Monthly Archives: November 2013

Love is Love

browning love

Last night Dave and I went to a wedding for two of our friends.  I met them last year, when I was their son’s Kindergarten teacher.  We have become very close and I was honored when they invited us to be a part of their celebration.  I was even more honored when they asked me if I would take photos of the event.  Photography is a hobby of mine and I love capturing those special moments in a photograph.

This wedding was a first for us.  It was the first gay wedding that either of us had attended.   In October, when New Jersey ruled in favor for the freedom for all to be married, Eddie and Todd decided that they’d get married here in New Jersey.   We are so happy for them.  Everyone deserves to be married to the person that they love.   On October 21, in the town where I live, there was a large wedding ceremony outside of town hall where several gay couples were married in a group ceremony.

It is such a blessing to live where we do.  My children are growing up in an area where they don’t see differences and that makes me so proud.  The wedding yesterday was for families.  Children and adults witnessed two men, two best friends, committing themselves to one another, with their son by their side and their families and friends surrounding them.  The room was filled with love and warmth as these two men expressed their devotion to each other.   I am so happy that I was a part of their celebration.

I wish them love and happiness as they continue on their journey in life.  They have been together for over 15 years and I wish them many, many more happy years to come.


A Success

sign from heaven

It wasn’t so hard.  I was so worried about making the turkey for everyone that I stressed about it way too much. I was texting my Aunt Dale throughout the process.  It was ready much sooner than I calculated it to be.  21 pounds at 325 according to all of the websites I read, told me 20 minutes per pound.  That should have been 7 hours.  It was ready in a little over 5.  It wound up being delicious!  Perfect actually!  Even Drew – who is not the best eater, devoured a turkey wing right down to the bone!

My grandma, who wanted so much to help, hosted the feast.  We each brought the food.  We did have her delicious sausage stuffing which she insisted on making herself.  It would not be Thanksgiving without that on the side!  Aunt Dale made all of the sides and my brothers brought the desserts and the drinks.

Normally a family dinner includes so many of us, we are gathered at two or three tables.  We’d never fit around just one.  This year, since my sister and my cousins go with their in-laws for Thanksgiving there were only 13 of us.  This meant we could all fit around the dining room table.  Since this never happens, it was actually quite nice. Usually it is noisier, with all of us yelling from one room to another to keep up with all  of the conversations that are going on at once.  By all sitting down at one table, we were able to actually carry on one conversation at a time.  Aunt Dale had us each go around the table and say what we were grateful for. This brought some tears – Aunt Dale is like me and VERY emotional but for the most part, it was light-hearted and my Uncle Bucky provided us all with his usual humor making us all laugh throughout the meal.

None of us left that table hungry!  That’s for sure!  We couldn’t even eat dessert right away!  We saved that for a little later as the boys watched a football game and Dale, Dave and I cleaned up.  A few years ago, we found that Party City has some really nice disposable dinnerware and that makes clean up much easier.  The utensils looked as if we were using real silver but in the end, were all thrown away.  Saves time and makes it easier for everyone!  If you looked at the table in the photographs, you’d never even know it wasn’t the “real thing” – something our family really doesn’t care much about anyway!!

It was such a nice, quiet Thanksgiving.  I thought of mom a lot throughout the day.  I am sure she was with us the entire time.  We knew for sure she was there while Drew and I were watching the parade on television.  My mom loved the parade.  She never missed it on television. She had certain favorites and would call as they would pass.  As The Wizard of Oz came across the screen, Drew said, “This is the exact time Grandma would be calling us.”  At that same time, the phone rang.  We looked at each other!  Neither of us recognized the number on caller ID but I thought I should answer it.  At the second ring, I picked up and no one was there.  Odd.  Chilling, but totally satisfying.

Happy Thanksgiving

life is amazing

It is Thanksgiving, a time to reflect, be thankful and eat… a lot!

Considering what a difficult year this has been for our family, I still find myself feeling so grateful today.  For my children who continually surprise me with their compassion, empathy and tenderness.  Even this morning, Drew went out in the bitter cold and blew bubbles towards the sky telling me that he was sending them to Grandma and Francine in heaven.  He wanted to be sure they knew he was thinking of them today.  For Dave, my best friend who gives me a reason to smile everyday.  For my dad, sister and brothers, niece and nephew who are always here for us.  For my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma.  We are lucky to all live so close to one another and fortunate to see each other often.  Our lives would not be the same without all of them.  I am thankful for my coworkers, my friends, who inspire me to be a great teacher.  Not many people get the opportunity to work with some of their best friends and I am so thankful for that.  I am grateful for our good friends, Kelly and Andrew.  We may not get to see them as often as we like, but we couldn’t imagine anyone else we’d want to be our children’s Godparents and it makes the times we do get together that much more special.  My newest group of friends, in my coaching group.  You have helped me through a tough year and I am so happy that we have become friends.  I am looking forward to sharing another year with you and getting to know you even better.

I am thankful for my mom and Francine.  Having the two of them in our lives was a blessing in itself, but now that they are gone, it seems to have brought our family even closer than we were before.  We miss them so much but I think it makes us even more grateful knowing how lucky we were to have had them for as long as we did.  It has made us rethink what is important and what really isn’t.

I know that I often finding myself wishing that I had more.  A bigger house, or at least one that wasn’t falling apart at the seams!  More money to take our boys on vacations, more money so that we didn’t feel like we were struggling as those bills come into the house each month.  I find myself wishing for more quite often, yet, here I sit here, in the comfort of my warm home, with several televisions showing the parade as food cooks in the oven. I am typing this on my desktop computer as I text on my phone and ipad.  I realize that as I sit around wishing for more, I already have so much!  I don’t even just mean material things – which we have plenty of – perhaps even too much!!   We already have so much.  I need to remember to keep things  in perspective and remember just how much I have and how blessed I really am.  It should not be just on Thanksgiving that I feel grateful for all of these things, but it is nice to have a day that makes us all sit back and reflect on how lucky we are and how thankful we should be for it.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.


Feeling the Gratitude

thankful everyday

I received two lovely notes of thanks from students this week.  One was a letter from a fifth grader, who was in my class when he was in Kindergarten.  He wanted to let me know how much he loved Kindergarten and how he still remembers how special it was to be in my class.  I actually teared up reading it.  The other was from a first grader who was in my class last year.  Another sweet note telling me how special Kindergarten was for him.

Both of those messages truly made me feel appreciated and I am grateful. I get “love notes” nearly everyday from students in my class.  There is no shortage of those in Kindergarten.  Yet, these two boys who went out of their way to thank me, made me feel even more loved.   I am filled with gratitude because I work in a school where not only is there an amazing staff, but wonderful families as well.  I get to go to work everyday to a place where I feel warm, welcome and appreciated.

Thanksgiving is a great day to remind us to give thanks for all that we have but we should remember to be grateful everyday and let others know just how important they are to you.  It truly can make someone’s day!  These boys surely made mine!

Poor Rudolph?


It is not even Thanksgiving and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is on television.  Of course, I am still watching it, so are Dave and Drew.  I am a sucker for a nostalgic Christmas special!  As soon as the first song came on, I began to think of my mom,  she LOVED Christmas and everything about it.  She would have been calling and singing along with all of the songs like she always did.  She was crazy about Christmas carols but refused to play them until Santa came across the television during The Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The minute it was over, the songs came on – and stayed on until New Years!

As I am watching Rudolph, I am realizing that this movie, produced in the 60’s, may have actually been “ahead of the times” – an early anti-bullying movie perhaps!  A bunch of “misfits” just looking for a place that they’ll fit in, even being rejected in the land of misfits.  Poor Rudolph is even chastised by Santa!  Ever since I was a kid, I sympathized with Rudolph and his pal Herbie and I felt happy when Rudolph triumphs over all of the other bully reindeer as he saves Christmas for everyone!!  The more that I think about it, when I was younger, the theme song really upset me!  Poor Rudolph never being allowed to join in the fun reindeer games and being laughed at for his “different” nose. I guess even as kids, the message of the story, to accept each other despite our differences was apparent.  Only sweet Clarice, the doe had nice things to say to him:

Rudolph: What do you want?

Clarice: You – You promised to walk me home.

Rudolph: Aren’t you going to laugh at my nose, too?

Clarice: I think it’s a handsome nose. Much better than that silly false one you were wearing.

Rudolph: It’s terrible… and it’s different from everybody else’s!

Clarice: But that’s what makes it so grand. Why, any doe would consider herself lucky to be with you.

But as I watch it this year, I am wondering – what kind of message is this cartoon really sending out to children who are feeling bullied or left out?  That they can only be accepted if they do something extraordinary?  Perhaps I am looking way too into the meaning behind a cartoon because, for me, it truly it wouldn’t be Christmas without all of my favorite shows from when I was a child.  I guess that my hope it that as long as parents and teachers are having conversations with children about accepting everyone, despite all of our differences, then these sweet, nostalgic Christmas specials should still have a place during the holiday season.

A Kindergarten Feast

thanksgiving pie

Every year, to celebrate Thanksgiving at school, we hold a Kindergarten Feast.  This year at our school, there are five Kindergarten classes.  In the beginning of the month, we begin planning for it.  With 110 Kindergarteners, we need a lot of food!  We could not do it without the generous families and we are thankful for them.  We serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Each class has a turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, corn, corn bread, stuffing and everyone’s favorite….pie with whipped cream.  We have the families sign up to bring in the food and we share it all among the classes.  We combine the classes so that we can eat together.

We have been learning about Thanksgiving all month in Kindergarten and the first Thanksgiving so the feast is a perfect way to end the unit before the Thanksgiving break at school.  I am not sure how long the feasts have been held at our school, but I know that it is one of the favorite days of Kindergarteners.  The parent volunteers seem to love it too.  I know that even way back when I was in Kindergarten at this same school, we had a Kindergarten Thanksgiving feast.  I have a photo somewhere that I will need to dig up, of my dad coming in that day to celebrate with our class.  I am not sure if the feast have been ongoing since then, but if they are, then then it has been for at LEAST 38 years!!

I hope that if I can still remember mine, because it made such a lasting impression, that someday, my students will look back and fondly remember the feast that they celebrated when they were in Kindergarten too!

Proud Mom Moment


Although I will post lots of photos of them, I am not one who normally brags about my kids and writes about their accomplishments and posts it all over Facebook, but I was so proud of them when I saw their report cards for this semester, I could not help myself. and now, I have to do it again!!

Yesterday, DJ shared a video with me and told me that he thought it would be great for my Kindness Blog.  He was right, so I will share it with all of you.  It is not necessarily “kindness,” but more about compassion – but still something I really try to emphasize with my boys.  This is the video:  It is titled, “The Gallaudet Way” and it is about a football team from Gallaudet University in Washington DC,  the only University specifically for deaf or heard of hearing students.  Take a few minutes and watch it, it will be worth it.

Today, Drew told me he joined a club at school.  It is The MLK Club.  In his words, “It is a club where the kids from his middle school can help people in need.”  Of course, I beamed!  He’s following along in my footsteps!  They are working on three fundraisers right now, a toy collection for the holidays,  selling candy grams and having hot cocoa sales during the month of December.  The money they raise will go to the people in need in The Philippines.

Drew and Dave sat with me for hours today as we counted up and made full teams of jerseys that we will be sending to underdeveloped countries as soon as we can.  Our collection of soccer jerseys for Jerseys from Jersey was huge!  We have four sets ready to go and so many more just awaiting a few more items to make them complete.  Each package will contain 2 colors of 11 jerseys each and shorts to form two teams.  They each contain two goalie jerseys as well.  At least one of these packages will be going to Uganda with my college roommate who will be moving there in January.

It makes me so happy when I see my children showing compassion.  They know, that although our family doesn’t have a lot of “extras” or go on big exciting trips, they realize that they are so much more fortunate than so many others and seeing them willing to help those less fortunate is so gratifying to me.  It makes me feel like Dave and I are doing a good job as their parents!

Going through Mom’s Things


Today, my sister Kathi and I found ourselves with a few hours to spare.  We decided to go up to my parent’s house and go through some of mom’s things.  My dad was okay with it as long as we promised to not do anything with her formal gowns and dresses.  We agreed and the two of us met there and spent a few hours going through one of her closets.  For those of you who did not know my mom, she was a large sized woman – she called herself “plus sized.”  We packed up several bags filled with clothing that we are going to donate to the veterans.  We packed another that I dropped of at a local church that is collecting for the victims of the storm in the Philippines – that one included bedding.  There are still two more bags of clothing that still has tags on them!  I am in the process of finding a charitable organization that will take new clothing for larger sized women.  There are even two bags of purses and totes!

What is so surprising to me is that my mom was far from a “fashionista.”  She wore the same type thing all of the time.  She liked simple, cotton clothing with an elastic waistband.  Her last few years, she had so much trouble breathing, even getting dressed would be a struggle for her.  So finding all of these clothes, many that were never worn was a bit ironic.  Even more ironic though, is that for someone who had very little fashion sense, this was only the first of several closets we need to go through.

Tonight, we met back at their house to have dinner with my dad.  This time, we took out what I thought was her jewelry drawer.  I brought it downstairs and Kathi, my brother Chip and my dad and I,  all went through it.  It turned out to not be her jewelry drawer at all, but instead more like a memory drawer!  We found many of our old report cards, including mine from first grade from the school that I teach at now!  I found a favorite picture that my mom’s good friend Linda took of me when I was about ten.  Mom had saved it in that drawer.  I guess it was a favorite of hers too.  There were many pictures in that drawer, but it turns out that isn’t even the “photo drawer” since we found another with hundreds more.  That drawer will have to wait for another time.   There were books about exercising and a very old copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care book.  All of our birth certificates were there as were our graduation announcements and First Holy Communion certificates.  She saved everything!!

My dad let us each have what was ours and then we took out another drawer we thought was her jewelry drawer.  This had some, including a ring that Dave and I had given her before we were even married.  My dad let me keep that one.  We haven’t found her “good stuff” yet.  More interesting though in this drawer were all of the items she had saved from her own parents and her dear Aunt, (who we called Nana.)  We found an autograph type book that was her mom’s and each of the entries in it was dated 1925!  The pages were delicate and falling apart but they were fun to read.  there was a bag filled with things from her dad – he died when I was about ten, and I don’t really remember him well.  It had his work ID, some other types of certificates, pins and awards in it.  We actually gasped when we found a picture – it looked more like a mass card – with John F Kennedy on it.  How odd that we found this almost 50 years to the date of his death!?!  Dad let me borrow it to scan it and see if we can preserve it, as it is falling apart.  I am not sure how my grandfather got the card.  It is definitely not from a newspaper, you can tell by the feel of the paper.  It feels like an actual mass card.  I wish there was someone who could tell us how he got it or why he kept it.

Next week, we are going to go back and finish the second drawer.  It got too late and with absolutely everything bringing up a new memory, it took much longer than expected.   As so many things are when we talk about mom, this was bittersweet, but it brought back so many happy memories.  I cannot wait to see what we find next week!!

Scan 1 Scan 2


On the 50th anniversary of his death, I thought it would be best to share a few of John F. Kennedy’s quotes on peace and kindness:

JFK Kindness JFK peaceJFK strong JFK time to thank


do your best

In the beginning of May, I wrote about getting both of my boys classified in school.  I was kicking myself for waiting so long, thinking how much time I must have wasted where they could have been getting the help that they needed.  Dave and I weren’t sure if we had made the right decision, but the teachers at their schools made it easy for us and we are grateful.  Both boys have now finished their first semester at school, DJ in grade 11 and Drew in grade 6.  High School and Middle School – rough years in general.

Drew, my son who enjoyed school, but loathed academics made the honor roll!  FIVE A’s and two B’s.  We haven’t received the actual report card, but with the technology available to us, we are able to go on line and check his grades whenever we want.  I am not a parent who checks on them daily.  I go on once every week or two, to see if the boys are doing their homework and getting assignments completed on time.  Drew is so proud of himself.   He cannot wait to get the report card in the mail and show it to his fifth grade teachers.  He told me how proud they are going to be of him.   Seeing him this excited about his grades and school is something that Dave and I have never seen him exhibit before.   He comes in and does his homework right after school.  I would not say that there is no mumbling and grumbling about it, just so much less.  I also have to credit his 6th grade teachers at the middle school.   Whatever they are doing to keep him motivated, is working!

As for DJ, he didn’t make honor roll, but he has also had the best report card we have seen from him in years!  4 A’s 2 B’s and a C.   He doesn’t talk much about school, he never has.  We try to get information out of him but rarely get more than a word or two in response.  His favorite class though is a television production class.  He likes it so much, he’s going to school tonight, (something he’d have never done a year ago,) to help film a program going on at the school this evening.

We have never pushed for our boys to bring home straight A’s. That would be unrealistic.  What we do tell them is to do their best and if they are giving it all of their effort, that is what is most important.  I am not sure what it is that is motivating the boys, the teachers, getting them classified, or something else, but Dave and I are proud of them.