Monthly Archives: December 2014

I Resolve To…


I have had a difficult time coming up with a New Year’s Resolution this year.  I have been thinking about it for over a week. Sure, I’d like to get rid of those last five pounds, live a healthier life style…all the typical resolutions but I wanted to do something different this year.  I am afraid to actually write them down because then I feel like I am completely tied to carrying it out and when I don’t I will feel guilty about it, (yes…this is one of those things that should be my resolution….to stop feeling blame/guilt about everything I don’t get done.)

I found this “challenge” on line and thought it just might work in perfectly with my blog AND my new camera and perhaps teach me some new things about photography in the process.  Each month, a new challenge is listed.  I love that Katrina, the author of the blog, knows that this might be hard to do, so she offers suggestions on how to make it work for you! It can be as simple as a weekly challenge, using the prompts written in bold or a daily challenge.

365 photo

I loved her “philosophy” about the photos so I have added some of it here because a lot of it applies to my way of thinking too.

I will take duplicate photos. I will repeat some of the photos from last year, but nothing will really be the same. It is a new year. I am different. The items and angles and moments and memory surrounding them will be different.

I will have some bad photos. Without a doubt I will have days with blurry photos, underexposed photos, and photos I don’t care that much about. They reflect life. As my life is not always perfect or balanced, neither will my photos be.

I will have a couple of photos that stand out from the rest. They will be the photos that shine. They will be the photos I place on my walls in frames and print for family. I’ll be happy if I have two that fit this description. That is the way this project works for me.

I will contemplate quitting somewhere along the way. I can expect to feel that urge toward the end of January when the newness has worn off a bit and we get back to the daily grind of life. I might want to give up again in July when the light is bright in the middle of the day. October, typically my busiest month of the year, will be difficult as well.

My photography will improve. I’ll learn something more about my camera, about exposure, about composition. I’ll see something in a way I didn’t before. My photos will get better. In small amounts, but they will improve.

My thought is that if I am going to continue to write everyday anyway, on those days that I am stuck, maybe the photo and prompt will give me inspiration.  Maybe my photo will have nothing to do with what I am writing…will it still work? Does it matter?  There are really no rules for my blog.  What started out as a blog about kindness has really morphed into something else already so let’s see where it takes me in 2105!

Yearly Wrap Up

abe lincoln

Two years.  730 posts. Over 118,000 views. As I looked back on my second year of blogging, I went through it month by month and realized just how uneventful and mundane a lot of it really was.  Yet, people are still reading it.  More than once I thought of stopping.  Next year should be a more interesting one.  DJ will be going to college – a totally new adventure!  There should be a lot more to write about.

2013 was a difficult year for us with all of the heartbreak and loss in our family.  2014 was less eventful.  A good thing! This blog has allowed me the opportunity to look back though.  It reminds me of all of those little things that make up our lives.

So….my 2014 year in review…

I think what I wrote most often about this year was SNOW!  There was so much of it.  One of the snowiest winters on record.  I lost count of how many times I wrote about snow in January and February! We went over our allotted snow days for school and even had to give back days during Spring Break.  It will be nice to get a break from all of that snow this winter!  One or two snow days are perfect!

I was so proud of our school community after another successful Food Drive and Pajama Drive and it has only made me want to do more!

We quietly “celebrated” and remembered mom and Francine on their one year anniversaries.  I have heard that the first year without our loved ones is the most difficult.  All of the “firsts” go by without them.  It does seem to be getting easier though.

We got to go away in April! Something we hadn’t done in a long time.  Hilton Head was the perfect Spring Break getaway for us!

For Mother’s Day, in memory of my mom, I got a tattoo of a duck on my wrist.  A way to remember her every time I see it!

DJ got his drivers license – and I have to admit, it has made life easier in some respects!!  We spent a lot of time together exploring colleges!

The toughest part of 2014 was the amount of time my dad spent in the hospital.  Too many days to recap here, but May 21st began his ordeal.  After a diagnosis of a Urinary tract infection that led to sepsis, he wound up being in the hospital and then a rehab center for over four weeks.  Then, a relapse and back in the hospital for about a week in September.  Fortunately, other than his bad knees, he is doing much better.

This summer, I was able to meet up with the woman who inspired me to become a teacher.  Miss Lampros, my 4th grade teacher.

We also had a lot to celebrate this year. I was fortunate to attend two weddings this year, Both of them are coworkers of mine. Stefanie’s in March and Jonathan‘s in August.  My grandmother turned 99 in September and we celebrated all summer with visits from our cousins from Nevada.

Our year was filled with sports.  Soccer, baseball, football, hockey, mudruns….games we played, games we watched….our lives wouldn’t be complete without sports!

Overall, it was a good year. Recapping it on the last day of a year is good for me.  A way to reflect on the past.

Next year, I will try to keep it on writing.  I have thought about different directions to take the blog.  A fun photo challenge has inspired me and I am working on a way to incorporate it into the blog. A lot happens in 365 days so only time will tell!

Past, Present and Future…

past present future

This morning, my friend Lisa shared this on her Facebook page,

Monday Mood Makeover. This is the only week in the entire year that we will live in two separate years. What a great backdrop for embracing where we are and looking forward to who we will become. In this one week we get to be in both places. That’s super cool.

It was so thought provoking, I tried to find some quotes about it.  I found a few:

present is a present present past

Such a great way to think about life. Embracing the past and anticipating the future, yet living in the present.  We all learn from our past.  We are motivated to be better human beings.  A better friend, a better spouse, a better parent,  better at our job….the list can go on and on.

Someone commented on her post and I think it is something I could work on.  Perhaps my New Year’s Resolution!?!  She wrote,

Not sure why, but I never thought of it that way! 2 yrs, 1 week. I’m attempting to be more in the present, when I’m with someone, I’m talking and listening to them…trying to keep my mind from racing forward (or backwards.)

I am so guilty of this.  My mind is always racing.  Always going on to the next thing before I have finished with what I am doing.  So, I will try to be more in the present.  More in the now.  Time goes too fast already.  Why rush it?

Shine a Light Challenge

shine bright

Tonight I am spreading the word to help raise funds for The American Brain Tumor Association.  A well known community member from our town, Angelo Vayas, has been stricken with Glioblastoma Multiforme, a rare form of brain cancer.

After the huge success of The ALS Ice Bucket challenge, which brought awareness and millions of dollars to help fight ALS, Angelo’s wife Mary wanted to do something similar for brain cancer. Angelo and Mary were high school sweet hearts and have been together for over thirty years.  Their story was recently featured on an episode of Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz said he wanted to shine a light on love, so he took a selfie with a light bulb on top of his head. He said he wanted everyone at home to take a selfie of themselves with a light bulb and tag three friends. He wanted people to understand the power of love and raise awareness about GBM.

Then Dr. Oz passed out lightbulbs to the audience, so they could take the selfies, too.

Now it is your turn. Take a selfie with a lightbulb on your head, make sure to tag it #SHINEALIGHTCHALLENGE then challenge others to do the same.

To find out more about this cause or to make a donation to help fund research, visit


Colossians 3:12-21


Today’s reading at mass, is one of the ones the makes me cringe.  One of the ones that makes me wonder why I still go….

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands as is proper in the Lord. Husbands love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.  Children obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children so that they may not become discouraged.

As the lectern read those first words, I heard the couple behind me snicker. If Dave had been at mass, I am sure he’d have given me a knowing look as well.  I sat there…stewing…like I always do during this particular reading….and I wondered how Father Mitch would approach it in his homily, or if he would.

He started off by telling us that when he was a child, during this reading, his father would always nudge his mother during that line and she in turn would do the same to him when told to love her.  He said the children would laugh and smile at their parents when told to obey and not be provoked.

It made me happy to hear that even back when he was a child, (he is probably close to my dad’s age) people thought similarly as I do today.

He took this reading and he related it to the church as a whole.  Not necessarily as a husband/wife/child relationship, but as Catholics to their church.  Trust, love and belief in one another.  Loving and respecting our neighbors and genuine faith in humanity.

Hearing his interpretation of it, gave me a different perspective on this “dated” reading and that made me feel more gratified.  Thank you Father Mitch.

Many Happy Returns

christmas is forever

The day after Christmas! One of the biggest shopping days of the year.  This year, we were lucky.  The only thing I needed to “return” was the plush robe Dave bought me.  I think he was tired of my old, beat up one that I have been using for years!

The robe he got me was perfect.  Great color, perfect fit BUT the salesperson left the security tag on it so I couldn’t get it off without braving Macy’s.  Fortunately there is a stand alone Macy’s just as close as the mall so I didn’t have to brave the crowds in the mall during the craziness of today.  One fairly short line, the security device was removed and I was done.

It was actually quite nice.  Everyone I encountered was in a good mood.  Someone held the door for me, I was wished a Merry Christmas a bunch of times and the holiday spirit was still in full swing.

Too bad the merriment of the holidays can’t be something we see all year long.

How the Angel Got On Top of the Christmas Tree

angel on tree

A funny post for tonight: My mom always loved to tell this story on Christmas so I am sharing it in memory of her 🙂 It is not an original, but has been passed down for years….and it always changed a little bit each time.

How the Angel Got on Top of the Christmas Tree

It was Christmas Eve and Santa was getting ready for his trip around the world but there were problems popping up everywhere.  The elves were on strike, leaving Santa to pack his own sleigh.  He dropped his bag of toys as he got on the sleigh and the toys scattered everywhere!  Mrs. Claus had been nagging him all day.  The few reindeer that weren’t sick, weren’t hitched up to the sleigh properly and they took off with out him! To top it all off, he spilled his eggnog all over his red suit.

Just then, there was a knock on his door. Standing there was a sweet little angel holding the great big tree. In her most cheerful voice she said, “Santa, isn’t it the most lovely day? I have the tree for you!  Where would you like me to stick it?”

….and thus began the tradition of the angel on top of the tree!

And we have had one on top of our tree for as long as I can remember!!


The Most Wonderful Night of the Year

christmas eve quote

It has arrived! My favorite day of the year! Christmas Eve. Everyone knows how important family is to me and tonight, 25 or so of us will be together at Grammy’s house celebrating.  We will eat our traditional Italian Fish dinner but only after we devour the mounds of Italian cold cuts and appetizers from Mia Familigia, our favorite Italian deli. Prosciutto, capicola, mortadella, spicy and sweet dried Italian sausages, olives, fresh chunks of sharp Parmesan cheese, mozzarella balls and Gram’s famous roasted red peppers. Blue cheese stuffed olives, garlic bread, shrimp cocktail, black wrinkly Greek olives, Clams Oreganata, Pearl Onions, Shrimp Ceviche, Calamari Salad…the food never seems to run out! We can’t forget the pickled herring in honor of the Jewish side of the family!

Then comes the fish dinner.  Lobster Sauce, Clam Sauce, lobster tails and mussels marinara all served with pasta of course!

After dinner, there is a quick clean up in anticipation of Santa’s arrival!  Once he gets there, the presents are handed out one by one to every guest.  Santa visits for about a half an hour.  Our grab bag, which includes all of the adults begins.  The kids are opening gifts continuously.  We have an unwritten rule, that everyone has to see what each person unwraps.  It makes it so much more fun that way and we can see the thought that was put into each present.  We usually have a theme with our grab bags and we try to change it each year to “spice things up.”  One year, you chose the name of a person and had to buy them a gift that had the same initials as their name, so Claire Sinclair could receive a Cashmere Sweater.

Another year, we picked a name and a magazine title and had to buy a gift that went along with the magazine….so my girly-girl cousin Jody was chosen along with the magazine, Popular Mechanics. My other cousin Lisa, who had chosen her, bought her a tool belt and filled it with make up and beauty supplies.  Our family gets pretty creative – another reason I love this day so much.

This year, we tried to keep it simple for everyone and get them something they needed.  Everyone created an Amazon Wish List and we just bought something off their lists.  A more practical year.  Maybe next year we will get creative again.

The festivities begin with us going to Mass, a quick drive over to Gram’s…then dinner will begin!

Cooking With Gram


Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  The day we get together and cook Christmas Eve dinner.  We get all of the sauces done; lobster sauce, clam sauce and mussels marinara.  This year, my cousin Lisa and I documented the whole process through photos.  We are going to put it together with all of the recipes into a cookbook.

Our family has been making the same recipes since before I was born, although throughout the years, some recipes have been tweaked and some deleted, (like the scuingilli – which is not a favorite of mine.)  We are still going to include all the recipes – especially the old ones.  We can’t find any that are written in our Gram’s handwriting but we are doing our best to authenticate them.

Even my grandma was helping out today, taste testing everything for us 🙂 I am not sure when she began making this feast.  She is celebrating her 100th Christmas this year! We can only hope to have her longevity.

Tomorrow, my aunt will go back to Gram’s house and start warming everything up while we go to Christmas Eve Mass.  Then the feast will commence!  Christmas Eve is my MOST favorite night of the year! I am like a little kid when it comes to waiting! 24 hours from now!! The count down begins!

A Heart Warming Gift

kindness grows the spirit

This afternoon, we had a small holiday party in my class.  We have been celebrating the holidays all month long and learning about all sorts of December traditions. Parents and grandparents have been coming into our class and sharing ways that their families celebrate the holidays.  It has been a great way to learn about each other.

Today’s party was just a winter celebration.  We had hot cocoa with marshmallows and candy canes.  My class gave me a beautiful gift.  Each one of them had written a page of a book called, “Acts of Kindness in Honor of Mrs. Sinclair.”  Over the last few weeks, each of them had done something kind for someone, illustrated it and put it together in this special book.

This is one of those gifts that I will treasure.  It will have a special place in my classroom but hold an even more special place in my heart. I am so grateful.