My life is like a Hallmark Movie…

My life is a Hallmark Christmas Movie…

I’ve been plagued by writers block for over a year, and as much as I have tried, nothing has lifted it.  I am hoping today is the day that I get something written that is worthy to share.  I almost feel a little nudge from my Pop.  

As with most holiday seasons, my mind is a whirlwind of emotions – happy, sad, excited, overwhelmed, anxious – the whole gamut.   The weeks leading up to this one are filled with shopping, wrapping, holiday dinners, festive parties, and so much more.   As the mom, and creator of Christmas for the Benedik family, I run on auto pilot and just get things done.  I have been up at 5:30am most days, ready and dressed by 7, and hit the ground running.  You’d think now that the ‘kids’ are 18, 23, & 25 it would be easier, yet I think it’s a little tougher now that they are young adults.   I still want them to have the magic of Christmas that they did when they were little, and mostly I want them to always want to come home for the holidays.   My goal is to get everything done, so that when Brian has some much needed time off, we can just sit back and enjoy our family, and celebrate all that we have.   

Like many Hallmark Christmas movie fans, I have been watching the movies since Thanksgiving.  Literally round the clock, I have them on as background noise, distractions, and goofy entertainment.   They are predictable & silly, and they all end up the same.  Why are they so addicting?  Maybe it’s the portrayal of the “perfect” town, family, relationship, bakery or toy shop, and of course the local diner- usually named ‘the jingle mingle cafe’.   The ladies all have red or green wool coats, adorned with Christmas pins, and matching leather gloves, and the men all have wool pea coats, and matching scarfs.  No one is ever cold, and the sidewalks are never slippery.   Definitely  not the real world, but one that is a welcome escape during the madness of this season.   

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it is easy to get caught up in all the stress and angst.  The Hallmark characters solve holiday stress with a “cup of hot cocoa” or the “perfect sleigh ride”.  I often wish it was that easy!  

A few weeks ago I read a quote on social media that really hit home.  “Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have”.  Simple words, but a strong meaning.  I have had to remind myself of this many times the past few weeks, and each time I did, a bit of the angst that has consumed me has gone away.   

Is my house decorated like the ones in the movies? It is most definitely NOT!  It is festive and cheery, and warm and cozy.  It makes my kids smile, and adds just the right amount of Christmas to our home.                                                                                   

My girls and I do not have the red wool coats that have sparkly holiday pins on the lapel, but we have warm coats and accessories that work just as well.  Does my family wear matching Christmas sweaters? Nope!  But we do rock the matching pajamas, and Brian does have his green Christmas suit that has become a holiday staple.  

We aren’t building gingerbread house masterpieces, or hosting a holiday wreath making party, but I did make cookies this year, enough for an army, and our wrapping station is pretty impressive!  

We don’t have a “Jingle Mingle Cafe or Frosty’s Diner” but we have The Country Cafe that works just as well! Festive decor and Delicious hot chocolate & cookies, and always a warm welcome from it’s proprietor, Gail, who is like family!

 We have our own traditions, we dress up, we host fabulous dinners, we sit in traffic (I have yet to see traffic in a Hallmark movie though!), we search high and low for the perfect gift, we have love, peace and joy.  We have a family dynamic that cannot be matched, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  As I have my coffee on this Christmas Eve morning, before I hit the ground running, it hit me.  My life is like a Hallmark movie – one that has been written and acted out with the best director of all.   We are so incredibly blessed.   

Merry Christmas!  


PS:  I know I have a Christmas pin somewhere!!! 

5 years, Snow, Not just a pancake, Reilly girl isolation, and general Covid nonsense….

My blog runs hot and cold.  I get a good groove going, and I can crank them out every couple of days or weeks.   Then the writers block comes, and it attaches itself to me like an adhesive.  I have pages of beginning paragraphs, and nothing beyond those first few words.  So on this cold & snowy winter morning, I am going to try again.  I have the urge to share, to pour my heart out into my words, and release months of emotional highs and lows.  Let’s we where it goes.

I began my blog five years ago when my pop passed away.  It became an emotional crutch for me as I struggled along the grief journey.  I was wading in uncharted waters, and needed something to help me along.   Fast forward FIVE years, and this coming Monday will be my pops five year anniversary.  How has it been five years?  How could our family survived this long without him? Somehow we did, following the instructions he gave us 5 years ago today.  We (some of the Reilly girls and guys and my mom) gathered around my pop in his home office, as he sat in his worn leather chair in his robe and pajamas, and at his request made a toast with our St. Francis Cabernet.  It would be the last time he got out of bed, the last time he spoke to us.  Whoever thought to video tape it, I am eternally grateful.  I think it was Karen.   My pop was weak, yet he spoke very clear words, and I took them as his instructions; “we’re here because we want to be here, we’re here because HE wants us to be here, we’re gonna do things together, because HE wants us to be together, all the while confident we have a good skipper, Amen”.   I have lost count over the years how many times I have watched and listened to his words.  While it is sad, and I sob uncontrollably sometimes, it is a priceless treasure.   The Reilly girls took these words, my pops final instructions to heart.  We have done things together like never before.  It’s what we do, its how we cope.   This past year, we have been limited like never before in our togetherness, and it is crippling for our family.  We don’t know how to be apart, and it has been a challenge.   I can only pray that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and we can resume what was our normal.  

As with most ‘occasions’, my pops five year anniversary was no different.  We had a grand plan of a celebratory mass, and breakfast at my pops favorite spot.  The best part of the plan, was my sister Heidi was going to come up from South Carolina for the first time in 14 months.   I don’t know if any of us have ever gone 14 months without seeing each other.  It just isn’t done.  Yet, here I sit, with snow falling yet again, crushed that Mother Nature has forced my sister to cancel her trip.   We are all disappointed, my mom and Heidi are devastated, and there is nothing I can do to fix it.  It is a terrible feeling knowing the pain my sister is feeling, isolated in SC away from all of us.  My dad would say, “it is what it is”, but right now it just sucks.  Some days I feel like the pandemic is trying to break us, keeping us apart.  Even knowing that all this separation is temporary, it’s not easy for a Reilly girl to be kept away.  

It was a strange day of emotions yesterday, the highs and lows of my day were huge.  The high of a good doctors report, a great hair appointment, and fun coffee/lunch with my friends at the salon, while the lows of my sister canceling her trip, my mom being sad, and so much snow and miserable weather just swirled around my being.   My family (Brian & the kids) is in Florida visiting my in-laws, while I stayed home with the dogs so I could see my sisters & my mom this weekend.   With the realization that this wasn’t happening for me, I tried to find a way to make myself feel better, and in true Reilly girl form, turned to food.   The ultimate comfort food is my mom’s German pancakes.   No matter what the occasion is, when my mom makes them, it is heaven. They are HUGE, very thin, and they are delicious.  My mom makes them for us whenever we like, breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even a snack.  It’s just her thing – my kids were raised loving them as much as I do.  I have tried, and failed, many many times to make them.  Mom has stood beside me, instructed me with patience & ease, and to no avail.   I cannot make them.  When I know my mom is coming for a few days, or visiting us at the beach house, I crave them like crazy.   Last night, at around 8:00pm, I decided to try to make them.  i didn’t have high hopes, as it has always been beyond my realm of expertise.  Even as I mixed the batter, I wasn’t optimistic.  As I poured the batter into my nicely buttered frying pan (that I bought just for when Mom makes her pancakes), something miraculous happened.  My pancake took shape, began to cook all around the edges, and before I knew it, I was flipping it over and a minute later, I had done it.   One, then two, perfectly cooked pancakes, just like my moms.   It seems like a small menial task, wouldn’t mean anything to anyone but me- but it did the trick.   It gave me sheer joy, and made me feel like my mom was in my kitchen.   I have enough batter to make 2 more for breakfast today, and when I finish writing, that is my plan.  So much more than just a pancake.

So as the snow piles up yet again, and I sit here with a good cup of coffee in my warm home with Kooper & Kody, I know I am blessed, and I am so grateful.  I am hopeful my writers block is gone for good.   There are so many things I want to write about and share, so let’s see what happens.  It is what it is.



It’s been some time…post covid 19 quarantine, the world is opening up, and some people have gone off the rails.

I think it’s been well over a month since I have sat down to write a blog. Writer’s block is an issue I have dealt with since college – either I can write or I can’t. No in between, and no attempts to get out of it are successful. I just have to wake up and realize I have thoughts that I’d like to share, and off I go. Today happens to be one of those days.

I have the most magnificent back drop to be writing from this morning. Nestled in the woods up in the Lake George area, I am on a beautiful front porch at our best friends home. It’s early morning, and it’s just me, my coffee, my laptop, and the sounds of nature. My favorite time of day, and I can feel the spirit of my pop sitting right beside me.

People always say a change of scenery will do you good – and this most certainly has. Brian and I came up yesterday for the weekend, and as soon as we hit the road (alone…no kids/dogs) I felt the release of angst/stress/aggravation. And when you are with people you love, it’s almost perfect.

It’s been a LONG 4 months of Covid19 isolation/lockdown/quarantine. I am the first to admit, we had it better than most – our kids are older, and we didn’t have to homeschool anyone. But it was not easy at all, and by mid May I was feeling seriously depressed. Mother’s Day, my 50th birthday, it seems like it never happened, as my emotions were so irrational I could hardly deal. Regina swooped in and took me to the beach for a few days in early June, and it was truly the best medicine. Nothing was open, and we stayed in a teeny tiny cottage, but it was magical. Something switched back on inside me, and I felt as if things were finally going to be okay.

When I returned from the beach, it was time to jump back into ‘Mom mode’ 150%, as Caroline was having surgery on 6/9 at Mt. Sinai in NYC. This had been canceled, postponed and re-scheduled so many times due to COVID 19, and we were anxious to get it behind us. The hospital had re-opened, and she was finally on the schedule, and things were good to go. Caroline is 21, and legally an adult, so the rule of that week at Mt. Sinai was that she had to come in to the hospital ALONE, and they would call me when she was finished. No matter how many times we were reminded of this, I was bound and determined to stay. There was NO way I was going to leave her there alone. What mother would? We arrived, and with her glasses on, no makeup, and hair in braids, she looked like a minor. So no questions were asked at the first THREE security check points, and I was given a pass to accompany her. (Brian was waiting in the car, parked around the block, until I told him it was safe to leave…). Until….we got to the actual pre-op floor, and this tiny stern nurse realized Caroline was an adult, and I had no business being there. Boy was she pissed off, me being me, calmly (externally calm, inside I was starting to freak) told her and the other staff, security/admissions/pre-op check in had ALL let me through to this point, and I was NOT leaving. I managed to stay until anesthesia arrived and spoke to her, and then I was told I had better leave. Not so easy to do as a mom – I have spent many hours in this exact situation with Riley, yet I was never told to LEAVE the hospital. All waiting areas were closed, no chairs in any part of the hospital, and no cafeteria to wait in. As I said goodbye to Caroline, I was trying to hold it together, and as the stern nurse escorted me to the elevators, I was falling apart. I was bitter at the rules, pissed off at Covid 19, and just an emotional mess. I had to stop at the cashier to finalize some billing information, and I was still pleading for them to let me stay. It was at this point that security came, and escorted me OUT of the hospital with a hand on each elbow. I felt like a criminal. I called Brian and said I would be at the car soon, only to witness groups of protesters marching down the street, arm in arm, barely a mask in sight and certainly no social distance. So that was allowed, and I couldn’t sit in a chair for the day while my daughter was having major surgery? I will never understand this, nor will it ever be justified in my eyes. I cried the entire day waiting for the surgeons to call and update me. The good news is that she did great, and is recovering nicely, and she has a brand spanking new sinus situation going on, and she is doing better than expected. But me? I have mom scars that will never heal from that day.

As restrictions are being lifted, and statistics are better, we are getting some of our freedom back, and it has been a game changer. We are still taking all the precautions needed, and following the government’s guidelines, and it is manageable now. On the other hand, a realization has hit that there are people who disagree with the way our family is doing ‘things’, and they have cut us off. I was hurt by this, and still am, but after all this time I have realized there is nothing I can do about what others feel. We are the same people, and we make decisions based on what is GOOD for us. I am hopeful that someday they come back into our life’s, and realize that judging us was wrong. As my pop would say, it is what it is.

I am hopeful that my writers block is behind me, and I can get back to what I love, and what I know I am meant to do. I am hopeful that we can get to a new ‘normal’ that works for everyone and keeps us all safe. For now, a few days away, restaurants & stores opening up, quality time with friends and family, and the faith that we will figure things out, is what we have, and for me, it’s okay.



In the blink of an eye…four years later.


It seems like it happened overnight – we were just moving Tyler in to his freshman year dorm at Fordham University, and all of a sudden he is graduating.  The old homage ‘time fly’s’ is certainly true – all parents realize this sooner than later.  I have so many feelings about this big life event.  Despite the reality that this happened during a national pandemic, this is truly a remarkable moment in our lives.  I say ‘our’ because getting our son  through four years of college was a family affair.  His sisters, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles all played a critical role during his four years away.

When Tyler chose Fordham University, I was initially not on board with his decision.  I was in the midst of the final weeks of my dad’s life, and my only focus was on spending as much time with him as possible.  I did not have a lot of energy and support to lend my son while he was in his last months of high school, and making this big decision.  3 days before my dad passed, I had to leave my parents house on Long Island and spend the day with Tyler at Fordham for accepted student’s day.   I was resentful and annoyed that I might miss something with my pop, and that Brian could NOT take the day off from work to attend this with Ty.   I was so emotionally fragile and exhausted, that Tyler had to drive us in to the Bronx, I could not focus at all.   When we parked and started to walk across campus toward the first event of the day,  I noticed Tyler’s excitement and enthusiasm, and all of a sudden he was all grown up.  I wasn’t holding his hand walking into Green Twig Nursery school, I was walking into the next big stage of his life, and that was overwhelming in itself.

In all my hesitation and uncertainty about Tyler attending Fordham, it didn’t take long for those fears and concerns to be put to rest.  Tyler was SO happy at college, he was less than an hour from home, and that worked out the best for him.  There was easy access to all the comforts of home, but he still had the thrill of being on his own for this first time.  During this initial phase of getting used to our sons being away, my friends were mostly complaining that they weren’t hearing from their kids at all.  Limited contact seemed to be the chief complaint in the “mom” circle.   Not me though, my son called and texted me every day – so much so that sometimes I had nothing to say and no news to report.  I didn’t take this for granted though, as I knew I was one of the lucky ones.  Brian would come home from work and ask “did you hear from Tyler today?” and I’d say “Of course I did”!  And that’s how it was, for most of his four years at college, we were always connected.

I would visit Tyler at school every few weeks, and he was home just as often on  weekends.   There was always an essential item of clothing he forgot at home, or his soccer cleats, toiletries or  groceries that were needed RIGHT AWAY.  It was easier for Mom to drive it all in, than for him to have to figure it out on his own.  We usually had lunch on Artthur Avenue, and I’d still be home in time to get Riley from school.   There was this simplicity of these visits, just me and Ty, and each time I saw him he was growing up more and more.

There were some SOS calls that stick in my mind when Tyler would find himself in a jam.    I often think about boys who were a far distance away at school that didn’t have a direct line to a solution like my son did.   If he was sick, off I went – medicine, soup, a new blanket.   If they ran out of water?  Coffee?  He left his laundry at home? Mom to the rescue.   Brian always argued with me, and told me to say NO to all these requests.   I never could, and I never will.  The fact that he still needed me made every mile I drove over the GWB worth it.  Junior and Senior year he had his car at school, and the dynamics changed a little.   More than a few times, I would be making dinner at home and Ty would call to check in.  He would say “Omg mom that sounds so good I am starving!” when I would tell him what I was cooking.  A few times 1/2 joking I would say “Come home for dinner!”… And yes, 45 minutes later I would hear the garage door open, and in he would walk.  My always starving, loves a good meal, mini-Brian would saunter in, that million dollar smile on his face, to see his mama.

There was one weekend during finals that he wanted to come home and “study”, and I refused to let him.  I said to him, “Ty, make use of the library, form study groups, hunker down and study at school.  You will be too distracted at home”.   This didn’t set right with him, and two hours later I found out he was on the LIRR taking the train two hours to my sisters house for the weekend.  He just needed his people.  I love that about him.

This past winter, I answered the phone one morning to the words “Mom, I am having an emergency!!!!”.  No words any mother ever wants to hear, from their 22 year old out of breath, frantic son.   I urged him to calm down and tell me what was wrong.  “Mom, I have a HUGE bbq sauce stain on my friend Tom’s NY GIant’s jersey that I borrowed last night!  You have to get it out!”  Two hours later, guess who was home? He handed me a football jersey that had more bbq stains on it that you can imagine, and it took all my laundry stain fighting skills to get it clean.   Four hours later, he was on his way back to school, freshly laundered stain free jersey, a load of clean towels, and a car full of groceries.    It was almost like he needed a ‘fix’ of home.   This was my son, and I will always look back and smile when I remember these times.

The Fordham University Class of 2020 is being called the “visionary” class.   On March 9th, classes were temporarily suspended due to the COVID 19 pandemic that was just hitting the tri-state area.  Students were sent home, and campus was closed.  The following week, all remaining classes were moved to online and virtual studies for the remainder of the semester.   The SENIOR class was stunned.  Those last precious weeks together were taken away, and hundreds of memories would not be made.  As they canceled event after event, it became clear that a traditional commencement would be out of the question.   There is no way to make up for this, even a possible postponement until late fall doesn’t compare to the May ceremony.  As a parent, your heart breaks for your child, and for yourself.  It is no easy feat to put a child through four years of private college, and we needed to see him walk in his cap and gown as evidence of our hard work too.  These kids won’t ever forget this time, although after spending all these weeks in quarantine with us, Tyler just might want too.   He has been a great sport, and we celebrated the best we could, but there is that internal ache of all that was lost.

Time has certainly flown, and here we are, with our first college graduate.   I have never worried about Tyler- he somehow just has it together, and I’m sure he will do great things.   I wish all the Fordham University Class of 2020 students the best of luck in their endeavors, and I congratulate my not so little boy on this hard earned achievement.

#Stoptheclock has never rang so true.






The Benedik’s + Social isolation + Covid 19 Week #9…

Its been over a week since I sat down to try and write my blog.   There are/were a number of obstacles that got in my way, and to be honest, the biggest one was I just wasn’t feeling it.   It’s over two months now since we have been home, riding out the storm of Covid19.  There have been some positives in the last few days, and our curve is finally heading in the right direction.  Our restrictions are still in place, and people (well at least MY people) are starting to lose it, and frustrations are growing by the minute.  This is not an easy time for anyone.

As I have mentioned before, our family has been talking about and planning for May 2020 for the last 4 years.   Obviously, we couldn’t follow through with ANY of those plans due to circumstances beyond our control, and this mom was stressing big time.   First up was Riley’s Sweet 16 on 5/6.  We had a wonderful party planned in NYC with her closest friends, and when Covid 19 moved to town, we had to come up with plan B.   Not so easy during a quarantine, while our world is basically shut down.  Frankly, she was handling it much better than me, which is typical of Riley.  She is mature and wise beyond her years.   I ordered a huge box of decorations online, searched far and wide for helium tanks that were available for purchase, and arranged for Happy Birthday lawn signs to appear magically overnight.    Brian and I got up at the crack of dawn and decorated the house the best we could, I arranged the traditional birthday ‘table’, and we blew up a ton of balloons.   Caroline had also reached out to all her friends secretly, and arranged for a birthday drive by parade for later in the day.    This is where the true excitement set in for Riley.  She hasn’t seen anyone from school in almost 8 weeks, and most of them live quite a distance from our home.  I wasn’t sure how it was all going to turn out, but I baked donuts and boxed them up as a favor to anyone who came by.   EIGHTEEN cars came by for Riley’s parade – there was honking and screaming, balloons, signs, presents, and pure genuine love.   I am SO grateful to the parents who drove the girls over, circled the block and waited patiently in their cars while the girls visited in the front lawn.   It was truly magical.   Riley could barely contain herself when it came time to eat dinner and have cake, and she said it was a great day.  So with all my concern and worry, we pulled it off.   As we were coming in the house when all the cars drove away, a huge red cardinal appeared and sat on the roof of our house.  I know it was my dad celebrating with us.

The following day, our Caroline turned 21.  It has always been a challenge to celebrate the girls birthdays separately, so there is no competition for birthday notoriety.   We repeated our early morning decorating, and birthday table set-up, and made a huge fuss over Caroline when she woke up.   Her best birthday gift was the ability to see her boyfriend Matt, who is now considered “safe”, as he has tested positive for the Covid19 antibodies.  He arrived and the birthday took on a real level of joy for her.   We made it through celebrating two big milestone birthdays during a quarantine, certainly ones we will never forgot.   Cheer’s to my second child turning ‘legal’,

Mother’s Day has always been special to me, because I had both my girls on Mother’s Day weekend in 1999 & 2004.  I brought them both home from Valley Hospital on Mother’ s Day, with both sets of Mom’s waiting for us to arrive home when we were discharged.  This year, I knew there was a good chance I would be separated by both my mom and my mother-in-law, due to Covid19 restrictions.   Once again, creativity and technology saved the day.  We were able to talk and FaceTime with my mother-in-law in Florida in the morning and at night once again, and we were able to have a social distance visit with my mom in my sisters backyard.   Mother Nature gifted us with a beautiful day, and it was such blessing to sit outside and see my family, despite feeling suffocated with our masks on for such a long period of time.   Someone needs to create a mask with a hole in it for a straw, as it was tough to sip my vodka/lemonade drink with my mask on, and I kept forgetting, and well I spilled more than a few times.    Seeing my ‘people’ in person, with sunshine and laughter in abundance, was the greatest gift of all.

This weekend we are on to May event #4 of 5, Tyler’s “virtual” college graduation from Fordham University.   We are still on the fence about how we can salvage this event during quarantine, but I am working on it.  We couldn’t be any prouder of our first born graduating college – he has exceeded our expectations in so many ways.

I have been struggling this past week with my emotions, and trying to make the best of the situation we are all in.   While watching the news this morning,  this short message appeared in a television commercial that was showing tips on how to deal with the pandemic – Be Good At Life…   Such a simple message, yet such a strong one.  Is that all we need to do?  Be good at life?  I don’t take my life for granted, it is clear to me that I am blessed beyond words.  I think I have been good at life.  If this is all  it takes to be emotionally strong enough to handle social isolation during a pandemic, then why is it so damn hard?  It is clear we will not be returning to ‘normal’ anytime soon, but something has got to give. A few months ago I was grappling with the fact that I am turning 50 at the end of this month. Now, it’s so irrelevant to me, I just want to skip it.  The news, the media, and the constant television commercials are bombarding us with ‘facts’.  Yet with so many different opinions, approaches, and methods of dealing with Covid19, we are left with so much unknown.  The unknown is the toughest part.  I pray that we are on our way to winning this war against this virus- but there will never be a true victory here with so much loss.

Keeping all my ‘people’ in my thoughts and prayers as we all try to figure this out, I really miss you.





The Benedik’s + Social Isolation + Covid 19 Day 53 and counting…

Tonight when I sat down to write this blog,  I had to check the calendar to see the actual number of days that we have been home. As I mentioned before, all rhyme and reason as to what day it actually is, is gone.  Riley and I were out picking up ice cream one day last week, and she thought it was Thursday, and I thought it was Tuesday…  We are in a perpetual state of confusion.

Earlier this week Brian, Riley and I took a ride to the beach.  We needed the change of scenery, and we needed to get out of the house and our town, even for a few hours.  The shore towns do not want visitors – there is no parking/standing/stopping ANYWHERE in Spring Lake.  Then boardwalk is closed, but there is one entrance open at each end of the beach allowing access.   Brian was kind enough to drop Riley and I off and drive around so we could walk for 1/2 hour along the water, collecting shells, just breathing in the sea air.  It was cold, but it was so beautiful and therapeutic, and it did wonders for our moods.   I am counting the days until we can return with no restrictions.

It was a big week for the NY/NJ tri-state area.  On Tuesday, the elite US Navy & US Air Force demonstration squadrons, The Blue Angels & The Thunderbirds did a flyover to honor the front-line COVID 19 responders and essential workers.   It was truly a breathtaking sight to see, and a well deserved tribute to so many.  Not only did this provide a glimmer of thanks and appreciation to the front-line, it solidified our faith in our country and the military.    The images that were shared with me from friends took my breath away, and I will share them below.   What a thrill to have them fly over our area, really I am still in awe.

It was a month ago today that Brian & I drove to Weehawken, NJ to see the USS Comfort docked across the river.  A month?  Really?  It was such as symbol of hope and relief to see it arrive, and be there to provide back up and support as needed.  Today, we bid the USS Comfort farewell – as it’s services are no longer needed in NYC.  The departure of the ship makes a clear statement – we are on the way to recovery.  We will be on the downside and we will win this war.

We continue to find creative ways to pass the time as a family.  Brian has enlisted the kids in all sorts of projects and chores that they would normally have no part of.  They are learning life lessons & how much work it is to keep a house clean and the laundry caught up.   Riley came marching into my room the other night completely exasperated, and threw a fitted sheet on my bed.  “This is impossible to fold!!!!”…  Yes Riley, it is.   I have yet to master folding a fitted sheet, and if she had looked in the linen closet she would see my awful attempts to do so.   Tyler is so bored, he is sanding my new planter so I can stain it this weekend, and we finally have enthusiastic dog walkers.  (It’s about time – we have had dogs for 15 years…)

As we jump into the month of May tomorrow,  I am going to have my toughest task yet during this quarantine.  How will I create a memorable and special birthday for Riley (16) and Caroline (21) followed by a virtual college graduation for Tyler?  Being on lockdown for almost two months was certainly NOT in the plan.

Let’s pray that the end is near, and we will be on the downside of this soon.  We have to continue to lift each other up, and trust in our governing officials that they are making the best decisions for our community.  We are all in this together.

Be well, stay safe, and stay home…







The Benedik’s + Social Isolation + Covid 19 Day# no idea, it’s week 7.

It’s still strange that on Sunday evening, we are not preparing for a busy week ahead.  When things were ‘normal’, by this time of day, after Sunday dinner, everyone will have dispersed to get ready for the week.  Brian would be in his office, Riley in her room, and I would be cleaning up from dinner and making sure all of Riley’s school uniforms were clean and ready.   Tyler and Caroline would be at college in their respective apartments, and some Sunday nights we would have a family call on Google hangout to catch up.   Now, it’s just a weeknight.  Nothing spectacular, it’s dark and rainy, and the weather is supposed to be the same tomorrow.  Without realizing, I consumed an abnormal amount of caffeine today, and with my poor sleep habits & insomnia, I know I am in for a challenging night ahead.  There is a scrap piece of paper I found in one of my dad’s books, and it said “perhaps when you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep, it is a sign there is something or someone you need to pray for”.   I have to remember this at 3:00am when I am grumbling over those many cups of coffee that have become my fuel.

Brian & I went to Lowe’s today to pick up a few things for various home projects, and I wanted to take our time and look at every single aisle.  I miss browsing and shopping in all my favorite stores that are closed now, and I was so desperate for some ‘retail therapy’, that I found excitement in picking out new doormats and stain for my new raised planter.  I had a longer than usual conversation with the clerk at the register, because he was happy and kind, and someone new!!!!  We then had a wild lunch date, in the car, after going through the drive-thru at Wendy’s…  Before Covid 19, this day would have been drastically different.

I miss the nooks and crannies of the places we feel at home in.  The coffee shop, the salon, the gym, my friends home’s, my mom’s couch, and my sister’s comfy chair & her dog Buster.  My “people”, Joe at the gym, Sam at the bagel shop, Emmy at my salon – the everyday snippets of conversation and daily catch up.  I have always surrounded myself with tons of people – they enrich me, they nurture me, and they encompass who I have become as an adult over the years.

I miss the laughter of my daughter’s friends when they come over and huddle in the basement- coming upstairs for snacks, and asking if they can order Pizza.  I miss being able to stop at my friends house for coffee or wine, to hash out a problem, or seek advice about a dilemma I was facing.   It seems so trivial, but my ‘people’ make up the core of my being.

My friend Emmy had a birthday yesterday.   For the last eight years, I have baked her a cake and delivered it to her shop with presents on her special day.  I was not going to let this year pass by without doing it, despite the restrictions we have in place.   I delivered it without being able to hug her or celebrate like in years passed, but we smiled and laughed at a distance.  It is what it is.

This is temporary – I can say it over and over again, but some days the “missing” is tougher than normal.  We are so blessed, and so lucky in so many ways.  I cannot wait to get back in my routine, see my people, make plans, and just be.   I know we are on our way….

Stay home, stay safe…. let’s flatten that curve and embrace the future.



The Benedik’s + Social Isolation + Covid 19 day?…It’s been many many days…

It is astounding to me how much negativity is circulating on social media and in various news sources during this pandemic.   I have been through life events on a smaller scale than this pandemic,  (ie: 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy) and people bound together and supported each other, and walked each other through some very dark times.  There was none of the constant political bashing and blame.  Yes, this is a level of horror that has never been experienced before, and it is certainly showing peoples true colors.   I have always made a point of NOT discussing politics, not bashing government officials on social media, and keeping myself out of the crossfire of those who do.  Lately it’s been harder and harder not to, yet I bite my tongue, and stay silent.   Fortunately there is the “unfollow” option which hides the small-mindedness that seems to be consuming my news feed of late.  I think if I ever spoke out and voiced my opinion on certain matters, people would be shocked.  They might even run for the hills.  It is what it is, and it doesn’t have to be ugly.

Something that is the opposite of this social media ugliness, is a group that I was invited to on Facebook, called “View from my window”.   This group invites members from all over the world to post ONE unedited picture taken from a window in their home.  The person posts the time/date and location, and a brief description and some words of encouragement during the pandemic.   It could be one of the most beautiful pages I have ever scrolled through.  One post in particular that stood out  was someone in Australia who posted a picture of her backyard full of her “nightly visitors”-  a group of kangaroos just grazing on the lawn with the sun setting behind.   Some look professional and almost post card worthy.   I could make lists of countries and cities I’d like to visit, just by seeing these  simple, unobstructed views.   The common denominator?  Everyone is quarantined, and some for much longer than we have been.  I am waiting for that perfect picture out my window, it may not be oceans or vistas, or even kangaroos, but it is my beautiful place, and it is getting me through.

Our family is still gathering for game and movie nights, yet some evenings we all need to go our separate ways, and that is okay.  This new normal we are living in is a constant time of adjustment.  Dinner menus have become a little more adventurous, and Riley is a great assistant in the kitchen.  Tomorrow we are making bagels and birthday cakes for friends, and who knows what will come next… This is my therapy.

So as we approach our 6th week home, I continue to pray for so many things – the flattening of the curve, the formation of advanced testing and a vaccine, the recovery of those that are hospitalized, and strength and courage for those who are grieving.  And as always, the prayer of thanks for those on the frontlines.  May god bless them all.

I am closing with this poem, the author is unknown.

TRAFFIC is gone
GAS is affordable
BILLS & taxes extended
KIDS are at home with their FAMILIES
PARENTS are home taking care of their CHILDREN
PETS are with their humans & not left at home alone day & night
BEING TOO BUSY to get back to someone is no longer a common excuse
FACE TIME has replaced unanswered texts
The Animals & Nature at PEACE
The WORLD is quieter
PEOPLE are conscious about HYGIENE and HEALTH
PUZZLES, ART PROJECTS, BAKING, GARDENING appear to be hobbies again ..
MONEY alone doesn’t seem to make the WORLD GO ROUND anymore – & those who only strive for wealth might just miss out on a lot of the best parts of life ….
DOCTORS AND NURSES are being praised and recognized instead of athletes and celebrities
EVERYDAY HEROES are the front line workers (besides healthcare) the supermarket cashiers, the bus drivers, the Fed Ex deliverer, the security guards …
TREMENDOUS THANKS for the police force & firemen who continue to work and help to keep us safe
PARENTS finally have a glimpse at just how hard it is to BE A TEACHER while home schooling their own children.
And WE now have TIME, finally,
to STOP and SMELL the ROSES.
To play the music we love & even with masks on we can smile with our eyes …
To connect to others by experiencing a compassion birthed inside of us that took maturity & awareness to grow …
To be brought to our knees at how lucky we are just to be alive …
And to thank the universe for our blessings


The Benedik’s + Social Isolation + Covid 19 days…????/Week 5

So it’s becoming increasingly harder to come up with enough content to write this blog, but I am trying my best to publish something every few days.  The kids are on my case not to give up, which I certainly haven’t, I have just slowed down – almost waiting for something to happen to write about.   This morning when I woke up I had NO idea what day it was, I knew it was late April but that’s about it.  It’s a challenge to keep my head on straight when so much of our lives are upside down.  When we were initially told lockdown will be for a month, it was a manageable expectation.   Now that has been extended, well, who knows what to think.  My son said to me the other evening, “Mom, I have lost all hope”.  Tough to hear from your  22 year old, who is supposed to be embarking on the most exciting time of his life.    What I am having tough time with, is that everyone is doing their own version of quarantine.  All the families are handing things differently – some have NOT left their home in weeks for anything (how that is possible I cannot fathom), some have had family members in the healthcare community on the frontlines move out to lesson exposure, some are in the middle, and some I just can’t figure out what they are doing.  Social media has become a total judgement zone, which is causing so much unnecessary friction and bickering between people.  It is a strange time for our world.

We all are doing what works best for us, but for how long?  How long do we STOP?  Take this pause and wait?  It changes daily, and as the curve flattens and the statistics get better, I pray our restrictions are lifted and we can return to some sense of normalcy.

Tyler’s senior pictures arrived today from Fordham University.  It was bittersweet for me to open the package, and spread them out at the kitchen table.  How hard he has worked the last four years, and this was not the outcome any of us expected.  I know he and all the other seniors will get through this, and it will certainly be something they never forget. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t crushed too.

Our community is amazing.   In such a time of crisis, we are seeing people do the most amazing things.   Our local businesses are going above and beyond to take care of their customers, and the restaurants are donating food by the car load to help feed the healthcare workers at the local hospitals.   The volunteers are endless, and it is bringing so much JOY to so many during this sad time.  Our good friends are chef’s, and have begun to offer weekly meal delivery for families – the food is SO good and we have been ordering at least once a week.   The other night when my friend was delivering our dinner, her mask on and running to do a quick drop off on the front steps, I stood by my glass door waving – and it was so tough to have that social distance barrier between us.  Normally we’d be talking/ hugging/catching up and laughing our asses off about something, but I could only smile and wave.  How I miss my people.

Our family is getting through.  We have it so GOOD, while others are suffering so.  I have to keep reminding myself of this, especially on those days when it’s tough to feel anything but despair.   I am also seeing my children in a different light – watching their strength and resilience up close day by day, and seeing how awesome they are.  Yes we are getting on each others nerves,  but at the end of the day, our squad is strong.   It’s a time of tremendous growth and development for us all.

Stay home, stay safe, and be well.   It is what it is.


The Benedik’s + Social Isolation + Covid 19 Days 31/32/33/34…

As we approach the second month of ‘lockdown’, the task of finding your ‘happy’ is becoming more challenging  by the minute.  Holidays, birthdays, and celebrations have passed and been put on hold, with face time our only connection with family & friends to mark these special events.  My mom turned 84 yesterday.  Normally, we would all be together at one of our homes, but  instead we surprised her with a front lawn social distance celebration.  When she came outside, the look on her face was pure joy.  It was so good to see my mom, despite not being able to hug her,  As a special surprise, I called the fire department and they were able to come by with the sirens flashing and horns honking – the firetruck was packed full of fireman, as was the ambulance that followed.  it was so special, and most importantly my mom was thrilled!  It was certainly a celebration we will not forget.   When driving back to New Jersey after seeing my family and not being able to hug them or go near them, my heart was in a thousand pieces.  But going over the GWB and seeing NYC empty and quiet?  Even stranger.

We are all aware of all the frontline heroes that are fighting the fight during this pandemic.  Many of them have been featured on the news and in social media, but there are so many behind the scenes heroes that need to be recognized.  I have to give a big shout out to Paramedic who is one of these heroes.  I have known Mike for about 13 years, he is my good friends husband and the father to my godson Luke and his twin brother Jack, who are 4 &1/2.  Mike is working long shifts in a huge territory with  constant exposure to Covid19.  He has temporarily moved away from his family home in order to keep them safe – day after day he arrives home to silence, not to the sequels and hugs of his twin boys & Beth, his wife of 11 years.  My kids are having a tough time understanding this pandemic, and they are young adults.  I cannot imagine being with two 4 year olds day in/out with no back up, no relief, and trying to reason with them & explain why daddy isn’t home.   Beth set up an Easter egg hunt at the home Mike is staying at, and he watched from an upstairs window,   The picture broke my heart – yet it is their reality right now.  I wish my doorbell would ring and those two beautiful faces were standing there waiting to come in, so we could ghost hunt and play hide and seek in Brian’s office…how I miss Jack & Luke.  I am so proud of Mike, his dedication and courage during this time of crisis is beyond admirable.   This is temporary, yes, but this is a young family separated by this virus, and waiting for their daddy/husband to come home.

Each day we wait for the daily updates and reports from local officials, and silently pray that things are improving.  While things are better, the curve is far from flat.   Our ‘lockdown’ period has been extended, and frustration is creeping up in our home and in our community.  I have to constantly remind myself how GOOD we have it, while others are suffering so.   We lost a friend on Wednesday to complications from COVID19, and sadly we had to watch his graveside service via live stream today.  How tragic is was watching his widow and her children, alone by his grave.  He deserved a proper funeral, and he deserved a celebration of a life well lived – yet it was taken by this evil virus, and the image of my friend by his grave with her children will forever be embedded in my heart.

I am anxious for the day when we can get back to ‘normal’, yet I know nothing will ever be the same.  We will fight, and we will win, and we will create a new way to live.  Until then, stay home, stay safe, and be well.

XO, KBIMG_6810IMG_6823