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New website about promoting uplifting high school literature by Sharon O’Donnell

For the past three weeks, my project has been developing a website called, a site dedicated to promoting more uplifting literature in high school English classes. The bleak, depressing literature reading assignments –  that have traditionally been accepted as the norm — have bothered me ever since my middle son had severe anxiety issues during his junior year of high school, and I discovered that during this time, he had been reading a novel in which two people try to commit suicide.  That was not the only one he read that year that involved suicide.  This, of course, didn’t cause my son’s anxiety by itself, but it might have been a contributing factor. I couldn’t help but think what would his mood have been like if he had been reading something more uplifting — would it have had an effect?

As my husband and I worked with our son to get him through his struggles, he was our priority; yet, I still thought about the literature issue and vowed to look into it at some point.  Since 2010, I’ve gathered info about it. With my youngest son now going into his freshman year of high school, the issue is … Continue reading..

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Getting Carded at 53 by Sharon O’Donnell

This past week, I went to Target with my soon-to-be 15-year-old son to buy the new Batman video game. The game is rated ‘mature’, so my son gave me his money so I could purchase it since he is under 18. When I handed the cashier — a guy who was probably in his early twenties — the money, he said, “Could I see some ID please?”  I was confused because I thought he was asking my son for his ID.

I told the cashier, “I’m the one buying it.”

“Yes, I know,” he replied. “But I need to see your ID.”

I glanced at him and asked, “Seriously?”

“You have to be over 18 to buy it.”

I narrowed my eyes at him, as if to tell him to stop playing with me or patronizing me or whatever he was doing. “Come on,” I said.

“We have to make sure you are over 18.”

Ok, I would have been flattered had it not been so outrageously obvious that I was definitely over 18. If I had to have been over 40 and he was carding me, then THAT would have been flattering because 40 was a hell of a … Continue reading..

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Thank You, John Denver by Sharon O’Donnell

As high school and college graduations have come to end, I paused to think about my own, as well as the graduations of my two oldest sons (the most recent was

my oldest son’s graduation from the Master of Accounting program at the University of Virginia.  The words to a John Denver song — the song that got me through high

school with its inspiration — always come back to me at this time of year. The song is called “Looking for Space”, and it is a masterpiece. I listened to it this week for the first time in a long

while, and it still is magical to me. So here is a link to it, followed by my oldest son’s graduation photo. Please listen. Should be the class song of every graduation class, expresses so much that the soul cannot articulate.

Thank you, John Denver.



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Giving the Dog a Bath by Sharon O’Donnell

     One night recently, I decided to give our long-haired dachshund, Fenway, a bath. I always give Fenway baths in our own bathtub, regulating and testing the water temperature like I did with my sons when I used to give them baths many years ago. I’m the one who usually gives Fenway baths, and since he is over ten years old, that’s a lot of baths. I usually run the water and then step over the tub and sit on the side of it, my feet in the water so I can lean over and give Fen a good scrub. Afterwards, I lift him out and dry him off, with him trying to escape to air dry by running back and forth down the hallway like a crazed madman, almost galloping down the hall, his floppy ears flying behind him. I’ve never had any incidents at doggy bath time .  . . until now.

      I was home with Fenway and my youngest son, Jason, 14, when I decided it was time to give the dog a bath. When I stepped over the tub with Fenway in my arms, my foot slipped, and I lost my balance. I remember falling toward the … Continue reading..

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Third Time Around by Sharon O’Donnell

       Having three sons with a ten school years between the oldest and youngest certainly has kept me busy. We’ve had at least one son in public school since 1996. Whew! That’s a lot of school projects, vocabulary tests, and Algebra and Calculus tutors.  My youngest son will start high school in August, and last week we went to the open house at the school. My oldest son went one year (9th grade) at this same school before he was transferred to a new school that the county needed to fill (it was not closer to our home but was actually four miles farther away); then my middle son started at the new school when my oldest was  a senior there before being transferred back to the previous school where he went for 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Our neighborhood was constantly being moved around in the school assignment, which is another story altogether. 

        When I took my youngest son to the open house, I entered the school and took a deep breath, as I thought of the GPA struggles, the AP and Honors classes, research papers, and chemistry labs to come. It was time to do it again. High school … Continue reading..

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Spring is here! by Sharon O’Donnell


Even though there are still a few cold snaps, for the most part, winter is over, and spring has arrived.  On a warm night in the 60s last week, I sat at baseball practice

for my 14-year-old and relished the warm weather and the gorgeous purple and pick sunset over the field at the USA Baseball complex in Cary, NC.


                                                                                                       Sunset at the baseball field.

Another sign of spring is that the busy schedule of my middle son in college is getting either busier as the last month of classes begins this coming week. Projects, exams, internships,

interviews, etc.  A very stressful time, but one with promise that the summer will soon be here.  We had a nice dinner with my son when he had a break in his schedule, but of course

his main reason for wanting to meet with us was that he wanted to see our dog, Fenway.  When my two college sons miss our dog, we take the dog to them if they can’t get home. This is known as a Fenway Fix. 

davidwithfenAnd every spring, I try to walk with one of my sons (and our dog) in a fundraising walk for various causes (Cancer/heart disease research, ALS).  … Continue reading..

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The Eyes have It by Sharon O’Donnell


Well, after two weeks of snow and its consequences in central North Carolina (school closings due to icy roads), my husband and I were able to escape to Miami for four days. It was indeed beautiful, but unfortunately, we spent way too much of our time at the University of Miami Eye Hospital (Bascom Palmer) because my husband had problems with his retina. All is okay now, but I don’t think that the eye hospital is on the top 10 tourist sites in Miami.

As we were driving back from having lunch in Key Largo (about an hour south of Miami), my husband noticed some floaters and a “squiggly line” in his right eye. This caused concern, particularly because 14 months ago his retina detached in his left eye, and he had to have a serious surgery that took some tough recuperation time; people who have a detachment in one eye are prone to having it happen in the other eye.  Ironically, I had seen the hospital on our way out of Miami to Key Largo as it towered in the skyline, a huge banner on the top of it that read, “Number One Eye Hospital in the Nation”.  “Wow,” … Continue reading..

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Super Bowl Really Was Super — At Least Most of It by Sharon O’Donnell

I really enjoyed watching the Super Bowl this year, even though the team I was pulling for didn’t win. Sure, it was a terrific, close game with twists and turns — both literally and figuratively — to keep you guessing until the end.  But more than that, I loved the personalities involved:  first and foremost, I’m a huge fan of Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. He played three of his four college years with our local team and the school of my husband, father, brother and two oldest sons — North Carolina State. He always was a super role model while he played in Raleigh and just a great all-around person. I will never forget one time I passed him as I was walking in the door to K-Mart and he was walking out. He smiled and nodded to me and held the door open. He came across as kind and genuine. We were all glad to see him succeed in the NFL so quickly; he is such an incredibly motivated player and deserves that success. Last summer, my youngest son who was 13 then, attended a Russell Wilson football camp in Raleigh, and I saw Russell pose … Continue reading..

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Let’s Watch One More by Sharon O’Donnell

My two oldest sons and I LOVE to watch suspenseful TV series. “24” got us started back when they were in high school and middle school, and watching that weekly show together was really good bonding time.  But the best part was catching up if we started a series later than everyone else did. This happened with the first season of 24, and it was great fun watching episode after episode trying to get caught up before season two started. It was addictive watching the exploits of Jack Bauer, and I will never forget how we’d promise that we’d only watch one more episode, and then when that one would end on a cliffhanger, we’d look at each other and say together, “Let’s watch one more.”  It is a wonderful way to relax for me.  “Breaking Bad” was another series we really got into (I’d gotten them into 24 and they got me into Breaking Bad).  Then my oldest and I got hooked by the first season of Homeland.

Now that both of them are in college or grad school, we don’t get the chance to watch much TV together anymore, and my youngest prefers comedies to suspense.  So I … Continue reading..

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Back to the Routine by Sharon O’Donnell

So after the holidays, it’s back to the routine of regular life. Not as exciting but comforting in a strange sort of way: time to pick back up where we left off when our thoughts were focused on gift wrapping, baking, and trying to get to Christmas Eve church services (or other religious services) in time to find a seat.  My oldest two sons were both home from college, and I loved  having all three of my boys at home at one time again, as realize that will soon be a very rare occurrence.  My oldest son will finish grad school in May, studies for the CPA exam in the summer, and starts an accounting job in September for Deloitte right here in the local area of Raleigh. I’m so glad he will be local, but I know that he will be getting his own apartment and likely won’t be back home again for an extended time. 

Now that the oldest are both back in college, the house is so much quieter with just my 14-year-old here. I miss them. Yet, I know 2015 won’t wait, and it’s time to take the plunge into the year with full force and … Continue reading..

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