Blog Archive

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Her Story to Tell

Every age presents a new challenge when our kids are growing up. And as much as we try or think we should shelter them, it’s impossible to do. They are truly less neurotic than their parents about moving on and moving up, that transition from elementary to middle school and the biggest step, up to high school. This fall, our only child started 9th grade and she's finding her place as a freshmen among the 1,300 high school students 3 blocks from home.


Life is simple when they’re younger because as parents, we have more control over their environment. But as we know, kids will be kids. We survived the Jekyll and Hyde friendships and the mean girl comments like, “Those aren’t your real parents.” Amanda learned to navigate recess around the kids on the playground who voluntarily color-coded themselves by group and didn’t practice inclusion. At times, I felt like my kid had no country. Asian kids with Asian parents didn’t always see her as Asian. Jewish kids didn’t always see her as Jewish.

Being an adopted Asian, Jewish American can be complicated. But, Amanda had that take-on-the-world attitude. She was fearless. In 5th grade, they were told to bring in their favorite book. She loved the story about a Chinese baby who found her forever home, while being both escorted and guarded by a ladybug who stayed with her on the entire journey. Amanda’s teacher asked if she wanted to read Shoey and Dot to the class and Amanda didn’t hesitate. She sat in a chair, like an author reading to a group and even fielded questions at the end of the story from classmates who didn’t hold back. One even asked if it was true that baby girls in China were killed. I wasn’t there that day, but my father-in-law had come into school early to pick Amanda up and later told us that she handled herself with confidence and poise.

At the beginning of 8th grade, Amanda had her Bat Mitzvah. She did a beautiful job and the Rabbis were impressed with her voice and her D’vora Torah, where she tells the congregation about her Torah portion (bible story) and what it meant to her. Ironically, that week's story was about the Israelites moving to their new land and how they were to plant crops and offer portions of their first harvest to the widow and the orphan and make their land a community for all people. Amanda related this story back to her own. She spoke about how she came to a new land with her forever family. Are you detecting a theme here? And again, she was surrounded by family and friends who knew her story as they sat there listening with tears in their eyes. As a funny side note, Amanda told us after her service that a boy she has known for years said he didn't know she was adopted, even though he saw her dad and I on numerous occasions. Too bad the world cannot see people through his eyes.

As Amanda entered high school, she was fearless once again, but in a different way. She signed up for a pretty challenging class load with many honors classes. As I glanced over her books she brought home, her AP Human Geography textbook caught my eye. Inside, I discovered a chapter that included a lesson on China’s One-Child Policy.

A few weeks into the school year, Amanda told me they started that chapter and her teacher asked if any of the students had been to China. Amanda raised her hand. Her teacher then inquired if she had family there. She answered, “Sort of,” and she left it at that. I laughed out loud thinking she was being a stinker, not explaining further. Then it dawned on me that not only is this class filled with students from 9th-12th grade, but she also didn’t have any close friends who knew her. I realized then that it's her story to tell and it's up to her if and when she feels comfortable telling it, no matter where she was in life and with whom.


During those grade school years, our daughter presented these facts as a badge of honor and to educate other students. It made her unique and it also gave her a stronger sense of self and acceptance, even if there was that one boy who greeted her in the morning with, "Ni Hao Kai Lan!"  But as our teenager finds her way, with new classes, teachers and peers, she has decided for now to fly under the radar and blend in. We're happy that she doesn't feel obligated to present herself as a footnote in history, a member of this amazing group of 80,000 + girls who arrived in the U.S. legally as citizens, but more accurately as immigrants by no choice of their own. And each child brings with them their unique story to tell which in many cases has included their own special ladybug along the way.

*This blog was originally published on Dim Sum & Doughnuts on 11/20/16

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How We Got 5SOS’d on a Wednesday Afternoon

I drove by all the places we used to hang out getting wasted, I thought about our last kiss, how it felt the way you tasted, and even though your friends tell me you're doing fine.

Are you somewhere feeling lonely even though he's right beside you? When he says those words that hurt you, do you read the ones I wrote you?

These are lyrics from my daughter’s favorite song, “Amnesia” by 5 Seconds of Summer or more commonly referred to as 5SOS. When she first showed me this song’s music video, part of me cringed. She’s at that magical age when hormones first start to rage and the thought of her being that close to a boy or drinking makes me; well I’ll keep it to myself.

I get why she’s loves them. Who wouldn’t want one of those 4 band boys writing a song about them? No matter how I old I get, I can be instantly transported back 30 years when I had a crush on a band roadie who took me to see Bon Jovi before he was famous, at Grand Circus Park in Detroit.  And as much as I don’t want to think about her in those situations, she too didn’t want to hear about my youth before her Dad!

Amanda found out 5SOS was coming to the area and asked me if I would buy tickets. I didn’t know who they were and figured the concert would be reasonably priced. I couldn’t believe that their tickets were fetching the same price as Taylor Swift. I told her the only way she was going was if she won them. 

Challenge on. She dialed in to the radio station using 3 phones and hit caller 25. I heard her scream barely making out her words, "3rd row tickets, with a sound check and meet and greet." She asked me if she could go with a girlfriend, but I said no way. They were playing at The Palace which is a 10,000-seat arena. 


I took the day off of work to serve as mom, girlfriend and photographer. I thought about my mom and wondered why we never did anything like this, but rock concerts weren’t a part of her youth like they were during mine.

We sat in the first row for their sound check and Q and A session. After they played one song, the four boys sat at the end of the runway connected to the stage with microphones. They answered thoughtful questions from 10 of the 1,400 concert goers that were invited to this special preview. We were not allowed to take photos or even have our phones out. I was feeling a little guilty because there were hundreds of girls outside who would have died to see them up close. But, I realized it was meant to be, so I would better understand all of my daughter’s hype and not so secret crushes.  BTW, she didn’t act crazy like some of the girls and just smiled, being too shy to ask them a question.

The guys surprised me and made me laugh out loud! They were smart, witty and between their handsome good looks and New Zealand accents, definitely were swoon-worthy.  

I started thinking about the singers of my time who I never met or ever really heard talking and bantering like regular people. Instead, they remained on that “star” level during the era before MTV and YouTube. I'm sure I would have been stalking Elton John on Instagram or Snapchat! And, in case you're wondering whether social media takes away any of the magic or mystery of these modern day boy bands I would say no; there were quite a few girls crying when 5SOS took the stage!

Just after they finished up their sound check, we waited outside a small room manned by very large bodyguards. Each set of two concert goers with purple wrist bands were escorted in for one photo with the band. I stood between Ashton and Michael. I know..right??? Amanda stood between Calum and Luke. I’m sure they felt like they were posing with their mom and a girl way too young for them, but we had big smiles and I said something stupid like, “You’re so cute!”

We left the photo room giggling like girlfriends along with my "5 Seconds" of being the cool mom! 

Here's to the concerts that shaped our youth and the music that provided the soundtrack.

*written in May 2016










Thursday, March 10, 2016

Beyond Borders: Five Years Later

They seem to be common place in TV shows and movies, story timelines that flash forward to "today". We put things on hold in our lives. We write chapters for books we never finish and we'll always have a room in our house that never gets cleaned out, filled with treasures from our past.

I've blogged on and off for close to 10 years. I was blogging when blogging had just been introduced to the world. It was a way to put my thoughts in order when we were embarking on a monumental journey to parenthood. It helped me gain clarity when faced with medical issues and job loss. Blogging provided a fun platform to write about my daughter Amanda, who always had a lot to say. I'm not sure if I expected my little collection of thoughts and quibbles to go anywhere or reach anyone in particular, but having them now makes me realize how far we've come and that obstacles have their own timeline and work themselves out eventually.

My last entry was five years ago. I was working from home on freelance projects and interviewing for full-time positions. I had recently been released from my job at Borders in Ann Arbor, which was a huge relief. Not everyone gets the opportunity to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, especially when the ship has already sunk. I had no idea how bad things were there before accepting the position. I had been seduced by a really cool IKEA decorated office and the e-commerce rock star, who was also brought in for this "special project.". On my first day, I learned the hiring manager was leaving and I was forced to watch at least 100 people exit the building who were laid off. I felt terrible. These people included many who had worked there for years, yet they hired me as Merchandising Manager for Borders.com in hopes the e-commerce division would save the company and some of the hundreds of stores.

I remember at one point, another outside contractor told me that I needed to step up and have a big win here. Seriously? This was a big box book company that was being swallowed up by Amazon.com. And they were counting on me? I'm good, but no one could save them. That's when I knew it was over. I also had two young women working for me who had their whole lives in front of them and they were miserable human beings. They were workplace bullies.  I never wrote about this, but my boss was also a bully. He would belittle me in meetings with other staff members present and look at me with contempt, when he didn't like the online sales numbers for the previous day. At times I just wanted to grab his shoulders and shake him into reality. You're going out of business! He ended up letting me go over the phone, just after Christmas. He even said, "You didn't do anything wrong, we're getting near the end." My 7 months of torment was finally over. I was looking for an image of Borders and found their obituary. I am truly sad their stores are gone. I also know it wasn't up to me to save them!

Let's flash forward to yesterday and what led me back to this abandoned blog. Rob and I went to the county courthouse to update our freelance business name, Freeman Computer Services. He asked me if we should register "Amanda Says," so we would have it to match the URL and Facebook account that was set up years ago. We hoped Amanda would take the name over someday and do her own writing and sharing. Only a mom in online marketing would think of creating a brand for their kid! Currently, she's writing a YA (Young Adult) romance story on her Watt pad app. We'll see what happens.

It may take me a few entries to catch up on five years or I may do more flashbacks while staying in the present. Right now, I'm facing a change in my full-time work, which is another reason to blog again. This will become part of my creative portfolio that companies are now asking for during the interview process. I'm not looking at this time in my life as starting over again, but instead a reboot. It's time to get centered. We are all so much more than the work we do from 9-5.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Blog Log

I’m a total hypocrite! Seriously, I tell people if you’re going to blog, you need to blog at least once a week. A few times a week is better and daily is best—if you want to do this sort of thing. I follow dozens of social media specialists who write frequently. They make it a priority and it’s a part of their daily work. I have come to realize the only way that will be me, is if it becomes a part of my daily job requirement.

Since starting my freelance work, I have picked up some interesting projects- unfortunately; blogging is not one of them. I am working with a very creative and much more disciplined writer and journalist. She has a great blog. She doesn’t blog daily, but crafts at least one or two memorable entries a week. It’s like exercise. You have to make a commitment to do it on a schedule, no matter how you feel and no matter what is going on in your life.

It was less than six weeks ago when my step-father fell and broke his hip. The following day he had surgery and then he was moved to a rehab facility where he has been about three weeks now. Tomorrow he is being moved to a nursing home to continue his therapy. I could and will write another blog about finding decent nursing care for a loved one. This has been so tragic- not only watching him in pain, but negotiating our healthcare system. There are so few options when you don’t have a lot of money for assisted care. Many of the nicer options cost up to 5,000 dollars per month. Is that reasonable? Our mortgages are not that high, even if you factor in electric, gas and water. For an elderly person? It’s pretty ridiculous.

I know I will have plenty of stories with this ongoing saga. I also want to start blogging about kids’ movies. I was inspired today after going to a Disney Nature film which was rated “G” and it was so far from “G”, that I had a sobbing child on my shoulder and lost one of my friends who had to leave with her three year old! More on that tomorrow!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Time to Grow

While I've been off, well more accurately, while I have not been employed full-time outside the house, I have really grown. I have had the time and random experiences that have made this all worth while. We're all probably sick of hearing the phrase "everything happens for a reason" and although true, the tricky part is in not knowing all the reasons up front. Some of the reasons take time to present themselves and need nurturing, just like a plant needs water and sun. Having the extra hours in the day or at least the luxury of having flexibility makes me gravitate toward the things I love best. I find myself puttering more in the yard. Yesterday, I used the electric hedger for the first time- and then spent the rest of the day worrying that Rob would have a fit over what I "hedged". I think I did a pretty good job and finished with all 10 fingers to boot! I pondered the empty space behind the deck where we had cut down the dead arborvitae and decided to put our table fountain there.

Today I went to the Heavenly Scent Herb Farm to get something inspiring for this new space I created. I found a metal faerie with colored stones and a hanging ladybug which now resides in our cherry tree on the deck. I'm thrilled to share some of what I saw today.










Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Street Sense

Sometimes the most amazing things can pass right by on the street in front of your house.

This morning I attended an open house at The Creative Group with about seven other marketing professionals and we talked and met with Donna Farrugia who is the Executive Director of the agency. She had flown in from California and wanted to have a meeting of the minds on social media. Obviously a hot topic right now- we discussed how so many companies want to join the bandwagon, but have no idea where to start or whom to hire as their buzzmaster.

I mentioned to this group that I also attended my first "tweet up" last night at a local bar/restaurant and found it all pretty interesting. Without going into the reason for this tweet up, I met a bunch of great new people who were in the industry as bloggers, internet marketers and social media makers- all very friendly, connected and plugged in to their device of choice, which overwhelmingly were i-Phones. Some although under the same roof were actually tweeting to each other. Most of the time I was there, my phone was in my purse- for these are the occasions I relish that face to face contact- my only concern was that my daughter had phoned me a dozen times because she was not happy I was out! The one thing that struck me was one of the attendees said that sometimes she just really appreciates having so many people respond on her Facebook and Twitter pages when she is having a bad day or is upset. What she appreciated the most was that human contact- people reaching out.

Going back to my morning meeting- we discussed how todays "kids" are wired so differently than previous generations. They grew up with computers, internet, texting and social media- it's how they live, learn and connect. I sometimes struggle with this- I don't want my cell phone to be my life line, but do understand why it can be theirs.

In the evening at home, we like to spend time outside visiting with neighbors, the neighbors dogs, children and just sit in the grass talking. Most times, I leave my phone in the house. Tonight, we spoke to a grandmother from around the block who happens to be from China. She was pushing her granddaughter in a stroller. The baby girl is half Russian and half Chinese. This babe is trilingual. Both Amanda and I greeted her in Mandarin- what a doll! After they passed by, a couple walked by holding a 10 week old black lab puppy named Cody. We learned that this pup visits on their son's golf night. They were thrilled to be puppy sitting and enjoyed meeting our Molly and her love Grue who shared ice cubes on the lawn.

I want Amanda to love the simple pleasures in life. That's why we ride our bikes a lot together. This is what my mom taught me. I'm obviously plugged in now, but Amanda is sleeping. My challenge is to take my "street sense" be successful working in an industry that is on 24/7 and squeeze in those quiet meaningful moments made without chiming notifications.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Going for Balance

While my new blog platform is being fleshed out- meaning my more technically advanced husband made it too complicated for me- I'm going to start posting again here. It has been quite sometime and it's certainly not because Amanda stopped talking. On the contrary! She has also had a lot to put up with this past year. My position at Gale Cengage was eliminated at the end of January and since then, I've been doing contract work and job hunting. The ironic part is, while I'm trying to secure a new position that would probably include social media, I have had no time to do social media for myself. You know that story about the shoemaker's kids...I always have time for others and love promoting businesses and developing ideas that translate into cash- but I have to make cash too. The bills don't stop when full-time employment stops!

I was so fortunate and perhaps wise beyond my regular income when I took a part-time consulting position last October, before leaving Gale. This same agency found me additional work and I did a neat little analytics project for Schoolcraft College. Thank goodness for Avinash Kaushik's web analytics books which walked me through some complex detail I needed- I was then able to really provide Schoolcraft a roadmap on where they should take their website.

Something else I have learned about doing contract work: It's a little hard for me to do the work and then let it go! I'm not used to that. I like to take ownership in a business and nurture it along. So, with that, I am interviewing and interviewing and interviewing more for something full-time and a place to call home. I have had some awesome opportunities present themselves and I am very excited to see where I'm going to land. I think what sets me apart from others is my backround as a merchant and I am really thankful to have a solid business foundation. I guess those 10 years of managing at Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue gave me more than a thinner waistline! I am so ready to get back to business. Universe, bring it on!

There is too much to update you on with Amanda, so I will make that a separate post. It's good to be back and I can't wait to share the happs with friends and family. Thank you to Marla for this photo! She really inspired me on her recent trip to China to bring her new daughter home! It really is all about balance. More to come-