Monthly Archives: May 2013



I don’t really have a phobia of bugs, but the cicada outbreak that I have been hearing about is making me a little leery…

I have been hearing that we could have thousands of them in our area!  After 17 years without them, I must admit…I have not missed them.  I remember the noise and them being everywhere the last time they came to visit!  Luckily, I have not seen any of them as of yet, but today, my students, (at least seven of them) brought me cicada shells that we have added to our Science Center. The big plate full of shells, now being housed in my classroom is making me hope that I don’t see a live one!  The shells alone are so creepy looking.

I have not even heard them yet, though I know that they can get very loud!  Even just across town, I know that they are appearing, but I am crossing my fingers that they stay over there!  I know that they are harmless.  I know that they are here for a very short time but I still would rather not come in contact with one.

Some followers of Feng Shui believe that they are symbols of immortality.  I tried to do some research to see if they were symbols of good luck but found NOTHING that claimed that.  Maybe if I thought that there was a good story behind the cicada that would make me want to like them, I would be more accepting of them.  Nope.  I found nothing!

Then today, I came home and found a ladybug in my kitchen.  Completely on the contrary to the cicada, this is one insect that I love finding.  I have always heard that ladybugs bring good luck.  Future luck in love, or a financial windfall are just a few of the things that I have heard ladybugs can bring.  Obviously I know that it is all just myths and stories, but I have written numerous times how I love to find “signs” and “symbolism” in things.  I know that a ladybug is really just a kind of beetle.  When I think about it, I would not go out of my way to pick up a beetle; yet, I have no problem holding a ladybug and I usually give them a little extra care.   I took this one outside and let it go and made a wish as I let it go.

Now that I think about it, maybe my wish should have been to keep the cicadas away!!


Just Say No!

saying no

I love taking things on!!  I am on a few leadership committees at the school that I work, (more than a few actually), but I enjoy all of them.  I also run several fundraisers throughout the year and I truly find pleasure in doing them.  I find them so rewarding.

Recently I was asked to be the chair of another committee at work.  It is one that I am looking forward to doing because it is spreading pride in our work as teachers. Some friends, family and coworkers of mine don’t think I should be taking on more work for myself while I am still trying to figure out these headaches.  They feel that I am over extending myself, and taking on way too much.  This committee is very important to me though and I am sticking with it.

Honestly, I do enjoy doing all of these things that I take on, but there are times that I feel pressured to get it all done.  It is pressure that I put on myself though because I am always thinking about all of the things that I should be doing, or that others might be expecting me to do .  I am passionate about what I do and always try to put every ounce of effort into it, which sometimes leads me to slack elsewhere…home, sadly is one of those places.

Tonight I went out with two good friends to celebrate one of their birthdays.  I told them about the new committee and how important it was to me and they both told me that I had to stop taking on more and more!!  They were pretty adamant telling me that I need to figure out my health issues with the headaches and focus on me before doing more for others.  This committee that I just agreed to head, is something that I can do a lot of delegating so I am going to do it.  I explained it to them and promised that I would hand out jobs and responsibilities to others and not try to do it all myself.

I sheepishly then told them about another committee I was asked to be a part of.  The two of them made me promise to put this one off.  They made me say out loud that it is okay to say, “no” once in awhile.  I laughed because my mom was that person that NEVER said, “no”!  She was on so many committees and had so many responsibilities and my dad was always telling her to slow down!  She was probably looking over me laughing at this conversation we were having knowing that she had it so many times herself!

So for now, I have agreed that it is okay to say no.  I think it is better to say no to this last commitment I was about to make so that I do not regret it later, or have to give up half way through because I know that my health and my family need to come first.

What I need to do is to make goals and set time for myself and ensure that I am meeting my own needs in order to be complete and thorough with all of the other things that I have already committed to.  When I commit myself to something, I give it my all.  I am grateful to my friends and my family who are helping me to see this path.  They are making me realize that it is okay to say no and make myself one of my biggest priorities.

Still No Answers


I am thinking that my readers are going to get tired of me writing about this, but….

Today I went back to my neurologist.  Last week I had my 2nd MRI last week.  The first MRI was of my brain and was clear.  This one was of my cervical spine and again, came up negative.  Of course this is good news, but now where do we go from here?  After suffering with these daily headaches for just about six months now, I am still at a loss.

My neurologist is increasing my newest medication.  I am hoping that I will be able to take it without drowsiness – or other symptoms that are possible.  I have noticed some reactions to the medication, but I have only been taking it at night so they are not affecting me negatively.  I will have to take it for a few days and see how my body reacts.

I wanted something to show up on that last MRI – nothing terrible of course, just something!!  Something that would give me a direction to go in to start to get rid of them!

I have tried so many medications, so many “tips and tricks”.  The headaches started in January, so they are not stress related because of my mom and Francine.  My diet never changed, (except for the few weeks I went gluten free to see if that would help – it didn’t).    I tried going to a chiropractor for a few weeks, and it felt great while there, but once I left, the headaches came back and often with a vengeance!

I thought perhaps it was something in my classroom or at home that I was reacting to, but there is no rhyme or reason there either.  I get them at school, home – even while we were away this weekend staying in a different place.  I have changed my pillows, used heating pads, ice packs…something eventually has to work doesn’t it???

Again, this is not a plea for sympathy or attention.  I know that many people knew I was headed for another MRI and another visit to the neurologist, so I am just letting them know.  I will keep trying different things until I finally find one that works.

This new medication twice a day could be the key…if not, it will be back to the doctor for a try at something else.  I am not giving up till I find a way for them to stop.  I will be aggressive, more so, than I usually am because it is getting to the point of not being able to function on some days.   That is not me.  I am always going non-stop and I am not going to let them beat me.

Mixed Emotions

mixed emotions

This evening I went with my dad, sister and niece to see “The Little Mermaid” at The Papermill Playhouse.  What a great performance!!  All four of us enjoyed it.  The last time I was there, was in April.  I went with my dad and we saw, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, also a fabulous production.  My dad is a supporter of The Papermilll, and therefore gets tickets to all of the dress rehearsals.  He and my mom always went together.  On the day that we went to see “Millie”, we got to the theater, and the woman, who recognized my dad, had not known that my mom had passed away.  She was saddened to hear the news since my mom had been a familiar face and she absolutely loved going – especially to musicals!!  That alone was emotional, for me, but I am sure even more so for my dad.

It just so happens, that was the night that Francine was rushed to the hospital.  We did not know how serious her condition was, but at intermission and at the end of that show, Tim had been sending us messages, telling us how quickly she was deteriorating.  We left as soon as the play ended, we rushed up to the hospital and wound up staying there with Tim all night and throughout the next day.

This has left me with such mixed emotions tonight.  The play was fabulous, yet all I kept thinking about was mom and Francine.  That last time I was there, the night had started out sad, with remembering mom and ending up tragically with the loss of Francine.  Tonight, I didn’t know quite how to feel… I know that there will be many days like this.  Days where I am experiencing happy and sad emotions all at once.  They will all blend together I am sure, and I know that it is okay to be happy and my mom would have wanted it no other way.  She and Francine would have absolutely loved this show.

Rubber Duck Race

rubber ducky

I have said in several blogs that my mom loved holidays.  Memorial Day was another one of her favorites.  She was always respectful to the true meaning behind the day, but about fifteen years ago, she and her Kiwanis Club began the Annual Memorial Day Rubber Duck Races.  The races have become a HUGE part of our community and the organization raises over $20,000 each year that is distributed to local programs that benefit children.

My mom worked so hard to make this day better and better every year.  She sat outside of their store in town and sold tickets every weekend.  She walked the streets, (when she was physically able), and solicited prizes from other merchants.  Every year the races have gotten bigger and better.  With prizes ranging from televisions and iPods, to pizzas and gift certificates, there is a huge array of things to win.

This was mom’s event.  She was known around town as “The Duck Lady”.  She didn’t care how silly she looked wearing her feathery duck hat and necklaces as she sat outside and sold tickets.  People looked forward to the day when tickets would go on sale because it meant the beginning of summer was coming!  They would stop by her table and mom would talk it up!  Especially to the kids!  A person could not help but get caught up in her excitement and want to be a part of the thrill of the races.

My mom, this totally “average” woman, (as she’d describe herself), was so not “average” when it came to this day.  She was the queen of the race!  Over the last few weeks, so many people have walked down the street and passed “her” table and have all thought the same thing, “it just won’t be the same”.  I have gotten more hugs and gentle smiles from people who are all thinking the same thing and just missing her.

Obviously today was her day and it was bittersweet.  All of the tickets had a tribute to her and the races were dedicated to her and Francine, (who also did a lot to help with it each year). A roar and applause went out from the crowd when it was announced.  I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Happiness, sadness, a little bit of each perhaps but it touched my heart to know how much she meant to this community.

Next year, there will be a bench in her memory at the site of the races.  My Kindergarten Class, and The South Orange/Maplewood Kiwanis Club are purchasing it in her memory.  I know that it will be a place where others can go to feel her presence, in one of her happiest places.  They can read the plaque that will be dedicated to her, and feel the love and kindness she shared with her community.

I know that she was there today – watching over all of us.  The weather has been terrible for the last few days and today, the sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze and a yellow butterfly flew over us.  I hope that was her sign to me, letting us know that she was pleased with the way everything went today and how proud she was that the races will continue to go on!!

 Ellie 2011

A Ball Game with Dad


Dave and my boys love going to minor league baseball games.  We have a few local teams here where we live, in fact Drew has been a bat boy for The Newark Bears for the last few summers and loves it!!  Dave and the boys try to catch as many minor league games as they can in the summers and I join them as often as my job allows.  It is a great way to get in lots of baseball without the major league prices!  This year, we started off the “2013 Summer Tour” with a game at the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Rail-Riders while we were in Pennsylvania.

Dave’s dad lives in Scranton.  It has been several years since we have seen him.  We are in touch via Facebook, but don’t get a chance to catch up very often.  We sent him a message letting him know that we would be in the area and if that if he were around, perhaps he would want to meet up at the game.  It has been so long since the kids had seen him, he did not think that the kids would recognize him!  We have seen him in photos on Facebook, so Dave and I were prepared…he has grown a full beard and it is white.  He said, “you’ll recognize me as the guy who looks like Tim Allen in The Santa Claus movies”.  He did!!  Drew said that he did not remember what he looked like, and when we thought back, the last time Drew saw him, he was probably only six or seven, so that made sense.

We got to the game about half an hour before it started and he was already there.  He was waiting for us by our seats.  I almost walked right by him!  Even with the photos, I did not recognize him right away.  He has lived in Pennsylvania for over twenty years now, and we have probably only gotten together, (either there or in New Jersey), a handful of times.

Growing up, Dave had a very different relationship with his parents than I did with mine.  Whereas my family did EVERYTHING together, (and often to an extreme), Dave’s was quite the opposite.  There was a lot of alone time, and I think Dave grew to like that.  I think it took him a long time to get used to the way my family “worked”.  He didn’t get the idea of nightly family dinners and could not believe that a typical family gathering for us, was never less than 25 people.  My parents and I rarely go a day without talking, whether it is on the phone or in person.  My mom and I used to talk a few times a day.   This again, has always been quite different with Dave’s family.  We have gone months without seeing or talking to his mom, and it has been even longer with his dad.

So today, was really nice.  A last minute plan, when we realized that we were going to be so close to where he lives.  A quick message on Facebook, led to a really nice afternoon catching up at a ball game.   Dave’s dad is not a baseball fan at all, yet he still took the time to come out and see us.  That meant a lot to all of us and now that we realize how close it actually is to the Pocono house, maybe this will lead to us meeting more often.


Flea Market Fun


When we first started coming up to The Poconos, we always made The Route 209 Flea Market a part of our trip. We loved the “eccentric quality”, the quirky people and the whole atmosphere it had! People watching was the best part for me!

It always became a staple of our weekends. Dad wasn’t a fan, so mom would pile us all into the car and we would take the 15 mile ride there. We would use our babysitting money to buy all sorts of stuff we really didn’t need but “just had to have”. You could get everything there! Tim and Chip liked the trading cards. Kathi and I just liked spending our own money!!

When Dave and I started dating I brought him there and he too developed a fondness for the uniqueness of it. We would always stop for a fresh squeezed limeade while we were there. There was nothing like the tart and sweet mix of that yummy drink! We have yet to find anything that compares! We still to this day talk about it.

About five years ago the flea market shut down, taking with it our weekends of cheap thrills! Every time we would pass by the big open space it once was, we would sigh and think back to the amount of time (and money), we spent there.

Last summer when we came up to the house we noticed a new flea market had opened even closer to the house. So of course, this weekend we knew that it would be a part of our weekend activities.

It is amazing what you can find at these flea markets! Dave’s favorite was “The Pickle Guy” who had barrels and barrels of every kind of flavor pickle you could imagine! We sampled and bought a few.

You can get some pretty unique things there! We saw a basket filled with machetes. There they were at the perfect hight for a five year old to just pull out of the basket to “play” with. Drew’s favorite was the “pink police package”, that included handcuffs, a taser, a whip and pepper spray, all in hot pink. Thank goodness for the naivety of an eleven year old!

DJ, who works at my dad’s store and knows the ridiculous price if cigarettes was amazed at the price of then in Pennsylvania because the price is nearly double at home.

I love finding all the copies and imitations of things. The big name purses- that aren’t quite “real” are always fun to spot. Today we saw a set of markers called, “Sharpei’s”, that looked a lot like the well known version we all know as, “Sharpies”.

I am always amazed at the things we can buy here that we can’t in NJ, (at least not in any place I shop). Fireworks, brass knuckles, sickles, knives, air rifles! I even saw bear spray!!

I did walk out with my “deal of the day” though. My mom used to collect Ana Lees. She loved them! To me they were just more knick knacks around the house. Today sitting on a table filled with someone else’s knick knacks (junk), was an Ana Lee of a duck. With the duck race on Monday, and a price of only $2, how could I not get it?? A message from mom?!? Maybe it’ll bring me luck this and one of our ducks will win a race…

The Poconos

Dave and I decided to take the kids up to the Poconos for part of Memorial Day Weekend. My parents had this house built when I was fourteen. We came up for the entire month of August for years and were always here on the weekends. We loved it but as we got older and our lives got busier and we all had more commitments, we came up less and less. Now, we try to get up here a few times a year. It is about an hour and a half away so it’s a quick trip.

Although, I’d never consider it “rustic”, it is definitely not modern in any way even though it was built in the 80’s. The kids laugh at the television which still has knobs on it and probably has a 14″ screen. We joke with them that at least it’s color!! It even has cable, (yet until two years or so ago it still, had the cable box attached with a wire)!

The house is up a five mile road from the highway. It is quite a large development, yet homes are set far enough apart that there is privacy around. There are no street lights and the back of our house has a long windy deck that leads to a creek. It really is a getaway, on warmer nights, if the doors and windows are left open, you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the running water.

There is still no wireless service here, so we really were “off the grid” when we were here. It was nice when we wanted to really get away. Now, as I sit here typing on my iPad and the kids are running around taking photos on their phones, using 4G, it’s a little more tech savvy.

It’s nice though, being together – just the four of us, where there aren’t a multitude of televisions to choose from, or channels to watch. We can be together, enjoy each others company, (I say this as I am screaming at Drew to settle down)…..

It seems so odd being here knowing that mom is not here. She hadn’t come up to stay here in awhile since she needed her special oxygen machines to sleep. She, dad and DJ did come up here once during the winter though. I am glad that the last time she was here, she was with DJ. I am sure he has happy memories of that. We hadn’t all been up here together in years. They were trying to get some things fixed up so that this summer we could all get up here at the same time and spend a weekend with the whole family. Even Grammy liked coming up here. We have so many happy memories in this house. Mom is everywhere here! I am sure she is smiling, knowing that we are here enjoying the house that she and dad built with the intention for us all to continue the tradition of getting away with our families to relax for awhile.

(This is the first blog I am writing that I am unable to add a quote, as I can’t gain access to my computer to upload one).


love who god gave you

I attended another wake this afternoon.  This one was for another young woman who died too soon.  Meghan was a student from the first school I taught at.  I actually taught her brother, but the school was small, the families were close and everyone knew each other.  She was 25 and her death was sudden.

As I sit here right now, I am trying to remember what I can about her.  The Meghan I remember was a sweet little blonde girl with a huge personality!  She was a leader and had so many friends.  Her brother Teddy, who was in my class, was more quiet and reserved but you could tell that he adored his sister.  Their family was tight knit and I knew her mom well from her volunteering in the school.

I hadn’t seen the family that often since I left that school sixteen years ago, other than in occasional meetings in town or at church, yet I felt compelled to go to her wake today and offer my condolences to them.   When I got there, the line of visitors was already out the door.   Hundreds and hundreds of photos filled the funeral home and in every one of them, friends and family surrounded her.  Exactly how I had remembered her when she was a little girl and in everyone of those photos, she wore an enormous smile.  Her beauty radiated from within as she proved to be the sunshine that I remembered from elementary school.

As I greeted her mom, who was standing there like the pillar I remembered her to be, she comforted me, as much as I did her.  She offered me condolences for my mom and Francine as I offered mine to her.  She told me that my blog has helped her during this incredibly sad time.  I cannot even put into words how much that meant to me.

I greeted her brother, who has probably not seen me since he was in Kindergarten, and asked him if he remembered me.  He said, “Of course I do Mrs. Sinclair, you are the reason I am a Devils’ Fan”.   Again, nearly moving me to tears.

As teachers, we might only get these children for one year, and perhaps never see them again, but they remain in our hearts for the rest of their years, as we hope, dream and wish for them to grow into confident, happy adults.

Meghan will be missed but from the incredible show of support I saw today, she will never be forgotten.

“Trendy, Attractive Youth”…or not?

society label

Recently we heard in the media about Abercrombie and Fitch and how their CEO wants to appeal to the “trendy, attractive youth” and therefore will not carry plus sizes – in fact, they do not carry any clothing over size ten, (which by the way is smaller than the average American woman).

This morning, a friend of mine shared an article about Hollister, (their parent company is Abercrombie and Fitch).  Apparently, they have been in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because they do not provide adequate access for individuals who use wheelchairs.

Not being a part of the “trendy, attractive youth” category, and therefore not a frequent customer of Hollister, I was not aware of the façade of the store.   Apparently, the stores are built to resemble a front porch and have stairs leading up to the entrance making them inaccessible to customers in wheelchairs.

This friend of mine has gone through a lot of health issues and at one point was in a wheelchair after spinal surgery.  She wrote about a time that she had been at the mall with her husband in her power chair.  She wanted to go into Hollister but could not get up the steps.  Her husband asked them how disabled people get in they said, “they don’t”.  This has me disgusted.

In Hollister’s defense, (although I find this outrageous), I read that they claim that they do offer a handicapped entrance, but I also read, that they are usually hidden by shutters, and once opened, are blocked with tables of merchandise that need to be moved in order to allow the wheelchair in.

Hollister and Abercrombie might want to use “beauty, youth and trendy” as their stereotypes to sell merchandise, but I will continue to stay away from their stores and their stereotypes because, I don’t need to be a part of a store that requires me to fall into a certain category in order to shop there.