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Hallows Eve and Goblins Galore

October 31
Happy Halloween!

While Halloween can invoke images of horror movies and things that go bump in the night, to me it brings back a wave of much more pleasant images.

When the kids were younger, Halloween was not just one night a year, it was a year long preparation for them. As soon as one Halloween was done, my kids' imaginations quickly turned to what supper-duper costume they would wear the following year.

I have to admit I secretly enjoyed this process. I liked to sew and costumes were just so much more fun that plain old pants or shirts.

I also must add that I was known to get a little, okay a lot, carried away at times in this creative process!

One year my littlest one, Alexi, who was about five years old at the time, told me he wanted to be a "polisman" like daddy. I took it literally!

I spent a couple of weeks creating a mini-version of a state police uniform, down to the patches, breeches and all!

My older kids felt that I was being obsessive because they thought Alexi was too little to appreciate my efforts. I personally thought that they were a little upset that his costume might be better than theirs!

On Halloween night as we were heading out to trick-or-treat with our crew the sight of my little Alexi grinning ear-to-ear was all the proof I needed to show me that the extra effort was worth it.

The lesson here is that I did not go all out on his costume to out do any one else. To show of my sewing skills, or lack there of.

In reality the motive was a little bit selfish. I actually enjoyed it! To me it was like an artist creating a painting or a writer creating a story.

Sadly at times we parents, especially women, get caught up in the trying to be all, do all and impress people we do not even like, just to prove what great moms we are.

What good is it to have your kid in the best costume in the world if first of all he did not even want to be what you made or bought, or two, you have been such a basket case about it for weeks, lovable and caring are not exactly the first two words your family would think of, when they reflect on your mood during that time?

If you are so consumed with stress, resentment and just plain tired, what good are you to your family or to yourself?

What joy could possible come out of that?

I must admit I was bummed out when the kids got older and wanted to do their own costumes or even not bother with dressing up, but not because of the showing off part, just because I missed my blank canvases to work on.

Now that all my kids are mostly grown I still enjoy the fact that they still like dressing up, and now that I am a Grammy JJ, what my little grandson, Tiki,  calls me, I get to live the experience all over again.

While Tiki has absolutely the best mom and dad in the world, and does not need me to make anything for him because his parents love the process themselves because they get that its all about having fun and not just the one night involved.

I do however get to dig out the mini cop uniform to put it on my grandson for a photo, something we were not able to do with Alexi as a camera was not handy at the time.

I no longer have the year long process in my life and while I miss it, I am okay with it, because I was so blessed to have kids that allowed me the opportunity to hang out and play with them in the amazing worlds that reside within their imagination.

I am just thankful that I was not so over-whelmed or stressed out that I missed it.

So this Hallows eve its my turn to play, I get to be the one to materialize for the real world the glimmers of the world of make believe I call my own, something that I, despite the hard life I had as a youngster, I was fortunate enough to be able to hold on to intact.

To all my fellow grown-ups, how about we let go of the world, if only for one night and remember the fun times of our youth?

I think it will lighten our load, quicken our step and make us realize that playing in the sandbox once in a while is still okay to do!

Last one to the door bell owes me a lollipop!

Just when I thought I had it figured out.....

A blast from the past- originally posted October 28, 2009



"What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore---

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over---

Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

                              Langston Hughes



When I was in seventh and eighth grade two things were my reality, one, my home life was dismal, to say the least, and two, books were my only escape. 

As a result of these two facts I was called a "bookworm",  or"professor", among a few other choice words I will not enclose here.

I found these labels funny because while I was always deep in a book, I was not the best student in class by any means of the imagination. It was not that I did not have the potential.

The fact was that I found out as an adult that I actually was quite bright but had undiagnosed ADD, sadly the biggest challenge for me in school was my home life.

My mother kept me out of school anytime she or her friends needed to run errands, as I was the resident translator.

The extended absences had me falling further and further behind, causing my grades to slip and my mother to punish me for being lazy.

It was a vicious cycle that caused my self-esteem to slip further and further and I really thought I was stupid. 

Add to the mix my dysfunctional home life with my mother's boyfriend, their drinking and, well, you get the picture.

While school was an escape from the chaos, it was also disruptive.

I attended school in an inner city neighborhood, where race issues ensued, gangs prevailed and cliques were the norm.

The ironic thing was that with all this going on, an environment that it would have been very understandable for teachers not to care, it was the total opposite.

My teachers, and school administrators, were my life line.

They were good, kind, caring people, who at times were placed in harm's way because of their caring nature.

In fifth grade I saw one of the sweetest, nicest teacher punched in the face in front of the whole class by a drugged out mother because her son had been expelled for selling drugs.

A male teacher was punched and kicked by an out of control male student for being reprimanded for assaulting a female student.

You would think that with all this going on teaching was the last thing on these teachers' minds, but teaching was the most important thing to them.

The school personnel was predominantly white and there were a few of African American decent. There was no Latino representation among the staff.

I only point out the racial make up of the teachers because I was blessed to not know what racism, or stereotyping was, well at least by the school personnel, the students and outside the four walls was a different story.

these teachers opened a wide, new world for me! One of hope, and dreams and possibilities.

They prepared lesson plans for an overcrowded classroom with 25 inner city kids struggling to survive, and taught us with the same dedication as if we were all college preparatory students heading to the best private high schools and Ivy league universities.

I learned about history. Not the condensed, homogenized version, but real history.

I learned about Paul Revere falling off the horse, drunkard fools dumping tea in the harbor, how amazing Pocahontas really was and that there really were intelligent, famous people who happened to actually look like me!

I was introduced to classic works of literature by some of the greatest writers of our time. I learned to write poetry and to understand it when I read it.

I learned that even bookworms can earn presidential physical fitness awards and that even the tiniest planet had importance in our solar system.

These incredible people, helped me discover my voice. I was given a speech to give for our eighth grade graduation and I just about thought I wanted to die.

They walked me through it, coached me and even bought me lunch as we rehearsed it over and over.

On graduation day as I stared into the packed auditorium, minus my family who showed up 45 minutes late and missed it, I slowly discovered the power of the spoken word.

As I got more and more confident and the smiles and encouraging nods from those loving teachers gave me courage, I felt a transformation begin.

I felt a small stirring within my soul. It was ever so tiny. Like a butterfly gently brushing against my chest.

But as I spoke it grew a bit stronger, until the very end of my speech where I felt a lightness come over me.

I would love to say that I escaped my personal prison that day, but I cannot.

While I did go to a private high school for three months, I was so far behind, it was a lost cause for me.

These teachers were not as understanding and had no time for an awkward kid from the other side of town.

I soon wound up back in public school and my surroundings consumed me. I became a statistic.

High School drop-out, teen-age mother, welfare recipient and working for minimum wage with an erratic, semi-alcoholic husband. 

But the stirrings remained. The seed had been planted and as much as I would have found it easier to let it die, I could not. 

It would have been a slap in the face to all the time and effort my teachers had spent on me.

So I fought against the norm, I earned by high school equivalency diploma, went to school to become a medical assistant while working and raising three boys.

I got hired as a police officer, graduated from the academy and went on to a very productive career in areas outside the normal realm for women.

But my biggest quest was for knowledge. I wanted a college degree.

I had started and stop going to school a couple of times due to the pregnancy of my last son and then my divorce.

When I got remarried I inherited four additional kids and their educational needs came first.

Now many years later and with all my life experience, people wonder why I am in school working on my degree.

They tell me I do not need it. I have my own business that while small is growing and my law enforcement skills are in demand in the private security sector, why bother?

I bother because just when I thought I had it all figured out, I realize I do not!

I bother because even though my teachers may never know, I will know and I refuse to let all their hard work go to waste.

My teachers instilled in me the importance of education,

"Silver and gold may fade away,

But a good education will always stay."

One of my teacher's wrote in my yearbook.

He was right!

While some of my teachers have already passed away and the others I do not know where they are, one thing is certain, when I walk across that stage to collect my bachelor's degree, my Master's degree and when I received my Doctorate's, not only will my family be there for me, but so will every one of those teachers!

I KNOW that if it had not been for God sending them into my life as my safety net, things would have been a lot worse for me.

I would never had found the ray of light that showed me the way out of my darkness and brought me into the amazing world that I live in now.

The light that I bask in now and spread like rays bouncing off a prism to any one around me..

So for all you educators out there who might think you are wasting your time, or should have gone into another field...

I want you to know, you cannot save them all....

But you did save this one....

And as a result of that, you saved my children and my grandchildren and so on.

Thank you for what you do and for caring enough to help someone like me figure it out!

And no, this was not one of my school assignments so I could try to be teacher's pet!


Good Lord, what were you thinking?

So today I woke up and had a...what would you call it? Oh Yeah, Good Lord, what were you thinking moment!!! So many things have changed in my life in the last 10 months, but at the same time I feel like nothing has changed and I am sliding backwards!

No my dear readers I am not losing my optimism, I might have lost my mind, but hey you cannot miss what you never had, right? (Insert wink here!)

What I am losing is my ability to understand why everyone assumes that their lack of planning results in my emergency!

I guess what it is, is  that in the last 10 months I had made a commitment to achieve a lot of the goals I had put on hold to raise my large family. My youngest is 17 years old and does not need mommy hovering over him every second of the day and all the other ones are pretty much on their own. So its my turn now.

the funny thing is that people will tell you they want you to go conquer the world, but then when you do, they are like"Where are you going? Don't leave me alone?"

Really now you tell me this, after I am half way up the summit!

Sadly a lot times people will actually turn around to go back and hold their loved one's hand, for no reason! Because as soon as you return they are like, "What you doing here, give me my space!" You see my frustration!

The "what I was thinking moment" came to me not because I was thinking of success and my goals, but because I was thinking of the fact that why did I even turn around the first time? 

If after years of putting everything on hold to ensure the success of my children they have chosen not to succeed, that is not my problem!

The reason it is not my problem is because what might be viewed as success to me, is not what they view as success to them!

If a child wants to go through life by way of the rough, painful road, there is nothing a parent can do, but watch and pray that they find their way out in one piece.

If a child knows in their heart that the decision they are making is wrong, but refuse to admit it and continue to go through with it, again there is nothing a parent can do, no matter how painful it is to watch that child make a mistake.

With this said, I do not understand why children expect parents to drop their whole life to accommodate their every whim, and if we do not get in debt up to our eyeballs, cancel long awaited vacations, or run to be their yes people, then we are bad parents and not being supportive.

the reality is that as much as adult children profess to being independent and wanting to make adult decisions, they still turn into a spoiled two years old, if mommy and daddy do not agree with every decision they make.

Part of being an adult is realizing that just because you have the freedom to live your life any way you want, does not give you the right to have everyone bless your decision and agree with it!

Hello adulthood!

the hard part for parents is to realize that they are not obligated to continue to put their life on hold forever, because of decisions made by their adult children.

I love my children and while the.., I won't call them sacrifices, but the things we have done for them, a lot won't be known to them until after we are dead, if ever.

I, as a parent did not do what I did for my kids to have them place me on a pedestal or worship me as a martyr.

I did it to give them wings, independence and a chance at a happy life.

If the child chooses to live a life different from that ideal, it is okay, but do not expect me as a parent to continue to course my life through your mistakes.

Just as you are now free to chart your own course, so too am I free to explore my own uncharted territories.

I do not expect you to understand where I want to go now any more than I can understand where you are headed.

the funny thing is that I am okay with that! i still love my kids, I am very proud of all they have done and continue to do...But its my turn now!

I have washed enough clothes to build a mountain, baked enough cookies to feed a third world country, corrected enough homework to have earned my PhD by now and have spent my share of long nights with a sick child pacing the floor praying for their recovery. So now its my turn.

I have postponed my first cruise for 39 years to ensure that my kids went on exchange programs, private schools, dance lessons, music lessons, sports camps, colleges and every party they were invited to. its my turn now.

I have traded my career for PTA, cub scouts, girls camp, walk-a-thons, fundraisers, paper mache planets, coaching soccer and gymnastics and for cheer leading competitions.  its my turn now.

I have planned my vacations around softball tournaments, baseball tournaments, soccer tournaments in places not exactly my first vacation spot choice just to ensure the child had a fan in the stands. Its my turn now!

I have attended enough plays, recitals, programs, games, meets, competitions and tournaments to write an encyclopedia about them! its my turn now!

I do not say this with bitterness or resentment, because my kids do have considerate hearts at times.

My boys drove all the way from Philadelphia just to see me in my first play and I cried my eyes out for their thoughtfulness! It was also totally cool having my cast mates comment on how sweet my boys were for doing that!

My daughter always knows what to give me as a gift that means the world and unclogs the tear ducts.

As a parent, as a mother, the things that mean the most are some times the things that are lacking, the random phone call just to say hi, not to drop a bomb shell about another drama in your life. The announcement that you are coming home for a holiday and I do not have to pay for you flight. The fact that you actually remembered my birthday and can actually take care of yourself.

My kids for the most part do this, but the outcome of my "what was I thinking moment" was this...

Its My turn Now!

No I will not cancel my movie shoot to go be there for you on your  day that you did not bother to take anyone's schedule into consideration.

No I will not postpone my talk show because you need some paperwork filled.

No I will not cancel my trip to Maine because you need the house cleaned!

No I will not return my new speakers because you forgot to fill out your financial aid forms and now need money for something or other.

No I will not drop everything to answer you phone call every minute of everyday! its my turn now.

Wow glad i got that off my chest!

But the reality is that my family is close, I love my kids dearly and we do have the kind of relationship where they get where I am coming from so guess what world..

Its my turn now!!

make sure you do the dishes, feed the dog and do your own laundry..i am on my way to a book signing!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh freeedoom!! So sweet!

Thank goodness for "what was I thinking moments!"

Last one to the top of the summit is a lazy egg!