What Does Starting a School Year Mean?

DISCLAIMER – the info and connections below?  100% inspired by the Woodbridge Student Services Team – and they ROCKED IT, let me tell you.  You will see.

Yes, it does not matter WHERE you are, because a 2017-2018 school year starts for THOUSANDS of people across the WORLD – but what does matter is the mind set that will lead you into that year, and what will be motivating for you to start based on what has happened to you in the past – to enhance this year.

Educator versus teacher, if you have read my past blogs, you would see I make a HUGE difference between the two, always have.  Today, thanks to an amazing presentation from a top-notch Special Education staff at Woodbridge School District, perhaps the leading Special Education group in the state, I realized, returning to the United States was a privilege with a crew as qualified, passionate, and intent in putting the student in the forefront, as they did today.  I wanted to share with you the aspects that brought to the table to show, that they were educators and not simply teachers, as we all can be.

ACES study – have you heard of this?  In my 18 years in the education field as an Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 11.41.35 PMeducator, when something moves you – and when you think you have seen it all, and you see something, feel something that moves you – it is something that is worth the time.  In this case, ACES, Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey, I wish I heard about this like 10 years ago- it affects even educators. Simply FOUR of these ACES is shown to take 20- TWENTY years off your life based on the research – think about that.  

If you go to this site, sponsored by the site veto violence, and scroll down, manipulate the ACES slide bar and see what happens with ACES exist and how they affect your life – it will cause you to stop and seriously just what this means –

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YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND that the things in our lives can change the shape of our brains due to literally soaking our brains in fight or flight if it happens all the time, and events exist that do this – this is a HUGE HUGE factor in realizations of reaching students, and this happens – from what I found out, at a high economic level as well as a low one.  This was so powerful and helped show the effect of being an educator longevity-wise, not just for a year or so.  When you realize that adults and each of us have several of these ACES and how they can affect our lives, you want to be more empowered to insure your students are able to be protected and move past these ACES that might affect them. This video, by Nadine Burke Harris, – it is moving and defines what we should strive for as educators, and not just teachers. Amazing after 18 years of education I am hearing about this today – this is trauma in itself.

I loved one of the quotes made today – Education – “it is a burnout career.”  Living that through these years, I also realized, being aware of that – helped me counter the need on behalf of the students and try to find ways to ride the burnout aspects and make it above the burnout, that is a challenge as we all know the challenges that face all educators, let alone teachers. The reference of the film “Paper Tigers” (trailer HERE) intrigued me and have added this on my MUST SEE list.  

I LOVE the introduction of being a KEYMAKER – nothing really needs said here, you read it and let is roll over you.  LOVE THIS:

(and could be GREAT to do in a school):


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and adding to that, not forgetting what we need to do for OURSELVES during this school year as well as give to students, so we BOTH can be whole:

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and yet this video, when I thought I was capped out for the day – and had been filled t the brim, this turned the tables and let me see exactly how amazing a different perspective can be.  I was able, as an EDUCATOR, to see inside what Special Education could feel like as an adult, and it made me realize I had previously misjudged so much abut what I thought Special Education was – it changed me in 20 minutes, even after 18 years of being in education – that is powerful:  (and being in the 80’s was at first like waitttt…but when you see what the educators feel – the rest is history – 

How Difficult Can That Be- F.A.T. City Workshop

The introduction of Developmental Assets – it was a lifter to the aspects we can bring to counter the ACES aspects that face us, our students, families, and beyond. It helps define what we have the power to do, and how we can enable a success to the challenges that find themselves on our lists to do as educators.  

This was a GOOD day, a day I was given the gift of looking at what power we have when we are simply in the presence of individuals we can help have better lives, and that relies on us being educators and not just teachers.   Thank you Woodbridge Student Services Team, you changed many people’s lives in one day that can go on and change others for the remainder of the year.












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Three Sheets to the Wind…

Normally, that phrase indicates you being pretty out of shape due to a rough night before, or in my case, when I woke, I felt, as usual, a hundred times better with a few hours sleep but the urge to get going amid being tired, to get a early start and “escape” unscathed from the host of animals I was carrying, lol.  This morning, starting at a wakeup around 6:45 AM, but also came with Murphy’s Law, I did take time first to go to the Mountaineer, empty out the crates and clean them, reorganize a little bit so things were not falling over each other, then proceeded to extract the animals.  Cats – fine despite passing one of the cleaning staffs with a cat buried under a blanket, and then repeating two more times.   Dogs – at one point Wriggley managed to open the hotel door and walk down the breezeway of the second landing care -free, and I freaked a bit, and got him promptly into the room before anyone could see the entourage.  I took then one by one to the car and hoped the cameras on the area were not going to allow prime time viewage of six animals.  P.S. This Days Inn was great, clean, the staff had started super early, were efficient, and overall, quality quality quality.

The most drastic change in getting up in the United States so far was the humidity that hit me, as soon as I woke up, stepped outside, and I realized how much I had lived without humidity, and how nice it had been.  HAD been.  The dogs were definitely feeling the pressure of the heat – and thank goodness, the air conditioning was perfect with the Mountaineer the whole way up, and not having been used ever, it worked like a champ.  It saved us all along the way.  We headed out and before we knew it, were in Tennessee. After two days of sneaking animals successfully into overnight stays, I was confident my luck would not able to keep pushing my way through successful stays, and I wanted to be there somehow, someway, this third day.  In my mind, Virginia and Tennessee would be the largest time consumers of travel, and once I made it through there, home free.Again, in contemplating whether I could reach 2 hours south of Nashville to see my cousin, I thought I would love to but having to unleash the animals, as well as recover the route away from heading back to DE would out be back anymore, and I felt my physical and mental state with traveling could probably only handle this third day without starting to come undone.
Speaking of that, at one point, I feel I did come undone with one of the cats, Suzy, who for some odd reason, just did not want to stop meowing, odd at this stage in the trip, but each day I changed the cats out of the setup – one day Suzy and Hangover in the large crate, Dewey in the individual crate, and each time we would keep rotating.  Suzy obviously was not buying the crate by herself at all.  Not having it.  At one point, the meowing got to me so much I pulled over, tried to reason in threatening tones with Suzy, and had dropped my cellphone somewhere, thinking it fell out of the passenger door when I opened it up.  I kept thrashing the grass on the passenger side of the car, and looked up and there was the phone, caught in the handle on the side of the door – do or die, I needed to make it to Delaware this third day, my nerves were waning.As the hours led into the dark and I kept seeing signs for Raleigh and points north in Virginia, the speed of the Mountaineer kept increasing, and eventually, I could not believe it, I crossed into Maryland, then Delaware, and around 1:30 AM, I found myself in an area in MD I slightly recognized.
It gave me confidence to realize that I COULD DO THIS.  I COULD MAKE THIS!  I was determined at this point.  The cats and dogs were strangely tired, but I did not want to subject them to another evening of transition that was not permanent.  Onto the road, we drive drove drove, and no kidding, the wee hours took me across the Bay Bridge, and the dogs could sense a change in the smells and wind, they stuck their heads out, and despite the darkness, the dogs knew something was changing, they simply knew.
Bordering on 3:00 AM, I knew this was within reach now obviously.  All the way to the roads I had traveled so many years before, it was exciting no matter what hour.I made my way to Felton, (how odd is it that my storage all these years was in the same town?) – I stopped the Royal Farms to really find out, where the heck is the street this house was on?  I did not know the exact location of the street, but knew the address, and had already communicated with the landlord about the key being available to let myself in the back – now to just find it.  Sure enough, someone was in Royal Farms this hour of 5:00 AM that informed me his residence was pretty much back to mine, excellent.  I get the FYI, headed out and sure enough, there was the house in the pictures, NO KIDDING.  I made my way around the back, looked for the key, and due to me being BRAINDEAD from one heck of a day, could not FIND A KEY ANYWHERE.
I checked the window leading into the kitchen from the back deck, YES – OPEN.  I was tired but desperate to just be in one place, lol.  I opened, crawled, and only unloaded cats into the master bedroom bathroom, dogs into the mudroom that was two adjacent rooms, and I grabbed one pillow.  Nothing else.  Daylight was beginning to come through the windows. I dropped the pillow.  I dropped onto the pillow.  I remember nothing more except letting complete exhaustion swim over me.
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Second Day of “Life is a Highway Feeling”…

Although the second day, awaking after a first long drive night and groggy awakening to an early, damp, wet day- honestly the first day my nerves began to settle down a BIT, after being on the road.  “Operation animal exit” was in place as it was early, and most people were still asleep, so I rounded the cats and god up one by one into the truck, their crates, etc, and overall, no one was hysterical, no one was overly ridiculous in emotions, and they were major agreeable.  

Amazing how fast already they seemed to be used to their crate, let alone the idea of traveling in a vehicle and yet, I thought how cool it would be to have them now used to ride in Delaware as we saw the countryside, so maybe this was all a means to the end.  I remember back in Mexico, on the first day, oil additive was accidentally added to the fuel of the Mountaineer, so now, the vehicle was suffering the effects of this additive in the wrong area, and knew when I got home to Delaware, I would have to see about straightening out that issue to get the idle back to anything normal.  Not great to drive when the vehicle was suffering under those conditions.

Having the advantage of being close to Dallas, moreso than the border of Mexico, as I took off and made my way to Dallas, the bridges and open highway opened up – and I began to enter Arkansas.  I didn’t really know much about Arkansas, but I did know it reminded me of Georgia, beautiful lined trees along the highway, and overall a definite pleasant view of going through Arkansas leading to Tennessee.  My long term goal was to make it to Tennessee, and really, I hoped to see my cousin in Tennessee, but she was very very long away from Memphis, and hence, I realized later, much further from my route and Delaware, that it wouldn’t happen.   Turns out, being in the same state does not mean close proximity – although many feel that is the case.

I found myself in a sticky situation, the check for the payment of the house, had been turned in and I realized the money had not been placed in the bank to cover the check, VERY BAD.  I high tailed it to the nearest McDonald’s, no kidding McDonald’s saved the day – I was able to get WIFI on my phone, contact Intercam, expressed the importance of this transfer happening asap, and between Intercam and my Tidemark Federal Credit Union, we would have the funds there within in day.  Hands down, I have tested Intercam (by accident) from a distance and they have always saved the day and come though for me, this by far, for me, has been the best service for getting funds back and forth when I have needed it. Francis and Alejandro at Intercam have been life savers – on the road, in other countries, and then some, so this added to the stress of things you do not want to stress about, at least for me, on this second day- was a relief.

I wish I could say something REALLY stood out this second day of traveling, yet, uneventful was GREAT, and it was.  Listening to the music, reflecting on how much has happened so suddenly, reflecting on the last night of getting many together at Porco Rosso and seeing a connection between familiar and new individuals coming in, that in itself was satisfying to see occur.  I think that is more effective than simply a way to say goodbye, but a way to introduce hellos and goodbyes to individuals to continue a process of enjoying an area, as well as an experience.  As the roads of Arkansas unfolded, I really enjoyed this almost what seemed at times, “forced” initiative to move in a different setting, but I can’t deny had had good feelings about it all around, despite not wanting to leave.

Tips I found so far for transporting so many animals – be methodic.  It made sense to put the cats in their crates first, to avoid the dogs clamoring at them when I was doing so, in front of the dogs, in the truck.  That doesn’t make sense – let the cats have as much peace of mind, and transfer – quietness before the dogs are brought into the scene.  Let the cats have water, litter, etc before the dogs enter to vehicle so they can eat, drink, etc if they want to.  I was happy to report like only 1-2 accidents in the crates, and that was at the beginning because it was new for the cats.  After that, as long as I provided time for quiet for the cats involving eating, water, (water does not stay while while driving) and litter, they would use it if they felt they were given their space and time to do so and not being like hurry hurry hurry.  No messes ever with any of the dogs, and I am sure that was due to the dogs being sometimes used to long days, but still building short stops among that. The dogs became good at the door opening, saying “Come on!” and they knew to jump in.  I have a back seat that folds down to make a large back space as well as of course folding up.  Folding up the seats, and tucking bags of cat and dog food in the floor space, wedged between the seat then covering up with blankets so the dogs can actually be lying on the full back seat was great – it allowed easy access to food for both cast and dogs but it also to “disappear” and allow more space for the dogs to lie down and rest. I found making the best out of space and trying to find dual ways to use all spaces for items and for things you will need to stop for was the winning combination to this travel success.

Ironic, in looking back at receipts used during this day’s voyage, the main one was a purchase for Aveeno hand creme.  Laughing, I realized the days of scrubbing and disinfecting the areas, walls, and painting at my apartment in Mexico, took a toll on my hands.  Blisters, rash, etc swollen, I think the amount of cleaning I did, took its toll of taking all nutrients out of my hands, and overall, Aveeno was the only one that seemed to bring relief, bit somewhere I think I knew I was going to have to seek some meds eventually.  

I pushed as far as I could driving-wise, and contemplating hitting the road again, I declined and chose the Days Inn in Forrest City, Arkansas.  Okay so Tennessee, not Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 12.58.27 PMexactly achieved, but SO CLOSE- I contemplated making the push into a new state today but was beat, dirty, sweaty, tired.  I was super nervous about Days Inn, as I knew they were pet friendly, but 6 pet friendly?- I went in, paid for a $101.00 USD room (expensive compared to the D & D, but as I saw there were video cameras of the parking lot (made me feel safe) – but wondered would six pets be also wonderfully seen?  This time I was assigned a 2nd floor breezeway, and thought HOW WILL I GET SIX upstairs without being evicted?  I can’t say anything else except, one by one, cats in the bathroom, dogs in the room loving the feel of the bed and rubbing across it, lol Dane taking the seat after I placed a sheet over it, they were glad to be out of the vehicle.  I few barks and I freaked a bit, because one bark okay, one meow and a bark, and another bark? – you get the idea.  At one point, I was so exhausted, I just thought, what will be will be, and as I fell asleep, no raps on the door asking about an excessive number of pet, and still feeling the stickiness of humidity trailing us from Texas, I cranked the air conditioning and was thankful for a second day of rest and distance.  Tomorrow, ultimate goal was to clear Tennessee, Virginia, and forge home into Delaware, albeit a long long drive.





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Into the Night…

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Many of us that remember that amazing graduation speech with Ms Ramon, associate Dylan Thomas even moreso with this line, and as I made my way past the Angel for the last time, I found myself aware of this ballad line trying to get a headstart on traffic as I headed out.  it is so funny, even with the easiest directions, it is difficult to find the easiest path when you are stressed, tired concerned, etc..  While I was running literally on two and a half hours of sleep and more adrenaline than could be put into a 50 gallon drum, I was excited as well .  Once I hit the open highway, I felt the nervousness of the animals begin to fade from my grasp.  

I felt with the three dogs and three cats, I SHOULD be falling apart, roof loaded and packed t the hilt, and yet, all was calm and leading the way for me out.  In trying to keep track of the tolls this first day, and my goal of insuring I was going to make Texas and then some the first day, leaving at 6:00 AM this morning in actuality, I am sure I forgot some along the way however, this is what I ad as a receipt list of tolls while traveling the quotas in Mexico to the border:

All incurring on August 2nd, 2017: ( I had taken 4000 pesos in cash with me to begin this trip, knowing between gas and tolls, that should get me there easily in one day). 

6:55 AM – 77:00 pesos

8:51 AM – 44.00 pesos

11:15 AM – 62.00 pesos

1:33 PM – 114.00 pesos

8:51 PM – 28. 00 pesos

(somewhere between those above, one for 58.00 pesos)

–total equalling 383 pesos, but it seems to me there were more – so as I discover them, I will update above.  It is so funny the time you get to think while on the road.  I thought of everything from how HC guided me softly through the exit process to be here right now, to the constant followup if colleagues like Stephanie Brownie where we ate a cool breakfast the day before and just reflected, Jennifer Long, Gina Bermejo, Matt Messick, Mr Pell, JUST TO NAME A FEW who always told me I had a place here when I wanted – to my students and colleagues who did not know I was exiting, to my friends, colleagues, and former students who would be shocked to see me one day in Delaware, trying to imagine what life would be like and not on a Mexican street.

I paced myself to stop around every 6 hours and found myself letting the dogs out on leash at parking lots, to let them take in water, food, and giving the time to the cats for food, the litter box, water all within their crates.  The heat was a constant reminder to me, always hovering around 96 and above Fahrenheit, reminding me the various elements that could stall this trip.

I also remember reflecting most of the day, how lucky I was to have a vehicle like the Mercury Mountaineer, that after 4 years, I never had needed to adda DROP of oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, ANYTHING from the time I came to Mexico two times and was driving back the third time, how amazingly good the vehicle on this third trip and how amazingly good my friend, Mark Fields was, a solid mechanic, and the proof of this on my third trip from Mexico to the states.

The day overall was a great day for traveling, leaving the rain behind me, it was nice, despite the intense humidity that hit you when you stepped out of the vehicle, to have sun layering the road in front of you.  In my mind, this all lead me to Nuevo Laredo, crossing the bridge into the states.  For some reason, I always get hung up on finding the entrance to go across and it takes me awhile just to FIND the way to approach the bridge.  The same existed this time, I wandered around following signs that did not get me directly where I needed finally stopping to refuel and get excellent directions to the bridge, given in Spanish, and it got me right there- 🙂 loved.  This was largely uneventful, it took little to not time, it was effortless, and as soon as I made it across the border I cashed in 4000 pesos from 8000 for cash, and this started the moment I was using dollars instead of pesos to get me the rest of the way home.  The timing was around 9:30ish crossing, and this gave the dogs a brief respite, walk, stretch, and the cats were like, WHEN ARE WE GETTING OUT?  I wanted to get to a place where that would happen.

I pushed myself as far as I could the first night, I wanted to make Dallas, and no way, I made it to San Antonio, and around 1:00 AM, I was seeing starts so I needed to stop.  Stop I did at the smallest and most out of the corner way motel, the D & D.  I was thinking this might be the only chance I have to house all three animals and not leaving them in the truck all night.  That late at night, the receptionist wandered out, obviously in sleep mode, and despite the blatant sign, NO PETS, I was lucky to get a room on the very end of this line, ushered the cats one by one in the bathroom loose, the dogs in the main room, and ta da.  

Yes the cats meowed for the first 30 minutes but I also was relived to see NO ONE around me room-wise and the cats with the fan left on in the bathroom had circulating air, the dogs were STILL rubbing their necks across the bed, but once we turned off the lights, eEVERYONE was OUT cold. Despite the simple and plain look, and for 55.00 USD, this was not the scuzzy, disgusting, awful motel you’d expect.  No bugs, no fleas, no bed bugs nothing, plain plain plain and getting up at 6:00, before the 11:00 checkout was easy, dogs and cats ushered back in, dogs walked for posterity and potty break, although awaking to rain, we we off towards clearing Texas today, our second day.

Feeling as if I had just won the lottery, I can’t begin to express how amazingly good it felt to close my eyes, in a BED, and no implications of distress from the animals’ part, at all.  I could not have asked for anything more the very first day out except for realizing my “packing job” was looking like to throw items in every SPACE available of the Mountaineer, (I should have taken the picture, darn!) and the animals in between all of that. For my sanity, sometime I would have to, stop along the way on this second day to reorganize the mountain of items I was hauling with me,

Although I should have been in Dallas the first day, physically, I knew I want as far as I physically go.  It was 100% refreshing to realize, even without the desired effect of caffeine, how I was able to push on due to the encouragement I had been given before this first day of a very long trek.  As I woke up the second day with vigor, I realized even 2 more hours of sleep would have ben great but getting the 5 I did re placed me on a high positive direction.





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Jumping Out of the Plan, into the Open, and Sometimes Empty Expectations and Ultimately, the Road.

I still wake up lately, in a sudden jump and flash, startled, in the middle of the night, with this urgency I have to run and dash out of bed, to get to somewhere before a certain time.  That feeling haunted me for over three weeks in July as I realized no matter how much I planned, there was the moment where when I stepped out that door of my apartment, my street, my block, it was for the last time, and there was no turning back. It caused me the shaking when I woke up I experienced.

I went to the map a hundred times, reviewing the stops, the possible stops I would need to make, pet friendly locations of hotels, over and over, recalling the stops I made when I had done this trip by myself twice before to and fro, over and over and over – and yet this was so much different. 

Settling on the movers of AtlasMex, a date had finally been set for coming to pack.  As that day was one day away, the days leading up to this were filled with countless buckets of Pine Sol, detergent, cleaner, and tackling the walls of the apartment room by room, then letting those dry and I moved to others, went back and plastered spots, then brought out the paint can and matching.  This occurred over and over, and I became a Zombie cleaner for a week or so, always waking to urge myself to do at least one more wall, at least one more room, saving the last walls for the ones occupied by the items I was piling up against 1-2 walls for the movers to come in and wrap.

This all helped me prepare mentally, organize the plethora of items being sold, given, etc.. Posting big furniture items on the various Facebook sites helped…

Mexico City Online Garage Sale Free!
Garage Sale / Free Items!
foreigners in the city (mexico city)
foreigners & expats in mexico city
As well as the ASF Classified Ads page, and the 2017-2018 teachers Site, the 2016-2017, the
2015-2016, and the ASF teachers Facebook site, (all helped keep me in  a rhythm of
checking prices, checking/marking sold, in moments of chaos of that free falling trip coming up)

…word of mouth to new hires coming in, all helped slowly, (though not fast enough in my mind) see items begin to disappear, literally up to the day/week of leaving. It seemed everything made me nervous this last week.

The day of the packers came, July 28th 2017, and all morning from 9:00 – 4:00 they packed everything, me pacing wondering if I had too much, lol not giving them enough that would fit into the car, etc.. and they almost finished that day, but not quite.  That was a Friday.  Saturday  July 29th and Sunday July 30th did not work out for them, due to complications with another mover.  

Luckily I had the amazing benefit of meeting friends, and having a night to chilax and have others new to ASF meet veterans one last time before many took off,

URL here for these pics! —

and we did so at Porco Rosso in Cuauhtemoc.  It was a great night and one I needed to happen to calm down.              Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 3.35.45 PM.png   Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 3.35.57 PM Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 5.43.21 AM.png

and  Now I was nervous more so than others, my painting and cleaning was catching up with the items still in my apartment.  

Sunday brought some of the bigger items moving out, a breath of fresh air and relief happening.    Then Monday, (July 31st) more items moving out, space in the apartment, the movers came, they removed and finished packing the items to go on the truck, and it look like I had hit 10 cubic meters thanks to the way they packed on the mark.  All the while I am knowing I need to have space for the new tenants coming in and inside, I am packing all around the world,  Two days left (August 2nd) before I actually visualized myself leaving in my car, 6 animals later, on an open road, with unexpected events at the border and beyond.  I was quite scared.

The night before I left, I will never forget.  I ran around like crazy, stopping at ASF to grab my last minute checks, and trying to sneak into the welcoming breakfast and finding myself announced by the gracious Paul Williams and the entire Welcoming Staff AND new hires.  This was NOT the plan by the way, and was causing me slight panic as inside I was ( I am not sure I am going to get all done !!!!) , but it was bittersweet to be sitting at the very breakfast where I had met so many amazing people and this was an ending this day for me, it is difficult, if not impossible, to put how I felt into words at this moment).

I was off in the late afternoon, getting last minute papers for the cats and dogs at the vet, (and having the vet come to the house on Monday, to give the at who I could jot extract from the apartment his shots) – getting a tarp because I thought the bags I would carry on the roof rack might go through rain and having a tarp to cover them NOT such 


a bad idea, getting help adding a shelf to the large dog crate to make a mini condo for the cats,

IMG_5710 .  getting a second cat crate for the third cat, buying last minute grocery items to fill a cooler for my trek all the while FREAKING OUT INSIDE.

The night before, wow, does this picture freak you out?  it did me, ALOT.  How was I going to consolidate this into one vehicle with 6 animals, and leave and get sleep before heading out.  I had no idea. All night I kept cleaning items I saw i did not get to (the fridge, the kitchen, etc).

while picking up items and cramming into spaces that I would try to save space in the Mountaineer, all the while trying to calm myself down, and the mantra, there will be space, there will be space.  At midnight, I packed and packed and packed, and loaded the top of the vehicle, it was RAINING and I was like, no…  Are you kidding?  So the tarp came out and I tied it with bungy cords tightly knowing the wind and driving would make havoc with the tarp despite rain coming down.  2:30 AM, on the morn of leaving and my plan was to leave at 4:00 AM, I died into a sleep I do not remember, but I do remember waking up ay 5:30 AM, and knowing I had enough adrenaline to bypass sleep and to get started.

I put some last minute items out for the neighbor, grabbed the cats in the sleep mode and actually pretty easily each got them into the crates without a problem, the last were the dogs on the back seat.  I simply pulled out, my Explore PACKED TO THE HILT, literally to the front windshield, animals in tow, and simply pulled out.  It seemed to less dramatic but in my head I could picture all the crazy miles ahead of me.  I followed my last time for awhile towards the Angel, towards Polanco.  I had a new route that seemed to take more of a diagonal route,  and as everything made me nervous so did that but I plunged forward, knowing I had animals accompanying me and they were depending on me, lol.Yes the cats meowed alot at first but were completely scared enough to quiet down quickly enough, the dogs in fact did get bored and at first Dane wanted to eat the cats, so glad we had crates.  However all settled down with the music lightly playing, and the quiet in the vehicle, and we were on the the road…











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The Plan According to Everything, Nothing, and Anything

Once I decided to move ahead with the plan, as heavy as the decision weighed in my heart, my gut, and my head, (as Miranda Lambert sings so well – and how I feel about Mexico!) – the nervousness REALLY set in.  I would wake up shaking – with the thoughts of making my way across the country, into another, with the extended family – and yet there it was – not going away and not being fixed on its own, so I hit the books and make the made decisions under a stressful cloud.

  1. Find an mover that worked, was quality, and that was economical for the items I was needing to send.
  2. Deciding what was needed, what was not
  3. Researching tips on moving animals safely across the border and for such a long distance.
  4. Make a plan for food while I travelled to minimize costs.
  5. Have a schedule each day to close up things here to not leave an empty hole of to do’s (as much as possible).
  6. A place to move to. 

it is amazing how much advice came from individuals in the state that made a HUGE and difficult decision easier.  My cousin Lois Rhoades, Brenda Treherne, Natalie Dorfeld, Andrea Paun, Rachelle Raypush, Danielle Levredge  – they all helped shaped what would be a plan.

Before I get into the details, what DID work on the first try was meeting some amazing new teachers coming it (VERY HARD to know I was heading out as they were coming in) but despite the list of to’s that always remained, the diversion of some amazing new friends helped me push along, while I received the amazing support of long time friends I had made along the way.  (Don’t worry, tons of time to shout out to the long timers who were crucial to me as well 🙂 )

Tiffany Navarro – You were there, and were still in Mexico, and at the drop of a dime, boom!  You came and helped.  Amazing.  Thanks for always lending an objective ear, a cup of tea and your time!

Tamra Fernandez and family were great and it was nice to provide advice to them for assistance along the way – it helped me get perspective and they helped me so much with removing items and having them go somewhere where they were wanted.  One of the best new people hired and full of attention and concern for being the best she can be.  Her family was so inviting, and her being here made SUCH a difference.

Kelly Bowman and Gerard, again, they supported, listened, suggested, an were there in a moment’s notice- and they were new to Mexico too.  The assistance of just simply listening, supporting, etc helped me also move along in a smooth fashion.  This in the early stages moved all forward so quickly, and I am not sure they realized how crucial that was!

Maria Mandolini and discovering a place for her to stay, helped so so much.  Overall, her patience, despite her nervousness in all, and her ability to provide so much assistance as well, fueled a calmness I needed.  Her questions helped me review the positive experiences I had at ASF, and just allowed me to put so much into perspective.

Let’s look at that #1! (Details below and at Services page on my blog at:


I went with the below company, to my door in Felton DE, 33,000 pesos for Mexican side, then the U.S. side was 2500.00 USD, and they come, pack, and unpack when delivered, take care of all border costs – insured – and overall a very accommodating service!  All the others below were too, VERY prompt, fast and willing to work out the best possible route, so another might be perfect for you based on your situation, but 100% no complains of this one below – excellent service and they called all during the packing to check on the service!Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 7.25.08 AM.png

Video Intro Here


Vincent Etcheverry . Director General

 Logimpex de México S.A. de C.V.    Descartes 54 – Piso 3 – Int 301

Col. Nueva Anzures .   México D.F. 11590 .   Tel / fax : (00 52) (55) 5203 8152 / 54

e-mail : info@logimpex.com.mx

FB : Logimpex de México

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Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 1.08.13 PM         Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 1.08.26 PM


All My Sons Storage and Across the Border Moving

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Amazing choices for moving, AMAZING, and the best option is having the time to check them all out – which is crucial.  Sometimes, you need to ask this, if there is a truck or service heading in the direction you are going and sometimes you can share that mode of transportation as well, which is best.  Usually once you make your decision, the mode of transportation for moving is decided, then you need to understand usually there is a day of just packing, then another day of moving.  Know ow many cubic meters you are given, pick the best one, but mark that off in your apartment, this gives you a visual, and there are utube videos showing you how many cubic meters something is, it HELPED ME ALOT.

 I realized once I got here, I was able to get some amazing pieces of furniture, despite wanting to bring pieces I bought in Mexico, but it was aokay.  The best movers I found, are found at my Services page for Mexico – they were absolutely GREAT.  I paid for the Mexican side in pesos, then when delivered, in dollars, so roughly in my case 2-3 weeks.  So have a U.S. Date side, or where you are moving – money in the bank when they arrive.  I took the longest amount of time with this to make sure I could get the best and most economical until I was paid, so that was important I had some money to use along the journey, and this decided how much I had moved, packed, etc..

#2  – I took only things I had made you could not sleep in or sit in.  That was a few pieces, but I figured it helped with the cubic meters.  I used every means possible contacting HC, the Facebook sites for ASF teachers, the ASF site, the sites for Open and Free garage Sales on Facebook, and started immediately so I had about 2-3 weeks ahead to change and edit.  Also, I reached out to others moving and let them know what I was selling so they could tell others, and we helped each other.  HUGE HELP.

#3 – There are some amazing sites and Tracy Miller, former CTE and HC guru sent me some powerful, informative papers so I ‘d be ready.  These are found on my blog section for moving and found here too:

Bringing Dogs – 

Bringing CatsScreen Shot 2017-08-08 at 7.46.37 AM

Poster Crossing the Border

International Travel with Pet

Pet Friendly Hotels

A GREAT service for planning travel w/pets

#4 – One of the best things I did was shop using my efectivale card, helping me organize the trip length, what food I would need, filling a cooler, and I STILL have items left from it after three days of driving.  This saved a ton of $$ and was crucial to the success of the trip aI thought.

#5 – Amid the . plastering, the painting of the apartment each day, room by room, I also ticked off 12 items I needed to do in the location I was moving to – and doing both seemed to be working towards an end, no matter how much there seemed to be.

All in all, more planning went into it then I felt when I left, but if not, wow, it would have been a disaster, allowing enough to empty out the apartment (mostly) the last night, with packing items into my truck. being able to pack enough to take that I could easily put away within the first few days of arriving without being overwhelming, and organizing the items in my items when I was driving back.

With three cats, even with with huge dog crate, and making a second tier in the crate for two cats, the third crate, as suggested by an amazing vet –

Clínica Veterinaría Pedro Pablo Soto Pérez

Calle de Chiapas 128, Roma Nte., 06700 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Phone : +52 55 5584 5409
(Let him know you work at ASF, it helps!)
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all worked perfectly.  

No crate needed for the dogs, and the vet came to my house one day for the cat I could not extract to the vet.  They helped me print all certificates, give me all meds for the cats to be drowsy (I ended up using NONE OF THEM!) and making sure all shots were up to days, including flea treatment pending the new location.

#6 – I hit every realtor and onsite advertising for rentals in the area, EVERY ONE.  With it being the 4th of July, that helped alot as messages were left EVERYWHERE.  Using Trulia, I found a TON of choices and within three days had a place found (for pets).

The three weeks I had were essential in making all, despite the feeling chaos, DEFINITELY less chaotic in the long run. So with the planning as much as I could allow, what happened the morning of? leading into the trek itself – wow – on its way.




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Summer of Unexpected Change…

Yes, of course by now, most know that my biggest unexpected change came front and center.  Where did this originate?  How the heck did this all happen?  In a short few weeks following an amazing ASF summer school, a 360 occurred, so let’s take it from there (there will be some awesome posts coming about what 2017’s ASF summer camp entailed, and it was A W E S O M E! )

Every year, for my own information, I always ask to meet with HC, and they graciously, every single year, since I have been at ASF, have sat down with me to crunch numbers, forecast how I am doing in relation to what I will be earning, etc, and this all is basically peace of mind for me in the love I have for Mexico and wanting to remain there in finding an amazing country of open-mindedness and a level in internationalism I never had personally realized on an individual basis.  

I have found myself able to thrive and survive easily in a Mexico I have come to love beyond words, beyond blog posts, and yet I realized I needed to be able to provide the support for family as well, and I did not feel I had that at this point in my life.  This was a hard pill to swallow for sure, and yet, the generosity of those around me in terms of support, confidence-building,  Yet, that ominous feeling remained and there is not much you can do about that – hence, decisions had to be made, where was where this tumultuous change within emerged this summer.  

Within a few days I realized what I thought was going to be my summer was NOT my summer, but that is life and thanks to the first wave of HC support, second wave of colleagues and close friends, and I realized, how rich I had become in friendships thick and thin, and although a new adventure always lies just over the horizon, often we take for granted how luck we are day in and day out.  It was with this realization that the biggest change of my life to occur in a few weeks, would begin to take motion.  After seeing so many roasts and goodbyes occurred at the end of the year, I found myself glad (as much as I could be) this was occurring over the summer – as goodbyes and the whole farewell, is my weakness – so the adventure begins.  Stay tuned for tips, speed marathons of decisions, and the blur of change that led to me arriving in Delaware, this past Friday   (I am still wrapping my mind around all this!)


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Tri fecta plus one…SUPERFECTA!

As my mind and body now are starting to bound back to the point of being able to think again after experiencing some crazy last week adventures, before I proceed with that blog series, some unfinished topics have been bugging me, itching me, to cover and get across.  

Every year for the last six years I had experienced at the end of the ASF school year, four specific events that reached out to me and never ceased to amaze me, sometimes even more in the afterthought.  Many can relate to this as educators, BUT, I thin very few can on the level I had experienced these events at ASF in Mexico City.

Club Leadership Awards and Senior Awards.  For 2017, I am still speechless to see how much time, effort, and commitment is evident when you take the time to just stop, and watch the goings-on around you of what our students AND advisors are doing.  Of course Repentino. was shocked and honored to receive a Club of Clubs awards,Club of Clubs 2017.jpg but the reality sets in – we are NOTHING without the willingness to participate, support, and be involved, intertwined, and interconnected with other clubs, (Tech Club, Gamma, Math Club to name a few of MANY!)  to do so allows us to be so much more and that is a recognition no award can be given for how lucky we are to be surrounded by so many amazing activity-based clubs.  I love this evening, and always seems to be the first event that reminds us the years is winding down.  Seeing the amazing seniors that follow recognized my community leaders – priceless.  These two events that occur in one night not only show you the miles students have come, but the miles teachers have come outside the classroom as well as the Activities Director.  Huge Kudos to what kicks off a alarm clock reminder, “these amazing students are entering the real world!”

Capping.  Whether a spectator or a participant – this was my first time seeing this ceremony, and my all time favorite ceremony, by far.  I love the fact this ceremony also includes parents as faculty, parents in general, and overall this is heartwarming, bitter sweet, and I want to hold onto the students from beginning to end.  I loved there was a photo booth at capping this year.  I liked when we sat outside together though (though the weather never cooperates).  But most of all, there has never been a capping where tears have not welled up in my eyes, and this has nothing to do with me participating, but it has everything with me seeing the students come full circle since the first time I met them. 

The ASF Athletic Gala this year was, I felt, off the hook amazing. What always ceases to amaze is seeing the sheer number of students, coaches, and parents involved in this process.  The lobby is busting at the seams. However this year, the tables were loaded like an open market, and when you went to the tables to get what you wanted to snack on, you almost did NOT want to interrupt anything, break anything, or disrupt how amazing everything looked – classy to the “T.”  Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 3.32.46 AMThe ceremony itself is a worshiping service of the commitment that coaches, teachers, students, alumni, and family put forward to help many be successful on and off the field. It is a humbling ceremony, and one I feel every educator needs to attend to truly participate the wide spectrum of what ASF brings to so many people simply in one season, let alone many’s lives.

This leaves while not all the end of year activities, the biggie. graduation. Despite the internal argument of field or not field,  the fact remains.  You have one chance to look at what you have done all year long, as a teacher, mentor, advisor, and more, and see what it has gone.  It is a tear jerker for me inside because the speeches, in varying degrees and usually one or more will resound with you, combined with the memories you contain of seeing individuals that have been a part of your educator’s life for a VERY long part of a journey, all culminating into one event that built on the previous three mentioned above?  Yes, I am sure this is a different experience for educators than students. the heat, the length, the Saturday that id a gatekeeper before end of the year grade calculations, and such, but, the fact remains, take the above three activities, roll them into one event, you have graduation, and an event that brings your involvement front and center.  I found myself at the time wishing we could find a way to speed up the length of time students walked across the stage – because it is ONE LONG PROCESS, however, looking back now?  I relish every single moment I have been lucky enough to play a part in the ASF Final procession 
of graduation.  Inspiring would be the understatement of the year when you have a chance to see what the word international means up front and center.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 3.46.55 AMIt is so easy to take for granted the process that let us all be here, but from the Activities Director, to the students, parents, educators, administrators, maintenance, and MORE – this is a crowning event that takes the above three and again, presents itself in a whisper that says, “Job Well Done”, something not likely to be forgotten any time soon.

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Speak, Bullying, Climate, and Books in General.

As I go through my school hard drive of files today, I found just a awesome review of books – and it reminds me how much an art it is to find literature that matches specific situations.  I am sure this is why I have loved literature, teaching English, and applying the life outside of the walls of schools to this life we go through everyday.  The synthesis of literature, genres, and reading, is not, and does not have to be a solitary activity.  As we begin the investigation of a book titled Speak, issues of climate change that  need to be dealt with, as well as issues that fall under the category of bullying, isolation and so much more, I find it comforting to know that books can be a go to for dealing with so many of these situations.  Making the start of the year being a list of genres that will help support the curriculum is as important as the curriculum itself.

“Books are a natural and necessary part of preparation and planning, as are newspapers, journals, and other media that excite the learner.”

Students delve into topics for greater awareness. They gain perspective and a point of view, particularly regarding situations we hope students will never be in, for example, experiencing a tsunami or extreme poverty. Their understanding of time and place becomes more attuned as they experience the convergence of past and current history.

Literature also shows different approaches to or writing styles on a similar theme and can include examples of what young people have accomplished through service.

As students decide to address bullying on campus and learn about this topic, elementary grades will relish The Bully Blockers Club by Teresa Bateman. Older students use this book to put on skits for the younger ones, and both benefit. James Howe’s Pinky and Rex and the Bully is excellent for elementary classrooms and The Misfits, for middle schools, is a book that has given birth to National No Name-Calling Week.

Now with two sequels, Totally Joe and Addie on the Inside, Howe’s books can inspire both the love of reading and the imperative for action. Deborah Ellis’ young adult novel Bifocal is exceptional for looking at how rumors and prejudice impact high school students in the wake of September 11.


Most notable in the nonfiction category is Ellis’s recent addition to her long list of excellent titles, We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying. A book for all ages, this compels students, teachers and administrators to move beyond awareness into a plan for change.


14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy would be perfect to read at the beginning of a September 11 commemoration. Gone Fishing: Ocean Life by the Numbers by David McLimans could be used to teach numbers to students and could lead to a joint activity to care for the environment. The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden is hilarious to act out as a service learning activity around Earth Day or any day to raise awareness of litter and trash.


Here again books can be key. Empty by Suzanne Weyn is a brilliant young adult novel occurring ten years in the future when our planet is out of fossil fuels. As students reflect on an environmental service learning experience, using the characters and text of this novel would be exceptional. Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth shows a child reflecting on her front stoop as she considers what she will do to create beauty.

Now, here is my impossible top ten books list. Impossible, because my mind wants to say, “Oh, one more, and this one, too!” Here are my top ten for today. Tomorrow may be a different story!

The Curse of Akkad: Climate Upheavals that Rocked Human History by Peter Christie. This thrilling nonfiction treatise on how history has changed because of dramatic climate change is a real eye-opener and reads like a Jason Bourne thriller. Nonfiction, young adult.

In Our Village: Kambi ya Simba through the Eyes of Its Youth by Students of Awet Secondary School, edited by Barbara Cervone, is a service learning book that brings a small remote village in Tanzania into your classroom. This book was the impetus for me to initiate In Our Global Village with Barbara Cervone, which invites students around the world to write books back to the Awet students. Find out more at http://www.inourvillage.org. Nonfiction, all ages.

Jakeman by Deborah Ellis introduces us to kids in the foster care system. In telling of their escapades to visit their mothers on Mother’s Day, all of whom are in prison, they make you laugh, cry, and care. Nonfiction, young adult.

A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World by DK Publishing is a UNICEF book that brings the world into your classroom. All ages benefit from this informative nonfiction book. Two others in the series are A School Like Mine: How Children Learn Around the World and A Faith Like Mine: How Children Worship Around the World.

The Long March: The Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Potato Famine Relief by Mary-Louise Fitzpatrick is a story skipped in our text books, exquisitely written, and important to tell. I use this book in elementary to university presentations. A picture book.

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman is a point-of-view novel that shows how a child can influence an entire neighborhood to create a community garden. Fiction, grades 6 and up.

The Summer My Father Was Ten and Wanda’s Roses, both by Pat Brisson, are essential picture books. The first is about how a thoughtless act of vandalism becomes an opportunity for two generations to come together through a garden, and the second is about a girl creating a garden despite all the odds!

We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History by Phillip Hoose is a book belonging wherever young people are studying American History and want to know about what youth were doing. This thick book is rich with primary source materials and well-researched stories.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an exceptional novel told in first person by an 18-year-old who ends up in rehab and doesn’t know how he got there. With unexpected humor and intensity, this is a book for grades 11 and 12.

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian is pure joy. We meet Derek, who does not want to read his summer reading list and finds that drawing is his way to learn vocabulary. It’s filled with action, humor, a heartfelt resolution, and plenty of drawings by Jake Tashjian, the author’s teenage son. Novel, grades 4–6, and everyone else who wants to reach and teach children.

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Hour 30 of 24in48 reading Marathon!

Spine Poetry!  Oh yes!   So here is my attempt at a very brief artistic form of spine poetry – here at hour THIRTY of 24in48 reading marathon!  Read on!

Photo on 7-23-17 at 8.47 AM




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