Educating Girls

This post originally appeared on World Moms Blog February 8, 2015 as part of a three-part series supporting #aPathAppears and @SavetheChildren

malalaI have long been an advocate of girls education. It is something I want every girl, wherever she is in the world, to have access to. I deeply believe educating girls is a key piece to improving our world.

So when my daughter was born eight years ago, I committed myself to ensuring that she would always have access to and the support she needs attaining the best education my husband and I can give her.

But along with the paramount importance her education is to me, so too is her understanding of how valuable having an education is and how lucky she is to have safe schools and many choices available to her.

But how do you impart this on an eight-year-old? More

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Our Bags Are Packed And We’re Ready to Go

suitcasesIn fact, I’ve been halfway there since we booked our first, family overseas trip back in September. Because for me, one of the hardest things about settling down and starting a family has been, well, settling down…

Truth be told, I’d much rather be traveling the world, meeting new people and exploring different cultures, or at least still doing that WHILE having a family. Don’t get me wrong, the kid journey can be pretty amazing too but I’ve been eagerly waiting to have them participate in the bigger journey pretty much since I first conceived our daughter, 8 years ago.

Prior to that time, the world was an open road waiting to be explored. In our twenties, both DH and I did a fair amount of traveling in some pretty extreme locations, predominantly Asia but some in the Middle East too. We carried backpacks and our Angus MacGyver tool was the multipurpose sarong (which doubled as: a dress, a scarf, a sheet, a towel, a curtain). We thirsted for third-world travel, where we found life stripped away at its rawest and yet most complicated state.

Traveling became part of who we were and what drew us to one another, then also how we grew together. Now that we’re married, kids do the same thing for us. More

Seeing the World

DH and I once hoped to raise our kids abroad. A few years ago, when DH’s career focus shifted from overseas to California and Texas, that hope dimmed. Such is life, plans change and opportunities arise at mysterious intervals.

So, we have planted our roots in our cozy, New England suburb and begun to blossom. But by doing so, we realize that if we aren’t providing our kids with an international address, then raising them with international outlooks means finding other ways for them to see the world instead.

When life puts up road blocks, come up with alternative routes. More

SOCIAL GOOD: Inside the Shot@Life Campaign, Part 3

And here’s Nicole Melancon’s article, part 3 of 3 from the World Moms Blog Social Good column, about the Shot@Life campaign and the January summit in Washington, DC.

SOCIAL GOOD: Inside the Shot@Life Campaign, Part 3.

SOCIAL GOOD: World Moms Blog Delegation to Washington, DC: Part I

Here’s a terrific post written by World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, about our recent WMB delegation at the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life summit in Washington, DC. Meeting some of the women I’ve been “working” and writing with for the past year was an equally as exciting as having the UN Foundation fly us in for the summit.

SOCIAL GOOD: World Moms Blog Delegation to Washington, DC: Part I.

Being a World Mom

I started blogging 15 months ago as a means to hone my writing skills, find my voice and to process life’s small moments…you know, pretty much for all the same reasons most people start blogging. We’re all a work in process.

Shortly after I started, a fellow blogger, by the name of Jennifer Burden, reached out to me about a new blog she had just begun, World Moms Blog.

In her own words, the blog is about this:

As busy mothers we often find ourselves without the time to  jet-set around the planet.  So, we invite you to come travel the world with us, through our global writers.  We will read about how women across the planet are mothering, how their lives are similar or different from ours, what’s on their minds and expand our horizons into corners of daily life around the world.

Her mission immediately resonated with me. I started following the blog and soon became a contributor. Within weeks of signing on as a writer, I More

And So November Begins

Saturday, October 29th was just one of those great days. Overcast but not over programmed, cold but not freezing, full but not stuffed. Somehow, the afternoon found my whole family napping so I found refuge in a terrific YA book my good friend, Heather, recommended to me. When the family awoke, we proceeded as planned: carving pumpkins into Jack-o-lanterns, eating a great crockpot dinner, donning PJs to settle in for a family movie night. When your kids are just 5 and 2, these sort of activities come as rare and special treats. We watched Wall-E, a perfect choice for a kindergartner who’s into robot talk and a preschooler into spaceships.

Outside, the clouds emptied their rain, the rain turned to snow and the temperature dropped to freezing. Unknowingly, while we sat warm and cozy inside, the earliest snow storm in North East history raged outside. If you’ve never experienced thunder snow, take my word, it’s surreal.

The poor trees, still heavy with leaves, carried the extra burden of thick, wet snow. Intermittently, we More

Three Hundred Sixty-Five

A year ago today I launched a blog. This blog. It came around after many months contemplating the blogosphere, weeks of agonizing over what I should write about and finally voicing the dream to some dear pals during a girls weekend. Their response: go do it!

I’m a writer and like any craft or skill, it takes practice to improve.

Since I freelance, I get a fair amount of practice but the professional writing I do is mainly journalistic. I have regular projects, where I get to research, interview and write about fascinating people, places and things but what I write for clients involves gathering a lot of other people’s ideas and opinions, not More

The Value of a Single-sex Education

I was primarily raised by my father, I have two brothers—one older, one younger—and I went away to a co-ed boarding school at the tender age of 11, where I discovered that I liked boys…A LOT.

So you can imagine my distress, when in my junior year of high school, I wound up at an all-girls boarding school in Middlebury, CT.

My first year there I was somewhat aloof and disengaged. By my second and final year, I became more involved, befriended more like-minded classmates and was beginning to see the benefits of attending an all-girls boarding school whilst having a mother that lived and taught at an all-boys boarding school an hour away (did I mention I had a car at school? And, though it was supposed to seat only five passengers, on a good day it could hold up to seven?)

Anyway, as is the case with boarding schools, where all of your friends live far away to begin with, at the end of our senior year, we all parted ways and went off to college.

Of my closest group of friends, I went the furthest, attending a liberal arts college in Memphis, TN and then afterward, moved to Japan for a few years. But, as time passed, so too did my misconceptions of the value and quality of a single-sex education.

Through the years I remained in touch with my good friends from high school but it wasn’t until I returned to the States and settled back in the Northeast that I got back in touch with the school itself.

It started off slowly at first and then built momentum. Seven years ago, I got invited to join the Alumnae Board of Governors for the school and quickly got swept up into chairing committees, co-hosting events, organizing activities for the school’s Centennial Celebration and interweaving my way into an incredible, multi-generational network of fellow Westover alumnae who have become my role models, my inspiration and my friends.

I like to joke that, even though I graduated from Westover, I didn’t learn to fully appreciate the  education I got there until much later. Now, I look back on my brief time there and each year, my appreciation for those two-years grows exponentially.

My graduating high school class had 37 students. If you’re reading this and attended public school, I’m sure you’re laughing and assume that we must have all been intimately good friends but that’s not the case.

As in any microcosm, we categorized ourselves the same way the rest of the world does: there were jocks, princesses, brainiacs, jokers, druggies and socialites.There were kids from privileged backgrounds and kids from underserved communities. There were kids from far, far away and kids from down the street. We didn’t all get along but we all learned to live, somewhat harmoniously together under one roof.

But, now that we are all 20 years out, most of those lines have blurred and we recognize that our uniting similarities far outweigh our sophomoric differences.

What I really learned from Westover, what I’m learning still, is that girls are social creatures. We have a pack mentality and we need one another to survive.

As a wife, when I have a bad day I have two options, I can either 1) turn to my husband who will inevitably try to solve all of my problems for me (God bless him) or, 2) I can turn to my girlfriends who will let me vent, empathize with me and possibly even throw me some life lines to get me through tomorrow (at the very least, one of them will pour me a drink).

DH and I joke that when men need to solve a problem, they go into their caves and do cave drawings. When women need to solve a problem, they go out and sit by the bonfire (of course this is directly cribbed from our cliff note reading of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus back when we first started dating but hey, the image works for us).

So though Westover may not have catapulted me into an Ivy League college, I nonetheless feel my education there was Ivy League-caliber. Of my closest friends, all of them are pursuing their dreams. They’ve risen in the fields of medicine, architecture, museum studies, advertising and law.

Some of them have opted out of those fields to pursue their next big adventure: kids. Others have opted out because their first path was a wrecking ball and now they’re finding a better way. In my opinion, our school succeeded in its goal:

Westover provided an environment that inspired the intellectual, artist, athlete, and philosopher in each student. Westover challenges young women to think independently, to embrace diversity, and to grow intellectually and spiritually. Westover encouraged in each student integrity, responsibility, and commitment to community.

I consider myself deeply fortunate and blessed to have been given an education like the one I had at Westover. I am doubly grateful that the school also had the god sense to remain all-girls, providing me with the valuable tools I would need to succeed out in the world: life-long friends.

What have been some of your most valuable school experiences? If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything?

Off We Go To Mexico!

In May, when my mom made the offer to take my family (2 kids, one DH and me) to Mexico for Christmas, of course we were excited but it’s easy to drag your feet on something that’s more than 6 months away when it’s the beginning of the best three months New England has to offer. We didn’t really buckle down to find accommodations or even narrow down a location until summer drew to a close and holiday bookings were beginning to pop up. But now it’s just one day away and we’re beside ourselves with giddy.

Since we have a 4-year-old and an almost 2-year-old, we had two critical criteria for the trip: 1. kid friendly, 2. all-inclusive. Surprisingly, in our distant pasts, neither DH nor I ever would have dreamed of staying at, let alone enjoy, an all-inclusive, large-scale resort but like I’ve said before, having kids makes you do wild and wacky things. So our choice adequately meets criteria #2. But I feel pretty certain it knocks the ball out of the park on criteria #1. I think we may have found one of only a few resorts that actually has a kids club beginning at age 2 (please don’t ask for our son’s passport at check in).  Regardless, on all accounts, we are fully prepared to relish in every kid-free and child-full moment of the next seven days.

Here’s what we have to look forward to: 12 activity centers, 10 restaurants, 9 pools  (plus 16 private ones attached to the haciendas),  7 bars, 5 beach cabanas, 3 lobbies, 2 kids clubs and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s my new favorite Holiday classic!

Add to this the fact that DH has been pulling all-nighters at work all week and you’re left with a total toss-up about who’s most giddy to be getting away (did I mention that there are kids clubs? every day from 10a-10p?). Anyway, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 5 short years since becoming a parent, it’s this: the moments apart from your kids can be as precious and priceless as some of the moments with them. Besides, our four-year-old is a bit of a despotic ruler when it comes to interacting with others so I have no doubt in my mind that in no time at all she’ll be running the kids club just like Napoleon Bonaparte.

So adios amigos! In just 24 hours we’ll be on our way to a fabulous, all-inclusive viaje…(I wonder if all-inclusive means they’ll finish up my packing and wrap the presents I’m neglecting by typing this blog post?)

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