The Joy of Giving (Socks.)

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It all started with an obsession.

Socks, socks, and more socks. I have 4 different drawers filled with socks, to be exact. Oh – we are talking about my obsession by the way. Fluffy socks, athletic socks, knee-highs, socks with capybaras on them, socks hand knitted by my grammie … you name the socks, I most likely have it.

have socks, though, & I recently found out how lucky I was to even have 1 pair.


I’ll never forget the days following this year’s election. The social media world was an emotional blood bath. There was disgusting name calling, accusations, and cringe-worthy arguments I couldn’t even look at for 2 seconds.

The worst part about it? I couldn’t escape it. While many of us had the luxury of taking a break from social media, that’s my career, so even though I wasn’t directly involved, the hate was right in my face.

We are wasting so much time complaining, crying, and producing hate over something we cannot control (right now…you can control the next election.) So why can’t we use our time wisely, doing things we can control … like giving back to those in need.


That is exactly what I chose to do. I cut out the hate I saw and chose to overshadow it with doing good.

I immediately thought about socks…don’t ask me why, but that just popped into my head when I was thinking about what I could do. At first I thought about starting my own charity but after doing some research, I realized it took too much time, and I wanted to make a difference immediately.

The Joy of Sox, is an organization I found with a simple Google search, and it truly blew me away. Did you know that the homeless may receive clothing donations regularly, but those donations rarely contain socks?

“Socks can be more important than food. ” -The Joy of Sox Testimonial 

Wow – my sock filled drawers now made me feel extremely grateful & I knew I needed to assist this organization.


On December 2nd, 2016, I held a Sock Hop at the Verona Inn in Verona, NJ. I was in great company, surrounded by friends, family, and even people I met that night. I only brought one large plastic bin with me, but by the end of the evening, it was overflowing with socks! We also had monetary donations which helped us get even more pairs.

I was so excited about the event and my excitement only grew when I had more donations waiting for me afterwards from family, friends, and even some of my coworkers!

One small idea turned into a powerful and impactful initiative. As of right now, right this second, I am BEYOND proud to announce that with the help of my amazing family, friends, and coworkers, we collected 227 pairs of socks.

I am humble, knowing that I always surround myself with incredible people, but I am also completely shocked that I was able to pull something like this off.


Thank you, to everyone that was able to help me with this amazing opportunity.

And to all those who could not be a part of this, for any reason, I challenge you to put your needs/wants/desires aside for just a minute, and think of those in need.

Make a difference.

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My Fetish & Epiphany

Hello, hello – it’s National Poetry Day … well according to this Twitter hashtag it is.

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No, I am definitely not a poet. BUT to celebrate this completely legitimate holiday, I figured I’d share two poems that I wrote in high school for my creative writing class. Yes, I still have them saved ….

I wrote poems about my ear fetish and eating a bag of potato chips (go figure.) I’m not very good at poetry – absolutely love reading it, but I don’t have the poem creative bone. Shockingly enough though, my ear fetish poem was a huge hit — I just re-read it though, and it’s kind of …. weird. You’ll see.

Fetish

She crawls into the big bed,
Gets hold of something soft,
Something she can’t let go-
The ear of her mother.ears.gif
She can never take hold of her own ear,
It is simply not good enough.
At night while the TV favors news and sports,
She sits on her fathers lap,
Thumb in mouth, hand on his ear.

And today when friends say,
“Look how nice his eyes are!”
She’s looking at his ears.

I honestly though my ear fetish was normal up until about 5 minutes ago. HA. Let’s move on to the potato chips…


Epiphany 

Into the bag her hand goes,chips.gif
Chips rustle, salty sensation,
Newly formed grease stains.
She loves what she is eating,
Until she realizes,
Tomorrow’s snack will be different.

 

Even that poem is kind of weird…but hey, it’s about potato chips, so it’s definitely a winner in my book. 


You’re welcome for the beautiful poetry! Hide your ears & potato chips.

 

GIFs courtesy of http://www.giphy.com 

Are You Ready for Some Football? A Tailgate Guide for Newbs, Experts, & Beyond

Yes…yes it is! Football season, well preseason at least, is finally here. First stop, the Hall of Fame Game tomorrow night – Colts vs. Packers. I wonder how many people will boycott the game because of the Aaron Rodgers/Jordan Rodgers drama?! HA! Trust me, I am totally kidding.

Back to reality – in all honesty, it has been a LONG  5 months without football. Every year I wonder how we all make it through those boring months. Although the 5 month struggle is real, we can all rejoice once August rolls around.

There is no denying that one of the best parts about football season are the tailgates that prepare us for each game. Even though some stadiums don’t allow tailgates in the parking lot, any pregame ritual consisting of drinking, eating, and good company definitely counts as a tailgate.

Tailgates should be everything great & anything but stressful. I have been to my fair share of tailgates, especially the ones hosted by my father-If you haven’t been to one of those yet, you’re missing out-so I know a thing or two. That is why I am writing to you – I’m here for your go-to-guide for tailgates, for every season football is played in (keep in mind I am a NEW YORK GIANTS fan, so we cheer on Big Blue in all weather conditions.)


First up & definitely most important..

The Drinks

August & September..You’re either going to be sweating at each game, or comfortable in one layer of clothes, so either way we will need the right bevs to keep you cool & refreshed.

  • The Basic/Safe Option: Beer – whether you choose a good old fashioned bud heavy or bud lite, or a nice, crisp summer shandy (Leinenkugel’s is my favorite) you’ll be sure to have a good time.
  • The Refresher: Wine Spritzer – stop, don’t judge me or say no way THIS IS FOOTBALL. I am telling you, a cold, yet strong, wine spritzer at the first game in September is DELICIOUS. & while everyone else is pouring out beer sweat and can’t stand near the hot food, you’ll be getting your buzz on and staying cool at the same time. The best wine spritzer includes a good Chardonnay & plain seltzer. Fill up a solo cup with ice, pour 75% of the wine & the rest seltzer, you’re all set! Get Refreshed! 
  • The Kicker: Summer Beer – known to some as Skippy, this drink will definitely pack a punch, so please drink responsibly. My suggestion is to bring the ingredients to the tailgate & prepare it there. Recipe courtesy of my boyfriend-thanks! Grab a case of beer, something light – go for the natty, add in a 1/5 of vodka, and top it off with two cans of lemonade concentrate. Mix it all up & you have Summer Beer! 

October-Mid December…The days are shorter, the temperature is cooling down & PUMPKIN everything has arrived. 

  • The Basic/Safe Option: I think everyone needs to agree that Fall beer is the best beer! & by Fall beer, I clearly mean pumpkin beer. My 3 favorite pumpkin beers are PUMKING by Southern Tier, Traveler’s Jack-O-Traveler, and Pumpkinhead from Shipyard. All 3 are unique with their spins on pumpkin, but they are all great picks for a fall/early winter tailgate. Wanna get fancy & impress your friends? Make a pumpkin keg, yes I repeat a PUMPKIN KEG!
  • The Refresher: Does Fall actually happen if you don’t visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch? Probably not – so when you go, pick up a gallon of delicious, homemade apple cider. Heat it up, or drink it cold, but make sure you add in a couple of shots of spiced rum! Mmm – refreshing!
  • The Kicker: Bring out your basic side, this season’s kicker is the boozy PSL (pumpkin spiced latte.) This drink is easy as pie , maybe pumpkin pie? Go to your local Starbucks or Dunkin & order a PSL, hot or iced, depends on the temperature. Pour half into a tumblr/to-go-mug (you’ll need this half later for your 2nd bev!) Add in 2 shots of pumpkin vodka & 2 shots of Rumchata-delicious! Want a healthier option with less sugar? Just brew, or buy, plain pumpkin coffee & add in the liquor-easy!

Rest of December-Feb (If your team makes it!)…By this time in Northern NJ, we are freezing our butts off at tailgates, so here are some options that will warm you right up!

  • The/Basic Safe Option: Bloodys & Mimosas!!! Basic, safe, and yummy. They may be chilled, but get a couple in your system & you’ll warm right up. 
  • The Refresher: Hot Toddy, anyone?! Get your thermos out for this classic hot drink. Combine 3 parts brandy, a tablespoon of honey, hot water, lemon, & a black tea bag into your thermos. Let the tea steep for about 5 minutes & drink up! Warm up your body, feel refreshed, and even knock off that annoying cold you probably have.
  • The Kicker: Shots, shots, shots! Nothing warms the body faster than some quick & easy (JK not easy, *gagging thinking of this*) shots! Whether you’re into vodka, tequila, or any other liquor – take a couple back & feel the instant warmth. 

Cheers!

The Noms

I am not the master chef when it comes to tailgates, that would be my father, Chef Joe. Seriously though, the man cooks up clams at his tailgates, clams….FANCY! You may not be the head chef at your tailgate & that’s fine, but you can always help out with some spectacular sides & apps.

When it’s hot out:

  • Pasta salad FTW – a great side to pair with burgers, hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, and other tailgate staples. Cook pasta, bow ties or penne, drain & set aside. Chop up a medium pepper, medium cucumber, about 10 baby carrots, and 3 big celery stalks-add into a bowl. Mix in a can of chickpeas & sliced black olives. Then add in some protein, my go-to is either pepperoni slices or cut up chicken cutlets, or both! Run the cooked pasta under cold water, add into the bowl of other ingredients and finally drown everything in balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
  • Bean Dip (cold) – SO GOOD! My friend Katie makes this all the time and I literally can never stop eating it. Get a large dish, make sure it is deep, and layer in this order 1 can of re fried beans, guacamole, 1 med jar of salsa, sour cream, and top it off with Mexican shredded cheese. Chow down on this delicious dip with help from Scoops, multi-grain of course! 

When it’s cold out:

  • Mexican Dip (hot) – I make this app for all family parties, tailgates, and pretty much every event where food is needed. It is a huge hit and goes well with those multi-grain Scoops I mentioned above. In a large ceramic dish, layer the following items in order: 2 containers of whipped cream cheese, 2 cans Hormel Chili (no beans), and two bags of Mexican shredded cheese sprinkled on top. Have a grill at your tailgate? Perfect-set the dish on the grill, covered with tinfoil, for about 15-20 minutes. If you’re tailgating at home, pop it in the oven at 350, for 25 minutes & enjoy!
  • WINGS! – You don’t need to go crazy and make your own wings, but if you want to, here’s a great recipe for crock pot wings – slow cooker recipes are so easy & the best part? It’s portable! Pack it in the trunk and head right to the tailgate. If you opt out of cooking, it’s fine I won’t tell, get a tray of wings from your local pizza place, or everyone’s fave place, Hooter’s. You may have to take your winter gloves off to HAM on these wings, but you’ll have a happy stomach & body temperature. 

Bon Appétit

The Attire

Like I said earlier, Giants fans get hit with all kinds of weather conditions during football season. Be prepared for all the games with my outfit tips below. *Sorry guys, my outfit choices will benefit the ladies only, but my brother & boyfriend make appearances in some pics, so take a look at their clothes!*

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Stay cool in one of the top pictures (ignore the ugly Steelers jersey!) I was at a preseason game in August. It was HOT – so I wore my JPP jersey, shorts, sneakers, and sunglasses were definitely needed. Not everyone has a jersey, which is fine, grab some team attire though! Nothing worse than someone showing up to a game in just a white tee – where’s your team spirit?! I bought the tee, bottom, recently at Sports Authority since it was dirt cheap (thanks going out of biz sale.) It is a good choice for a warmer game – pair it with jean shorts &  comfortable flip flops to complete the look. 

Stay warmthe cold games vary from being confident in the amount of layers you chose to wear & constantly questioning yourself why you are at the game & not at home in front of the fire place. Stay warm with the following layers: leggings, long fluffy socks, sweat pants, Under Armour thick long sleeve, regular long sleeve, sweatshirt, jersey, UGGs (even if you think they are ugly, they keep your toes toasty!) and keep your noggin warm with ear warmers or a hat (both pictured up top.) Gloves, jackets, and scarves are totally optional & depend on the weather. I always say bring/wear it all – you can always eliminate layers!

DON’T GET FROST BITE  Even though cold games are a struggle, my favorite game day outfit can only be worn on the coldest of days. In one of the pictures, I am wearing all of the layers above & even some more, along with a Giants onesie to cover it all! I looked like a marshmallow, and going to the bathroom was rough, but I was the warmest I’ve ever been at a freezing NYG tailgate.

Show your team pride by wearing it! 


Of course, there are more ways to have the best tailgate. Just to name a few–keep it lively with music, lawn games, and even a TV showing the XLII Superbowl.

I kid you not, one of the guys my father tailgates with does this. He brings a flat screen TV & plays the Superbowl game. I don’t know a better way to get you pumped for a game! Need something to keep everything plugged in & charged? Invest in a generator – this one from Premier Industrial is affordable & portable! Don’t let your tailgate die because all your electronics did. 


Everyone loves a good tailgate & the tips above will guide you in the right direction for a successful one where you are well fed, dressed appropriately, and feeling a good buzz! 

Happy Tailgating!!

#InternationalWomensDay: An Open Letter to Kim Kardashian West

I’m not one to go on rants on social media, that’s why I have a blog-duh, but there are some days when the social media world drives me up the wall with its insane users & their posts.

I start to write a status, stating my opinion, most of the time with angry fingers typing away. But then I realize, my opinion matters, to me of course, but to who else? That status will get lost in the translation & social realm and may never be seen again.

I tweeted about an issue I had with a social media post, twice, earlier tonight & immediately after I pressed send, I knew it wouldn’t matter. That is why I am here, on my blog, typing away–the angry fingers are coming, do not worry & I am here to discuss the image below 

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I was doing my daily “after dinner social scroll” down my Twitter feed when I saw this disgrace of a tweet. It wasn’t Kim Kardashian’s nudity that struck me, I am sure this was a surprise to NO ONE, it was the words she paired with her nude photo, “HAPPY #INTERNATIONALWOMENSDAY.”

My angry fingers couldn’t type any faster–I immediately retweeted her post with the comment “you have two young children, you’re disgusting.” Following that tweet, I posted “Shame on you @KimKardashian…#InternationalWomensDay is about embracing being a female and what you work hard for. Not for being naked.”

I tweeted these posts out because I was furious with her correlation of female prosperity and an explicit photo. This is NOT what International Women’s Day is about. Naturally my anger made me think about those “life’s not fair” thoughts. I worked hard through college to land an excellent career and I have never once stopped working hard-where’s my billion dollars in revenue & million-person posse?


So if the image above is not what International Women’s Day is about, then what is? I recently checked out http://www.internationalwomensday.com/ and here is the definition of today’s holiday from the site:

Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.
Yet let’s also be aware progress has slowed in many places across the world, so urgent action is needed to accelerate gender parity.

Achievement of women is the phrase that stands out to me the most. So let’s talk about achievement of women.

Since I’m extremely sports-minded, the first female that comes to mind when thinking of women’s achievement is Serena Williams. Only 34 years old and Williams is ranked number 1 in women’s singles tennis. In 2015, Sports Illustrated named her “Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year.” Her list of tennis records almost seems endless at times and her professionalism, win or lose, is truly inspiring. This is what today is all about.

Kim Kardashian should have tweeted out Serena Williams’s face with the caption “HAPPY #INTERNATIONALWOMENSDAY.”

Let’s move away from sports, what women have conquered social/political achievement? I’ll tell you who–Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. Don’t know who these women are? Well just know that when you (women) want to vote in November, if you do, that’s your choice, now you can because of these women. All 3 were major figures in the Women’s Right Movement, and in 1920, women were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was passed. I know you’ll all agree with me that this is WAY more of a celebration than a nude photo.

Another idea for Kim Kardashian–she should have tweeted out a selfie of these 3 important women with the caption “HAPPY #INTERNATIONALWOMENSDAY.”


While I was writing this, I happened to stumble upon another quote in relation to today’s holiday.

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

I am not sure who said this, but I would like to give a big “hell yeah” to whoever did.

Here’s to strong women, the real reason behind International Women’s Day. I am  proud to know many strong women including my mother, my sister, my aunts, cousins, friends, and co-workers. I am proud to say that I am a strong woman, I fight to work hard and make a difference each day. And finally, I would be honored to raise strong women, because that is how I was raised, and I would be nothing short of proud if I were able to bring more strong women into this world.


 My final note for Kim K:

Take a step back from what you think is achievement and maybe step inside the shoes of the women who work hard, each day, to succeed and make great progress socially, economically, culturally, and politically.

My hope is that one day, you and hopefully your young daughter, will realize that it is not the objectification of women that puts us in the spotlight, it is our hard work, dedication, and passion for different things in life that make us shine. And if you don’t understand my lengthy letter to you and insightful ideas, maybe this video will show off what it means to celebrate this holiday the right way.


Happy #InternationalWomensDay !

 

An Open Letter to My Angel In Heaven

It is never easy losing a loved one. The grieving process will never end & you’re constantly asking the same questions: why? why you? why now

These questions constantly play in my head about my grandma. It has been almost 3 years since she has passed & I still question why? and it is certainly not easier. But the harsh reality is, is that life goes on. The minutes, hours, days, months, years, continue, my life continues.

Today is my grandma’s birthday and even though I woke up with a heavy heart & tears in my eyes, my day will go on as planned.

Grandma-I am writing this to you, my angel in heaven, to let you know that I am still living it up down here, for myself, my family, my friends, and most importantly for you. 


 

Dear Grandma,

  • I still laugh

Oh my goodness I laugh. I laughed earlier this week, hard, at a picture Christopher shared at dinner. We all laughed: Dad, Mom, Christopher, and me.

I laugh at The Bachelor every Monday night because the girls are c r a z y, but Ben Higgins, the bachelor, is adorable, I KNOW you would have thought he was adorable.

I laugh with my friends & we laugh hard. They laugh at me too, because I am hysterical obviously, but we all know I get my funny bone from you.

I laugh at the silly things my beautiful niece & nephew do. We all laugh with Joseph and Ava: Big Joseph, Andrea, Jacqueline, Christopher, Mom, Dad, Aunt Barbara, and me. They are the cutest & I know you are looking down laughing everyday with us too.

  • I still smile

Yep, I am smiling, the same smile-ear to ear with only my top teeth showing.

I smile, a big old smile, when food is placed in front of me. My smiles for food aren’t as big as they were for your pierogies, but I guess other food will have to do 🙂

I smile thanks to my amazing boyfriend. He is an incredible human being & keeps my smile shining constantly. I was able to tell you so much about him before you left, I really wish you met the boy who is responsible for a majority of my smile.

I smile when our New York Giants win–thank goodness I have other things that make me smile, am I right? Come on grandma, we need a miracle from heaven for big blue–I hope you like the McAdoo hire!

  • I cry

Over the stupidest things sometimes!

I cry when I am frustrated, overwhelmed, and faced with new but difficult situations. Work is a prime example. This working girl is tough in the office but comes home to start sob fest 2016 sometimes. My exterior-facing strength is a major trait I got from you, thank you, I needed it.

I cry for you. A lot. I cried while writing this, I cried the day you passed,  I cry when I see the good in you, in all of us. The tears for you will never stop, I don’t think, but that is okay.

  • I am proud

Of myself, a lot has happened since you left. I graduated college & started my career where I am successful–I have felt you every step of the way.

I am proud of my family, the family you sit at the top of. We all should be proud, you raised us right, and not just your own children, your grandchildren too.

I am proud that I have so many of your qualities. You made an impact on so many lives, I can only wish that one day I do half of what you had done.

  • I remember

I remember you, everything about you.

Your contagious laugh, your smile, your witty remarks, everything.

I remember your big, warm hugs every time you came in through the garage door.

I remember being on the verge of peeing my pants every time you did monster face.

I remember your strength, courage, and fight.

Love you forever & always,

Katelyn 🙂


I miss my grandma every single day, and even though the question of why? plays again & again, I know my life must continue. But I don’t like to think that my life moves on without her, because it doesn’t. My laughter, smiles, cries, pride, and memory all revolve around her & who I am because of her, and for that I am truly grateful.


Happy birthday Grandma, I love you♥

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Who Dat Crusader? Me.

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My two favorite memories from my four-year college career at Susquehanna University occurred during my junior and senior year.

In May of 2013 on a beautiful spring morning, I walked up to the Sassafras turf field with the women’s lacrosse team. Hours later we were crowned Landmark Champions after we upset our rivals, Catholic University. Immediately following our victory, the men’s lacrosse team AND the softball team were both crowned Landmark Champions too. The first time in Susquehanna’s history, 3 teams won titles on the same day. We all had a lot in common that day, but nothing was better than the raging Crusader pride that overcame each and every one of us.

Fast forward to Spring 2014, a little less than a year after I was crowned a lax champion. As a senior, I received a new title & even more bragging rights. For four years I questioned why I was an English major-why would I put myself through all that difficulty? Well, my questions were finally answered. My senior thesis was accepted into the English Undergraduate Conference. Not only was I excited to present four years of hard work, I was thrilled I was presenting at THE Susquehanna University. Female body image & its portrayal in English Literature was my topic, my focus was the Barbie Doll. My analyses took four years & I had 30 minutes to present. Not only did I kill the presentation, my final grade as an English major was an A. I was proud of myself, my work, and the university that allowed me to express all of it. Crusader pride ran through my veins once again.


I will admit before writing this, I researched the exact definition of Crusader. I knew the 11th-12th centuries definition would pop up, but much to my surprise, I learned a new meaning of the root word, crusade.

“Any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an idea, cause.”

WOW, I thought, I LOVE THIS. I can think of two times my Crusader qualities broke through barriers for an idea/cause, and no, they actually aren’t lacrosse/sports related.

Sophomore year, I joined a sorority and as soon as I joined it wasn’t on good terms. The semesters passed by, & it still was not particularly a good organization, mostly from other people’s point of views. I was sick and tired of not being taken seriously and being labeled the bitchy sorority–oh no that needed to be over. I took a stance and ran for our Panhellenic Council. I was offered a position where I worked with other sororities and expressed what mine was really about. People finally understood who we were and what we stood for. As a Crusader, I vigorously knocked down a wall to further a cause I felt so passionately about.

My second example is actually present today. I knew becoming an English major was a reach when I’ve known since birth I did not want to become a teacher. I pursued the major knowing I’d hear So what are you gonna teach after college? for four years. With my no BS attitude and hard work to apply my English major skills to other areas, I was offered a job right out of college, and no it wasn’t for teaching. Today I am employed by a global company who works closely with Fortune 500/1000 companies & I got here with my crusade toward success–definitely a Crusader move.


After re-reading (I was delirious the first time I read it at 6AM) an email from Susquehanna University today, I was disappointed, confused and hurt. How can a board of trustees vote on such a sensitive topic, when they probably have no emotional tie to it?

The Board of Trustees Voted to Replace the “Crusader” No, no. They can’t do that. Actually yes they can & they are. But why?

WHY is the question here. We live in a world today where everything is considered offensive and unfortunately the name Crusader has offended someone, maybe multiple people. I can continue writing and offer you a long, detailed, and historical reason as to why Crusader offends certain people, English major remember. But I am most certainly not going to do that. Anything can be deemed offensive today & quite frankly I am sick of it. People are way too sensitive. If you were personally victimized by the Crusade in the 11th Century, please contact me and I will remove this blog, but for everyone else, you simply need to get over it and move on.

For four years, Susquehanna University meant everything to me. I met my best friends there, I met my incredible boyfriend there, I was successful athletically and academically there. Some of the most important things in my life right now come from SU and those people, my success, the stories, can all be defined as a Crusader.

I got an awful feeling when I read “we are more than a nickname” from Susquehanna’s Facebook account. I couldn’t help but reply, please stop referring to it as just a nickname, clearly you don’t understand the importance behind my entire college career as both a student and athlete. And for those of you who agree with that statement, what about tradition? Susquehanna stands for its traditions and students/faculty/alumni go crazy for it. Well, Crusaders is the best tradition I have ever been a part of and I am truly heartbroken to see it go.


My name is Katelyn Brower, I am from North Caldwell, NJ and I am and will always be a Susquehanna CRUSADER.

Things We Take for Granted

Personal question: do you still live at your parent’s/guardian’s house?

If the answer is yes, maybe you are like me, just trying to save some $$$ so you do not live in a ditch when you decide to move out. But maybe you aren’t like me, maybe you moved out as soon as college ended, or even before. Maybe you have been out of the house for years or maybe it is your first night on your own.

Either way, let’s think about the time you were in your parent’s/guardian’s house.

Did you ever wonder when you were a little kid how the mess in your room magically disappeared? Or how about the clothes you were going to wear to school the next day, how were they folded on your bed in the morning, ready to put on?

When we were younger it was easy to believe these things magically happened, but how did this stuff happen when we got older?

You come home from the gym late one night and toss your reusable water bottle in the sink. Did you ever stop and think how it was ready to use for the next gym visit? What about breaking your favorite coffee mug right before work, leaving it on the counter, only to find it fixed when you come home at 5PM.

Growing up eliminates the magic but reveals the superhero behind it.


Most households have a head honcho who runs it & would never let the house crumble. My mom runs the Brower household, and she runs it with ease.

About a month ago my mom went into surgery to have both of her knees replaced. Yes, not one, but two knees replaced at the same time. Although my family had been encouraging her to do this for a while, no one ever stopped to think about what it would be like without her at the house.

It is at times like this we forget how much a mother, father, or other superior figure does for a family. Our house was constantly moving and glued together because of my mom.

Being the wonderful daughter that I am, just kidding, but not really…I took on a lot of the responsibilities my mom had around the house. I never thought it was going to be easy–but I also didn’t think it would be so much.

My typical day includes waking up in the morning either to see my trainer or get ready for work. After work I either go for a run, go to spin class, or just wait for dinner to be done. Well, in short, my typical day was over with.

I was excited to cook dinner every night for my dad & brother–I had millions of recipes on Pinterest I wanted to try out! But cooking takes time, a lot of time.

I caught a run in here or there while the meals cooked in the oven, but working out slowly got pushed away, I had bigger priorities. The table needed to be cleared, the dishes needed to be washed, loads of laundry were piling up, I couldn’t forget the mail, food shopping was a must, our dog Tucker needs special TLC, and the trash couldn’t pile up inside for weeks!

All of this had to be done but most importantly, I needed to set time aside every day to visit my mom and be by her side!

Eventually I got to see that things around this house don’t magically happen. It is my mom who makes sure my water bottle and coffee mug are ready for the next use. She sews my shirts & irons my brother’s pants so we look our best. She puts a warm meal on the table every night and makes sure my dad is stuffed after a long business trip. But most importantly, she keeps the house moving, and fills it with love.


I will never forget my mom telling me how proud she was of me for taking control and keeping everything in place while she was gone. And while it took up a lot of time and energy, I would never have refused to do so, & I am happy I didn’t, because I never would have realized how much time and effort my mom spends on us.

My mom may be proud of me, but I could not be more proud of her for keeping this house running and being the foundation for our family♥Facebook-20150708-075132

 

 

What it Means to ‘Never Forget’

“Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew.”

— President George W. Bush


Fourth grade, I was 10-years-old. What was your memory like at 10? One day boys had cooties, the next day you forgot that & had a crush on someone from your homeroom. Forgetting things came easily to me, I was 10, I lived in the moment, I didn’t need to remember the past. I know this for a fact because I couldn’t remember my times tables for the life of me, seriously I think I took the multiplication test like 20 times.

So what do 10-year-olds remember?

A day of feeling unsafe, a day they couldn’t make sense of, and still can’t make sense of right before their 23rd birthday.

September 11th, 2001 was a beautiful, blue-skied morning. That is the first thing everyone says, and it is true, that day was gorgeous. My school was in walking distance so I met my neighbors out in the cul-de-sec outside my house. Do I remember what we spoke about? Not really, maybe Pokemon cards, soccer practice, or the latest NOW CD that came out. We got to school and did the traditional activities: hung outside on the playground until the first bell, then it was time for homeroom.

While sitting in homeroom the loudspeaker came on. A boy got called down to the office. Oooo he is definitely in trouble. Minutes passed, another boy called & then a girl–I knew both of them. Why are so many people getting called down to the office? My class shrunk as 2 periods passed.

It was time for Music. I loved Music class, and I really had hoped we were singing that day, I always did. My class walked into the room, there was a roll away TV. You know what that means?!? Movie day in class! No, it wasn’t movie day. Instead we saw our music teacher starring at the TV, crying. When she saw us, she didn’t think twice, the TV was shut off and she started class. What was going on?

The day moved on and lunchtime came and there was chatter. Did you hear what happened? With the plane crash? What plane? Where? What in the world was everyone talking about? 5 minutes into lunch, our principal walked into the cafeteria. He tells us.

Two American Airlines planes have struck the Twin Towers and one hit the Pentagon. That’s it, that is all I remember him saying before my mind starting racing.

3 planes crashed? (I later found out about PA) Wait, is my dad flying today? I can’t remember. American Airlines? My Aunt is a flight attendant for them. Oh no, what is happening.

I went to the bathroom. Two girls were in there at the sink crying and asking each other questions. “Are the Twin Towers the World Trade Centers?” Today, that question is obvious, but back then at 10, I didn’t even know. I couldn’t help them, I left the bathroom.

The day went on like a normal day, without me knowing any more information. The world was unfolding around me and I had no idea.

School ended and I thought maybe I could get some answers. My neighbor and I walked outside and saw her mom standing there. She gave us a ride home, but said nothing.

We got to the top of my street, there was my mom and sister waiting at the bus stop . “We didn’t know if the bus would be late” my mom said as I got out of my neighbors car. Why would it be late?

My mom and sister definitely spoke to me on the way home, but I honestly don’t remember what they said, because what happened next controls my entire memory of that day.

“Here, sit and watch” My mom put me in front of the TV.

There it was. Everything. This is what happened today? Fire, smoke, BREAKING NEWS, NEW FOOTAGE, planes, TERRORISM–these words and images were darting at my face. I saw the planes hit the towers, i saw them collapse. America is under attack. The huge hole in the pentagon made me wince and the burning field in PA confused me.

People were covered in ashes, tears were coming down faces, and the smoke was thick and dark gray.

I don’t really remember what happened for the rest of that night, just constantly watching the news with my family. The following day my sister, a senior in HS at the time, showed me a video one of her classmates made about the horrific events. Every piece of footage was real, heartbreaking, and a lot for a 10-year-old to comprehend. But I took it all in.


13 years have passed and I still get chills and teary eyed every September 11th morning. You read Never Forget everywhere, and now #NeverForget. It is the most logical saying about that day. You don’t forget where you were, who you were with, what you saw. Whether it was in NYC, across the country in California, or a small classroom in North Caldwell, NJ, we all remember, together. 

That day was horrific to say the least, but it also reminded me of where I come from and how proud I am to live in the United States of America. We all came together that day and I will always feel the unity and patriotism among my peers.

United We Stand.

(http://trendsphotos.net/remember-september-11-memorial-911-photos-911-memorial-september-11-quotes-and-photos/)

My Little Miracle

On February 11th, 2013, God gave me the most special gift I have ever received. As I walked out of the women’s lacrosse locker room in my university’s gym, I received a text message from my brother Christopher stating, “Joseph William was born!” I jumped up and down with excitement and with tears streaming down my face, I called my mom to confirm the news. I became an aunt on February 11th, 2013.

I have three siblings, two older brothers, Christopher and Joseph, and one older sister, Jacqueline. I also have seven older cousins– I am the youngest child in my entire family!! That being said, I have never had the experience of watching a child grow. Everyone in my family got to watch me grow into my 21-year-old self last year, but I never had the opportunity to help raise a younger sibling or cousin. Boy- was I missing out!!!! Watching my nephew, Joseph William, grow every single day is such a magical experience.

Since Joseph William was born while I was at school, I could not meet him until the following weekend. I took a trip home for the weekend and had the best meeting of my life. I walked into my brother and sister-in-law’s house and could not hold back my tears as I watched my brother Joseph hold his newborn son. Dressed in black pants and a black and white checkered shirt, my nephew had the cutest case of the hiccups I have ever heard. When I got to hold him I had so many emotions running through me. Not only was I excited, I was so nervous, I do not think I ever held a baby before that moment!!! Our first picture together captures all of my emotions. This was when I knew that God gave me this most precious gift that I will always cherish.

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My favorite memory of Joseph William has to be from a day my family spent down the shore with my sister-in-law’s family. A week before this little getaway, my grandmother had passed away and left my family completely heartbroken and lost. The Saturday trip down the shore was needed by everyone, and was certainly a great time. At my sister-in-law’s (Andrea) aunt and uncle’s house down the shore, I got to swim with my nephew for the first time. He was only six months old at the time but looked like a pro in the water! I will always remember when my dad took him into the water and was swinging him around and splashing water with him. The two of them were having the greatest time, and I could not keep my eyes off of them or the smile off my face!1001244_10153069157110411_2084097892_n 1002899_10153069159055411_1130004750_n

After the passing of my grandmother in August of 2013, this little guy kept us on our feet and helped us more than anything else during our time of grief.

Joseph William has grown so much in just one year and I am so lucky to have witnessed him reach many milestones. Unfortunately I do not get to see him as much as I would like to. While I am having an amazing time at college in my final year, I miss my nephew every single day. I really wish he could just come to college with me!! He would definitely be the life of the party! Since I am only 22, Joseph William is only 21 years younger than me, so I know as he continues to get older, our bond as aunt and nephew will become so much closer (and I’ll be his favorite aunt of course).

I came across a quote on the website Pinterest recently that read, “Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend.” This explains my relationship with Joseph William perfectly. Although he is only one, I truly consider him my best friend and partner in crime. I couldn’t be happier that Joseph and Andrea gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy, a year ago today. I hope he has a spectacular first birthday, and does not have too much fun without me at his birthday bash! I love my nephew more than anything, and I thank God every single day for this amazing gift.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not- My Guide for College Relationships

ATTENTION: Before you read any further, please note that I am not a trained relationship therapist, I am not a love guru, nor do I have the most perfect relationship in the entire world.

Up until about nine months ago, I was your average 21-year-old female who was convinced she was never getting married or would never find love. I failed miserably during my first three years of college in the love category. My heart was broken, I may have broken a heart or two- it was simply a mess! Well, much to my surprise, the impossible happened! I had a major crush on one of Susquehanna’s track stars, and with a little confidence (and a two and a half week service trip to New Orleans), I was able to get to know my crush and have him fall madly in love with me- muahahahah my plan worked! YOU’RE MADLY IN LOVE WITH ME BABE, RIGHT?!?!?! (he loves and always reads my blogs, so hi babe!)

If you could not tell, I was being completely sarcastic with my all-caps shout out to my boyfriend. I will admit, our relationship can get a little love sappy at times, BUT we do take our relationship very seriously. Why wouldn’t we? We are both seniors in college and it is obvious we aren’t just messing around- the relationship means a lot to us. And just because we take it seriously does not mean we can’t have fun or are not fun individuals. The two of us are SO fun, mainly my boyfriend though, he truly is the bees knees!

So basically, it breaks my heart a little when people claim “relationships in college simply cannot work.” Why not? Who made this a fact? Because it certainly is not true. For specific couples and people, yes, it may not work, but I think it is because they are doing it wrong. SO, that being said, I have some tips on how to make your college relationship the bomb and totally worth it!

First thing: COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE!!! And I do not mean on that nice iPhone 5c you have. Communicate in person- sit down for lunch, have a dinner date once a week, or discuss your entire day before bed  (you know, if you and your significant other are on the level of sleeping with each other at night.) If you are constantly texting during the day, while you should be in class taking notes, what will you talk about later? It makes me sick when I see couples constantly texting throughout the day, especially at a small school like mine when most couples will see each other every hour in between class. My boyfriend and I rarely text during the day. If I have something to tell him that can’t wait, I’ll shoot him a text but I cherish our time together at night when we talk about whatever happened that day. This really makes our relationship stronger, and the bonding time is amazing!

Communication is also important when it comes to fighting or problems. What people need to understand, is that EVERY.SINGLE.COUPLE fights. No relationship is perfect- that is the straight up truth. Fighting is definitely healthy, if you take the right approach to it. Communicate to your significant other if something is bothering you. Sitting down and talking through problems is a great thing to do. Yes, some problems can be way more severe than others, but every issue should be discussed. I am speaking to the girls mainly here: do not bottle up your emotions or feelings! If your man does something that pisses you off (has to be reasonable) let him know! Do not throw it over your shoulder! Trust me, because down the line you will blow up something small and bring up a list of things that bother you. That is not good. Also, fighting should be done on your own time. This is YOUR relationship, do not let the outside world be involved with it. Do you want to be like celebrity couples whose little fights are broadcasted everywhere? Nope. No one wants that! So, close the door, lock it, and settle your issues one on one with your partner! Communication is key, so bend your partner’s ear as much as you want!! 🙂

Trust coincides with communication. You need both for a solid relationship. Every person that enters your life is different. Just because an old love broke your heart terribly does not mean every new person you meet will do the same. If I thought my boyfriend was going to be like every other jerk I had been with in the past, we simply would not be dating. The past may hurt sometimes, but forget about it. Someone chose to be with YOU out of a large pool of people, be grateful for that and trust them 100%! This leads into my final tip, which is to just be yourself.

My boyfriend actually came up with this tip. I mentioned the blog to him and when I asked him why he thought our relationship worked so well, he said “you just gotta be yourself.” Such a smart kid he is, isn’t he? He could not be more correct!!!! BE YOURSELF! Act a little crazy around him/her, show your weird side, let them know the real you! I remember the first time I made my first “ugly face” in front of my boyfriend, he simply laughed then made an even uglier face back at me (it really is true love.) Show all of your sides to him/her. Love your partner unconditionally, be weird when times are tense to cause laughter, and most importantly, open up to him/her and let him/her inside your life.

Like I said earlier, I am not an expert on this topic, but my relationship has been pretty successful. It is truly amazing to be able to find someone you can call yours. I would never take my boyfriend for granted, he really does mean the world to me. We are not perfect, no one is, but I do think that we are living proof that college relationships can work, and can work extremely well!!!! Of course it is tough at times, but hey life is tough, WEAR A HELMET!!!!!!!!! 🙂 That being said, I hope people take my tips to heart and consider following my relationship advice!