Monthly Archives: April 2014


today is your day

Today, my son turned 17!  I have to say it out loud to really make it seem real!  In New Jersey, you can get your driver’s license at 17 so this morning, he went out with his driving instructor before I even left for work.  He was really nervous.  DJ doesn’t show a lot of emotion but I could tell it was really getting to him.  He has had his driving permit for quite some time, but the winter was so rough, and time and sports schedules were so busy, there wasn’t as much time as we had all hoped for to get much practice in lately.  His biggest fear was the parallel parking.  He was so down on himself about not being able to do it.

Drew left a message taped to his phone this morning.  His “Tips for Passing the Driving Test.”

  • 9 and 3 (hand position)
  • Eyes on the road
  • seatbelt
  • signals
  • turn off phone
  • check mirrors

When he found it this morning, I saw him fold it up and put it into his pocket.  Maybe it was his lucky charm?!?

I waited all morning to hear something.  I kept my phone in my back pocket waiting to feel it vibrate hoping to get a message from him either way, pass or fail.  I just wanted to know.  I kept checking to see if I missed a message but I hadn’t.  During my break, I sent a message to Dave to see if he had heard anything but he hadn’t either.  FINALLY, I saw on my phone that I had a missed call.  Of course, the one time I left it on my desk to do a few things, he had tried to reach me!  My students were still not with me so I had a minute to call him back.

In his usual, non-expressive tone, he said, “I passed.”  I had to make him repeat it… “I passed,” he said, a bit more excited this time.  I told him how happy I was for him and that we’d all celebrate tonight!  He drove himself over to Drew’s school at the end of the day to pick him up.  Drew said it felt “kinda cool” to have his big brother show up at school.

I just got home and saw his license.  My little boy – all grown up.  It actually is, “kinda cool.”  Scary…but cool.



This evening, Drew was supposed to have baseball practice and I was supposed to be taking a dance class.  The weather canceled the practice and my injured hip kept me from dancing.  Nothing serious, just getting old I think.  I was running my C25K program and was so proud of myself getting through the solid five minute run yesterday when all of a sudden I felt something in my hip.  I decided to give it a few days rest before running and classes to give it time to feel better.  I am sure it is just from exerting it too much.  Not being a runner, perhaps I just landed wrong or twisted something.  Whatever it is, I am sure a few days of doing nothing will be good for it.  As Dave said, “It sucks getting old doesn’t it?”

With all of those commitments out of the way, it gave us the opportunity to go to The Tuscan Fiesta at my school.  This event was organized by The PTA and our Spanish Teacher, Senor Carberry.  Since it was the first one, I wasn’t sure how the turn out would be.  Drew decided to come with me so that he could see some his former teachers and friends.  It turned out to be a big success!  So many families showed up.  Everyone brought food.  A potluck!  With the “Spanish” theme, there was mouth-watering, authentic food.  Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish…so much!  I tried empanadas, tamales, chile stew and a few other ethnic dishes.  Each one of them was delicious.

After dinner we were treated to Peruvian folk dances and flamenco guitar. It was such a treat to watch the dancers, but for me, it was just as much fun watching the kids gathered around in a huge circle watching them and clapping along to the music.  To end the evening’s festivities, there was a pinata for the kids.

The best part of it all, is that once again, it was an event that could have never been done without the help of the amazing PTA, parents, teachers and volunteers who do so much for our school.  The time and effort that they put forward in everything they do for our school is incredible and it is what gives our school such an incredible sense of community.  I am so fortunate to be able to teach in such a wonderful place 🙂 ❤

A little shell

little things

We all got back to school today.  It is always nice to see my class’ smiling faces greeting me in the morning after spending time away from each other.  It makes going back to work after a long break so much more worth it!  There are only forty days of Kindergarten left. We do a count down everyday.  Time is going so quickly!  It is amazing how much they have all grown over the 14o days we have spent together.

While my family was away, we searched hard and we searched often for seashells but came up pretty empty most days.  There was the one day where Drew and I got lucky and hit the “shell jackpot,” but for the most part, all we could find were tiny little clam shells.  Dave suggested I gather a bunch to give to my students as a souvenir.  The shells were so small, I never thought that the kids would really like them or care much about them, but at the end of the day, when I opened the bag of shells in front of them, it was as if I had opened a treasure chest!  They ooohed and ahhhed over them.  None of them were bigger than a quarter, but to them, they were worth so much more.  I had enough to give each of them three shells.

Those little shells, which seemed so insignificant to me, must have been the complete opposite for them because at the end of the day, when they tell each other their favorite part of the day, more than half of them said, “getting shells from Mrs. Sinclair.”  As they walked out the door, every single one of them clutched those shells as if they were carrying something valuable!

Once again, emphasizing that it truly it is the little things that matter most.

Easter Dinner Part Two

around the table

If you follow my blog, you’d know that my family, extended and immediate, is VERY committed to tradition.  Whenever there is a holiday, we get together and celebrate. This Easter, we were in Hilton Head with my dad and brothers.  My sister went to visit her in-laws. My cousin did too.  That left my grandma home with my aunt, uncle and cousin to celebrate.  A very small gathering for our family.  That could only mean….Easter Repeat with almost everyone included. Drew had a soccer game and Dave went with him to that.  We also were without my dad’s brother Richie. We call him Gubby.  He has been having problems with kidney stones and is back in the hospital recovering.  Poor guy just can’t get rid of them!  It is not the same without him.

It was a team effort again this year.  The way it should be.  My sister Kathi made the turkey.  My Aunt Dale, cousin Lisa and I did all the sides and desserts.  Everything was delicious and as usual, there was way too much food.  It isn’t about the food though.  Just getting together is what makes all of our gatherings a celebration.  We laughed as my aunt told us how proud she was of all of us for taking the control of the whole dinner.  We are all adults with children of our own, but she still thinks we are kids.  I guess we’ll always be kids to her, no matter how old we all get.

It is fun to watch the different generations though.  Most of our gatherings are held at my grandmothers.  They have been for as long as I can remember.  Today, the littlest ones were all outside playing while we got things ready.  The “elders,” (no offense dad….) sat around waiting for it to be served.  The boys/men sat and watched The Rangers vs Flyers game in the den. It sounds old fashioned, but it really isn’t.  The “men” definitely help out.  My cousin Jason made the gravy which was delicious.  A few of them ran out to get ice, which we all forgot to bring.  Whenever Dave is there, he takes over on clean up crew.  It was just like when we were growing up.  Our roles may have changed but watching the generations follow along the path they always have, really made me appreciate how wonderful tradition really is.



The last time we made the trip to Hilton Head, our car was bigger, the boys were smaller and we did not have a dog!  This trip, Dave and I became experts at what we liked to call our personal Tetris/Jenga as we packed up our Jeep Liberty.  The last time we took the drive there, we had a Chevrolet Trailblazer that had so much room!!  I absolutely LOVE our Jeep, but had no idea how much I missed the roominess of the Trailblazer until this trip.  We left yesterday, knowing that we had about fifteen hours of driving ahead of us.  We knew we could take our time just like our ride down.

We left the condo around three o’clock, after taking our time on the island and drove until we arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina. We decided to stay at the same place, a Marriott Residence Inn.  The accommodations were great when we stayed there on the way down and had the added benefit of being pet friendly so we figured we’d go back there.  Plus, free hot breakfast 🙂  Can’t beat that!!

We enjoyed our ride so much driving to Hilton Head, that we decided to take the same route home, even if it was a little bit longer.  Route 95 gets so crowded and there is so much traffic that Route 13 seemed a much less stressful way to go.  Once again, the ride was beautiful.  There was so much to see.  We saw farmland and old historic towns and landmarks all the way.  As we crossed The Chesapeake Bay, we even saw a submarine setting out for sea.  Dave joked that he felt like he was watching, “The Hunt for Red October.” I know some might think it is just a bridge, but to see this immense structure, that goes over the water and then under the water several times was truly astounding to me.  There is a point where you can see the bridge in front of you and it looks like it just disappears into the water, (one of the tunnels.)  The pictures I took do it no justice at all.  I just could not get the magnitude of it in a photo.

Because we had Emmy Lou with us, we could not stop anywhere for long breaks.  We just took a few stops for gas, snacks, bathroom breaks for us and walks for her,  We hit no traffic…until Exit 7 on The New Jersey Turnpike.  Then, it started to rain.  Welcome home.  The short ride from there felt like the longest part of the trip home.  We finally made it home after riding in the car for a total of 11 hours today and 6 yesterday.  Dave did all of the driving.  His choice.  I think he likes it better driving than sitting in the passenger seat.  That was fine with me.  As I watched the scenery as we drove, I realized why people give New Jersey such a bad rap.   Even half way up the turnpike it was a pretty ride. Then, we hit exit 13.  Seaports, factories, refineries, smokestacks, traffic, strange odors…it all adds up.  I get it.  BUT, it seems that people seem to gather in places that have a lot to offer.  Perhaps that’s the reason for all of the congestion.  All you need to do is just go a few miles off the turnpike and you will find yourself in plenty of beautiful areas!  Anyone who lives here knows that!

It is always nice to get home, but now reality sets in.  Back to the real world tomorrow.  At least we have Sunday to get to the grocery store, get laundry done and finish up lesson plans for school.  Vacations give us the opportunity to rejuvenate, refresh and unwind.  It was just what we all needed.


So hard to leave


We have had such a great week here in Hilton Head.  We were going to leave tomorrow, but after thinking about the amount of time it takes to drive here, we decided that today would be a better choice.  Drew and Dave have games to play on Sunday and we were really going to be pushing it to drive the entire way in one day.  Even splitting it up between the two of us, we’d still have a fifteen hour drive without stopping.

The weather has been fantastic the whole time.  Mid seventies to low eighties.  Just perfect for us.  Not too hot, but just right.  Today, was supposed to be a rainy day, but it is quite the opposite.  It is gorgeous out making it harder to leave.  We have been taking our time but we are about to pack up the car and get on our way.

The place we rented is somewhere I would love to stay again.  We had been so worried about Emmy Lou not adapting well but even she did great and I think she likes it here as much as we do.  Normally we are creatures of habit and always find ourselves going to the same restaurants to eat whenever we come down here, but this time we “ventured” out and tried a few new places and I am so glad we did!  For anyone heading down this way, don’t miss out on Annie O’s or Jump and Phil’s.  Two new favorites!!

It is always sad to say goodbye after a vacation and to a week with no schedules and time constraints, but tomorrow will bring us back to reality.  Back to the real world.

Global Pay it Forward Day

pay it forward

It is here.  Global Pay it Forward Day.  A day that I  think should be celebrated more than once a year!

For this year’s international Pay it Forward Day (PIFD) we are aiming to inspire over 3 million acts of kindness around the world. Imagine the difference that would make!

During Lent, my “Lenten Sacrifice” was doing a random act of kindness every day for the entire Lenten period.  Everyday, I put something in the mailbox of a coworker with a little note attached.  A few times it was an orange with a note, “to add a little sunshine to your day.’  Several times it was chocolate or cookies with a note saying, “To add a little sweetness to your day.”  None of it cost a lot.  I don’t know if anyone realized who it was  leaving the treats in their mailboxes.  I never stayed around to watch the reaction when they went to their mailbox and found it there. That wasn’t the idea behind it.  I didn’t do it for the recognition.  I did it because it felt good.  I did it with the hope that it would inspire others to do a random act of kindness of their own.

This afternoon, we were out for a bit and Drew came across a row of vending machines.  He always looks inside the coin slots to see if any coins were left behind.  Today, he found that $1.50 had been left in one of the machines.  Not in the coin slot, but in the machine itself.  He is convinced that someone did it because today is “Pay it Forward Day.”  We have no idea if this is really the reason money was left in the machine, but the fact is, it got all of us thinking about what RAK we should do for someone today.

Tonight, the kids played another game of miniature golf.  There are some amazing mini golf courses down here and they’ve tried them all.  For our RAK, we left money for two kids to play the course.  The woman working there didn’t know about Global Pay it Forward Day, so it was fun to tell her about it because it got her excited about it too.  We don’t know who will get those next two games, but hopefully whoever does, will pay it forward by doing something else.  That’s the whole idea behind this day.

While Pay it Forward Day focuses on marketing the concept of selfless giving for just one day a year,  everyday can be Pay it Forward Day by connecting to the Pay it Forward Foundation at





Vacation is defined as,  a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation.  It has been awhile since we have had a “real” one and we are definitely taking advantage of it.  As I write, the boys are out trying golf for the first time and I just got back from the pool.  I sat there, reading my book, listening to my music and feeling like I hadn’t a care in the world!  When I felt like I had enough sun, I came back to the condo, which is right across from the pool, gave Emmy Lou a quick walk and went outside on the deck to read some more.  I have already read one full book and am on my second one.  I rarely find the time to read and I have missed it!

Not being on a schedule feels strange to me.  Dave jokes with me, because I truly can’t sit still and keep looking for things to do.  This morning, I got up again to watch the sunrise on the beach and this time Dave and Drew joined me.  DJ wanted no part of it, but this is his vacation too, so we let him sleep.  It wasn’t as productive of a shell collecting day.  The woman who told Drew that he got lucky on Monday with his amazing collection of shells was right.  From what we hear, Hilton Head is not known for having a lot of big shells.  We did find a big horseshoe crab, which was still alive and stranded on the sand.  Dave gently picked it up and brought it back to the water.  Hopefully saving it…

Drew spotted a dolphin in the water and we watched it for awhile as it did some leaps and dives showing off for us 🙂  After a going for a quick run the boys and I took a leisurely walkover to my dad’s place.  We saw some beautiful wildlife.  Frogs, cranes, turtles and even an alligator.  I wonder if the people who live here full time, see the beauty in what we are seeing everywhere we go.  Does it become routine for them?  Do the delicate legs of the crane as it walks through the water, or the gracefulness of the alligators as they skim through the water intrigue them as much as they do for us?

Do they wake daily just to watch the sunrise each morning?  I keep thinking as I fall asleep each night thinking I will sleep in, but I am drawn to the beach to watch it each day.  I guess that is the whole idea of vacation. It is another advantage of being here in Hilton Head.  It is one of those places that there isn’t a lot to do…and that is a GOOD thing.  We can do what we want on our own time and just finally relax.  It has taken me a few days to slow down, but I think I can get used to it!

Earth Day

earth day

Today is Earth Day.  Founded in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated in nearly 200 countries every year on April 22.  A day designed to promote caring for and keeping our planet healthy.    Celebrating our planet and keeping it clean and beautiful is so important.  Even small steps to make changes are steps in the right direction.

There are so many things we can do to help. I try to do as much as I can and here is an easy one I began a few years ago. I signed up to have catalogs canceled.  I still get some, despite trying to get off of mailing lists, but the number of catalogs coming into my home has decreased and that is good!    At home, we recycle as much as our town allows us to.  Paper, cardboard, glass and plastic are collected every two weeks.  Those are simple ones anyone can do.

For our kids, I think keeping our Earth “green” is just a way of life.  Education is the key. There are hundreds of websites that are about a green planet and keeping our world clean.

I found these ideas on

You can honor Earth Day by showing your awareness of environmental issues and by letting others know what they can do to make a difference. Even small actions can have great consequences! Pick up litter, recycle, turn off the water when you brush your teeth, switch to online bill payments, use public transportation, turn down your water heater, install energy efficient lights. If you stop to think about it, there are dozens of ways you can lighten your load on the environment and promote a healthy ecosystem.

There are so many things we can do to promote Earth Day, but I think it should be something we do everyday – not just once a year.  Perhaps the day itself is great to give us a reminder of what we should always be doing.



I feel very fortunate to get to live in New Jersey.  Despite the bad rap it gets from television and movies, it is a pretty great state.  From our house, we have the mountains an hour to the north and the beach an hour to the south.  My father has a house in the Poconos, which is a great, quiet getaway. A place we have always loved going to relax.  There is a rambling creek that runs behind the back of the house that is so soothing.

My mom loved it up there.  We all did!  Although I enjoy the time we spend there, I also LOVE the beach.  There is just something about it that makes me so happy.  I wish we took more time to go “down the shore” more often.

This is one of the reasons I love  Hilton Head so much.  This year, the place we are renting is less than a five minute walk to the beach.  Last night, Dave, Drew and I took a bike ride along the ocean. We went after sunset but it was still beautiful.

Drew has been asking to go find shells and sea glass.  I wanted to see the sunrise.  This morning, he set his alarm so that we could get out there early and satisfy both of our desires!!

Sunrise was at 6:44 am so when the two of us headed over to the beach, it was still pretty dark out.  When we first arrived he picked out our spot to sit, and as we saw the sky turn a pretty shade of pink, we knew we had made the right choice!  As we sat there, on a nearly empty beach, sea birds were flying all around us.  The sun appeared – right on schedule 🙂  The only word I can think to describe it is “glorious.”  Even Drew was mesmerized by it.  We took lots of pictures!  I cannot believe that I have never taken the time to sit out and actually do this before.  I know I have seen the sun rise and set over the water before, usually in a car or from inside somewhere, but to get up early and make it a point to be there and watch as it happened was really quite a site.  Drew already asked if we can do it again tomorrow!

His mission to find sea glass was futile but as we walked we found a lot of conch shells, (at least that is what I think they are called.)  Small ones at first and then…JACKPOT!  A big one.  He was so excited.  We made sure nothing was alive in any of them.  He must have gathered at least twelve of them.  An older woman on the beach saw his collection and told him she rarely sees shells that big on that beach so that certainly made Drew’s shell expedition a success!  He found a sand dollar but those have to be thrown back in the water.  They aren’t allowed to be taken from the beach.  They are pretty to look at though, so we took a picture to remember.

Maybe we will get up and do it again tomorrow… It was definitely a morning I’d like to repeat.  Who knows, we might even be able to convince DJ to wake up and join us…we can always hope!