Every Life Matters


The terrorists attacks in Paris have made us all pause. Facebook is filled with red white and blue flags as people stand in solidarity with France. I am shaken up by the events but can’t help wonder about all of the other innocent lives that have been lost in recent terrorist attacks around the world.

There have been numerous attacks in just the month of November. Why are some recognized more than others? Why is this one given so much more media attention? They are all dreadful. They are spewed with hatred.

I am not writing this to stir up political controversy. I am the least political person out there! Hundreds of innocent people have lost their lives due to radical beliefs. Regardless of where they were in this world, they were children, parents, husbands, wives and friends.  Their lives mattered to someone. They were all important and should be remembered.

“Because there is no flag that sees us all. Because we are all equal. Because the pain a mother feels for her children is the same in every language in every land.” Emily Konopinski Trunk

Feeling Grateful

It has been over a month since I have posted. Some days, it makes me sad that I have let this part of my life fall to the side. It was such a big part of my life. Like everyone, I have been so busy. Teaching and grad school are consuming my time. I am loving my group of Kindergarteners and my grad school class is compelling. I am learning so much and becoming so involved in Restorative Practices. I am almost finished with my second class and about to register for my third. I have been volunteering at a new shop in town a few days a month. The store, Arts Unbound, “is dedicated to the artistic achievement of people living with disabilities and seniors.” They provide education and professional development which allows these artists a place to sell their art. The gallery is in Maplewood, New Jersey and centers on art rather than on the stigmas placed on disabilities and aging. It is an incredible place and I am excited to be a part of it.

I haven’t even visited my blog in weeks, but decided to check in today, on Veterans Day, to see what I shared the last two years on November 11th. I wanted to reach out to everyone I know who has served our country but there are so many of them, I fear I will omit some. I am so grateful to them and am extending my gratitude to them here, in the hopes that they might come upon the blog. My family and I are truly thankful for your service.

veterans thank you

Week of Respect

speak kindly

Beginning the first Monday of October, New Jersey schools celebrate “The Week of Respect.” Character building lessons, anti-bullying messages, respect and responsibility are stressed throughout the week.

In July, I wrote about the master’s program I have begun.  It is in Restorative Practices. The motto of the International Institute for Restorative Practices is, “Restoring Community in a Disconnected World.”

The fundamental premise of restorative practices is that people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them. (IIRP)

I have been using restorative practices on a daily basis in my classroom for years, not even realizing that what I was doing had a “title.”  I think any good teacher does this. We stress that everyone has value. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and everyone in turn should be respectful to others.  The Golden Rule – “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” It is so simple.

When I hear about these mass shootings, like Newtown and the most recent last week in Oregon, I wonder just what brought a child to that breaking point. What did they not get in those precious, developmental years that got them to that point. That place where they felt that they had no one to turn to. A place where they didn’t feel valuable and felt that the whole world was against them.

No one will ever know what was going through the minds of the shooters, but if we can start at even the earliest ages, like I am in Kindergarten, and stress just how important and respected every person is and how valuable they are to society, maybe we can steer them in another direction and cut these behaviors off before they can ever escalate to such a level.

Listen to your words. Love deeply and speak kindly because words have immense power.

100 Days Left


Last year I shared a post about 100 Happy Days. I forgot about it….I know I stuck to it for a short time, but as always, life got in the way and I trailed off.

Today, a friend of mine sent me an email reminding me of it and letting me know that there are only 100 more days in 2015?? I am trying the challenge again!

Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? I am going to tackle the challenge and I challenge you to do the same. Here is what you need to do. Everyday, for the next 100 days, post a photo, to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter….you choose.  Each day, take a photo of something that makes you happy and share it with the hashtag, #100happydays.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just something that made you smile! #100happydays

The countdown begins tomorrow, September 22! Game on!

L’Shana Tova

la shanah tova

Tonight marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Said to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, it is marked with traditions like celebrating with loved ones and dipping apples into sweet honey in the hopes for a “sweet year” ahead.

Thanks to my Jewish aunt and her extended family, I have had the opportunity to celebrate this holiday with them ever since I was a little girl. This year, with our busy schedules and some health issues my aunt has been experiencing, we made a last minute decision to begin the celebration early and combine the festivities with my dad’s 70th birthday celebration. Although it wasn’t the “traditional” Rosh Hashanah meal, we were all together as a family and despite the fact that I don’t know a lot about the holiday, I know that family is an important aspect! I am sure that she will do the traditional rituals with her family over the next few days, and although we didn’t eat the sweet apples last night, we indulged in sweet birthday desserts in place of them!

I think everyone deserves to have a “sweet year” so to all who celebrate, I wish you,” L’Shanah Tovah!”

And he’s off…

thoreau dreams

This weekend was extremely bittersweet for all of us.  We brought DJ to college. He’s off. On his own. Ready to start his adventure. The ride up to Boston on Labor Day weekend took longer than it would normally take because of traffic, but we kind of relished in the fact that we had a few extra hours with him.

Drop off was on Saturday and it was almost surreal. He met his roommates, (he’s in a triple) and we met their parents. They had already talked online so they had already planned on what each of them would bring for their room. Their little room somehow fits the three of them, their beds, desks and wardrobes with a bit of room to spare.

We went to the bookstore and he picked up his order…which turned out to be wrong…and went to the convocation which was really nice. One of the benefits of this small school, (the Freshman class is about 550 students – about the same size as his high school), is how personal everyone is.  I think it will really fit DJ’s learning style and personality. After several very motivating speakers, the last one left the parents and families with two words, “Go home.”

We walked him back to his room, told him we would walk as far as the bookstore, where he could take care of the book error on his own.  His first step to independence I guess, but I don’t know why I think that.  He is sooooo much more independent than I ever was at his age. He’s been working since he was fourteen, managing his own accounts, does his laundry, drives everywhere and is overall a really responsible guy but I guess it was just an emotional moment  for all of us.  Big hugs, no tears and we walked off in separate directions.

Our car ride back to the hotel was pretty quiet. We made small talk with Drew and talked about the convocation, the roommates and the dorm room.  The three of us had dinner together. “Party of three” sounded a bit odd.  Dave and I each had a glass of wine with dinner, we had promised not to text him right away, but he sent a text to me while we were eating and told me he was nervous. It was the first time I got weepy.  Maybe it was the wine…but maybe it was not.  I reassured him, reminded him of the stories about my freshman year roommate, (let’s just say we didn’t last more than the year together – but that is a blog of its own,) and tried to ease his jitters. I joked with him that I could send him the book I just read to my Kindergarteners, “First Day Jitters.”  It was the first time he let on that he was nervous and it kind of broke my heart.

He wound up having a great Sunday and Monday, that started with a tour of Fenway Park. While he was there got to meet some of the Red Sox, walk out on the field and stayed for a game. A dinner cruise on the Boston Harbor gave him more time to meet people and again, he seemed okay. That night nerves set in again – the same way it always is with me. Night is when my brain runs wild, I guess his does too!

Today he begins classes. Once he gets started with those, and begins to make friends with people with similar interests, it will get better. I promised him that. 

So many of my friends have just gone through the same process.  I have been told for years that the first few weeks are the toughest and I believe them.  DJ wasn’t a summer camp kid. He rarely slept away from home, unless it was at my parents’ house so it is new for him and I get it. He is going to love it – I know he already is. He just has to give it some time. We are so proud of him….

and so….the adventure begins….for all of us!

Last Day of My Summer..

time spent with family

August 31st.

School starts for teachers tomorrow. Most of us have already been back for weeks, preparing our classrooms for the kiddies to arrive on Thursday. Our two days of professional development begin tomorrow.

It was a busy, fun and productive summer. We celebrated my grandmother’s 100th birthday, (the “real” day is actually this Thursday.) Our cousins from all over the country came to New Jersey and we celebrated for nearly three weeks! I think I wound up seeing more of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York with my Western cousins than I would have ever done had they not been here!

We took a “historic” tour of Greenwich Village, visiting the places Grammy grew up, the apartment she and my grandfather lived when they were first married, the church my grandparents were married in and another church where my father and his brothers were baptized.

We went to the beach – so incredibly close, yet for some reason, a place we hadn’t gone in over a year, and to the Poconos with a trip to Bushkill Falls. We got to see another one of our cousins play in a performance of “Rock of Ages”. We went bowling, to a trampoline park, to the zoo and to the pool. We watched a Mandala be constructed in my own home town!

All of this happened in just those three weeks! The rest of the summer, I worked at Camp Maple, where I have worked for the last seven summers, so although we were outside and having fun with our campers….it wasn’t quite “my summer” yet.

On Friday, we take DJ to college. He is one of the last of his friends to leave for school and he is ready to go.  Dave and I….maybe not quite so ready to have him leave, but we are excited for his new adventure.  That might officially end summer for me. A new batch of Kindergarten parents, leaving their babies with me as I leave my “baby” in Massachusetts. It is going to be a week filled with bittersweet tears for all of us!


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