To Those Who Don’t Remember…

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Those of us who lived through it know full well what happened that day. We remember the crystal clear blue sky that morning, with all of us going about our normal day, when in a split second, life in the United States and the world changed forever.

But as I learned over the years, much to my dismay, the majority of children who did not experience that day have no emotional connection to it. They see it as the day some planes were taken over by bad people who crashed them into buildings causing the twin towers to fall.  And while we cannot expect them to truly ever feel what we did on that Tuesday morning, we must try and preserve the impact. The horror. The heroism. The confusion. The disbelief. The anger.

I know not everyone agrees with me about remembering this day and that is fine.  I know there are parents who do not even tell their children about it because it is so disturbing but you cannot hide history.  I know there are schools who sugarcoat what happened because they do not want to scare students or make them feel unsafe.  I think this is wrong. We MUST remember.  We MUST acknowledge what happened that day and how we came together as a nation and how we helped each other and how we we rebuilt the greatest city in the world.  Students today should know about the amazing heroism and sacrifice of those aboard Flight 93.  They should know about the rescues that occurred at the Pentagon.  They should know. They must know.

To those of you who don’t remember – September 11, 2001 was one of the worst days in American history.  You have heard that before. It was so much more than just two buildings getting knocked down. People were in those buildings. People were in their offices.  People were riding in elevators.  People were in restaurants and at the front desks greeting visitors and employees as they arrived for work. There were firemen, policemen and first-responders who went into the buildings to assess the damage and see if they could save others. I often wonder how many of those firemen knew the extent of the damage and yet, went into harm’s way anyway knowing their own lives would very possibly end.

It was more than just planes crashing into buildings and into a field in Pennsylvania. Innocent passengers were on those flights. Pilots and stewardesses with families and friends were in those seats. The heroism on the passengers on Flight 93 is something that should be celebrated, as they likely saved the lives of hundreds of others. What did it feel like for them to willingly give their lives to save others? What about those at the Pentagon? The hub of our military operations.  One of the “safest” places in Washington.  When I heard the Pentagon also got hit, my legs felt weak and  a feeling of despair and terror washed over me as I realized our country was under attack, not just New York.

More importantly, I hope that each person reading this never has to experience what we did on that day, but for those who don’t remember…

Look at the pictures and video footage  of that day- our eyes were wide with horror, confusion, helplessness and disbelief.  As we closed our eyes to try and sleep that night, our minds replayed images of people running away from the buildings, of heroes running into the buildings, of people crying, of dust and debris all over New York, of papers from offices flying in the air, of the hole in the ground left by the plane in PA, of the fires at the Pentagon.

Listen to the stories of those who were in New York and Washington, of the cell phone calls made to loved ones from the towers or from Flight 93 – our ears were filled with the sounds of our countrymen in distress, of those who knew they were doing to die, of buildings collapsing with people still in them, of sirens, of voices yelling directions.  And the most poignant for me – the wails and cries of despair. They hurt my heart to this day.

Touch a friend or person you love – strangers were grabbing and hugging each other as they went through the worst experience of their lives. They helped each other to safety. We hugged our friends, families and coworkers, yearning for some type of comfort.

We must remember.

Americans rebounded, as we always do, from that devastating and cowardly attack on the innocent and on our country. But we are Americans. We are resilient. We are compassionate. We are determined. We are strong.

But on that day, we did not feel strong. We felt despair, we felt horror, we felt helpless, we felt confusion, we felt shock, we felt anger. We felt vengeful. So for those who don’t remember, I beg you to try. We cannot forget.

The songs below are three great summations of how many of us felt that day. I encourage everyone to listen to them.  I chose the live versions of all three songs so that you can see and feel the emotion these men put into them.  May God bless all of those who perished that day, all those who lost loved ones, and all of our troops past and present defending our freedom.  We will never forget.

 

 

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Should People Without Children Be Compensated For it at Work?

 

What? People who don’t have children should get something more?

Yes. And here’s why.

First, many jobs give paid days off to care for family members who are sick. I can only speak for education, but every district I have ever worked in gave at least five days for Family Illness.  The stipulation is that it had to be someone in your immediate family and/or in your household.  In my last district, we were allowed five Family Illness Days.  That is a full week’s worth of pay.  Many people with children end up taking these days because their children inevitably get sick.  I know numerous colleagues who would take at least three of these days for their children whether they were sick or not (i.e. – for doctor’s appointments or scheduling conflicts with snow days, spring break, to stay home and catch up on grading etc.)

In 20 years in education, I used two Family Illness Days.  I was single for the first 15 years of my career and lived alone.  I had/have no children. Now, I only live with my husband and dog.  Thank God our parents are relatively healthy and I have not had to use them.  But I certainly could have used a day or two off over the years and could not use a Family Illness Day to do so.   The way I figure it, I am owed about 19 weeks vacation or 19 weeks pay.

In addition, we can never use the reason of leaving work early or not staying late due to a child’s game, play, practice, etc.  Therefore, we end up working more and longer than those with children.  It’s just a fact. Here is an example.  A friend of mine  was working as a cashier in a grocery store and was always getting called to come in when others with children would call off or not be able to work a full shift due to illness, practice, lessons and whatnot. I remember her saying that it wasn’t fair that just because she didn’t have kids, it didn’t mean that she didn’t have a life.  I thought it was a bit harsh at first, but she was right.  Whether or not you are single or married, not having kids does not mean that all of your extra time should/could be devoted to work.

Listen, I have been saying for years that the Women’s Lib movement screwed us.  While it’s great we have more choices for careers and more rights, they unknowingly made it more difficult for us to not only raise the children and take care of the house, but also work a full day to survive in this world. Many women struggle with the balance of a  career and family and I truly feel for them.  I think it’s great that more and more companies allow parents to stay home with their children when they are sick. After all, who doesn’t want their mommy when they don’t feel well? But I also think it’s not fair that those of us who do not have children are kind of penalized for it.

We are the ones that get asked to stay late.

We are the ones that are asked to do extra work.

We are the ones they call to come in on the weekends.

We are the ones saving our companies money but not using these days offered to us.

We are the ones who end up complying and doing all of the things asked of us.

Yet we make the same amount as those who are allowed to leave early, stay home, work from home, etc because of their children.

Shouldn’t we somehow be compensated?

 

Too Casual?

“Clothes allow you to see yourself in a different light. They can transform you instantly and have a very real, visceral impact. Clothes become symbolic of who we are.” – Stacy London

 

Jeans. Most everyone loves them and they are probably one of the most commonly owned pieces of clothing by Americans.

Here are two interesting facts about jeans:

1.  In 1873, Levi Strauss and Company received a patent for blue jeans.  A durable pant was needed for gold and silver miners and so they were created.  The material was called “dungarees” (which is what my grandfather used to call them!) Later on, mostly Cowboys wore jeans working the cattle ranches since they lasted much longer than cotton pants.  Since then, jeans have evolved into many different cuts including boot cut, low waist, skinny, boyfriend, straight leg, etc. Everyone in America owns a pair of jeans.

2.  Elvis Presley could only afford dungarees when he was a child because his family was so poor. As an adult, he rarely ever wore them because of that.

While jeans are great to wear for comfort or working (as originally intended), I think we have gone a bit overboard on when it is appropriate to wear jeans and there are times when more formal attire is appropriate.

 

This is totally my opinion, but I really don’t feel that jeans should be worn if:

1.  You are attending viewing or funeral.  Yes, I have seen it. To me, it is terribly disrespectful that the time could not be taken to dress up to honor a person’s life.

2.  You are attending a wedding. I don’t care if you have a button down shirt and tie on as well.  Unless the invitation states that it is very casual, a wedding is not the place to sport your Levi’s.

3.  You are a teacher – Now, wait. Don’t get angry! By all means, participate in dress down Fridays and Jeans Days (I always did!), but please do this only on Fridays. I cannot tell you how many teachers I see wearing jeans during the week. And the ones I have seen wearing jeans pair them with sweatshirts, dingy sweaters or t-shirts and old sneakers. After being in education for almost 20 years, I can say with certainty that dressing too casually affects how students treat you and perceive you as a teacher.  It can affect the whole mood of the class. If you are going to wear jeans, remember two things – you are not going to be working outside (wear nice jeans and shoes) and you are not going clubbing (lose the hoochie-mama tops and skin tight skinnies).  You are still a teacher and a professional who deserves respect. You are a role model for your students and reflection of your school. Dress like it!

4. If you are the first person a customer/client/patient sees – You are making a first impression of the office, store, doctor, etc.  I remember taking my mother to her orthopedic therapist one time and the receptionist was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. And it was a Wednesday. I immediately questioned my mother about what  type of office this was and the credibility of the physician. It did not seem very professional to me and I immediately thought negatively about the doctor, whom I had not yet met.  As it turns out, I did not care for the doctor, but my mom liked her and she got better, so I might have judged her wrong. But I did judge her and I have not forgotten that. Most people do not easily forget first impressions…

5.  If you are going to church – I know some churches say that it does not matter what you wear, as long as you are there, but I just don’t think it’s right to wear old jeans and sweatshirts to church.  Black or colored jeans or corduroys with a nice sweater and boots – yes, but not old, faded, ripped ones.  And don’t even get me started on those wearing SWEATPANTS to church! AHHH!!  I think that God deserves more!

People form opinions about us based on our appearances.  We can’t help it. It’s human nature.  And clothes are usually the first thing people notice, even before your face. Doubt me? Go to the mall and people watch.  The clothes that we wear are more powerful than we might think.

We Stood Up…

Today, I was in an elementary school to coach teachers on instructional strategies. In case you are unaware, schools are going through tremendous changes right now to meet the very challenging Common Core State Standards and new teacher evaluation systems (at least in NY and NJ).  Teachers are expected to work miracles with students who are coming to school with less and less basic skills. They are forced to teach classes of heterogeneously grouped students with huge discrepancies in terms of ability levels, non-English speaking students, severe behavior problem students as well as dealing with (and almost having to answer to) overbearing parents who continuously blame the teachers if their child is not succeeding.  Or behaving. Or not doing his homework.  Speaking from experience, teaching is more difficult now than it ever was.  Period.  And it’s not getting any easier.  I taught for 16 years and truly empathize with what our teachers are going through. Student test scores (in NJ) have become a part of each teacher’s end- of-the-year evaluation, so it is weighing heavy on each educator’s mind.  State testing, coupled with the new evaluations systems, have ultimately led teachers to “teach to the test” and as many have told me, “taken the fun out of teaching and learning.”

Driving to the school, all of these things were on my mind and I was feeling a little sad as I entered the building. I signed in, met briefly with the principal who wanted to talk about test scores, and then went into a third grade classroom. The teacher is a fabulous one and has the patience of a saint.  Out of 20 kids, she has 12 who are special education.  Two more should be classified, but their parents will not allow  it. The teacher told me how frustrated she feels but comes to work each day with a positive attitude and smile on her face – for herself and her students.  I admired her perseverance and dedication  and thought about all of the other teachers I know and work with who are unhappy with their roles and limits in the classroom.   

As I watched the tiny third graders noisily hang up their backpacks, talking with friends and vying for the teachers’ attention, a voice came over the loud-speaker and asked us to stand for the pledge of allegiance.  Everything stopped and we stood up and faced the flag.  As I crossed my hand over my heart, I saw eager little faces with tiny hands on their hearts and with their squeaky voices, lisps and slight mispronunciations, the students  loudly recited those famous words that American school children say each and every day. Pledging allegiance to our country and our flag. Putting our faith and trust in the leaders of America to do the right thing.  And suddenly, my heart grew warm, my eyes got misty and I smiled. There is something about seeing a group of children with hope in their eyes and determination in their voices that is uplifting and inspiring.  And right then, right there, I felt like things in education and our country will all work out.  It has to.  For our students. For our teachers. For our futures.

 

Teaching – A Most Underrated Profession…

It’s been a long time since I had a few minutes to share my thoughts. Not that I have not been writing every day.  My new job requires me to write reflections of my classroom observations along with writing reactions to professional readings. It’s been a huge change going from a classroom teacher to an educational consultant, but I absolutely love it! I cannot believe how much has changed in the year and three months I was out of the classroom from new standards to evaluations systems to standardized tests to all of the wonderful technology available!

I decided to write a few Top Five Lists to kind of sum up what I’ve seen in the past four weeks…

Top Five Things About Being Back to Work

1.  Getting back into a routine.

2.  Being intellectually stimulated again from collaborating with others in the education field.

3.  Getting a steady paycheck!

4.  Having something more to share in conversations.

5.  Being back in the world of education.

Top Five Things in the Corporate World that Differ from Teaching:

1.  People can go to the bathroom whenever they need to in the office world, but certainly not in teaching!

2.  If a person is thirsty or hungry, they are permitted to eat while working. Or take a break to sip some tea.

3.  The day is not run by a strict schedule. While there are scheduled meetings and such, the day is not written minute by minute like it is in a school.

4.  Most people get an hour for lunch. And you can leave the building to run errands at that time…

5.  When you leave the office, there is some work, but not nearly as much as teachers have – especially fellow language arts teachers who are always grading some sort of writing piece…

Top Five Things I Feel Badly About…

1.  Neglecting my cooking, cleaning, shopping and writing.

2.  Not talking to or seeing my friends as much.

3.  Not being able to go to my niece’s softball games because I get out too late and live too far away.

4.  Not having started a regular workout routine (my hours vary depending on whether or not I am in the office or going to a school). This is not an excuse, but it seems to me that I will have to shift from my morning workouts to afternoon ones.  Thankfully, the weather has been nice to do this!

5.  Not reading for pleasure as much as I used to since I am always reading educational books (which is fine, but since summer is quickly approaching, I like my cheesy and smutty beach books!)

Top Five Reasons I Admire Teachers (even more so now that I am the one looking into classrooms)

1.  They have thick skins.  Teachers are blamed for everything that goes wrong in a child’s education. Are all teachers great? Of course not, but the vast majority are dedicated professionals who continuously questioned, verbally abused and criticized by those who have no background in educational strategies and structures and simply want their children to get A’s, even if it means that they did not earn (or learn) it.

2.  They are not acknowledged or appreciated nearly enough. Most societies, including those who score the highest worldwide, value and admire their teachers, who are considered to be pillars of society.  Teachers are amazing people educating, shaping and forming the next leaders of the world.

3.  Teachers do not get paid overtime, yet end up spending numerous hours  a week outside of the classroom.

4.  Teachers are dealing with more external factors than ever before.  They have always had to play the role of a parent to some students along with being a counselor to many and disciplinarians to all, but they are now having to deal with bullying, drugs and alcohol, texting, sexting, sexual assault issues, large numbers of non-English speaking students, parents who think they know more (or better than) the teacher, terrorism, safety, etc.  No one should make the mistake of thinking that all teachers do is teach.  It is so much more and people need to realize this.

5.  In addition to planning lessons, making phone calls, helping students, attending professional development classes, etc, they are responsible for keeping up with all of of the new technology that is coming out, often times without being trained. It’s more of a…”we got these iPads. Figure out how to use them or what apps are free).  Or, they do not have technology and have to figure out a way to incorporate it into their lessons since it’s part of the Common Core State Standards(CCSS).  How can they accomplish this with computers that do not work??

It has been a very eye-opening experience to observe teachers and make recommendations to make learning better for their students and help them meet the new evaluation guidelines that many states have required.   I have always been proud to be a teacher and admired my colleagues.  That admiration is now deeper than ever and I will do my best to help the teachers help their students and prepare them for the real world. I just wish other people would realize how important teachers are to our children, communities, society and our entire world.

When I Have Time…

In case you haven’t noticed, I have gone over a week without writing anything on my blog.  Wah!!  😦

I miss writing and having you read and comment on my thoughts (squawks), but I have a very good reason for not posting last week.  I got a new job (the one where I have to wear matching skirt suits) and have been working all day, coming home and working more at night to familiarize myself with the responsibilities and requirements of being an effective educational consultant.  My job involves supporting and coaching teachers in Learner Active Classrooms  that are infused with technology. I want to be as helpful and knowledgeable as I can possibly be because I know how difficult running an effective classroom is these days.  I truly feel teachers  have a special place in heaven! 🙂

So, I am sure I will have some interesting posts sooner or later, but ask for your patience as I jump in head first to this new position.

Have a great weekend and I hope to post again soooon!!

 

 

 

A Farewell to Capital Letters…

 

 

I am sorry to report that the use of capital letters appears to be over.  No longer do you see capital letters on people’s names, places, websites, book titles or advertisements.

As a former teacher, I used to get very frustrated when students  did not use proper capitalization and punctuation by the time they got to me in middle school.  I could not understand it.  I knew that the elementary teachers taught them punctuation, but could not fathom why the kids would not retain and apply the rules. So, I did what most English teachers do.  I would explain the rule, have the students copy it in their notebooks (they HAVE to know it then), practice using the rule, play a grammar game, pick out examples of the rule in writing and then assess them.  But after all that, the kids were still not using these rules in their everyday writing (which, of course, is the main goal of learning punctuation, contrary to most students’ belief that it is merely a way for teachers to torture students).

One day, it hit me.  There are lower case letters EVERYWHERE from the titles and subtitles of shows to song titles and even people’s names.  I also noticed that many billboards and advertisements are also in lower case letters.  I suddenly realized that it was not my students’ fault for not knowing when to capitalize letters.  It is what they are surrounded with and subconsciously, they might have seen so many lower case letters that they just started using them for every word, including their own names.  But my question is when did this happen and more importantly, why?  Is it because of the use of the computer to check things for us? Did teachers give up?  Is it now considered “writer’s choice” not to use capitalization? Or to use all capital letters?  (I’ve seen that as well.)

I am all for technology but communicating through social media is having a very negative effect on our children’s writing.  As you may know, the majority of kids (and even some adults) using social media do not use any type of grammar, spelling or punctuation.   And social media seems to be the most common form of communication these days. Kids spend their free time read texts, tweets and blogs and when they see adults using  improper punctuation and grammar, they mimic us and our habits.

I don’t mean to completely fault social media and the entertainment and advertising industries, but one thing seems clear.  Kids need a good foundation of how to use proper grammar and punctuation before they decide to use slang. Otherwise, they will not know the difference and the use of capital letters will continue to dwindle until one day, we might have to bid them a permanent farewell.

A Trophy for the Losers?

We as a society and especially in education are rewarding mediocrity and  losers.

Case #1 – A few days ago, my 11 year-old nice had a cheer leading competition.   I asked her how she did and this was her response:

“We lost. We came in last…but we got a trophy!”

Um. What?

Case #2 -A very good friend of mine  sent her son to a golf camp where he struggled with basically every part of golfing – his swing, his stance, putting.  On the last day, her little boy (9 years old) got into the car with a small trophy.  My friend looked at it and asked what it was.  He told her it was a trophy for participation.  She, an athlete herself,  nodded and continued driving in silence and confusion.  After a few moments of silence and reflection, the little boy said, “Mom, I’m not sure why I got this trophy. I’m not really good at golf.”

He is a very smart little boy.

Case #3 – I taught 6th grade in a middle school where students were publicly recognized for making the Honor Roll and High Honor Roll with a certificate and pin in front of their peers and parents. About 3/4 of all the students in the entire grade were receiving these awards. Normally, there was a small percentage, especially for High Honor Roll, which required A’s in every class.  Seeing so many students sitting there waiting to get their awards, one might think that there were a lot of really smart kids in the 6th grade. That was not the case.  Students were placed on the Honor Rolls if they got A’s at their educational levels.  It didn’t matter if they were not reading at the 6th grade level or above, like it used to be.   If the student had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and was supposed to perform at a 3rd grade level and did so, s/he made the Honor Roll.

This is insulting to the kids reading at high school levels.

 

Here are my squawkings about this problem:

Case #1 – Trophies are for winners, not losers.  Not everyone wins and if you do not place, you do not deserve a reward.  In the Olympics, medals are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.  That’s it. The guy who finishes last on the track does not get one.  The girl who finishes 4th in swimming does not receive one.  And they shouldn’t.  They didn’t earn it.  Sports is about competing. And when you compete, there are winners and there are losers. Reward the winners and only the winners. They deserve it because they are the best.

Case #2 – See above, but also realize this. Kids are smart.  By around 8 or 9 years old, kids clearly see who is good at something and who is not.  Some people have natural abilities and some do not. We have to teach this to our children and as parents and educators we must accept and acknowledge this; not give our kids false hopes that they will be great at everything.  These participation trophies are ridiculous and are borderline mocking the kids who excel at an activity or sport.  There is no need give trophies to everyone when they are clearly not good at something.  You know it and they know it. STOP DOING THIS.

Case #3 – I feel for struggling students and always have.  As a teacher, I knew that the special ed kids were placed on the honor roll because they were getting A’s and B’s at their level of performance (not at grade level) and the school wanted to boost their self-esteem. But this is not fair to the average kids who do not have an IEP or extra teacher to modify their tests so they can pass.  And, the more intelligent students are often taking advanced classes and have to work even harder since they are working above their grade level.  Let’s be realistic and honest.  Honor Roll and High Honor Roll means nothing anymore.  It used to be reserved for students who met or exceeded grade level expectations. Now, we are giving them to those who are nowhere near where they should be.  I am not saying there cannot be some other type of award for those students doing well at their level, but I feel that the Honor Roll and High Honor Roll should be reserved for our best and brightest. They earned it and they deserve it.

In conclusion, my main concern is that we are creating a society where kids are expecting to get an award every time they perform a task at school, on a field or stage and even at home.  Some schools have even eliminated competitions or keeping score in gym classes.  Let’s cut the bologna.  When you play a game, there is a winner and a loser.  Otherwise, it’s not a game!  Imagine if we did not keep score in the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, etc?  What kind of messages are we sending our kids?  That if a person simply participates in something, he will be rewarded?  That if someone tries  something and is not good at it, she will still get a reward? How cruel and deceiving that is!  It is not real life.  Schools and parents need to prepare their children for the competition they will undoubtedly face in high school, college, the work force and real life.  Kids must learn how to deal with disappointment and losing.  Sometimes they’ll win and sometimes they’ll lose. Acknowledge that losing can be sad and upsetting, but that it is just a part of life.

We must stop lying and prepare our kids for the real world.  They will thank you for it when they win and when they lose.

Role Reversal – Mom and Me

Sorry that my post is late today.  My mom and I took mental health days and gave ourselves the best therapy we could think of – shopping and lunch. And then a second treatment of shopping!  We were both smiling and laughing the entire time, so it was definitely successful!

Shopping is something I have always enjoyed doing with my mom.  She does not really partake in any of my other hobbies (she has no time), but shopping is something we have done together for as long as I can remember. And it was not until I was older when I realized that she was teaching me lifelong lessons that I still use to this day.

My earliest memories of us shopping together are on Saturday mornings at the grocery store. She would make the shopping list and we would hop in the car, blast some Bon Jovi tapes on her cassette player and head off to Shop Rite.  While we were shopping, my mom would teach me how to compare prices, select the best fruits, vegetables and meats and to “always check the date on everything, especially dairy!”  These little lessons have proven to be essential now that I am an adult.  I love to look at my receipt to see how much I have saved by using her comparison shopping calculations.  Our fruits and veggies are always delicious and her advice about checking the date is priceless.  (I’ve grabbed yogurt and milk several times with expired or soon-to-be expired dates  and put them right back!  Thanks, Mom!) Finally, we would get in line and Mom would say that we really should get a little something for the ride home. Ya, know. For energy.  That usually meant Rolos or a Chunky bar that we’d split.  It was our reward for shopping and it was just for us. My father and brother never saw a morsel of our “energy for the ride home.”

Then, we began clothes shopping together. This is something we both love and try to do every few months.  Today, we were specifically looking for work clothes for her and today, I was giving the lessons. I advised her to branch out a little in terms of colors, length of pants, fit and the new styles.  My mom is still working, though she should be retired by now, and has always been pretty trendy…as long as I shopped with her.  I am not sure what went wrong those few times she ventured out on her own and came home with patterns that were way too old for her.  There came a point where I had to tell her to either take me shopping at all times or to not take the tags off anything she bought alone until I saw them.  Thank God that was short-lived. Since I moved, she and I don’t get to get together as much as we would like to and she has been doing very well choosing great patterns, prints and colors.  I like to think that my voice is in her head in the mall, much like her voice is in my head in the grocery store.

Today, she hit the jackpot.  She has very thin legs and we finally found pants for her at JC Penney.  Yay!  Our last stop was the make-up counter at Macy’s.  And, yes, I bought ANOTHER Bobbi Brown eye-liner gel (this is becoming an obsession). She bought the same colored gel, eye shadow and make-up remover.  These were based on my recommendations (along with the beauty consultant).  We took the consultant’s card and decided that the next Mental Health Day will also involve make-overs.

I love my mom very, very much. She was a mom to me growing up, not a friend and I appreciate that more and more as I get older.  The memories I have of us together during our shopping trips are in a special place in my heart and my mom’s advice is always in my head, especially in the stores.  I am glad we made the time to shop and spend time together today and cannot wait for our next excursion!!!