Jul 31, 2013


7/31/2013 — cori

Lillian Zukowski Dombek
October 13, 1925 - July 21, 2013

"As much as I have thought on this matter, I see no way around the hurt.  The only way to remove pain from death is to remove love from life."  -  Richard Paul Evans

Our best efforts could not keep Bapchie alive.  Her lungs were diseased beyond repair.  She didn't want to fight, didn't want to stay here any longer.  She was ready to go home.  Who can blame her?  

My Bapchie, or Lil as she was known to everyone else, was a first generation Polish-American.  She grew up knowing both Polish and English.  World War II defined her era.  She grew up on a tobacco farm with her 5 brothers and sisters.   She always wanted to be a nurse but was not permitted to by her parents.  

Bapchie met my Jadziu, Ed who was 6 years her senior, before the war.  They married on Feb. 2, 1946 after 5 years of serving in the Pacific Front .  They lived with her parents for a year before borrowing $8,000 from her dad to buy and fix up a little house.  They lived in that house the rest of their lives.

My Bapchie had two boys, my Dad, Eddie and then my Uncle Micheal, 6 years later.  She worked in two of the 5 mills that Rockville, Connecticut was known for.  She worked in the paper mill making envelopes and also another mill that made parachutes.  She worked nights so that someone would always be with the boys.

When she was 39 when she graduated from The Connecticut School of Hairdressing and opened up her own shop called "Lil's Beauty Shop" that they had built attached to their house in 1969.

I loved this beauty parlor.  It has looked the same my entire life.  When I was a kid I used to think that I also had the skill to do hair since my Bapchie would always let me help take out the rollers of all her clients' hair.  She didn't retire until she was 80.  

After I was born, my Bapchie travelled all the way to England with my Aunt Paula (my Mom's sister) to come see me.  She did the same for my brother, only this time she flew half a world away to the Philippines.  She hated to fly.

Even though we never lived close to my grandparents, we always visited them.  Growing up with my Dad working for the Department of Defense, we moved every two years.  Between every  move we would always have a long layover at my grandparents' house.  Once we lived in the States again we would drive up from Virginia to see them all the time.  Those were our vacations.  It just proves you can still have a close relationship even when you don't live close together.

I remember her always singing this song to me.  I thought she made it up.  I just recently learned that it was popular around the time I was born.  This is it: 

I am so very thankful to have lived 40 years and come to know my Grandma as an adult.  What a gift that is!  I have visited her often over the years, but never often enough.  My children even got to see her multiple times even though we've lived so far apart.  I am so glad they had the chance to know her.  I want them to know of her persevering spirit, her incredibly hard work ethic, and her servant's heart.  

She loved to watch Red Sox baseball and UCONN girls' basketball on tv.  She made each of us her signature crocheted rainbow blankets that we all lovingly refer to as our Bapchie Blankets.  She served thousands of meals in the tiniest kitchen I have ever seen and she made it look easy.  She still hung out her laundry to dry when the weather was nice.

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to getting a card in the mail from Bapchie cuz I knew there would always be a dollar in it with the note: "Use this to go buy yourself an ice cream" and that is exactly what we did because that is what it was for.  

I will miss you Bapchie.  But I'm thankful for your life, the memories and especially all the home movies that keep you alive in my heart.

Jul 29, 2013

Be Who You Are

7/29/2013 — cori

Chuck, Gavin and I all agree...this article is spot on.  If you really knew us, you would know these things about us already and appreciate them as gifts and not short-comings.

Ten Myths about Introverts:

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.

This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.

Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.

On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.

Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.

Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.

Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.

Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.

A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

Jul 18, 2013

No Camping For You

7/18/2013 — cori
There are many things we love about Minnesota but camping is not one of them.  There are some gorgeous places to camp.  But EVERY time we have gone we've gotten rained on.  Not just rained on, but thunder-stormed on.  Not cool.  You would think that by planning a camping trip in the middle of July you would be safe from any random thunderstorm.  Think again.  We went way north.  Farther north than we've ever gone.  We were only an hour away from the Canada border.  Gorgeous country, but apparently unpredictable weather.  When we left that morning, there was only a 30% chance of rain.  As the day progressed, the percentage increased.  The forecast failed to mention the pea-soup fog.  It was beautiful in it's own way, but not when you're expecting 75 degrees and sunny.  So our camping trip turned into a hiking only trip.  We visited 3 state parks and felt like we had each of them to ourselves.  I guess when most people see fog, they don't think, "Hey, let's go hiking."  Not us...it just added to our sense of adventure.  It was eerily beautiful and quiet and awe-inspiring.  We truly felt like we were explorers first discovering some undisturbed piece of land.

There's a huge lighthouse somewhere back there behind the fog.

This is Lake Superior that you can't see.

A gorgeous white, Aspen/Pine forest that we hiked through.

Another fog-filled trail.  The kids especially liked kicking a tree and watching the water 
from all the leaves rain down on the person who happened to be walking behind them.

A long, wet, climb into the fog at Split Rock Light House State Park.

The tallest waterfall in Minnesota at Tettagouche State Park.

The suspension bridge we walked across to get to the other 
side of the Baptism River just before the falls. 

Chloe was rather un-nerved by the swaying of the bridge
and needed Daddy's secure hand to guide her across.

The boys just wanted to see how high up they could climb the bridge.

When the light was just right, it made for some beautiful pictures in the fog.

Walking out onto a break-water to watch a huge barge that was leaving the bay.

Jul 14, 2013

Being There

7/14/2013 — cori

Sometimes showing up is the only thing you can do to show someone how much you care or help out.  That's what I wanted to do once I heard of my Bapchie's heart attack.   My highly independent, healthy, always going and doing for others Bapchie was now physically incapacitated...it was almost unbelievable.   She has been caring for my Jadziu who has Alzheimer's for over 10 years now.  It has been one of the hardest things she has ever done.  There are many times he has become combative and hostile while in this state of mind.  This has not only worn her down emotionally, it has depleted all of her physical resources now too.  We knew this would happen...it was just a matter of 'when'.  When I got the call that Bapchie was in the hospital, I knew I had to go see her. I was afraid it would be the last time the kids and I would ever see her alive.  Plus, I wanted to show her she's worth it; that I would do the hard thing for her.  That I would be there no matter what.  That's what love does.

She was never a sickly woman, rather she was always active and on the go and prided herself in dressing nice and keeping her hair and make-up done.  At 87 she was still in great shape.  Her eyes had been giving her trouble recently which frustrated her to no end, but she was receiving help for that.  She still made breakfast, lunch and dinner for Jadziu every day.  Since she could no longer leave the house without Jadziu, she came to rely on my Uncle and his family to bring groceries and my parents visits every 6 weeks as the highlights of her day.  She had learn to come to rely on the kindness and strength of her neighbor who was always there for her.  The last time I saw her was for my Jadziu's 90th birthday  over 3 1/2 years ago.  I kept asking her if I could come visit her and help her out when we talked on the phone.  I could hear the depression and sadness in her voice.  But she didn't want us to see Jadziu this way.  She would continue to carry this burden alone.

The kids and I left Minnesota two days after her heart attack and arrived two days later after driving two, eleven hour days.  The kids are such awesome travelers, never complaining and so much fun to be around.  Hotels with pools and free breakfasts are our friend!  It was very important for me to bring them so they could have a memory of their Great-Grandparents one last time.  Chuck was unable to take any time off work and was very understanding and supportive of my desire to bring the kids with me.  

I was shocked to see my Bapchie in this hospital bed.  She looked like one of the people in the nursing home I go to visit.  She looked frail, sickly, helpless, weak, hair undone and pale.  She required constant oxygen, thus the oxygen mask.  Once in the hospital, they discovered she had suffered an earlier heart attack that blocked one ventricle as well as partially blocked two more.  No wonder she had been so tired.

One of the hardest parts of this whole ordeal was caring for Jadziu.  Mom and Dad drove up immediately and settled in at Bacphie's house and began caring for him full time.  As we were all to soon find out, this was an exhausting job.  We all tried to take turns and relieve them of the constant care, but they ended up with the brunt of it for almost 2 full weeks.  It has been amazing to see the family step up and all help out and to see my Dad and Uncle work together for their Mom and Dad's best interest.  These are super stressful situations to be in and yet they have managed to do so much by each person sacrificing and graciously helping the other.

One day when my parents and my Uncle had to go interview Alzheimer's homes so we could find a place to care for Jadziu, my cousins and I each took 3 hour shifts watching Jadziu.  Standing in my Bapchie's shoes for a measly 3 hours was exhausting!  I don't know how she did it.   But I'm so thankful I had the opportunity.  I enjoyed that time with my Jadziu.  

When we weren't at the hospital, we were staying at my Uncle's house.  Thank God they had a pool because it was so incredibly hot the 3 days we were there. The kids practically lived in the pool.  We had no plan or agenda each day, which was hard on my kids who live by 'The Plan'.  But they adjusted so well.  I told them 'The Plan' was that we were going to be like water and just go with the flow.  That meant we had no idea who we were going to see when, what we were going to eat or even if we would, or what time anything would happen.  We had one lunch that consisted of donuts and one dinner that consisted of ice cream and another of cereal.  This didn't seem to upset them any.

The bonus of this trip was definitely getting to see all of our extended family that we don't get to see very often.  We enjoyed playing in the pool with all my cousins.  Bennett had a blast playing basketball with Jack.  Lauren taught Chloe how to do a flip into the pool.  Kelley watched the kids for me when I had my rotation of caring for  Jadziu.  I enjoyed visiting with my Aunt Jan and Uncle Mike whenever they were home.  Unfortunately, my cousin Andi was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis while we were there because there wasn't enough already going on.  We were relieved they caught it in a timely manner and she was back to normal the next day.

We also got to see my parents for little snippets of time, but those little times sure were enjoyable and a bonus since we never know when we're going to see them next.  One evening we were visiting with them in the front yard of my Bapchie's house since Jadziu had just gone to bed and we didn't want to wake him.  However, he woke up on his own and noticed we were there.  Thankfully, he was in a great mood and we were able to visit with him and even take pictures.

Funny thing happened.  Bennett was trying to tell a story about something that happened and when he was done Jadziu told him, "Try not to tell stories unless absolutely necessary."  It was hilarious.  It was typical Jadziu.  He was always quick witted and made us laugh.

On our last evening there we also got to visit Aunt Paula, my Mom's sister.  It's always so much fun to see their family.  Thank God yet again for another pool. The kids had a blast playing in it with my Uncle John and their cousin Gina.  We were treated to Uncle John's great cooking and delicious Modern Pastry cannoli's for dessert. 

It was definitely a whirlwind of a trip.  The three days passed in a blur and it was time to set off again for home.  I decided to make the trip home in three days instead of two knowing I was going to be tired.  Our first day was supposed to be only 7 1/2 hours long.  We were going to drive the length of Pennsylvania and stay in a hotel on the boarder just before Ohio.  Remember how I said I was tired?  I wasn't joking.  After a stop to fill up on gas mid-way through Pennsylvania, I got back on the highway going the wrong direction.  I went east instead of west on the interstate.  The worst part is, I didn't realize my mistake until I saw the sign, "Welcome to New Jersey" two and half hours later.  I wanted to pitch a royal fit. I wanted to get out of the car and stomp and scream and cry.  I was so mad!!  What a stupid mistake.  I just added 5 more hours to our trip.  I was already exhausted, as I'm sure the kids were.  It turned into a 12 hour day in the car, driving through some torrential rains, traffic backups and boring country side.  It was not one of my better days.

The following day was only a 4 hour drive to western Ohio where we stopped in a visited Nana. It was so nice to have a day of rest before finishing our final leg of the journey which was another 11 hour day.

I'm thankful this sad event in Bapchie's life happened when it did.  The kids and I had nothing planned but lazy summer days.  We had all the time in the world to take a road trip.  I'm so glad this didn't happen later in the year when we are horribly limited by our school schedules and weather.  All things work out for good and I'm happy to say that included this as well.  

My parent's and Uncle found a wonderful, loving Alzheimer's home to care for my Jadziu where he is at peace and enjoys his surroundings.  My Bapchie was understanding and accepting of the fact that she can no longer care for him and was thankful he's in a good place where he still has freedom and respect.  My Bapchie is slowly improving but will never go back to being the independent woman she once was which is so very sad.

Jul 13, 2013

Crazy Family

7/13/2013 — cori

As if we needed proof ... here it is in video format.  We actually find this type of stuff fun.  Crazy, I know.  This is in honor of one of our family's favorite shows to watch together.  I guess you could call us 'food snobs'.

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