Monthly Archives: September 2013

Almost Forgot!

einstein teacher

After a fun-filled day in Kindergarten, coming home to begin the task of cleaning Drew’s bedroom-  in the hopes of finding a missing library book, family dinner and continuing to clean Drew’s bedroom – which by the way is STILL not done, I got into bed exhausted.  Dave said, “so what did you write about tonight?”  I jumped out of bed yelling, “nothing!”  Thank goodness he reminded me.  It would have been the first night in 9 1/2 months that I had not written!

I had planned to write about Kindergarten today.  It was the 10th day of school.  We call that a “Bundle Day.”  Every ten days of school, we have a bundle day and we dance around the classroom singing a little chant and dancing to a conga line.   A bundle day is a fun way to teach place value.  The kids love it!!  It was also Field Day at our school.  Our field day is located at a nearby park but Kindergarten does not attend.  It is a long walk for them and after a long day of school, so early in the school year, it would probably be overwhelming for a lot of them.  Instead, all 110 Kindergarteners get to do The Kindergarten Stomp around the building.  We gather them in a long line and march through the hallways of Tuscan School singing songs, stomping our feet and clapping our hands.  Normally, we are teaching them to be silent in the halls so we don’t disturb other classes so this is quite a treat!! 

For most grownups,  Bundle Dancing and The Kindergarten Stomp might seem a bit silly, but to a five year old – it is one of the best days of Kindergarten!  The fact that they coincided together was just a plus!  It also happened to fall on Laundry Day – could this day get any better???  Laundry Day is the day where the students get to bring something in to school that begins with the letters of the week.  Having all three happen at once?!?!  Well that was just serendipity!!

Back to School Night

a hundred years teacher

Tonight is Back to School Night at our school.  This night used to make me a jumble of nerves, but now, I find myself looking forward to it.  I like meeting the parents and introducing them to their child’s first experience at elementary school.  For some of them, this is their first child to go through school.  For others, who have been through it before, I am sure that is just routine but I hope that I am able to give them a glimmer of excitement into the “magical world of Kindergarten.”

Having taught other grades, I can assure you that there is nothing quite like Kindergarten.  It is so different from when I was growing up.  Back then, it was still a half day program, we did a lot of playing and socializing.  Now, we have a full day program.  Reading, writing, math, social studies and science are all taught during the day.  There are assessments and progress reports.  So much to soak up in  those five year old brains.  There will be so much to experience and conquer, all while learning how to socialize, and become learners!

I tell the parents that their children will learn how to lose gracefully – there are twenty-two children in the class, they can’t all be winners all of the time!  They will learn how to share and not talk while others are speaking.  They will learn how to walk quietly in the halls and how to use personal space!  There is just so much for those little minds to absorb!

I enjoy watching the faces of the parents as I tell them all of the things that their children will accomplish this year.  Some of them look with amazement, wondering just how it is possible while others nod knowingly since they have been through it all before.  The most important thing I like to tell them is to talk to their children about their days.  Make them tell you more than, “good” when you ask them how there day was.  I joke and say, “There are no secrets in Kindergarten.  I probably know a lot more about you than you think I do, and in turn, you will probably learn a lot more about me than I could imagine. ”  Children are like sponges.  If we give them the chance to soak it all in without overwhelming them, they will thrive.


experience with her

It has been awhile since I went to visit my mom and Francine at the cemetery.  I know that my brother Tim goes weekly and my dad stops over quite frequently.  It is only about ten minutes away from my home so I really have no excuse  not to go.  I rationalize with myself that I am too busy but I really should find the time.  I always feel better after going.  My kids have asked to go and I have taken them.  Other than my grandfather, who passed away when I was a teenager, I never really had to do this before this year so I feel like I don’t even know what I am “supposed” to do when I am there.

They are buried next to each other inside a mausoleum, so usually I just sit on the sofa in front of their vaults .  If I have the boys with me, we sometimes wander around and read the surrounding headstones.  Sometimes we talk to mom and Francine, hoping that they are somehow listening to us.  We tell them how things are going and how much we miss them and wish that they were here to experience it all with us.

Now that her bench is in town, I feel like I have another place that I can go when I need to.  I think I prefer that over the cemetery.  It is in a place that meant so much to her.  A place where I know she was happy, content and proud.

Today, I was reminded of how long it has been since I went to the cemetery when my friend Marta posted a photo on Facebook of her mom holding her daughter in her arms as they visited them at the mausoleum.  About a month ago, I wrote about Marta’s mom Linda.  She was a wonderful friend of my mom and I know that she misses her tremendously.  That picture she posted meant a lot to me and I am grateful for the reminder that it is probably time for me to make another visit.

linda visiting mom


dropin the ocean

I saw this shared on Facebook today.  I don’t know if it is a true story or not, and it is not in English, but the message is still clear and it is an important one.  It tells the story of a man who is unexpectedly rewarded for a lifetime of good deeds he performed without expecting anything in return.  It was put out by a Thai company called True Corporation and is definitely worth sharing.  It brought tears to my eyes and I just thought my kindness blog was a great place to share it.



After a long, busy day in Kindergarten I just wanted to come home and go to bed!!  I forgot how hard it is getting up at 4:45 so that I can get in a four mile walk before school!  My friend and I do a four mile walk three days a week and if we don’t squeeze it in before school, it won’t get done at all.  Throughout the summer, we tried to keep up with the walking but we did not have to do it so early.

47 days ago I joined a Facebook group where we all “vowed” to run/walk/exercise every day for one hundred days.  I haven’t missed a day yet!!  The original idea of the group is called “One for One Hundred” and the idea was to run for at least one mile everyday for one hundred days.  I count a one hour kickboxing class as one of my “ones.”  If I don’t have an early morning walking partner on our off days, I will go by myself for at least thirty minutes.  If I do a run/walk – since I am not much of a runner, I can do three miles in under an hour.  This group has kept me so motivated.  I know that I’d probably skip a day here and there if I wasn’t committed to it. I don’t always get in a huge day of exercise for me, but just getting out there and moving is making me feel  healthier.  I am grateful to the girl who started it and I wonder if I will keep up the pace when it is over.  With the cold weather coming  it might be tough, but I will have to see what happens.

The exercise is definitely a boost to my energy level as well.  As I wrote earlier, I came home exhausted today after school and sat down on the couch.  I almost skipped the kickboxing class, knowing that I had already put in my four miles this morning but I forced myself to get up off the couch, get changed and go.  I am so glad I did.  That class always gives me a boost of energy so now, I can write my blog and finish up school work that I need to do.  If I hadn’t gone, I probably would have gotten into bed early and done none of it.  So I am grateful to all of the people who keep me motivated because it has definitely been good for me!

6 Months

my angel mom

It has been six months since my mom died.  184 days.  I still think about her everyday.  I still miss her daily phone calls.  This morning, DJ and I went to 9:30 mass with my dad.  It was a regular Sunday Mass, but the prayer intention was for my mom.  Deacon John, a friend of our family announced her name and after mass, as he processed down the aisle of Our Lady of Sorrows, he warmly put his hand on my dad’s shoulder.  A very small gesture, but a very meaningful one.

Mom, the biggest lover of holidays has missed so many of them already.  St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July,  numerous birthdays – including my own,  and hers.  She missed her beloved Duck Race. So many important dates that have come and gone without her here.  We have so many memories of those days with her so many important moments in our lives.  At mass this morning the refrain to one of the songs we sang was, “Long have I waited for your coming home to me me and living deeply our new life.” 

It made me think of our new lives. Our lives without her.  Yesterday, after attending the funeral of a friend’s father, a friend came up to me to ask me how I was doing.  She told me that her mom has been gone for over 18 years, and not a day goes by without her thinking about her.  Whether it is something big , or a small trigger, she is always in her thoughts.  This made me smile and tear up at the same time.  I want to remember her and all of the good times that our family had because of her.  I want these memories to be of healthier times and not during her last few years when every step and every breath was a struggle.

Six months later, I am actually writing this without crying.  A bit teary yes, but also a relieved knowing that she is not struggling anymore and that she is with us all of the time now.  In our hearts and in our memories.  In the little things and actions my kids do that were traits of my mom’s.  Each day gets a little bit easier and hearing stories about her from friends and families, where we can laugh and reminisce are so welcome.


great dada

This morning, my day began with me attending a funeral for a friend’s father.  He had ten children!  It was so evident at this service just how much he was loved by each and every one of them.  The church was filled with family and friends.  Hearing his loved ones talk about what a wonderful man he was truly was heartwarming.  There were tears and there was laughter for a man who surely touched the lives of many.

My day ended with us celebrating my own father.  Today is his 68th birthday. To celebrate, my brothers and sister and our families took him to dinner and celebrated him.  It was a fun night for all of us but it was also bittersweet knowing how much mom and Francine would have loved to be there with us.  Of course we know they were there in spirit, watching over us and helping dad blow out his candles but there was definitely a void, not having them sitting there with us as we sang “Happy Birthday.”  Mom always sang the loudest – even if it wasn’t always in tune!!

Drew told me that this morning, he went to visit my dad and since he knew my mom wasn’t able to sing her “special version” of the song, he did it in her memory.  I am sure my dad appreciated it.


The First Week

tired teacher

The first week of Kindergarten is over and what a busy week it was!

One hundred and seventy-five more days to go!  No matter how much I love it, (and I truly do,)  I always think this way in the beginning of the school year.  The first month of Kindergarten is so challenging!

I enjoy teaching so much – but you will find a completely different level of enthusiasm in September than you will find any other month of the school year!!  After having a class leave in June, completely “trained” in routines and ready to be First Graders, starting all over again is rough.  It is the same in all grades.  Everyone gets their class right where we need them to be and bam they move onto the next grade.

This week, we established classroom rules, we learned each others names, sang songs, did some writing and read books all about Kindergarten.  The children felt “like big kids” when they got their own math and handwriting workbooks.   We played with our Magic Play Dough, and sure enough, just as it does every other year, it elicited excited squeals and giggles.

The weekend is here.  So to all of the teachers out there, feeling just like I am right now, take these few days to recoup and get some rest, so you have the energy to get back to school and do it all over again for Week Two.

A Stranger’s Obituary


My first intention when I began this blog, was to share random stories of kindness.  I strayed a bit from that objective when “life happened.”   I still do like to share warmhearted stories that I read once in awhile and today, I read this obituary of a woman I do not know.  This 85 year old woman, Pink, seemed to be a remarkable, exceptional person.  I am thinking that it should be every person’s goal to have an inspirational obituary like this written for them.  It is filled with life lessons and it reads like a story.  I am glad that I am able to share it here: ( I found it at Huff Post, The Third Metric)

This Incredible Obituary May Be The Best Thing You Read All Week

If you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop. Consider: Mary Agnes Mullaney (you probably knew her as “Pink”) who entered eternal life on Sunday, September 1, 2013. Her spirit is carried on by her six children, 17 grandchildren, three surviving siblings in New “Joisey”, and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life. We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Pink during her 85 years, among them: Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones to tie gutters, child-proof cabinets, tie toilet flappers, or hang Christmas ornaments.

Also: If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for twenty minutes and let him stay.

Let a dog (or two or three) share your bed. Say the rosary while you walk them.

Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after mass.

Go to a nursing home and kiss everyone. When you learn someone’s name, share their patron saint’s story, and their feast day, so they can celebrate. Invite new friends to Thanksgiving dinner. If they are from another country and you have trouble understanding them, learn to “listen with an accent.”

Never say mean things about anybody; they are “poor souls to pray for.”

Put picky-eating children in the box at the bottom of the laundry chute, tell them they are hungry lions in a cage, and feed them veggies through the slats.

Correspond with the imprisoned and have lunch with the cognitively challenged.

Do the Jumble every morning.

Keep the car keys under the front seat so they don’t get lost.

Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio.

Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or summer heat. Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is “Peat Moss.”

Help anyone struggling to get their kids into a car or shopping cart or across a parking lot.

Give to every charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online.

Allow the homeless to keep warm in your car while you are at Mass.

Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctors’ office for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label, “Because if someone wants to contact me, that would be nice.”

In her lifetime, Pink made contact time after time. Those who’ve taken her lessons to heart will continue to ensure that a cold drink will be left for the overheated garbage collector and mail carrier, every baby will be kissed, every nursing home resident will be visited, the hungry will have a sandwich, the guest will have a warm bed and soft nightlight, and the encroaching possum will know the soothing sensation of a barbecue brush upon its back.

Above all, Pink wrote — to everyone, about everything. You may read this and recall a letter from her that touched your heart, tickled your funny bone, or maybe made you say “huh?”

She is survived by her children and grandchildren whose photos she would share with prospective friends in the checkout line: Tim (wife Janice, children Timmy, Joey, T.J., Miki and Danny); Kevin (wife Kathy, children Kacey, Ryan, Jordan and Kevin); Jerry (wife Gita, children Nisha and Cathan); MaryAnne; Peter (wife Maria Jose, children Rodrigo and Paulo); and Meg (husband David Vartanian, children Peter, Lily, Jerry and Blase); siblings Anne, Helen, and Robert; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends and family too numerous to list but not forgotten.

Pink is reunited with her husband and favorite dance and political debate partner, Dr. Gerald L. Mullaney, and is predeceased by six siblings.



I remember the day vividly.  Every part of it.  I was five months pregnant with Drew and went to work as usual that morning.  I was teaching First Grade at a Catholic school at the time.  DJ went to preschool at the same school.  We got into the car and drove the two miles to Our Lady of Lourdes School.  I remember talking to him about the remarkable sky.  It was so blue, so clear, so beautiful.  Just a few fluffy white clouds but otherwise a stunning shade of blue.  We call that kind of sky a “Simpson’s Sky,”  (In every episode of The Simpson’s cartoon, they show they sky…that is just what it looked like.)

I even remember what I was wearing.  Coral, maternity capri pants with a white flowy maternity top.  I loved that outfit!  It was so comfortable.  I don’t think I wore it again though, because it kept making me remember that day.  Around nine am that morning there was an announcement over the loud speaker for everyone to stop what we were doing and offer a moment of silence and quiet prayer, (Catholic School…)  Not knowing what was going on, I immediately thought that something had happened to our principal’s mom.  I knew that she had been ill.   A few minutes later, I got another message over the loud speaker to calling me to the office for a phone call.  I told them I could not take the call because I had my students with me.  Our secretary said she’d send someone to cover my class immediately.  That is when I assumed something had happened to someone in my own family.

I ran down the hall to the office and picked up the office phone.  It was Dave.  He told me, “I’m okay.”  I still had no idea of what had happened so I was completely confused why he needed to tell me this.  He started speaking so fast, I could barely understand him.  He said that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers.  He said that The New York Stock Exchange, where he was working, was possibly going to go on lock down because no one knew what was happening. He said he would get home when he could.  I was shocked, but still hadn’t seen any images so I did not know the magnitude of what was going on.

We sheltered the children from any television coverage, but a tv was set up in a room for the teachers to witness what was going on.  It was horrifying.  Parents were coming all morning to pick up their students.  As more and more children went home, teachers who lived far from the school left as well.  I lived less so close to the school that I stayed to help with dismissal.  Everything seemed so surreal.

When I got home I called my best friend Kelly.  I made sure she was okay.  I know that she had an appointment in the city that day, but fortunately she had not made it in to NY – otherwise she’d have been going right through that area.  She came over to my house and we called it “home base,” as we waited for phone calls from friends who worked in the city so that we would know that they were all safe.  More friends came over that day and we all just stayed together watching the news coverage, transfixed to the television.

It took Dave hours to get home.  He was able to catch a ferry out of NYC and then had to walk from Jersey City to Hoboken to catch a train west where he got off in Newark, walked to Harrison before getting  to his car and finally being able to drive home.

At the end of the night we had been able to account for all but one of our friends that we knew may have been in the area or in either of the towers.  Tommy, one of the friends that Dave and his buddies went to school with, worked with Cantor Fitzgerald and was one of the casualties although I don’t remember finding this out that day.

So many incredible lives were lost that dreadful day.  It is a day that I will never forget.  A day that has changed us all.