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Hidden Communities

As I sat in the crowded Fellowship Hall listening to the familiar sounding facts, reminding us that we live in the second wealthiest county in the country, and yet have a significant homeless population, I was transported back to a mental slide show of moments of the last 10 years of my life.  The slide show took me to the training for my first visit to a maximum-security prison, where we were told to talk to the inmates like you would anyone else.  Another image was a meeting where I ... Read More »

Remembering the Ordinary Moments of 2013

There is a feature on Facebook that allows you to see your 20 biggest moments in 2013. I’m a sucker for “Year in Review” montages so of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see how Facebook would curate a year’s worth of my content down to the top 20 moments of the year. I’m so happy I did. Of course some the moments were things that I expected. My kids’ birthdays and my anniversary were there. I gained a niece and a nephew this past year so my posts ... Read More »

Empress of China

When I was growing up in New Orleans, my family had a tradition of going to the late Christmas Eve service at church and then going to eat at one of our favorite places called Cannon’s. Each year, my sisters ate the Cajun Popcorn Shrimp Salad and I would get the Chicken Royale with fries. It was like clockwork. And it was wonderful. I have a thing for food by the way. I remember everything I ever ate and most of my favorite memories are about food. One year, the ... Read More »

The Whos Down in Who-ville

Every Christmas one of the most cherished activities in my adorable little hometown of Basking Ridge, NJ was the annual “Christmas Eve Carol Sing” on the town green. Yes, that’s right, you heard me…a CHRISTMAS CAROL Sing (not holiday or season’s greetings) right smack in the center of town for all to see and celebrate. Very little has changed about this town tradition since 1924. Picture it with me: you are dressed in your very best finery for Christmas Eve service either coming from your local church service, or as ... Read More »

Find Your Inner Child This Christmas

Christmas is almost here. A few years ago we bought into the hype of the “Elf on the Shelf”. Our family named ours Peanut Brittle. I cannot say that I really remember why we named him that, unless it has something to do with the fact that Susan’s grandmother makes Peanut Brittle every year. One of the most exciting things for my children to do each morning is to run down and see where Peanut Brittle is hiding. I’m sure some of you have seen really elaborate positioning of the ... Read More »

Life with Ice Cream

There is one thing that everyone knows about my grandma: she is obsessed with ice cream. And I’m not using that term loosely. Whenever Grandma comes to visit, we need to make sure that the freezer is stocked with at least two gallons. If it’s Christmas time, and we don’t have peppermint ice cream, someone is making a trip to the grocery store no matter what the weather is like outside. At my college graduation, my grandma got seconds at a self-serve frozen yogurt place. You can get as much ... Read More »

The Christmas Tree

The tree is up! The lights are strung, the garland wrapped and the ornaments placed perfectly on the tree limbs. It’s Christmas at the Lopynskis! I just love Christmas, so many great traditions, and the Christmas tree ranks at the top of my list. I love coming down the stairs each morning to plug in the lights. There is something so magical about a Christmas tree. This year my daughters went for a “minimalist look”—white lights, gold and red bulb ornaments and some ribbon rather than the the multi-colored, every ... Read More »

Life is a Masterpiece

When I was growing up I was really into figure skating. And by “into” I mean I watched it for two weeks every four years during the winter Olympics. But for those two weeks, I was really into it. My mom and I would sit on the edge of our seats watching with clenched fists and holding our breath as the skaters attempted their daring jumps. We cheered excitedly when they landed gracefully and winced when they fell down and slid across the ice. I used to admire the skaters ... Read More »

Battling Mental Illness

On the news again, another attempted murder-suicide, but this time an elected official was involved.  Too often these days, we read or hear of the mentally ill killing, or trying to kill, innocent people.  Whenever I learn of something like this I stop and say a silent prayer of thanks.  Thanks that this time it didn’t involve my son.  You see, in 2002 he was arrested for breaking and entering when he was off his medication for the serious mental illness from which he suffers.  Less than 36 hours earlier ... Read More »


I walked out of the office and remembered I had not yet selected ornaments from the Advent Giving Trees.  As I walked around the trees with their tags identifying Christmas wishes for boys and girls, and moms and dads, I carefully selected two that I thought my girls might enjoy purchasing.  It was hard to select only two with so many items to choose from, but I did.  Then I walked around the trees one last time and a third ornament caught my eye. It was shaped like an angel ... Read More »

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