Monthly Archives: November 2014

Unnerving

faith

This morning I went to 8 am mass.  We joke that this is the “old people mass” because many of the people there are elderly.  I went alone, kids were still sleeping and Dave was playing soccer.  I sat in front of a man around my dad’s age, I have known him since I was a kid.  We acknowledged one other with a polite hello and mass began as normal.

During the second reading, as we were sitting down I noticed a man enter the church and walk down the center aisle to a pew where two young girls, (college aged it seemed,) where sitting.  They seemed to recognize him as he joined them.  I took notice of him because he walked in so late for mass.  I shouldn’t judge, but it always bothers me when someone arrives late for mass and then walks down the center aisle instead of just sitting in the back where it doesn’t make a scene.

As Father Mitch began his homily, this man stood up, walked down the center aisle with both arms in the air as if he were praying to God and walked straight up to the altar, up the stairs and turned around to face the congregation.  He stood there for about a minute like that while everyone at the mass looked at each other uncomfortably wondering what was going on.  Politely, Father Mitch asked him to return to his seat and the man responded, with his arms still raised in the air “I do not like buildings” (or something to that affect…I may have his words mixed up.)  He said it slowly and meaningfully.  At this point, probably less than two minutes had passed, and the ushers seemed to be getting ready to head down the aisle to remove him but it was just so out of the ordinary, I don’t think anyone knew quite what to do or what was going on.  We were all looking at each other as if expecting someone to do something.  Finally, he stepped down off of the altar and walked slowly back to his pew.  He barely sat for a moment when he got back up and walked back out the same way he had sauntered in but this time with his hands high in the air.

Father Mitch made light of it, causing nervous laughter in the crowd but it was very unsettling.  Especially when I noticed the two girls who he was sitting with walk to the front of the church down a side aisle and began whispering to each other for a few minutes.  I am not sure how many people noticed that, but I know the people around me did because we were more focused on them then on the sermon.  Then, the two of them quickly headed down that aisle and out the doors of the church.  Seconds later, a young man dressed all in black with his head down headed down the opposite aisle next to the section I was sitting in and also left.

My hands were shaking.  I wasn’t sure if I were cold or nervous or both but I couldn’t get them to stop.  All I could think about was how often I have practiced code red/yellow drills in school.  I actually felt confident that I’d know what to do, but what would all of these elderly people do if something really was wrong.  I could run, evacuate if I had to, but would they be able?  When I go home, I told Dave and the boys that I seriously sat there contemplating how we’d get out if the doorways were blocked.  Would we be able to break through those beautiful stained glass windows?  Could these elderly women climb up to get to them?  Would I help them get coverage under the pews?  My boys and Dave asked me why I wouldn’t just run if it got to that point.  How could I ever leave all of those people?  It is like my class.  I wouldn’t run and leave them behind.

Fortunately, whatever it was that caused this “blip” on my radar, turned out to be nothing.  Everyone was fine.  Nothing happened.  Everyone was safe.  It rattled me a bit though.  It just makes me so sad that we have to even think this way.  That the thought even crossed my mind.  I am NOT an alarmist.  Things like this never bothered me before but there is just so much craziness out there these days, you just never know.  There were many people at the mass.  Was I the only one thinking this way?  Have I been conditioned to think this way?  I hope not.

Shopping Excitement

shop local

Small Business Saturday looked like it was a success here in Maplewood.  Our village was bustling with activity.  I spent most of my day at home preparing another turkey for our “Second Thanksgiving Dinner” which we celebrate tomorrow with my sister’s family who are always away for Thanksgiving.  We do leftover turkey sandwiches so the turkey is made the day before.

I left Dave at home to baste it while I ran out to shop for about an hour.  I got some stocking-stuffers and treated myself to some new boots – which I got for a steal! Plus I got a great “Small Business” tote bag just for shopping today.

There were a lot of “give backs” today too in town.  Toy drives, coat drives and food drives throughout the village reminding everyone that through all the spending, there are still ways to support those in need.

So, I participated in Black Friday and Small Business Saturday which leaves me with one more day….Cyber Monday to get caught up in all of the shopping hype.  Is there a name for the Sunday between these days?  If there isn’t already, I am sure someone will find a way to profit from it soon enough!!

Clearance

clearance

For the last few days Drew has been asking me if we could go shopping on Black Friday.  I have been putting him off, knowing that it is really the last thing I want to be doing on my day off.  The crowds, the parking – I just didn’t want to deal with it.  I blame the media!  All the build up to this “big day of sales and bargains” is all they are talking about and it is enticing him and luring him in!

Last night he begged me and I caved.  How many more days is my nearly 13 year old going to want to go out and spend the whole day with just me?!!?  The deal was, he would let me go to an exercise class this morning and we would leave mid-morning.  No waking up early for any door buster sales for us although Drew told me when he gets his driver’s license he plans on doing that “just once.”

He had saved up some of his own money and we gave him some that he’d have to budget himself for all of the people he wanted to buy for.  We started at Best Buy where not only did we get the FIRST parking spot in front of the store, but he found his first deal of the day for his cousin.

Target, right next door was our next stop and Drew found his new favorite words, “CLEARANCE” and “BARGAIN”  A boy after my own heart!  Following in my footsteps I told him.  I am a bargain shopper and it thrills and exhilarates me to get a good deal.  It gives me such a sense of accomplishment and I think I have passed some of that along to Drew.  I was so proud 🙂  I think he wound up getting four or five gifts there and still had money left over for our trip to Bob’s.  He had ideas in his head which always helps when holiday shopping.  Somehow, he even wound up buying my gift and I never saw what it was – he’s as sneaky and crafty as I am when it comes to shopping with the person I am buying for!

He is wrapping them all right now.  He is so ahead of the game! He is already talking about going out again for another day of shopping for his last few gifts.  I will relish these days while I can get them.  Who knows how many more of them he will want to give me!

A Team Effort

thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving.  The second one without my mom here.  I found myself asking my cooking questions to my “surrogate moms,” my Aunt Dale and a former coworker Marci who has always been so wonderful to me but even more so after losing my mom.  It is only the second time I have cooked the turkey dinner for the family on my own.  I helped my mom during her last years when it was too much for her to do on her own, but I still had her there to guide me along.  This year, I went with our traditional very simple butter, garlic, salt and pepper recipe, but through in a few extra spices to “change it up” a bit and make it my own!

It is a 23 pound bird so it has been in the oven for just about five hours and according to the meat thermometer it is just about ready.  The crock pot mac and cheese that Drew and I concocted is ready and warming and the corn souffle, (I guess that is what it is called) just needs to be heated up when we bring all the food over to my dad’s house.  My friend Kim shared that recipe.  I was so excited to make it and felt so confident and proud to get that done the night before – only realizing that when I took it out of the oven, I had added cream cheese instead of the sour cream it required.  I am still going to serve it.  If it is a fail, it gets tossed.  If it is delicious, perhaps a new Thanksgiving tradition! I decided that i won’t stress about the meal this year.  Last year I was a nervous wreck feeling that it was all on me to make it perfect like my mom’s always was.

Aunt Dale is bringing lots of other side dishes and my brothers will bring dessert.  Even my dad – who has NEVER cooked and even confessed that he didn’t know how to use the can opener this morning – is making the green bean casserole for the meal.  Dave is always on clean up duty and he is so good at it, by the end of the meal, you’d never even know that thirteen people had just eaten there.  That’s all we will be this year.  A small group.  Normally our holidays are twice that but my sister and cousins all go to their inlaws for Thanksgiving.

The turkey is just about to come out of the oven. Drew is boxing up the cookies he made this morning before we started. The car is being loaded up.  I am grateful to be able to share Thanksgiving with so many people I love, but even more grateful to everyone who helped me pull it off with their recipes, tips and suggestions. Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

A Slurry of a Mess

create sunshine

Today’s “impending snow storm” turned out to be little more than a mix of snow, rain and sleet.  I was trying to come up with a good name for what it has created –  a bit of a slurry I guess.  It is not pretty.  It is wet and gross out there.  Just enough that we needed to shovel, (well….Dave did:) ) yet not enough to be able to go out and enjoy it.

This is not the kind of snow I look forward to and after last year’s numerous snow storms, I wasn’t very happy to see it arrive this morning.  My Kindergarteners were though!  The minute the first flake fell, they were planning their afternoon outdoor activities.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it wasn’t snowman or sledding snow like they all thought it was!

It is amazing how much joy snow brings to children while for adults, it is burdensome and rarely welcome.  I will admit, that when that first white, fluffy snow storm arrives, handing us a snow day, I feel like a little kid too.  Today, is not that day.  While I do NOT wish for much snow this winter, one or two of those perfect snow days will be welcome.

For now, I am grateful that I am inside my warm home as I begin to prepare dinner for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast.  I have nowhere to be, nowhere to go and on this cold, dreary day, it is exactly how I want it to be.

Feeling Grateful

teach me involve me

Today was the annual Thanksgiving Feast for our Kindergarteners.  It is one of my favorite days of the school year.  All four Kindergarten classes came together in the cafeteria and had a “real” Thanksgiving dinner.  Parents made turkeys, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, muffins…all the fixings of feast!  Many parents came in and served the children buffet style.

As I watched the children walk through the cafeteria with their plates filled with food, I couldn’t help but notice the huge smiles on their faces.  Were they feeling grateful?  Were they feeling pride as they independently carried their own meal to their tables?  Was it excitement for getting to sit with new friends in the cafeteria?  I am not sure.  What I do know is that I was feeling grateful. Grateful to be a part of these children’s lives.  To know that for one school year, these children are in my care – for me to help mold and hopefully influence in a positive way.

Hard to be a Sports Fan

never give up

Sometimes being a sports fan is a difficult job.  When your teams are winning, it’s easy.  When they’re not, it’s hard to remain loyal.  What is especially hard is when ALL of your teams are on a losing path.  It would be one thing if just The New York Giants weren’t playing well, but add to that a dismal record for The New Jersey Devils and the losing season for The New York Mets and we have a houseful of disappointed fans.

We won’t give up on them.  We will keep cheering them on, even when they bring home those losses.  Instead, we will cheer on the amazing moments from the games – like last night’s thrilling catch by Odell Beckham Jr who truly caught one of the most amazing grabs I think I have ever seen.

Yet still, we still watch.  We love the games, we love the players.  I am known for getting mad, angry and shouting at the television when they lose but I have also cried when they have won.  I was at a final game of The Stanley Cup Finals when the Devils pulled off the victory.  When no one expected them to win.  We still believed in them.

Standing by and watching these losses only makes it that much more worthwhile when they win!