25 Things About Me- An Activity in Noticing The Good and Celebrating Life

1.) I am proud to be a New Englander!

2.) I have attended a MOPS group since 2009 and have served on a MOPS Leadership Team for six years. This will be my fifth year supporting MOPS groups and other local MOPS Ministry Coaches with MOPS International.  www.mops.org

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3.) My dad was an off-shore fisherman and a quahoger. He named his first boat after me.

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4.) I love the snow and skiing.

5.) My pastor husband and I have been married for fourteen years. He is also my best friend.

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6.) My first job was at McDonald’s. By the end of my career, I had climbed the ranks to “Birthday Party Coordinator” and Crew Trainer. (I still think McDonald’s fries are the best!)

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7.) I had a life-changing experience walking in the Boston Avon 3-Day walk for cancer.

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8.) I love the outdoors and insects. One summer, I worked as a counselor at an Environmental Day Camp hiking, catching creatures, birding, teaching nature lessons to elementary aged students. It was a dream job!

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9.) The most peaceful place I have ever been is underwater, snorkeling in Hawaii.

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10.) My husband’s family owns a dairy farm in California. The milk from their 500+ cows is sold to a local cheese company. They also farm almond trees. The almonds are sold to candy companies.

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11.) We celebrate Christmas Eve with Lebanese food. Last year, my girls and I rolled our own grape leaves.

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12.) I asked the Lord into my heart when I was ten. With our church watching, my dad baptized me in a pond. He has baptized all his children in the same place.

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13.) I have a degree in elementary and special education. My first teaching job was in a K-12 school on Block Island. It is the only school on the island. I had 5 students!

14.) I had big hair and wore shoulder pads in high school.

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15.) I have jumped out of a perfectly good plane, strapped to a complete stranger, and loved it!

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16.) I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco Marathon.

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17.) I come from generations of strong, short Portuguese ladies. I am glad that my daughter “met” her great-great grandmother before Nana passed.

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18.) The closest I will get to a “Call the Midwife” moment, was in high school when I volunteered as a candy-striper in a local hospital. No babies were delivered but a lot of smiles, cards, and flowers were.

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19.) I was on a Deck Tennis team in Elementary School. It is THE only team that I was selected to play on after going through try outs. I wish that this sport would make its come back!  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deck_tennis

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20.) I have three beautiful children. Two daughters and a son.

21.) I thought I would never homeschool but we are going on our fourth year of doing so. It has been the greatest blessing for our family.

22.) I love coffee!

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23.) I owned a small business and Etsy shop making hair bows. I have made bows for babies, special occasions, pageants, parades, AND dog’s birthday parties.

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24.) My favorite memories are those with my sister. I wish she lived closer.

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25.) Jesus is my Lord, Savior, and the love of my life. He is the only one that completes me and sustains me. I still am in awe of His grace, mercy and His constant pursuit of me. ❤

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Writing a list is a great activity. It’s a noted celebration of where you have been and a snapshot of some of your accomplishments.  It is a great opportunity to reflect on the good things in life and take notice of the events and experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today.

In a MOPS group, writing this type of list could serve as a get-to-know you or an ice breaker activity. Each mom could take 5-7 minutes to write down 25 things (or as many as possible) about themselves. As a whole group or in smaller Discussion Groups, a designated person (Mentor Mom, DGL) collects the lists and reads a few of the 25 items as clues to the mom’s identity. After hearing the clues, the group guesses who the list belongs to.  We did this is our small MOPS group and it was a lot of fun. We learned more about each other, similarities were found, and we had more to talk about with each other.

With the lists completed, Discussion Group Leaders and Coordinators could encourage moms to pick one thing off the list that the moms want to “bring back” or to “flourish” in again. Skiing was something I put on hold when I had kids. It was something I still desired to do. With a little work, effort and a babysitter, I revived the “sport” and now am looking forward to enjoying more of something that I thought I lost.

Below is a link to a PDF file that I created. Use the worksheet for personal reflection or in an activity with your group.

25 THINGS ABOUT ME  WORKSHEET

25 Things About Me- An Activity in Noticing the Good and Celebrating Life2


Our Summer Bucket List- Camping Edition #1

On Sunday afternoon, we decided that it was time to check camping off our Summer Bucket List. We packed the kids in the car, drove to the sporting goods store and purchased an eight-person tent and a queen sized air mattress. My husband and I decided that the kids would have to sleep on a skinny mats because that is what we had to do and before one gets to sleep in “comfort” one needs earn a certain number of hours in camping experience.

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We set the tent up in the backyard. Pumped up the air mattress. The kids unrolled the mats and sleeping bags. They brought out a few comforts from home- stuffed animals, blankies, and flashlights.We sat up in our tent talking. We made s’mores  and washed up in the house before ZIPPED the tent for the night.

It wasn’t long before the girls were fast asleep on their mats. My son had a hard time sleeping on a mat so we pulled him in between us. It took a good amount of time for him to fall asleep. But once he was asleep, he stayed asleep, on the air mattress, in between my husband and I. We never would have allowed our girls to do this but that is what happened when you are two, the baby of the family, and your parents are old and tired.

Here is how the night went for me:

10:00 PM- My son fell asleep.

10:00PM -11:30PM (?) A metal “dink” sound came from a neighboring yard….dink… dink…dink…It was loud and inconsistent. The type of noise that prevents you from falling asleep. We could not figure out what the noise was but a day later, we saw our neighbor’s son practicing hitting baseballs with his swing trainer. The same “dink” noise followed with each hit and the mystery was solved.

12:30 AM A loud meowing sound came from outside the tent. Our cat had been accidentally left outside and needed to be put in the house. UNZIP the tent. I enticed the cat into the house with treats. Back to the tent. UNZIP to get in and ZIPPED close again.

12:45 AM  The meowing sound AGAIN. I had left the sliding door open and could hear the car meowing wanting to come out back out. UNZIP the tent. Close the sliding door. UNZIP and ZIP the tent again.

1:00AM-4:00AM Various noises outside the tent. Apples dropping from the apple tree. Rustling noises from the woods behind our house. Some animal sniffing around and rubbing up against the tent. My husband says it was a bunny. I say it was something WAY bigger. Regardless, it kept us both up. This was added to the constant sleep interruption by my son’s feet in my face and his body rolling over my head.

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4:30AM Sunrise! Beautiful morning but the kids were still sleeping (thank the good Lord.) The peaceful sound of birds tweeting lulled me back to sleep.

6:00 AM- Kids up. We woke up. Time to take on the day!

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We made breakfast outside on a small camp stove and played Hello Kitty Uno with the girls. We didn’t look at computers or cellphone. The very-short break away from social media was nice.We laughed at the events of the night and imagined what animal really was lurking around our tent. My husband and I were both relaxed.  The kids were having a great time too.We were fully present and having fun.  Total fun score- 85% (15% off for no sleep.) But we can deal with no sleep. We have taken care of three newborns and survived.

With a successful camp-out under our belts, we packed up our camping gear. Rolled up the mats and sleeping bags. Deflated the air mattress. Took down the tent and packed it away. Our backyard was no longer a campsite.

My husband and I decided that this camping thing would be good for our family. My husband went to the basement and pulled out our old camping gear (stuff that has not been used in about 10 years.) We sorted and cleaned and prepared totes for our next adventure. When all of that was finished, we made a reservation for a campsite at a state park. With all the enthusiasm and expectation of great things to come, we are looking forward to our overnight trip. We are happy that we followed through with the activity on our bucket list. This small adventure will lead to many more and memories that will be last a lifetime.


When Past and Present Collide

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Waves of nostalgia intensified with each sweet, icy swallow. The cold, waxy, green-yellow cup and the sweet-tangy taste of frozen lemonade, sent me back to my childhood. It was a taste so familiar that it seemed to have been frozen in time. The stand still looked the same. An old clock, the plastic yellowed with age, hung on the inside wall. Nothing was fancy about the stand, it was just as I remembered it.

It was 4th of July weekend, the kids and I were visiting family. I had a romantic idea of having an “Authentic Rhode Island” holiday. I wanted to see old sights, taste the old treats, experience a glimpse of life the way it used to be. Twenty-one years had passed since I had lived in this small city, twenty-one years filled with changes and growing up.

We pulled out of the lemonade stand, driving towards the house I grew up in. The van seemed to instinctively know which way to turn. As we came to a stop in front of the house that I grew up in, I took one more gulp of the lemonade and relished in its familiarity.  I put the car in park and stared out the window.

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In front of me, was a house that looked so much smaller than I had remembered. A bungalow or cottage according to the sales records. There was a white sign with black lettering declaring that this house was no longer filled with a family but empty property owned by the airport corporation to be used as part of the airport expansion. The house paint was not as bright as it once was. The windows boarded up. The fence falling down. Weeds had started to grow in the cracks and crevices. It sat in a sad, lonely state. This house once filled to the brim with family, faith, hope, dreams, and love was looked so empty.

I looked across the street to our neighbor’s house. It no longer existed. In its place was an empty, grass lot.  Down the street and around the block, many other homes had succumbed to the same fate as my neighbor’s house. Houses that were inhabited by grumpy neighbors, messy children, friendly families were all gone. Demolished for the airport expansion. Phantoms of memories rose at every corner and in every empty space. It was a sad and eerie feeling.

A voice from the backseat declared the urgent need of a bathroom, startling me back to the present time. Another voice inquired when we were heading back to the hotel. One more voice, happily made noises from his car seat. My past faded and the present reappeared in vivid, deep color. The world seemed full of hope, dreams, and full of life.

I took one more glance at the house before driving away. I might not see the old house standing again. If I return to the neighborhood,  it may be a shiny, new runway for the airport.  That is okay.

The memories of my childhood, good and bad, do not live in an old house or in an old neighborhood. The empty, grass lots have not erased the laughter, friendship, and memories made in those spaces. Memories and lessons learned are kept close and held in mind and in my heart. Many hopes and dreams have come to fruition, in mistakes, successes, and with time.

My present place is a wonderful life, filled with constant activity, overabundance of love and laughter, lessons STILL needing to be learned. I was happy I had the chance to show my children the old house and my neighborhood. They may not have appreciated it but that is okay. For me it was a celebrations of the past and the future and of lemonade.  It was a memory that weaved my past and present together and will be stored away in my heart.