes or the shape of your is just your hands.  But when I look at mine, I can see mom's hands.

2.  Voice.  This was brought to my attention by my sons.  They tell me that many times I sound like my mother.  In fact, some people who knew my mother have told me that it is very surprising to hear my voice and think it's my mom speaking.  Of course, I know that sometimes the things I say are my mother.  When those times happen, I always say that I am "channeling" mom.

3.  Faith.  My mom was not an active member of the Church in her later years but she had a great faith in God.  She always felt that God had a purpose for each of us and until that purpose was fulfilled, we would continue upon this earth.  As she got older and her body was slowly breaking down, she wondered what God had left for her to do before she could go to be with my dad.  This was something we talked about alot. Her rosary gave her great comfort.  In those times when pain filled her body and fear filled her mind, she drew solace from just holding it.  I have also found that my rosary is a way that I connect with my mom in times of need.

4.  Family.  Family was very important to mom.  This is something she definitely instilled in me.  There is nothing more important than family.  We take care of each other and there is nothing we would not do for each other.  She loved her children, their spouses and her grandsons especially her grandsons.  She was so proud of all 3 of them and was very supportive of them in everything they did.  I try very hard to be like my mom that way.  My family is everything to me and even though I may not always agree with their choices, I make sure that they know I am in their corner no matter what.

5.  Sense of Humor.  My mom had a great sense of humor.  She could make anyone laugh.  Sometimes I was not even sure she knew she was funny.  All my friends would say, "your mom is a stitch!"  When I would tell her this, she would look surprised and say it wasn't true.  But she could make you laugh over the most simple things.  I have a sense of humor although my husband and sons say that usually I am the only one who finds something funny.  Most of the time, they laugh just watching me laugh at something I find amusing.  That's me...the entertainment.

6.  People Watching.  Mom loved to people watch.  She would always find a seat in the back of the theatre, middle of the mall, etc.  She always wanted to sit where she could watch people.  Of course with people watching comes commenting...another thing she loved.  I find myself doing it as well much to the amusement of my family.

7.  Football.  Mom loved football especially Notre Dame football.  The standing rule was...don't call her on Saturdays because she was watching Notre Dame football.  Mom would yell at the tv and sometimes stomp out of the room after a very bad play.  I love football but I love Detroit Lions football (yes, I am one of those fans).  It is hard being a Lions fan where I live.  I am surrounded by Packer backers but I am still loyal to them.  Thank goodness my sons are too.  I tend to yell at the tv and stomp out after a particularly stupid play but usually my youngest son is right behind me.

8.  Coloring.  For as long as I can remember, my mom loved to color.  She would always sit and color with me in my coloring books.  After awhile, she would get her own and spend an hour a day just coloring as sort of a get away from the daily grind.  Buying mom coloring books and sets of colorful markers became one of the annual Christmas presents I got her.  Mom looked forward to that small amount of time she spent coloring each day.  She said it was like meditating.  I am a colorer too.  I usually color before bed.  It rests my mind so that I can sleep peacefully.

9.  Animals.  Mom was a dog person.  I am a cat person.  But to mom and me, our dogs and cats are not just pets, they are members of the family.  They are spoiled and treasured and grieved over when they pass.

My mom grew up in an era when women got married and made their families their careers.  She was a stay at home mom.  She left all of the family decisions and finances to my dad as he was the head of the household.  She did everything around the house and wouldn't even consider asking dad to vacuum, cook or do laundry.  Those were women's chores.  Yet, she always taught my sister and I to grow as strong, independent women who did not need to have a man take care of us but could be equal to him.  Because of this, I have taught my sons to cook, do laundry, etc.  I have always told them that women were not put on this earth to wait on them.  That they should be equal partners in their relationships.  The most important thing my mom taught me was to be sure and let my children know how proud I am of them, how I support them always and love them no matter what.  Her last words to me were, "I am so proud of the woman you have become. I love you".

My hope is that when my time comes to leave this earthly life, I will leave a legacy where my sons will be as proud to have me as a mom as I am to have had you as my mom.

                          HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM!  I LOVE YOU AND I MISS YOU!