Blog Archives

Hearts that Help Cambodia

February 11, 2014

hearts that help cambodia, sewn hearts, felt hearts, heart of buttons, angkor hospital, helping kids in Cambodia, southeast asia charity, RI CambodiaTwo years ago, on February 12, 2012, my mom and I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia after just spending over two weeks in Vietnam, so when, this month, I learned about an organization right here in Rhode Island, Hearts that Help, which benefits education and health care agencies in Cambodia, I was eager to learn more.

Founded in 2003, Hearts that Help began when a family in Rhode Island, who had adopted their daughters from Cambodia just before the country closed itself to international adoptions, asked the girls if they had any ideas for helping children and families in their native country. The girls suggested sewing hearts for Valentine’s Day launching Hearts that Help.

Today, the organization hosts, and encourages others to host, sewing events which build community while creating for a cause. The hand-sewn hearts are then sold at local fairs and farmers markets and the donations are given to Angkor Hospital for Children, providing free healthcare to children in Siem Reap and the surrounding area, The Lake Clinic, which delivers medical aid to floating villages in Cambodia, Hearts that Help RI, Hearts that Help logo, red hands, gestures of true love,and The Cambodian Arts & Scholarship Foundation, a leader in educating young girls, the population most at risk for being pulled from school and sold into the horrifically rampant sex industry in Cambodia.

During our tour of Cambodia two years ago, we explored its history from the centuries old temples in Angkor to museum that was a prison under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Our guide, Khet, generously shared his culture and country with us and the fact that 60% of Cambodia’s population is under 16 years old; Pol Pot’s regime killed a quarter of Cambodia’s population. Unfathomable horrors.

cambodia CollageTraveling from Vietnam, which was definitely third world but had an enterprising spirit, Cambodia had an ever greater sense of poverty and underdevelopment. Being there and reading books like First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung (one of my recommended great book club books) draws me to Hearts that Help and the desire to help the Cambodian people grow and be able to provide quality medical care and education to their children and families. To learn more, visit Heart that Help.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement

May 8, 2013

the beauty of humanity movement, camilla gibbs, vietnamese art, read across rhode island 2013 book, rhode island center for the book, reading across ri,I was so moved by The Beauty of Humanity Movement and it’s author, Camilla Gibb.

As I got onto Amazon months ago to purchase this year’s Reading Across Rhode Island book selection, I gasped aloud as I saw the cover image. Artwork of a Vietnamese woman standing in a boat peered out at me.

I attended the May 3rd breakfast with some members of my book club, Reading Between the Wines, and I brought my Mom.

Last year, my mother and I spent an amazing 20 days in Vietnam and it is a place that is now a part of me. Wherever I go, I hold that place dear and take a piece of it with me, but there is something different about Vietnam. Some stronger hold that country has held on me. It felt like serendipity that this year’s book was about Vietnam – I couldn’t wait to read it.

As I savored this story and its rich imagery, the tastes and smells of Hanoi pulled me back to the other side of the world. I craved a bowl of pho and felt a special connection to the characters and even to the author. I was intrigued to learn her story and how she came to write about Vietnam since she is Canadian. It seemed that Vietnam had captured her spirit as it had mine.

Stuck in Columbus with my New-Old Friend

April 25, 2013

New friends, new-old friend, fast friends, friends at first sight, smiling sisters, kappa sisters, KKG sisters, leadership academy Being stuck in Columbus, Ohio wasn’t my plan. When my kiddos were younger, a little time alone in a hotel would sound dreamy, but I wanted to go home to my kids who would be in school all day after I returned. While I’m disappointed and missing my family after three days away, I’m making the best of it and I am thankful for my “new-old friend.”

I came to Columbus for an inspiring leadership workshop. It was a refreshing weekend that afforded me the time to reflect, plan, and define my visions and goals for not only myself and my life but also for the organizations of which I am a part. (Stay tuned this week for leadership skills for Moms.)

I feel invigorated and centered. I’ve filled myself up and I am energized to go home and shine in my roles as a Mom, wife, friend, writer, business owner, volunteer, educator, doula…. I couldn’t wait to get home and hug the kids and Nick who would be waiting for me at the airport! My head and heart were happy to be going home – but they’d have to wait.

Still Not Rhode Islanders …

March 1, 2013

Welcome to Rhode Island, the Ocean State, Welcome sign, living in Rhode Island, most liberal state, blue state, Seven years ago today, we closed on our home in Little Rhody and began our lives as Rhode Islanders, or so we thought.

We’d moved from Sparta, NJ, a town where we knew people everywhere we went, which I loved! Popping into the library with hellos, grocery shopping and chatting while selecting tomatoes, pushing a swing at the playground and calling out to a friend entering the gate. I loved the feel of the TV-perfect-small-town-charm. Little did I know that Rhode Island would be like moving to a large town where everyone is joined to everyone by a mere tethering thread.

Almost instantly, we discovered connections to both my hometown and my husband’s, weekly, new small world stories unveiled themselves. That know-everyone feeling we’d left behind was rebuilt amazingly fast in our new town and we quickly learned the state-wide personality and the typically Rhode Island quirks.

Officially, we still have decades to go before we’d be considered Rhode Islanders, and frankly, I kind of take pride in not being “official.” Though it shocked me one day to realize that my children are growing up here and will be true Rhode Islanders!

The language took some adjusting to, I couldn’t understand what a bubbler was, (pronounced, bubbla and means water fountain everywhere else). I nearly fell over when I was quizzing our second grader years ago: “Spell, ‘idea.’” He proudly replied, “I – D – E – R.” His teacher’s thick RI accent was affecting his learning and I quickly composed a song, the first in a repertoire, to counteract the dialect: “There is no ‘R’ in idea! There is no ‘R’ in idea!” Over our years here, there have been many times when one child will call out about another child, “Mooooom, we need to move! Anna said ‘Ka,’” Of course the offending child always vehemently denies any such swap of ending sounds, even if it may have slipped out.

The Family Car

February 21, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, see the Mom Before Mom category for more of my posts in this series:

How did you get your name?
How did you celebrate childhood birthdays?
What was your childhood bedroom like?
What was your favorite home cooked meal?

This week’s prompt: What kind of car did your family drive? What played on the radio? Where did you sit? Take us on a road trip.

sunny road, learning to drive, 70's cars, driving in the 70's, Carol and Paula, The magic garden, yellow vega, Do you remember Paula and Carol on the kids show, The Magic Garden?

As soon as I read this prompt, the first thing I thought of was my Mom’s OLD yellow Vega with wood paneled sides. My sister, Beth, and I would pull the seat belts from the front (did they even make seat belts in the back in the 70’s?) and we would make swings out of them. We’d sit on the straps pretending to be long-haired, guitar-playing singers. The yellow Vega, good times.

The next family car I remember is another imitation-wood paneled mobile, a green station wagon, in which we all begged to sit in “the way back,” the third seat that faced backwards. No one was buckled in. We’d sometimes even stand up behind my Dad driving and rub his shoulders or sit on “the hump” in the middle of the floor of the back seat.

In later years, my Mom drove Hondas and my Dad drove Buicks, though there was the impractical, sporty white Mazda RX7 that my Mom loved until she got stuck on a steep hill with the standard shift! That was a fun car, not a family car.hide and seek moon game, moon games, car games, siblings in the car, kid distracting in car, driving with kids, moon through the trees,

On night drives, Beth and I would look out the windows and play a hide-and-seek kind of game with the moon. “Moon, moon, come out, come out, wherever you are,” and we’d search for it on different sides of the car as we followed the winding roads.

Behind the car memories that make me smile, I have a hazy vision of using the seat lines to divide up space between my brother, sister and me. These were creases that could not be crossed without peals of “Ma-om! He’s on my side!”

One car had an 8-track player and we’d listen to Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Carpenters, and Bobby Vinton. Or we’d talk. If he wanted to talk with us or instill some wisdom, my Dad would pull one of us aside with the invitation that was really a directive, “Let’s go for a ride,” and we’d slip out together. Many a talk of life, boys, problems, or praise happened driving along with my Dad. He still does that now (but no longer drives Buicks).

I sat in the front seat at some point, certainly younger than we let our kids, and my Mom used to shoot her arm out across me when she was stopping short or someone cut her off. She knew it wouldn’t do anything to really save me, but it was her automatic mother-reaction. In her car, she’d tote us around and deliver Meals on Wheels.

My Dad always upgraded to the latest model car with the newest gadgets. He had an early model “car phone” installed in one car, it was like the one in the movie Sixteen Candles that was wide and thick and awkward, but it was SO COOL!

8 track tape, 70's music, orange 8 track, The Carpenters, Buicks, old car phones, green station wagons, third seat in family car, Driving on longer trips, my parents would sometimes find an oldies station and would shout out the names of the songs and dig into their memories for the names of the singer or band. I laugh at that so often as Nick and I now blare songs from our youth and subject the kids to shouted choruses and name that tune. At least our songs aren’t “oldies.”

They’re not, right?

Growing up, our cars, much like a kitchen in a home, were central to family life. Functional transportation, yes, but really, community on wheels.

KOTO – Know One Teach One

February 18, 2013

koto hanoi, hanoi restaurant, paper lanterns, white paper lanterns, globe lightsA year ago this month, my Mom and I took a trip of a lifetime together to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Before the trip, my daughter selected the book Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke for our mother-daughter book club, it takes place in Hanoi. I read it before leaving to be sure I could bring back relevant details and photos for the girls. KOTO is highlighted in the book and it was on my list of places I had to go to.

In one of those law-of-attraction moments, on our first night in Hanoi, only hours after landing, our guide gave us a run down of the next day. Quang told us the itinerary has “lunch on our own” scheduled but he hoped we didn’t mind that he had made a reservation for us all to eat together at a place called KOTO. My jaw dropped, I gasped and I flung my head to look at my Mom who understood my excitement.

Perfect! I would be taken directly to the one place not on the official tour that I wanted to see.mother daughter traveling together, traveling with your mom, vietnam tours, odyssey tours, southeast asia travel, visiting vietnam,

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