Category Archives: Life

When I Wasn’t Looking…


When you’re a parent, you hope for a lot of things for your child. You hope your child will be born healthy. You hope your child will grow up happy. You hope your child will be smart and self-confident. You hope that whatever is thrown their way in life, your child will come out of it on the other side better and stronger because of it. You hope your child will turn out to have a life better than yours. You hope that when your child goes out in the world all of those little lessons you taught him or her stick and they do the right things…especially when you’re not looking. You do the best that you can as a parent, but in the end, you do “hope” a lot.

Today, I got to smile at one of my “hopes” coming back to me.

As I set out to pick my daughter up from her after-care program at school, I texted her and said “On my way. Be there in five minutes. Be ready please”. In return, I got her typical “K” response. (Yes, she still does that to me daily.) When I got there, I could see her on the far side of the room, seated with two other kids, playing a game. When I finally got her attention, she gave me her “just a minute” gesture, and I had to stand there making idle chit-chat with the ladies who run the program. That “just a minute” was more like five minutes, and I could feel myself getting antsy because I had things to do. As she finally gets up from the table, I see her pat the boy she was sitting next to on the back as she says goodbye, but I didn’t think anything of it.

When we get in the car, I say “How come you weren’t ready to go today?”, and then I get the whole story. It turns out that she was seated at the table with a boy she has known since she was three years old, whom she went to preschool with. He has Autism. He is beyond smart, but socially and behaviorally, he struggles.When she was three, she had a hard time understanding him but it didn’t take her long to get it and accept it. He has come an incredibly long way since he was three, and I smile whenever I see him because his progress is quite amazing. The problem is other kids, especially those who don’t really know him, don’t quite “get” him or his outbursts. Luckily, my daughter does…and she has always been his friend.

She tells me that the reason she wasn’t ready is because she was sitting with her friend playing a game. She said that this is what she does every time she goes to aftercare and he is there, so he doesn’t have to sit alone or get picked on by other kids. Then she launches into a mini-tirade about how she hates when other kids tease him, and how she sticks up for him…even if he’s not around. She tells the other kids that they are ridiculous and maybe if they would stop for a second and get to know or understand him or his disability, then they’d be ashamed of how they have treated him. (She also throws in lines like “By the way, he’s super smart. Maybe he’s just too smart for you!” Atta girl!!) She proudly tells me that the other kids are finally starting to leave him alone, especially when she’s with him, and she says it in such a staunch manner that I want to stop the car and hug her as tight as I can. Instead, I pat her on the leg and tell her that I am proud of her for being a good person with a good heart. I tell her that I am proud that she stands up for others, even if it goes against “popular” opinion, because she’s saying what’s “right”…and I drive the rest of the way home with a smile on my face, hiding the tears in my eyes behind my sunglasses.

I have to say, in the past 11 years I have been there to see plenty of things my daughter has done that have made me proud…but one of the things I am most proud of is what she did today and what she has been doing…when I wasn’t looking.

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I Believe…


Believe what you will, but I know what I believe in…that our loved ones who have passed are always around us. I believe it with all that I am, and today reminded me, yet again, of why…

Today Alyssa told me, out of the blue, that she dreams of Rob’s mom. In fact, Rob’s mom came to visit her in her dreams last night. She said it’s the same dream she has always had…that his mother comes to her, hugs her, and tells her that she loves her. Last night she told her to always remember that she always wanted to meet her as well.

Rob’s mother passed away at the age of 44…far too young. We were only 19 years old, so clearly Alyssa never got to meet her. Alyssa has seen a few pictures of her grandmother over the years, but I wouldn’t say that she studied them enough to be able to describe her…but when she sees her in her dreams, like she did last night, she can do just that. When I asked her to describe her grandmother as she saw her, she was able to describe her as perfectly as we remember her….and it made my heart smile and my eyes fill with tears.

We have always said that she watches over us, and especially over Alyssa. She always wanted to have a girl, but was blessed with three wonderful sons instead. When we found out that we were having a daughter, we looked to the sky and thanked her. When we saw Alyssa take her first breath, we thanked her again and knew she was there smiling down on us, and on Alyssa.

Throughout Alyssa’s life, she has always been circled by tiny butterflies that flit all around her…sometimes white, sometimes yellow (which was her grandmother’s favorite color) and it makes us smile. To us, that has always been our sign that Bobbie is with us and watching over our daughter. Even in times when we are alone, those little butterflies will come flitting by us, and we are reminded that she is watching over us…and it brings us a sense of comfort and peace.

The day before Hurricane Sandy, when we were cleaning out our yard, we noticed one lone yellow rose that had bloomed on our rose bush. Yellow roses were her favorite flowers. Rob snipped it off of the bush, brought it inside, and put it in a vase. We knew she was with us and would watch over us….and we believe that she did. That yellow rose stayed hearty for a week, and we silently thanked it everyday when we looked at it sitting in that vase in the middle of our counter. I have yet to take that rose out of the vase. It’s no longer in bloom, but most of the petals are still on it. It’s our symbol of strength…

Today, Rob’s mother would have been 67 years old. We think of her constantly and always say “I wish she could be here to see this or share this with us” but Alyssa’s dream reminded us of what we already know…she is always around us. She may not be with us physically, but she is always here spiritually. She does see our lives, she does see Alyssa growing up, and she, above all, protects us. We’ve have plenty of signs from her over the years, and each and every time, we smile and are thankful for our Guardian Angel.

Happy Birthday Mom. We love you too…

Believe what you will, but I know what I believe in…

We Are JERSEY STRONG!


Hello Everyone. Normally this blog pokes fun at things, but not today. Right now, nothing is funny. I have a feeling this will be a fairly long blog post, but I hope you will read it to the end, because I need to get it out.

I live on the Jersey Shore. To be more specific, I live on the mainland in Ocean County, smack-dab in between Seaside Heights and Long Beach Island…two areas that have been completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. My town has been devastated on the bay front areas, and torn apart in the inland parts of our beautiful town too.

I was very fortunate, and although I am not the most religious person, I have been thanking God for days for sparing me and my family. I live a few blocks from the water, and by what I think is a miracle, the tidal flood stopped about a block from my house. A huge tree fell outside of my house into the street, snapping poles in half like wafers, and pulling lines down everywhere. Miraculously, my house was completely unscathed. I don’t know how it’s possible, but I do know that we were incredibly lucky.

For those of you reading this who are not from New Jersey, I know you have seen the pictures on the news of the destruction here. I’m sure you cringe or just stare at them in disbelief. You can multiply that feeling by a million, for those of us who live here and grew up frequenting the beaches and boardwalks, or spending lazy days on the Barnegat Bay on our boats see it in magnification. We stare at the destruction and envision our childhoods, our liveliness, and everything we have ever known, knowing what it used to look like, in comparison to now.

I am a teacher at the high school that the students of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, as well as other destroyed waterfront communities attend. Some of my friends, my co-workers, and my students have lost everything. When we go back to school, my job will be a thousand times harder than it ever was. Algebra suddenly becomes highly unimportant. Letting them come in and talk it out will be the education they will receive, because it is what they will need most. I keep trying to figure out what I will even say to them. What can I say to a teenager who has lost everything? I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that I will have the strength to give them whatever support they need when they walk into my classroom, starting with big, tight hugs, mixed with tears. I will hide my broken heart. Theirs is broken more than mine.

My power was restored last night, and I have never been so thankful for electricity in my life. Unfortunately, my neighbors here and so many others in my town and the surrounding areas are still living in darkness. I felt a twinge of guilt flipping on the coffee maker this morning, knowing others wish that’s how their day was starting today. I cried (again) when I put my steaming cup of coffee on the counter and stared at it, because the tiniest things now bring big emotions with them.

I will probably never feel the same about complete darkness. I will never forget what it felt like to stare into that darkness in the height of the storm, literally wrapped around my daughter on the living room floor and praying for safety as the storm came whipping through. The sound of the lashing winds is something I hope you never know, and it is something I will never forget.

My husband is a police officer here. He was out in that storm, and has been out every night since, working to help and protect the people of this ravaged town. I had no way to contact him during the storm because everyone’s cell phones failed, and words cannot describe the terror I felt inside about that. How would he know if we needed him? How would I know that he was alright? I never want to know that feeling again.

Speaking of cell phones, we all learned quickly here just how dependent we are on them, as well as what it’s like to pray for bars to be on the screen. Service was incredibly sporadic, and getting a text or hearing someone’s voice for a second was like getting the Christmas present you wished for as a child. At least you knew others were alright, even if just for a mere second, but then it would go dead again, and your stomach would knot right back up. I will say that the amount of people that care about you becomes quickly apparent, and sometimes from places that you wouldn’t expect. I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life that love me.

Facebook, when I could finally get it on my phone yesterday, has been an amazing tool. I was able to see that my friends were “ok” (a term I use very loosely right now), and I was able to get my first look at the damage here via pictures. I thought I knew what I would see because I had listened to the radio in my car for days, but there was no preparing myself for that in actuality. I stared in disbelief, and then sobbed looking at those pictures. It was beyond the realm of my imagination, and truthfully it still is. Our beloved Jersey Shore was demolished. Seeing it with my own eyes made the nightmare a fact, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. We all say the same thing here, after we get our first look at the pictures for ourselves. (BTW, if you are on Facebook, please like the following page: Jersey Shore Hurricane News. It has been in existence since Hurricane Irene came through last year, and is absolutely amazing. The guys that run this do it for free and are like heroes to all of us. We all use it here for information year round, and it will give you the reality of what it is to be here, more than I ever could. It also has great information about making donations to those who need it most. Just be careful to read thoroughly and use some common sense.)

I could continue to go on about what I experienced, but I won’t. My personal experiences are nothing compared to those around me here. Really what I want you to know most is this:

We live at the Jersey Shore, but we are nothing like “The Jersey Shore” that you see on MTV. We are people that are kind, yet as tough as nails! We are people who always stand together as one in the face of adversity. We huddle up like no others can, and take care of each other. Despite the fact that there are reports of looting and crime, that’s NOT who 99% of us are. We are people who will help one another in a time of need, without exception. Even with our own lives in tatters, we are people who help our neighbors. There is no “I” in team, and we all know it. We are standing amid destruction right now, but we see can see past it. We might currently be knocked down, but we are people that always get back up. We will rebuild this area and our lives. We will never forget what Sandy has done to us, but we will come out of this on the other side, better than ever and as one. Believe it.

We are JERSEY STRONG.

The Versatile Blogger Award!!! Thank You! Thank You!


Today I logged onto my blog and had a message from A Prairie Godmother telling me that she had nominated me for the “Versatile Blogger Award”! Well, thank you very much for that honor! I’m excited because it means that someone besides my Facebook friends actually have taken a second to read my blog! Yay!!! Plus I get to display the awesome badge on my blog to let everyone know that someone actually likes me! Double Yay!

Now onto the good stuff:
The Rules:

1] Display the award logo on your post.

Done!! It’s on display for all to see! 🙂

2] Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog–

Thanks Cathy from A Prairie Godmother!!! Any woman who loves pulled pork and banana bread is a-ok in my book! Be sure to check her blog out! It’s good stuff!

3] Share 7 things about myself:

1. I am a Special Education Algebra teacher…which is an ironic twist of fate because it is the one subject I failed miserably in school myself. (If only I could track down my old Algebra teacher, who tortured me, to tell her how I turned out in life! That evil witch!)

2. Speaking of teaching, I consider my job a blessing. I get to do what I love every day with some seriously great people! When I retire I am going to write a book about it, and it’s going to be a doozy. All names will be changed to protect the (not-so) innocent, I promise.

3. I am a sports fanatic…especially when it comes to the Yankees and football. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t love watching a good game. Thanks to my dad for teaching me that!

4. I have a sick obsession with obituaries. I scour the paper everyday for funny ones. It’s just what I do.

5. I write like I speak…well, except for the colorful language that I tend to use in real life. Some of those phrases wouldn’t be appropriate for my blog. I think them in my head when I’m typing though.

6. I notice everything ridiculous and mentally log it for later. It’s the kind of stuff that makes my day.

7. I am dying to get “Freshly Pressed” on the main WordPress page. C’mon WordPress! What’s a girl gotta do to get “Freshly Pressed” around here??? Can’t you read my blog and pick me…just one time?!?! Seriously, that would be AWESOME! Sigh…maybe someday.

4] Pass the award to 15 nominees–

OK – I have to admit that I do not have 15 blogs to list..but I do have 10 that I like….especially if they have made me laugh. Take a second and check them out.
1. The Man of the Minivan. Really funny!
2. Twostepcub.blogspot.com. Nobody knows music like Ernie does. Trust me.
3. Woah, Baby!Motherhood at its funniest!
4. Tri Fatherhood
5. Angry Long Island White Guy Just found this blog, and love it! Totally my kind of humor!
6. Becoming Cliche
7. The Insanity of Motherhood
8. Whatever Works
9. The Byronic Man
10. The Time is Write

5. Contact each nominee and tell them of their big honor!
Done! Congratulations to my choices!

Well, there it is. My biggest WordPress achievement! Whew…that took a while to do, but was totally worth it! Thank you again A Prairie Godmother! You made my day!

OMG – Stop Texting Me!!!


Last week we got our 10 1/2 year old daughter a cell phone. (If you don’t say the 1/2 part, she gets really mad!) Thanks to that, I now want to throw MY cell phone through a wall. Not because I am jealous that she has a better phone than I do…even though she does..damn you great deal when you add a new line…but because she texts me non-stop. That child texts me so much that I cringe when I hear my phone go off, and I had to give her a separate text alert sound so I could differentiate between her and my friends, who might actually have something important to tell me…as opposed to her.

Now before you start rolling your eyes and thinking “Why would you get your 10 1/2 year old a cell phone?”, let me explain. We did not just hand her a phone for no reason. She had to completely earn it. We made a deal with her back in September: She had to get straight A’s for the entire year, and she had to show responsibility by not misplacing her I-Pod at all. (Plus she is getting to that age where she isn’t at my side all the time, so it’s handy.) She kept up her end of the deal, so we kept up ours….and now it is coming back to haunt me…just about every 5-10 minutes of my life.

Here are some examples of what I get to read when I hear that ominous tone chime on my phone:

*Mom, thank u for getting me a phone. I ❤ U!!!xoxo Ok – This was her very 1st text to me, so it made me smile. After that it all went downhill…fast. (By the way, her very first actual call HAD TO be to her father. Of course it did. Sigh.)

*Mom, I need my hula hoop right now! This gem came a mere 10 minutes after I dropped her off at school…even though I had just asked her before we left if she was going to need said hula hoop…and she said no.

* Where r u? I get this constantly. I usually get this 2-3 times while I am driving to pick her up at her friend’s house. (Thank God for text to talk!) More often than not though, the answer is “downstairs”. We don’t live in a mansion, so I don’t know how she thinks she will lose me in “the other wing of the house”, but whatever.

* I am almost there! Wow, am I glad she only had her phone for the last 3 days of school, because this is the text I got for the entire bus ride home. Literally stop by stop! It’s her little version of the play-by-play of her life. Meanwhile, I was already sitting at the bus-stop for like 10 minutes.

*This movie is great! U have to see it! I’ll go again, and not spoil it for u. Promise! 🙂 She sent me this when she went to see Madagascar 3 yesterday. I told her she wasn’t supposed to use her phone in the theater, but the movie was SO GOOD that I just HAD TO know.

* Hi!!! Just another reason to use her phone. She has said “Hi!!” to me more in the past week than she has in perhaps her entire existence on this planet. If I had $1 for every “Hi!!!” I’ve gotten, I could probably buy myself something pretty decent.

*What r u doing? Maybe she thinks I’m doing something spectacular when I am not within her field of vision. I’m not. I really want to answer “Cringing because I just heard that friggin’ chime go off AGAIN!”, but I just answer with “Nothing. Just waiting for a text from you! :)” I always have to follow that up with “What r u doing?” and she usually replies, “Nothing. Just texting you!” Sometimes she puts cute little hearts in there too, which makes it impossible to get mad at. She’s a smart cookie.

* K. This is where I had to speak to her. My daughter LOVES to send the answer “K” to my responses. When she asks me anything and I respond, this is what I get back in return…whether it applies or not. She was even responding “K” to my “K”. I had to explain to her that when I say “K”, she does not need to respond with “K”. It means “I got it and the conversation is over on my end!”…therefore she does NOT need to let me know that she too is done responding! She’s not really listening to me on that one yet. Maybe if I text it to her, she’ll get it.

Aside from her numerous texts, I also get lots of pictures that she takes…like close ups of my dog’s nose with “Isn’t he the cutest???” written under it…or pictures of her toes correctly labeled “My Toes!!!! :)” God Bless this child and her new phone. I don’t know how she has lived this long without it, or how I have made it through my days without Instagram pictures from my own little Ansel Adams.

What I do know is her getting a cell phone is just another little piece of her “little girl-ness” evaporating. I think starting today, I will smile everytime that ominous chime goes off on my phone, because before I know it texting her friends will be a thousand times more fun than texting her mom is… and thought of that makes me cringe more than hearing that text alert tone ever will.

Thank You


Thank you…two simple words that are easy to say and mean so much.

This Memorial Day weekend, I came across veterans sitting in front of the Wawa collecting for disabled vets. I have NEVER in my life passed by those men without making a donation, even if I have gone into the store on multiple occasions over the course of the weekend. In fact, I have amassed quite a few poppies over the past few days thanks to them. Aside from always donating, I always make sure I look those men in the eyes and say “Thank you for your service”. If you have never done that when donating, you really need to. Those men appreciate a thank you just as much, if not more than the donation itself. It always makes them smile and sometimes even makes them teary eyed. They deserve every single thank you that they get, and then some if you ask me. When I see people walk by them like they are invisible, it actually disgusts me. If you don’t have any money to donate, a simple thank you is what they deserve at the very least.

Also this weekend, the volunteer firemen were doing their drive by fundraiser by standing at the entrance of the Shop Rite parking lot. On my way out, I stopped to make a donation and thanked the man for his volunteer service. He actually did a double take, smiled, and thanked me for saying that. He said no one had ever said to him before. As I pulled away, I was pretty shocked. How could no one have ever said thank you to him before? That bothered me, as did the many cars that drove right by him without making a small donation. My father was a paid fireman in North Jersey. I hope people stopped to thank him once in a while for what he did for them.(I’m going to have to ask him about that!)

Today on the way to my parents house, we drove past a coin toss for a different volunteer fire company. My daughter had never seen that before, but happily scooped out a bunch of change I had in the car. I slowed almost to a stop so she could throw it out the window at the target. The firemen all smiled, waved, and yelled thank you to us. As I drove away, my daughter remarked how happy the firemen seemed that we donated, and smiled at how they had so heartily thanked us…then noted that no one else had slowed down and done the same….and it bothered her too. On the way home we passed them again, and once again I slowed down so she could throw a big handful of change at the other target. This time they beeped the fire truck horn at us, smiled, and yelled thank you. Sadly, again she noted that no one else had slowed down and thrown their change. She said she hoped that we weren’t the only people that participated in the coin toss, because in her words, “It’s just not right.” I assured her that we weren’t but she didn’t seem very convinced that too many other people had tossed some coins, despite the signs preceding it for about a mile.

If I have taught my daughter anything in life, it is the value of “thank you”. Every time she sees a veteran collecting or anyone in a military uniform, she thanks them for their service. When she sees the firemen or ambulance squad doing their fundraising, she always says thank you for volunteering as she makes her donation too. I’ve taught her that anyone who makes a sacrifice for others should hear a thank you from the public. It’s a shame when a 10 year old knows better than the adults she sees around her…but I am pleased that she notices it and points out that it’s wrong. Tomorrow she is excited to go to the Memorial Day parade in town, so she can wave at the veterans and give thanks to them. I hope there is a decent crowd on hand, for her sake and theirs. It’s a sign of respect these men and women deserve, but often don’t receive enough.

To all of the men and women who currently serve or have served this country, I wholeheartedly say THANK YOU for your sacrifice. (Thank you to the Police Officers, Firemen, and EMTS too!) My daughter and I appreciate your service.

Thank you…two simple words that are easy to say and mean so much.

Don’t forget to use them as often as possible. Those two simple words matter.

How Will You Challenge Yourself Today?


Claire Lomas-26.2 Miles, 16 Days, 100% Inspirational!

Claire Lomas-26.2 Miles, 16 Days, 100% Inspirational!

Can’t. My least favorite word. I ban the word both in my classroom and in my life. I prefer “I just haven’t yet!”, because that is the truth! Sometimes a task may seem arduous, but when you put can’t in front of the task, you might as well just say you won’t because that will be the end result! Can’t is a mindset, pure and simple.

This morning I heard about Claire Lomas, and her story brought tears to my eyes. Claire was paralyzed from the chest down as a result of a horse riding accident five years ago. Two days ago, she completed the London Marathon in a Bionic Suit, when she crossed the finish line 16 days after the race started. The ReWalk suit, enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk and climb stairs through motion sensors and an onboard computer system. By shifting her balance, the suit mimics the response her joints would have if they were not paralyzed. She walked 2 miles a day being cheered on by her husband and 13 month old daughter who toddled beside her.

Claire will not appear in the official results and did not receive a medal when she finished as competitors have to complete the course on the day of the race to receive one…but that’s alright because what she did receive was much better…There were hundreds of people that showed up at the finish line to cheer her through the tape, and over a dozen runners gave their medals to her in tribute to what she had accomplished. She also raised $111,346.86 for a charity which funds research to develop treatments for paralysis caused by a broken back or neck.

When asked about her training she said “There were times when I questioned if I would make it when I was training. Once I started , I just took each day as it came and every step got me a step closer.”.

Did you notice that she never said can’t? I did!

Claire Lomas is my new hero. She did something truly amazing…because she could!

Maybe the next time you feel the need to say that you can’t, you should remember Claire Lomas.

So, how will you challenge yourself today?

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***PS – There is now a Facebook page called “Claire Lomas. Give Her a Medal”. Please go “like” it. The organizers of the London Marathon really need to reconsider!!!

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