I really can NOT believe that almost 20 years ago I fell crazy in love with my Donald John. Today on his Birthday I would like to celebrate him.
Donald and I began our love affair when I joined the Port Washington Fire Department in July of 1994. He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend. With no interest in a new relationship I joined the Department and this skinny guy was always around. There was a member of his Company David whom I knew from being a member of Glenwood Fire Company. Dave introduced us and from that day DJ was always around the Firehouse when I was there. From the time we started spending time together we laughed and had so much fun with each other. He wore me down and my boyfriend and I broke up and we started dating in October of 1994. I was Emergency Medical Technician and DJ a firefighter we were a perfect match. He would become my Ambulance driver and I attending Fire Schools with him ended up spending a lot of time together. He was working for a local fire equipment distributor and I for a local dry cleaner we were young and in love. I was 19 and he was 21 years old, life was good.
I remember the first time we celebrated Valentine’s Day with the man who is now my husband. He took me to this super fancy bar restaurant in Port Washington where he took me on our first date, JT Bullets. Bullets was a hole in the wall bar where all the locals hung out, but we were young and had no money so to me it was perfect. Valentine’s Day came just after our four-month anniversary. I still have every card he ever wrote me. I have every letter, yes he did, DJ wrote me tons of letters. I don’t remember what we ate, but I’m pretty sure the evening involved a bunch of locals drinking at the bar, no white table cloth or candlelight but what I do remember is that wonderful feeling, that lightness and giddiness and excitement, of finally being truly in love.
We stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day a few years later, as both of us did not like the idea that we single out one day each year to emphasize romance. We stopped celebrating our monthly anniversaries too, as months began to turn into years. August 20, 1998 with our family around he asked me to be his wife and on March 31, 2000 I married my love on a beautifully sunny sixty something degree day. We’ve been married nearly fifteen years and we have three boys, so our lives are now measured by baseball games, playdates and when is your school project due. I could never have predicted some of the changes we’ve experienced — Loosing my Mother so suddenly just one month before Johnny’s first birthday. The many unfortunate medical issues I have had through the years or the difficulties of simple everyday life with three children. The changes have surprised me, but I am equally surprised and delighted by the things that have stayed the same.
Ours is truly an easy marriage. For some reason we have a gift of loving each other no matter what. Sure we fight but we fight about things like – Please do not put the syrup in the fridge. DJ hates cold syrup on his hot waffles. There have been plenty of times I have had to forgive him for harsh words he may have used. But there are equally as many times I have had to ask for forgiveness. I adore him unconditionally even when he is not 100% adorable. No two people can live in the same house and not rub each other the wrong way at some point or another. For us I think the key is balance. Balancing being the best Mother and Father to our children and the best husband and wife to each other.
We don’t often get a date night and if we do it is more like a joint therapy session then a date. Dating is expensive and for now the kids are in need of things like baseball equipment, new sneakers and cash! But if we do have a date I am excited to apply copious amounts of makeup as I rarely do that anymore. I wear my best spanx as my childbearing years have offered me extra pounds around my middle and my face extra lines around my eyes. I put on my nice earrings and some jewelry he has bought me through the years. I trade my flip flops for nicer shoes and I wear perfume. He still sees me as beautiful. I can tell by the way he holds my hand as we leave the house. I can also tell by the way he looks at me across the table, it make me smile inside – for the mirror shows my age, my excessive weight gain but his smile shows his love for all things me.
A great gift we get to share with our boys is our loving marriage. Donald is teaching them to marry someone with your whole heart, someone that excites you emotionally and intellectually. He has taught them to marry your best friend – someone you want to be with till the end of each day, until you reach your last day. Don’t get married because you think it is time to get married. Get married because you found that person no matter how long it takes. Strive everyday to be the best husband and father you can be. Life can be chaotic and trying, if you can make your wife laugh then you got it made.
I am still so in love with that boy I met in 1994. It is a feeling that has now been grounded in the real stuff like who is going to clean the bathroom cause three boys do not know how to aim in the toilet.
I am so lucky to have this wonderful, whity, smart, handsome, caring, loving man. But my favorite part is that he makes me laugh like crazy. We laugh together like crazy – How lucky are we.
Happy 41st Birthday Donald John
Today is the day I celebrate my Mother and my Father. They are the one’s who gave birth to me right? They will forever share this day with me. I often wonder why we as a society don’t celebrate our Mother’s and Father’s on this day. We are forever intertwined, not for just the physical body she and my Dad created but for the many moments they have guided me and nurtured my spirit.
So today I choose to celebrate my Mother’s and my Father’s Birth Day not my birthday. We should be bringing our parents a cake and gifts. We should be saying thank you to her for pushing all those hours and for holding us in her womb for all those months.
Once you have children, you understand this want to celebrate the one who actually gave birth to you. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that by giving birth to another human – no one celebrates you. So today I will provide you with this guide to what I have learned about Birthdays.
1. Husbands don’t plan. Not just mine, all husbands do not make plans. They just don’t have it in their blood. I think I need to include in my summer home school lessons to my boys – How to plan nice things for your wife and give her a break from planning it all lessons. While I am married to the greatest man on earth, my expectations are low for a planned celebration. Because we Mother’s are the official-birthday-gift-buyer for everyone you know – I will just buy my own gift and plan my own dinner and pay the bill after with his money. Seems like a plan. See there you go I made the plan.
2. Kids – Its the thought that counts. I really am looking forward to the homemade card made out of the back of the Cheerios box. I also must prepare myself to have a huge smile when I get the macaroni necklace. I always made my Mother an ashtray in school art class. She would be so very happy and kiss and hug me and make this huge deal about this beautiful piece of art. I will do that same when I get the hand print decorated brown lunch bag. I am prepared for the same response if I get the Popsicle stick picture frame. Wait, I have not mentioned to them all week that my birthday is coming. They might not even know. If they say Happy Birthday when I wake up, I say I have hit the jackpot.
3. Friends – specifically girlfriends. They are the only ones to plan and actually remember this day. Even if it is a calendar reminder on their iPhone. They took the time to put this important information in their phone. They will schedule a night out, a dinner or just simply send a card. They know that being a Mother all you really want to do is drink wine and get away from your kids, so that is what they will plan.
Bottom line, Thanks Joseph and Janice today on my birthday as I embark on my 40th year here on this earth. God has blessed me in infinite ways, and that is the ultimate plan.
1981 – Janice so very pregnant with Joseph JR. All cousins lined up for her classic backyard birthday celebrations.
My besties Shannon and Kelli enjoying my party.
So this is what our summer has looked like so far. Countless Baseball games, Early morning swim meets and well Chrissy Mac on his iPod playing mind craft or whatever that crazy game is called. Summer is my most favorite time of the year. Some may say I am a sun addict and it’s true that the feel of the summer sun on my face simply makes me happy. Well this summer I am DONE, DONE, DONE. Just like I was at the end of this school year… but now I can not wait for school to begin. I tried to provide them with an educational summer- we searched for sea shells and we discussed the importance of not littering in the ocean. We visited family and we attend some outdoor concerts. We visited the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and Danny went away to camp for two weeks. I think all three kids had a great and productive summer.
No, I did not search pinterest or family circle magazine for ideas on how to dye tee shirts using organic vegetables or make popsicle sticks out of fresh fruit. I did not bring my kids to the library or any science museums. NO -NO -NO- who the hell wants to pay entry fees for four people to watch the kids to run all over the place? I was determined to keep the summer simple while trying to fit a few lessons in as the days went by. We watched TV, a lot of TV. Shows like Seinfeld were great for life lessons and to instill in the kids the importance of nothing. We watched extreme tree house building – a lesson in carpentry and nature. They played on the ipod and played a few board games. Trying to explain to Daniel that you can’t spend all your money right away in Monopoly was quite the chore. Wow! I was doing it, really doing it, little did I know I was teaching them Math over the summer – Monopoly was my math lesson! We filled water balloons and had massive water balloon fights and when Donald came home from work we listened to him scream – “who is gonna pick up all those broken balloons?” Water balloon filling was a science lesson! Again I was doing it, teaching them over the summer and I did not know it!
There were many lessons learned at the Manorhaven pool where overstimulated kids and frazzled parents gathered to get relief from the heat. Ahhh the smell of chlorine and sunscreen. Here comes my science lesson again- The sun is hot you will need sunscreen. furthermore there will be sunburn if no sunscreen is used- it hurts and you may need aloe to feel some relief. Another lesson in earth science, plants and such. I was rocking this summer home schooling gig. The kids learned the importance of not peeing in the pool, woman of a certain age should shave their legs and 250 pounds of shit can NOT fit into a 100 pound bag. I was ready for more lessons over the summer what could be next, I know lets take them shopping and show them how much money it costs to feed our family of five (sometimes six.) Off we go to the store.
Summertime is when the refrigerator is always empty and kids complain that there is never anything to eat. So why not teach them how much work it is to keep that fridge full and a lesson in how much money it costs to do so. It’s a rite of passage that every parent has to experience, taking the kids shopping and experiencing the “supermarket shakedown.” This unique shakedown is usually precipitated by the kids viewing all sorts of candy confections, promptly followed by the unequivocal “NO!”.
Off we go to Stop and Shop, grocery list in hand and we discuss in the car that we are only getting what is on the list. We go to the fruits and veggies first then head for the meat and the dairy products. All is going well and I send Johnny to the Deli line to get what I need. Christian insists he go with John and I am left with Danny who is sneaking all sorts of useless electronic items and toys in the cart. I hear over the loud speaker clean up in isle 6 and I run to see if this was one of my children breaking something. Nope not mine thank god, some other mother is screaming cause her kid decided to shake the 6 pack of yoo-hoo glass bottles and it is all over the floor. Chris comes back and I ask where John is and he lost him somewhere after the deli to the woman serving cheese and cracker samples. We find John and we try to complete the trip but a fight inevitably breaks out over who wants waffles, who wants French toast sticks and what flavor ice cream to get. Then comes the we are only buying the ice cream that’s on sale fight and why do we always have to get the store brand bread fight. I am exhausted from this lesson and all I want to do is get home. We check out and the kids are amazed on how much only one cart of groceries cost. I slide my debit card through the machine and Danny wants to know where the money comes from to pay the bill. I distract the question by saying “hey look the bank here is offering free lollipops”. I am too tired for another Math lesson.
As we arrive home we being the fight of who is carrying in the groceries and who is helping mom put everything away. I unload and stock up the mother load of groceries in the fridge and the cabinets. Daniel invites all of the neighborhood kids over, they eat and drink most of my food and the kids say that same afternoon there is nothing in this house to eat.
Today I await the letter from the Port Washington School district announcing who my kids will have for teachers for this year. So I can email them telling them how excited I am for school to start. I am tired of being the teacher.
Off to target for school supplies, I will let you know how it goes.
And then came Joey
The final piece to the puzzle of the Marvullo family, I want you all to know as we arrive at the adventures chapter of my life… again I am using this as an introduction for my children to always know where they came from and the pain and humor in all of our lives…..
October 1981 came King Joseph. Joseph is a Junior named after our Father and the many, many Giuseppe Marvullos before him. Laura and I were thrilled with our new addition mostly because we could not wait to dress him up and boy did we.
Life changed drastically for me as Joey grew up. I was relieved of the many things Dad MADE me do- looking back I enjoyed those activities. Joey became Dad’s fishing partner, hunting partner, yard work partner and all around best buddy. Joey was always full of energy and full of…. well we will get to that point later.
Watching Joey grow has been amazing in ways I don’t think I could have ever imagined. Being an older sister I was excited to now be able to boss two people around, teach him how to sneak his food at the table to the dog and eventually, I thought I would show him how to drive a car and drive my parents crazy. I thought I would be the one to teach him to take on the world and be a first class baseball player. I imagined it all. But, I imagined it all very wrong.
At a very young age I became a Mother figure to Joey because my Father’s drinking seemed to take most of my Mother’s time and energy. In 1986, just a few months after my Mother’s beloved NY Mets won the world series, my Father became very ill with at the time was an unknown type virus that was shutting all his organs down and was hospitalized for over a month. I can remember it like yesterday we were all at a family friends house (Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Dawn) and Mom came to pick us up the priest had given my Father his last rites and we went to say goodbye. I can remember her holding onto Joey so tight as if he was the only child. I guess she felt he was his namesake and the only other man in our family that was to be left. The days passed and slowly, Dad got better but Joey at a young age was thrust into manhood as my Father recovered.
Joey became one of the top athletes at school. He was Captain of the wrestling team and Captain of the football team. He dated the prettiest girls and all the local parents were in awe of his talents. He was on top of the world and we were so proud to watch this all unfold. Then came Cortland College, the first child of the family to go away to school. My parents were beaming with pride. Well beaming until Joey drank and drugged his way through freshman year and took what we called the most expensive vacation ever. He attempted Community College and his life began to spiral out of control never keeping a job, loosing relationships and dealing with depression. Then at the ripe old age of 21, Joseph watched, literally watched, as my Mother lost her life at home so suddenly on that Thursday evening in February 2003. Things got even more out of control and my little baby brother drank the pain away.
Laura and I tried the best we could to keep him out of trouble but it was out of our control. Just like my Mother said about my Father “when he is ready for help he will get it, ” he was ready in 2006. On the night of my husband’s birthday we reached out to Joey to come celebrate and he said “I need help.” Donald went to pick him up and we called my Dad whom at this point was living in Florida and he got on the next flight to New York. Who could of imagined that twenty something years later my Dad would be bringing his only son to the same rehab that saved his life. He returned home and lived with me, on my couch with few clothes and half my coat closet for storage. He had lost everything but was ready to rebuild. I again was his Mother worrying about his every move and making sure he was diligent in attending his AA meetings. All with the help of my sister we got him through and he is now approaching his 8th year of sobriety.
On a much lighter note lets discuss what I love about Joseph:
- “what are you talking about” the statement that is forever coming out of his mouth.
- As some would say he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves.
- “hum kkkkkkiss nhjki abba abba abba doooo shhhhheeee aaasssskkkki dododod” the sound of Joey’s voice while talking to him on the phone. He is clearly a MUM-BELL-ER.
- He loves farting just about as much as my Dad. Farts are always funny – even when you fart into a zip lock bag, place it in the freezer and save it for your nephews.
- Farts can also be Christmas gifts for your nephews, farting into their stocking and saying “Merry Christmas” is always the best gift one can give.
- I love how he loves my sons totally and unconditionally.
- Cosmo Kramer JR… quirky yet lovable.
- his new found purpose and passion the 12 steps and taking it one day at a time.
- he is completely full of crap most days and I absolutely love calling him out on it and his answer is always “what are you talking about.”
- Love how Laura and I have truly become his mother mostly because we buy him things for Christmas like white tank tops and boxers. That is what all good mothers buy their adult sons for Christmas.
Here is a look at what 8 Maple Street, Glenwood Landing looks like now…. minus one, but filled with love and understanding. Some with long hair and some with less hair. Some skinnier, some a little more plump. Some grey hairs and some needing glasses. We made it through.
Laura Frances Marvullo Campaner
Born in 1979 she came into our family and since that day tried to steal my thunder right out from under me. An only child for 4+ years, Janice and Joe gave me a sister, truly God’s greatest gift – Well, now I know that – back then not so much. Laura was named after our Great Aunt Laura Marvullo and our Nanny Frances (Avalon) our Mother’s Mother.
Our sisterly adventures were like I am sure many other families. WE ALWAYS shared a room and most times a bed. We fought over toys and who will get the front seat of the powder blue, white leather interior Cadillac with the 8 track player. She was what the family called a silent but deadly child. She was found once painting our beautiful white pedestal bath tub with Mom’s nail polish and finished it off by “brushing” the rug in the bathroom with Mom’s mascara. I got in trouble for that one too cause “Law would neva do that.” I was always the screamer and she was silent all the time. Always leaving me to be in trouble and punished for everything, cause I was louder and she smiled and was the sweet girl who would never be naughty. YEAH RIGHT! She once caused a huge fight in the car that while Mom was driving smoking a cigarette and holding a cupa cawfee she did the old – One hand driving and one hand beat your kid maneuver. I got beat cause she was smart enough to duck – she was always smarter. We never fought over clothes – I was forever pleasantly plump and she a size zero. Her and my father were both so skinny that while Mom would do the wash she would mix up some of their Jean shorts. Cause ya know back then Joe M was stylin with his cut off “dungarees.” Take a look who had the nicer dungarees? I was more concerned with Sun-in in my hair and cool shades!
Laura has always been there to annoy and criticize me. Indulge in monumental huffs, stand with what we are now calling “bitchey resting face” and complete her comments with snide remarks. She would Monopolize both the bathroom and the TV we only had one of each growing up. Laura is the only other person on my crusade to find and destroy all of those family holiday Sears portraits. You know the ones in which one of us always looks sufficiently more awkward than the other but you are mutually as embarrassed about it and therefore out to destroy them all. As sisters we also share the humiliation in having to wear matching dresses during the holidays and have elderly relatives ooh and ahh over how much you look alike. I think we need to do that again… Let’s get matching dresses for the next family party and see if anyone says anything. How lucky are we to have another human with which we can be incredibly weird with.
things I love about Laura Fran:
- Her ability to flare her nostrils. Ask her about it someday. It’s a true talent.
- That lovely huffing sound she produces.
- how she loves my children.
- How she tries to save the environment by doing things like moving to tubeless toilet paper. I applaud her efforts.
- Her commitment to all things family ours and my husbands.
- love how she silently appreciates all I may have taught her through the years – through her actions and not necessarily her words.
- Her walk – ever watch her walk?
- the sound of the wooden spoon on the side of the pasta sauce pot she makes. Sounds just like Janice.
- When she calls to say that picture someone posted on FB – we really do look alike.
- Her love of Michael’s…..many many Michael’s…. Until she met the ultimate Michael and gave me one of the greatest joys another Michael. Michael Joseph (MJ) my new love.
When catastrophe strikes, sisters are also there. Defending you against all the hurt and the pain. I guess in 1979 Joe and Janice’s plan was a pretty good idea – Giving me a sister.You always have a built in best friend… one whose been your partner in crime for your whole life. If that’s not the most supremely, amazingly, super duper, far out, awesome thing, I don’t know what is.
The original Joe the Plumber….Here is a photo of my Father “post” Janice. Ya see Janice would never allow the Harley and certainly not the pony tail. Practically children themselves when I was born — they were both 23 — they were thrust into adulthood while still, in many ways they were kids. I believe my father’s midlife crisis missed all the typical marks. There was no Rogaine, no convertible, and unfortunately for me, no round-the-world family cruise. His path to middle age can be summed up all by the sudden loss of his teenage love Janice Vesloski.
Dad was a hard worker, spending my younger years as a business owner – J and J Heating (Janice and Joe). A plumber by trade he later worked for Pall Corporation in East Hills. The business went under sometime in my Elementary school years. Mostly because or at least I think Dad’s love of Miller beer.
Dad’s drinking got worse and worse and came to a head sometime my freshman year of High School . I was told many times that “Your father has to want to do it for himself. When he hits rock bottom, he’ll make changes.” Well Rock bottom hit and Mom sat us all down and said “Daddy’s going away for a little while.” And she sent him to a rehab program in Upstate New York. I still have the letters he sent me from there. He asked me to take care of my Mother and my siblings and that he was getting better for us. Shortly after he came home his new passion was educating himself on Employee Assistance programs for those with drug and alcohol addictions in the workplace. He started a counseling center in Sea Cliff to help those who were trying to become sober and his life’s work after that surrounded the AA program, the 12 steps and taking it one day at a time.
Through the years I watched my dad throw himself (compulsively, I may add) into many passions. Once, he invented a new product he called “the chum buddy” in our basement, a fishing lure that he and my Mother would drive around the Island and sell (I can still smell the plastic being drilled out). He had tee shirts made and even got some vanity plates for his Chevy van.
Some may call him Cosmo Kramer…though eccentric, Kramer was friendly and kind-hearted and filled with quirkiness – Pretty much sums up Joe M. Unfortunately what I often saw was his inability to transform those passions into a measurable result. I always wished my dad given more time to his purpose — why he did what he did, why he wanted what he wanted — his passions may have resulted in a more favorable and desired outcome. There was something he was always looking for… I think he still is still looking…..
Dad always taught us very important lessons here are just a few:
- How to make a mean clam chowder and english muffin pizzas.
- A fresh unwashed tomato from the garden is best shared with your Dad.
- Farting is always funny. Even at the dinner table. Actually, especially at the dinner table.
- You can be mad at someone and still love them at the same time. This can be very confusing.
- Marry your best friend.
- Religion was praying to God the Yankees would get the win.
- Swiss cheese is to be eaten on wonder bread with mayo and fresh tomato.
- My father taught me about JUSTICE. “One day you’ll have to teach someone, and I hope they give you grief, just like you did me.” and I did.
- When you turn 18 and your eligible to vote – Vote for the vowel. If the man’s name running for office ends in a vowel its likely he is Italian and he is the one you should pick.
- Listen to your Mother.
While my childhood was often filled with anxiety and tension, there were nevertheless some beautiful times with my father. Looking back, what I can be most thankful for are the lessons I’ve carried with me.
So as I begin to set off on this new journey I must first like to thank my family. Joseph, Janice, Laura and Joey. For they are my first family. But most specifically Janice the beautiful woman who gave me life and to whom passed away at the age of 50 in 2003. Only 12 years older then I am now.
Back then I did not have my Xanax prescription so I needed to find humor in all that I did and all that was happening around me. Spending each day with my mother– whose favorite activity is counting the calories I consumed, drinking cawfee, smoking Virginia slims and of course screaming. Screaming was the normal “talk” in my house. Dinners were loud and if you talked the loudest maybe you were heard. Dinner – lets talk about dinners. My Mother was the worlds worst cook. She made a mean meatball but other than that – I thought all meat was grey and all vegetables tasted like butter and they came from a can. Ham steaks were a weekly regular on the menu and let us never forget the pan fried hamburger on wonder bread with ketchup. I can still see the blood from the hamburger running through that white bread that was just defrosted from the freezer cause god forbid you ever waste a loaf of bread before it turns green you gotta freeze it. Mashed potatoes, they were always OK. But while on my plate they formed the barrier between the blue/grey steak and the buttered green beans. Hunger would always win and I had to eat.
House cleaning was an expertise of my mothers. My Friend Kelli would always say “come to Christina’s house drink a glass of iced tea and Janice will clean the glass and put it away before you were even done.” Clearly I did not get this trait from my mother. Today I found a sock stuck under Danny’s dresser to the floor with some gum. I have three sons that have trouble figuring out the relationship between socks and sock drawers and my youngest who has a habit of dragging miscellaneous crap underneath the couch and his dresser leaving it there to collect dust. The work of managing a household while caring for three kids a husband and a dog is next to impossible. My kids are tidiness-challenged and I know Janice would never have let that happen.
Work- Janice did not work in the outside world till my little brother Joey was in I believe 1st grade. Her job was to take care of us kids and my Father. Thinking just the other day when I got an E-vite to my Godson’s birthday party. My mother had to call each kid to come to my birthday parties… No Face Book, no texting, no emails. She had to sit on the phone and call all 47 first cousins, my Aunts and Uncles etc. No wonder she had no job…. being a housewife was a job back then. So I’m trying to come to terms with it, I will never be the house wife she was. I try and come to terms with in the same way that I have been trying to come to terms with my muffin top. I have that and she did not.
Good House wife – Bad cook.
My mother was a good mother and I was a good daughter.