Yellow Butterflies….still telling me something!

iirp

Yellow Butterflies are my good luck sign. I have written about them many times. I found this today when I did a search on the meaning.

“The butterfly is a reminder to make changes when the opportunity arises. Change and transformation are inevitable for us all, but it does not have to be traumatic.”

My change is occurring now…as I begin my first online education class to further my education…something I have been hesitant to do until now. One reason was because I didn’t know if I was up to the challenge but also, because I really just didn’t know what I wanted to do to move ahead in my career. I had thought about Special Education and Speech Therapy, but wasn’t inspired enough to go ahead with it. In May, I was invited by my school district to participate in a two day Restorative Justice/Practices seminar. Restorative Practices is,

“a field of study that has the potential to positively influence human behavior and strengthen civil society around the world. The IIRP Graduate School’s aim, as suggested by Albert Einstein in a speech in 1936, “is the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service of the community their highest life problem.” (International Institute of Restorative Practices)

Before the seminar, I had never heard of Restorative Practices. I wasn’t sure what it was about or how it worked. After the two day workshop, I wanted to learn more and this past weekend, I was able to take the  last two courses in the seminar. They were held in Bethlehem, Pa and now I am even more convinced that this is what I want to do!  The idea of restoring relationships, building positive attitudes, a solid community, decreasing crime and overall improve human behavior…it is everything I hope to do! It is as if this was developed for me! My biggest fear now is the online courses. I haven’t taken a college course in more than 20 years and online is so different than in person! I was told that this first course is quite intense and as I peruse the website and all an online course includes, I find myself getting a bit intimidated. I am taking one course. If it goes well – more will follow.  If not, and I realize this is jut not for me, at least I can say that I tried. As I was doubting myself though, on my walk with Emmy Lou, this yellow butterfly showed up as if it was telling me that I have to at least try.

Mom’s Things

meant to be

Today would have been a “big” birthday for my mom. She would have turned 70 years old today.  When I was a kid, I used to think 70 was so old but not so much anymore. Last night, we all went to my dad’s and ordered Chinese food (her favorite.) Today, we will release yellow balloons from her bench.

My dad has a hard time with change. He hasn’t let any of us move her things. This includes clothing from her closet and drawers. He is also a “saver” and all of our bedrooms are still filled with lots of “stuff.” Not just his stuff, all of our stuff.  My sister Kathi and I have the least there but both of us had a few things to get rid of. My brothers, although both live on their own, have their bedrooms almost exactly the way they were when they lived there.

My sister and her family have fallen on tough times financially and are going to be moving in with my dad for awhile, until they can get back on their feet.  This means, the five bedroom home – the very “filled” five bedroom home – needed to be cleared out immediately.

We finally convinced my dad to let us clear out my mom’s closet. Promising we would donate all of her clothing, shoes and bags and then, move all of her formal dresses that are in Kathi’s and my closet, (there are a lot them,) into the closet in the master  bedroom. The dresses were one thing he wasn’t ready to part with. Gowns from our weddings and special events they attended. We all understood and began purging.

My mom, who was a very simple woman, (she didn’t care about labels or names,) had SOOOOOO much in her closets, it filled two industrial sized blag trash bags and four boxes! That doesn’t even include all of the purses and bags, (Fendi, Gucci, Coach,) some of which I had never even seen since so many had never been used. Kathi and I each found a few that we kept for ourselves and we decided to try to sell the bags on a local swap page and the interest has been huge. I had no idea there was such demand for these “old, yet new” bags.

We gathered so many shoes and clothes, we needed to get them out of the house immediately because we couldn’t just leave those bags and boxes. We had divided them into bags with bag with “nearly new or brand new items” in some and one of “mom worn” items.  She was notorious for spilling on herself so those went into a different bag to drop off at a collection box.  There was so much collected, that DJ and I decided to take a ride and bring them, to the local church that was having a rummage sale and drop the other bag into the donation box.

When we got to the church, there was a sign on the doors saying, “No More Donations!” I didn’t want to put it all in a donation box because I have heard that a lot of that stuff just gets shredded rather than donated. I couldn’t imagine that! There were brand new clothes with tags on some of it! We decided to drive over to our own church where there are two collection boxes.

I let myself be naive enough to believe that the sign on saying it would go to Catholic Charities meant it just might be given to people rather than be shredded.  DJ and I unloaded the heavy boxes and bags and started to stuff them into the bins. The bins were so full, we couldn’t even get one bagful in. We tore open one of the bags and tried to put things in one piece at a time. We were only able to get one bag emptied and that was it. Not another stitch of clothing was getting in there.

DJ and I joked that mom was trying to send us a message; either she didn’t want us giving away her things, or she wanted us to “share the wealth,” so off we headed to another donation box in town. Problem was that box was gone. We kept driving and got to the donation box I had thought of first for the one bag of clothing in the worst condition.

As we started emptying the bags and boxes – which were too big to fit, once again, we had to take them apart to throw the clothing in one piece at a time. The handle of the donation bin kept jamming. Jamming up, jamming down….we couldn’t help but laugh. It took much longer than expected but we got it all in.

I kept apologizing to mom as I threw things into the bin. DJ kept asking why. He didn’t think she’d have minded and he is probably right.  She was probably laughing right along with us.

Feeding So Many

feed just one

A few days ago, I read on Facebook that one of our local food pantries was in dire need of donations for the upcoming weekend’s food handouts.  The shelves were nearly bare.  The post shared by many in our community, “went viral!” Well, as viral as it can go in our two towns, but the response was huge and the pantry shelves were filled in just a few days.

Unfortunately, after Saturday’s handouts, those shelves will be empty again.

After the Facebook thank yous and a celebration of a job well done, someone in one of the groups where it was first shared, suggested that a Facebook page be created for just this need.

I decided to take it on. With the help from a few friends, “Feed SOMany” was created. Our two towns are, South Orange and Maplewood, (SOM).  Dave came up with the clever name. I have to give him credit for that one! He’s creative with that sort of thing. Much more than I am!

The idea of the group, is to keep people informed of the needs of each pantry. To announce food drives around town and to let others know of collection dates for each pantry. Sometimes, all it takes is a small reminder and the goal of this group is to do just that!

One woman posted this morning, that Shop Rite is holding its Can Can Sale right now. A perfect time to stock up on those most needed staple items. Exactly what this group has been created for.

Summer is rough for food pantries but people are still hungry. People still need to be fed. A few extra food items in your shopping cart each week, dropped off to the pantries can really help.

If you are a resident of South Orange Maplewood, or a surrounding area, join the group. If not, maybe start your own because no one should ever have to go hungry.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/463276867187178/

Love is Love

love is love rainbow

When I signed into my WordPress account to write tonight, I found it bordered with a rainbow. Appropriate for my blog tonight.

Yesterday, I was watching television on my first day off of summer break, when The Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provide same-sex couples the right to marry. I was home alone and burst out clapping and cheering!  A victory for so many people who have been fighting for so long!

Minutes later Facebook “exploded” with rainbows and quotes about love.  Last night all over The USA, landmarks were lit in the colors of the rainbow. I am so proud of our country right now.

Later in the day, President Obama declared,”If we are truly created equal than truly the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

I know there will be people out there who don’t agree with the ruling and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Tonight though, an old friend from high-school shared this, which is written on the wall of The Jefferson Memorial.

jefferson memorial

Change is good.  Change is important.

Graduation Day

graduation dj

This afternoon, DJ graduates from high-school!

How did that happen?  This really makes college seem real. Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. My mind is racing, my heart is pounding. I can remember the day he was born as if it was yesterday and now…. Graduation?!?!

When DJ started school with Mrs. Lerner, one of the most amazing kindergarten teachers I have ever met, I never expected that this day would come so quickly! He walked into that kindergarten classroom with a backpack bigger than him, giving me a nervous little wave before heading into the room. I thought that was a difficult day! What was I thinking!!??

When people tell you “it goes so fast….” they aren’t kidding! Time flew! Thirteen years of school over in the blink of an eye.  Where are those days when he’d sit curled up on my lap reading his favorite book, Freight Train, by Donald Crews, over and over again. We read that book so many times, I can still recite that book word for word!

I am going through a range of emotions.  The last few months have been building up to this. Awards ceremonies, scholarships, so many events telling us this day was upon us! I  know that he has grown into an intelligent, capable, talented person, I am having trouble writing the words, “young man,” but that is what he is. An eighteen year adult!  He’s isn’t a kid anymore! Will my little boy be able to manage without us there to guide him everyday?

All of his “firsts” have happened with us along side of him. First words, first steps, first day of school, getting his driver’s license… the list goes on and on.  Now all of those firsts are going to be experienced without us there. Is he ready? Are we?

Of course he is. He has proven that to us this year, becoming more and more independent. He is ready to move on. Ready for the next chapter of his life. I am so proud of him and I know that he is going to find even more independence when he is on his own.

We can’t predict the future and what it holds for our children. I can only hope that he is happy, does his best, makes a difference, and winds up doing what he loves.

To all of my friends who have children graduating today, congratulations! They are ready. I think we have done a pretty good job! <3

Father’s Day

fathers day

I love holidays….because of the time spent together with family and friends.  I dread them when we feel obligated to get a gift for someone just because it is a holiday.

When the gift is meaningful, or something that I have been planning for a long time, it is great. I remember one year for Father’s Day I gave Dave tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert – they may have been his favorite gift ever. Once for Christmas, I gave Dave and DJ tickets to go to a soccer match in England to watch their favorite team, Manchester United, play a match.

Those gifts are fun. Those are the ones that I cannot wait to give him. Two Christmases ago, when I gave the boys and Dave the $$ from the 52 Week Challenge to pay for our Spring Break vacation, I was giddy with excitement, barely able to hold back the secret!

This year, I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with something fun or needed to give him. It is no secret that money is tight in our household, but when we need something, we usually get it. So when it comes time to buy a gift for a specific holiday, it isn’t so easy to come up with something clever and fun.  We will often buy each other something special now and then….just because when we saw it, we knew it was something the other would like.

I was hinting around to see if he’d like a fitbit and finally came right out and asked him. His answer was a solid, “No,” so I am glad I didn’t go out and just get it for him.

The “obligatory holiday gift”. It actually causes me stress. Dave mentioned to me that he told me something he wanted a few months ago. So then, I spent a day or two trying to remember what that could have possible been. Finally yesterday, I told him to just tell me. I had to laugh when he I found out. He wants a pressure cooker.

I have no recollection of that conversation he said we had back in April (??) but he does like to cook! I quickly went on line and started looking them up to find one with great reviews and found a few. Knowing it would never arrive by the next day, even with Amazon Prime, I decided I’d go out this morning and find one so that he’d have something to open on Father’s Day.

I was at Bed and Bath when the doors opened this morning – without my coupon -(I shudder at the thought) and couldn’t find one. So instead, I walked aimlessly around the store hoping that something else would catch my eye. That’s when I began thinking about the ‘obligatory gift’ again. Just spending money to but “something” wasn’t going to cut it.

He is getting his pressure cooker.  It just won’t arrive until Tuesday.  Happy Father’s Day Babe,  I love you! Now make me something yummy for dinner!

Giving Back and Having Fun While Doing It

only by giving

What a fun-filled weekend! It began on Friday night, when I joined a friend at a Rent Party concert, one of my favorite local organizations, which helps to feed hungry children in our own community.

Saturday, I ran in another Muck Fest, along with several teachers from my school. This has become an annual event for us now.  This was our fifth race as a team and each year we have more and more fun doing it. The race isn’t a hard one – I have to get over a fear of heights I never knew I had, but other than that, the obstacles are fun, dirty and mucky and we laugh through the entire race. The entire race, which is held in various locations across the country, raises money for MS.  Our team collected close to $1000 this year.

Sunday, several local women and I got together to hold a vendor event. We are donating a percentage of our proceeds to Rent Party/Back Pack Pals. It was a pretty successful day.  I am still taking orders that will benefit the cause and will keep it going for a few more days.

The weekend ended with an end of the year soccer BBQ and pool party at the home of one of Drew’s teammates.  Dave and DJ left early to head to Boston for DJ’s freshmen orientation. Hard to believe this is possible! Sometimes I don’t feel old enough to be the mom of a college student, but I guess I am since this is actually happening!

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