For most teachers, Halloween is an exhausting holiday!! After two years of NO Halloween celebrations at school due to a freak October snowstorm the first year and a hurricane the next, the kids were more excited than ever to celebrate today! For my kindergarteners, I don’t even know if they remember exactly what Halloween was or what to expect! They were only three years old the last time we had a “real” Halloween in town. They came to school filled with excitement for a parade that would not be until the end of the day! The room was filled with excitement the entire day.
The weather got a little unpredictable about an hour before the parade when it began to rain, but luckily it stayed to a light drizzle and right before the parade began, it stopped! The kids were so thrilled with their costumes and wore them proudly in the parade waving to their family members as they traveled around the blacktop. Sweets and treats were waiting for them in the classroom when they returned for goodies and some Halloween stories before heading into town for the big town parade!!
Our town holds an enormous celebration right in the middle of “the village.” The streets are closed and the merchants stand outside their stores handing out treats to all of the children who stop by. My dad, being one of the merchants went through nearly 2000 pieces of candy today! This year, I joined several of the teachers from our district, The South Orange Maplewood Education Association, (SOMEA) went into town and handed out treats as well. We gave out note pads and lollipops and ran out before the parade even ended! I think people were just so happy to finally have a Halloween celebration back in town, that it was bigger than usual!
My brother Tim was at the store with my dad. Tim’s wife Francine passed away in April. Today would have been her 32 birthday. This was her absolute favorite day of the year!! We all thought about her today, knowing how special this day was to her. Tim spent the morning at the cemetery with Francine’s mom, bringing her balloons and flowers. He was going to go out with some friends tonight for dinner to keep busy. It was a sad day for him but I am glad that he came out and spent the day like he always did. I think it was good for him.
I am sure that Halloween will be a day filled with mixed emotions from now on for my brother. The town Halloween celebration was always a fun, yet hectic, day for them. I am sure that he has many fond memories of the Halloween/Birthday celebrations they had together. Facebook was filled with warm thoughts and wishes for him today. I hope he knew that no matter how much fun everyone was having, anyone who knew Tim and Francine, had a place in their heart today that held a special spot for them.
Several months ago I wrote about inner-beauty.
It was one of the hardest posts that I wrote and it took the most courage for me to post it. I even hesitated linking my blog to it today – that is how uncomfortable I was with sharing it. There are so many women who suffer with body image. Seeing gorgeous women on the covers of magazines doesn’t help. I hear some of my friends talking about how hard it is raising daughters in this environment. What we are “told” is perfect…is actually not.
There is no “perfect.” Being healthy is so much more important than what size you are. I need to follow this mantra myself. I am always trying to lose “those last few pounds.” I am always comparing myself to others. Especially when I see those “perfect” bodies in magazines. Today, I saw this short photo shopped video of a woman, who is trying to instill the idea of “no one is perfect” in her daughters. Embrace what is real. Stay healthy and treat your body well. That is what will make you perfect. I have to ingrain this into my own brain…
One year ago tonight, we were bracing for “the storm of the century.” We weren’t sure how seriously we should take it. We did what we were supposed to do, get extra water, batteries and candles, but never did we imagine what was coming our way! The storm hadn’t even arrived but school was already canceled and that never happened so we had an idea that something ominous was headed our way!! We woke in the morning and waited….
One year later, I have my days confused a bit, as we were without power for ten days. There are ten schools in our district and most of them were closed for days since there was no power or heat! As power returned, schools slowly began opening again but much of those ten days are a blur, with the days running together. We spent the first few nights at home, in the cold house but as it got colder and colder, I took the kids and went to stay with our aunt and uncle who live a few miles away. Out of our HUGE family, they were the only relatives in New Jersey who had power. At one point there were over twenty of us camping out at their house. It was almost like a party with all of us being together.
The storm knocked out power at my parent’s house and my mom, who was on oxygen 24 hours a day, could not stay there. Their cars were stuck in their garage with a huge tree down in their driveway. They called the fire department who came and got them out of the house and brought her to a hospital where she could be given the treatment that she needed. Those firemen went over and beyond that evening. My mom was not a small person. Trees were down at both ends of their street and they could not get their trucks to their house. They walked up the hill, went to their house and carried her out of the house and down the street and over the trees blocking their way, to get her into a waiting ambulance. True heroes.
We waited in gas lines that were hours long. Some house in our neighborhood suffered a lot of damage with trees falling on them but we were lucky to have sustained very little damage. Being without power for ten days seems miniscule when we compare it to the Jersey Shore which was destroyed and even one year later, is still rebuilding. New Jersey came together after that storm. “Jersey Strong,” was our motto. This evening, candles will light up areas of the shore in memory of what was lost.
Strangers came together during that storm to help out one another, proving that when times get tough, there is still goodness out there as people worked together to help others rebuild and move forward.
Early this evening, my sister shared this story with me and I decided to put it away for a later blog.
Then, I sat down to do school work, write lesson plans for a substitute so that I could go to a workshop tomorrow and begin my report cards. By the time I sat down to write tonight, I was exhausted and stumped for something to write about. As I said to Dave, “I honestly think I have nothing to write about,” another friend shared the same story as my sister, so I took it as a sign to share it tonight instead of waiting. It spotlights a woman, who is going through a tough time and is treated with a random act of kindness from a stranger.
It doesn’t always have to be something big that will make someone’s day. Even the littlest gesture at just the right time, could turn someone’s day around.
I had this song, sung by Lizzy Neslson, come up in a facebook feed today. I have been posting a lot about my mom lately and thought today would be different but then this song came along. Never thought it could make me cry like it did. This song should be shared with everyone who has lost someone that they love. It is called, “Dancing in the Sky.”
I think I have a little bit of a hoarding problem. My coworkers and I joke that as teachers, we feel the need to save everything, “just in case.” Every once in awhile, I get inspired to purge and throw things away but I still find myself with way too much paper work and “stuff.” This even carries over to technology. I am always getting notifications that my email and voicemail boxes are full and I have to go through and pick and choose what needs to be deleted. Today, I noticed that I had A LOT of voicemails. Old ones, new ones, important ones, insignificant ones, too many to count. Among them, I found several from my mom! I hadn’t remembered that they were there. I listened to them today. None of them were more than fifteen seconds, and they all began the same way all of her messages did, “Hello, its only me…” None of them were about anything too important either. Just her checking in, or saying hello.
She and I spoke every single day. Usually more than once. Our conversations were rarely of importance, just, “how was your day,” or “what are you making for dinner?” I’d call for a recipe or she’d call to check in on the kids. It didn’t matter what we were talking about. I guess it was just hearing each others voice that brought both of us comfort. As I have written so many times before, I wish so much that if only I could still just pick up the phone to say hi. I wonder what I’d say to her if I had that chance?!?
As I listened to the messages today, I realized that there is a void – a sound missing in my life. Her voice. I have to find a way to save those messages. Knowing that they are there, and that I can listen to her anytime I need to hear her voice is comforting to me. It is a part of her that can’t leave me now because, now, I have her voice!!
This evening, Drew shared a short video that he watched in school earlier this month. It was quite interesting so I thought that I’d share it here.
The four of us were crowded around the computer, all with our iphones nearby, an ipad laying on the desk next to the laptop…Who would have known fifteen years ago, when on a whim, I said to Dave, “let’s buy some stock in Apple because, I just love my computer,” how big it would become?!?! Five years later, we sold it, (for what we thought at the time was a HUGE profit,) never knowing what big things were in store for them! We can’t say we regret it. At the time, the profit was big and we were able to buy new windows for our house – a much needed improvement. Yet, every now and then….especially after seeing the statistics in this video, I wonder, “what if??”