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.

IMG_1666bw

Advertisements

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.

IMG_1423bw

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?

Extraordinary-things-are

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

compassion

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!