Stacey Loscalzo

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Apr 10

Happy Birthday Katherine

by Stacey

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Each year, I mark the girl’s birthdays here with a letter and thoughts from the year. Today feels like a really big one. Our baby is eleven!

Dear Katherine,

I remember when you turned ten. I thought you were getting to be so big. Double digits after all. Today you turn eleven and this milestone feels so much bigger. You are a tween, far closer to your teen years than the toddler ones.

This weekend, you and I traveled to Boston to do what you love most- dance. You were gorgeous on stage and I love seeing you there. But even more, I love seeing you in your classes and with your friends. This weekend was a perfect way for me to think back on all that you have become this year. You worked hard as always in school and you have amazing friends there. Many that you have loved for as long as you can remember. But this year, for you, was all about dance and the lessons that dance has given you.

Dance always came easily to you until you took a big leap (pardon the pun!) to a new studio where you knew no one and realized that, to meet your goals, you had a lot of hard work to do. Many times over the course of this year, I have thought that you were being too hard on yourself. That perhaps your goal and your plan were too big a stretch (sorry- that was also not intentional but there really isn’t a better word!). I have second guessed myself and my role as your guide through this. But never once have you wavered. Never once have you considered quitting. Never once have considered doing anything other than working harder. You are laser-focused on what you want and how to get there.

Yesterday as we drove home you sat, like the big girl you are, in the front seat beside me. I glanced over and saw you put both arms behind your head as you leaned back and closed your eyes. My mind raced back to picture you in your infant car seat still facing backwards. I would watch your reflection in the tiny mirror we had attached to the back seat as your chubby arms reached up behind your head. This was always the sign that you were about to fall asleep. In those days, I worried that if you slept in the car, you would not take a nap. You would not fall asleep that night. Yesterday, I was able to just watch, knowing now as I didn’t then, to trust you. You know what is right for you. Of course, you still need me to guide you but you know yourself. You know what you want. And you know that you will achieve it.

You have learned so much this year but I think perhaps you have taught me more. I love  you for all that you are and for all that you bring to me each and every day.

Happy Birthday baby girl. May this year be everything that you want it to be!

xo, Mom

 

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Feb 10

The Right Book for Right Now

by Stacey

Littlechapel_hc-330-expI know I am not alone in suffering from a type of brain fog these days. I am often pretty distracted but in recent months, I have really struggled to focus. I am pulled toward the news of the day in a way that makes me anxious and unsettled but I can’t stop watching, scrolling and reading.

A few weeks ago I posted a plea on my Facebook page asking for a book that would keep my attention. I was looking for a page turner and assumed a thriller was what I needed. I received a bunch of recommendations but decided to go with the least likely candidate, Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most. My friends Deanne wrote, ‘Have you ever read Little Chapel on the River by Gwendolyn Bounds? It’s one of my faves. It’ll make you feel better about people.’ Feeling better about people sounded just right so I downloaded the book and started reading.

Deanne and I have similar tastes and similar feelings these days so I was not surprised that her recommendation was perfect. As soon as I started reading, I actually felt a bit calmer. Despite the book opening with 9/11, the author’s voice was just what I needed to read. And her journey out of the city after the attacks to a small town on the Hudson River was exactly the escape that I wanted to take. Gwendolyn Bounds, a writer at the Wall Street Journal, spends the year after 9/11 getting to know the community of people that come together at small bar called Guinan’s and learns a lot about the world in the process.

I highlighted a few passages as I read and I think this one sums up the book pretty perfectly.

“Obviously, I don’t come here to pick up girls because there usually aren’t any. It’s not about the food, ’cause there isn’t any of that either. It’s just this calm place where everybody’s telling stories and some guy who’s a millionaire stockbroker is sitting next to a  poor carpenter- and they’re equal. You either love it or you hate it.”

I’m pretty sure this is a place that I would love a lot right about now…

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Jan 23

What I Know For Sure

by Stacey

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Today I sat down to write and instead I stared at a flashing vertical line on a WordPress page titled ‘add new post.’ I struggle with writer’s block a lot but it feels worse this time. Years ago, I wrote with the talented Lisa Garrigues and she told me to just keep moving my pen and if I had nothing to say, to keep writing anyway.

As I thought of Lisa’s advice this morning, my mind flashed to an idea. Oprah writes a column titled, ‘What I Know For Sure’. Perhaps on this day when I feel like I know nothing for sure, I should ‘be like Oprah.’ So here goes…

I know that many people do not understand why I marched on Saturday.

I know that I want to try to explain to people who don’t understand but I know that I am scared to do so. I know I do not have the strength to argue about it.

I know that I am struggling to listen to the ‘other side’ right now and I imagine that people who think differently than I do are having a hard time listening to me.

I know that I have many philosophical concerns about the state of our country but I also know that there are things I worry about more.

I know that I am worried that we have lost the ability to listen to each other. I know that I am just as guilty of this as my friends on ‘the other side.’

I know that it is a problem that we have drawn sides.

I know that this election and inauguration are different.

I know that I would be happier if everyone felt the same way.

I know that we can disagree on policy and strategy. I know that I have disagreed with  many politicians on each but I have never been fearful and anxious the way I am today.

I know that truth matters. I know that words matter. I know that facts matter.

I know this for sure.

 

 

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Jan 19

My Thoughts on Betsy DeVos

by Stacey

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There are so many things that I wanted to say and to write about over the last few months but my words and thoughts keep getting mixed up and I feel completely overwhelmed all the time. There is much that I don’t trust or understand about the incoming administration. While I feel fairly confident that many of the cabinet nominees are simply wrong and/or unqualified for their proposed job, there aren’t many that I can speak to personally so I have kept (relatively) quiet.

Education though is an area that I understand. I worked as a speech therapist and reading specialist in public and private schools. I worked in urban and suburban areas. I wrote and implemented Individual Education Plans for students receiving special education. I worked in an underperforming school when No Child Left Behind was first implemented. I have two girls currently in public schools. I have served as our home school administration president at both our elementary and our middle school which has given me the unique opportunity to get to know the administration and staff in both schools in a different way than I had as a teacher or as a parent.

All this is prelude to the fact that the nomination of Betsy DeVos has terrified me from the start. Before yesterday, I knew that DeVos never attended public schools. I knew that her children never attended public schools. I knew that no one in her family required student loans to go to college. I knew that she was not an educator. I knew that she had never taught in or worked in a public school. I knew that she was pro-charter schools and school choice. I knew that she brought this reform to the Detroit schools and I knew the Detroit schools were not turned around as a result of this reform. I knew that if you like the idea of charter schools and vouchers there are people who have implemented these reforms with far greater success than Betsy DeVos.

What I did not know until yesterday was how limited DeVos’ knowledge is about pressing issues in the world of public education. In today’s age of the Common Core and mandated testing, she could not intelligently respond to questions regarding growth vs. proficiency. She appeared unfamiliar with the basic tenants of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act that is in place to insure appropriate education for our students requiring special education. She repeatedly stated that decisions would be turned back to the state. At one point, she was asked if students receiving special education services were unsatisfied by the services they were receiving in their state if they should perhaps, move to a state with a more robust special education services. She shrugged her shoulders as if maybe that was a good idea. I wonder if she knows the costs and implications of moving a family with special needs to another state? Her response did not imply that she did.

And these thoughts are only the beginning of what concerned me about Betsy DeVos’ statements. Please don’t get me started on guns and grizzly bears and the fact that her response to a question about guns in schools was addressed to a man who has represented the families of Sandy Hook.

I am not sure what I hope to accomplish by writing out my reactions to Besty DeVos’ nomination. All I know is that reading and writing make me feel better sometimes so I thought perhaps it was time to get my thoughts out of my head and on to the screen…

 

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Dec 14

Favorite Christmas Songs

by Stacey

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I don’t usually listen to music in the car as I prefer talk radio or podcasts. And no worries if you are judging. The girls think I am crazy and we listen to only music when they are riding with me.

All that said, during this season, I listen to Christmas music constantly. I have my favorites and love adding to my list.

Here is what I am listening to right now. I’d love to know your favorites and what you think I should add!

O’ Come, O’Come, Emmanuel by Sugarland (Thank you to Lindsey Mead at A Design so Vast for recommending this song years ago!)

Do they Know it’s Christmas by the Barenaked Ladies

O Holy Night by Martina McBride

Do you Hear What I Hear? by Mary J. Blige

Universal Child by Annie Lennox

Gabriel’s Message by Sting

Silent Night by Josh Groban

What Chid is This by Sarah McLachlan

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Dec 12

National Association for Media Literacy Education

by Stacey

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Since the election, I have been overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by sadness, confusion and a need to understand what brought our country to the election of Donald Trump. And importantly, what made Trump’s election such a shock to so many of us. As a writer and a volunteer, I was paralyzed. There were so many directions I wanted to go in that instead, I went in none.

Now that a month has passed, I’ve gained some clarity. There are issues that are vitally important. Trump named a man with a loud racist voice to be his closest advisor. I will pay attention to him and what he says and does. Trump named a woman with a loud anti-public school voice to lead our Education Department. I will pay close attention to her and the changes that she recommends for our schools. Trump named a man who does not believe in the scientifically proven facts of global warming to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. I will pay attention to what he says and does.

In addition, Donald Trump continues to say things that I believe disqualify him to lead our country. This week, he spoke to a room full of people about the fact that Time Magazine’s Person of the Year used to be Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. In this speech he convinced his audience that it should still be such, even when a woman was honored.

In the month since the election, hate crimes in New York City are 30% higher than they were at this same time last year. I do not believe that this is a coincidence. Hateful people have been given a voice through a leader who preached prejudice and misogyny on the campaign trail.

All that said, I not believe that the issues I’ve cited are the most pressing issue we have before us. What scares me the most is not who Donald Trump is although that is terrifying or who Donald Trump is surrounding himself with although that is equally terrifying. The most pressing issue before us is how Donald Trump was elected. We have become an electorate that can not separate fact from fiction. An electorate who gets their news from Facebook and never checks the facts. An electorate who watches and listens to only the news channels that speak the truth we have chosen to believe.

And I am fully a part of this electorate. I clicked through to many articles on Facebook. I watched MSNBC, read The New York Times and listened to NPR almost exclusively in the months leading up to the election. And as a result, I was emotionally and physically shocked on November 8th. I was unable to get warm for days following. My body literally went into shock that we had elected Donald Trump.

So for this and many others reasons, I have decided that I will focus my confusion, anger, sadness and energy on media literacy. I believe there is one thing that we, as a united electorate, can agree on. We need to get our news from trusted sources. We need to read and believe facts. And we need to stop spreading falsehoods. I believe that people on both sides of the aisle need to re-learn how to read and understand and define ‘news.’

I feel lucky to call Michelle Cuilla Lipkin a friend. And I also feel lucky that she is the Executive Director of the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). As president of our middle school’s Home and School Association, I invited Michelle to come and speak with our community last year. At the time, I was concerned about the impact of social media on our children. I hoped to learn how to guide the girls as they navigated their social worlds. I wanted to learn how to teach them to understand the truth of what they read and saw on-line. These things are still important but now there is more. So very much more.

NAMLE’s mission is as follows: ”to expand and improve the practice of media literacy education in the United States. We define both education and media broadly.  Education includes both formal and informal settings, classrooms and living rooms, in school and after school, anywhere that lifelong learners can be reached.  Media includes digital media, computers, video games, radio, television, mobile media, print, and communication technologies that we haven’t even dreamed of yet.”

I plan to learn much more about NAMLE and their work. I plan to support them in any way I can. For now, I have donated to the organization because like all non-profit organizations, NAMLE needs money to do their work and they don’t have enough. If you are so inclined, I know that you donation would be appreciated and put to good use.

There will be more to come on this topic for sure. For now, stay tuned.

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Nov 30

What I’m Into (November 2016 edition)

by Stacey

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Today I’m going to borrow a post idea from my one of favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy. Each month, Anne writes a post called What I’m Into and I’m always excited to see what has caught her eye that month. So here goes…

What I’m Reading…

I have to admit that the election hit me hard and I really couldn’t concentrate on anything. Usually when I’m in a reading slump, I turn to mysteries and thrillers but for some reason, I downloaded The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory and it was the best possible pick. Being immersed a world so totally different from our own was exactly what I needed. And you know what? There was some pretty crazy political stuff going in the time of Henry VIII too.

What I’m Watching… 

This month I watched the third season of The Fall which was completely unrealistic but still super fun and the first few episode of season three of The Affair which might just be my current favorite show.

What I’m Talking About… 

Shortly after the election, I turned to Facebook and asked if anyone might want to read the book Hillbilly Elegy with me. Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir written by J.D. Vance who grew up in Appalachia and went on to graduate from Yale Law School. I was hoping that this book would teach me about a part of the electorate that voted for Donald Trump. I asked if anyone wanted to read with me and get together to discuss what we had learned. I expected a handful of people to respond. But… last night fifteen people, some I knew but many, many more friends of friends, joined at my favorite book store, The Curious Reader, to discuss the book, what we had learned and what we could do to learn more. I love the power of books to bring people together and I am thrilled that our group will be meeting again.

What I’m Writing… 

This was a month to get back to writing. I had been in a real slump and I realized that writing makes me feel better and it was time to get back to it. I spent ten days writing to short prompts with the super wise Jena Schwartz and now I’m in an interesting on-line class with Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger of the HerStories Project called Using our Words to Change our Worlds. It is great to be putting pen to paper again. Or fingers to keys but you know what I mean.

What I’m Listening to… 

Podcasts, podcasts and more podcasts. A few of my current favorites are The Axe Files, From the Front Porch and What Should I Read Next.

So now it’s your turn. What were you in to this November? I’d love to know…

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Sep 26

Still Doing It: Rodan + Fields Six Months Later

by Stacey

img_6058I have been a Rodan + Fields consultant for six months. I know people were surprised that I joined a direct sales company. I know this because enough people told me directly that I was able to deduce that almost everyone thought the same thing. I understand the confusion. I was a writer, a reader and a teacher. I was not a business woman and I was especially not a sales woman.

Now though, I have a secret for you. I am a still a writer, a reader and a teacher. And I am a Rodan + Fields consultant. I have not changed as a person. I have only added to who I am.

I knew I wanted to join Rodan + Fields for the challenge. I wanted to do something new. I wanted to stretch my brain in different directions. I wanted to show the girls that I was working and contributing to our family’s income. So I started to do something totally out of my comfort zone. And it was scary. And I felt silly when I told people what I was doing. I felt judged. And I felt insecure. I was suddenly that woman who I had been avoiding for years. While many of my friends and family members have been amazingly supportive, I still questioned myself. But I held on because I had promised myself one year. I would not quit before the one year mark. And six months later, I have no intention of quitting.

Direct sales and network marketing are hard work. There are reach outs and coffees. There are phone calls and orders to place. There are posts to schedule and thank you notes to write. There are team members to mentor. But the actual work involved is not the hard part of this job. The hard part is ignoring both silent and verbal judgement of others.

The longer I spend in this line of work, the more confusing this judgement becomes. I represent a product created by doctors that people love and I share it with my friends. Do I make money off of my sales? Yes I do. And it’s good money too. Do I want others to join my team because I think they would enjoy the work as much as I do? Yes. And will I make more money when others join me in business? Yes, I will. And over time this money will have a significant impact on our family’s lifestyle.

I am an entrepreneur and I do the same things that other entrepreneurs do. Yet many judge the actions of network marketers in ways they do not judge other small business owners. People do not respond to emails, texts and phone calls because direct sales are uncomfortable and to some, annoying. And I can write this because I used to be on the other side of those e-mails, texts and phone calls. And I get it. I too ignored them. I skipped the parties. I forgot to RSVP. I let the coupon code expire without ordering. I declined the Facebook group invitation.

Now though, I have a different view of myself and of the women who surround me in direct sales. We are entrepreneurs. We are small business owners. We have found a career that fits into our family’s lifestyle. And we are making money doing it. And yes, we are asking our friends to support us both as friends and yes, maybe even financially.

We ask in the same way that your realtor friend asks you to consider her when you are selling your house. We ask in the same way that your yoga teacher friend asks you to give her class and her studio a try. We ask in the same way that your artist friend asks you to consider her for mural work when you decorate your nursery. And we ask in the same way that your banker friend wants you to say, ‘How’s work going? Is your commute any better?’ Or that your teacher friends want you to say, ‘How’s your class this year?’

I promise that your direct sales friends are no different than the other entrepreneurs and working moms that you know. We have found fulfilling work and we want to share it. That’s all. And if you are willing to engage in conversation with us about our products or our business as many of my friends have, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what you learn.

 

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Sep 16

A Day In Asbury

by Stacey

We have wanted our friend Patty to photograph the girls for years because she is simply my favorite photographer. Somehow it hasn’t happened. I’ve been worried about where we would take the photos. What the girls would wear. If the weather would be right. And on and on and on.

And then Patty posted pictures of her boys at Asbury Park. Please click here to see these pictures and you’ll understand why I called her and said, “I want the pictures that you took of the boys but with the girls in them.”

So one day this August, the girls and I headed down to Asbury Park with Patty. My only regret is that Rob was at work. I really don’t like staged pictures and didn’t think that I wanted any posed family pictures but I was wrong. We missed Rob and Patty and I joked that maybe we could photoshop him in. I’m thinking we will schedule another session with Patty soon so that Rob can be in the shots but for now, here are a few examples of the amazing photographs that Patty took that day.

I loved each picture more than the next. The girls did too. I told Patty that I wished she could have heard us as we looked through the gallery. We kept saying, “That’s my favorite one!” “No! That’s my favorite one!” We really couldn’t choose. But here are a few that we really love.

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dance

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sittingbird

photobooth

wall

caroline

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Jul 15

Quick Lit: July 2016

by Stacey

I’m excited to write a Quick Lit post after a long, long break.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately…

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The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood. There are many books that I have read only because they are a book club pick. And it’s books like this one that make me glad I join these clubs. I would have never picked up The One in a Million Boy were it not ‘required’ and I am so glad I did. It was the first pick in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Club. Anne has gathered tons of people together on the internet to read amazing books in community and I am having a blast discussing books with so many amazing readers. The One in a Million Boy is the story of friendship and grief and family. While the story is certainly fun to read, the writing in this book is what will stay with me. I am not typically an underliner when I read, but I marked passage after passage in The One in a Million Boy.

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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolke. Wolf Hollow is definitely my favorite middle grade read in a long time. This one came recommended by Sally, the owner of our favorite independent children’s book store, The Curious Reader. In Wolf Hollow, we meet Annabelle who faces a truly evil bully. I do recommend this book for middle grade readers but I would suggest that a grown up reads it first. It might not be a great book for the sensitive souls in your house.

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The Nest was the second pick in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Club. I had heard a ton about this book and I’m glad I read it. I liked it but didn’t love it. It’s the story of a dysfunctional family and the characters were fun to get to know. Many people in the book club couldn’t get past their dislike of the characters but I actually enjoyed them. I wasn’t able to join in live to our on-line discussion of the book but I am excited to listen to the replay. I only found this to be a fun summer read but I know others in the group got a bit more out of it and I’ll be excited to hear what they thought.

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This is the Part Where You Laugh by Peter Hoffmeister. This is another recommendation from The Curious Reader. This time from Chris, Sally’s partner. Initially, I really disliked this book. It took dark and gritty and sad to a new level. Each character we met had a problem and I just desperately wanted something good to happen. I was reminded though after discussing this book with Sally and Chris and other patrons at The Curious Reader that this book in an important one for people to read. It reflects the truth for many children and introduces others to the lives of many, many people in our country.

I’d love to hear what you are reading and loving this summer! Share in the comments.

 

 

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