Hope Wissel

Happy 4th of July


According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain”.

For me, the 4th brings up all kinds of memories that are bittersweet…

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many 4th of July parades and bar-b-ques with the family. Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes were made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, hats…

Sitting on the side of the parade route on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy that was thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried that Belinda would get too close to the trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and has lot of memories for us. I mean there was a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so that was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove… this is so off topic. Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family celebrating today…

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Happy Easter..

EASTER cross
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”

As the sun begins to rise on Easter morning, I think of Easter‘s past…

Growing up, I went to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach. Then home to get ready for church. New outfits for church. Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park. Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family. Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth“.

As the years passed, life seemed to get in the way – no more fancy Easter outfits, no more Easter baskets combined with a feeling of not belonging. Then I was blessed with my daughter, Belinda.  Childhood memories and traditions came back to life starting with Belinda’s first Easter.  Four generations – Grams, Mom, me and Belinda.4 generations Easter

Easter was different.  Easter baskets were filled with toys and games because Belinda didn’t like chocolate – I know SHOCKING, right?  It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house. I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket. I even remember making her Easter outfits and heading to Atlantic City for the traditional Easter parade. That is my cutie in one of those outfits!

B & me Easter

Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.  The family was smaller – Edythe, Elsie, Grams, Mom, Belinda and I but we were blessed with 4 generations at dinner for several years.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Hubby and I will spend the day with friends and hopefully Mom and Sal.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy. Our loved ones in heaven will be celebrating together while those of us left behind will struggle with making new traditions.  This is one of my favorite songs…

Blessings from Laura Story:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I am blessed. I have a loving, supportive family, and a devoted husband. I have a faith that at times is as small as a mustard seed but is enough to get me through the toughest days.  For I know that even the trials are blessings from God. Count your blessings – even those that don’t seem like them. I know that I do.

Share your Easter stories and pictures with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Easter!

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Twis The Night Before Christmas


Christmas Eve day… the hustle and bustle reaches immeasurable heights as last minute shoppers make the final dash to the malls for that perfect gift.  Holiday office parties are in full swing.  Others are home preparing for family and friends to arrive – dinner cooking (is it fish? or turkey? or ham?).  Kids are eagerly counting down until Santa will arrive bringing gifts for one and all.  While still others are grabbing a quick dinner as they head to church to celebrate the real reason for the season…

For our family, the holidays have changed so much over the year.  The first change came when breast cancer took Elsie from us.  She always seemed to be the glue that brought us all together – no matter what happened all year long.


Then Alzheimer’s took Grams from us.  Belinda grew up and headed to college – more changes.   During the first 4 years in North Carolina, she traveled home where we spent Christmas with Mom.


Then, kidney cancer took Edythe (mom’s middle sister) from us in 2011.

When, Christmas falls on hubby’s work day, he has rotated holidays off.  This year, Rob is off because Belinda and Ashley are here!  This year we are returning to a tradition that had fallen by the wayside so many years ago…

Tonight, we will be gathered with family and extended family to celebrate the holidays together.  This year’s gathering with the Loder family has grown to include spouses and grandchildren, as well as girlfriends and their family.  Lots of food, drink and fun will be had by all.

As for Christmas Day, we will stay at home watching movies, eating, playing games – I’m sure at least one game of Rummycube or Uno will be  played. Making new memories.

As I look at our Christmas tree filled with new and old ornaments, memories of Christmas Eve’s past flash through my mind.

The many years of trying to get Belinda to go to bed so that Edythe, Elsie and I could put presents under the tree.  It was really hard carrying things past HER room to get the living room.  It always made for a lot of laughs.  Waiting patiently for mom to get off work so that we could open presents.  The early morning calls to wake everyone up.  The funny thing was – Belinda wasn’t a morning person so we always had to WAKE her up.  Really, on Christmas morning????  Opening presents was a process that took forever because Belinda wanted to play with each thing before moving on to the next gift.  We learned that games were opened last or at least towards the end or else nothing else would get opened. Great memories of days gone by…

Cherish the moments with family tonight.  Let the struggles of the year go for you never know what tomorrow will bring or if we will even be here tomorrow.   There are tears of joy, tears of sorrow for those who are no longer with us and tears of anticipation for what God has in store for me and our family over the next year.

child with present

Merry Christmas to my friends, family, Thirty One customers and hostess and all of my blog fans.  You have blessed this year in  so many ways…

Hope Wissel

Happy Birthday Belinda

Belinda copy

At 7:57AM exactly 27 years ago my baby girl was born – Belinda Joan Heldreth Steinel.  I am sure she is cringing at me calling her a “baby” but she will always be my baby.

When I found out that I was pregnant, there were a whirlwind of emotions.  Belinda’s dad opted to leave us since he “wasn’t ready to be a dad”.  Was I ready to be a mom?  Probably not.  This fun-loving, workaholic, partying women thought “I can do and have it all”.  Reality quickly sunk in as I was banished for health reasons to bed for most of my pregnancy.  Life was a little, okay ALOT, crazy but I knew that we would be okay.

The morning Belinda arrived, I was due for a stress test because despite the doctor’s prediction, she was NOT early nor was she a preemie!  When I called the doctor to tell him I as in labor, he was like I will see you for the stress test. NO WAY!  Within an hour, the pain was unbearable so off Elsie and I went to the hospital.  I was having contractions but it was too early for pain meds.  By the time the doctor came back in it was too LATE for pain meds.  Yup, 100% natural labor along with a vow that I would NEVER had another child.

belinda & me wedding

It has always been “you and me kid”.  Yes, Rob entered the picture when you were 13.  Yes, I had tremendous support from family.  At the end of the day, it was “you and me kid” snuggled in our mobile home getting through life with the cats and Tinkerbell.

I picked and chose my battles when you were growing up.  Some things just weren’t worth it.  I was blessed.  You were basically a good kid.  A gymnast (thank you Edythe & Grams).  A field hockey player.  An All Star Cheerleader.  A hard working girl from the age of 16.

Do you remember the first time the realization hit you that your “baby” was a grown up?  Was it when they went to HS? How about when they got their first job? Or was it when they got their driver’s license?  Most will say, it was when they went off to college.  For me, the realization came as Rob and I walked her down the “aisle” to the waiting arms of her finance.  Yup.  It took that long – just this past August.  I was not ready for the flood of emotion that would hit as we drove back to Jersey that weekend.

2015-08-29 15.17.19

Belinda, you have grown into an amazing woman.  I have always been proud of you.  I love your giving heart.  I love your energy.  I love your self-confidence.  Yes, I even love your lack of tactic when telling people how you “really” feel.  You have inspired others to reach for their dreams.  You have fought for those who could not fight for themselves. You have blazed a trail advocating as far as Capital Hill for the things that you believe in.  You stand up for what you believe in even if it goes against the norm.

Yes, mom is shedding a tear or two as I write this.  We may not physically be together today since you are in North Carolina and I am in New Jersey but our hearts will be bound together forever.  I wish you a day filled with love and happiness.  I hope that all of your dreams come true.   Happy Birthday Baby!  It is “you and me kid”.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel

Happy Birthday E!


I know that there is a party going on in heaven today, well probably for most of the month!!

Growing up, I always liked October because it was birthday month. No, not for me but for family members. It seems like it was one big party. Let’s see there was:

  • Edythe
  • Pop Pop
  • Dad
  • Mom mom Lane

I know, you are saying 4 so what is the big deal, right? Well they all fell within about 1 week of each other. When mom-mom wasn’t cooking a big Sunday dinner to celebrate, we went out to eat. I can remember going to The Squires Pub where the family seemed to know everyone. I mean, I was young so it seemed that way. Two years in a row stand out for the record books. We were all sitting at dinner when my Grandmother said she wasn’t feeling well. She got up to go to the Ladies Room and passed out. Mom got up to help her and she passed out. Okay can you picture this – about 9 of us around the table and now two are passed out on the floor. The manager comes rushing over and the next thing I know the ambulance is there taking care of them. I am not sure that we even finished dinner. It was crazy. No, it wasn’t food poisoning, just a bug or something. Yes, it happened TWO years in a row! Talk about embarrassing. I mean, I couldn’t make this stuff up, right?

Actually, fainting seems to be a family trait that used to happen quite frequently when a room was hot or we felt too closed in. Yes, I would later fall into that family trait. Oh and did I mention that if someone else passed out, we sometimes did as well. It made for some interesting adventures.

As the years went on, things changed. Mom-mom Lane passed away. Mom and Dad divorced. Pop-pop passed away and then sadly 4 years ago so did Edythe. Family celebrations have changed to smaller gatherings. Dad is getting up there in age so we usually just do dinner or something small.

Oh yea this started out as Birthday wishes for Edythe…. so I digressed but that happens when I start thinking about the past. So there is no one to call and sing Happy Birthday to this morning before the sun even rises. No silly balloons or cards to send. No attempts at cake baking by Belinda. Just a day to remember a life lived and memories cherished.

Happy Birthday Edythe! You are missed more than you will ever know. Sending hugs and kisses to the Weston clan in heaven as they celebrate your special day. Love you!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!