Happy Birthday, Mom. The speech I couldn’t find under pressure.

I don’t usually fold under pressure. But today at the luncheon that my sister, aunt and I put together, I couldn’t find my speech and totally just winged it. It was meh. I found what I’d written after the party was over and the dishes were done and put away. Sharing it now. And also, it was a wonderful day. 

Hi everyone. Thanks for coming to celebrate my mom. She’s great, right? Yeah, we know she is.

The biggest problem we have is that Amy & I seem to want to talk to my mother at the same time. Half the time I call, Amy is on the other line. And the same happens to her. It’s like some sort of radar. But the reality is, we’re both grateful to have such a great relationship with her, and know she’s always there.

Always there, even when it’s not perfect for her. We know what that is now that we have adult children. LOL. (OMG did I say LOL in a luncheon speech?)

We just wanted to share a few things we learned from our mom – and things we think are worthy of celebration:

  • Think about it from the other persons POV. Just consider it. Doesn’t need to be the answer, but contributes to your perception.
  • Be kind. There are few reasons not to be. (But there are some,)
  • Family is top priority. Nothing more to say on this.
  • Volunteer. The world is bigger than us – we need to do our part.
  • Be a great friend.
  • Accessorize.

But seriously, we’re so glad you’re all here and know you all play such important parts in her life. And so thrilled to celebrate our mom and especially happy to surround her with her friends and family.

I can say that working with Phyllis and Amy to make this day happen was amazing. Selfishly, I admit that it was super fun to have conference calls and group texts and all the time with them – but mostly it was very clear we had one goal in mind. And I think we did it!

Mom, happy birthday. Thanks for everything always. I’m not going to list it all out because there’s not enough time in the world. We love you.

PS: Close ups of the centerpieces for those who asked!

PPS!! So many people asked for this recipe. Hot Italian Cheddar Dip from Cabot Creamery!

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Hot Italian Cheddar Dip courtesy of Cabot Creamery Co-operative

 

 

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Putting my Skills to Work

I’ve been a volunteer my whole life. An early memory – my mom was the chair of the June Jubilee when I was in first grade. I remember beaming with pride. The June Jubilee – the best part of the entire year, and my mom was in charge. I remember thinking to myself that day, with lemon & peppermint stick in hand, that I was going to volunteer to do something this big one day.

I volunteered with my mother from that point on, although until I got a little older, they were very small tasks. That’s okay. I’m patient. (Haha, I’m not patient really.) Once I was old enough, I became a candy striper at the local hospital. During college, I read to the blind. After college, I taught English to Vietnamese immigrants and then took on my favorite gig to date – reading the newspaper aloud over the airwaves for the blind. I loved it and went a couple nights a week.

I always did something, although it ebbed and flowed. Incidentally, I watched my mother work on boards, raise money for the comfort of cancer patients, and more.

When my children were young, I joined NCJW and got involved in my local section and quickly got a spot on the board. When our president became ill and unable to serve, I took on the role. It was hard work, but very rewarding. It was during this tenure that I realized I was in search of a volunteer opportunity that used my professional skills. So, when my family’s congregation, Temple Isaiah, asked me to work with a team and report to the Board of Trustees about a communication audit, I was in.

As often happens, audits lead to substantive work. I was honored to be asked to chair the Communications Committee and brought a great friend and respected colleague in to co-chair. He and I put together an extremely talented group to provide detailed recommendations for the congregation in terms of branding, communications methods, and more. Our team got a new website started, consistent email scheduling, collateral look and feel, and the list goes on. It was a year-long project and was fun and hard and good.

It’s very exciting that there is now a talented Communications Coordinator on staff who took the vision and implemented the website development from where we left off and is continuing the good work on all visual materials.

This congregation has been so important to my family. When we moved back east in 1999, when the boys were really small, we didn’t have a community. and Temple Isaiah welcomed us with open arms. Since then, we’ve made so many friends, all our sons have become a bar mitzvah, my husband is active in the Men’s Club, and I’m a member of Sisterhood.  

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But I digress. Why is Temple Isaiah important to me?  It’s important because it has a great focus toward tikkun olam, meaning to repair the world. And, it serves the spiritual and practical needs of the community. Some incredible people –– seriously dedicated volunteers and volunteer leadership, passionate staff, and inspiring clergy — lead the charge and set a high bar for all of us.

I log my volunteer hours at Reward Volunteers and so do many of my fellow volunteers at Temple Isaiah. By doing so, we each have the chance to win prizes for ourselves and prizes and grants for Temple Isaiah. Additionally, staff can get reports for hours logged, so this can be beneficial to them as a volunteer management system. Win/win.  

Finding Gray

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I swim. And I used to color my hair. Turns out chlorine wreaks havoc on chemically treated hair. Who knew?

I let it grow out and as it turns out, I wasn’t as gray as I thought I’d be. But it does depend on the light. LOL. And, as I let the layers from the disappointing chopped haircuts grow out, my hair is definitely seeming more gray.

But still, it did not seem like a thing to me.

Until this weekend. A friend’s birthday celebration. Another guest tells me that (running her hand over her hair) she likes what I’ve done. And I (naturally) assume she means how smooth and soft my hair is. (Trust me, when you swim every day, this is a constant battle.)

But actually she meant that she was impressed (?) that I let my gray shine boldly. Now that I’m watching GoT, I feel like I’ve connected with the “truthful” statement that is also the “kiss of death” so…in relation to this topic, I do not know how to react.

Gray is staying for now. It’s true that I love being who I actually am and not spending time and money hiding it. I also have to say that I fully support everyone and anyone doing exactly what makes them feel good, too. We all get to decide for ourselves. What a concept.

So there it is.

PS that image is NOT me. It’s a stock photo.

Help me understand….

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Source: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/mouth-1428502

I really admire strong eyebrows.

Mine have never been all that full, but these days? They are spotty. The woman at the salon who waxed mine last time scolded me for over-plucking them. Well, I have made lots of mistakes in my life, but I did not over-pluck my eyebrows. The spottiness just happened.

Truth be told, I barely plucked them all these years. I kind of sucked at that. And so, I do not feel responsible for the sparseness. I’m annoyed about it, but I don’t feel responsible for it.

But the actual reason I am writing this today is that it seems singularly unfair that you can stunt the growth of your eyebrows by plucking too much and yet, plucking or waxing or what-the-heck ever does not seem to ever – and I mean ever – affect the growth of those pesky chin hairs or mustache hairs.

Am I right?

Candy love.

I love jelly beans. Very much. I also love the healthy-ish eating regime I’ve been following for some time now.

With no kids at home, Andrew & I have been solid in our resolve to have only reasonable options for snacking in the house. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Nor does it stop me from {jokingly} asking every night around 10pm IF WE HAD JELLYBEANS IN THE HOUSE.  I know. Not productive.

But imagine my surprise and delight when I asked the other night {as predicted} and Andrew produced the goods.

They were awesome and I do think that sometimes, for me, it’s okay to eat some fricking jelly beans. They have no fat, after all. And it’s almost Easter. So, judge all you want. I am eating these.

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The ring.

IMG_1406.JPGIn 2003, we had some pretty limited resources. Three young kids. We were working for ourselves in a still uncertain business climate.

And yet, when we went to the Baltimore Antique Show at the end of that August and Andrew saw the 1991 (I like to say vintage) Cartier Love ring, he knew. He tracked me down (I had wandered somewhere, as I do at those big shows) and showed it to me.

“Do you love it?”

“I do,” I said.

And he bought it for our upcoming 10th anniversary.

Although I didn’t know, or even ask, the price at the time, it was probably the most irrational, irresponsible purchase of our lives up until that point. (I could argue that our dinner at Alinea a few years ago overtook that honor.)

I have worn that ring most days since then. I swap in my engagement ring/band sometimes and some other times I wear my grandmother’s wide monogrammed rose gold band. Am I the only one who switches it up? For me, it’s not the ring, it’s the commitment. But, I digress.

Over the past 13 years, with regular wear and the fact that I am the opposite of delicate and careful, that beautiful Love band got pretty much beaten to shit.

Scratches, filth in the grooves, you name it.

I might have mentioned it. I might not have. I have no idea. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Andrew had the ring buffed and cleaned. And it’s gorgeous.

 

Jury duty

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source: FreeImages.com/David Lat

Today, I reported for jury duty.

As I was waiting, waiting, waiting to find out my fate, I remembered the first time I was called for jury duty. It was in Baltimore City. In 1991. I think? I worked for Gray Kirk Vansant and had a huge client presentation the next day and I was a wreck that I’d get chosen. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t realize that I could have asked for a postponement, so I went that morning to find out how I could reschedule.

It’s not that I didn’t want to serve, but not that week!

But, as I recall, there was no chance to speak to anyone. I went from the waiting room to the courtroom, and predictably, I was chosen.

For a week-long trial.

I broke out in tears. I had no idea what to do. I don’t remember how I got to a phone or a break, but I called the guy I was casually dating at the time. He was an attorney in the city. He came to the courthouse lickety split. I don’t know what he did or who he talked to or what he did but I got excused from that trial. (I served a few weeks later, FYI.)

So back to the lawyer-guy. He was really sweet, I remember. He liked mustard a lot. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work out. Ha, kidding.

Actually I do remember why it didn’t work out. He was a driven triathlete which was very cool and admirable, but not always the most fun Saturday night 20-something date (he trained daily & late nights were not a thing). More importantly, he wanted to take me home for Christmas and it felt way too fast and scary. I’m pretty sure that’s how it ended.

But today, I remembered him for his kindness on that fateful day. And, since I had my laptop, I looked him up online.

I learned that he passed away a couple months ago after a long illness. I read that he had a loving family and kept at the tri-life in a big way. It feels so strange to have looked; I’m not even sure why I did.

 

Book series

While I was in Vermont, one of my colleagues mentioned that her son had become a veracious reader. I could relate! My guys read so many books and I remember the hours in the book store looking for options.

And so, I wanted to share some of the books and series that were not only loved, but saved:

Bartimaeus 3-book boxed set (Bartimaeus Trilogy)

The Gone Series

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Nightwatch Series

Inheritance Cycle

Children of the Lamp series

The Book Thief

I Am the Messenger

The Dragon King Trilogy

The Keys to the Kingdom series

Molly Moon series

Artemis Foul series

Angel series

The Edge Chronicles series

Genius Squad series

Wizard Heir series

Stormbreaker series

Some of these are for older kids, some for younger. Some, like Stormbreaker, were really fun to read out loud as a family.

All of these are still on our bookshelves along with hundreds of others.

Happy reading!