Monday, September 17, 2007

Belated Tribute

As some of you know, I started blogging with an entry for 9/11, last year. This year, I was almost relieved that the day was rainy and gloomy - anything but that beautiful, crystal clear blue sky of 2001. A friend came over for lunch on 9/11. After she left I realized how very thankful I was for her company, on this most solemn and difficult day. I did not personally lose a loved one on 9/11, although my husband was in the city that day. My only connection to 9/11 is being a born and raised New Yorker - with a husband and daughter in the city every day now. Yet the anniversary of the date still throws me into turmoil and I can't bear to turn the TV on at all on 9/11. I don't let it dictate my daily life, but it is part of the fabric of my life.

My husband recently sent me this link for a Budweiser commercial. It was only aired once, as they did not want to make money from it. I mentioned in my last post about how we saw the magnificent Clydesdales in St. Louis and so I thought I would share this link:

Budweiser Tribute

We lost 2,974 souls in the combined attacks on 9/11; we have since lost 3,768 US soldiers in the Iraqi war. Why? I, for one, don't feel any safer. Just sadder, for all our losses.

May God rest their souls and bring peace to their families.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where I Was. . . or Where Was I?

I truly appreciate every one's concern. I have been away for quite a while. Life just keeps getting in the way.

Since April I have putting a lot of energy into starting a company. In my lifetime I have gone from a career in metallurgical engineering, to one in decorative painting and now on to jewelry. The painting started as a hobby when my children were young and I was fortunate enough to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. It soon developed into a business with great flexibility. The jewelry also started as a hobby (okay, an obsession, LOL) and developed into a tiny business after I had to give up the painting a couple of years ago due to rheumatoid arthritis. Last summer I became a consultant for Luxe Jewels, a jewelry company I found interesting. It was a party format (like Tupperware) only at the party I could teach people how to make jewelry. I loved jewelry and teaching so this was a great match for me - especially since Luxe encouraged consultants to also sell their own personal designs at the parties. Luxe soon discovered that not everyone wanted to make their own jewelry, so they also came out with ready-to-wear styles in the last catalog. I have been doing well with the Luxe, well enough that I want to split my personal design business away from the Luxe, so I have been trying to build both businesses, which has been time consuming. I have sponsored several consultants and am really enjoying that aspect of the business, as I have been calling upon the project management skills I learned as an engineer. I have been devoting most of my energy to Luxe because I am at a ground floor level opportunity right now and want to build that business up as much as I can, as soon as I can. Besides, I've promised my husband to make enough money so he can retire :-) I was in San Francisco for the Luxe convention the first week of August and had a great time, drooled over the new jewelry - and I even earned a vacation to Cancun, for my sales last year. I enjoyed meeting our company founder and president at convention - Jessica Herrin is a brilliant young (34) woman who also co-founded when she was still in grad school. At any rate, I'm having fun with it :-)

I am also working on my personal business, but that is moving more slowly. I have a friend who is a graphic artist, working on my branding; she created my logo and is now working on business papers for me. Then another friend will be building my web site. I really want to build a brand, much as Luxe is doing.

In May my son came back from his first year of college. In addition to being a year "smarter" he came back a state-certified EMT. Along with his 15 college credits, he opted to take an EMT course, which was an additional 8 hours of classroom instruction per week, not including assignments and practices and Saturday sessions. I think this is his proudest accomplishment to date because it was something he did completely on his own, with zero prompting or input from mom and dad. He volunteers with his college EMS and surprised me with "EMT trivia." Can you guess what is the most common cause for EMT calls at college? No, not drunk students, but sports injuries! Okay, I have to admit I was a little surprised - and more than a little relieved! My son also applied for, and received, reciprocal EMT status in our home state and volunteers with our local FD EMS .

Soon after he came back, we flew out to St. Louis for my daughter's college graduation. Tim Russert was an excellent commencement speaker. This being our first time back in St. Louis since we dropped her off as a freshman, we took almost a week to explore the area and visit the Arch, zoo, art museum - and of course the brewery tour! I loved seeing the Clydesdales on the tour and also enjoyed the decorative work on the old parts of the brewery - delicate wrought iron work, beautiful mosaics and gorgeous decorative painting. The craftsmanship in some of the old buildings was just amazing.

June included a vacation to Florida, for which I needed a vacation when I got back. I had to put a last minute trip together when I finally got both my children's summer work schedules and the only place I could book with our timeshare was Orlando. So we did the Disney/Universal thing. Only my children are not babies anymore. There were no more stops for "nap time" or taking the afternoon off to sit by the hotel pool. Oh no! It was go go go all day long and into the night. Someone needed a nap time - and it was ME!

In July, my daughter started intensive training for Teach For America, teaching children in summer school during the morning and taking classes herself, in the afternoon - then writing up lesson plans late into the early morning hours. If she got five hours sleep a night, it was a lot. For all you teachers out there, my daughter - who was always a straight A student and who went to a top university - told me that writing lesson plans was the hardest thing she has ever had to do. Of course she also had to go apartment shopping because she needed a place to live by August 1st. It all came together for her - she got through the training, moved into her "cosy" (read: "tiny"!) apartment and we even went over to paint a couple of weeks ago. I still have the "Spicy Buttercup" paint in my hair to prove it, or so they tell me.

In July we also had some problems with my brother who has mental health issues, either compounded by, or caused by, being a drug addict for better than 30 years. It is so difficult to see someone we love make bad choices, time and time again, especially when it affects others, such as his children or my parents. There is no way to reach my brother as he plays the "victim" card and refuses to acknowledge he needs help.

Last week, we lost my dear mother-in-law. The one comment everyone made at the wake was how great she looked. The family had opted for an open coffin for family viewing, but closed for the public. Well, they decided to leave it open the whole time because she looked so good. She had been suffering for a couple of years with her illness and that took its toll. It was wonderful to see her at the end with all the pain and suffering erased from her face and to remember what she had been like before her illness. A wise priest of mine had once told me that death was the "ultimate healing" - looking at her, I could believe that. Of course, it was still very difficult for all of us, more so for my father-in-law who was so devoted to her and took care of everything the last two years.

Last week we also found out my husband's sister has breast cancer. We have been waiting to get past the funeral to deal with that and will know more after she goes for a consult at Sloan-Kettering tomorrow.

So there are my past few months, summed up in several paragraphs, some happy, some sad. But really, although my time has been at a premium, I do think there is one other reason that I have not corresponded here in a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I have a brother who is an addict. My father is also a recovering addict - not to drugs, but to gambling. He wreaked havoc on my family because of this when I was growing up, but has since been in a 12 step program for gamblers, for many years. Because of such addictive tendencies in my family, I always worry that I too may fall into it. When I start to get the tiniest bit compulsive about something I panic that I may be getting addicted. I think this was at the back of my mind with the blogging, where I was trying to comment and keep up with what everyone was writing, as well as coming up with my own blog essays. I knew it was taking up too much of my time, but I still kept up, not good with figuring out how to do things in moderation. Until I hit that "panic point" where I thought blogging could become one of those addictive things. Then I just quit, completely.

I have read your kind comments and concern over the months and I felt badly, knowing I should explain. So there you have it. I will try moderation for now, stick to a "once in a while" blog entry and comments and put blinders on for the rest and see how I do. I would love to catch up with all of your blogs, but won't permit myself to do so yet. I may not have that addictive personality that runs in my family, but I am fearful that I might.

Monday, April 16, 2007

No Coincidences

In November 2000, I found myself sitting in the office of a breast surgeon. She had examined me and was studying my radiographs. "We can't tell for sure without a biopsy." I was numb as I made the surgery appointment and walked in the dark to my car. I could only think of my dear friend Charlene, who was on the losing side of a seven year battle with breast cancer.

I was sitting in my car and shaking, shaking so much that I could not turn the key. I remember saying out loud "God I'm so scared." I finally gathered myself and turned the car on. My car had a fully loaded six CD changer set to random play and when I turned the ignition on, the music started. The very first lyrics I heard knocked the breath out of me. Here I was, as scared as I've ever been in my life and I was given the only two words that could possibly ease my panic.

The lyrics I heard? "Fear destroys." I firmly believe there are no coincidences and I knew those words were a gift to me. I realized then and there that fear was a useless emotion and I was somehow able to put it aside. Once the fear was gone, what I found instead was an awareness of feeling protected and a certainty I would get through this - no matter the outcome of the biopsy. Thankfully, my biopsy was negative.

Why relate this story now? I recently had another abnormal exam. But this time I did not let the fear seize me. I had learned my lesson, once and for all - "fear destroys." Yes, the fear automatically welled - but I was immediately able to banish it. Fear was quickly replaced with optimism, patience and strength. Once again, I was blessed with negative results.

Sadly, I lost my dear friend Charlene in January 2001. I think of her everyday. Not only because I miss her, but because I still marvel at the tremendous faith she had for seven years, as the cancer ravaged her. Up until the end, she was optimistic and sure of a cure. She had obviously discovered that "fear destroys" long before I did. Fear was never in her vocabulary, not even when facing death. As a former priest of mine said, sometimes death is the ultimate healing. I think Charlene knew that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter Blessings!

Wishing all my friends Easter blessings. If you are not Christian, then consider it the blessing of Spring - of warmth, renewal and hope. You may think it odd that I am posting Easter wishes, several days after the fact. However, in my church, the week after Easter is called "Bright Week" - the Easter celebration traditionally lasted all week long. For forty days after Easter we continue to rejoice and we customarily greet each other with "Christ is risen," to which the response is "Truly he is risen."

Our daffodils have been stymied in their attempt to bloom. There is a coldness that has settled in and it won't leave. I promise photos when they do bloom. On Easter morning, my husband found a mere dozen that had been brave enough to open in the freezing weather and cut them to adorn our breakfast table. He knows it's not Easter without our daffodils. While we wait patiently for the daffodils, here is a beautiful bowl of the traditional red eggs that my Mom made for Easter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

They're Coming!

Can you see them? Just short stems, right now, but in a few days they will put on a spectacular show. The day I have been waiting for has finally arrived! Yes, the daffodils are coming! It is REALLY spring!

We have a wooded area on our front property and every spring, we have hundreds of daffodils that bloom. I kid you not - one season I deadheaded all the ones that were left and I counted over a thousand daffodils, including the dozens I gave away.

We never planted them. They are a gift from God every year. They are freely given to me and I, in turn, love to give them away. I give away at least thirty dozen every season and it doesn't even make a dent in what's left. These sunny yellow flowers put such a smile on everyone's face, but nowhere more than on my own. I wish I could give you each dozens!

Happy Spring - wishing you all warmth, sunshine, peace and happiness.

Friday, March 16, 2007


My son just called from college.

"Mom can you do me a favor?"

Sigh, "What?"

"Can you tape the Villanova game for me tonight?"

"Why? Aren't you going to watch it?" My son and his friends all "bleed Villanova Blue," so I wondered what could possibly keep him from watching the game, especially on a Friday night.

"No, I was kind of in the hospital all last night."

"WHAT??? Are you okay? What happened???"

"I'm fine it was my friend - he was having seizures."

My son's friend, Matt, spontaneously started having seizures last night. My son is halfway through his EMT training, so Matt's roommate raced to get him. My son quickly recognized that this was beyond him and they immediately called the EMS squad, who took Matt to the hospital. The doctors were able to stabilize him, thank God. My son and a few other friends spent the night in the hospital waiting room. Matt's parents are having a hard time getting a flight from their home in Belgium, because of the weather. The boys are taking turns staying at the hospital with Matt, until his parents arrive.

The devotion of this group of friends, who only met last September as freshman, deeply touched my heart.

It brought to mind another group of friends, also met last September. A wonderful group of friends, trusting enough to share their joys, their sorrows, their lives and their souls. Yes, you, my friends. I have been away for a long while, mostly taking care of my tiny but growing business - change of season means new jewelry styles and colors to put together. But my son and his friends reminded me of the value of friendship and how we need to be there for one another. In this I have been remiss, as I have not been there to cheer you on, empathize, laugh or cry with you. I will try to "catch-up" with all of you, little by little, and I will try to be a better friend.

My next post will not be so long in coming. As a matter of fact, it might even involve a lightbulb. . .or two!

Addendum: Still no news on Matt. His parents arrived over the weekend and he has been undergoing tests. They don't have a cause yet. He was able to talk by Sunday. I was speaking with a friend yesterday. Her 22 year old son had seizure disorder when he was a toddler so she has done a lot of research in the area. She said there are certain "thresholds" in life for seizure disorder - turns out onset is very common at 18 years old. I'll let you know if I find out more.

Addendum 2: I am happy to report that Matt is out of immediate danger. He is still in the hospital, but in a regular room, not ICU. He was put on lots of meds to control the seizures and is still undergoing diagnostic tests. He did visit the dorm over the weekend to say hi to everyone and my son said he looked much better.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Warm Thoughts

Well, since Valentine's Day we have been virtually encased in ice here. I would rather have snow - at least I can shovel that out of the way. I long for warmth. I need green woods full of songbirds. I want to walk along a sunny beach and listen to the surf. None of this is happening in my near future, so I had to resort to looking at old vacation photos. I hope you enjoy them also, as I will be on "blog break" for a little bit since life and work have temporarily taken over.

Pretty in Pink! Hibiscus always reminds me of warm
. . .maybe because they don't grow where I live.

Jackie - this one's for you!
Cactus means warm and dry . . . although I'll pass on the prickles!

Once upon a time I knew what this guy was
. . . but he's handsome anyway, isn't he?

Aren't these three amazing shades of blue?
Let's go for a walk . . . on the warm sand.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How Many Repair Guys Does It Take to Change a LIGHTBULB? PART 3

Well, I didn't want to bore my loyal readers with more of As the LightBulb Turns (or is it All My Lightbulbs?) but since Jackie is waiting with bated breath to hear more of the KitchenAid saga here's an update.

Jackie, you are correct, the repair was rescheduled for Saturday, February 17th.

On Friday I received a call from a customer service rep.

Rep: Have you received the lightbulb yet?
Me: Nooooo. . . was I supposed to? On February 9th I was told that the lightbulb had been backordered to February 7th and had shipped out on the 8th. I thought it was going to the service center.
Rep: Well, now it's back ordered until February 19th. You should receive it 4-5 days after that.
Me: But when I spoke to the rep on the 9th, she said it HAD shipped on the 8th.
Rep: Oh, we do that sometimes, we just assume that it gets shipped the day after the backorder ends. In this case, the backorder was extended. Just call us when you get the lightbulb and we'll reschedule your appointment.

At this point the thought of replacing the microwave is starting to sound appealing. But since that would
also involve changing the wall oven, as the two units have one control panel it would be a VERY expensive proposition. Probably not going to happen. Sigh.

Tune in next week for another episode of The Young and The Restless and The Lightbulb.


Addendum - Really, dear friends, no need to leave comments (unless you really want to of course, LOL.) I think it's all been said. Just wanted to keep you all updated. Of course, if you really want to make someone happy, visit Dr. John; he has a wonderful blog and he lives for comments. Tell him I sent you ;-)

Friday, February 09, 2007

How Many Repair Guys Does It Take to Change a LIGHTBULB? PART 2

This is the continuing sad saga of replacing the lightbulb in our KitchenAid microwave. This Saturday was to be the day. I called the factory service center yesterday to confirm the repair appointment. The very nice customer service lady offered to check on the bulb status. She found out it had been on back order until February 7th and was just shipped out on the 8th. It would take 4-5 days to arrive. If you quickly do the math, as I did, you will realize that this would lead to a third instance of a repairman coming to install the lightbulb - without the lightbulb.

So the appointment was rescheduled for February 17th. Although now, instead of a "first thing in the morning appointment" it is an "anytime between 8 and 5" appointment.

Just thought you would like to know. Sigh.

Part 3 to follow . . .

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Love M&Ms, But Enough Already!

Many apologies for not visiting my favorite blog authors for several days. It will still take me a few days to catch up, but it was for a good cause. My husband and I, new empty nesters that we are, went into the city for a few days. We saw three terrific Broadway shows - Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone and Wicked. At discounted prices of course, because after all, we do have two in college now.

The tickets to Wicked were our most satisfying discount. The theater has a lottery, two hours before the show. We had tried five or six times before, since last spring, with no luck. We decided to give it another shot before coming home on Saturday. So we went to the theater, wrote our names on index cards and waited a half hour in the sub-freezing cold until they pulled out the lucky winners. Yes, as you have probably guessed, my dear husband's name was called so we "won" the opportunity to buy two FIRST ROW Orchestra tickets, valued at $110 a seat - for $25 each! Woohoo! The best part is that the show is sold out for months - and we were going to see it!

Well, we had an hour and a half to kill before the show started so we walked around Times Square a bit. Being chocoholics and slightly curious we went into a new "M&Ms World" store on Broadway. We walked in and all I could say was "I can't believe they based a two level store on a candy!" On the first floor we saw the M&M logo on everything - candy dispensers, pillows, onesies, tee-shirts, gym shorts, caps, keychains, collectibles - and of course, self-serve towers of M&Ms in 22 colors for $9 per pound.

Then we walked around to where we thought the stairs for the next level were and my husband stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me and said "You were wrong." I looked at him puzzled and said "What?" He said "It's not a two level store based on a candy. It's a THREE level store, based on a candy." I looked up past the stairs and by golly, he was right - there was level three, right above level two. My jaw dropped as we walked up to level two. We saw the M&M logo on oven mitts, kitchen towels, mugs, beach towels, car sun shields, kitchen canisters, luggage, tote bags, pajamas, jewelry, frames, party hats, playing cards, games, bibs, flip flops - and of course, self-serve towers of M&Ms in 22 colors for $9 per pound.

On to the third level where we saw the M&M logo on pens, lunchboxes, fuzzy slippers, magnets, pet coats, blankets, soap holders, toothbrush holders and toothbrushes - and of course, self-serve towers of M&Ms in 22 colors for $9 per pound. I have not listed everything available with an M&M logo - but I think you get the idea. What is more unbelievable to me than the fact that there were enough M&M logo products to fill THREE levels of a large store is that someone, somewhere actually thought this was a good basis for a store.

We did buy a small container of suitably colored M&Ms to send my daughter for Valentine's Day. My son does not like chocolate.

Oh - and Wicked was wonderful!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How Many Repair Guys Does It Take to Change a LIGHTBULB?

Back in November, the lightbulb in our four year old built-in KitchenAid microwave burned out. We looked in the microwave and there did not seem to be a way to get to the lightbulb. So we took out the manual and looked through it. We couldn't find instructions for changing the lightbulb. So we called KitchenAid Customer Service.

Them: The lightbulb has to be changed by a repairman.
Me: What??? You are kidding, aren't you? Can you say POOR engineering design?
Them: "Would you like to make an appointment for a service call, or not?"

We made the appointment and called KitchenAid back several times, each time speaking to a higher level of Customer Service. Nothing doing, they can't help us and they certainly weren't admitting to a design problem.

Repair guy shows up.

Me: Where's the lightbulb?
Him: Oh, I don't have that lightbulb with me, it's a special order.
Me: So why did you come if you don't have the lightbulb? I gave them the model number and told them we needed a new lightbulb.
Him: Oh, I have to check to make sure it's really the lightbulb that needs changing and not something else wrong.

I watch him as he opens the microwave door, looks into it, then closes the door.

Him: Yep, it's the bulb, I'll have to order one and come back. Lightbulb and labor will be $175. How would you like to pay for that?
Me: WHAT??? $175? To change a lightbulb? I'll get back to you.

So I called KitchenAid again. I was livid that I would have to pay $175 to change the lightbulb every few years. No satisfaction. I got the name and address of the president for KitchenAid so I could send a letter of complaint. Then I called to reschedule the follow-up appointment.

Me: The file on this repair is still open. The lightbulb needs to be ordered and then I need an appointment for the repairman to install it.
Them: Okay. How's January 27th?
Me: When? That's a month away! Fine, I'll take it. Can I request a morning appointment? Don't forget, the lightbulb needs to be ordered. I don't want to waste another day just to have a lightbulb replaced.
Them: Okay. I'll put you down for morning, but the repairman can come anytime between 8 am and 5 pm.
Me: Okay, but don't forget the lightbulb needs to be ordered. Please let me know if the lightbulb does not arrive in time so we can reschedule the appointment.

So January 27th rolls around and my husband and I are waiting for our morning appointment. The repairman finally shows up at 2 pm.

Us: (in unison) Where's the lightbulb?
Him: I don't have the lightbulb. I have to check to make sure that's what the problem really is.
Us: (in unison) But someone was already here to do that!
Him: They were? Let me check the microwave, maybe I have the right lightbulb in my truck.

We watch him as he opens the microwave door, looks into it, then closes the door. Déjà vu?

Him: Nope, I don't have that bulb, it's a special order.
Us: (in unison - now we are starting to sound like the chorus of a Greek tragedy) So this is going to take $175 and THREE visits to change a #%*&#@ lightbulb??? How soon can this be fixed?
Him: I can come back on February 10th.

So the saga continues. . .

Just for the record, I will be videotaping this lightbulb replacement so that I can do it MYSELF, next time. Maybe I will learn how to use YouTube, so I can share the secret of the lightbulb changing with other poor souls.

Oh - by the way did I mention that KitchenAid is the name of the company that engineered this poorly designed product?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Book Tag

Mamalee, over at Full Plate tagged me. Now, not knowing what proper "tag" etiquette is (can I ignore it? will a plague be visited upon my house if I do? what happens if I don't send it out to three people?) and having the means at hand, I decided to participate. Of course, I also had an ulterior motive - to "advertise" some of my favorite books!

The "rules" for the 123Meme are as follows:

For those tagged, here's what you've got to do:

1. Grab the closest book to you.
2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence.
3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Include the title and the author's name.
5. Tag 3 people.

Well, this morning I finished a book for a book club I belong to. The book was right next to my computer when I read the tag. For tonight's discussion we are reading complementary titles, one of which I am quite passionate about and have discussed in one of my early blog entries, Blood Done Sign My Name.

The other is a well known book that I have read before. When I asked my children if either had a copy that I could borrow to read, they both offered me copies; my daughter said it was her favorite book (and that she wanted her copy back!) Here are the three sentences from page 123, as required by the tag "rules":

"Slowly, painfully, the ten dollars was collected. The door was opened, and the gust of warm air revived us. Zeebo lined On Jordan's Stormy Banks, and church was over."

Of course, this is from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you haven't read it in a few years, do yourself a favor and read it again. If you have never read it, please, please do! It is a beautiful, but non-sentimental story, of the Depression-era South - with all the innocence, prejudice and moral crises of the time. It is also the story of a family, of a single father raising his two children and how he teaches them values in his own quiet manner. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his starring role in the film, based on the book - a film that did justice to the book. While you're at it, find Blood Done Sign My Name. I don't know anyone who has read it and not been changed by it.

As for tag etiquette - I'm more of the mind that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. So consider yourself tagged if you have a particular book you would like to share. Let me know in the comments. I'll be looking for at least three of you!

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Froggy Day

When my children were very young they mistakenly called those mist-laden days "froggy days." Yesterday was such a day. However we were in a rush to get on the road to bring our son back to college so I did not have a chance to take photos. Although my husband had the day off and would have preferred a sunny day, I was thrilled that today's weather was almost a replay of yesterday. I wandered out and was able to capture some photos of - well, not much, because as we all know, fog obscures and reduces visibility. It was strange being out there. Fog conjures up many emotions. It is at the same time mysterious, eerie, spooky, creepy, sinister, confusing, chilling, other-worldly and magical. There are only shades of gray. I was glad to get back inside to the warmth, color and light.

Without further ado, I present to you a little bit of "A Froggy Day."

Monday, January 08, 2007

My OTHER Blessing

Last week was my son's week. This week belongs to my daughter. She is a senior at a top-notch university, double majoring in Educational Studies and Business, with a minor in Psychology. She joined a sorority as a freshman and my husband and I were both puzzled by this. Let's just say fraternities and sororities were not in vogue at our college in the early 70s. Our view of fraternities and sororities was similar to the stereotypes found in the movie Animal House. She explained that the frats and sororities at her school accomplished much philanthropic good and so she joined, even as we questioned if this extra time commitment was such a good idea in a high pressure school.

Over the years she has been elected to officer positions and this week she will be ending her one year term as President. Her chapter has contributed much in philanthropic work under her watch, the capstone being a fundraiser (or FUNraiser, as they prefer to call them) in which they made over $6,000 to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has told us that the experience in running her sorority was invaluable and mentioned it was akin to running a small business. Along the way she has also found some lifelong "sisters" - something she never had before.

My daughter would like to continue her education with law school. She would eventually like to work in the field of Educational Policy and Child Advocacy. She interned with the Children's Defense Fund last summer and loved the experience. I believe her interest partially stems from watching the years of struggle as we tried to get support services for her brother who has learning disabilities. Her thought was that if two committed and educated upper middle-class parents had trouble negotiating "the system" to get an appropriate education for their child, what were the chances that parents mired in poverty could?

However, my daughter is taking a detour on the way to law school. Today she found out she was accepted by the Teach for America program. Teach for America is a very successful non-profit organization that trains college graduates to be teachers and places them in underprivileged neighborhood schools across the country for a two year teaching commitment. The application and screening process is very rigorous. Last year about 17,000 college graduates applied to the program and roughly 3,000 were accepted. But as my daughter explains it, the program is selective, not competitive - everyone who passes the TFA criteria is accepted. In addition to exacting admissions criteria and three rounds of interviews, the program is also successful because each TFA teacher really wants to be in the program. I can attest to that - when my daughter called today to give me the news she was so excited - she was jumping-up-and-down-shrieking excited.

Again, my husband and I had doubts about the wisdom of our daughter joining TFA. Why not head straight to law school? Why delay the rest of your life for two years? Why place yourself in a neighborhood that may be dangerous? Our daughter countered with perfect logic that neither of her parents - both trained as engineers - could refute. She was adamant in telling us that if she was going to devote her life to educational policy then she had better know what it is like to be a teacher and what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Can't argue with that, huh?

Of course, my husband and I are still concerned about the neighborhood she will be teaching in. Every day there are articles in the paper about random violence, gang shootings and students bringing weapons into school. But we can't think of that. We have to trust this 21 year old woman who has shown time and again that she can make good choices and knows what is best for her. We have to step back and let her begin her own life. She will be fine, I'm sure. I have a hunch even her parents will be fine.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Many thanks for your New Year's greetings and I in turn wish you all good health and much joy in 2007.

My apologies for not posting in a while. Of course there was our Christmas celebration where we had 22 family members over for a sit down dinner. Having survived that, we decided to push our luck. We hosted a small New Year's celebration - just appetizers and desserts - my favorite kind of meal!

For our final celebration of the season, I am very proud and happy to say my son will be receiving his rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor ceremony this coming Friday. He has been involved in Scouting since he joined Tiger Cubs in first grade. I was one of two leaders for Den 4, meeting with the boys every week during the school year from second through fifth grade. The five Cubs in our den all stayed true to Scouting until they aged out at eighteen - four of them earned their rank of Eagle. The fifth, who marched to a slightly different drum, was not interested in attaining Eagle but has opted to "give back" to Scouting by becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster after turning 18. I am so very proud of all five of these Scouts, all of who I have watched grow up from youngsters into fine young men.

It is my job this week to make a scrapbook of my son's Scouting experiences, spanning his twelve years from Cub to Eagle Scout. We spent most of yesterday going through boxes of old photos, culling the better ones and pausing to reminisce over most; the Pinewood Derby competition, a trip to the Fire Department, camping in the mud, a visit to the local pizzeria to make a pizza lunch, making birdhouses at Home Depot, two weeks at BS camp in RI every summer, making toiletry kits for the homeless sheltered overnight at area houses of worship, cleaning up local beaches, the Philmont trek - and hundreds of other great experiences that make life interesting and worthwhile. Below are just a few of our old and treasured memories.

Our Tiger Cub marching in his first Memorial Day parade, down Main Street.

Den 4 excited to pose with the soldiers from a Civil War re-enactment.

Pinewood Derby time!