Monthly Archives: July 2013

Natural Remedies?


Many of you have been asking me about my headaches.  Unfortunately, I am still getting them nearly everyday.  On Monday, I decided to see a new doctor and I am so thankful I did because she was so helpful and had so many suggestions for me.  She sat with me and took the time to really learn about me and what we think might be causing the headaches.  After ruling out the “big things”, since I have had two MRI’s already, we discussed how I have been managing them.  I told her about the different medications other doctors have prescribed.  We discussed how I went to a chiropractor, but that only seemed to work short term, and once I left, the headaches returned.  I mentioned how I have been taking Excedrin or Naproxen nearly everyday.   She asked me if I knew anything about “Rebound Headaches”.  I did not so she told me about them.  This is what I found on

While over-the-counter pain-relievers are helpful in improving headache pain, they must be taken with caution because they could actually make your headache worse if they aren’t taken correctly. The overuse or misuse of pain relievers — exceeding labeling instructions (such as taking the drug three or more days per week) or not following your doctor’s advice — can cause you to “rebound” into another headache.

When the pain medication wears off, you may experience a withdrawal reaction, prompting you to take more medication, which only leads to another headache and the desire to take more medication. And so the cycle continues until you start to suffer from chronic daily headaches with more severe headache pain and more frequent headaches.

Pain reliever overuse appears to interfere with the brain centers that regulate the flow of pain messages to the nerves, worsening headache pain.

This rebound syndrome is especially dangerous if your medication contains caffeine, which is often included in many pain relievers to speed up the action of the other ingredients. While it can be beneficial, caffeine in medications, combined with consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks or chocolate) from other sources, makes you more vulnerable to a rebound headache.

I think we might be on to something…

Now comes the hard part.  She told me that this would be difficult but since there are still about five weeks until I return to teaching, it is the perfect time to try it.  She wants me to go completely medicine free for the headaches for four to six weeks!  I must have looked at her like she was insane but she stopped and sat down and gave me some other options to try.

I have always taken a lot of vitamins and supplements so first she looked over my list and told me that they were all fine and none should be causing the headaches. She told me to add magnesium and butterbur to my vitamin regimen.  Apparently, I learned that deficiencies in magnesium may cause migraines.  Butterbur, (which I had never even heard of), has been known to give some relief to headache sufferers.   Then she began telling me about essential oils.  Peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender have all shown to give relief when rubbed on pressure points such as the temple and on the forehead.

I left her office and went to the pharmacy immediately.  They did not carry butterbur.  They had the magnesium though, so I have been taking that since Monday.  I was able to find butterbur and the oils today.

So it has been three days.  Three days with a headache.  NOT constant.  They never are but I have not taken any medication for them.  Today I rubbed the oils on my forehead and temples and maybe it is all in my head, (pun intended), and I did feel some relief.  I am going to see how long I can go without taking any medication.  Maybe I can wipe out whatever these out of my system for good.  To know that I might be able to do it in a more natural way will be great too.  Fingers crossed that this is finally the solution!

Friends and Coworkers

friends real

I consider myself very fortunate because I get to work with some of my best friends.  Granted, I would not know them if we did not work together because our paths would not have ever crossed, but fortunately, our paths did meet and I consider myself lucky to have met these amazing people who make me look forward to getting up and going to work each day.  Our entire staff is warm, welcoming and wonderful to work with, but our Team Kindergarten is unique.  I don’t know how they were able to put so many of us together and get us to all like each other as much as we do!  Everyday, we meet before school to say hello and we eat lunch together daily during the school year.  For me, it is one of my favorite parts of the day.

Despite our age differences, (we span four decades.) as coworkers, we have the advantage of familiarity.  Kindergarten and school always gives us something to talk about.  We compare stories, ideas and thoughts about school.  We share ideas all of the time.  None of us try to outdo the others and when we have a great idea, we pass it along.  If something feels like it is not going well we go to each other for support.  When I think about all of the hours that are spent at work, we probably spend as much time there, as we do at home with our families.

As teachers, no matter how much we love our job and our students, it is always nice to have a break in the summer.  For me the worst part about summer, is not seeing my coworkers each day.  In the summer, when we are off from school, we try to find time to get together.  Tonight was one of those times.  We met for dinner and there was non-stop chatter and laughter as we tried to catch up on what we had missed over the last few weeks.  In a few  weeks, a few of us will be off for an overnight trip together.  We enjoy each others company, we know each others families, we take the time and make the effort to spend time with each other and despite crazy family commitments and schedules, we make it work and it is definitely worth it!

In just a few weeks, we will be back to school, getting our classrooms ready for our newest batch of students.  Until then, we will try to find the time to grab a few moments together.



Today, our family, (23 of us), gathered at our favorite Portuguese restaurant in Newark, NJ, Tony Da Caneca’s.  It seems to be one of our “go to places” when we gather for a big celebration.   I have been going there with my family since I was little.  We were celebrating my Uncle Bucky’s 65th birthday.  It is always such fun to meet up with my cousins.  We live less than ten miles of each other, but with everyone’s crazy, hectic schedules, it is hard to fine the time to get together.  We have always been close, and our spouses all get along too.  Our kids play so well together, despite the age difference.  DJ is the oldest, at 16 and Harper is the youngest at 2 1/2.  With my kids, my sister’s kids and the cousins, there were six of them there tonight.  We always get seated in a room off to the side, because with our big Italian family, there is no chance of us being quiet!!

The last time we all got together was just about two weeks ago when we met to have dinner in memory of my mom on what would have been her 68th birthday.  We felt lucky to have been able get together again so close to the last time. Each time we get together, we wonder why we wait so long in between visits.  We enjoy each others company so much.  We laugh and we reminisce and we joke and tease.  Now, we have to look forward to the next birthday…we have one coming up in August, when my niece turns 11… for another opportunity to see each other.

What we really need to do, is to make it a point to NOT wait for a holiday or a birthday to come along, but to make an effort to get together just because we can.  It is hard with work and commitments, but it is totally worth it!

Watching the News


Today, I owe a great big thanks to my friend Phil Lipof. He works for Channel 7 Eyewitness News as one of the weekend anchors. A while back, I had mentioned to him how much DJ was loving the television production courses he has been taking in high school. DJ is a kid who does not really love school. He never has, but finally a class has ignited a flame beneath him! Phil had mentioned that I could bring DJ into the city and watch a live newscast one day over the summer. Today was the day. We got an early start, (since he does the morning news), and got to see the workings of an actual newscast. Phil showed us around the studio, gave us a tour of the behind the scenes action and took us into the “Live with Kelly and Michael” studio to look around.

He and his co-anchors, Michelle Charlesworth and Amy Freeze were awesome. Everyone who he works with was friendly and accommodating. Amy has a segment during her weather reports called, “Big Dog Sunday” where she shows photos of people’s dogs. She let Drew give her a photo of Emmy Lou and she put it up for everyone to see during her segment. Needless to say, Drew was thrilled!

It was a really fun morning, and we send out a big thank you to all of them for giving us this opportunity!


Game Night

the little things

With video games, smart phones, on-demand movies and all the new technology out there, I cannot remember the last time Dave and I sat down with the kids for “Family Game Night.”  During the school year, our nights are filled with homework, sports and late night meetings.  Weekends are spent trying to catch up on everything we didn’t get to during the week.  Life just seems to take over.  Fortunately, in the summer, things slow down a bit.

Tonight, during dinner, Drew asked us if we wanted to play a game when we were done eating.  Surprisingly, all four of us agreed, although deciding on what game we would play was a challenge. Since it was Drew’s idea, we went with his choice, The Game of LIFE.  We have had the game for awhile, it was thrown in the back of the game closet, but we had never sat down and played it all together.  Dave and I remembered playing it when we were kids and we laughed over the differences in the game board from then and now.

I don’t remember the last time the four of us spent nearly two hours, just sitting around the coffee table in the living room having so much fun.  We were laughing, joking and just having a great time.  What a great family memory of our summer so far.  It was a great opportunity for us to interact with the boys and even to talk about their future.  They joked about the paths they were taking in their “lives” during the game: education, families, careers…. It gave me a lot of insight of where they might be headed in their real lives as they grow up, and even opened some pathways for discussions.  I know that Drew is very interested in making “LOTS OF MONEY”, in his words and DJ is happy just being content and stable in his career.  It is funny how much this matches their personalities -DJ my mellow kid and Drew my adventurous, action packed kid!

Family Game Night helped our family unwind tonight.  It gave us a chance to bond and enjoy each others company without any interruptions.  It really was a perfect ending for our day.

A Drop of Kindness

drop of kindness

Now that Little League has ended, we are back to going to The Newark Bears games so that Drew can do his job as Bat Boy. He loves it. It keeps him busy and gives him responsibility. I only wish he would work half as hard at home keeping his room clean, as he does keeping the dugout spotless – but that is a whole different blog!!

The stadium is quite close to our home, just a quick fifteen minute drive. We drive through an area where for the last few years, we often see the same homeless man standing on the corner with a sign asking for money. I have written before, that I won’t give money to people who beg on the street, but when I can, I try to bring a small bag of food for this man.

Tonight I had a bag all ready for him. It had a banana, a few apples, a granola bar and a bottle of water. Hopefully enough to sustain him until he can get another meal. Unfortunately he was not in his usual spot. I saw all of his “stuff, ” but not him. I will bring it home and prepare another one for him the next time we come.

We never know what gets a person to the place they are in their lives and who are we to judge?? There are many stereotypes people have towards those who are homeless. I have no idea what this man’s story is, but if giving him a few bites to eat can make even the smallest difference in his life, then I am glad to do it. Most importantly, my kids get to be a part of it and see how they can help those less fortunate and appreciate what they have.

Season Ends, Summer Begins!

never let the fear strike

Drew’s little league team made it to the playoffs and won their first game on Monday so the boys came in to tonight’s game with high spirits, but sadly those spirits dwindled as they were quickly down by three runs at the end of the first inning.  The game continued to go down hill and the boys lost, ending their great season.   Drew’s lucky bat did not give him as much luck as he had hoped it would, but he learned so much this season and we saw improvement on the field with each game that he played.  He had amazing and supportive coaches who gave the boys the preparation and guidance that they all needed to become such a cohesive and cooperative team.

Drew had blast playing on this Cougar team.  With so many afternoons and evenings spent on the ball field, he made some new friends and so did we.  We are all disappointed that it is over, but also looking forward to a quieter, more relaxed summer ahead.  With less rushed evenings and more relaxed weekends, we can focus on enjoying the rest of the summer doing “a lot of nothing!”  Some idleness perhaps will not be too bad and I am hoping we take advantage of it since Fall ball is only a month away!

Second-hand Bargains

trash treasure

There is an award winning song out now by the hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis called, “Thrift Shop”.  It boasts about the finds you can get when shopping in a thrift shop.  When we were growing up, there seemed to be a stigma about shopping in second hand stores.  Now it seems more “trendy,” perhaps even a bit “chic”.  I think of it as recycling, so that less items will wind up in landfills, but what I love most about second-hand shopping is the thrill of getting a great deal on that perfect item!!  When I shop second-hand, I can find items that are unique and different from what everyone else is wearing.  Don’t get me wrong, you will still find me shopping in department stores – but I will still go right to the clearance rack.  I love a bargain and I find such pleasure in getting a great deal!  I never know what I am going to find and I seriously get a charge out of finding a “name brand” for a great price.

At first, I began going to second-hand stores to find higher quality times for less money so that I could be a little more frugal during a tough time for us financially.  In our town there are a few high-end second hand stores.  A few times a year, they run big clearance sales and the deals are even better.  Today started a 75% sale at one and a 50% sale at another.  Fortunately they are next to each other so it is like one stop shopping, (plus I feel good about shopping locally).   The stores are clean and organized, they have dressing rooms and mirrors so I can try things on before taking them home without knowing if they’ll fit.  Second-hand stores can be hit or miss.  There are times where I come out completely empty handed, while other days, (like today), I totally score!  Sometimes I go in with a specific item in mind, and other times I’ll go in to browse and hope to get lucky.  Lately, not only do I go there to save money, but I look forward to the big end of season sales they hold.  When I get the email or postcards announcing the start, I even mark the date on my calendar.  Some of the clothing I get from there are the ones that I get the most compliments on!

These two stores seem to sell clothing of higher quality, made by real name designers. because most of the time I leave there with stylish, well known, name brand items.  My greatest snag happened last Winter.  It was a brand new pair of never worn jeans, (the original department store tags were still on) and they were in my size!!  The department store tags on them were marked at $250.  I would NEVER splurge on something like that but since I was at a second-hand store, during their 50% off sale, I wound up paying $20 for them.  With a $7  trip to the tailor to have them shortened, I got a terrific deal and the jeans are perfect!

Today, I went to the “Summer Clearance Sales” they were holding.  Another jackpot day.  I wound up with a $4 Ralph Lauren sweater, 2 skirts, a sundress, 2 tops and a pair of shorts for less than $50.  I feel good about shopping locally, better because I am buying second hand, but best about the deals I got.  That stigma of buying second-hand is gone for me.  I am not ashamed to tell people where I get the clothing from, in fact, I encourage them to go there and buy too.

The Royal Family

fairy tale

Although I wasn’t counting down the days, nor did I even know the exact date that the royal baby was due, I did get a little caught up in the hype of his birth.  I felt the same way about The Royal Wedding.  I did not buy the tabloid magazines, but I read them while getting a pedicure, or flipped through them while waiting in line at the grocery store.  I did watch some of the coverage on the news the day of Will and Kate’s wedding.  I heard the news of the baby’s birth a few hours after it actually happened.  I was not perched on the couch watching for the moment it was announced, but still….I was curious.  I was intrigued.  I am not sure where the fascination I have with The Royal Family comes from.  Perhaps it is the “fairy tale life” it seems they have.  Perhaps, it is the first actual “reality show” I can remember.  I have been following their story on television and in the media since the wedding of Charles and Diana.

Growing up, I loved fairy tales.  So many little girls grow up dreaming of being a princess.  I can remember always wanting to be Cinderella – my favorite of all the fairy tale princesses.  I read it over and over again.  I envisioned myself in a beautiful white gown with glass slippers marrying my Prince Charming when I grew up.

Perhaps it is the obsession and fascination so many people have over Will and Kate.  They seem to have such a positive impact on others and are proving to be good role models for our society.  I am aware that part of their “job description” is good will towards others and I admit that I do like hearing about the charitable deeds they do.  Despite the prestige and the glamor and living in the spot light at all times, they seem to always portray themselves in a favorable light with what seem to be sincere morals.

I did wind up marrying my Prince Charming.  We are not living in a castle, nor do we have wealth and riches raining down upon us, but we are happy.  We love each other.  We are as charitable as we are able to be.  We instill good morals within our own children trying to raise them to be upstanding young men.  Their births, were so thoroughly “normal,”  yet, they were completely fascinating to us and to our families.  At the end of the day though, we really are all just “normal” and the birth of the royal baby will provide Will and Kate the chance to experience what so many parents have already been through.  This new prince will be in the spot light for the rest of his life and he will give society the chance to relive the wonder and joy of being a new parent.

Quality Time

talking to kids

This summer we decided against putting the kids in any camps. Drew was going to be extremely busy with summer baseball and being a bat boy for the Newark Bears. With me working part time and Dave back to work….learning on the job, we needed DJ around to help to take care of Drew. We are jokingly calling it, “Camp DJ.” I usually leave them a note in the morning, (since they are both still asleep when we head out to work), giving them a schedule of things they can do. Fortunately most things are within walking distance so DJ takes Drew to the movies once a week and to the library. Tomorrow they will walk to the train station, catch a train to Newark and while Drew gets to work as bat boy for an afternoon game, DJ can sit in the stands and watch.

At first I felt badly not giving them more to do, but I have found that the two of them are really enjoying their time together. Despite their nearly five year age difference they really get along quite well. Of course they still fight, argue and bicker often, but I have found that they are also forming a really nice bond this summer by spending so much time with each other.

I have also noticed that Drew seems to be growing up a lot this summer. I don’t know if it is the commitment to baseball, or the independence that we have given him, but he is beginning to show a lot more responsibility. He had really begun to fall apart last year. His second concussion was really hard on him and our family. We were at our wits end with how to deal with him and the mood swings. He was very withdrawn and would not talk to any of us. I really think that the time we spend in the car driving to and from baseball games, are opportunities where we are “forced” to spend time together, so it has given us the chance to reconnect. He talks about things with us now. He laughs more, he is getting back to the old Drew, but with a more mature perspective.

I have even noticed this at home. Drew was always my, “snuggly” kid. The one who would curl up on the couch or in bed just to watch television or read a book with me. He doesn’t need the tucking in or as many snuggles anymore, but he is back to letting me sit down next to him knowing that I am interested in him and what he has to say. I am enjoying this reconnecting time he is giving me. I try not to pry and ask too many questions of him because that seems to be when he shuts down. I think he is enjoying figuring out things for himself. I let him talk about what he wants to talk about. I let him take the lead, knowing that by doing so, he is becoming an independent person – he is shaping his own pre-teen identity. I will often get the one word answers when I question him about his day, “good,” fine,” “okay,” but by giving him the opportunity to talk about what is most important to him, it has opened up a lot more conversations between us.

He is passionate about so many things. He talks about baseball and is very interested in what is going on in our world. He wants to write a letter to the head of the recreation departments telling them about the importance of all kids getting a base-line concussion test BEFORE they start any sports. This has been a challenge for him but I am encouraging him to do it and I have told him that when he does, I will help him to spread the word on how important it is.

One thing that I am learning through our talks is how empathetic he is about equality. We live in a town that is so diverse, Drew knows of nothing else, so there is nothing “abnormal” about it. He goes to school with children of all races and family makeups. He doesn’t understand why people make such a big deal about it because it his “normal”. He talks about it with me often, questioning when he hears people speak negatively about it in anyway. I like the fact the he is “color-blind” and just considers everyone the same.

By having these deep conversations with Drew, it seems that we are developing communication skills that I hope he will continue to use when he hits the teenage years. By letting him initiate conversation and listen to our perspective as we give him the chance to share his, it is my hope that he will begin to see us in a different light as well. Maybe this is a step in the right direction with him. I know the teen years won’t be easy with Drew. DJ has always been our “easy kid” so although he gets moody at times, we have not had to face too many big issues…yet. Maybe this quality time they are spending with each other, and with us will be the stepping stones to a painless teenage experience….I guess I can always hope!!!!