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Toys R Us Brings Back the Memories by Sharon O’Donnell

My three sons are ages 26, 23, and 17. I’ve spent many Christmases buying Power Ranger toys, video games, and Red Sox merchandise, particularly if the Sox won a championship as they did in ’04, ’07, and ’13. I spent much time at the local Toys ‘R’ Us, roaming the aisles looking for just the right gifts.  Then it was just about clothes — and sports — always sports. Now that they are grown up, they usually just text or email links to things they want, and I go the website and buy the items — easier but with none of the surprise that real ‘shopping’ brings to the faces of little boys.

Now they are men. My youngest is 17, a sweet but sarcastic teen, who just became an Eagle Scout (his brothers and father are also Eagle Scouts — yep, we have had at least one son in Scouting since 1996. Wow. He is also a bit tired of GPA’s and the SAT/ACT — as I am; junior year in high school is tough. But I’m glad to know my husband and I will have him here at home with us for another year and a half.

My … Continue reading..

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Mental Health Issues are in Crisis Situation for Teens/Young Adults by Sharon O’Donnell

Anyone who has read my blog, sporadic as it has become, over the many years I’ve been writing for motherhoodlater know that my middle son, now 23, has struggled since high school with severe anxiety. It’s gotten much better since 2010 and he’s thriving in grad school now, but there are still some bumps along the road. In working with my son, I became alarmed at how many teens and young adults struggle with severe anxiety and depression and the continued rise in such cases; such cases also contribute to the suicide rate in this age group.

I came across something that was written by a parent whose 14-year-old son recently completed suicide. It’s heartbreaking but eye-opening and soul-touching. I want to share it with you below.

I’ve become active in mental health support in my community and my church in the past several years. The biggest takeaways so far from support groups are 1. we have to take away the stigma of mental health illnesses  2. parents still need to be involved in their child’s mental health care even thought the law says that child is over 18 (mental health conditions sometimes make it imperative that the parent is … Continue reading..

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College Tours Part 3 by Sharon O’Donnell

In the past month, I’ve gone on 2 college tours with my youngest son — son #3 — with several more coming up in the next month. Son #3 is six and nine years younger than his two other brothers who are already college graduates with one working as a CPA in DC and one in grad school to his Masters of Accounting. Actually, he has a late summer birthday, so I started him a year later than most, meaning he’s seven and ten years behind his brothers in school.  And yes, I’ve really been having some deja vu feelings going through the college tour process for the first time.

A few things I’ve learned from the college application process with my older sons that benefit son #3:

1. Take an SAT/ACT prep course in the August  before your junior year. This way your child can study/prep for it without also having to study for tests, etc. for school classes, and this means much less stress. Also, when you visit college campuses, you will already have a benchmark test score to know which colleges are realistic and which are reach/dream schools.

2. There is a college out there for everyone Continue reading..

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Summer Highlights by Sharon O’Donnell

So it’s October, and I haven’t even posted anything from this summer. Wow, does time truly fly.  So here are some highlights:

Two oldest sons and husband crossing bridge on a 4 day backpacking adventure in Grand Canyon. I stayed home to be with high school sophomore still in school. Plus , I don’t backpack.


My youngest working on home repairs in West Virginia on the Appalachian Service Project with our church


California trip with my middle son, youngest son, and middle son’s girlfriend of almost 8 years. Loved it! San Francisco and central coast. This is at the Rocky Point Restaurant in between Big Sur and Carmel on the Pacific Coast Highway.


My three sons in DC in late July when we moved my oldest up there after getting a job transfer there. Miss him so much but glad he is enjoying the area and going to Nationals baseball games (even though he will always be a Red Sox fan).


So has been very eventful, and I’ve also been busy doing some songwriting — lyrics only — for a 16-year-old local artist named Brooke Hatala. Check out her website at  — and scroll down … Continue reading..

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Touching Down by Sharon O’Donnell

Yes, I know that parenthood is all about raising your children so that they are independent and can fly off on their own, ready to face the world and be successful. And of course, I want that for my kids.  Any parent would. I’ve been lucky that my two oldest sons have succeeded while also staying close to home; they went to college 15 minutes away, and my oldest son’s first job was here in the same town that they grew up in, and the middle one has accepted a job here also to begin next year after he finishes his Master’s program. Although my nest was emptying, with only my 16-year-old still left a home, they weren’t flying very far away. We could still meet for lunch or dinner, and holidays were always easy to plan due to the lack of travel.

Recently, though, my oldest son, Bill, has decided to move six hours away to Washington, D.C.  in July. Not that far away from Raleigh, but still — it is AWAY.  He is the first one to leave this town we have all thought of as ‘home’.  He went to a Master’s program at the University of Virginia … Continue reading..

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No More Baseball Games by Sharon O’Donnell

Since 2006, one of three boys has played middle or high school basketball and/or baseball — not to mention recreation teams in city leagues. Throughout those years, my husband and I definitely saw the good, the bad, and yes, sometimes unfortunately, the ugly. The sports took a huge time commitment from our sons and also from us. Alas, those years are now officially over. I’m both disappointed and relieved.

My youngest played on the high school JV baseball team last year, even though he sat on the bench a lot. It was a stressful season followed by a summer baseball season that was also stressful, so this year I actually suggested to my son that he not try out this year and instead enjoy more free time and more time to study.  However, my son decided he wanted to try out anyway — but he didn’t make the team. I still feel that my son could have contributed to the team as well as some of the others that were chosen, and I hate that feeling a parent has when your child is being treated unfairly. But I have to admit that a big part of me was relieved that … Continue reading..

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One Foot in Front of the Other by Sharon O’Donnell

It’s been a long time since I have blogged, but I thank Robin for keeping me around so that I can still express things here.

Growing up in Raleigh, NC  in the 1960s and ‘70s, I have many memories of hot summer days at the outdoor Pullen Park pool, feeding peanuts to the pigeons at Capitol Square, checking out books downtown at the Olivia Raney library, and going to Kurt Russell Disney movies at the Cardinal Theater in North Hills. But no memory equates with that of going to the Christmas parade in downtown Raleigh at nighttime where the lights and the pageantry were magical to me.  I always went with my best friend, Tina, and both of us always loved the reverberation of the bass drums of the marching bands signaled the impending arrival of the band. It was the epitome of excitement for two seven-year-old girls.

Back then, presents and Santa Claus were of course, a big part of Christmas, but that wasn’t what I remember most.  What I remember most vividly about being a child at Christmas was the way I felt.  It was the atmosphere around me complete with candles, Christmas trees, and good things on … Continue reading..

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Drivers’ Ed Again by Sharon O’Donnell

My youngest son, Jason, just completed the classroom portion of Driver’s Education, that iconic rite of passage for teens and a major step on their road to independence.  As the mom of two older sons who have long ago traversed the week-long daily classes from 8:00 to 2:30, this is my third time around — not to mention my own DE class that was held in the very same high school class that my three sons took it. But with each one comes that sense of dread — of wanting my sons to be safe and to impart my years of driving wisdom to them.  In looking for Driver’s Ed material among my documents, I came across the following bit I wrote in a blog seven years ago when my middle son, now 22, was about to get his license.  I think it still applies today:


  Driving is very much in the news in my own home since my 15-year-old son, David, recently received his learner’s permit. My oldest son, who is 18, didn’t have quite the same Driver’s Ed course as David did.  The questions on David’s on-line quizzes covered much more information than the basics I remember Continue reading..

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One More Game by Sharon O’Donnell

My middle son played high school basketball and baseball throughout his entire four years. He could have played college baseball, but the anxiety that he struggled with in high school made him lose his drive and passion for baseball — not his skill — he still made all-tourney teams and played well.  In college, he no longer played a competitive sport, and all that practice time went into studying. He is now a senior and will graduate in December with a degree in accounting from North Carolina State University with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

But I’ve missed watching him play baseball and basketball. He had been a terrific player on the JV high school basketball team, sometimes scoring 20 plus points a game, and I loved to see the intensity with which he played the game. As a junior, he was basically a player who was inserted into the lineup when the team needed a three pointer, and he usually delivered – – but playing time was mostly for the seniors, which we understood. When he was a senior, he started out the first game (as pro player John Wall watched) with five of his teams first ten points … Continue reading..

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Size Evidently Does Matter by Sharon O’Donnell

I’ve had a Facebook page for years and have had a Twitter account for several years too, although I don’t know how to use all the Twitter or my I Phone’s features. One of my nephews recently showed me how to take a photo of a screen shot of a text. Earlier this week while waiting in my car in a parking lot, I decided to take a screen shot of a text and then sent it via Twitter to the  Twitter account of a local sports talk show on the radio.  My middle son had texted me something the previous night regarding a basketball game between NC State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He texted that the key match-up in the game would be that of Justin Jackson for UNC and Maverick Rowan for NC State because Rowan could not possibly guard Jackson, who is much quicker. My son sent this before the game even began.  NC State came out and took a 13 point lead and was really hot, until yes — Justin Jackson went on a 12 point scoring tear midway through the first half, helping the UNC Tar Heels catch up … Continue reading..

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