Beach Day !

Yesterday Samantha and I met my mom and my nephew at a really nice, sweet beach town in south Jersey. It took Samantha and I about an hour to get there from where we live. But that’s ok we got there, found parking, met up with my Mom and Jacob and all was well.

Samantha is a fish in the water man! She only came out of the ocean to eat and to tell me she wanted me to go in the water with her. I had to go get her out of the water when the lifeguards were ready to pack it in for the day. Even then she didn’t want to get out. Samantha definitely gets that attribute from Tommy. I’m more of a spectator of the water preferring to only go waist deep. The water was beautiful though. I love the ocean and the beach in general. It’s like a mini vacation/escape for me when I’m at the beach. To sit there and people watch and listen to the waves hit the shore is pure bliss.

In between going in the water with Samantha, I did manage to sit in the sun for quite a while and chat with my mom. I also managed to get a sunburn even though I used sunscreen, you can definitely tell the places that I missed or didn’t reapply.

Chatting with my mom was the best though. I really enjoy her company. My mom and I are pretty close and I love that we have a great relationship. She’s always been one I can talk to, even growing up. She was never unapproachable and always honest with me. Since my dad died almost 5 months ago I treasure our relationship even more. I even get nervous some days that “ something” will happen to her. So I don’t take our relationship for granted.

I find it hard to believe it’s only been 5 months since daddy was called home. In some ways it feels like it’s been longer. But then again some days it’s like he was just here yesterday.

Sitting under our rented green Ocean Grove umbrella we were reminded of last summer when we managed to get my dad to come to the beach; he was not a “beach person”.  When we met up together on the boardwalk we were wondering how we were going to get him and his walker down to a spot on the sand. Seemingly out of nowhere this young guy asked us if we needed a wheelchair and he motioned towards this beach wheelchair with huge wheels that could conquer riding on the sand. Of course we said yes and my dad was pushed in the wheelchair down the beach to our spot and we set him up under the umbrella. It was nice to spend that time with him. I’m glad to have that memory.

Here’s to more beach days and less sunburn!



















The Max Challenge

9B5936EB-D325-43D3-9731-B3F7DAF17282.jpegOn April 5th of this year I joined a fitness program called The Max Challenge ( The exercise component is 5 days a week for 45 minutes. There is also a nutrition program to follow, I won’t say it’s a “diet” but more of a lifestyle change to one’s eating habits. I’ve been dairy and sugar free; except for fruit and the occasional dark chocolate; for about 12 weeks now.

It wasn’t an easy change at all. In the beginning of my first 10 week challenge I hated the way I looked and would practically force myself to go to the gym and exercise. I hadn’t exercised at all in a million years. After a while it became routine and I began to look forward to going to the gym. The change in my eating habits became easier to adjust to as well.

I have great support people all around me, my husband and kids at home, one of the teachers I work with who had already completed 2 challenges (and looks amazing~ Vanessa), my mom who decided to do her own challenge, and there’s also the people I met at the Max gym. Everyone is very encouraging. When you start going to the gym for an organized exercise class you worry that you’re being looked at or watched. Not so at the Max. Everyone is so busy trying to do their personal best they could care less about what you’re doing. It is great and very freeing.

So far I’ve lost 20 pounds and I want to lose more.. I shock myself to say that I’ve lost 20 pounds. It’s also quite sobering that I’ve been that heavy. I’m short at 5’2”, there isn’t anywhere to hide a substantial weight gain.

I became very comfortable in wearing big flowy tops and shirts. I watched my jeans size go up and up. I loathed it, every part of being heavy. My husband was wonderful and always told me I looked beautiful, I didn’t believe him. I did not like my picture taken.

The Max Challenge changed everything. I’m so glad I made that phone call and talked to Vanessa at work. I forced myself to confront my weight and the fact that I wasn’t eating the right foods. The picture I’ve included shows my “before” taken  the first week of the challenge. I was not a happy camper and did NOT want my picture taken.  My “after” photo was taken during week 10, the end of the challenge.

I look forward to my next “after “ picture in 10 weeks.



Working the Summer

The school I work at is a 12 month program, meaning they have school year round. I remember when Thomas attended this school they took a lot of day trips during the summer and it was more like educational day camp rather than traditional school. I don’t know if it’s still like that or if it depends on the teacher. I’ll find out.

We are given a choice of whether or not we want to work over the summer. My older girls will be busy working or hanging out with their friends and Samantha was chosen by lottery to participate in a “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) program run by and free of charge by the board of education. So it’s a win win situation.

I’m looking forward to working the summer. I already know the students and the staff. My decision was an easy one to make.  Plus the summer session ends August 14th I believe, so that still leaves me just over 2 weeks off from work in the summer. I’m cool with that. I’m glad my co worker nurse Tom is working too. We get along quite well and share a lot of laughs, it’s a pleasant environment in our office. In addition to the students who stop by for a bandaid, temperature check or simply for attention we get staff who stop by to just say hello and it’s really nice.

I’m still in awe of God’s plan to have me work at this school, here in my borough; 15 minutes from my house. I love the way God works. It’s all so perfect in all so perfect timing. There are days I wonder what it would have been like to work in Manhattan. Until I was offered the position here, I was ok with commuting and being in the city everyday. To be honest when I was first told the principal wanted me to work here I did hesitate for a minute. Wondering if I would want to work here and not in Manhattan. I quickly realized what was falling right in my lap and of course accepted the offer.

So this summer should be nice. I already enjoy coming to work for the past 7 months, I’m sure the 6 weeks of summer program will be just as rewarding.




Parenting and Time

I just read on my sister’s Facebook wall, in regard to parenting, “The days are long and the years are short”. It got me thinking my gosh that’s so true! I remember when Thomas was young, like 3-4 yrs old, he was off the wall behavior wise and whenever he was home from school the days just dragged and dragged. Tommy was working overtime; a lot and it seemed I never knew what to do with him or how to keep him busy or how to avoid a 30 minute tantrum.

I enjoy him so much more today as a young adult. But getting here was anything but easy. Twice we had no choice but to go the residential school route. If there’s anything I could change about Thomas’ childhood it would be that we wouldn’t have had to place him in a school so far from home. Both residential schools were in Yonkers NY. In fact Thomas’ last school was a 10 minute drive from the first residential  school he attended. Small world I tell you. Both schools were excellent, both had wonderful, caring staff. I don’t think we could have hand picked staff as awesome. God is so good. He gave us and Thomas exactly what we needed exactly at the time we needed. His grace was amazing. I can say that now in retrospect. At the time it was painful to be in that season of our lives. But we got through it, twice.

I honestly don’t miss the days when my kids were young, like under the age of 10. Even regarding my girls I don’t miss it and for the most part they were just typical kids with the most typical childhood we could give them. Samantha is bringing up the rear in terms of growing up. She’ll be 12 years old this August and I’m amazed at how fast the past 12 years have gone for all of us. Daniella was 5, Alyssa was 8 and Thomas 10 when Samantha was born. I remember my friend Jenn saying that Thomas would be 20 when Samantha turned 10.  Now she’s 11 and he’s 21. Amazing I tell you.

I know I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating; I really do enjoy the company of my kids at the ages they are now, all of them. Samantha is much more independent than her sisters were at her age. She’ll think nothing of getting on her bicycle and riding around the corner to the playground by herself. She still likes it when I come to the park with her but it’s nice that she will entertain herself. I’ve become spoiled I guess.

It’s nice to have the conversations that we do. Alyssa and Lelly are not ones to hide their feelings and are very honest and forthcoming with me. I love that about them. I also love that they are young adults. They listen to me (at least I think they do) and we can laugh about life together.

Even the time I spend with Thomas these days is pleasant. He’s a really nice person and I’d say that even if he weren’t my son. I don’t think about the past when we’re together. Sometimes he’ll bring up the staff and students from his last school and how much he misses them. That’s so “normal” I embrace those times with him. There’s are times like this morning when I went to drop off money for him to go out with the guys that I just hug him. He’s very warm my Thomas and always hugs back. He’s very warm my Thomas.

“The days are long but the years are short.” So so true.



Tough subject. Forgiveness. I remember when I was my younger I didn’t really know the meaning of forgiveness. In those days I thought it meant that if someone wronged me no matter how big or small; if I “forgave” them I was saying all was well and that person “got away” with whatever they did to me. I know now that is not the meaning of forgiveness.

One definition of forgive I found is from Webster, “Forgive definition is – to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon”. To cease to feel resentment…  Wow what a gift you would give to yourself to forgive someone who had done wrong to you! It’s all about you and not about “them”. I think that’s what makes it so hard. To let something go that hurt you so bad or did damage.

I think of Jesus and. He forgave the people who called for his death by crucifixion. He was betrayed, beaten, denied,  mocked, you name it; our Lord and Savior has been through it. Yet He forgave and still forgives us our daily sins. It is only through His righteousness that we are able to have a relationship with The Father.

Being wronged can hurt so deep you don’t  think it is possible to feel emotional pain on that level. After the dust settles you’re no longer hurt but angry. And until you forgive, that anger becomes consuming. And it eats at you. You give that person free reign to live in your head and take control of your thoughts which undoubtedly revert to that person and how angry you are at them. It becomes a viscous cycle.

It is so so difficult to come to the place of forgiveness. It’s also so so worth it when you do finally let go of the anger for your own sake; not theirs. I’ve forgiven people and no longer have that person in my life. I don’t wish them harm. I wish them a life separate than mine.

It’s very tough to remember that we are all made in God’s image. The person that cut you off on the expressway?  Made in God’s image. That person who betrayed and hurt you? Made in God’s image. You? Made in God’s image. It’s a very convicting truth and one I struggle with daily especially when it comes to forgiveness.

It really boils down to how you feel being so angry. Do you enjoy carrying that heavy emotion around? Or would you rather let go and let God and forgive and free yourself of that terrible weight?


Seeing a Difference

Since pre kindergarten Samantha has not done well in school as in showing respect to her teachers. She would think nothing of being defiant and flat out ignoring teacher’s requests and telling them “no” or just being plain old disrespectful. After years of this I was at my wits end and ready to rip my hair out. No matter how much I or Tommy talked, lectured, yelled, punished or took things away such as her computer and phone; it didn’t seem to have an impact on her and the negative  behavior continued.

I even took her to counseling wondering if there was something going on that I couldn’t see. There wasn’t, but I kept taking her for fear that if I did nothing I would be doing Samantha a disservice and ignoring “something”. Out of the blue early in the school year Samantha asked if she could attend middle school youth group at our church. The only problem was that it was on the same night and time as her counseling appointment. Tommy and I talked it over and agreed to let her go on the condition that if the emails about her behavior continued we wouldn’t let her attend youth group.

It was a rough start, I continued to receive emails from teachers informing me about Samantha misbehaving. I told her about each email and that her time in youth group would come to an end. Then she comes home with a permission paper for a youth group retreat one weekend over the summer. I’m like, “Are you kidding me??”  After a couple of relatively good weeks at school I reluctantly gave the youth group a deposit for the retreat. Telling Samantha it was only a deposit…

A couple of months go by, somewhat quiet on the emails from school front. While attending church one Sunday I find out that Samantha’s bible study group at youth group is a friend of mine. Her and I used to attend our own bible study group together. Ada is a sweetheart and I’m glad Samantha has her as a positive force in her life.

The next thing I know I’m getting emails from school again…I’m afraid to open each one as they come in. To my amazement they are from her teachers telling me about the positive change they’ve seen in Samantha! I am thrilled to say the least. Of course I tell Samantha about the positive feedback on I’ve received. She’s quietly proud and it’s sweet.

I couldn’t help but tell Ada the good news and also Dan the middle school youth group leader at church. They are all thrilled to learn what a positive effect they’ve had. I’m amazed to see first hand the church in action. Showing Gods love and investing themselves in the lives of these middle school kids especially my daughter. I can only credit the change in Samantha to God’s love manifested through Ada and Dan. Jesus can and will change lives in the most amazing ways.

Quiet Weekends

I’ve noticed my past few weekends have been very “quiet”. And I’m ok with that. Memorial Day weekend was a wash, it was hot and humid on Saturday, rained Sunday and Monday was “ok” but we didn’t feel like going anywhere since we all had either work or school on Tuesday.

Before I went back to work I never really enjoyed the weekends. I was with my kids all week, Tommy often worked the weekends or at least Saturdays  (because I was a SAHM… He had to work more). So then the weekend would roll around and the kids would be home all day and I often was at a loss of want to do with them by myself all day…And we won’t go in to what a handful (understatement) Thomas was in those days.

Now that everyone’s older, working, driving, more independent things are so different. I’m not around my kids All.The.Time, nor are they around me so much. On the weekends we get to catch up with each other. Sometimes a couple of days will go by an I won’t even see Alyssa. And we all still live here; together, go figure.

My weekends might be quiet but they’re not dull. Saturdays I’ll run errands sometimes food shop and usually hit the thrift. By the afternoon Samantha will want to go out or do something and that’s ok. Sunday’s I go to church; period. I love worshiping and hearing the pastor’s message and seeing my friends and catching up with them after the service. Church is definitely the highlight of my Sunday.

This Wednesday I’ll also have small group so I’ll be able to connect with my group members and praise God even more for what He’s doing in all our lives or pray for each other. It’s nice. I just wish I had more members who would attend. I don’t know how to recruit more moms. I know I work in a school for special needs students and I’m in close contact with their Moms. I worry about being forward and asking them if they would attend a bible study for moms of special needs children. I need to pray on this and see where the Lord leads me.

So now it’s Sunday and I’ve gone to church and caught up with friends, now it’s time to catch up on laundry and then maybe go out for a bit. Happy Sunday!

My School

This week was a shortened work week becasue last weekend was the three day Memorial Day weekend. However, for me anyway it was a long 4 days. Work was pretty much the same work load; some days easier than others depending on who was present or absent from school. There was one day of stress but it wasn’t the most stressed I’d ever been at work. Even though it was a long week I still enjoyed being there and I can’t help but wonder how and why I was placed in this school.  It’s a dream job. I’m a 15 minute drive (commute) from my house, I have great and helpful co-workers, and the teachers and para professionals I work with are wonderful and caring. And I love the kids at this school. The other day one of the students I’ve seen on more than one occasion accompanied a para and another student to the nurses office. The student I had seen before was so sweet, she hung around my desk where I sat and just smiled at me. We chatted a little and I couldn’t help but smile to myself that I was touched that she remembered me and liked me.

There are so many levels of functionality at this school. So many kids with so many different needs. There are some students you look at and wonder why they’re there they are so high functioning: and then there’s the ones who require complete care. Even within those that require complete care are a few who can communicate their needs and even hold a conversation with assistive devices. It’s amazing actually and the magic of today’s technology is so very cool.

Its funny that I’m working in the same school that I thought so highly of when Thomas went there. I even contacted the parent coordinator back in the day asking how I could volunteer there but things never worked out. Thomas had to move to residential school and life just went along. I remember when we looked at the residential school; I thought to myself that the residential school had to meet or exceed the standards of The Hungerford School. And thank God they did.

Now I’m a part of a school I thought so highly of, I’m part of the staff. It’s amazing how God works. How He orchestrates our lives. He works with such perfect precision and exact perfect timing. I can’t thank God enough for what He’s given me.