Happy Birthday Mom!

When I think about my mother, what I remember most was her love of celebrating.

She would celebrate anything and everything. 
Life itself was a celebration.

Birthdays, promotions, anniversaries, daylight savings time. She’d find ANY reason to cook a meal, bake a cake and have people over. It’s just who she was. 10511352_10152651390667474_3098322061653697010_nWhat I remember most about all of those get togethers was how they made us feel. My mother always made sure everyone was well fed and having a good time. And if it was your birthday, you were sure to feel special. 


                                 Pool party for my 4th birthday party (I’m in the blue suit) 😀

Our family threw a LOT of parties. And my mom was always the first to begin organizing and planning them. Between her and my godmother Laurie’s creative brains at work, parties and celebrations were ALWAYS special.

I remember having fabulous birthday parties when I was a kid. They weren’t extravagant, and they never broke the budget, but they were FUN. Insanely fun. We had a HUGE above ground pool in our backyard for almost 20 years. Since my birthday falls in June, most of my parties centered around that pool. My mom would plan these amazing pool parties with a mix of homemade food (and ALWAYS a homemade cake) and purchased items like scachatta pizza from Alessi bakery, and platters of chicken wings from Publix. For my 10th birthday she threw a big pool party catered by McDonalds! She had bags upon bags of burgers and fries which we devoured sitting on beach towels on the pool’s deck. It was every 10 year old’s dream. 😉


That was the thing about my mom. Celebrations fueled her never ending spirit. She was always in the mood for a party or an adventure. I can only hope that somewhere, somehow I have a piece of that spirit inside me. We all should. My mom knew how to love life, and live it passionately. Isn’t that the ONLY way we should experience life?

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 62. To remember her on her birthday, I’m doing the only thing I can think of that would truly emcompass my mom’s spirit- feeding people! 

I’ll be headed to the Ronald McDonald House in Tampa this afternoon to cook a meal for the families currently residing at the house while their child recieves critical care at nearby hospitals. 

The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) provides a “home-away-from-home” for families with children receiving medical treatment in area hospitals. Between the houses in both Tampa and St. Pete, 80 bedrooms with private baths are offered to families whose children are recieving treatment away from home for days, months or even longer, for little to no cost. The Ronald McDonald House offers families a way to continue to be together, even when far from home. The Houses are all located near local hospitals; most within walking distance. Each house offers home cooked meals, private bedrooms, computer rooms, play areas, laundry rooms, and indoor/outdoor areas for watching television, relaxing or reading. The Ronald McDonald House runs solely on donations and volunteers. Although families are asked to donate toward their stay, they are never turned away for the inability to do so.img_5693

There are so many ways to volunteer at RMH. They are always looking for house volunteers, including people willing to help prepare home cooked meals at their onsite kitchen. My mom and I actually used to volunteer here often. She loved cooking a meal for such a great cuase. Basically volunteers provide all the ingredients to create a home-cooked meal for the 20-25 guests that are staying at RMH. The kitchen is fully stocked with utensils, pans, dishes and other essentials for meal prep. The kitchen is also equipped with two commercial sized refrigerators and freezers, two ovens, stovetops and sinks. As you’re cooking, families who are staying at the House might stop by to smell what’s going on. 🙂 This is the best time as you get a chance to interact with them and see the appreciation they have for the hard work and time you’ve put in to prepping a home cooked meal for them. It’s an extremely rewarding experience.

Would you like to volunteer your time in the Ronald McDonald House kitchen?
Here’s how it works:
1. Visit the Take Them a Meal website and log in using Tampa (Last name search) and Meal (password).
2. Once you’re logged in, scroll down and you will see a calendar list of all of the organizations/people who have offered. If a date is available, you will see “take” at the far right. Choose a date, click take, and it will send you to a form where you can sign up to cook a meal at Ronald McDonald House!
3. You will get a confirmation email and a reminder email prior to your scheduled volunteer date.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday today dancing among the stars!
Love, Steph

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