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IMG_6816Home. A simple four letter word that is absolutely emotionally charged. Don’t believe me? Ask any parent of a college kid. “Home” is home, the house and family that you grew up with, the parents that worry about you and provide you with everything…or at least  did until you left for college.

Home is defined by Merriam Webster as:

1a one’s place of residence domicile 
b house 
2the social unit formed by a family living together 
3a a familiar or usual setting congenial environment; also the focus of one’s domestic attention 
b habitat 
4a a place of origin

I remember quite clearly when the my boys first returned home from college for a long weekend or break and referred to that place where they reside when they are not with me, as “home” as in “when I get home…..”. No. No. NO! You cannot call that “place” home. This is “home”. WE are “home”. Not some place with thrown together furnishings, decorated with beer cans, sorely in need of a good mom cleaning, a place that those other than college folk would find unworthy of being called a home. And yet there in lies the rub. “Home” is not so much a place as a state of mind.

Houses, apartments, condos, dorm rooms – these are all physical spaces that accommodate us and keep us out of the elements, provide a sleeping space and a place to store all our stuff. Home is where you are gathered with those that you care about, whom you care you about, those you support and those that support you – in short, a place where you feel safe, cared for and loved. A place you are happy to spend your time.

It took a while and a lot of fervent wrangling before this college mom came to the non-emotional realization that home means a lot of things to different people at different ages and stages, but boils down to those essentials – happiness, safety, friendship and love. For me, I am more than happy that my kids have found “homes” where they are surrounded by laughter, friendship, safety and love. I know that our home is the foundation of all that and will always hold a special place in their hearts.

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IMG_7379The weather outside my window this first day of Spring is very un-spring like but pretty typical for this time of the year, looking back through blog posts from past vernal equinoxes. We won’t see many signs of spring coming up through the snow today, unless they are herculean daffodils or crocus – that are about 3 feet tall!

Anyhow, I came across this draft of a blog post from this time quite a few years ago and I thought I would share – if nothing else, it might make a smile cross your face and that would be a delightful addition to this spring day!

Here are some very zen thoughts for a Tuesday…well kinda zen but pretty funny. Not sure where I originally got these so I can’t give credit where credit is due. ~sorry about that but know you made me laugh.

  1. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  2. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  3. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
  4. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
  5. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.
  6. If you ever feel you are worthless remember that you are full of expensive organs.
  7. It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
  8. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
  9. Always remember that you’re unique, just like everyone else…
  10. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
  11. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  12. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  13. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.
  14. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
  15. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  16. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
  17. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
  18. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
  19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.
  20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  21. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

1, 6 and 12 are my personal favorites, although the lawyer in me chuckled at 21.

Which are your favorites?

For the first time since I’ve been on the school board, I am running in a contested election. First let me explain that by “contested”. I in no way mean mud-slinging and nastiness, but rather that there is more than just one person (namely, me) running for the open seat. In fact, there are three of us running to fill the two open school board seats in our town. You have no idea how excited I was when I learned that not one, but two townsfolk submitted petitions to also run for school board. I was soooo excited that others were interested in joining the school board and working for our community’s kids. I could hardly contain my excitement that my pleas for folks to get involved seemed to be heeded. It was my husband who, after letting me enjoy my excitement for a bit, had to point out to me (gently, I might add) that this “wonderful news” I was blabbing about meant that I was now involved in a contested election for my own seat on the board. Talk about bursting one’s bubble. NOOOOO! But alas it is true. So, this will be my first contested election. Wish me luck. Here’s a throwback to that first election when I wished my dad could have been alive to see his little girl’s name on the ballot.

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Win or lose, please make sure that you get out to vote if you live in Vermont. Your fellow community members count on your support and it’s an amazing and important process, unique to the New England area and particularly Vermont.

 

 

Vermont’s school funding is in the state and local news of late and we will all be asked to vote on school budgets soon. The Vermont School Boards Association produced a video to help explain how the process works. It does a good job of explaining a fairly complex process, making it a little easier to understand.

For all of my lawyer friends, this is the brief that we all wish we could have written. Snarky, sarcastic. If you are familiar with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you probably caught the recent episode where he discussed coal and a certain coal mine owner who does not like publicity. He threatened to sue, and in fact he did. The West Virginia ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief which is just … too darn good. Even my non-lawyer friends will get a few good chuckles out of this. To give you an idea of what you might be in for, there are section headings such as “All of John Oliver’s Speech Was Protected by the First Amendment. You Can’t Sue People For Being Mean to You Bob” and great legal points such as “Bob Murray thinks John Oliver was mean to him, and doesn’t want him to be mean to him again. While that is sad for Bob Murray, it is unconstitutional for a Court to order such relief.” ACLU Brief, P. 8

I encourage you to follow the link here and give it a read yourself. In addition to brushing up on your First Amendment law, it’s quite the read. Excellent job, ACLU, excellent job.

timToday, our youngest son flips the birthday page and a decade, turning 20. Hard to believe that 20 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. I remember the day he was born like it was merely yesterday. I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing young man he has grown to be, with his feet firmly rooted in his heritage and his family and a soul that loves to explore– always inquisitive, searching, learning, growing. The scope of who Tim is clearly reflected in what he is doing  now and where he has been this summer. He started his summer exploring his Italian heritage in Sicily, working hard to secure himself a coveted spot on the National Italian American Foundation’s Voyage of Discovery where he spent two weeks learning about his Italian roots, practicing his Italian and enjoying all the history that Sicily had to offer him. As I write this, he is exploring this country, from coast to coast, and will spend his birthday today hiking and exploring one of our country’s national parks. This picture taken on his journey this summer, it is so “Tim” I couldn’t help but “borrow” it for this post.

I admire and respect his tenacity, his thirst for knowledge and the breadth and depth of what he already has learned and his beautiful voice. He is a kind soul, always ready to lend a hand and a hard worker as anyone who is familiar with his work last summer could definitely attest to in a heartbeat.

I know that he will do great things in this new decade and those decades going forward.

One night a while back, when we had ordered some take-out Chinese, we sat around and opened our fortune cookies as we normally do, laughing at what each said. Tim’s fortune that night summed up him perfectly ~ “You are a traveler at heart. There will be many journeys.”  

Happy 20th Birthday my (not so little anymore) traveler! Love you!

dad and tjRemembering the first guy to steal my heart and wishing that he was still here to see how this grandson and the other two grandsons have thrived and grown to be men he would be proud of, especially considering how glowing he was in this picture with TJ.

IMG_5938this guy who I am so lucky to call my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him in it. He’s a great dad to our boys and I love sharing the parenting journey with him.

12308198_989180081121162_5920617141299348996_oMy brother, Bill whose smile reminds me of my dad and is a wonderful dad himself.

Damian, my brother through marriage, who has a generous heart, raised three men who are sweethearts with my sister and I am lucky to have him as part of our family._DSC0757

and my dad through marriage, Poppy, who, among other things is responsible for being the dad to my husband and raising him to be the man that I love.

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Happy Father’s Day to these wonderful men and to all our friends who are dads. You all hold a special place in my heart.

So, here is something that I found over at Sivana and it’s pretty good Zen Wednesday wisdom, and good for a few laughs, especially after the last few weeks. #6, #12 and #18 are favorites of mine. What are yours?

21 Sarcastic Zen Sayings You Need In Your Life

  1. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  2. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  3. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
  4. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
  5. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.
  6. If you ever feel you are worthless remember that you are full of expensive organs.
  7. It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
  8. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
  9. Always remember that you’re unique, just like everyone else…
  10. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
  11. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  12. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  13. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.
  14. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
  15. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  16. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
  17. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
  18. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
  19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.
  20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  21. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

Today is my middle son’s 21st birthday and what follows is for him.

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Dearest Tyler:

It is so hard to believe that 21 years have gone by since the day I first held you in my arms, amazed that I could fall in love all over again with a kid with beautiful blue eyes and platinum blonde hair. A St. Patrick’s Day baby is what you were supposed to be, but you were having no part of that and decided that you would make your entrance into this world (with a little help from the doctor) in your own good time. Thinking back after all these years, I understand now why you are not a morning person since you made your way into the world at 5 p.m. 🙂

You have grown from that no-so-little baby into a handsome, kind, empathetic man that towers over me. You have always had an amazing smile that lights up a room, remember to use it often, no one can ever smile too much. I am and always will be very proud to be your mom. As I told you many times, I am and always will be your biggest fan and supporter. You are destined for wonderful things. Despite the world now considering you a full and complete adult, you are and will always be, my baby.

 

Happy 21st birthday Tyler, I love you. 

 

 

DSCN3991Tomorrow is Town Meeting Day across Vermont. Tonight was Town Meeting in Wallingford. Democracy at its finest. If you’re not from New England and have never been to town meeting, I strongly suggest that it be a reason for visiting during the midmost of mud season. Tom really wanted to bring popcorn but he held back. Honestly, depending on your town, it can be that good. 🙂

The first Tuesday in March is a state holiday, Town Meeting Day. While some towns in Vermont vote all or a part of their town meetings through Australian ballot, there is no legal requirement to do so and in fact, there are still some towns that do all their voting from the “floor” a town meeting. For instance, tonight herein Wallingford, there was actually a motion from the floor to increase our town’s budget and therefore the town’s taxes from the floor by a fellow citizen. Where else does one person just raise their hand, stand up, state their name and make a motion to increase the town’s taxes? Not in New Jersey, that’s for sure. The vote because it passed, required the moderator to do some math on the fly to revise the following article to reflect the new budget amount when the same group of town residents voted on the town budget.

The issues run the gamut as stated by the Burlington Free Press from whether or not to purchase a new truck in the town to impeaching the president. I remember our first town meeting, we showed up wide eyed and amazed at this wonderful New England tradition. Here in Vermont, the farmer down the road, the local elementary school teacher or the 18-year-old college student can stand up, raise his or her voice and change the whole budget for the town or persuade the town to support a cause or convince them to pull support for a cause or a budget item. Amazing, still after ten years.

 

I am short, no two ways about it especially when you live in a house with everyone else over six feet tall. It wasn’t always that way, I used to be the second tallest person in the house when the other three members of the family were all shorter than I. Then puberty hit (for them) and I fell right through the ranks to the shortest person in the house – unless you count the dog, but she’s not a person so I guess I can’t even win that one.

Short person problems.  You never see things that the “tall folk” in the house put away since they are usually above your head. Personally, I think tall folks enjoy this – but that’s just my own two cents.

The infamous step stool – an accoutrement of the short girl. My step stool has been all over the house and the porch. It is the extra foot or thereabouts that I need to make life work. The other day, we were bringing in wood which Tom and I usually do together. We both stack the rack until it gets above my head and then I pass to him and he stacks the rest. He wasn’t around so I wasn’t about to wait. Out came the step stool and I climbed up and down to finish stacking the wood in our wood rack.

It is my kitchen companion to reach the items on the shelves out of my reach or to get something put on top of the refrigerator. It gets pulled out when I need to attach or detach the hummingbird feeders from the porch and no tall person is around to help.

Are you short? Do you have a step stool? Hopefully I’m not the only one.

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Plastic shopping bags. You can accumulate them like mad if you have a family and do any amount of shopping. While you can recycle them at the store for re-use or reuse them yourself for trash can liners on wastebaskets or such, they do accumulate quickly, don’t they?

I always used to smirk at the sign planted just outside the automatic doors at Hannafords – “Did you remember your reusable bags?” I have joked with the cashiers that the sign, while loaded with good intentions, didn’t help walking into the store at all since if I forgot my bags, they were a good 12 miles away at home. That sign, I have said more than once, needs to be in my driveway.

I try to use my resusable shopping bags every time I go grocery shopping. In fact, I often say that I feel like a tourist if I forget them because it becomes very apparent to me, in the store that everyone else who isn’t from away on vacation, has their bags.

Pretty soon, here in Vermont we may join California, Florida, Arizona and many hundreds of other towns and cities across the country in banning the plastic disposable shopping bag from our stores. H.105 is a bill that has been introduced here in Vermont to ban plastic disposable shopping bags. The bill would protect small businesses and not apply to compostable bags or recycled plastic bags.

I remember the first reusable grocery bags I found years and years ago when I still lived in New Jersey. Chico Bags. They were very nice bags that could fold up and be put right in your purse or glove compartment or pocket. They could even attach to your car key ring. They came in a variety of colors, but all the same shape. osrd-3

Now, Chico Bags have bags on their site in every style, size and color. In fact, most every store you walk into, be it grocery, clothing or hardware, has its own type of reusable bag for sale. Bags are made from varying materials for strength and durability.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? Do you need that Hannafords’ reminder sign in your yard? What’s your favorite bag?

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