Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 – A New Lens Makes A New Experience!

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 – A New Lens Makes A New Experience!

When I look back on my calendar from August 21st to September 12th, I really have done nothing new. However, each event felt new!

August 21st to August 25th was my “Hell Week”. I always refer to the week before the teachers come back as “Hell Week”. It is the week that EVERYTHING has to get done and everyone wants to squeeze it all in! This was my 19th “Hell Week”, as an administrator, in my 33 year career in education and although it was my second summer in Bridgeport, my anxiety was high as I tried to finalize everything before the teachers came back!  In my fantasy world, I would love to jump over “Hell Week” and over teacher week and right into my “NEW YEARS EVE”…..which was August 30th this year! I love when the kids actually come back and Day ONE is over! My goal is always “no tears on Day 1”. This year’s opening was a success. My butterflies subsided, my anxiety dropped and the students showed up and the teachers welcomed them in. Every year, Day ONE never gets old! Each year it feels new again.

And…into Labor Day weekend I went! Leslie, Liz and I kicked it off with a ride to Aunt Ann’s in the Catskills. I am not sure the 3 of us have ever gone together before this! Leslie and I have gone, and Liz and I have gone…but I believe this was the first time all 3 of us had a slumber party at Aunt Ann’s!! So much fun!

Labor Day ended, but we had September 5th off in the Diocese for our CONVOCATION! I have always had a convocation day until last year! I felt empty without it. So I was excited to hear we were having a convocation. Our superintendent was going to address us all and give us the lay of the land and his vision for the year. As I sat in the audience with the teachers and administrators coming together from across the entire Diocese, it made this “old” experience for me feel “new again”. The very new spin on it was that I had never had a convocation kicked off with a mass celebrated by the Bishop and ending with a blessing for us all! Very nice!

By the time the 40th Oysterfest rolled around, I was 5 days into the school year! For the weekend of Sept 8 – 10th, Vinnie and I were there for every second of it! Vinnie and I have been volunteering in the beer tent for about 10 years now, but now we pour with our friends!! We are on every shift because we have friends on every shift. Volunteering is awesome when you spend your entire weekend with friends! Not a new experience, but then again, every Oysterfest weekend has its own story! This weekend was no exception! Lots of good people pouring cold beer for our “guests” at the “fest”!!

Tuesday, Sept 12th on the surface did not seem like a new experience, but it was! I had been to see Phantom of the Opera just last Spring. On that day, I had been to John’s Pizzaria with 100 8th graders. Later in the Spring I was there with Kevin and Ashley. I have been to NYC with Leslie and Lisa. I have been out to dinner many times with Liz. But tonight, it all came together! Leslie, Lisa, Liz and I were given tickets to see the show thanks to Sr. Lucy! We ended up meeting up with Kevin and he joined us! I love that he is always willing to meet me for dinner when I go to NYC. So at John’s we had a wonderful salad, pizza and a cocktail! I said good bye to Kevin and off we went to the show. I have to be honest, this is not my favorite show, but this time was different! This time I sat in the orchestra seats and I heard every word and saw every detail! It was like a brand new experience!!

The following week continues to be the routine things I do in my life….babysitting my grandson on Saturday, dinner with friends on Sunday, the 4th Annual Michael Ness Golf Dinner on Monday, book club with friends on Tuesday, and Teacher’s College training at my school to finish the week. All these “old” and “routine” pieces of my life continue to force me to look at the nuances that wind through all the little details, the conversations, the people at the table and I have to confess, it is in these pieces that make up the parts of my every day life that makes every day feel “new” again!

 

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Sunday, August 20, 2017 – The Bridgewater Fair

Sunday, August 20, 2017 – The Bridgewater Fair

I have known Vinnie for almost 37 years and for the first time ever, I heard him say, “Yes, we are over at the Oxen pull.”

We were watching the bulls pull a weighted sled a certain distance when Danny called looking for us. Vinnie is no country boy, but he was a trooper. Truth is, we had both been to the Bridgewater Fair as children long ago. I remember seeing them tag the cattle back then, but this time, I was fully amazing by watching the bulls pull the weight. The incredible strength of those animals was evident in their muscles as they tensed and got ready to pull. They worked as a team and when it was their turn, they were determined to do it together!

The fair has grown since my childhood. The booths of handmade jewelry and soaps stood along side the historical tractors of all sizes. The contests ranged from Tractor Pulls to the Hay Bale Toss to the Cattle Contests and Rooster Contests. The wood carving demonstration, the Motorcross daredevils and the kiddie rides dotted the fairgrounds. The loaded baked potatoes, tacos, and handmade ice creams were the special treats. You could graze all day! There truly was something for everyone!

It was a wonderful day with Leslie, Scott, Danny, Michelle and Vinnie!  I felt blessed to take in the fresh air and take in the “country life” if just for a day! Beautiful!

 

 

Saturday, August 19, 2017 – The Milford Oysterfest

Saturday, August 19, 2017 – The Milford Oysterfest

On Saturday, August 19th, 2017  we finally went to The Milford Oysterfest!  I have to be honest, I have never missed a Norwalk Oysterfest. I have been there all 40 years! However, I have never taken the 30 minute ride to Milford for their festival. This year I was determined to make it there. I had always heard it was free and a “great day with so much to see”.

So, yes, we went.  However, we didn’t see much!!

We basically stood on the hot asphalt in a corralled area and drank beer! But…..once again, it is being with the people you love that really counts!!  Leslie, Scott, Pete, Karen, Jimmy, Jerry, Lisa, Rich, Vinnie and I enjoyed each other’s company and had some good laughs! It was the first time I was really out and about with this group since my surgery and I enjoyed the day with them! My day was filled with good people and cold beer! I guess I am a simple kind of girl after all!!

The day went by, and the afternoon passed and I never really saw the Green or other parts of the Festival in Milford. The next day was kind of fun to look at the Facebook pages of all the people I knew, but never saw at the Festival!  When I look at their photos of the Festival it didn’t even resemble the parking lot I saw!

I think we are going to have to try it again next year so I can really experience the real aspects of the Milford Oysterfest!

Saturday, August 12 – 13, 2017 – THE FINAL GOOD BYE!!

Saturday, August 12 – 13, 2017 – THE FINAL GOOD BYE!!

On August 11, 2001, we moved into 77 West Rocks Rd. Sixteen years and one day later, on Saturday, August 12th, 2017, we moved out. Some friends came over to help pack up “Big Red” since I couldn’t lift anything since my surgery in July. These wonderful friends helped us pack up the final boxes. It was emotional as I said my silent “good bye” to each room, but I felt so blessed for the 16  years of being able to live in my fantasy home. Not everyone has that chance in life and I don’t regret a second of living there. My fingers were crossed, however, that the buyers would pull through! Sharon, my dear friend of 30 years, made the final carload with us! Driving up the Merritt in a full car, with Sharon behind us, I got weepy! Sharon has always been that kind of friend where time doesn’t pass by. We pick up where we leave off. We have shared classrooms as teachers, became administrators, changed districts, and our friendship never changes. Like my time living in Big Red, my friendship with Sharon (and Liz, Wendy, and Pam) is something I hold in the deepest place of my heart.

Sunday, August 13th, 2017, Melissa, Anthony, Steph, and the baby, met Vinnie and myself for a final Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich on the porch! Another priceless moment of love. The girls said their good byes that morning and with a final sweep down of the floors, an era ended. That house holds so many precious and priceless memories. Not one has ever been taken for granted. I am forever grateful to have lived there….in the big red house on the hill.

 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 – THE TRANSPLANT!!

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017   – THE TRANSPLANT!!

I am writing this on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Six weeks ago today, I gave my left kidney to someone who shifted from an acquaintance to a “Forever Friend”.

In December 2016, I answered an ad in the Catholic paper and started the process of becoming a living kidney donor at YALE New Haven Hospital.  After about 5 months of testing everything…heart, lungs, kidneys, blood work, and urine samples…I was considered an “approved donor”, except….I was wrapping up the school year and I was a bit too chubby!! In my head, I was donating to a stranger, so I figured I had time to get to the summer when it would be more “convenient” for me.  All was fine, and then I learned that my aunt’s friend’s husband needed a kidney!

Long story short…I offered mine, he accepted and we were a match!

So, on Tuesday, July 25th, Mark and I met at Yale with our spouses and families beside us. Our paths would be forever intertwined in a fairly intimate way. After the 2.5 – 3 hour simultaneous surgeries, my kidney would help filter and regulate his body for the rest of his life. And my single kidney would do the same for me.

On Facebook, a flurry of comments from our friends flooded our pages. Quite honestly, since my journey was so private all Spring, and then we made it public right before the surgery,  the sheer volume of love and support kind of freaked me out a little! The outpouring of love was so kind, supportive, and genuine!

“You are an angel.”

“God bless you both.”

“May the hands of the Great Healer be firmly placed on you both.”

“You inspire me.”

“A great story of the gift of love”

“Score one for the good guys!”

“We are very fortunate to have people who are willing to help someone else. Good to see you both up and about”

The reality is I did not set out to give my kidney to Mark. It was going to somebody, a stranger.  All Spring long, I did not know Mark needed a kidney. It wasn’t until my parents went to a party at my cousin’s house and my aunt filled them in!

The reality is, if I hadn’t been in the process already, and I had found out on June 29th that Mark needed a kidney, I would have absolutely started the process to give it to him, but I wouldn’t have been able to give it to him at this point in the year. The process would have gone into the school year and my school year calendar would have prevented me from being able to give, even though we were a perfect match. In reality, our stars would not have aligned.

But instead, I heard a whisper in December that started the process. I said yes, wrote and emailed, and followed up with a phone call. I was assigned a wonderful case manager, Joyce, and started the process. Ultimately, I was ready to give to Mark when he needed it. I have to believe it was planned by someone or something far bigger than me; far bigger than Mark and me combined. I do believe it was God speaking to me in a quiet whisper, and I have learned over time that when I hear that whisper, I say YES.

The morning after our surgeries, we went for a walk with Mark’s wife, Pam. She took a great picture of the two of us hobbling along and tagged it on Facebook with the caption, “The miracle of modern medicine and love”.  That statement sums it up.

All summer people have said to me that it is “amazing” that I gave a kidney to Mark. It has taken me six weeks to try to process it all and figure out the words to describe the experience.  I still can’t quite capture it in words. When I try it to talk about the feelings I have about July 25th, the words get lost in the translation between my heart’s love for Mark and Pam, the appreciation I have for the doctors, nurses, social workers, and staff members at YALE New Haven Hospital (who bring new life to so many people everyday), and the overwhelming feeling  of pain I have for the thousands of people who wait on a list for years for a donor. The experience is absolutely  a once in a life time experience that is difficult to capture in words and yet is so deeply embedded in my heart. It is one more thing that defines who I am. Mark is forever a part of my life’s story and I believe it was not a coincidence, but rather a very planned forever connection that was orchestrated from above.

Bottom line is I think Pam summed it up. My gift of a kidney to Mark is “a miracle of modern medicine and (God’s) Love.”

 

 

 

July 17 – 23, 2017 – CRAZY WEEK FULL OF NEW THINGS…What an emotional roller coaster!!!

July 17 – 23, 2017 – CRAZY WEEK FULL OF NEW THINGS…What an emotional roller coaster!!!

July 17 – 18, 2017 – I was at a  two-day RULER training at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. It was a training that would bring some structured and direct instruction to our students at St. Augustine around Social Emotional Learning. Five of us were there and, although it was the middle of the summer, we knew that we could gain some insights that would bring a level of understanding and regulation of emotions to our students! It was exactly what we had been talking about all year at school…and the five of us were looking for a way to guide our direct instruction to bring a little peace to all of us. Life was going to be good!!

As I walked in, the first face to greet me was Sarah Free!!  She was out of place, and she had to say, “Debi. It is me, Sarah!”. I am so not good at recognizing people who are out of context!! She was my new neighbor….the girlfriend of my very good friend’s daughter!!! She had just moved in, but I have known her a while!!! It was so nice to be in the presence of someone I knew. And I had no idea she was connected to the RULER program.

I had never been at the St. Thomas More Chapel before at Yale and as I looked around there was a comfort in seeing familiar posters of the Pope, statues of various saints, and fliers for religious studies. I felt comfortable, but as I looked up, there was my sign! John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

That quote stayed with me all morning. Made me think of my goal of living intentionally this year and living abundantly. It was there for me, or so I felt, at the half way point in the year. A reminder to keep my New Year’s Resolution going.

And then it happened. A phone call and the words on my screen with caller i.d. telling me that Joyce from Yale was on the line.

I stepped out and underneath that sign, I took the call.

“Hello Joyce”

“Hello Debi. Congratulations! You are a match!”

I felt the lump in my throat as I smiled and said, “Really?”

Her answer was simple, with an added question. “Yup. And as luck would have it, there has been a cancellation for next Tuesday, July 25th. Do you want me to schedule the surgery? I will need to call Mark.”

Without hesitation, and looking to that sign above, I said, “Absolutely! That will be perfect.”

My secret journey of becoming an approved kidney donor would come to an end tonight! My children were told and each responded with complete joy, excitement and support. Melissa’s friend, Allie had the best response….”Man, she is like Jesus with a gel manicure.” Kevin said, “Now you are making me proud, mom.” (A little spin on my closing line with him all the time, “Make a momma proud, Kev”)….. Each of my 4 were so supportive…and so excited for my recipient, Mark!  After those 4 phone calls, I was so incredibly proud of each of them!

July 18, 2017 – I had phone calls to make to tell my fiends about my personal life…..and plans to make with my colleagues about the professional steps we were taking as we finished the RULER training. I have to admit, I smiled at that sign when I re-entered the building on Tuesday morning and had a very hard time focusing on the training all day!! My heart felt light and excited.

July 19, 2017 – I told my boss, my colleagues, and more friends. It was all becoming more real! AND…I made the decision to trade in my lease on my car and upgrade!! Why not make my life more exciting? I picked BLUE. I had never had a blue car before!!  This seemed like the year to have a new color car.

July 21 – July 23 – Vinnie and I got to babysit for Anthony, our grandson, for the first “real” time (overnight and for an extended time)…so on that Thursday, of course, I took him to show him off to my previous place of work!!!  But on Friday, the 21st, I had to head up to YALE HOSPITAL for my pre-op work up. I was on the 3rd floor and Mark was on the 4th. The journey I had been on since December, when I thought I was donating to a stranger, became all the more real when I sat there knowing my kidney would be functioning in Mark in only 4 more days! How do you say good bye to one of your body parts that you have never seen??  It is a weird concept! And I quietly gave it a little pep talk of encouragement …..telling my left kidney how much I was sure she (he?) would love its new home!! I even whispered the words to my left kidney….. “He’s a nice guy. Work hard for him.” I smiled at the same time my eyes got moist, as I sat in the waiting room to finish the pre-op process.

The weekend rolled around, and Saturday, July 22nd came around! Melissa’s life long friend, Andrea, was getting married! I cried as I saw that beautiful bride walk down the aisle with her Dad, Frank. How is it that Kindergarten was 22 years ago?? How did the beautiful bride and my daughter, her bridesmaid, become friends whose memories are so intertwined? And how lucky was Frank, and so proud, as he walked his baby girl down the aisle. I got so emotional as I imagined Mark someday walking down the aisle with his beautiful daughters, with my kidney living so intentionally (and hopefully abundantly!!) inside of him; tucked away and out of sight.  I wiped my eyes; the mass ended. Off we went to the reception to dance and laugh with Melissa’s friends, and our friends. I didn’t let the night slip by without living it intentionally….every bite of steak, every sip of wine, every slow and fast dance, every shot (only 2!) with Melissa’s friends, and every hug as people said, “Good luck on Tuesday.”

July 24, 2017 – Stephanie and Anthony met us at our house when they returned to Norwalk. We were having a “Last Supper” with my parents, my aunt, and cousins, and siblings. My parents would soon be leaving Norwalk again, and we would soon be leaving our house and Norwalk. It was a beautiful night of love and family. And in the middle of the porch was a beautiful plant, that had arrived earlier,  from the Darien Football Team with a loving message:

Dear Debi,

You helped to raise most of our sons who now make up the Darien Football Team.

We wanted to thank you for your unbelievable act of kindness to one of our football families.

Thank you and God bless for a speedy recovery.

Blue Wave Football

 

YES!! I got weepy all over again!!  The week started off learning about regulating emotions and it ended up being quite the emotional roller coaster! With only 2 more days until surgery, I was so excited about this opportunity of a lifetime……literally!

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2017 – LITCHFIELD HILLS BLUEBERRY FARM! DELICIOUS!

SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2017 – LITCHFIELD HILLS BLUEBERRY FARM! DELICIOUS!

I have decided that I will recognize Heaven when I get there! (Yes, I am assuming I will be getting there someday!). I actually believe I found it this morning!

Yesterday, Barb and Christine took the girls blueberry picking. It was at a little farm not far from our home in Plymouth, CT. I could not go though. So when I saw them return to the house with those delicious “Nature’s Orbs of Goodness” as my brother refers to them, I knew I had to get up and go on Sunday morning. So I went and found the little farm all by myself and picked away!

I have been blueberry picking before, apple picking before, pumpkin and strawberry picking before. In Italy, I have picked lemons, figs, peaches and neshpoli (spelling!!!!??) right off the tree. Growing up my mom had a garden and we picked all kinds of vegetables and in Italy, with my father-in-law, we picked different vegetables from his garden. In my own gardens, the only thing I have ever picked is WEEDS!!

On this beautiful morning at about 10am, though, I picked alone.  I have never done that, and I have to admit, I loved it!

The gentleman at the counter asked, “Ever been here before?”

I had answered, “No. Tell me how it works.”

“The rules are simple. Fill the bucket for $24 or any part of it for whatever it says on this little chart”, he said as he pointed. The prices were all spelled out. He went on to say, “Pick from anywhere you want. The flags simply identify where there are some full bushes, but whatever bush you pick from, please try to pick all the good ones off it. It is good for the trees.”.

OK….simple enough! And off I went with my orange bucket.

I took three steps into the blueberry fields, and had to stop, catch my breath and take it all in. The mist was lingering just for a few minutes longer as the new sun forced it’s way through. Just below the low lying mist cloud, the bushes spread out in random rows in three directions….to my left, my right, and straight ahead. The sun’s rays just barely skimmed the tops of the bushes making the leaves shimmer just a bit. And there they were, big blue ORBS OF GOODNESS , on every bush. Soon, the mist said good-bye to the sun’s advances and hundreds of blueberry bushes revealed their products. They were there for the taking!

I began to wander through the bushes, picking the biggest ones and plopping them into my bucket. I have to be honest though. It went something like this in my head…..Ten for the bucket and one for me, ten for the bucket and one for me! This rhythm added a whole new meaning to “Breakfast on the go!”

As I silently picked, the world just steps away from me became more and more awake. The birds chirped and two women nearby chatted about the daily highs and lows they were going through. Two other women were clearly on summer vacation from working as teachers and were discussing their upcoming year’s schedule. I walked away from them and back into my own space. Another woman was describing the vanilla ice cream she had last night at 10pm that was drowning in strawberry syrup, chocolate fudge and walnuts. This almost sounded better than my blueberries until I popped another one into my mouth!! And finally on my way back with my almost full bucket, a grandmother and granddaughter were debating the likelihood that poison ivy was growing around one of the bushes. A very sweet and innocent conversation was being overheard, and nobody cared. We were all there for the berries on a peaceful Sunday morning!

As I approached the counter again with my $24 worth of blueberries, I said a little prayer of thanks for such a peaceful way to start my day. And then I said a big prayer of hope. My hope is that Heaven is just one huge Blueberry Farm when I finally get there!!

Saturday, July 8, 2017 – MATTHEW 11:25-30

Saturday, July 8, 2017 – MATTHEW 11:25-30

Saturday marked the 6th week of being “bindered” for our house that we have been trying to sell for 27 months!! We are so close and yet it felt so far away. Just the night before, our lawyer suggested we write one more final time to him, and then it would be forwarded to the prospective buyers, in order to move in a direction of a closing. We wrote it, hit “send”, and then waited. We were on hour number 23.5 when I suggested to Vinnie that we go to church for one last ditch effort of prayer…..I think I called it begging!!

So we did. We went to St. Thomas in Thomaston and to our surprise Fr. Thomas from St. Casmir in Plymouth was saying the Mass. The three surrounding churches were combined into one parish! I have enjoyed his homilies in the past, but this church is closer to our home, so we typically don’t go to the other church. ANYWAYS…..I was happy!

As I sat there making deals with God (I know we are not supposed to do that, but I do!) and praying that “HIS TIME” would fit into my tight schedule for the summer (I know God’s time is not the same as  OUR time, but my life needs to be scheduled! Hey, I have a lot going on!), and waiting for my cell phone to buzz (I KNOW…it is supposed to be OFF in church, but it was not) with a word from our lawyer, I prayed that the buyer’s would not back out!!

I was pretty preoccupied with my own stuff until Fr. Thomas began to put Matthew Chapter 11 verses 25–30 into prospective and I felt like he was talking only to me (and Vinnie, of course!). He talked about the challenges, questions, and burdens we all have. He acknowledged that we all want to believe that Jesus is with us on the journey, but we often forget that!  And then he offered an explanation of this reading in the context of the Jewish people back in the time it was written for.  I had never heard it explained this way before….”For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

A yoke ties two creatures together. It is a tool that can not physically work alone. It is a tool or device that actually makes the work easier for both animals when it is functioning in the way it was created for. Together the creatures connected by the yoke actually serve as one. You can not tell which is doing more work than the other and when combined, their work makes the burden lighter. He went on to remind us that Jesus is asking to share the yoke with each of us so that our burdens will feel lighter since he is walking right next to us, sharing the load. Physically, the connection between Jesus and the person sharing the yoke are acting as one force that can not be separated. KIND OF A LOVELY IMAGE!!!!

So….by sitting there, hearing this at the right time and place, my burden in that moment felt a little lighter. I suddenly didn’t feel as alone in the process as I had felt when I first walked into church. I felt like my prayers were being answered in some small way.

Mass continued, then ended, and with the image of Christ sharing a yoke with each of us,  and us being asked to recognize that we never need to carry our burdens alone, we were now asked to go in peace…..so we did.

As we got into the car, my phone dinged! I looked down and it was a text from our lawyer saying, “Check your email. CHEERS!!”.

Our final offer had been accepted. The buyers were not walking away.

I have to admit heading home from Mass to look at our email, our journey felt a little easier and our burdens a little lighter.

Thank you Fr. Thomas.

 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – Horseback Riding!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – Horseback Riding.

Over the years as a special education teacher, 7th and 8th grade teacher, assistant principal, and principal, I have made hundreds of deals with students.

I have brought in donuts on a Friday for a boy who finally did all of his homework for a week. I have brought in lunch for a student and 3 friends when we made it through 3 weeks of NO DRAMA amongst them. I have given a “get out of jail card” to a boy for when a disliked sub was in for a beloved teacher just so he wouldn’t get kicked out of the class the minute he walked in. I have given extra gym time for the girl who came to the detentions I assigned her. I have played Chess with a few boys during lunch time if they did NOT get kicked out of class. I have given free ice cream for a week of no tardies to several students! AND…I did a cartwheel in the main office (IT WAS NOT PRETTY) for the boy who promised he would come to school for a whole week….and he did!

So, in November, when I made a deal with a girl whose grades could be better, I took it seriously ….and so did she and her mom! She wants to be a veterinarian and LOVES animals but had never been on a horse. SO, I made a deal. If her grades consistently went up from the 1st quarter through the 4th quarter, I would take her horseback riding….and her mom too!!

Throughout the year, we would check in with each other. She brought her report card to me the 2nd and 3rd quarter, and I told her, the grades had to get better. Mom was fully on board and would check in with me and her to see how things were going. By the 4th quarter, we agreed that  I would take them both horseback riding!  Her grades were considerably better!!

This is where a GREAT friend come in!! I called Wendy, who owns horses, to see if 1. She might be willing to have us come to her horse or 2. Did she know a farm that did horseback riding nearby?  Of course, she said, “COME ON OVER!” Because….that is what good friends do!!

We set up the date, I packed a lunch for the three of us, Wendy, her son and her mom and off we went to Newtown!

What a day it was!! The joy on my student’s face was priceless. The joy on her mom’s face as she watched her daughter’s face was even better!!!

My student fed Jack, brushed him, pet him, rode him and thanked him!!  Absolutely beautiful!!

She, her mom, and I all had a chance to ride Jack and then spent the rest of the afternoon eating lunch and chatting with Wendy, her son and her mom. For my student, the bonus of the day was that she was able to play in the backyard with Wendy’s 6 year old, brush the two dogs, have a race with the two turtles, feed and pet all 3 horses, and ask a million questions about the location of the 3 cats we never saw! What an action packed day! She felt like she was in a far away land where only dreams come true! It was such a special sight to see.

So now…she and I have a new deal. Straight A’s by the end of 8th grade and she can name the follow up activity. I have 3 years to save up and see what she wants to do next!  I know she will do it. She is a beautiful and smart young lady with a very special mom!!!

Although I have been on a horse before (a  very long time ago), I have never taken a student (and her mom!) to go on a horse for the first time! It was awesome!!

Thank you Wendy for your generosity of love!  Jack and you have made this young lady’s summer. It was truly a moment in time she will never forget and it has the potential to change her life forever!

Monday, June 12 and Tuesday, June 13, 2017 – Back to Back Field Trips – CT to NY

Monday, June 12 and Tuesday, June 13, 2017 – Back to Back Field Trips – CT to NY

I had NEVER been to the CT State Capitol in Hartford, CT and I had NEVER been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Until June 12 and 13.

Monday morning I was on the bus to Hartford with the 4th graders by 8am…and on Tuesday morning I was on a train to NY with the 8th graders. What a great week!

The State Capitol building was GORGEOUS! It was designed by someone who renovates/builds churches and cathedrals. There was no doubt about that!! It was like a marble cathedral that was so majestic inside. For years, as I drove down the highway, I have seen that Capital dome in the distance and had never known what was inside of it!  Now I know that there are beautifully wood lined rooms where decisions are discussed and made. There are statues of all kids that captures significant moments of Connecticut’s history that everyone should see and know about. There are tributes to Connecticut’s war heroes and veterans that make you proud to be a citizen of the United States. And, there is a bronze and gold over laid  angel that stands tall with pride and a prayerful expression who will someday find her way up to the roof of our capitol building. She was simply breath-taking!  And the 4th graders loved the trip!

The MET was the second back-to-back fabulous day! Four adults and 12 8th graders…we walked from Grand Central, through Central Park, and to the MET….beautiful walk! I had never walked through that part of Central Park so even that was exciting. I have to admit, the old stuff in the museum was kind of cool, but I liked the art the best! Maybe because my Melissa is an artist, but I actually could have stayed there longer! I may have to go back there again!

So I went to two different places with two different groups of great kids on two back-to-back days! I had never done that before and it was a great way to end my first year at St. Augustine Academy!!

What a blessing this year has been in so many ways!