Monday, May 31, 2010

Teens and Disney

April Vacation, 2009, we took Sierra's best friend Sarah to Disney World with us. It was an "almost Seniors" trip for them. Disney is a great place to bring teenagers. We stayed at the Beach Club Villas and felt completely comfortable letting the girls (then 17) go off on their own. We chose one Park per day. The girls needed to be in the same Park as us and meet us for Table Service meals, but otherwise they were on their own.

I'm told that they rode Rock 'n Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror nearly 20 times each! A few times, they would text us to ask where we were and would meet up with us to ride Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest, etc with the family.

Other times, they would spend 1/2 the day relaxing and tanning by the pool. Then they would come to the Parks later in the day instead. I can't think of anywhere else that I would feel as comfortable bringing 2 beautiful teen-aged girls as Disney World.

Disney has the thrill rides that teens love, fantastic pools/hot-tubs and lots of fun activities. For people considering bringing their teens to Disney, I highly recommend that you let them bring a friend. Getting to travel with her best friend made this Sierra's best Disney vacation yet. It can be cost prohibitive for some people to bring an extra child on vacation with them (especially when you have 5 kids like we do). What we did is we planned the trip 18 months out, which gave Sarah's parents the time to save. We paid for her lodging (since we had the Villa anyway). Then, her parents covered her plane, park tickets and food (we paid tips).

Jared and Shawn are already talking about wanting to bring a friend with them on a future trip, and as long as it's at Disney World...I'm all for the idea.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sports Essays

My boys were selected to participate in the SBLI Kids Football Clinic with Tedy Bruschi on June 24th at Gillette Stadium! They are both SO pumped...and so am I!!! They'll get to receive a limited edition, autographed Bruschi poster and spend 3 hours learning from our families favorite legendary linebacker at the site of his greatest accomplishments. Ever since Shawn was 4, he has LOVED Tedy Bruschi. The fact that he gets to spend this time with his football hero is incredibly cool. They both had to write 300 word essays to be presented to Tedy. The topic were, "What is your game plan for academic and athletic excellence" or "What have you learned about teamwork and good sportsmanship by playing sports?"

I'm so proud of BOTH of them for what they wrote. Here is Jared's (14 years old and in 8th grade):

"My personal game plan for academic and athletic excellence is to always work hard and strive to be my best. I’ve been on the Honor Roll for 7 consecutive terms. I started playing sports at the age of 4 years old for the Falmouth Recreation Department and since then I have played sports 3 seasons a year for school teams, travel teams and for the Falmouth Recreation Department. As a 4 year old I didn’t know anything about sports but to listen to coach. I didn’t know the meaning of sportsmanship or being a leader all I knew was to do what I was asked. Now 10 years later I know what it’s like be a leader and what being a teammate is all about. It’s about always playing fair, never being cocky or a sore sport, always doing your best and living up to your potential. When you lose, you move on and make adjustments to your game to be better next time. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without the mentors I’ve had throughout my life. To start off I wouldn’t have learned the meaning of being on a team, being a leader and helping my team win without my Step-Dad Steve. He has coached me for about 10 years and has not only taught me everything I know about being a teammate; he’s made me the great sports player I am today. Of course he isn’t the only one who has taught me to be the athlete and teammate I am today, but he’s a huge part of it. The main thing I’ve learned about sports is my teammates are family. We always stick together as if were brothers not only fighting for first place but fighting to be called a great team."

Here is Shawn's:

"Hi, my name is Shawn and I love sports. I’m 9 years old and in the 3rd Grade. I’ve played sports my whole life. My favorite sports are soccer, basketball, baseball and football. What I like most about sports is you get to meet new friends and you get to have fun. Sports have given me the confidence to stand up for what’s right. One day on the bus ride home I saw this kid getting bullied, so I went back and helped him. I told the people who were bullying him to, “stop picking on him, he’s only in Kindergarten and you are in 4th Grade.” They said, “OK, fine” and stopped. It felt good to help someone. No matter how much you win or lose by, you still say “Good game”. Don’t say anything mean to the other team because that’s bad sportsmanship. Trying hard is important, in school and sports. I try my best in school by listening to the teacher. In sports I try my best by paying attention to the coach. I also know a lot about teamwork. For example, in soccer, if the goalie lets a goal in, it’s the whole teams fault not just his. This is because it’s a team sport and the whole team had the chance to stop the ball from ever getting near the goal. When you’re on a team, you all work together. I love watching sports too because I can learn a lot. My favorite team to watch is the Patriots and Tedy Bruschi was always my favorite. I love how he was always a team player and was a wicked good linebacker. I plan to keep working on my skills in all the sports I play and to always do my best in school too."

I'm REALLY looking forward to this exciting day with my 3 guys :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Love

On October 25, 1997, my 26th birthday, I met the love of my life. Granted, I didn't know it then.

I was managing Lodging at Northstar-at-Tahoe and Steve had come out from New Jersey for the winter job fair. I hired him to work at the Front Desk. He immediately impressed me with his work ethic and calm demeanor. By the beginning of the following Summer, I had promoted him to Supervisor. We had formed a wonderful friendship, and spent many hours chatting and laughing. At one point during the Summer of 1998, I was talking with Steve and told him that I was going to take advantage of the free golf lessons available to employees. He told me that I didn't need lessons from the Pro-Shop...he could teach me. I'll never forget when at about the 8th hole, I looked over at him and I saw him in a whole new light. I had never allowed myself to think of him as anything more than an employee, but outside of the office...that changed. ;) He was wearing this shirt that day:

I keep that photo on my mirror, to remind me of the day I began to fall in love with him. He switched departments, and we started dating in the Fall of 1998. It was then that we took a trip with friends to Pebble Beach, CA.

During the Winter of that year, he and I began to spend a LOT more time together. One day we took Sierra and Jared skiing, and he won my heart. He was SO good with my kids and they felt safe and secure with him...we all did.

On May 16, 1999--Steve's 25th Birthday-- he and I went camping and hiking at Yosemite National Park.

On June 23, 1999 he proposed on a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park, NY and on October 9, 1999 we were married in Maine.

Not many people can say that they are married to their best friend and their soul mate. Sure, a lot of marriages start out that way...but time has a way of changing things. Not for me. Steve is my rock and with every passing day, I love him more. We share a rare love, and not a day goes by that I don't count my blessings. I had suffered a lot of pain before I met him, and I had convinced myself that I would always be was easier than being hurt. Steve changed all of that. He made me feel safe and cherished. He fixed my broken heart and promised to protect it. Most importantly, he loved Sierra and Jared as if they were his own. On our wedding day, he included a vow to them...he promised to love and always be there for them. He has done that and so much more.

Our song was, "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain. These lyrics said it all: "You're the reason I believe in love. And you're the answer to my prayers from up above."

We chose Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Maine because I have always loved lighthouses and it was near most of our family.

We honeymooned in Maui :)

On our 7th Anniversary, we took the kids to the White Mountains, NH:

For our 8th Anniversary, we were at Disney World. I had an Artist sketch this for him, because his favorite character is Mr. Incredible...
This past year, for our 10th Anniversary, we enjoyed a peaceful ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad together.

December, 2009

May, 2010

I have been incredibly blessed with Steve. He is truly heaven-sent...God knew I needed him. In return, he has someone to adore him faithfully and immeasurably. Together, we are raising our five precious children. We're giving them a stable, loving home. They see their parents as partners and friends...and they are growing up with a first-hand example of a genuinely happy marriage. I could not ask for more.

It's hard to believe it's been 11 years since our trip to Yosemite. So much has changed since then, yet the most important things remain the same. Steve's still my best friend and my soul mate...and I'm still head-over-heels in love with him.

Happy, Happy Birthday my Steve. May you always know how very much you are cherished, appreciated and loved.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Five Days

There were five days in my life that forever changed and defined me:






I became a Mom over 19 years ago...the day Sierra's heart started beating within my body. I learned a new meaning of the word "love" that day and I discovered for myself that a Mother's love is truly knows no bounds. With every passing day, my love grew deeper and stronger...and with each child, it multiplied. Everyone who knows me know that my children are my everything: my sunshine, my strength, my purpose, my passion and my treasures. The joy they bring me on a daily basis can not be defined.

This was taken on the day that my family became complete:

I read a book to Kassia this week called, "I Love You the Purplest". It's all about how a mother loves her children differently, but the same. I could relate on so many I love each of my children differently, but equally.

It never ceases to amaze me how 5 children from the same Mom can be so very different from each other. I see a lot of myself in each of them, and I am thoroughly enjoying watching them each blossom in their own unique ways. I thank God every day for entrusting me with life's most precious of gifts.

Wishing you all a very Happy Mother's Day. May your day be filled with hugs, homemade cards, heartfelt words and lots of love.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Riding the Rainbow...

Today was a gorgeous Spring day on the Cape. Then, early this evening it started to sprinkle briefly. Then, it cleared again. We knew right away that it was the perfect recipe for a rainbow. The girls and I ran outside on the deck to look...and sure enough, there it was. They climbed up on the picnic table to be able to see it better:

This wasn't just an ordinary rainbow, either! It was a DOUBLE, complete one...meaning we could see the whole thing and it was 2 layers.

They climbed the fence to get a closer look:

Kassia turned and asked me, "Can we go on it, Mommy? Can we ride the rainbow like a slide?" It was SO sweet.

That sounds like a pretty neat idea, doesn't it?!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Falmouth schools target bullying |

The article below gives me hope that Falmouth Public Schools are going to make a stronger effort put a stop to bullying. I think the new bill that was signed into legislation making it "mandatory to report and investigate all instances of bullying at schools" will finally open some eyes.

Sierra and Jared both had their share of experiences with bullies, but Jared has tolerated it since First Grade. Unfortunately, there were times when I reported it to the school and NOTHING happened. I'll never forget having to drive him to school in First Grade because of the bullies on the bus who kicked him off the seats and into the aisles. I reported it and was told Jared needed to sit in the front of the bus if that was happening in the back?!?!? Um...HELLO!?!?!?!?! The BULLIES needed to sit in the front of the bus!!!!! UGH!!! I drove him to ensure his safety, even though I had a newborn and 2 year old at home. Steve finally talked to the bus driver and HE put a kibosh on it telling the kids, "No one gets picked on on my bus". Through the years, Jared has put up with a LOT because of his size. I've always taught him to hold his head up and that "mean people stink". If he were measured by the size of his heart and not the size of his body, he'd be a giant. I think through the years, teachers and Principals are opening their eyes and I look forward to the change that will come. I for one have a NO TOLERANCE policy for it and offer my warning to kids who bully my children:" I WILL report it. Period." Thankfully, things are finally starting to improve. The Assistant DA was right: Bullies make themselves " feel better while making others feel bad, and that is SICK".

On September 9, 1981 my cousin died because of bullies. They harassed him mercilessly. At the tender age of 13, he took his own life. Bullies have been around forever, and have been tolerated for too long. It is high time the power be taken out of their hands. This is a very touchy subject for me. I look forward to the prosecution of bullies. I do hope they will get some counseling that will help to turn them around before they become parents who are bullies, who then will start the cycle all over again.

Here's the article:


Falmouth schools target bullying |

"When Grace Haslett's friend wrote hurtful things about her on Facebook, the 13-year-old Falmouth student said she was crushed.

Grace, an eighth-grader at the Lawrence School, recognized the behavior as a form of bullying and said she's decided to delete her Facebook account until she's older.

But student bullying has caused other victims, such as 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of South Hadley, to take their own lives following months of relentless harassment at the hands of classmates.

It is part of a disturbing trend called "cyberbullying," in which teens use Internet technology and cell phones to harass their peers. No longer confined to cafeterias or school playgrounds, bullies use text messaging and social networking websites to barrage their targets on an around-the-clock basis.

"It happens all the time here and no one does enough to stop it," Grace said.

But with bullying in the limelight after the suicides of Prince and 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield last year, legislators and school officials are taking notice.

The state Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed anti-bullying legislation Thursday and Gov. Deval Patrick has indicated he will sign

it into law this week. If signed into law, the legislation will increase the level of involvement among school officials and parents where bullying is concerned.

State Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable, spoke to the Times just before Thursday's vote and said the bill makes it mandatory to report and investigate all instances of bullying at schools and school events. Also, if bullying occurs in cyberspace, school officials will be able to punish perpetrators if the behavior carries over to the classroom and negatively impacts the school environment.

The legislation also requires parents of the alleged bullies and victims to be notified when there is an incident, and school districts must create bullying prevention plans.

"It's critical to build the commitment of the community so bullying will not be tolerated," O'Leary said.

Some school districts, such as the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools, instituted anti-bullying policies years ago, Supt. James Weiss said.

Two Vineyard schools made headlines last month when a group of high school girls allegedly hit and threatened a 16-year-old classmate with promises to "cut her," according to a report in the Boston Herald.

Another bullying incident occurred at an Oak Bluffs school at about the same time.

Weiss confirmed the incidents but would not discuss details, except to say the bullies were suspended in accordance with the school district's policies.

"Do kids in our school bully? Yes. Are we addressing those things? Certainly. Is it happening more now than in the past? No," Weiss said. "The whole notion of bullying is much more hypersensitive now, so every time there's an incident it's much more escalated."

In Falmouth, teachers are transforming a 10-year-old event called "No Guff Day" into a weeklong anti-bullying campaign involving the entire community.

All students sign a pledge and vow not to speak or text anything negative about anyone. "No Guff" signs are plastered all over the schools, and businesses have joined in as well this year.

Falmouth selectmen even signed an official declaration this year in recognition of "No Guff Week."

Alan Kazarian, guidance director of the Falmouth school system, said the most significant progress occurs when students communicate with each other. That's why teachers arranged for Falmouth High School basketball players — fresh off an exhilarating run in the state tournament — to speak with younger students regarding respect and tolerance for one another, Kazarian said.

But a speech from Jennifer McNulty, a Cape and Islands assistant district attorney who prosecutes juvenile cases, proved to be one of the most effective presentations of the week.

When McNulty asked a group of about 75 seventh- and eighth-graders whether they had cell phones, nearly all hands shot up in the air. Of those students, most of them had texting and camera phone capabilities.

A handful of students said they can access the Internet via their phones, and some admitted they routinely accept friend requests on Facebook from people they don't know, simply because they find the unknown person attractive.

After advising students about safe Internet practices, McNulty delivered a stern warning and list of consequences for kids who think bullying is acceptable.

"If you continue to be a bully you will be prosecuted because what you are doing is making yourself feel better while making others feel bad, and that is sick," McNulty said. "For those of you who think this is funny, you're the ones who I'll see in court soon."

McNulty gave a speech earlier this week at a different school, and said one student was so affected that he essentially "confessed" to McNulty about being a bully and asked what he could do to avoid future criminal charges.

Jared Talbot and Connor Moulton, both 14, said McNulty's speech stunned many of their classmates, and Jared said the silence during her speech was evidence that it "took a toll on a bunch of the kids who are bullies." Both students said they have been the target of bullies in the past, adding they are thankful for "No Guff Week" because it lets the entire community know making fun of others is not acceptable.

"The best way to stop it is by talking about it," Connor said. "