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Stepping Into the Past by Sharon O’Donnell

Walking around one’s college campus thirty years after graduation prompts much reflection. I only live 20 minutes from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I’ve been to Chapel Hill many times for medical appointments on the edge of town, but it’s been a long time since I went back on the heart of the campus. I’ve met friends before and had lunch on Franklin Street, I’ve been to field trips to the Morehead Planetarium with my kids when they were young, but the only time I’d been in the heart of the campus was in 2008 when my oldest son took a campus tour when trying to decide where to attend college.  This past week, however, I finally got the opportunity to walk between the buildings again, to stroll along the beautiful tree-lined sidewalks that meander through the campus, and it felt good. As I walked along, I could easily envision myself taking this same walk thirty years ago; I could even recall specific instances and remember the thoughts I was thinking back then at that moment. I could remember tests I’d taken and the emotions (good and bad) after them. I could remember … Continue reading..

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No More Halloweens? by Sharon O’Donnell

 When my 3 sons were small and I’d take them trick or treating, I always knew which houses didn’t participate in the annual candy-giving. Over the years, I knew the homes that were dark, with no porch light and often no inside lights — and usually no decorations.  I always vowed I would never be one of ‘those’ houses.  However, now that my oldest two sons are in college and grad school, and my youngest is 14, I find myself falling prey to the allure of closing up shop, so to speak, and not turning on the porch lights.  After all, there aren’t many young children in our rather stable neighborhood with parents all about my age.  Still, there are some. And I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ houses to them. 

So my youngest son and I got out the decorations from the attic, albeit on the day of Halloween as I just wasn’t inspired to do it sooner.  I went out and bought the candy.  And we turned on the porch light.  We weren’t one of ‘those’ houses.  Not yet anyway. 

I have to admit, I started finding it depressing out trick-or-treating when my youngest son used … Continue reading..

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Billy to Bill by Sharon O’Donnell

When my oldest son was born, we named him after my husband’s father who died five years earlier at the age of 58:  William Robert O’Donnell.  We immediately called him Billy, like his father had been called, but I was torn because part of me wanted to call him Robbie which would later probably become Rob — and I still harbored a crush from Rob on My Three Sons that I had watched growing up.  But my husband wanted him to be Billy after his dad, and of course I could understand that.  And Billy fit my beautiful blond-haired tyke perfectly.  He had an impish grin and a humorous personality, and the “le” sound at the end of the name, just rolled off the tongue so easily when we would call him, or laugh with him, or yes — sometimes scold him.  “Bill-y!”   He was my boy.  All the thousands of times I’d write “Billy O’Donnell” on school and medical forms . . .

When he started his junior year of high school, I remember one of the women at our church said that she bet Billy would soon start wanting to be called “Bill”.  But he hadn’t mentioned it … Continue reading..

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The “Love It or List It” Zone by Sharon O’Donnell

 Warning:  Watching the TV program “Love It or List It” can be addictive. This is one of the many shows that come on the HGTV network in which homes are renovated — only in this one the featured couple must decide whether to stay in their renovated house by the show’s designer  (with money they themselves put up, so it is a limited amount) or to move into another home that the show’s realtor finds them.  I know that these episodes are probably not all true-to-life and involve some overly dramatic acting — but I’m still addicted.  When I happen to come across the show as I’m flipping through the channels, I immediately go into another zone.  I HAVE to see which house the couple chooses:  their renovated home or a home the realtor shows them.  Will they ‘love it’ and stay in their house or ‘list it’?   Isn’t that what every inquiring mind would like to know?

The problem is that as soon as an episode ends, another one comes on before I can change the channel.  And usually there’s another one.  You can easily waste several hours by watching this show . . . or so I hear.  … Continue reading..

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Calm Before the Storm by Sharon O’Donnell

The last post I made was right after our relaxing vacation to the coast of Maine and Boston.  When I got back, I was all set for 1. getting my 8th grader back into his year-round school routine and tackling that Algebra 2. taking my oldest son to the University of Virginia for the beginning of accounting grad school, 3.  getting my middle son moved into his house with his friends, ready to start his junior year and 4. then finally getting back to spending some time on my writing.  Things seemed to be settling down, back to a routine.  My siblings and I had been taking care of my dad at night at my parents’ house since he fell and broke his shoulder in May.   Now he was much better, and we were not spending the night over there any more. Yes, things were settling down.

Of course, nothing goes as planned, does it?  As I’ve said before, whenever I feel that I can take a breath, something happens. We returned on a Tuesday, and on that Wednesday, my husband flew to Austin, Texas on business. It was that night while holding our beloved long-haired dachshund, Fenway, that I … Continue reading..

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A Special Place by Sharon O’Donnell

The past few weeks have been hectic but fun.  First, my middle son and I accompanied my oldest son to Charlottesville, VA for an orientation meeting for grad students in  his Masters of Accounting program. I absolutley LOVED traveling with my two oldest sons and reveling in the kind of young men they have become — from their character to their senses of humor.  It was just fun being with them. Charlottesville is wonderful too, and my son will be living within walking distance of campus as well as the downtown pedestrian mall area. He will have a lot of fun there, I know (he will after all be living in an apartment complex on top of a World of Beer taproom). 

Then it was home for the three of us to pack and leave with the rest of the family to travel by car to York Beach, Maine; this is a beautiful beach town on the southern tip of Maine that we have visited regularly ever since my husband’s Great Aunt Kay used to live there (she was a wonderful lady).  The road in front of the cottages along Long Sands Beach is dotted with ice cream stands, just … Continue reading..

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Shy or Rude? by Sharon O’Donnell

The other day I was at the mall with my 13-year-old son trying to find him some sunglasses to take to Scout camp. As we were standing there looking at sunglasses at a kiosk in the middle of the mall, I heard a female voice call out to my son, “Hey, Jason.” I turned to see two attractive girls on our right, but they were still standing about 20 feet away from us.
“Hey, Jason,” one of them said again, waving. I looked at Jason, who seemed to be doing his best to ignore the girls. He hadn’t even turned to acknowledge them yet.

I smiled at the girls and said, “Jason, they’re talking to you.” Jason had that deer in the headlights look, and he stayed focused on the sunglasses in his hand, not turning toward the girls at all. The girls were still standing there, pausing in their stroll down the mall. I smiled at them, embarrassed, and smiled and said as friendly as I could, “Hi!” I then motioned toward Jason and shrugged my shoulders and shook my head as if to say ‘what I can I do with him?’ They smiled and continued walking.

I was … Continue reading..

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That’s Because He is a Guy by Sharon O’Donnell

On June 22nd, I am having my middle son’s girlfriend’s family over for a cook-out. Even though they are rising juniors in college and have dated since they were sophomores in high school, this will be the first time we have all gotten together. Over the past few years, things got so busy, my husband and I have had very little time for a social life, and her family has been busy too. We finally found a spot on the calendar where we were all available on the same day: her parents, her sister and fiance, her brother and girlfriend, and of course the girlfriend and my family.

My middle son was matter-of-fact about all the family members finally meeting. That’s what I’ve come to expect with guys. But his girlfriend texted me saying she was excited about it and even made a smiley face beside it. I NEVER get smiley face texts from my guys; their expressiveness is usually more low-key. So I loved getting this text from her, and I was envious of those moms who have girls who get such texts on a routine basis. Now I know that some boys might use the smiley faces, but … Continue reading..

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Children & Parents by Sharon O’Donnell

I haven’t posted the last two weeks because I’ve found myself caught once again in that sandwich generation: my father fell three weeks ago and broke his shoulder, and my siblings and I have been taking turns caring for him. Between my weekday job as a Teacher Assistant in the fourth grade, parenting my 7th grader, and spending time helping my father, there is very little ‘down’ time. My 7th grader is in year-round school which will not end until the end of June. We’ve been involved in science projects, poetry projects, and God help us — surface area and volume formulas — for the past few weeks. Then there are band concerts, baseball games/practices, and Scouts. I have to say at the end of the day of going through metric system conversion word problems with fourth graders, it’s tough to come home to see what my son’s schedule holds for the night.

My father is 89, and there is no surgery for his shoulder fracture — it just has to take the time to heal on its own. In the meantime, however, he has been in pain and very uncomfortable. He is positive about it all, but it is … Continue reading..

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Medea’s Wise Words by Sharon O’Donnell

You know how sometimes it is the little things that can send you over the edge — in business or in a personal life — and definitely in a marriage. Usually it’s not about just the little things, but those are the things than often create the arguments. I almost started an argument with my husband today about one of those things that is small in the scope of everything else. He was out of town, and I was doing laundry when I saw that my favorite pair of white denim jeans — which I’d hung over the shower door to dry since they can’t go in the dryer — had stains on them. At first I thought it was grease, but upon closer examination I realized it was hair dye stains — brown hair dye stains like that my husband uses. Every so often he will buy a box and use it at home, prompting myself and even our sons to beg him not to do it since inevitably there would be some stains left on the floor and sometimes on towels. A few years ago, I put aside one towel and designated that as the ‘hair dye towel’ … Continue reading..

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