Today would have been my parent’s 46th wedding anniversary. They were married at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in South Orange in 1967. They met at Columbia High School and began dating after my mom invited my dad to a “Sadie Hawkin’s Dance.” Most of their married years were spent in Maplewood, although they did live in Washington, DC while my father finished his last year of college. Together they raised four children and were great role models for all of us and I know we are all the people we are today because of their values and morals.
This morning, my dad had yellow flowers sent to their home, just like he did every year. He always signed his cards to her, “Love, your Italian Leprechaun.” This year was no different. He did not want to do anything elaborate tonight. He and my brothers went up to my grandma’s house and had dinner with her and my aunt and uncle. They kept it simple. Even when mom was around to celebrate, they never wanted to do anything, “just the two of them.” They always said that their children were a product of their life together and so they always wanted to spend the evening with us. In past years, we would all take them to dinner to celebrate. Sometimes it wasn’t on the actual night because of commitments with our kids, but we always found a ways to celebrate them. It was his choice to not do anything big. He told us all to go on with our regular obligations for the night. He knew that we were all thinking of them tonight.
I talked to my dad earlier in the day and wished him a Happy Anniversary. I did not get a chance to get to the cemetery today to tell my mom but I had my own “private chat” with her in the car. Hopefully she heard me and knows that we are all thinking of her today.
Although I think about my mom everyday, there are some things that make me miss her more than others. Simple things usually. My mom was a very simple person. She did not care about fancy clothes, or posh furniture. She was not showy or ostentatious at all. I think that was one of things everyone loved about her. She had everything she needed and she never longed for “stuff.” She was happy with what she had. She was even happy when she was not well. She was always able to wear a smile despite how she was feeling.
I talked to my friend Tricia today and we talked about “putting on a smile.” We laughed because just like me, she said people are always asking her how she is always smiling. She has gone through a tough period too. Her husband was out of work for quite some time, her mom was incredibly ill and she and her sister are trying to hold the whole family together throughout it all. Very similar to how I feel. We all know that we need to keep smiling because if we don’t smile and keep looking for the positive, we’d probably fall apart!
Our families have been friends since we were very young. I think I was about five when they moved into the house behind us. We were backyard neighbors for years and have all remained friends. They called my mom “Aunt Ellie”, we call her mom, “Aunt Joyce.” She and my mom were best friends. The morning of my mom’s wake, Aunt Joyce had a massive heart attack. It was devastating. She went through weeks of recovery and dealt with setbacks throughout it. She has been recovering slowly but I found out today that she was just in the hospital again with congestive heart failure. She’s home now and has a nurse coming into check on her several times a week. I am so relieved to hear that she is recovering but still I am sure that it is so hard on her family.
As we talked and caught up on what’s been going on in our lives, we kept bringing up the fact that if we didn’t find the positive in all of it, we would topple and plunge into a place none of us want to go. We all miss my mom and think about her daily but we are each moving forward with our lives and that would make my mom happy.
Tonight we took my dad to dinner. It was just the five of us and they sat us at a fairly large table. Next to us was a table for two and a elderly woman was sitting there alone. Anytime I see that, I wonder whether or not I should ask the person to join us. Then, I doubt myself because perhaps that person enjoys eating alone. Just because I have a paranoia of eating out alone, doesn’t mean others do. I would feel self-conscious and probably a bit lonely. I would imagine that others were looking at me and wondering “what my story was” because that is of course what I do! Was she a widow? Divorced? Did she have children that lived far away so she couldn’t join them like my dad did with us? Of course, Dave would say I was thinking way too much about it, yet it was he who noticed her sitting alone first!
I mentioned it to my kids, who, like me pondered it for a few minutes. My dad sort of shrugged it off. Maybe because he thought I should mind my own business. In the end, we did not invite her to join us and I feel a little badly about it. I watched her while we were eating and she was looking around at all of the families and friends sitting in the restaurant and she was smiling. Maybe she does this often and goes out alone and just “people watches.” I just know it is something I would not be comfortable with and I think that is why I am thinking so much about it.
I have gone out ONE time alone. ONCE! Dave had gone with my dad and the kids to a hockey game and I had a school event I had to attend. It ended fairly early and I decided to go to get some Mexican food at a local restaurant. I was going to get it and bring it home, but it was already fairly late by that time. Instead I decided to face my fear and eat by myself. Since it was just me, I did not want to take up a table so I sat in the bar area and ordered my dinner. I even decided to have a margarita to go with it. As I sat at the table, alone,in walked a few parents from the school. There I was, sitting at the bar, drinking ALONE! I am sure it could not have looked to good to them! Fortunately, I knew them fairly well and we all had a good laugh over it and in the end, I wound up joining them for dinner so I actually never actually ate alone.
I enjoy the company of others. I have never been one to enjoy solitude. I will often strike up a conversation with others – even strangers. I even talk to myself. Complete conversations in fact! I am sure people who are stopped at red lights next to me must think I am crazy as I talk to no one! Of course there are plenty of people who are quite the opposite and enjoy the solitude and quiet. Perhaps this particular woman does this often and goes out and just people watches. I guess I will never know since I didn’t ask. I felt like I might offend her by asking. What would you do? Have you ever asked a stranger to join you? Is it imposing on others to do so? I don’t know if there is a correct answer to this. I would hope that if I am in the same situation again, I’d have the nerve to ask them to join me…but only if they wanted…but how would I know??
There are so many funny things that kids say and I always say I am going to write them down. Unfortunately I never do and then I forget! My coworkers and I joke how we could write a book if we would just take the time to jot them all down!
Today in Kindergarten, there were two funny things said and I actually took the time and wrote them down. One little boy came in extremely excited because his newborn baby sister’s “one million accord” fell off this morning! (Of course he was talking about her umbilical cord.)
Later in the day, one of the boys told me that his right hand was very lucky. I asked him why and he told me, “because it can snap.”
There are so many more, but a favorite of mine came years ago, when a little girl came to me to ask what we were having for snack. Jokingly I told her, “liver and kidneys.” She gave me a horrified look. I gently explained that I was kidding and it was our regular apple juice and graham crackers. She continued to look puzzled and finally asked me if people really ate that. I told her yes and she got even more upset. She looked at me, pointed at her knee and said, “there are really people out there who eat kid’s knees!?!?!?” I could not help but laugh.
To be so filled with innocence and wonder. Another reason I love teaching Kindergarten! I get to see the world through the eyes of five year olds!
Now that my boys are older, I can honestly say that I cannot remember when the last time I watched Sesame Street. I loved watching it as a kid and I loved watching it as a mom. Maybe it is the teacher in me, but it has always captured my attention. The short, educational clips, the Muppets with all of their creative personalities….I loved it all. I would find myself watching it even when there weren’t kids around. I still sing songs that I learned on that show. I read that the show has received over 100 Emmy’s since it began!! That must mean it is doing something right!
As I kid, I wished that someone would actually tell me “how to get to Sesame Street” so that I could really go and visit. It was just such a happy place!!
Today I came across this video clip from Jimmy Fallon that made me smile. Those Muppets always have that affect on me. I cannot help but laugh every time I hear Elmo. I thought I’d share and give others the chance for a memory and a smile as well. Enjoy! It is totally worth the two and a half minutes.
Tonight was Back to School Night at the high school for DJ. Tomorrow is Drew’s. Since I went to both schools that the boys go to it was a bit nostalgic this evening. The high school is HUGE! Even when I went there, it was big. Over 2000 students!! Even though it was 25 years ago, I felt pretty confident knowing where I was going while other parents were scrambling. Now…. if only DJ had written the correct classroom numbers on the schedule! Fortunately I had a feeling something like that might happen so I went ahead and got another schedule as I entered the school.
I can’t remember all of the rooms that I had classes in but I remember a few and DJ is in some of those rooms. I remember Dave’s homeroom and my own where we’d meet after class during Senior year. I remember some of the teachers – who are still there. I passed so many friends of mine and we all just shook our heads in disbelief wondering how we could have kids old enough to be in high school!!
When DJ was a baby, everyone told me to enjoy those days because time flies. Now I know exactly what they were talking about. Two more years until he graduates from high school and who knows where he will go from there!
Drew has been working on a homework assignment about The Constitution. He had to look at The Amendments and decide which one he believes means the most to, or affects our family the most. He chose the 9th, which reads,
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
We tried to define this as, “respecting others choices without jeopardizing their rights.”
Drew chose this amendment because he thought that the town we live in, Maplewood was a great example of that. Maplewood is an extremely diverse community. I have written about it before and I think it is safe to say that the children of our town are lucky to be growing up in such a unique town. It is truly a blessing to raise our children in a place where they are truly color-blind.
With so much hatred going on around us in the world, it is nice to have a place as open an accepting as our town is. If everyone could teach their children to be tolerant of others despite our differences, imagine what a peaceful world it could be!
Keeping tonight’s blog short and sweet. There are some days that I wish had a reset or a redo button! Today was one of those days.
But, coming home after a day like today – much later than I had even planned, I am starting to feel differently.
Construction on the front porches had finally begun!! Drew surprised me by showing me his first math test grade. It was a B+, and for anyone who knows how much Drew struggles in school, this was HUGE! He was so proud of himself. I left for my kickboxing class, which is always a huge stress reliever. I came home to dinner waiting for me on the table. Dave had made my favorite kale salad and soup. He handed me a glass of wine and the four of us sat down to dinner together. So perhaps I don’t need to redo my entire day. Just rethink it and focus on how relaxed and happy I am feeling right now.
Today is my older brother’s 45th birthday! Chip is not married and does not have any children, therefore he dotes upon all of his nephews and his niece and cousins’ children. He spoils them and enjoys spending time with them. I have mentioned before that my family is fortunate to live very close to each other so we see him often. He works for my dad at their store in town so he sees the kids all of the time. My oldest son DJ, sees him the most because he works there too.
Chip is not the athletic type but he loves sports and goes to games whenever possible. He follows certain teams religiously and knows everything there is to know about those teams and their players. Anyone who is ever at a loss of what to get him for a birthday doesn’t have to think to hard…if it has a sports theme, he’s happy! This year, we gave him a gift card to Sports Authority or Modells. He has so many sports jerseys and “stuff”, so this way, he can choose whatever he wants with it!
With adults, Chip’s conversational skills are lacking, (he knows this is true, so there I doubt he’d be upset that I wrote that.) He will rarely start up a conversation with anyone, but once a mention of sports comes in, he will gladly join in a conversation. He also doesn’t show a lot of emotion. That changes when it comes to sports though! Yet, with our kids, he has no problem and I think he finds it most comfortable. This gives him a special attachment to my boys because of their mutual love of sports.
We celebrated his birthday on Friday night with the whole family because with sports and other weekend commitments, we were not sure if we’d all be able to get together today. It seems as if it might work out tonight though. As many of us can make it will join him tonight for another birthday celebration, (a person can never have enough birthday celebrations can they?)
So happy birthday Chip. Enjoy your day. Maybe the Giants will give you a win tonight to celebrate. Now that would be a great gift!
This morning I participated in a 3 mile walk. It was a walk to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness. The walk was organized by a local financial service company, GenWealth. It is headed by Cherie Leanza, Vice President of the GenWealth and Risa Olinsky, a Maplewood-based wellness coach. The GenWealth Group became involved in this cause when the mother of their Chief Operations and Compliance Officer Kim DiBlasi was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in September 2011. This is GenWealth’s second annual walk and in the two years of its existence, they have raised over $15,000.
The day began with a pre-walk breakfast. All participants received commemorative team t-shirts and special gifts and prizes donated by local merchants. All funds raised will go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, (BCRF.) The BCRF’s mission is “to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and translational research at leading medical centers worldwide, and increasing public awareness about good breast health. Currently, 91 cents of every dollar spent by BCRF is directed towards breast cancer research and awareness programs.”
I learned today that, on average, a woman in America will die from Breast Cancer every 13 minutes and 39,620 women are expected to die from breast cancer in the U.S. during 2013. Today was not only about raising funds for The BCRF but more importantly, it was about raising awareness because,
“With over 3 million women battling breast cancer today, everywhere you turn there is a mother, daughter, sister, or friend who has been affected by breast cancer.” Betsey Johnson