Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Dirty Dogs

play ball

I have written how baseball is the main theme of our summers.  I should have written that this also includes softball.

Twenty-six years ago, in 1988, a bunch of high school boys decided to form a softball league and join the South Orange Adult Softball League.  They called themselves the Dirty Dogs.  Although only a few of the original Dogs still remain, (my husband Dave is one of them), many other players joined and have never left throughout the years.   The players on the current team span three decades with the youngest players in their thirties and the oldest in his fifties.  Five sets of brothers have played on the team over the quarter century that the team has been in existence.  Dave looks forward to the games each week and does everything he can to make sure that he doesn’t miss one.  We even arrange the kids’ schedules so that he can make sure that he gets to each game.  He is quite dedicated to the team.

Over the years, the team has had some injuries that have sidelined them at times: broken fingers, a broken nose, a broken ankle, a few broken wrists,  some stitches and a torn rotator cuff.  They have slowed down a bit over the years and have more aches and pains than they did when they were younger, but this doesn’t stop the Dogs. They still come out ready to play.  Every Sunday night during the season they are out on the field with the hopes of a win!

In all the years they have been playing, they have only won the championship once but they still don’t give up.  It is a great tradition and each week it brings back the “boys” that grew up here in town and gives them a chance to get back out onto the field and play ball.

As of now, there are over two dozen children born to “Dog Alumni”.  The oldest one is now 16 years old, so talks of a new generation of Dogs being groomed have begun!

Baseball and Superstitions


Our nights have been very busy this summer.  Drew is playing on the summer baseball travel team and weeknight games and practices have filled our evenings for nearly the entire month.  Fortunately, our family loves baseball.  We go to baseball games all of the time, whether they are Drew’s games, minor league or even a Mets Game now and then.  We are a little bit baseball crazy right now!

Baseball is one of my favorite parts about summer.   The games are so unpredictable.  They can be over quickly some nights, and go on for hours on others.  We often laugh at some of Drew’s rituals but admit that all four of us are superstitious  and have our own bits of “crazy” that we have to do to psyche ourselves up before we do certain things.  Drew blesses himself and blows a kiss in the sky to my mom before each at bat.  He carries her mass card in his pocket.  He believes in the power of his “lucky bat”.   Dave told me that before he plays soccer, (he plays a few times a week), he has a superstition about tying his shoes in a certain order and won’t tie his shorts until right before a game.  My superstitions involve me thinking that everything I see is “a sign” of something.  Butterflies, dandelion fluffs, pennies….I always think that they mean something!

Drew’s team is playing in a tournament this weekend.  Two today and two more tomorrow.  Then their season ends with single elimination playoffs which begin on Monday.  The season could go on for another week or so, or all be over as soon as Monday night.  I hope that they do well and get to play it out, but as long as they do their best, they have made us all proud.  They have learned so much this year and have come together so fluidly as a team.  They have become more than just teammates, they have become friends.

Hot, Hot, Hot!


We are suffering through a heat wave here in New Jersey.  Today is the sixth day of temperatures in the high 90’s.  It actually reached 101 degrees by 2pm this afternoon.  Everyone is grumbling about it, (which makes me laugh since we all complained about the long, miserable Winter we had this year).  To try to stay positive, I decided to make a list of  all of the reasons that I love Summer – despite this unbearable heat.

  • Flip flops
  • Barbecues
  • Baseball
  • Fireflies
  • Long hours of daylight
  • Sun dresses
  • The beach
  • The pool
  • Air-conditioning
  • Fruity drinks
  • No school
  • Ponytails
  • Ice cream
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Thunderstorms
  • Less structure, more spontaneity

What are your favorite things about summer?  How are you dealing with the heat?  Hoping that the heat wave breaks soon and we can all enjoy the season – it won’t last long!

Happy Birthday Mom

happy birthday mom

Today would have been my mom’s 68th birthday.  I am sure that we would have been celebrating together with dinner and cake had she still been here with us.  So tonight we are going up to my aunt and uncle’s home so that we can  all be together to celebrate her.

I recently came across the prayer card that was given out at her wake.  Drew carries it in his back pocket at his baseball games.  I don’t think I ever took the time to actually read all of the words but it says,

As I sit in Heaven and watch you everyday,

I try to let you know with signs that I never went away.

I hear you when you’re laughing,

And watch you as you sleep,

I even place my arms around you

To calm you when you weep.

I see you wish the days away,

Begging to have me home,

So I try to send you signs

So you know you’re not alone.

Don’t feel guilty that you have life that was denied to me,

Heaven is truly beautiful

Just you wait and see.

So live life, laugh again, enjoy your self be free.

Then know with every breath you take,

You’ll be taking one for me.

We are all seeing signs of mom everywhere, from the pennies we find on the ground, to the yellow butterflies that keep soaring above our heads this summer.  Wherever we go, there are reminders of her.  I miss her everyday, but the last two lines of the poem give me comfort.  Knowing how much trouble she had breathing on her own due to her COPD, I am confident that she is breathing freely now, enjoying the fragrance of heaven.  I am sure that she is with us and watching over us every day.

Happy Birthday Mom.  I love you.  I miss you.  I think of you everyday!

“I am sorry”


As children, one of the first things that we are taught to say is, “I am sorry.”  So why then, as adults do so many of us find it so difficult to say those three words?

This was the topic of our discussion in my coaching group last night.  Is it because by saying, “I am sorry,” we are admitting that we were wrong?  Are we afraid that our apology might not be accepted, and therefore we will feel rejection?  I was amazed at how difficult all of us found this.  Truthfully, I was relieved to know that I was not the only one who found that saying these three words was so hard!

Saying “I am sorry” can make us feel vulnerable.  I know that I have trouble saying it.  Perhaps it is because I don’t like to admit that I am wrong.  I don’t like to admit that I have hurt someone’s feelings.  Why do we often find ourselves hurting the people we love the most, and then why is it so hard to tell them we are sorry.  Are we afraid that they may want nothing more to do with us?  We all know that receiving a genuine apology makes us feel good, so why in turn, can we not give that back?

Saying a quick, “I’m sorry,” when you don’t really feel it seems trite.  If you are always quick to apologize, the apology may not seem sincere.   Apologizing in the heat of an argument or while you are still emotional doesn’t give you a chance to reflect on it either.

I find it simple to apologize to a stranger in the street when we accidentally bump into each other, but will fester for days when Dave and I have an argument before one of us finally gives in – usually without ever telling each other we are sorry.  Is it guilt?  Is it shame? What is it that keeps me from saying these words to the people most important to me?  I know that by admitting my mistakes and weaknesses, I can move on and learn from them, yet still I find it difficult.

Apologies should not be easy. They are supposed to be genuine and that can be difficult.  A good apology can bring forgiveness.  It can be cleansing and reviving.  Admitting that we were the ones to cause pain, whether purposeful or not, requires us to first acknowledge our own faults.  When we are able to do that, it just might not be so hard to say, “I am sorry”.

The Mammogram

mammogram 2

I have begun to “put myself out there” a bit more as I have been writing.  Sometimes I surprise myself with what I actually reveal, like in my self – image post,   I actually had to share that one with a friend and fellow blogger before I could get the courage to actually post it!

Today I’m going “outside of my comfort level” and going to write about something that should not seem embarrassing to write about, but since it is personal, I decided to put myself out there and try to go with a humorous side of “The Mammogram”,  so if you’re the type who gets ill at ease when reading about “woman things” then you can stop reading here….

Ever since I was 35, I have had an annual mammogram and fortunately they have always been fine.  I am sure that most woman who have had one can and will agree with me, that they are not something that we look forward to having.  While I understand the importance of them, and I know that early detection of breast cancer saves lives, I still dread that annual appointment of having my boobs squished by a cold, hard machine almost as much as I dread my annual appointment to the gynecologist.

My appointment was scheduled for the middle of the day, so I left work to rush home and take a quick shower to remove the deodorant I was wearing, (thankfully –  since I had spent the day outside with my campers in 100 degree heat.)   There are no lotions or deodorants allowed on the machines, because it can interfere with the images, so I got dressed, sans deodorant, and drove with the air conditioning blasting so that I’d keep from sweating both from the heat and anticipation of what was about to come.

I was led to a small room where I had to strip from the waist up and get into an unattractive, scratchy hospital gown that ties in the front leaving very little to the imagination!  Those gowns, obviously not meant for beauty are to be tied in the front, so instead of revealing my backside for all to see, instead, it is my front side.  These gowns do nothing for patients’ dignity as we are led from one room to another.

I was brought to the procedure room where the technician began to prod, flatten and position my left boob on the cold machine.  After getting that into place, it was time to position my feet and body – all with my squished boob firmly in place.  Feet in one place, arms in another, cheek against the machine – it is like a game of twister but only I am being twisted! Then, after holding my breath for what seems like thirty seconds, but is probably more like ten, I got to do it all again on the right.  Just when I thought we were done, the machine, (and I), are twisted to the side and we do another image with more pressing, squeezing and pushing on each side.  Finally, when I was released from the machine, now even flatter than I was before the mammogram, I was able to slip the gown back on, choose a rose from a bucket in the room and I led back to the dressing room to get back into my own clothes.

I have been told that this hurts more for “small breasted women” and though I can not speak for all women, since I am on the small side I am in total agreement!!  I read a quote from Ellen Degeneres that said, “I cannot believe they haven’t yet come up with a better screening process than the mammogram.  If a man had to put his special parts inside a clamp to test him for anything, I think they would come up with a new plan before the doctor finished saying ‘Put that thing in here so I can crush it'”.

The rose, I was given has always been part of the procedure where my mammograms are done.  I never really understood the significance behind it and although I think it is a nice touch, I often feel that as  I walk down the corridor leading me back to my car, holding the rose, I am wearing an, “I just had a mammogram” sign sprawled across my chest.

Honestly though, for the fifteen minutes of discomfort it actually gives, don’t be afraid to get one.  A mammogram isn’t an unspeakable procedure.  They really do save lives.  So talk about it.  Laugh about it, joke about it, but no matter what, just get it done.

A New Blogger…


A friend of mine asked me for some help today.  She has decided to start a blog.  I went to her house and we sat down together to get her started.  We used to begin it because that is what I use so I am familiar with it.  I love checking my “stats” and seeing how many people have read it.   My youngest son always is amazed to see where my readers are located while at the same time, I wonder why someone across the world would be interested in what I have written, but it makes me so happy that they are!

Before I began blogging, I don’t think that I even understood exactly what “blogging” was.  I made sure my friend knew this and told her that I have been learning as I go along… and what a learning process it has been for me!!  I find it amusing that I have “followers”, not just people who read my blogs via Facebook and Twitter, but people who actually get alerts when I post something new.  I have also begun to follow other bloggers and I look forward to reading their blogs each time they post something new.  It has opened a whole new world.

Now that I am getting more familiar with the “blogosphere”, I am realizing just how much is out there to read.  There is really no way for me to keep up without it becoming a full time job!  I told my friend this and we talked about having a catchy title for it so that she will generate readers.  I am not going to spoil it for her here by revealing her title, but I love what she chose and I cannot wait for her to write her first blog so that I can share it with my readers too!

Stay tuned….I am sure that I will be sharing her with you soon!


small town

Once a year, our town comes together with a big music festival.  This year celebrates the tenth anniversary of Maplewoodstock.  Over the last ten years, it has grown in size and is now held over two days and has started to feature national acts, in addition to community musicians.  It is big celebration of community, music and art.

With hundreds of people showing up to picnic, shop and listen to the bands, it is one of those weekends that makes me happy to live in Maplewood.  Our town is known for its diversity, and seeing all of the families spread out across the hill is a wonderful representation of that.  People arrive early in the morning on the first day, “claiming” their spots and stay there all day – and sometimes all weekend!  It is a place where adults can sit, relax and listen to music as they socialize with friends, while the kids can run around with one another in the play zone or by the pond.  So many people know one another here, you feel safe knowing that there are people all around keeping an eye out for one another and their children.

Maplewood truly defines the word,  COMMUNITY, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.”  Maplewoodstock is one of those weekends that confirms this for me.

Sunshine Blogger Award


Earlier this week I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Molly at LOVE WELL LIVE WELL 

I had never heard of the award so I looked around on the internet and found many people who had been nominated for their inspiring blogs and I was honored to be chosen by other bloggers so today, I am going to “spread the kindness” and give the award to some bloggers who have inspired me!

Here are the rules for the award:

  • Include the award logo in a post or on the blog
  • Include a link to the person who nominated you (thanks again to Love Well Live Well for the nomination).
  • Write 10 random things about yourself
  • Nominate ten other bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”, and let them know you nominated them.

So here are the 10 random things about myself:

  1. I married my “high school sweetheart” and we will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary in August.
  2. I prefer salty foods over sweet, but enjoy mixing movie popcorn with Snow Caps – YUM!
  3. I went to college in Washington, DC
  4. My favorite food is homemade spaghetti and meatballs
  5. I get up nearly every weekday at 4:45 in the morning so that I can get in a four mile walk or a kickboxing class before leaving for work.
  6. One of my all time favorite movies is “Forrest Gump”
  7. I share the name, “Claire Sinclair” with the 2011 Playboy Playmate of the year, which can be quite funny if you try to “google” the name when looking for me.
  8. I am a news “junkie” and cannot start or end my day without watching it everyday.  My favorites are “Eyewitness News” and “Good Morning America”
  9. I am a huge sports fan.
  10. My favorite day of the year is Christmas Eve.

10 Bloggers who I think,  “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”

  1. Life Stories
  2. I am a Widower
  3. My Thirty Third Year
  4. Jenna Dee 222
  5. Mom in the Muddle
  6. JudiesJuice
  7. Jane’s Juice
  8. Woulda Coulda Shoulda
  9. Discovering Me
  10. Suspended Coffees


Be sure to check out the sites above, each is worth the read, and can share so many great things with you.

Brain Break


There are some days, that I think we just need to take a brain break!  A short time to relax and recharge.  This afternoon, I came home from work, (half day job for the summer), with plenty of plans to get “stuff” done.  I had phone calls to make, grocery shopping to do, vacuuming, organizing…the list could go on and on.  It is a dreary afternoon with the sky darkening, as a summer storm seems to be closing in.  The living room is dark and cozy.  The air conditioners are on so it is cool and comfortable.  Drew has fallen asleep on the couch.  I will let him sleep and skip the grocery store.  I made one of my “important” calls already – Emmy Lou’s vet appointment has been set up for next week.  DJ is watching television.  He did the few things I asked him to do while I was at work and made lunch for Drew and himself.   He deserves a brain break too.

There are  piles to go through in different areas of the house.  I got through the ones on the living room table and the desk.  I cannot vacuum while Drew is asleep.  That can wait.

I never take naps – there never seems to be enough time in the day, but today, as I look around the house and realize that the mess is not going anywhere, I have decided to take a brain break.  I do this with my students all of the time.  So instead of dwelling on all of the things that I need to get to, I will throw a load of laundry in the wash and get on the couch and just do NOTHING,  I will follow Drew’s lead and take a rest and spend some time  just being lazy.  Then, I can get back to reality just in time to throw the laundry in the dryer and get Drew to his baseball game on time!