Giving Thanks

lighting-the-spark-within-us

I took some time today to reflect on some of my Thanksgiving blogs from the past and found the one from 2013, the Thanksgiving after my mom and Francine died.  So much of it is still true today. The people I am most grateful for are still a huge part of my life, but I have so many others in my life that I can now include. We still have my 101 year old grandma here with us and tonight, I will share Thanksgiving dinner, one of my favorite meals of the year, with her and many of my relatives, each of us cooking at home and bringing the food to her house to make it easy on her. Tonight there will be 16 of us around the table – a rather small gathering for us – but still a fun one!

I have been texting with friends all morning letting them know how grateful I am to have them in my life. We are sharing cooking tips and our similar thoughts on politics…knowing full well they will stay OUT of our conversations at dinner where so many of our family members have opposing opinions!

I am grateful to have DJ home from college, knowing that he is thriving on his own and creating his own friendships and relationships for which I know he is grateful for. I am grateful that Drew is finding his way as a freshman in high school. Never playing a game of football in his life, he found himself on the varsity football team at 5 feet tall and 95 pounds! That story is a blog in itself…for another time!

I am most grateful for Dave this year. He has been going through his own personal struggle with depression and with some health issues, and is finally on the road to recovery. He has found a new job and is so filled with life and energy. He is happy which makes for a much happier home. I couldn’t be more grateful to all of the people who have helped him get through this difficult time. He’s like a new person and for this, I am forever thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Find reasons to be grateful not just today, but always.

Home for Thanksgiving

enjoy-the-little-things

Most nights, since we go to bed fairly early, Dave and I watch Fox 5 News, New York. Each night as it begins, they say, “Its 10pm, do you know where your children are?” For years, I always said, ‘Yup. Tucked into bed.” It became a bit of a routine. If I forgot to say it, Dave would. We do it almost every night. Then, DJ went off to college. After that, each time I heard those words I’d sigh, and say, “Well, I know where one of them is.” Once in awhile, jokingly, Dave will  go on his find my phone app, see where he is and say, “Yup. I do!”

I knew DJ was fine. He is loving college. He has known what he has wanted to do with his life and is off doing it! I am proud of him. For me, it is  just nostalgia – missing those days when the boys were little. When people say time flies, they aren’t kidding!

Yesterday, my brother Tim drove to Boston to pick DJ up for the Thanksgiving week. I was anticipating his arrival all day. They made great time until they hit New Jersey where traffic was a nightmare so he didn’t make it home by my 10pm news question.

Even though I am sure he will be out with friends, tonight when I hear those words on the news, at least I will be able to say, “Yup! I do!”

Respectful

just-be-nice

I am embarrassed to admit how long it has been since I wrote anything on this blog. School started, grad school started, life in general….where do I begin?!?!

We have a new president-elect and while he was not my choice, I must respect this. I have such a hard time with people who are unaccepting of others, and while Mr. Trump may be able to change his persona while in office – it is his supporters (and I will preface this with not all of them…) who are so closed minded that scare me. I live in a bubble, a town where so many of us are accepting of one another. Where same sex marriage, interracial couples, people of all races and religions live together in what seems like peaceful harmony. This election has truly shown me how naive I really am. I was unaffected by the world around me. Impervious of what so many others in America believe.

In just these three days, on television and online, I am already seeing so many signs of hatred. Swastikas painted on buildings. White people yelling obscenities to people of color. When I read a story about several white girls telling a group of hispanic people to “move to the back of the bus, Trump is president now,” I cried. We are moving backwards and this cannot happen. I fear for my LGBTQ friends. I fear for marriage equality. I fear for  immigrants. I fear for my children but am hopeful that Dave and I have raised them to follow their hearts and continue do good things and be the amazing young men that they have shown us that they are.

Anti-Trump protestors aren’t making things better either. Since when does violence fix anything?  Go out and do something good instead. Make a change. Do something that brings people together not draws them further apart.

When I woke up Wednesday morning and saw the results I cried. NOT because Hillary Clinton lost, but because I didn’t know how I was going to go to school that day and face my students.

While I tried to keep politics out of my diverse classroom filled with five and six year old students, many of them couldn’t help but repeat what they were hearing at home and on television. One boy told me, “Donald Trump makes fun of handicapped people!” A little girl said, “He doesn’t think girls are as good as boys.” When little boy innocently said with a sigh of relief, “Donald Trump hates black people…phew…sure am glad I am brown” I had to hold back tears.

I didn’t know what to say to them. A friend of mine told me “We have a lot of work to do. It is hard work fighting evil and it is our responsibility to fight harder.”

My class and I focused kindness that day. We created Kindness Superheroes. We thought of ways that love wins over hate. There was little talk of politics. Just about how to make the world a better place. We decided that we will continue to make good choices and focus on doing good for others.  They know that they can be the difference and I have faith that they truly can.

.

Happy Birthday Mom

missing_you_on_your_birthday_yellow_daylily_card-rfc15cab5402645e6973cef0d92eff203_xvuak_8byvr_324.jpg

No one loved to celebrate birthdays more than my mom so it is fitting that since today is her birthday, we all go out and celebrate in her honor! We will head to The Reservoir of course….it was her favorite restaurant.  Twenty of us getting together to celebrate her.

I had considered going to the cemetery to visit with her today. I am not a big fan of where she is buried. The cemetery itself is beautiful, but she is in a mausoleum and I don’t like the coldness of it. The artificial flowers and forced air don’t make me feel welcome and I don’t find myself going as often as I feel I should. Instead, yesterday, I went to her bench in the park. It is my peaceful spot to go when I am missing her or feeling sad. A bunny and a butterfly where right beside the bench when I arrived. More signs from mom? Maybe… Regardless, it made me feel like she knew I was there. I sat for a bit and wished her a happy day. It is the same place where we have released balloons for her birthday in the past.  I hope you have caught some of those yellow balloons and are celebrating up in heaven. We miss you!

 

Senseless

hate is learned

The title of my blog seems so inappropriate today.  I am embarrassed for our country. We are not living in a kind world.

Hate.

Violence.

Chaos.

We are falling apart as a society.

As I have been scrolling through social media over the last few days, it seems many people echo my sentiments so why are we witnessing this chaos right now? Why is this happening? My heart is aching.

I refuse to take sides. How does this happen to a society where so many of us are teaching our children the complete opposite of hatred. Where does it come from? Why? Who is perpetuating it?

This is senseless. Hatred is a learned behavior. It needs to change.

peace mother theresa

 

 

Dad’s Progress

healing therapy

For the many people who have asked….just a quick update on dad. He is doing much better.  He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday for shortness of breath, nausea and excessive sweating. Of course the first thought was his heart – he had a quadruple bypass in 2005 – but fortunately all of the tests on his heart came back clear.

After hearing a lot of wheezing, ER doctors decided to give him a chest x-ray. Diagnosis… and it sounds much worse than it is… “Congestive Heart Failure.” It sounds terrible, but fortunately, after being put on medication he is doing much better and should be home by Wednesday.

When dad, who rarely complains, calls one of us and mentions that “he might need to go the the ER” you know something is up. The awesome Maplewood Fire Department medics and the police officer who arrive at his house were terrific and helped calm his nerves, getting him to the hospital in no time at all. The staff in the emergency room was great and it was oddly quiet while we were there allowing for quick treatment and he got admitted a room in record time!

So…thanks for all the well wishes. He appreciates it and my brothers, sister and I do too.

He should be home in time for the duck race!

A Sign – 3 Years Later

butterfly heaven.jpg

It has been forever since I wrote. Things are so busy with work and grad school.  My grad school course is on line and in a discussion forum format so I write several times a week there and a lot of it is reflection – so I haven’t stopped writing completely -just not here.

Today, I needed to share.

Three years ago today was the day my mom stopped breathing and was put on life support. It is NOT the day she died, but it was the last time I spoke to her. She had called me that morning around 9:05 in the morning. I only remember the time because I was teaching and about to start our morning meeting. She never called during the day so when I saw her number, I answered it, thinking something was wrong. All she told me was that she was making dinner reservations. I was quite abrupt with her telling her that it was a typical Friday so why was she calling me at work to tell me.  we did the same thing EVERY Friday night so what was different about this one? She really had no reason, just said good bye and that was it. The last time we spoke.

I am one of those people who sees “signs” everywhere. When I see pennies on the ground, I think it is a message from my mom. Butterflies were always my good luck sign, but since my mom died, I like to think they are her sending me a message.

This morning, I was getting ready for our day to begin at school. As I walked in my room, I almost stepped on a little pin that was on the floor. I bent down to pick it up and noticed it was a butterfly. At the same time, I glanced at my phone. The time was, 9:05. Perhaps just a coincidence, or maybe, just mom saying hello. I had sent her a message of my own on her facebook page this morning. We never deactivated her account.  My message to her was just a little heart. Nothing more, but maybe she saw it and was letting me know.

I asked each of the kids in my class if it was theirs and one little girl realized it was hers and that it had fallen off her jacket. It was broken. At the end of the day I shared the story with her mom. I gave her the broken pieces of the pin in a bag. Shortly after that, the little girl came running back and gave it to me and told me I could have it because she knew it was special to me – even if it was broken.

FullSizeRender (3)

Cynics might just laugh – but I love seeing signs and I think that was truly one today.