Our Memom: In memory of June L. Smith

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Memom passed away two years ago today. 
Here is Memom and I are when I was only a few months old. <3

Not a day goes by where I don't think of her. Her spirit, stories, humor, feistiness and love are in my blood. I know a lot of people don't believe in spirits, but I do. I can feel her and sense her often. We both share a special gift, a sixth sense that even creeps me out!! (I know some of you will not believe me, but I have it. My mom calls me a witch all the time. She has seen it.) Sometimes when I day dream about her I sometimes feel her hand on my shoulder. There is something about her hands that I can invision them perfectly in my mind, as if they were held right in front of my face. I often see Memom in my dreams -- in my dreams she looks happy and healthy, the Memom I like to remember, not her during her final days. Many of the dreams are of me when I was a little girl, sitting on her lap as we rock back-and-forth in her rocking chair. As my head lay on her lap and she uses her hands to tickle my back, we sit there together as one and in unison, we sing together "I love you, a bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck." 

I got this tattoo in memory of my Memom. It says "I love you. A bushel & a peck" with her initials J.S. at the bottom. 

Of course I have tons of memories of Memom but I thought it would be special to have other family memories express their feelings/memories/thoughts about June Smith; a woman who won over the hearts of many. Here is what they had to say.

Shelley Piccirilli (my mama, Memom's daughter) My mother was my best friend.  We played together and talked about everything.  She taught me to be strong and confident (as well as stubborn and always right).  Strong and confident has served me well.  The stubborn and "know it all" thing tends to make people really mad.  I miss her every day but especially at Christmas.  Growing up, we always had what we needed but not always what we wanted with the exception of Christmas.  Mom loved the holidays and somehow managed to make Christmas special every year.  I just saw an embroidered Winter Wonderland sweatshirt in size small which she would have rocked.  After all, she never wore an extra large!!!  What are you, some kind of a nut?!?! 

Missy Piccirilli (my sister) I think I miss Memom the most around Christmas. I loved how excited she would get about decorating. I loved looking at her mini Christmas tree ornaments. When I was a kid, I liked pulling the string on the big gold bell hanging in her dining room to make it play music. I miss her teaching me how to play Christmas songs on the organ and singing along with me. I miss her turkey cooked on the stovetop and crazy green stuffing at Christmas dinner, and her ridiculous excitement over pumpkin pie and my mom's sweetheart salad. My mom would make a huge gallon vat of sweetheart salad just for Memom, and she would eat it for days. My funniest Memom at Christmas memory is the year she wanted a leather jacket for Christmas. My mom bought her this really nice leather jacket, but it was a size or two too small. Memom loved this jacket and was going to make it fit. She went in to her bedroom to try it on, and when she came out wearing it, we realized that she had nothing on but a bra underneath. She was pissed when we told her that was really inappropriate for a woman in her late 70s to be wearing to the grocery store. My oldest son had the pleasure of knowing how awesome Memom was, and I am sad that my youngest two won't get to know her. Her spirit is still alive, though, and I am thankful for that. Her 1960's Elf on the Shelf is on my mantle right now, and I don't think a week goes by at my house without a Memom story or two. I miss her every day, but I feel like she's with me. I feel her spirit, her love, and her feistiness. And I hope my kids inherit some of her spirit too.

Jackie Smith (my cousin) Memories of Memom lead me back to some of the best times I can remember. Growing up, friends would brag about their mom mom, grandmom, nana or a nona. I remember always thinking that they were all the same, but I was special, because nobody had a Memom. All grandmothers are caring, nurturing and loving. Memom was all these things to me, but she was never like any other grandmothers that I knew. June was a rare breed, but she was also a Smith. Everyone knows that Smith's by nature have a penchant for entertainment and humor, and entertain she did. Everything Memom did or said was a grand story to retell or a memory being made. For example, even the most mundane things were made awesome just by her being her. The grocery store, boring to most, was exciting to us as kids. She would drive us to Genuardi's pretending to lose control of the car, and we would laugh and scream. We would scoot through the aisles while she gave the produce guy a  hard time for crappy tomatoes or a bad eggplant. She would spoil us with trips to Bradlees, Ports Of the World and the Mecca to all children under 12 Kiddie City. She would buy us Barbies, dolls and whatever else we had to have that week. During Summer she would skim the pool in her bathing suit, taking care not to get wet. We swam in the pool, but never made waves, we played outside and often tried to beat rampage on rainy days. Magic fries and diet Pepsi were a few of our favorite things.  I vividly remember learning how to tie my shoes while watching action news at 5pm- She taught me that. I still watch action news every morning and night, because my love of Jim Gardner was instilled at a young age. (Thank you Memom) I loved to watch her dance and sing around the house. She would tell stories and make up her own songs. She would let us sit on her lap, and watch General Hospital until we fell asleep. She was a comfort in my life growing up and could always make us smile. I inherited her wacky spirit as well as her humor and dare I say, shopping problem :) Her spirit is alive in all of us, and her presence was a staple growing up. There will never be another like her. Anyone who knew June, loved her. To all  those who didn't have the pleasure of knowing her, all I can say is "What are you, some kind of a nut?". 

Kathy Smith (my aunt) I guess it will have been 35 years or so that I first met this women.  Had to admit it was a little bit scary.  My husband Mark (her son) took me to meet his parents for the first time and we were getting married in a month’s time.  Why?  I tell you I still have no idea.  It could be because he had been engaged twice before… or maybe he was afraid of how I was going to react to a loud family!  LOL June was in the kitchen in her infamous (MOO MOO) puttering around.  Her husband Ken was in and out yelling at her (as he typically does) JUNE blah blah blah… JUNE…. God damnit June ..too funny but to me I was like what did I get myself into. Years later and after many family dinners, functions etc. I came to realize that this woman who is overbearing and hard to get to know was a wonderful woman.  Sure it took time but the time put in was worth it. To know her is to LOVE her.  She was funny, smart and always willing to do anything you needed.  Whether it was cosmetics, sweaters, books or toys for our kids.  All you had to do was visit. You never went home empty handed.  She always found the toys that the kids wanted at Christmas and the stores would never have by the time we got around to it.  And then she would say…. Here take this put it under your tree.  These grandkids of hers they had it made. I guess towards the end after Ken died she went a little wacky.  She was still a pistol and very funny.  One time Tyler (my son) had to use her car and took his friend with him to ask her. She told her daughter (Shelley) afterwards that Tyler came to visit with his friend and took her car away! She didn’t know who he was at first and her brother Bob had to keep telling her.  It’s your grandson June, Tyler!  We were very surprised she let him take the car. There are a ton of stories and all are full of fond memories and laughter.  I miss you June!  You were always good to me.

Jay Donis (my second cousin, he's in the camo shirt) One summer, Chris and I were hanging out in the backyard when we noticed a bee's nest on a tree in Auntie June's yard. Like normal kids (though I think I was over 20 years old by this point), we started throwing baseballs, softballs, and soccer balls at it. The bees did not like this turn of events and when we hit pieces of the nest they would fly around it, obviously agitated. We did not knock it down, but all of the balls we had ended up under the tree precariously close to the nest. While Chris and I decided what to do next, Auntie June just strolled out there under the tree and tossed all the balls back to us like it was nothing. She didn't even get stung. I think it showed what kind of person she was, she tried to help us, did her own thing whether it was the smartest decisions or not, and liked to be involved in what happened around the neighborhood. Oh, and with the balls back in our arsenal we did eventually knock the nest down.

Who invited the Santas?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last night I headed down to XFINITY Live! for a random/adventurous night of drinks, socializing and fun with a few friends.  When I got there the place was dead, only about 10 people inside Broad Street Bullies pub -- a crew of dudes and two girls having a night out on the town.

After talking to an annoying New Jersey bartender who gave me her full life story about how she doesn't drink any drinks that are the color blue (this came up because the bar had a "trash can" special that equalled some blue liquid, vodka, rum and a Monster energy drink) I thought to myself 'welp, it's gonna be a long night if this girl keeps talking to me about Jersey, her hate for blue and some type of Skittles bomb.' ::In one ear, out the other::

What I was expecting to be a pretty calm night quickly took a 360 and fun was about to happen!!! As I'm sitting on the bar stool I hear a rowdy bunch come through the door. I glance, then quickly took a double take. All of these people were dressed in Santa suits. OOOOHHH hell yes, this looks like fun.

One drunk, two drunks, three drunks.... nearly 200 drunk Santas -- along with a few guys dressed up as Christmas trees, a few dudes as Buddy the Elf, a few slutty girls in Mrs. Claus outfits and a few chicks as reindeer -- came strolling in.

I spoke to one Santa who told me they were a group from West Chester that filled three charter buses and they were on a Santa bar crawl -- they were at Chickie & Pete's, then Xfinity, then to Manayunk, then I am unsure as to where next but I saw their buses later in the night in Olde City so they sure made their rounds. Santa also told me that all of the money from this group was towards charity. Well done, Santas, well done.

I wanted to make it a goal and sit on every Santas lap last night, but after seeing them all flood in I knew it was going to be impossible. I spoke to a few cute Santas and got two free beers out of it so I'll take it!!

I would like to say thank you to all you Santas for making a what I'm sure was going to be an average night into a true adventure. 

Kiss me under the mistletoe

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Like every day, I was on Twitter and Sara Vogel (I went to high school with Sara!!) she sent out a tweet that said "i don't know why, but i enjoyed watching this - Trending Mistletoe Kissing Prank bit.ly/W13hj2"

Something about the tweet had me intrigued and I'm sure glad I did. This is too cute. :) Here is the video she linked to.

Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic, but that just made me smile. However, it now makes me wish I had someone to give a smooch to this holiday season. Any takers?!?! Also, being that these kids are BYU kids, I hope no one has mono/strep throat or all these fools are getting sick. #collegelife

Cheers and happy holidays!  

Ugly sweater photo contest, win $20 gift card

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Check out my last and final project for work. Good luck!!

Did you ever think wearing your ugly Christmas sweater could give you the chance of winning a $20 gift card? Well guess what, it's your lucky year! Ugly Christmas sweater parties have been one of the biggest trends over the last 10 years and we want to see your attire.

(L) Community Engagement Editor, Amanda Piccirilli, wears an ugly Christmas sweater, during the winter of 2008.

The Reporter is hosting its first ugly Christmas sweater photo contest, giving one lucky winner at random the chance to win a $20 gift card from Giant. (A perfect time with it being the holiday season and many hosting family/friends.) Submissions will be accepted now through Wednesday, Dec. 19 at noon. We will announce our winner and create a slide show of all submitted photos. The Reporter will also be making this a 'Town Center' page in our print addition.

Want to participate? Here is how: 

1. Take a picture (past or present) of you in your ugliest Christmas sweater.
2. Submit your photos -- feel free to email your picture to apiccirilli@thereporteronline.com; Tweet @Lansreporter using the hashtag #LansUglySweater; or post your picture on Instagram using the hashtag #LansUglySweater.
3. Please include your name and where you are from when submitting

Please remember, if you post your photos on Instagram, your account must be public or we will not be able to see your photos. 

Best of luck and we can't wait to see how ugly your sweaters are!

Tunes Tuesday: A New Found Glory in an old love

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being a writer I feel as though I am strong at expressing things: emotions, thoughts, dreams, goals, whatever it may be. But there is one thing in life that for some reason words can not do justice; for some reason the feelings and passion that sits within my soul, my body, MY BONES, can not be expressed. And that is through music. Is anyone else like this? Can you simply not put in to words how much songs and lyrics mean to you? I find myself muted, unable to dialect what I am feeling as guitar rifts and drum fills fill my ear drums. But I am completely ok with that because my heart bursts and my body feels completely whole at the sounds of some songs and certain bands. It's my euphoria. 

On Sunday I had the chance to see one of my all time favorite bands, New Found Glory, at the TLA with my awesome cousin, Tyler. (Well, I kinda made him come with me because no one else was interested, but whether he was in or not I was either riding solo or he was going to be my partner in crime. He got a free ticket and cheesesteak!) 

Most people will read this and say to themselves, "Christ, these guys are still around?" Simple answer, YUP. I first got into NFG in 9th grade when my friend Kimberlee introduced me to these guys and I have been hooked for nearly 15 years. While I have been to over 10 New Found Glory shows this one on Sunday was super special because it was their Sticks and Stones 10th Anniversary Tour, so all they did was play songs from that album (and about eight others which were all classics!!) 
Instagram @ampiccirilli

Instagram @ampiccirilli

Instagram @ampiccirilli

Instagram @ampiccirilli

They played the album in its entirety, in the order it is on the record. Song after song they brought back so many memories: like my high school boyfriend and now good friend Mike and how we would write school notes to each other and include song lyrics, and like the time Mike, Aaron, Ashlee and I snuck down to the city on the train to see a show, and how these lyrics relate to current issues/relationships in my life yet the songs had different meaning to be 10 years ago. It's nuts!! 
Hahah this was from about 10 years ago where we snuck on the train to the concert, meet the entire band after the show and everyone signed my shirt. That is actually a LIGHT grey t-shirt which turned into heather grey from sweat. Cant believe I use to crowd surf and get in the pit. NUTS!!

Some of you may not give two shits about today's post but I can't help but have some much love for this post. For the album, for it's lyrics and so many emotions that are dear to my heart. So here is the album, check it out on iTunes or Spotify. There are definitely some songs you all know, always good to listen to an old throw back. I'm also including some of my favorite lyrics incase anyone is looking for a lyric to through in your Facebook status or Twitter feed, because lets be honest, we use social media as a way to express ourselves to make people think they know what is going on with you without you really having to tell them. 

Sticks and Stones (2002)

Track 1: Understatement "don't worry your pictures are already burned"
Track 2: My Friends over You <--- classic you alllll know
Track 3: Sonny "Every breath that you remember. Pictures fade away, but memories last forever."
Track 4: Something I Call Personality "Before you jump to conclusions about all the friends I have. Just remember they were born that way." 
Track 5: Head On Collision "And it feels like I'm at an all time low. Slightly bruised and broken from our head on collision." 
Track 6: It's Been A Summer "It's burning up in here, even though the bed is cold on your side. I'd rather die than spend this night here without you." [possibly my favorite song/lyrics from the entire album]
Track 7: Forget My Name 
Track 8: Never Give Up "Don't back down. I don't really care about before, before you met me."
Track 9: The Great Houdini 
Track 10: Singled Out
Track 11: Belated
Track 12: The Story So Far  "I can't remember the time or place, or what you were wearing. It's unclear about how we meet. All I know it was the best conversation that I've ever had. To this day I've never found someone, with eyes as wide as yours. I've been searching up and down this coast. Overlooking what I need the most." 

Hey YOU!! Love your 20s

Monday, December 10, 2012

My friends and I were chatting the other day about how Dec. 21 is suppose to be the end of the world while we were at a happy hour. Someone asked, "If this really is the end of life, would you be satisfied with what you have done with your life?" I was quick to jump at the gun and I said no. But you know, after sitting on it and looking at the past 25 years of my life, maybe I should have said yes. Or maybe I was right. 

Yes -- I've accomplished some pretty cool things that some people don't have checked off their list [played a Division I sport in college, was a collegiate  coach, ran a marathon, had a byline, been a maid of honor TWICE,  I'm an aunt.] But to be honest, I can't help but have this dark cloud over my head -- a feeling that there is lots I have not accomplished [I still live at home, no where close to being in a committed relationship, never been on a cruise, cant' pay my car insurance without help.]

I doubt I'm the only 25 year old doing this, but I'm often comparing my life to other people. I can't help but be a negative Nancy sometimes, filled with jealousy of how happy many of my friends are and envious that they get to go to THEIR home with their partner at their side each night.  I know I should not compare and I'm working on it -- but being in your 20s is tough. Who else is with me??!!??

One of my best friends, my ride or die girl, is my biggest cheerleader in life. She sees things in me that I don't even see in myself. (oh what I would do to see myself in her eyes for one day. Maybe that would give me a wake up call to life.) But anyway, she sent me this article by Shelley Armenta called '20 Things That Will Make Your 20s Even Better.' The article was featured on the website LOVE TWENTY

So for my fellow 20-something friends who should look on the brighter side a little more, here is a killer list to tackle. 

1. Step away from the computer long enough to get some fresh air.
2. Acknowledge moments of happiness and be grateful for them.
3. Invest in a good camera (or even a phone with a good camera) and take more pictures than you know what to do with. (I'm getting one for Christmas, woo hoo!!)
4. Pack a bag and get out of town. Travel as often as you can to wherever you can.
5. Make a point to spend more time with your friends and family in person. Texting, Facebook, and Skype are great, but nothing can beat sharing the same air with those you love.
6. Don’t let your mood or your self-worth be directly tied to your bank account balance. Money is important, but it is not everything.
7. Don’t let your mood or self-worth be tied to anyone else’s mood or self-worth. There will always be people who try to bring you down, but do not let them.
8. Never forget that while you are getting older your parents are, too. Spend time with them and always say “I love you.”
9. Spend less money on clothes and makeup and more money on experiences like concerts, trips, baseball games and dinners with friends.
10. Get a library card and use it. Time spent nourishing your mind and soul is never time wasted.
11. Find an activity you love to do that is good for your body. Dancing, running, yoga, kick boxing, cross training, roller derby and paddle boarding are some workouts that kick your ass but that you will have fun with, too. Win win? Win win.
12. Learn to accept yourself for who you are and what you have done in your life. Made some mistakes? Good. Learn from them and don’t look back.
13. Get some friends together and take a cooking class. Learning to cook well for yourself and others is a skill that all of us should have tucked away.
14. Educate yourself in politics. You don’t need to be an expert if you don’t want to, but you should know how you feel about big issues.
15. Start a gratitude journal. Spend a few moments every morning jotting down a few things that you are grateful for. Having a visual of all the good in your life will be an amazing thing to have when you are having a bad day.
16. Don’t be scared to fall in love, but remember to fall in love with yourself first. (been trying to work on this one for years!)
17. Learn to defend yourself intelligently. Fighting gets you nowhere. Name calling makes you look like a child. Whooping someone’s ass mentally is the way to go.
18. Walk away from relationships where you are treated like an option and not a priority.
19. Always be kinder than you feel like being. You never know what other people are going through.
20. Let go of the need to rush through life. When we are young, all we want is to be older. Pretty soon, we’re going to be wishing to be young again.

Website Wednesday: Crock pot paradise

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A slow cooker .... a crock pot .... whatever you shall call it, it's a genius invention! And that is exactly why crock pots are being featured today on Website Wednesday.

I was at work the other day and popping up on my Twitter feed I saw @crockpotgirls  is currently hosting a 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge. 

Intrigued by the Twitter post, I had to check it out. Sending me to their Facebook page, I had the chance to learn about all the rules: 

Rise to the 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge! Crock at least one dish every day for 30 days straight! 

Choose if you will make breakfast, lunch ,dinner or dessert on any day. 

1 - Post what you are crocking every day (here or on the Crock Pot Girl main FB page). We'll keep track and announce everyone who completes the challenge!

2 - If you are piling up with leftovers, I suggest that you make a dessert that day instead, a soup that you can freeze, or breakfast! 

3 - The crock pot just HAS TO BE CROCKING EACH AND EVERY DAY. 

4 - Repeat meals are permitted, as we all know, families have their favorites!

My personal opinion?? I think this challenge absolutely rocks!! I am a frequent crock pot cooker: just made roast beer on Monday, can make a mean pulled pork sandwich, and have yet to dabble with soups (although I think my first take will be a corn and chicken chowder yummmm yum!) I'm really looking forward to the day I get my own place so I can cook out of the little mini crock pots. Dinner for one, thank you very much :) 

While I know most of us missed the challenge, I think this could be something fun to try out yourself. It doesn't have to be 30 days straight, but maybe challenge yourself to cook a meal once a week in that crock pot you HAD to have on your bridal shower/wedding gifts. Try new meals, make your boyfriends/husbands/wives/girlfriends be your tester.

Being that she is the crock pot queen, here are some of Jenn Bare's crock pot recipes that I thought sound delicious. I also promised my bestie Ashley Raffle that I would give her some new ideas. Bon appetite!!

Main course: Crock Pot Fajitas 

Are you now drooling? No worries, her site is full of drinks, desserts, main dishes and much more. Enjoy! 

Monday Madness: Life is full of madness

Monday, December 3, 2012

I love how it’s time to post for Monday Madness and that is what my life has been all about lately – MADNESS. Pure madness. (This video goes out to you S.G.)

While life in general is a little crazy right now (which I am not going to get into), I had a bit of a curve ball to my Monday (well technically my Sunday, your Monday.) It was a day filled with appointments and plans, but a call at 7 a.m.  from my sister which has me playing Aunt Amanda the babysitter/caregiver/servant because Maxie is sick today.

Jack (L) and Max (R) -- I love these hambones! 

What started out as an okay start had us hit a bit of a speed bump this afternoon with Max getting sick, throwing up all over, me cleaning up both him, my car AND the driveway.  But so far, we’re ok again, him demanding more food because he’s hungry and me being told he’s ready for dinner (it was 2 p.m. when he asked for this.) He is back to his bossy 3-year-old self again so that is a good sign. Annndddd.... he's out for the count. Poor baby! :(

For my Monday Madness report, I tip my cap to single moms and dads all over the world; in particular my sister who is raising three beautiful kids.

Juggling work, schedules, sports teams, illnesses – I’ve seen you do it all, Missy, and I hope I am HALF the mom to my kids as you are to Jack, Max and Quincy.  Bless the hearts of parents, day care workers, school nurses and all other individuals who tend to children on a daily basis. These last seven months I have been more involved in my nephews’ and niece’s life more than ever, and it really has me appreciating parenthood and a real wake up call to the MADNESS of what being a parent is all about. 

Carrie Underwood blew me away

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Last Wednesday night I had the opportunity to see Carrie Underwood in concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with my mom. I am happy to say that her "Blown Away" tour blew me away!!

My mom and I headed downtown early so we didn't have to deal with much of the after-work traffic. We cruised right down and made reservations at Broad St. Bullies Pub for dinner. Not going to make this into a food review but my take on Broad St. Bullies Pub: I was not impressed. I dealt with a sassy hostess the second we got there.  Our waitress was good, but the food was only ok. We got our appetizer with no silverware or plates, and we were basically finished by the time it arrived. My mom and I both got the Pattison Ave. burger. Our buns were not tossed at all so we had a burger on a bun that was SOAKED in butter. Pretty gross - easy to say I will not be going back there for food, drinks sure.

But on to the fun -- so after dinner we headed into Wells Fargo and before we knew it, it was show time. Hunter Hayes was the opener. The spicy little (yes, he's only 5'6") southern boy made teenage girls SCREAM their brains out with excitement. I only knew his song "Wanted" which he performed amazingly. While all of his songs were good, a song that stood out to me was "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me." 

Then it was on to the real star, Carrie Underwood.

She warned us right from the start of her show that if we have anywhere to be we most likely won't be getting there on time because she has a lot to sing and perform. Boy was she right. Carrie sang for nearly two hours and I am AMAZED at how she can belt out songs like this day in and day out.

She played old songs, she played new songs. She had the crowd energetic the whole time and she looked stunning with every wardrobe change. Granted, I didn't know every song of hers but I stood on my feet the whole time and had a blast dancing! I waited all night to hear "Blown Away" which she used as her finale song. (Obvi, this is what the tour is based off of)

I was able to grab a few photos and took a few videos. I hope you all enjoy :)

Sorry, I had to. This sweatshirt was tears! 

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