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As most of my readers know, whenever I blog or leave witty footprints through the social media sites that I frequent (namely Twitter and Facebook), I refer to my children as heirs. I don’t use their names because it embarrasses them; however, anyone who knows me well knows which heir I reference in my pieces, and the heirs certainly know when I’m using one of their personal foibles in my shameless attempts to increase my fan base by exploiting their happenings. Nevertheless, when I don’t identify them by name or gender, it makes me feel as though I’m protecting the heirs’ right to privacy. Although they would beg to differ, I really am trying to limit the number of talking doctor sessions that they will need to schedule once they fly from my nest and into their own. The heirs usually calm down when I remind them that my blogs have a small (but growing) loyal following, so they need not worry about any Kardashian type mass media public humiliation quite yet.

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The first bridal shower that I ever attended was my own. I remember being very confused when a boom box toting, scantily clad body builder “wandered” into the rooftop garden bridal shower hosted by my closest friends. Having never attended a bridal shower, I hadn’t the faintest clue of what was about to happen next, so I was shocked when when the body builder started dancing, and felt very embarrassed that this display was being witnessed by some of my more mature, prim and proper guests. In the end, a good laugh was had by all, and as my friends and I became more experienced with pre-wedding rituals, we learned that the “boom box set-up” experience is typically reserved for the private bachelorette party, not the bridal shower. Similarly, the first wedding that I attended as an active participant and not a guest, was mine. By the time I became a mom, none of my friends had started their families yet, so the first diaper that I ever changed was that of my first child. As a teenager, I’d babysat for children plenty of times to earn money, but I’d never cared for an infant or toddler in diapers. I have a niece and a nephew older than my daughter, but they live in a different state, so I never changed their fannies.

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Beyond What I See

“They made us feel like we could do anything!” This was the quote that my twelve year old daughter shared as I drove her home from her first over night camp experience, a soccer camp with a strong leadership component. The camp was founded and led by Julie Foudy, a three time Olympic medalist in soccer and a multiple World Cup winner. Like most soccer parents, I sit on the cold steel bleachers to cheer on our soccer player rain or shine. Okay, if I’m being honest, if it’s raining or overly humid, and my hair has been freshly straightened, I’m watching the match from the comfort of my climate controlled vehicle in an effort to protect the investment made on the top of my head and to shield my tween heir from the mortification that comes when my hair gets wet and begins to inflate unexpectedly from the humidity. It doesn’t take much to mortify a tween girl, and her mother’s appearance and attire is usually an easy trigger. If I’m embracing my organic hair, I gladly sit in the rain and let my tresses soak up the free moisture.

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With the passing of Donna Summer at only sixty-three years old, another musical icon has died way too young. But like many things, age is relative. When you’re six, sixteen or twenty-six, sixty-three sounds ancient and old. But when you’re gracefully approaching the sunset of your life, hoping to one day celebrate a birthday that allows you to receive a “shout-out” during Willard Scott’s Smuckers’ segment on the Today Show, sixty-three doesn’t seem that old. Age is relative.

Forty is the new thirty. Fifty is the new forty. You’ve heard these statements before because with proper diet, regular exercise, and carefully prescribed pharmaceutical supplements, people are improving their quality of life and many are reinventing themselves and just hitting their stride once they reach the mid-life hurdle previously known as fifty. When I suggested to my erudite oldest heir that middle age started at fifty, she quickly reminded me that since most people do not live to be one hundred, middle age really starts at forty. She can be quite a fun sucker at times.

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A few weeks ago, I served as the mistress of ceremonies at a scholarship breakfast. Now in its second year, the scholarship breakfast is named in honor of “Bettye” a woman who has dedicated her life to scholarship and service, all while serving as a public school teacher, wife and mother. Bettye’s list of accomplishments is long, impressive and awe inspiring, and at the age of seventy-five, she is still reinventing herself by taking piano lessons to accompany the Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude honors that she earned over fifty years ago. As the twelve scholarship recipients were introduced, each presented a rose and a testimonial explaining what they found most admirable about Miss Bettye. Her abbreviated list of accomplishments covered two pages, so the responses were original and varied. Later in the program, she humbly added yet another plume to her feather filled fabulous cap.

It was shared that the scholarship committee only had enough money in the budget to offer 10 one thousand dollar scholarships, yet 12 deserving high school seniors had been identified. The committee approached the executive board and managed to secure another one thousand dollars that they decided to halve in order to create 2 five hundred dollar scholarships so that all twelve candidates could receive money for college. When it was time for Bettye to make her remarks, this remarkable woman announced that she would be writing two personal checks for five hundred dollars each so that the two recipients slated to receive five hundred dollar awards could also receive one thousand dollar awards. The room erupted in applause at yet this latest display of her humility and generosity. In my opening emcee comments, I described Bettye as, by far, the most fabulous woman in a sea of fabulous women. This act of generosity confirmed that she was clearly at the far end of the fabulous spectrum.

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I’ve often been told that I have long piano playing fingers, but sadly, I never learned to tickle the ivory. I tried lessons in college, but when told that I would have to cut my long fingernails in order to hit the keys properly, my piano playing lessons quickly became a failed experiment; which is sad, as I probably could have been a good pianist based on my DNA.

I come from a long line of musicians and vocalists. My paternal great grandmother played the piano (and my aunt still has the baby grand that she owned) and her daughter (my grandmother) played the organ at church. My middle and youngest heirs also play the piano. My dad sang in a street corner barbershop quartet and possessed a strong baritone voice, and my mother currently sings in her church choir. A few of my dad’s siblings currently sing in their church choirs, and my oldest brother is an actor and performs musical theatre. A deceased cousin was a pianist and music major in college, and another cousin sang in her college’s gospel ensemble boasting a beautiful soprano voice. My oldest heir auditioned and was chosen to sing second chair in her school’s premier chamber choir, besting a few upperclassmen with her score and her range. When God passed out the musical talent genes, I think I must have been standing securely under an awning holding a triple ply umbrella wearing purple rubber duck boots and a bright yellow Paddington raincoat so that not even an ounce of musical ability would touch my frame. I tell myself that the musical giftedness gene must have been doled out in the form of precipitation and God knows that I don’t like to get my hair wet, so I wasn’t invited to that party.

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Like many, I wear prescription eyewear. I got my first pair of glasses when I was a sophomore in college, although I needed glasses much sooner than that. I just didn’t know it.

I was a “sit in the front of the classroom” student all of my life, so I never struggled to see the board. I’m sure behind my back I was described as a “teacher’s pet.” I didn’t deliberately set out to be the teacher’s ‘pet, but as a straight A student, and someone who was raised to respect authority, and with generations of teachers in my bloodline, teachers liked me. I spent my early years on the south side of Chicago. My family lived across the street from my elementary school, and as early as second grade, I remember being given the responsibility to watch the class when the teacher needed to leave for a bio break which I would later learn was really a nicotine fix. From my front row seat, dead center, she would summon me to her desk and invite me to sit in her chair and watch the class from her perch. I was well liked in school, so my classmates never clowned on my watch, and the report that I gave to the teacher when she reentered (smelling oddly of Marlboro Lights) was one of good behavior. Even if the paste eating, crayon chewing boys were a little rowdier than normal on my watch, their antics were never out of hand enough to warrant being labelled a teacher’s pet and a tattle tale.

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Several years ago, I worked in the Human Resources (HR) department at one of the premier teaching hospitals in the nation. On a daily basis, I was surrounded by brilliant people trained to heal and save lives. It was a great job and one that required me to bring my A game everyday as I worked to exceed the lofty expectations of my super smart clients. Like playing tennis, when you play against an opponent who is better than you, it elevates your game. Similarly, when you work with smart people, you become smarter. In order to be most effective in my role, (and so as to not look dumb against a sea of science smart people) I forced myself to become familiar with medical terminology and concepts that were previously foreign to me. It was a winning strategy and endeared me to my clients.

Even my colleagues in the HR department of the hospital were smart; probably head of the class, front seat dwellers in school. One of my colleagues, I’ll call her Carol, was a card carrying member of the Mensa society, a society reserved for those who have scored in the upper 2% on an approved intelligence test that has been administered and supervised under strict standards. In her mid-thirties at the time, Carol had recently taken the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT) and (although she did not share her score) she had been accepted to several elite medical school programs. Carol was super, scary smart, but to look at her, she seemed normal smart.

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February is a very interesting month. It’s host to “President’s Day” where the nation shuts down and recognizes George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Government agencies (including the courts, banks and most public schools) are closed for the day, and there’s no snail mail delivery. George Washington is the father of the nation and was the general in charge when the thirteen original colonies successfully fought off the British and formed the United States of America. Almost one hundred years later, when many southern states were trying desperately to secede from the union and create a separate confederate nation, Abraham Lincoln’s leadership, vision and brilliant prose (as immortalized in the “Gettysburg Address” and the “Emancipation Proclamation”) preserved the union and abolished the practice of slavery. Members of an elite club of only 44 members, the accomplishments of these two presidents (affectionately known as number 1 and number 16) are worthy of a national holiday in their honor, even though I’ve never quite understood exactly what we’re supposed to do on President’s Day. Many people fly their flag on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, but I don’t see many flags waving in February in honor of President’s Day; perhaps because it’s often the coldest month of the year in many states and the flagpole is frozen stiff like a popsicle.

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This morning, I glanced at the trending topics and read that Heidi Klum and Seal are divorcing. Curious, I scanned the article and read that it’s amicable...they’ve just grown apart. I sighed “who cares?” and kept it moving so that I could stay on my morning ritual pace. It’s not that I’m not sad about Heidi & Seal’s split, although I’m really not, it’s just that I’m not surprised, nor do I really care. They’re both rich and famous. He can sing, and she’s beautiful. What’s there to be sad about? The kids will be fine. The nannies raising them will probably remain in tact, so life as they know it really won’t be altered that much for the little ones. Besides, Heidi & Seal probably beat their Vegas odds by two or three years anyway.

Personally, I’ve had a couple of friends walk the divorce plank. Unlike my reaction to the Seal and Heidi split, I was saddened to hear the news of a friend’s divorce. No matter how you slice it, a friend’s divorce is usually sad. For one friend, I rode her bump in the road with her for a long time and was saddened when it was finally over. Years later, the split is still less than amicable. On the other hand, I have another friend who managed to remain good friend’s with her ex-husband after the divorce.

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As most of my readers know, whenever I blog or leave witty footprints through the social media sites that I frequent (namely Twitter and Facebook), I refer to my children as heirs. I don’t use their names because it embarrasses them; however, anyone who knows me well knows which heir I reference in my pieces, and the heirs certainly know when I’m using one of their personal foibles in my shameless attempts to increase my fan base by exploiting their happenings. Nevertheless, when I don’t identify them by name or gender, it makes me feel as though I’m protecting the heirs’ right to privacy. Although they would beg to differ, I really am trying to limit the number of talking doctor sessions that they will need to schedule once they fly from my nest and into their own. The heirs usually calm down when I remind them that my blogs have a small (but growing) loyal following, so they need not worry about any Kardashian type mass media public humiliation quite yet.

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The first bridal shower that I ever attended was my own. I remember being very confused when a boom box toting, scantily clad body builder “wandered” into the rooftop garden bridal shower hosted by my closest friends. Having never attended a bridal shower, I hadn’t the faintest clue of what was about to happen next, so I was shocked when when the body builder started dancing, and felt very embarrassed that this display was being witnessed by some of my more mature, prim and proper guests. In the end, a good laugh was had by all, and as my friends and I became more experienced with pre-wedding rituals, we learned that the “boom box set-up” experience is typically reserved for the private bachelorette party, not the bridal shower. Similarly, the first wedding that I attended as an active participant and not a guest, was mine. By the time I became a mom, none of my friends had started their families yet, so the first diaper that I ever changed was that of my first child. As a teenager, I’d babysat for children plenty of times to earn money, but I’d never cared for an infant or toddler in diapers. I have a niece and a nephew older than my daughter, but they live in a different state, so I never changed their fannies.

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Beyond What I See

“They made us feel like we could do anything!” This was the quote that my twelve year old daughter shared as I drove her home from her first over night camp experience, a soccer camp with a strong leadership component. The camp was founded and led by Julie Foudy, a three time Olympic medalist in soccer and a multiple World Cup winner. Like most soccer parents, I sit on the cold steel bleachers to cheer on our soccer player rain or shine. Okay, if I’m being honest, if it’s raining or overly humid, and my hair has been freshly straightened, I’m watching the match from the comfort of my climate controlled vehicle in an effort to protect the investment made on the top of my head and to shield my tween heir from the mortification that comes when my hair gets wet and begins to inflate unexpectedly from the humidity. It doesn’t take much to mortify a tween girl, and her mother’s appearance and attire is usually an easy trigger. If I’m embracing my organic hair, I gladly sit in the rain and let my tresses soak up the free moisture.

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With the passing of Donna Summer at only sixty-three years old, another musical icon has died way too young. But like many things, age is relative. When you’re six, sixteen or twenty-six, sixty-three sounds ancient and old. But when you’re gracefully approaching the sunset of your life, hoping to one day celebrate a birthday that allows you to receive a “shout-out” during Willard Scott’s Smuckers’ segment on the Today Show, sixty-three doesn’t seem that old. Age is relative.

Forty is the new thirty. Fifty is the new forty. You’ve heard these statements before because with proper diet, regular exercise, and carefully prescribed pharmaceutical supplements, people are improving their quality of life and many are reinventing themselves and just hitting their stride once they reach the mid-life hurdle previously known as fifty. When I suggested to my erudite oldest heir that middle age started at fifty, she quickly reminded me that since most people do not live to be one hundred, middle age really starts at forty. She can be quite a fun sucker at times.

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A few weeks ago, I served as the mistress of ceremonies at a scholarship breakfast. Now in its second year, the scholarship breakfast is named in honor of “Bettye” a woman who has dedicated her life to scholarship and service, all while serving as a public school teacher, wife and mother. Bettye’s list of accomplishments is long, impressive and awe inspiring, and at the age of seventy-five, she is still reinventing herself by taking piano lessons to accompany the Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude honors that she earned over fifty years ago. As the twelve scholarship recipients were introduced, each presented a rose and a testimonial explaining what they found most admirable about Miss Bettye. Her abbreviated list of accomplishments covered two pages, so the responses were original and varied. Later in the program, she humbly added yet another plume to her feather filled fabulous cap.

It was shared that the scholarship committee only had enough money in the budget to offer 10 one thousand dollar scholarships, yet 12 deserving high school seniors had been identified. The committee approached the executive board and managed to secure another one thousand dollars that they decided to halve in order to create 2 five hundred dollar scholarships so that all twelve candidates could receive money for college. When it was time for Bettye to make her remarks, this remarkable woman announced that she would be writing two personal checks for five hundred dollars each so that the two recipients slated to receive five hundred dollar awards could also receive one thousand dollar awards. The room erupted in applause at yet this latest display of her humility and generosity. In my opening emcee comments, I described Bettye as, by far, the most fabulous woman in a sea of fabulous women. This act of generosity confirmed that she was clearly at the far end of the fabulous spectrum.

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I’ve often been told that I have long piano playing fingers, but sadly, I never learned to tickle the ivory. I tried lessons in college, but when told that I would have to cut my long fingernails in order to hit the keys properly, my piano playing lessons quickly became a failed experiment; which is sad, as I probably could have been a good pianist based on my DNA.

I come from a long line of musicians and vocalists. My paternal great grandmother played the piano (and my aunt still has the baby grand that she owned) and her daughter (my grandmother) played the organ at church. My middle and youngest heirs also play the piano. My dad sang in a street corner barbershop quartet and possessed a strong baritone voice, and my mother currently sings in her church choir. A few of my dad’s siblings currently sing in their church choirs, and my oldest brother is an actor and performs musical theatre. A deceased cousin was a pianist and music major in college, and another cousin sang in her college’s gospel ensemble boasting a beautiful soprano voice. My oldest heir auditioned and was chosen to sing second chair in her school’s premier chamber choir, besting a few upperclassmen with her score and her range. When God passed out the musical talent genes, I think I must have been standing securely under an awning holding a triple ply umbrella wearing purple rubber duck boots and a bright yellow Paddington raincoat so that not even an ounce of musical ability would touch my frame. I tell myself that the musical giftedness gene must have been doled out in the form of precipitation and God knows that I don’t like to get my hair wet, so I wasn’t invited to that party.

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Like many, I wear prescription eyewear. I got my first pair of glasses when I was a sophomore in college, although I needed glasses much sooner than that. I just didn’t know it.

I was a “sit in the front of the classroom” student all of my life, so I never struggled to see the board. I’m sure behind my back I was described as a “teacher’s pet.” I didn’t deliberately set out to be the teacher’s ‘pet, but as a straight A student, and someone who was raised to respect authority, and with generations of teachers in my bloodline, teachers liked me. I spent my early years on the south side of Chicago. My family lived across the street from my elementary school, and as early as second grade, I remember being given the responsibility to watch the class when the teacher needed to leave for a bio break which I would later learn was really a nicotine fix. From my front row seat, dead center, she would summon me to her desk and invite me to sit in her chair and watch the class from her perch. I was well liked in school, so my classmates never clowned on my watch, and the report that I gave to the teacher when she reentered (smelling oddly of Marlboro Lights) was one of good behavior. Even if the paste eating, crayon chewing boys were a little rowdier than normal on my watch, their antics were never out of hand enough to warrant being labelled a teacher’s pet and a tattle tale.

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Several years ago, I worked in the Human Resources (HR) department at one of the premier teaching hospitals in the nation. On a daily basis, I was surrounded by brilliant people trained to heal and save lives. It was a great job and one that required me to bring my A game everyday as I worked to exceed the lofty expectations of my super smart clients. Like playing tennis, when you play against an opponent who is better than you, it elevates your game. Similarly, when you work with smart people, you become smarter. In order to be most effective in my role, (and so as to not look dumb against a sea of science smart people) I forced myself to become familiar with medical terminology and concepts that were previously foreign to me. It was a winning strategy and endeared me to my clients.

Even my colleagues in the HR department of the hospital were smart; probably head of the class, front seat dwellers in school. One of my colleagues, I’ll call her Carol, was a card carrying member of the Mensa society, a society reserved for those who have scored in the upper 2% on an approved intelligence test that has been administered and supervised under strict standards. In her mid-thirties at the time, Carol had recently taken the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT) and (although she did not share her score) she had been accepted to several elite medical school programs. Carol was super, scary smart, but to look at her, she seemed normal smart.

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February is a very interesting month. It’s host to “President’s Day” where the nation shuts down and recognizes George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Government agencies (including the courts, banks and most public schools) are closed for the day, and there’s no snail mail delivery. George Washington is the father of the nation and was the general in charge when the thirteen original colonies successfully fought off the British and formed the United States of America. Almost one hundred years later, when many southern states were trying desperately to secede from the union and create a separate confederate nation, Abraham Lincoln’s leadership, vision and brilliant prose (as immortalized in the “Gettysburg Address” and the “Emancipation Proclamation”) preserved the union and abolished the practice of slavery. Members of an elite club of only 44 members, the accomplishments of these two presidents (affectionately known as number 1 and number 16) are worthy of a national holiday in their honor, even though I’ve never quite understood exactly what we’re supposed to do on President’s Day. Many people fly their flag on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, but I don’t see many flags waving in February in honor of President’s Day; perhaps because it’s often the coldest month of the year in many states and the flagpole is frozen stiff like a popsicle.

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This morning, I glanced at the trending topics and read that Heidi Klum and Seal are divorcing. Curious, I scanned the article and read that it’s amicable...they’ve just grown apart. I sighed “who cares?” and kept it moving so that I could stay on my morning ritual pace. It’s not that I’m not sad about Heidi & Seal’s split, although I’m really not, it’s just that I’m not surprised, nor do I really care. They’re both rich and famous. He can sing, and she’s beautiful. What’s there to be sad about? The kids will be fine. The nannies raising them will probably remain in tact, so life as they know it really won’t be altered that much for the little ones. Besides, Heidi & Seal probably beat their Vegas odds by two or three years anyway.

Personally, I’ve had a couple of friends walk the divorce plank. Unlike my reaction to the Seal and Heidi split, I was saddened to hear the news of a friend’s divorce. No matter how you slice it, a friend’s divorce is usually sad. For one friend, I rode her bump in the road with her for a long time and was saddened when it was finally over. Years later, the split is still less than amicable. On the other hand, I have another friend who managed to remain good friend’s with her ex-husband after the divorce.