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!

Mandala Project

This week, our community was honored to host five monks for a week long mandala creation project. I had never heard of a mandala, but learned that it is a piece of artwork created by taking millions of grains of sand in various color and laying them out in geometric patterns creating a spiritual piece of artwork . Mandalas have been created for hundreds of years. The meticulous work takes days to create and it is thought that they create positive energy in the universe.

I was a bit skeptical at first but since I was asked to take photos of the opening ceremonies I decided to check it out. Listening to the guttural moans and chants coming out of these monks was mystifying, intriguing and enthralling! I cannot think of enough adjectives to describe it! The monks were from The Drepung Loseling Monastery in India.


The mandala is said to be a spiritual representation of the universe. Some say it gives energy and balance. The process took all week and I found myself checking into The Woodland, where it was being constructed, nearly every day this week to watch the process. I became truly riveted. Watching their steady hands as they drew the lines and spread the sand captivated me. I spent hours there just watching!

Throughout the week, yoga and meditation classes were held around the mandala. You could truly feel the energy! Believe me, I am a skeptic and truly didn’t think that was possible, but it was. Whether that energy was coming from the mandala itself, or the hundreds of people who came daily to watch the construction, it was there!

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After the opening ceremonies, (which made me feel so spiritual even without understanding the language), they began drawing the lines. It was math, science and art all in one! I took hundreds of photos of their hands and the lines and none of them can do it justice. The chalk as it rose above the lines in a cloud as they laid the lines, the steadiness of their hands – those will have to stay in my memory.

As they began to lay the sand, the richness of the colors and the designs in each quadrant, were becoming more and more vivid. With each day that passed, it became more elaborate. The three dimensional effect was remarkable.

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I decided to try some of the meditation classes that were offered. One was a guided mediation which I loved – again, going in skeptical and cynical but leaving inspired and rejuvenated. I also had the good fortune to be invited on an early morning walk through the reservations with the monks. I jumped at the chance and although the walk wasn’t long, watching their faces as they saw the New York City skyline and the faces enthusiasm of the few of us on the walk, I was once again energized.  That spirit was truly in the air and whether it was “all in my head” or not, it gave me such a sense of peacefulness.

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Yesterday, was the final day of the project. All of that hard work and beauty was swept into swirl of color. People were invited to take a small spoonful and the rest was carried in a procession and poured into the local brook. It is said that by doing this, they are releasing the energy of the mandala into the water, dispersing that energy into the universe sending blessings to all. Such a beautiful sentiment.

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The entire project was filled with love, peace and kindness and for the entire week, it truly brought that to our community. I was so sad to see it end and was feeling a little disappointed after the ceremony. That is why last night, when I got a last minute invitation to have dessert with the monks as they visited the home of a friend, I happily accepted! These friends have beautiful antiques in their home, most of them from Asia and the monks seemed fascinated to see many of them. I didn’t get to speak much to them, again, the language barrier interfered, but I shook each one of their hands, we exchanged our names and smiles. Truly an amazing way to end the week.


The Weather Gods Were Watching!

rain stopped

The rain stopped! About one hour before Grammy’s 100th birthday party, the skies cleared, the sun came out and the weather was beautiful – albeit a bit muggy!  It wasn’t supposed to clear up. In fact, it was supposed to storm again, but the weather gods were watching over Grammy’s and her guests and blessed us with sunshine!  We even had a visit from a yellow butterfly – Drew was convinced it was my mom dropping in to say that she was there!

At 100, there are not a lot of friends around that are your age, but she does have a couple and they showed up. She was so happy to see them! She reminisced with them all night.  We took hundreds of photos and talked about the legacy she has created! The cousins have been together for days! None of them wanting to leave! Eight of them cramming into one bedroom just so they didn’t have to lose a moment of time together.

Today, five of the cousins are flying back home. Some will stay and visit for awhile longer, so there haven’t been tears….yet. We will make the most of their time while they are here. Maybe our Spring Breaks will coincide and this time, we will fly out west to visit with them! That would make Drew so happy!

Less than 25 days until Gram’s ‘real’ birthday! There is no way to top this celebration, but anyone that knows this family knows it will still be something special!

Celebrating in the Rain

rain rainbow

This has quite possible been one of nicest summers I can remember in New Jersey. We have had very little rain, and those few times were in the evening. There has been very little humidity – which NJ is famous for! There was only one week where there were more than three days in a row that were over 90 degrees!  The definition of perfect summer weather in my opinion!

We couldn’t have asked for better weather and having a summer job that is mostly outdoors, I couldn’t have been happier! Truthfully, we only needed ONE day to be perfect. Tuesday, August 11th. Today. The day we are celebrating Grammy’s 100th birthday. Outside.

All week long, the weather channels have been predicting rain for today.  We kept hoping that it would change, summer is so unpredictable, but it only seemed to get worse. If you looked at the 7 day forecasts, it displayed cute little suns on everyday EXCEPT Tuesday, where wind, clouds and rain icons replaced that sun! A day with no breaks of sun. “Higher than average gusts of wind expected….”

There is nothing we can do. The tents are already set up in her yard. The relatives have arrived from all over the US  and, although there is some disappointment that the party will have to move indoors, no one really cares so much anymore now that everyone is together.  Our family has been arriving all week long. Despite being thousands of miles away, stretching all the way to Alaska, these kids get along like they’ve been together forever. Having the party stretch out over nearly two weeks has made it so that the big event today isn’t really ruined because of a little rain!

If there isn’t any thunder and lightening, it just might be outside for the kids! The rain isn’t going to stop them! They were together until after 9pm last night running through the tents in the dark playing old games like “Ghost in the Graveyard” not caring that no one could see a thing, so I doubt rain will stop them!

Gram’s actual birthday is not until September 3rd but in order to get everyone here with school and sport schedules, we had to do it a little early. The party is going on, rain or shine. If it has to move indoors, it will. It isn’t very often that someone turns 100 and we cannot wait to celebrate her today!


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