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10 Things you should chat with your teenage daughter about

10. Positive Self image. With images of teen models and stars these days it is amazing that girls are not all anorexic and emulating their “role models” bad behavior. I believe that beauty comes from within. Work on your daughters feeling of self worth before worrying about looking like an Abercrombie Model “who most likely isn’t wearing any clothes” or a Disney Princess whose gone bad.

9. The “s” word, try and keep an open mind and ear when you talk to your daughter about sex. I have always had a very open relationship with my daughter and told her I wanted her to be honest with me if she had any questions; I would rather her come to me no matter how embarrassing, rather than have her get information or misinformation from a friend. Remember if you don’t talk about it most definitely does not mean she isn’t thinking about it and putting your head in the sand is not the solution!

8. What things are important to her? Listen, encourage, and show up! Is she interested in school politics, sports, or saving the world? Whatever it is be interested, support her anyway you can even if it is just showing up for a game or an event! This will mean the world to her, she might not tell you but believe me she will feel it in her heart.

7. What is your daughter doing after school? Is she keeping up with her homework or coming home and spending 3 hours in front of the TV watching Sponge Bob Square Pants. You need to teach her responsibility so that when she gets her midyear grades you aren’t surprised with her failing exam scores. Sometimes you need to be proactive and “ask” again “I know said holding your breath” about her grades. How is she doing? Is anything difficult? Might she need some extra help, all asked in the most supportive way.

6. The boy factor- Is she one who “loves” boys? How do boys react to her? Does she chat with them on facebook? Get one! Know what she is doing !! If she is involved in after school activities, stop by a game or go to a show. Just promise her; you, or in our families case, my husband won’t embarrass her.

5. The girlfriends: Know them, all of them… Encourage your daughter to have her girlfriends come over so you can meet them and get to know them. There is always one in the bunch you will need to keep your “eye” on. Sit down and talk to them as a group to see “What’s new in school?” “Who is the latest heart throb?” “What things are going on at school” It is amazing what you can learn when you sit down and listen! Notice I didn’t say jump in the conversation or become part of a “fight” because there will be lots and lots of fighting and drama with girls, unfortunately it’s in the genes somehow but be there to understand the dynamics of the group and where your daughter fits in.

4. Eat Healthy: It really is monkey see monkey do… Not that I’m saying any of you are monkey’s. What I’m saying is when you are out with your kids; set an example of what you know is good nutrition for them, needless to say eating at McDonald’s 7 days a week is not! So if you work, pack a lunch or at least a snack of veggies and fruits, so your teen will follow suit, hopefully!

3. Set Rules and let them know there are consequences: Texting and driving, do I dare have to say drinking and driving, to me these are both the lesser of all evil! No No No! I don’t think I need to say more…

2. What is going on in her daily life? In this day and age where our teens spend hours and hours online or texting on the phone; know who your teen is chatting with. If you have any suspicions that she is being bullied step up, and for pete sake, step in and help her. Cyber bullying has gone way out of this world to the point where teens are taking their lives. Keep the lines of communication open be there to listen and support her but always be the “mother” or “father”!

1. Know and understand sometimes what she says is not actually what she means! As I call them “the three dreaded words”; I hate you! Is not what she means… She means I’m frustrated… I’m scared… I don’t know what to do… just listen to me and… help!

Now I don’t claim to be a psychologist or anyone with any kind of medical background, I’m just a mom who has been there through those “wonderful years” we call teens, and the good news is I’m Still Standing! And so will you!!

What happened to 2010

 

2010 year in reviewI cannot believe just how fast 2010 flew by… Maybe it was because the first half of the year we were literally “shoveling” ourselves out of the 5+ feet of snow that cursed the Metro DC area, or maybe it was the culmination of the fastest 4 years of my daughter Sarah’s education-college, or the countless power outages that PEPCO had… we seemed to jump from through all four seasons in a heartbeat this year.

2010 brought me to a new beginning with my “Wellness Makeover” and I would like to thank both Rebecca and Ryan for helping me begin this, but I now understand it is not a sprint it really is a marathon as I continue to struggle with all that encompasses being healthy of a mind, body and soul. I’m about half way there and so I know 2011 will be another year to continue to my goal and then continue to live healthy. I’ve met many new friends on facebook through my Wellness Makeover Page and would love to have you join in for inspiration and motivation, or sometimes just real life and trying to keep up with the journey!

These were my top 10 Posts of 2010, take a look and see if there is anything you might have missed!

Hello Everyone, My name is Shelley and I am an Emotional Eater

Spread the Word to end the Word

I went from a “B” to a “D” and No Boob Job Required?

I’m Not a Member of the Clean Plate Club Anymore!

So, Did I Ever Tell You About My Husband?

Everything I learned about life I didn’t learn in Kindergarten

The Sweetest Sentence in the World!

Camp for Sista’s, I was so there!

Disney Girls Gone Wild!

And to end it one of my favorite and top read recipes: Baked Acorn Squash with Cranberry Horseradish Sauce.

Wishing you a very happy and truly “healthy” New Year!

Have kids? You MUST know about cybersafety!


Teen angel panel

On May 27 Sarah and I attended the Wired Kids Summit in Washington DC. This was not the first meeting on Cybersafety that I attended, and with Sarah’s “run-in” with cyber bullying I knew she too would want to see what this was all about. The meeting was primarily a summit of Parry Aftab’s Teen angels to gather and talk to cyber companies and share their experiences i.e. facebook, Google, MySpace, Xbox, MTV, Disney, Nickelodeon etc.

Teen angels are a group of thirteen to eighteen year old volunteers that have been specially trained in all aspects of online safety, privacy and security. After completion of the required training, the Teen angels run unique programs in schools to spread the word about responsible and safe surfing to other teens and younger kids, parents, and teachers.


Parry and Teen Angel demonstrating the “Stop, Block and Tell”

Teen angels was founded in 1999 by leading cyberlawyer Parry Aftab, Executive Director of WiredSafety.org – the world’s largest online safety and help organization and 501(c)(3) corporation. Parry personally trains most of the Teen angels!

Parry Aftab is an Internet privacy and security lawyer. She also writes books and articles and was one of the first experts to focus on Internet safety and kids online. The Teen angels were born as a result of a TV special Parry did in April 1999with ABC News, in New Jersey. The special was about teen girl safety and Parry was asked to be the Internet safety guru for the special. Part of the special involved Parry speaking to teenage girls at a school in New Jersey. When the computer connection predictably broke down, the girls just lined up at microphones and fired off questions and that was the birth of wiredsafety.*

At the summit there were several panel discussions with the teens, the companies, and with the audience. I had invited several mom bloggers to attend and other moms who are active in their schools so that they could learn from this and hopefully take back some ideas for starting a curriculum on the importance of internet safety and cyberbullying.


Parry and Cyber Company Panel

At my last meeting I was blown away by the corporations that were showing support for this important venue. Two companies stood out big time to me and they were Build a Bear which is a store for younger children and teens who has devoted an entire section of their website to cybersafety and MTV who began a thin line campaign aimed at stopping the spread of abuse in the form of sexting, cyberbullying and digital dating abuse.


psa courtesy of “A Thin Line”

I’m still not sure what facebook is doing to promote internet safety as well as gaming companies such as XBox. Facebook does have a place to report bullying but after my daughters experience I’m still a bit skeptical. A friend of mine who has 3 boys who came with me raised the question as to why should there be “chat” buttons on games such as scrabble where total strangers can hop on and start chatting with your child or you. She told me she finds this entirely too creepy and I have to agree.

But the bottom line is parents need to be aware of what your kids are doing, which in this day and age where 50% of the population is of divorced families and have two working parents is very hard to enforce. We really need to get back to basics of really speaking to our kids and keeping the lines of communications open so that “if” they encounter any type of “bullying” or “weirdness” on the computer they can follow along what they Teen/Twee angels preach which is “stop, block, and tell a parent.”

Keeping our kids safe has gone from our backyards into cyberspace and we really need to be wise.

Some tips from Parry*:
Keeping your kids safe on social media
Protect your privacy on facebook
What you need to know about youtube

*Information of teen angels and Perry Aftab from teenangels.org website and wiredsafety.org

Just like it was yesterday

Dear Sarah,

Well I’m supposed to write a letter to you which reflects what you have meant to us over the last 21 almost 22 years in one page? Wow, that is going to be a little hard because what you have given us in your 21 years is sooo much more than a pages worth but here goes…

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I was overjoyed! As you know pregnancy and me just don’t get along and I am really hoping that I did not pass that on to you, but you know my mom had 6 kids and no problems so here’s hoping! Anyhow, my pregnancy was not easy; my OBGYN even called me the “girl with the little black rain cloud.”

It seems if it could happen during a pregnancy it happened to me to the point where I was hospitalized 3 months before your September 16th arrival date. I know you are saying September 16th is not my birthday but that was the day you were supposed to arrive, but being the “I must always be early” type of girl that you are. My blood pressure skyrocketed and my water broke on July 9th, 1988 and that was it, there was no turning back for us now. Your birth as you know was a bit scary and I was completely out but daddy was with you the whole time. When they pulled you out, you were a tiny little bundle of “pink.” But there was no sound. Well now we know that years later those vocals work real well! You were ventilated and resuscitated and rushed to the NICU. Daddy just stayed with you the whole time. Of course over the course of your life you have heard us tell you how the doctors told us you would be “deaf, blind, would never walk or talk on your own.” But you were beautiful! We were devastated, what was going to happen to our little Sarah. Obviously the doctors were very wrong about you and yup, that little omen was a prelude to your sisters’ life which has affected all of ours greatly, but this is about you not her! Lol

As a little girl you were always outgoing and caring reaching out to all of those who needed a friend. We were always so proud of you for this. You have always been a “little” more social then scholarly. Given a choice of doing your homework or watching TV with friends well that was an easy one, TV and friends always won out, although you did learn some funny lessons there, “remember everyone is beautiful, all you have to do is squint.”

Over the years we have watched you grow into a fine young lady. We have watched you develop and learn to understand your sisters’ disability which I know is a hard obstacle to get through, but you have done it with grace and poise, wanting to help change the world and teach others about discrimination against the disabled. It takes a lot to get up and put your money where your mouth is and I’m so proud that you have done that.

When it came time to apply to colleges daddy and I had a long talk about where you would finally end up going and we decided that decision was going to be yours, you always knew you could come back to our home state if you weren’t happy with your choice. Thank goodness you loved Alabama the moment you stepped on that campus, I could see an ease in you and next was “sorority life.” Would you follow in my footsteps and be and ADPi? I remember when you were going thru rush and your nightly calls about each house and your feelings about them. I guess I was hoping that you would end up an ADPi and I remember standing on the corner of bid day next to your dorm waiting and waiting for the parade of girls to go by and finally “see” what house you were in. And the “A’s” came by and finally Alpha Delta Pi, and there seemed to be a 100 girls and where was Sarah? I thought “oh no!” But low and behold, there she was one of the last one’s running with the group. There she was Sarah Caroline an Alpha Delta Pi pledge! And yup, I cried a little bit!

You have always been a ray of sunshine! Sometimes a little bossy! Sometimes a little loud! But always with grace and poise and a wonderful wonderful spirit and great heart! I’m proud to call you my daughter, and sister, We will love you always!

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Last week I proudly sat at the Coleman Coliseum amongst 6000 or so proud parents at the University of Alabama awaiting the procession of our graduating seniors. Nineteen years of school! It is hard to believe, where did those 19 years go?

I made this little video of Sarah’s life and thought I would share it with all of you.

Just like it was yesterday

For those of you with small children enjoy it, take your time to “smell” the “roses” and the not so “rosey” moments for that is what makes up your picture book of “life.” What is your favorite memory of your children so far?

One day… all babies will be born healthy

Twenty one years ago, I was a young scared soon to be young mom, who had been lying in the hospital for almost six weeks due to complications from Preeclampsia/Toxemia which was only getting worse. I didn’t understand what this was or why this was happening to me, and no one took the time to explain anything other than the fact that my blood pressure was going up, and I was spilling protein in my urine, (whatever that meant) and just before my water broke I gained 5 pounds overnight of I believe fluid; I wasn’t eating a lot because at the same time I was suffering from major gallbladder attacks so I couldn’t eat anything with fat or I had an attack, so there wasn’t to much I was eating; therefore the 5 pound weight pain was just scary. My hands looked like I was wearing baseball mitts and my legs and feet were so swollen I couldn’t even see my ankles. I knew that this was just wrong and I wanted to know that my baby and I were going to be OK. All I was told was the “cure” of my Toxemia was to deliver the baby.

The evening after the huge overnight weigh gain, my water broke at 34 weeks. I was told that it would be risky for the baby, perhaps his/her lungs would not be developed enough, but there was no way to stop the pregnancy at this point. This was my body’s way of saying “get this baby out of here.”

Twenty five hours and forty minutes later Rebeka was born via an emergency c-section. I don’t remember much of her birth since I was so exhausted from the Pitocin-which was used to speed up my contractions, and Magnesium Sulfate, which was used to “stabilize” my blood pressure which was like a roller coaster, going up and then plummeting to the point where they needed to give me Epinephrine to bring it back up. My body was going through a huge amount of emotional and physical anxiety, but I do remember when they pulled her out, and there was “nothing.” No cry and then panic hit the room. My poor husband didn’t know which way to turn, to me, or to our newborn daughter whose future which looked quite grim. They rapidly laid Rebeka down on a board and used Velcro straps on her arms and legs; that is all I remember before I blacked out.

When I came to I was in the recovery room and Geoffrey was sitting next to me. I remember I couldn’t move, and of course I asked about the baby. Where was she? How was she? How much did she weigh? What did she look like? The next 24 hours Rebeka showed us what a fighter she was, within that time the tiny 4 pound baby that was born not breathing who was resuscitated and ventilated was pulled off the ventilator and breathing on her own.

In the mean time, we were told by all that she would most likely be “blind, deaf, retarded, and probably never be able to live on her own.” We were devastated. How could this beautiful little baby be born and be such a “fighter” to only have these prognosis’s “thrown” on us? Well they couldn’t have been more wrong. Rebeka has grown to be a very intelligent and well versed 21 year old lady.

However now believe that the powers “above” were just “testing the waters.” Three and a half years after Rebeka was born, I went through the same ordeal of a “pregnancy” with the same lousy complications, minus the gallbladder issues because six weeks after my first section, I had my gallbladder removed. (Back to back surgeries not recommended by me!) In any event, the same things started happening but I was much more aware of what was going on and just a little scared about the same thing happening again.

And at 34 weeks after a month long stay in the hospital Ainsley was born. When things went to that “bad place” on the radar we opted it was time to get her out and scheduled a section for the first availability of the Operating Room. The next morning I was wheeled in and prepped for surgery. This time the section went much better and thank god, when they pulled her out, I heard that loud cry! There was no “drama” no board with Velcro, they wrapped her up and carried the little 3 pound munchkin to the NIC unit to eat and get bigger and go home and start her life. Unfortunately when Ainsley was 10 days old she suffered an intraventricular hemorrhage which changed her life and certainly all of ours. And then I remember what “they” had warned us about Rebeka. What was going to become of our little Ainsley? How would we live with a disabled child? What would that mean for her? What would that mean for us?

Our family has come a long way in those 21 years, we have learned to jump thru hoops and we have overcome a lot in coming to terms with having a disabled child. We have even become advocates in the disability community! I share this short snippet of our family’s history with you in honor of March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month.

And ask that you take a moment to see how you can get involved. If nothing more become informed about premature birth. Although I could not avoid mine there are things women can do.

The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. They carry out this mission through research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies’ lives. March of Dimes researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers and advocates work together to give all babies a fighting chance against the threats to their health: prematurity, birth defects, low birth weight.

Please share this info with anyone who you know who is pregnant and make sure that they are getting prenatal care. I am always happy to talk to anyone who might need help, even though I am not a doctor and do not claim to have any medical training, I have “been there and done that,” and I am happy to reach out and share with anyone who might need an ear or a hand to hold, even if it is through the Internet!

Bullying has gone “out of this world!”

Many of you know who follow me know that I have two beautiful daughters one who has special needs and one who has taken her beauty and used it to help those less fortunate than herself, by using this as a platform with various titles she has held. But beauty has come at a cost to her.

When she was a senior in high school a boy who she was very good friends with for many years, who she defended when other kids “bullied “him on the bus and elsewhere, got mad at her and decided to make a hurtful fake facebook page which he called “antiprincess” and had her picture with an ex thru it as it’s icon. This boy originally created a fake facebook with a different name and no photo and friended his circle of friends included my daughter who thought this was just “a student from school” and then when he had a lot of friends he switched the name and the photo. It was with a blood curdling scream one afternoon that Rebeka saw this was done.

I thank god, she came to us first. We had a pretty good idea of who was behind this because the boy had just gotten in a huge fight with Rebeka right before this, and figured this was his “retaliation.” Geoffrey called the boy’s parents but unfortunately his parents defended him and basically told us it was untrue, but they did say “I guess you are calling because you heard boos when they crowned Rebeka as Homecoming Queen.” Um, no, first not true we were there, there was no booing; and what are we 3 years old? We were talking about something more serious!

In the mean time, other students came forward after realizing what he did by switching the name and photo and told us. When we were informed by other students who indeed the creator was and knew his parents wouldn’t take responsibility we went to talk to the principal who did little more than talk to him with a “slap on the wrist” and say “bad boy.” They told us since facebook is an “out of school activity” they could not do too much to get involved. But I will say that “miraculously” after that the page “disappeared.” Although the pain and embarrassment of this was awful for my daughter.

We also attempted to contact facebook. This was 4 years ago when cyberbullying was a “new” thing and facebook did not have anything in place for reports like this.

Mean girls, bullying has always been around but with the cyber world this has gone on into a new dimension that no one could even have believed possible. It is now possible to hurt a child so bad that people all over the internet around the world will know, and children are dying over this!

On Tuesday October 12th I had the privilege of being invited to the Wired Safety Stopcyberbullying Coalition Roundtable at the US Senate by Mary from WiredMoms. When Mary contacted me about this coalition I was all ears since it was something that touched my family’s life.

I went and listened to two families stories that were not as lucky as mine. Debbie Johnston shared the story of her son Jeffery who fell prey to two years of cyberbulling and torment and at the age of 15 he took his own life. His mother through her hard work had the state of Florida adopt “The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act,” which requires schools in the state to adopt policies to discourage bullying in person and online.

And Cynthia Logan spoke about her ongoing fight to teach schools how to handle sexting-related harassment among students. Her 18-year old adorable daughter Jessie tried desperately to teach others the risks of sexting after her private nude image she sent to her than 19-year old boyfriend was broadcast to more than 1000 people. After no one would help her, she too took her own life.

I sat and of course tried very hard to keep all my tears in check but just kept thinking thank God Rebeka is still here with us today! Thank God, this didn’t take her life too! So now I’m on a mission to help WiredMoms and WiredSafety spread awareness to as many parents as I can, because every child deserves to be safe!

I know there are many questions out there and many of you are probably thinking first what the heck is “sexting?” The definition of sexting is when a sexual picture is transported thru media. I know a lot of you are shaking your heads but this is a big problem with teens and tweens today, a lot brought on by advertising, media, TV, but the fact of the matter is we need to talk to our kids and let them know this is NOT to ever be done! NEVER!! First of all it is now a federal offense, and if convicted which many children now in fact are it is a federal offense, and you will be listed on the “Sex Offenders List.” Yes, that is the same list as pedophiles who we are trying to keep away from our kids! And if your child has forwarded a photo they received on to others your child can now be convicted as an accomplice of “child pornography” and there you go, if convicted, which again they are doing now, your child will also end up on the same Sex Offenders List. So number one talk to your kids!

I was astounded to learn that kids as young as 2nd grade have cell phones. Come on what is that about? Who at 7 needs a cell phone? But even scarier is that children this young today are ALL on the internet. 97% of teens today are on facebook, and a poll of the same age teens 85% of them say they have been cyberbullied to some extent. 1 in 10 kids will be like Rebeka and talk to their parents that means 9 in 10 don’t! And there are an astounding 160,000 kids a day who don’t go to school because of their cyberbulling experience.

I learned that 85% of kids share their passwords with their friends. Well that’s all it takes for someone to start cyberbulling. Send out messages to all of your friends from ”you” but it’s not really you… this is what happened to Jeff Johnson. It’s called “locking the door folks!” You lock the door to your house to keep it safe don’t you? Passwords are your lock to your computers!

The roundtable was unbelievable with representatives from just about everyone from MTV to Google to Disney. Thirty different companies came together and spoke about the problem of keeping our kids safe and how as an industry they can implement change and rules but the fact of the matter is it needs to also be monitored at home. Know who your kids are “chatting” with. Talk to them about bullying what they should do if they don’t feel safe… “Stop, block, and tell” is what Parry Aftab says. Parry is the heart behind this mission and Executive Director of WiredSafety. If your child feels threatened they should stop chatting, block the person and tell their parent.

The Department of Education was also present to figure out how to add this to curriculum which I am happy to say some states are already doing. New York City’s Mayor’s office just created a wonderful 3 part Video series made by teens which will be shown to all middle school children in New York City schools premiering soon.

There are so many things that can happen in our children’s lives, I beg you please take 5 minutes today to sit down with your tweens and teens and talk to them about this important cause, it might just save their life!

There is nothing as “sweet” as home!

Last week I received the wonderful phone call from Rebeka asking “Mom can I come home next weekend?” Since she has been “down south” in school since the beginning of August those were welcome words to my ears and my heart melted. So of course I went and purchased her a ticket to come home for the weekend. I should tell you being her “senior year” she scheduled her classes this fall around “football season” so she has no classes on Monday’s or Friday’s so she can go to all games should she want to home or away, that is just how “nuts” this state is for football. But this time it was used for my advantage so I was happy.

Usually I have her take a shuttle home from the airport because I “hate” driving on highways. But I thought this time I would surprise her and actually show up at the airport. Of course the day I decide to do this her plane has a 3 hour delay, which upset us both. Her because she just wanted to get home to her “home,” and me because it was smack dab in the middle of the day which became “rush hour” on a Friday, not the best time for driving on highways.

When her plane “finally” landed, which according to the Arrival Board took at least 20 minutes, and then another 10 or so to arrive at the gate, she was so surprised to see me waiting when she walked through baggage claim.

Of course I started cooking the minute she told me she wanted to come home so I had prepared enough food for an army. Our weekend menu was:

• Gazpacho
• Coconut cornbread (a favorite of both Geoffrey and Rebeka)
• Cesar Salad with homemade dressing (of course!)
• Pasta salad (a favorite of Rebeka’s)
• Brisket with Portobello Mushrooms (I can’t even tell you how wonderful this is!)
• Marinated Bar-B-q Chicken
• Garlic Mashed Potatoes
• Crispy Wanton Cookies (made for my mother-in-law who is lactose intolerant)
• Paula Dean’s “IS IT REALLY BETTER THAN S*X? CAKE” (which is actually the name, embarrassing to write but oh my goodness it is one of the Best cakes I have ever tasted, and EVERYONE loves it!)


ingredients

There are so many wonderful recipes to pass on here but I thought everyone has to try and make Paula Dean’s cake at least once. It is like a slice of heaven, or the Caribbean…


yum!

Ingredients
• 1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare
• 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• 1 (3.4-ounce) box French vanilla pudding, plus ingredients to prepare
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 1 cup flaked, sweetened toasted coconut

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare yellow cake mix as directed using a greased 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. While cake is baking, combine the pineapple and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Remove cake from oven and using a fork, pierce holes into cake. Pour pineapple mixture over hot cake and set aside.
Prepare pudding according to package directions. Spread pudding over cake and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Whip heavy cream and remaining sugar until stiff. Cover top of cake with whipped cream and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

Rebeka, Geoffrey and I spent Saturday walking around Georgetown and than it was “back home” for another family dinner.

All cooking aside it was wonderful to have Rebeka home for the weekend! Let me know if you make the cake and just how much you love it!

Rush=Sisterhood and Sometimes the Legacy Does Live On.

I can’t believe that Rebeka is a senior in college to her that means lots of things; getting ready for graduation, finishing things up, studying for her GRE’s, and yup, her last year participating in “Rush.”

So what exactly is “Rush?” one might ask, well according to Webster: It is a noun which can mean many things one of which is a drive by a fraternity or sorority to recruit new members.

Back in the early 80’s I joined the sisterhood of Alpha Delta Pi thru an “informal” Rush. I went through the regular rituals one does as a pledge and became a sister of the sorority. To this day, I have kept in touch with several of my sisters and most recently thru the joy and wonder of facebook became reacquainted with sisters who I lost touch with along the way, somehow we are all bound together and we pick up where we left off like nothing has changed.

Our recruitment for Rebeka was much different than mine; it actually started her senior year of high school when we attended “Pan-Hellenic Weekend.” This in itself was a mini-rush and HUGE eye opener to me as to how different Greek Life is in different parts of the country. Geoffrey and I both went down, thank goodness he had packed the best of his Vineyard Vines, and she her best of Lilly! Or we would have stuck out like a sore thumb. This was our introduction to school in the south. I don’t think I had ever been called “Ma’am” so much or had girls refer to my husband as “Sir.”

The weekend started off with an introduction from the Board of the Pan-Hellenic Association. Then we said good bye to our girls as they broke up in “tour groups” and we did the same thing. We went through all of houses in the sweltering heat. We stopped in each house for a 15 minute overview of their house; who they are, what they do for their philanthropy and a short skit. My husband and I walked out of at least 2 houses shaking our heads saying “nope not the house for her,” but we found that Rebeka being as well rounded as she was could have nicely fit into most of these houses. Although secretly I was hoping that she would want to join my house.

Rebeka and I had already been down to visit the University a few months earlier and stopped over at Alpha Delta Pi to introduce ourselves and to see the house; we did this at every school she applied to. For me it was a “hoot” to see the diversity of the sorority in various parts of the country. But in each it brought back a warm and “at home” feeling. I was hoping that Rebeka would have that “feeling” when she went to ADPi during her rush.

Pan Hellenic weekend was exhausting to say the least for both Rebeka and us. When we went home I understood that I needed to get my tush in gear and get going with “recs” for her, so I wrote to friends near and far in all of the sororities to ask that they write a letter of recommendation for Rebeka, I was fortunate to have had a bunch of friends who were happy to do this. Rebeka’s senior year ended, and summer came to a rapid end and Rebeka headed down south in early August 2006. Leaving her down there was one of the hardest things we had to do; just watching her thru the back of the taxi wave to us was heartbreaking. Although I promised her that I would return the following week for bid day, secretly crossing my fingers that she would be getting a bid from my house.

Rebeka called us daily to give us the updates of everything from her meticulously picked out clothing to her views on the houses that she toured. She fared very well during the two days of open house tours and was only dropped by one house. So she had some picking to do, she told me what houses she chose to go back to and ended with “of course ADPi.”

Next day was Philanthropy day where she went back to 10 houses which she chose to listen to their Philanthropy, I knew this was going to be an important one for Rebeka with as much as she had done in her life, I knew she wanted a house that put their money where their mouth was so to speak. She was very impressed with a few houses and narrowed her list down again.

Next day she went to the 6 houses which she kept on her list, I was a little surprised at a few of the houses she dropped but I told you philanthropy is important to her and I’m glad that we raised her to understand that giving begins at home.

Then came the hardest decision she had to make, cutting her list to a wee 3 houses for Preference. But that is what Preference is all about, that final chance to see if you can see yourself in that house, forever… After the final ceremony she and all 1500 other girls walked to the student union where they signed in and ranked the houses in their preference and they did this in total silence! This was mandatory, no one could talk to one another, it was made very clear to the girls that they needed to make this choice on their own. So she went and put her choices in order. After that she called me and was very teary eyed about all three houses. And then she had until 5 pm the next day to sit and wonder, “What house did I get into?” and me to wonder “Did she make the cut?” I felt like I was back at a pageant waiting to see if she made “top 10.”

It was at that time my plane was hitting the ground. I couldn’t wait to see her although it had only been a week; it had been such a long week for her mentally. I now can appreciate why they do this in the south before school actually begins it is sooo intense that they don’t want to mess with the academics which I was happy about.

At 4 o’clock Rebeka had to report to the NFL sized football stadium and look for her touring group she started out with. Each girl found her group and her “spot” which had an envelope with her name on it and “fate” inside. Would it be number 1, her favorite, number 2 or number 3? There was a small ceremony and then they were asked to pick up their envelopes which they had been sitting on till this point and open them. There were cheers and screams you could hear all over sorority row. Parents, friends, and all members of sororities and fraternities waited anxiously outside their houses to see who the “next generations, newest and brightest” would be.

I was on the street corner just outside Rebeka’s dorm. The girls came running out of the stadium in alphabetic order… It was something to see, like the “running of the bull!” TV Stations were even there filming it. Presidents and various other officers of each house were holding up HUGE life-size letters with the new pledges behind them running… The first house was Alpha Chi Omega which I knew Rebeka hadn’t chosen and next was Alpha Delta Pi, I was standing there watching and waiting and praying that she made the cut, and so they ran and ran and ran and ran, and my heart sank it looked like 100 girls, I almost started crying because I thought o crap, “first runner up again,” and then the very very last one running was my Rebeka, you know her and the heat! But there she was… An Alpha Delta Pi pledge, I was so proud because now we shared one more bond, mother, daughter and now sister forever!! Pi love…

Proms, Princesses and Promises

Well, it is May and that means a few things, summer is almost here, barbecue season is in full swing and it’s Prom season, with excited girls all over the country.

Over the past few days I have seen several pictures of beautiful young girls getting ready to go to their prom; experiencing that ever so big rite of passage, and celebrating the end of high school, the beginning of college and adulthood! So much has changed in high school and so much has stayed the same.

My older daughter graduated from high school three years ago and we went through the “prom” excitement with her, although in our home she went to two proms; her boyfriends’ at the time, who is a charming guy from Tulsa, Oklahoma and hers which was a huge run around until she found “Mr. Wrong” who she took but that is a whole different story. In any event getting ready for both was a huge production, one of which I didn’t see as she was many states away but her boyfriends’ mom took very good care of my sweet daughter, and hers at home which no matter who she went with was a night designed for a “Princess.”

So what is the prom really all about? I myself didn’t go to my prom mostly because my parents actually moved me in the middle of my senior year of high school from basically one world which I was a part of since kindergarten to another not so friendly world where I spent a very lonely 5 months; who wants to make friends with the “new girl” when we were all getting ready to leave for college? Anyhow, I knew the day that my daughter started dressing up like a “princess” at the mere age of two that someday her prom was going to be a special night for her.

So back to the prom and what is it all about? If you ask any 17 or 18 year old girl and they will tell you; it’s about the dress, the hair, the make-up, the dinner, and sometimes the date. It seems though that even if I didn’t’ go to my prom, I am sure that back in 1979 when hair was big and fluffy like “Farah” or short like “Dorothy Hamill” and Studio 54 was the rage with disco, that girls everywhere still cared about the same things, the dress, hair, make-up, and that special date, and being with your friends that you promised to always stay in touch with.

One thing I know is true is that high school today is soooo different then when I went to school, technology has moved things so far ahead of where we were but at the same time things still remain constant; teenagers remain basically the same. The friends, the promises, no matter who you were and who your group of friends was, you thought you would always be friends. Well come on at 17 that’s what you thought, right? High school will always be high school, the “cast of characters” will change but there will always be the “popular kids” the “sporty kids,” the “freaks” and the “geeks,” no matter what the prom is a celebration for them all..

To quote one of our families’ favorite movies, “The Breakfast Club…”

“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain… and an athlete… and a basket case… a princess… and a criminal… Does that answer your question?… Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Happy Prom to each of you out there and hope it is as magical a night as you had dreamed!

Thousand Word Thursday

I recently saw this on another mom’s blog and it made me think of some “thought provoking” photo’s I have in my collection. So every Thursday I am going to post a picture that I think is powerful, that expresses emotion, and speaks volumes to me. Here’s one that I believe is worth a thousand words.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away…

 

Cheaper Than Therapy