Monthly Archives: August 2014

A New Sports Blog

quiet people

This morning, I found that I had a new follower to my blog.  “MySportswritingporfolio”  Whenever I get a follower, or a like, I check out the blog of the person who liked it.  This one brought me to a blog written by my brother.  My older brother Chip.  None of us, my dad included, had any idea that Chip had been writing for a website called, “Double G Sports.”  Apparently, he’s been writing for them since May and he decided to compile his writing into one place and share it in his new blog.

The thing about Chip is, he’s a bit of an introvert.  He doesn’t say much.  To anyone.  Family, friends, customers… so this came as quite a surprise.  His writing is much more expressive than his speech is!  I wasn’t sure if I was reading something that he wrote, or perhaps an article he found and shared, but sure enough, the articles are authored by him. 

If you like sports, hockey in particular, you should check it out and give it a like.  I am sure he’d appreciate it. 

College Football


Today is opening day for college football and our family cheers on The Iowa Hawkeyes!  How did a New Jersey family wind up as Iowa fans you might wonder!?!?  A friend of Dave’s went to college in Iowa and got hooked and he reeled Dave right in.  We’ve been following the Hawkeyes for over twenty years now.  For years, we’d meet up every weekend to watch the games.  All of us owned special football packages so that we could get the games on television.  His friend’s brother is also a fan so we rotated between the three homes to watch the games.  All of our kids are huge fans as well.

Then, the kids grew up and life got in the way.  It has been a long time since we got together to watch a game.  Probably since last year around this time!  A few days ago, when DJ realized that there was a game this weekend and that none of the kids had any of their own games because of the holiday weekend, he took it upon himself to text my best friend Kelly – who just happens to be married to Dave’s friend –  and we finally made it happen. 

We live so close to each other, less than fifteen minutes away, but it has been months since both of our families got together.  We have all seen each other here and there, but for months none of us were all of us were able to get together in the same place at the same time.  Other than the fact that DJ has grown about a foot and could drive himself there, not much has changed.  We all fell back into our regular Hawkeye routine. 

Sadly, we know it won’t last.  Sports start up for everyone next week and between all of the kids, there is not much of a chance of a Saturday being free.  If we do get lucky and it does happen, you can be sure that we will make the time.  At least I’ll know that DJ will be on top of it! 



It is Five Minute Friday and today Kate has posted the word REACH.  The objective is to write for five minutes about the suggested word.  As I read through other blogs, I often find that one word can mean so many different things to others.  Here is my take on REACH.

I have just about reached the end of “back to school preparedness.”  My classroom is almost ready for the twenty-three new faces that will greet me next week.  I have never been the most organized person and one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to become more orderly in order to keep my classroom running efficiently.  Just about every bin is labeled and organized.  Name tags and cubbies are labeled.  Bulletin boards are almost complete.  I feel like I am just within in reach of the finish line.  My problem is that I save everything.  Too much actually.  I need to start purging and I have.  In doing so, I was able to give some unused supplies that I bought over the past years and donate them to a collection of school supplies for needy children. 

I sometimes feel like clutter overtakes me.  When I get myself organized, I am a calmer person.  I have almost reached that point at school.  My home….well that is another story!

Getting Out of Jury Duty

jury duty

I have been called to Jury Duty three times.  The first time, I was twenty-three.  It was the summer that I was getting married.  I was chosen to serve on Grand Jury.  I had deliberately chosen not to work that summer so that I could get all the wedding plans finalized. I remember the judge so clearly asking me if there was any reason that I couldn’t serve and I told him that I was getting married on August 14th.  He told me, “Good.  You will be done on the 6th.”  Grand Jury was different back then.  I had to serve every day for six weeks.  Full days.  It was a good thing I didn’t have a “real job” because I don’t know what I would have done!  I learned a lot while serving on it though and true to his words, I was done on the sixth and had the week before my wedding to finish up all the little details. 

The second time I was called to serve, Drew was seven months old.  I remember getting the summons in the mail and seeing the date 8/23.  Drew was a tough baby.  He didn’t sleep well at all and I was clearly sleep deprived. I asked my mom to watch the boys and figured I’d do my civic duty, serve my time and be done with it.  I headed to the court house and found it remarkably empty.  I went in and as I walked through the metal detectors and checked in the woman at the desk asked to see my summons.  She looked at me and politely said, “Honey, it is July.  The 8th month is August.”  I nearly cried with embarrassment and told her that I had a baby at home and without needing to say another word, she stamped my summons “excused” and told me I didn’t even need to come back in August.

The third time, was fairly recently.  It was in December.  I tried to use the “teacher pass,”(which by the way doesn’t work,) and promised to serve in the summer but to no avail.  I was asked all sorts of questions and was actually chosen as “Juror 13,” an alternate.  I was told that the case could last up to two weeks.  TWO WEEKS??  How could I leave my Kindergarteners for two weeks?  We were given a break for lunch and I called my principal to tell her and then called Dave.  I was crying because sub plans for one day are difficult enough.  How was I going to plan for two weeks before the holiday break?  I went back to the court room, sat in my chair and was asked to stand.  I did, they said, “Juror 13, you are released.”  I still have no idea what did it.  Was it the tear stained face showing an unstable person?  Did they not like some of my answers?  Whatever it was, I nearly skipped out of the courtroom and out the door!

I am sharing these stories today because today in the mail, my mother received a summons to report to Jury Duty.  My mom died nearly a year and a half ago. My brother Chip sent me a picture of the summons.  We were all laughing about it.  Even when she was alive, I don’t think my mom ever served.  Back then “housewives” were often excused due to their stay at home status and then, when she was called a few years ago, she was already on oxygen 24 hours a day so she had a medical excuse.  Chip joked, “Well at least she has a good excuse this time!” 

Anticipation leads to frustration!


I was looking forward to today for over a week now!  The stitches were coming out of my foot!  Finally, I’d be able to walk flat-footed again.  My toes hurt from all the tip toeing around!  I got to my appointment a few minutes early and was taken in without even having to wait even though the waiting room was filled with other patients.  The nurse took a look at the sutures and decided the doctor needed to take a look before she could take them out.  I had a feeling this would happen. They weren’t ready to come out.  Eight more days of stitches and hobbling around.  The worst part is that they still hurt.  My foot aches.

I feel guilty even complaining about it.  After what I have seen Zach go through this summer and the rehab my dad has been going through, a few weeks of discomfort should not be making me so disappointed. But it is.  I have so much to do to get ready for the beginning of the school year.  I figured my timing was perfect.  I scheduled the procedure for right after camp ended figuring I’d be up and at it just in time for school to begin. 

The issue could be that I am doing too much.  I don’t really have a choice though.  It could also be that Neurofibromas are so unpredictable.  They are basically benign tumors that attach to the nervous system.  Of course there is a much more complex definition of what they are, but that is the basic explanation.  Because of them being a bundle of nerves, they don’t all heal the same way. A perfect example of this happened when I was twenty-one.  I had my wisdom teeth extracted and a nerve that was nicked during the procedure caused a part of my chin to be numb for years.  Not completely numb, and no one could tell by looking at me, but Dave and I had a secret little signal for him to let me know when I had food dripping from my mouth since I couldn’t feel it!!  I guess I knew even then he was a keeper 🙂 

So with my foot, there is still some pain.  Possibly because it is just in a place where I need to be standing on all of the time.  Maybe because the nerves are affected differently.  Whatever the reason, it is another week or so until we see how it heals.  The doctor wants me to begin to try to put more pressure while standing on it so I will try.  As for work, I will keep doing what I need to do to get my room ready.  The kids arrive on Thursday.  If all goes well, I will get my stitches out after school that day. That would mean only one day hobbling around with students there and by then, maybe my foot will be feeling well enough for me to wear a real shoe! 




welcome home

Today, we saw a message on Facebook that brought happy tears to my eyes.  Zach is home! I cannot even begin to imagine the joy that they are feeling today.  He has come so far in his recovery from MRSA and unknowingly, he brought a community together.  A community that rallied behind him and his family supporting them every step of the way.  He spent weeks in the pediatric ICU and then months in a rehabilitation facility.  Not a good way to spend a summer that’s for sure!

He and his family have been through so much.  It has been a journey that no one would ever wish to take and I know that this incredibly strong family has become even stronger because of it.

A few days ago, Drew and I were out shopping for school supplies and he saw one of those Coca Cola bottles with the names on them.  It said “Zach”.  He couldn’t find one with his own name on one, but right beside it was one that said “Friend.” We bought them both knowing that he be home soon.  Today, we made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for him.  We just got back from dropping them off to their house while they were still warm.  I can’t even begin to explain what a wonderful feeling it was to see the smile on Zach’s face when we saw him.  We had no intention of staying – just dropping of the treats and leaving but we stayed for about five minutes.  Everyone seemed so happy.  They were actually headed out which was even more exciting to hear!  He is getting around and although he still has a long journey ahead of him, we are so happy that he is home and hopefully, it will make the recovery that much quicker for him!  We love you Doubek Familly ❤

A lot happens in 35 years!

great teacher

Thirty-five years ago I was entering fourth grade at Jefferson School.  My teacher was Miss Lampros and I was nervous about the new school year.  That wound up being one of the best years of school for me and it was then that I decided that I was going to be a teacher too.  She was my inspiration. 

I had tried various times to locate her to let her know what an influence she had been to me but didn’t have much success until June of this year.  I wrote about it after finally getting in touch with her.  We interacted via email for a few months this summer and finally planned a date to meet for lunch.  I wrote down the date.  Wednesday, August 19th.  The problem was, August 19th was a Tuesday – while we were still in Connecticut visiting colleges.  I had been so off schedule because of being off my foot, I lost track of the days and totally screwed up!  I got an extremely caring email from her later that day asking me if I was okay since I didn’t show up to lunch.  I was devastated.  I had just told to the boys about how excited I was for my lunch with her on Wednesday and how I couldn’t wait for it to happen.  Meanwhile, I had just unknowingly “ditched” her after all this time!

I apologized profusely and we agreed to meet again and we did.  Today.  As I drove to brunch, I was wondering what we’d talk about.  A lot had happened in the thirty-five years since I’d seen her!  Mainly, I grew up!  Apparently, she told me during our conversation, that she thought the same thing!  In all of our email conversations, I didn’t realize this, but I hadn’t ever told her my maiden name!  I couldn’t believe it.  She came to this brunch not even knowing exactly who she was coming to see.  Once she saw me and I told her I was Claire Gianni, it came back to her.  She remembered my sister and my mom and we reminisced about Jefferson School and other teachers that I had and students that she had taught. 

She is retired now and still living locally.  She travels all over the world and is an author of several books. We sat together for nearly an hour and a half and there was never a lull in the conversation.  As we left, we promised to keep in touch.  I am looking forward to that.  I learned so much about her today.  She has done so much more than “just teach.”  Ninety minutes isn’t nearly enough time to cover so many years of life. 

Quiet Time

family time

Drew said something sort of whimsical to me today as we drove to the local diner to have dinner with my dad and brother.  He said, “It is kind of funny.  When you live far away from your (extended) family, you wish you could see them all of the time, but when you live as close as we do, sometimes you wish you lived farther away.”  I knew exactly what he meant.  We all love spending time with our extended family.  The boys see my dad nearly everyday and I know they appreciate all that he does for them.  A typical dinner for our family on the weekends especially, usually consists of thirteen or so people so only five of us was a rarity!

I get it.  I know what he means.  Living in the same town that I grew up and having most of my family nearby is very special to me.  There are so many advantages to living and working here.  DJ always jokes that everywhere we go, I see people that I know.  He laughed on our drive up to Connecticut saying, at least in there, we could go places without being recognized.  He was wrong 🙂  We saw a family from our town who was dropping their daughter off at the University of New Haven while we were there!  Even tonight, at dinner, we wound up sitting next to a family from my school.  I have taught two of their children – but I love that! Seeing families and friends when we are out brings me joy. I can’t imagine myself in a big city where I wouldn’t see familiar faces all around me on a daily basis. 

But back to what Drew was talking about in the car, sometimes it is nice to just sit back and do something with “just us.”  I think that is what we enjoyed so much on our quick get away to Connecticut last week.  Just three of us in the car talking about everything and anything.  Tonight, although Dave isn’t home because he is playing soccer, the boys and I are about to make popcorn and watch a movie.  Just us.  No cousins, no friends, no other family.  A quiet night together and although we delighted in the last few weeks with so much family around, it is nice to kick back in our pajamas and share some quiet time together.

Saying Goodbye…For Now

grandmas house

This afternoon, our Nevada cousins left to return home after spending two weeks here in New Jersey with us. These are the Nevada cousins closer in age to Drew and although they are both girls, they get along even better than any of his own friends!! They wanted to spend every moment together and fortunately they were able to do a lot of that while they were here.

They went to The Bronx Zoo, hiking in the reservations, swam at the pool, went out to dinner and spent time at our house or our grandma’s home where they were staying.  Simple games of hide and seek and slip and slide turned into hour long adventures.

Very often when looking for quotes for my blog, I find ones about cousins. Probably because the quotes are so true to the words! Cousins are our first friends. No one understands the craziness of your own family like your cousins do! I write about my own cousins often. We truly are friends and it is so nice to see them all get along as well as we did as kids, and still do now. From the youngest to the oldest, they enjoy their time together and their relationship only makes the bond between my cousins and myself stronger.

We are going to miss them. There were even some tears today as they left. The kids are already planning when we will get to Las Vegas to see them. It seems that only our Christmas and Summer breaks match up, but hopefully we can find a way to make it work.

Another Ice Bucket Challenge


Since I am running out of time and the day has totally gotten away from me, today’s blog is going to be a quick one.  Something that I have already shared with my friends on Facebook.  Some might think, “Oh great, another ice bucket challenge!”  But this one, which I found on, explains it so well and makes it very “real.”  Take the six minutes or so to watch it.  Then, share it.  It will be worth it.  The video starts about 2 minutes in…if you want to watch the part in the beginning, which he calls “the most embarrassing thing I have ever done in my life,” start it from the beginning.

Ice Bucket Challenge