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Friday, December 19, 2014

“IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, DEAR!”  - this is what my mother exclaimed, when I picked up the phone recently.  “Your father’s hearing has been restored!”  My father’s hearing, or lack thereof, has always been at the forefront of our lives.  He has always had diminished hearing because of his time in the U.S. Navy, during the Vietnam War, from “shooting the cannons.”  When I saw quite young, I somehow got the Navy and the Circus mixed up.  This is because in the cartoons, people were always getting shot out of a circus cannon and I somehow came to  believe that this is what had caused my father to be partially deaf in one ear.


My father has always been hard of hearing in his right ear.  My mother became hard of hearing, sometime in my twenties, in her left ear.  This I discovered when I was home for the holidays one year.  I was upstate from my lawyer job in NYC.  I sat in what has came to be known as the “No Man’s Land,” that is, right in between my parents’ respective hearing-challenged ears.  I chattered on for about 20 minutes about how I had just won my jury trial, all the investigation I had done, how the family had come up and hugged me and put me on their shoulders until the court officers made them put me down, what a triumphant moment it had been.  That’s when my father turned to me and said, “Did you say something?”  Right at the same moment. my mother said, “Isn’t the River pretty today?”  I was momentarily stunned into silence.  “So neither one of you heard my story?” I said.

“What story?”  they both said at the same time.  And that is another winsome trait of my parents.  They often will talk to you at the exact same time.  They are not trying to talk over each other, they just don’t hear the other person.  And so I began the process of regularly checking during storytelling to see if they could hear me.  Making consistent eye contact became something else I mentally added to my Art of Storytelling toolbox.  Because if you think I enjoy telling a story in blog format, you have no idea how much I enjoy telling a story to a live audience.  It’s an occupational hazard, I guess.

But recently my father’s hearing had been getting much worse, and I thought maybe this is it, he’s finally going deaf.   I begged him to go see an ENT but he refused.  Because he felt deafness was his fate.

So I will have to tell the story of the U.S.S. Thresher, a nuclear powered Naval attack submarine.  My father and several other sailors who had joined the US Navy in the Philippines, signed up to serve on submarine duty.  There was extra pay involved, and this is what attracted my dad.  Lolo was turned down, because you needed perfect hearing and, thanks to the cannons, he no longer had perfect hearing.  His buddies did make it and they all went on to serve on the USS Thresher.  In May of 1963, the USS Thresher imploded at sea, taking the lives of all 129 men on board, most of them sailors.   How is it, that one small thing like failing a hearing test means that Lolo was able to go on and live his life, to marry and have two children, one of whom is writing this Blog?  It’s yet another chapter in the book that was my childhood, which would be titled something like, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and If You Had gone through What We Went Through, It’s All Small Stuff.

My father has always felt that, since he would otherwise have been on board the USS Thresher, his “bad hearing” saved his life.  And therefore, he has never wanted a hearing aid or to improve his hearing, somehow the whole hard of hearing thing has been a blessing for him.  And so going to see an ENT was out of the question.

     But, as we all know, the tag-teaming of a nagging wife and a nagging adult daughter is a force to be reckoned with.  And therefore, my father gave in and went to see an ENT recently.  Who cleaned Lolo's ears out and, lo and behold, he has been restored to the same hearing he has always had.   Hence, the phone call from my Mom.

“So the Christmas miracle is that the ENT took the wax out of dad’s ears?” I queried.

“No, dear,” said my mom, “the Christmas miracle is that your father listened to me, and to you, and wanted to get better.  So he could hear Michael sing at the Christmas concert.”

Lolo has never forgotten the men of the USS Thresher, and neither have I.  There is a link at the end of the Blog for more information, as well as a listing of the names of the men on board who made the ultimate sacrifice.

And so I have given you one more reason to Count Your Blessings.  DO have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Joyous Kwanzaa, everyone.  DO remember to Count your Blessings; appreciate each other and our loved ones in all their flawed glory.  Don’t worry about burning the turkey or getting all the right presents, just be thankful the Good Lord has seen fit to give you another Christmas -- and remember the reason for the season <3 Mrs. Lo.  For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit www.LoBiondo.org.  For more info on the USS Thresher, go to:  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/k19/disasters_detail2.html

Photo:  Lolo, Lola, and Family, Christmas 2013

Note:  Last year, 2013, was the 50th Anniversary of the loss of the USS Thresher.  Take a moment to look at the names of those who lost their lives, and say a prayer for them:
Personnel Who Perished in the Loss of Thresher on 10 April 1963
Ship's Company
Arsenault, Tilmon J., ENCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Babcock, Ronald C., LTJG, USN.
Bain, Ronald E., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Bell, John E., MMI-P2, USN.
Bobbitt, Edgar S., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Boster, Gerald C., EM3 (SS)-P1, USN.
Bracey, George (n), 5D3 (SS), USN.
Brann, Richard P., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Carkoski, Richard 3., EN2 (SS), USN.
Carmody, Patrick W., 5K2, USN.
Cayey, Steven G., TM2 (SS), USN.
Christiansen, Edward (n), SN (SS), USN.
Claussen, Larry W., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Clements, Thomas E., ETR3 (SS), USN.
Collier, Merrill F., LT, USN.
Cummings, Francis M., SOS2 (SS), USN.
Dabruzzi, Samuel J., ETN2 (SS), USN.
Davison, Clyde E., III, ETR3-P1, USN.
Day, Donald C., EN3 (SS), USN.
Denny, Roy O., Jr., EM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Di Nola, Michael 3., LCDR, USN.
DiBella, Peter J., SN, USN.
Dundas, Don R., ETN2 (SS), USN.
Dyer, Troy E., ET1 (SS)-P1, USN.
Forni, Ellwood H., SOCA (SS)-P1, USN.
Foti, Raymond P., ET1 (SS), USN.
Freeman, Larry W., FTM2 (SS), USN.
Fusco, Gregory J., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Gallant, Andrew J., Jr., HMC (SS), USN.
Garcia, Napoleon T., SD1 (SS), USN.
Garner, John E., YNSN (SS), USN.
Garner, Pat M., LCDR, USN.
Gaynor, Robert W., EN2 (SS), USN.
Gosnell, Robert H., SA (SS), USNR.
Grafton, John G., LTJG, USN.
Graham, William E., SOC (SS)-Pl, USN.
Gunter, Aaron J., QM1 (SS), USN.
Hall, Richard C., ETR2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Harvey, John W., LCDR, USN. (Commanding Officer of Thresher)
Hayes, Norman T., EM1-P1, USN.
Heiser, Laird G., MM1-P2, USN.
Helsius, Marvin T., MM2, USN.
Henry, James J., Jr., LTJG, USN.
Hewitt, Leonard H., EMCA (SS), USN.
Hoague Joseph H., TM2 (SS), USN.
Hodge, James P., EM2, USN.
Hudson. John F., EN2 (SS), USN.
Inglis, John P., FN, USNR.
Johnson Edward A., ENCA (SS), USN.
Johnson, Richard L., RMSA, USN.
Johnson, Robert E., TMC (SS)-P1, USN.
Johnson, Thomas B., ET1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Johnson. Brawner G., FTG1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Jones, Richard W., EM2 (SS), USN.
Kaluza, Edmund J., Jr., SOS2 (SS)-P1, USN.
Kantz, Thomas C., ETR2 (SS), USN.
Kearney, Robert D., MM3, USN.
Keiler, Ronald D., IC2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Kiesecker, George J., MM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Klier, Billy M., EN1 (SS) P2, USN.
Kroner, George R., CS3, USN.
Lanouette, Norman G., QM1 (SS), USN.
Lavoie, Wayne W., YN1 (SS), USN.
Lyman, John S., Jr., LCDR, USN.
Mabry, Templeman N., Jr., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Malinski, Frank J., LTJG, USN.
Mann, Richard H., Jr., IC2 (SS), USN.
Marullo, Julius F., Jr., QM1 (SS), USN.
McClelland, Douglas R., EM2 (SS), USN.
McCord, Donald J., MM1 (SS)-P2 USN.
McDonough, Karl P., TM3 (SS), USN.
Middleton, Sidney L., MM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Muise, Ronald A., CS2, USN.
Musselwliite, James A., ETN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Nault, Donald E., CS1 (SS), USN.
Noonis, Walter J., RMC (SS), USN.
Norris, John D., ET1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Oetting. Chesley C., EM2-P2, USN.
Parsons, Guy C., Jr., LTJG, USN.
Pennington, Roscoe C., EMCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Peters, James G., EMCS-P2. USN.
Phillippi. James F., SOS2 (SS), USN.
Philput. Dan A., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Podwell, Richard (n), MM2-P2, USN.
Regan, John S., MM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Ritchie, James P., RM2, USN.
Robison, Pervis (n), Jr., SN, USN.
Rountree, Glenn A., QM2 (SS), USN.
Rushetski, Anthony A., ETN2, USN.
Schiewe, James M., EM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Shafer, Benjamin N., EMCM (SS)-P2, USN.
Shafer, John D., EMCS (SS)-P2, USN.
Shimko, Joseph T., MM1-P2, USN.
Shotwell, Burnett M., ETRSN, USN.
Sinnett. Alan D., FTG2 (SS),USN.
Smarz, John (n), Jr., LT, USN.
Smith, William H., Jr., BT1-P2, USN.
Snider, James L., MM1, USN.
Solomon, Ronald H., EM1-P2, USN.
Steinel, Robert E., SO1 (SS)-P1, USN.
Van Pelt, Rodger E., IC1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Walski, Joseph A., RMl (55)-P1, USN.
Wasel, David A., RMSN, USN.
Wiggins, Charles L., FTG1-P2, USN.
Wiley, John J., LTJG, USN.
Wise, Donald E., MMCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Wolfe, Ronald E., QMSN (SS),USN.
Zweifel, Jay H., EM2-P1, USN.
Personnel Other Than Ship's Company
Abrams, Fred P., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Allen, Philip H., LCDR, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Beal, Daniel W., Jr., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Biederman, Robert D., LT, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Billings, John H., LCDR, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Charron, Robert E., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Corcoran, Kenneth R., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Critchley, Kenneth J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Currier, Paul C., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Des Jardins, Richard R., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval
Dineen, George J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Fisher, Richard K., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Guerette, Paul A., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Jaquay, Maurice F., Contractor's Representative, Raytheon Corp.
Keuster, Donald W.,  Naval Ordnance Laboratory
Krag, Robert L., LCDR, USN, Staff, Deputy Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Moreau, Henry C., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Palmer, Franklin J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Prescott, Robert D., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Shipyard.
Stadtmuller, Donald T., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Whitten, Laurence E., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

OPEN LETTER TO #NEWBURGH #CITYCOUNCIL and #NECSD SCHOOL DISTRICT FROM MRS. Lo

On the subject of funding Body Cameras for the Police.  There is something that kills more minority kids than lack of body cameras for police, that the City of Newburgh needs to pay attention to.  It is so serious that the Centers for Disease Control has declared it an EPIDEMIC.  You know, like Tuberculosis.  Volunteers try year after year to GIVE a cure to the City of Newburgh.  And the City of Newburgh ends up shutting down this cure every year for lack of funding.  I'm talking about Drowning.  70% of African American children cannot swim.  60% of Latino children cannot swim.  40% of Caucasian children cannot swim.  10 people drown each day in the U.S.  Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of childhood unintentional death for kids under the age of 14. By Age 12, minority kids are up to 80% more likely to drown than their non-minority counterparts.



Coach Kennedy and Mrs. Lo, and the volunteers of America Rows and Swims Newburgh (and our predecessor, the Student Ambassador program of the Newburgh Rowing Club), have given FREE Water Confidence and Learn to Swim Clinics at the City of Newburgh Pool every Summer for the past 3 years.  (Or have tried to, last Summer, the new Recreation Director gave Coach Kennedy such ##$$ for trying to return the program to the Pool.  Fortunately, Coach and I are very persistent and the Mayor and key City Council people rallied behind it to make it happen again).  Every year, we teach over 100 City of Newburgh kids to swim, for free, with a budget of $0.  It's all volunteer work.  And we bring our own battered supplies (flippers, kickboards, PFD's) and helpers.  And what happens?  The program gets shut down every year at the beginning of AUGUST because the City of Newburgh runs out of money to keep the City Pool open.

America Rows and Swims Newburgh just became a local partner in the USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash Initiative, which is a huge accomplishment and puts us into a national network, run by the national governing body of the sport of swimming in America.  Make a Splash is committed to making sure that every child in America knows how to swim and formal swim lessons are the key.  Hey, Newburgh, want to Save Lives?  Find the funding to keep the City of Newburgh Pool open past August 1st.  We will continue to teach kids to swim for free but we can't do it without a pool.  Currently we teach weekly free lessons at the Union Avenue Y, where we pay reduced rent but we do pay rent.  It would be great to use a pool actually located in the City of Newburgh, and we have a formal request out to use the NFA Pool and the City of Newburgh Pool.  The Newburgh School District should also provide free swim lessons.  This is something Coaches Stepakoff and Kennedy have been advocating for, for years.  Coach Kennedy used to run an aquatic program at the NFA Pool where they taught free swim lessons to everyone, but that program was shut down.  Both Coach Kennedy and Coach Stepakoff, former swim coaches, and certified WSI's (Water Safety Instructors) have volunteered to teach free swimming lessons at the NFA Pool.  In the meantime, we will keep fundraising and I will keep writing grants to do by volunteer work what the City should really be doing on its own.  If the City isn't going to provide free swim lessons, the least they can do is make finding funding to keep the City Pool open a priority so volunteers from America Rows and Swims Newburgh can come in and teach swimming, to try and prevent needless deaths.

Juliana LoBiondo ("Mrs. Lo"), Director, America Rows and Swims Newburgh

JULIANA LoBIONDO
LoBiondo Law Offices
275 North Street
Newburgh, NY  12550
Tel. (845) 569-7600
Fax (845) 569-7601
www.lobiondolaw.com

- Have you read the latest Mrs. Lo Blog?  www.LoBiondo.org

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- Check out our popular Community Facebook page, at www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw

- Have you seen Mrs. Lo in the Community News this week?  Visit the News Homepage of either www.LoBiondolaw.com orwww.LoBiondo.org
 
 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

MRS. LO'S REVIEW OF 2 ALICES COFFEE LOUNGE IN NEWBURGH

This is the Newburgh location, in the Safe Harbors space at 117 Broadway. This is a review with a touch of humour, of course. 

Michael and I stopped in last night after we went to my Tailor who is at the Safe Harbors space at 115 Broadway. I ordered tea, soup, and biscotti, which were all delicious. I treated Joyce, my tailor, to coffee and biscotti; she said the French roast was delicious. Michael. my 10-year-old ordered the special Zebra hot cocoa, which is a mix of chocolate and white cocoa. I was looking forward to taking photos of the food and the cafe and posting a little review for your guys. I noticed the barrista girl getting a paper cup, which would not look good on facebook. "What's the paper cup for?" I aksed. "Oh, we don't trust children to have hot cocoa in our breakable ceramic cups. They could drop them and hurt themselves." (And then we would get sued was the subtext). We got into a discussion about child fine motor development, when dexterity develops, and whether this is a "policy" or something she came up with. The hot cocoa wasn't cheap and part of the deal was getting it in the beautiful ceramic cup with the design on top. I explained that Michael had great dexterity. He can play trumpet, he could spear a pea with a fork when he was 10 months old. That he is on the rowing team and can carry his own kayak. That he is 10 but he can balance a single crew shell, which most people cannot do. By now, I had gathered quite an audience of interested parties and it was no longer about the Zebra Hot cocoa, it was about the rights of 10-year-olds everywhere to get their hot cocoa in a ceramic cup. "What's a crew shell?" said one audience member, I mean, patron, who was listening intently. I have a ton of photos in a brag book but the most handily available was my key chain, which is a photo of Michael and me (YES, that is proper grammar, look it up!) in a crew shell. He is at stroke. "Wow, you clean up nice," said the patron. "Don't look at me," I said. "My point is my son can balance a 250-lb. crew shell, I think he can carry hot cocoa across the room." At which point, the barrista gave up. She gave him the ceramic cup and I put a big tip in the jar. Michael then proceeded to carry the completely full giant zebra hot cocoa across the room without spilling an drop. Whereupon, a few people clapped and he said to me, and I quote, "Mommy, can we ever just go somewhere and not turn it into a civil rights demonstration?" Back to the Review: steep prices for the City of Newburgh but worth it in MHO, great coffee, great tea, great baked goods, delicious soup. Edgy, industrial, early-Soho, Noho kind of atmosphere, which I loved. They will need to invest some time training their staff. Two suggestions to the owners: lose the 90's rock music and put on Jazz; and Dutchess Community College offers courses in Employee Development, Customer Relations and National Worker Readiness: Being the Best of the Best, which I would HIGHLY recommend for your employees. Other than that, Welcome to Newburgh!  Mrs. Lo

Friday, December 12, 2014

“THE CHRISTMAS DOG” - By SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER Orion

Hey, party people, it’s Me again, Orion, the only 4-legged member of the LoBiondo Family!  I am so psyched about Christmas, who’s with me??!!  Well, I’m half lab so I’m pretty much in a constant state of excitement but that’s because Life is a big bowl of tennis balls just waiting to get thrown!  So we have a lot of great traditions here at LoBiondoFork, most of which I am pretty much an integral part of.

            First, it becomes extra important that I clear the perimeter of our home on a DAILY basis.  I have made peace with Bob, the Mailman.  But what it up with these Brown trucks coming to the house every other day??!!  I don’t know these people in brown uniforms carrying packages.   They don’t give me treats like Bob does.  I’m pretty sure they are in cahoots with my mortal enemies, the squirrels.  So yeah, of course I am going to bark my head off at these package carriers, they need to know who’s in charge on this Street (Me, I am in charge not those rodents stuffing acorns in their cheeks)!
            Another important tradition is helping my family cut down the perfect Christmas tree, which will be happening tomorrow.  We go out to a special Christmas tree farm and Dad lets me off the leash so I can pick the perfect tree.  Of course, the place is crawling with Enemy Squirrels so it’s a bit hard to focus.  But once I chase off all the squirrels, we get to sawing.  OK, I don’t actually use the saw, I don’t have opposable thumbs – but my Dad and Brother do.   I stand there and give them REALLY supportive looks and bark for encouragement.  Then I will pee on a nearby tree to show manly solidarity.  It really helps them, there is no way this whole tree thing could go down without me.
            Another important tradition is standing in the middle of the kitchen while my mom is making the turkey.  It’s important that I stand right in the middle so she doesn’t forget about me.  And when she’s getting that delicious turkey out, that smells sooooo good, I never take my eyes off of it.  It takes hours of patience but finally I will get rewarded with a nice turkey bone.  Sure, it would be great to chew on it but that would just be wrong,  I immediately take that sucker outside and bury it in the garden.  So I can dig it up the next week and bring it inside all nice and fresh from the dirt.  Mom loves it when I bring the dirty turkey bone in, the way she shouts my name is like music to my ears, “Orion please tell me you didn’t drag that filthy bone across my Oriental rug, nooooooooo!”
            Mostly, I love to curl up on my giant dog bed while my Dad plays Christmas carols on the piano and my mom and Little Bro Michael sing along.  Little Bro has a beautiful singing voice, he was the STAR of his Christmas pageant!  Sure, Mom says he was in the chorus and the En-Som-Bull, whatever that means, but I’m sure he was large and in charge.  My Big Bro, Christian, is too cool to sing along anymore, but he’s not too cool to snuggle up with me in the dog bed (Shhhhh don’t tell anyone!)
            Sure, Mom gets a little cuckoo at Christmas time with all of her work and volunteer work and holiday stuff.  But every night we snuggle up together on the couch and watch Christmas stuff.  (College Football is considered Christmas stuff, right?)  Snuggling with my family is always the best.  But Christmas snuggling, that’s just the Super Best!
            Happy Holidays, Everyone!  And Mom says to remember to Count Your Blessings!  Signing off, Orion LoBiondo
            www.LoBiondo.org // www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com

Friday, December 5, 2014

Live from Jacksonville: Mrs. Lo's Blog from the USRowing Convention!


On Friday, I attended the America Rows Forum at the USRowing convention in Jacksonville, Florida. All I can say is: wow!  It was truly a life-changing experience. Here are the top 10 Takeaways that I learned at this national convention (and some on the way to the convention):



10.  When the flight attendant comes on the loudspeaker and says: "do we have a physician, nurse, or EMT on board?", you can take your original flight time and multiply it by four.  Due to an unscheduled landing in Charlotte, North Carolina for a medical emergency, our three hour flight turned into a 12 hour trip, involving three separate planes.  I could've gotten there faster by covered wagon. We did however make a lot of friends on the plane, but that's another blog for another day.  


9.  Electric cars are awesome! Our rental car was a Prius and we got 55 miles to the gallon.  Of course I could never fit all of my Student ambassadors in there, but it's a great car for everyone else.


8.  Jacksonville, Florida is an absolutely beautiful city and if you ever go there, stay at the Hyatt Regency. After they heard about our crazy flight, they upgraded us to a premium River view room (which I was only in for about an hour of waking time but it was still beautiful)


7. Rowing is the most awesome sport in the world! I met so many wonderful program directors, coaches, athletes and speakers, it will take a long time to process all of the wonderful things that happened in Jacksonville.


6.  The sport of adaptive rowing is one of the most amazing things I have ever learned about. Through some incredible grit, determination and talent, the sport of rowing has been opened to a whole new world of athletes -- some have lost a limb or part of a limb; I even met a blind rower.  These are some of the most inspiring sports stories you will ever hear.  Talk about overcoming adversity!


5.  I really enjoy public speaking, in general, and I absolutely love talking about my student ambassadors. In fact, once I get going it's almost impossible to shut me up!


4.  Always carry business cards. If you're very involved with a charity, make up business cards for your volunteer job. Despite all the advances in the Internet and social media, the exchange of paper business cards is still the number one way to connect with people.


3.  It is okay to recognize that someone else is different from you. It is okay to talk about race to someone, if you are coming from a good place.The most important thing is to open up the discussion; if you make a mistake just apologize and start over (The credit for that one goes to Rhonda Marable from USA swimming).


2.  I am not alone. That was a great discovery. Just when I thought I was the only person in America trying to carry-on a student ambassador program, and open the doors of rowing to a culturally diverse part of our population, I realized I was one of many. Meeting other program directors from the America Rows and other inclusion programs was absolutely  thrilling. I made so many great connections and there was so much synergy, I still feel like I'm walking on air.


1.  Everybody loves America Rows and Swims Newburgh!  People want to come to Newburgh and study our program, particularly how we combine swimming and rowing. Newburgh can become known for something other then being the city with the highest per capita violent crime rate in the state of New York.  And I just found out that America Rows and swims Newburgh has been accepted by USA swimming as a local Make a Splash partner! This means that our little program is now the only program in the nation which is an affiliate of these two national NGB's!  To explain: every Olympic sport has its own national governing body. The national governing body of the sport of rowing is USRowing, of which ARSN is an official affiliate. The national governing body of the sport of swimming is USA Swimming, of which we have just become a local affiliate.This opens so many doors, the possibilities are literally endless.


Finally, while we were all done Jacksonville, Florida doing great things, I see from my newsfeed there are some less than great things going on in the country.  All I can say is: BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE! Yes, it is that simple.  Stay tuned for lots more good news from America Rows and Swims Newburgh. Have a great day everyone and, as always, remember to count your blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo (Photo from our room at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville Florida)


For more than Mrs. Lo blog go to www.LoBiondo.org 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Mrs. Lo


Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in tradition. One tradition I started eleven years ago was to republish a Thanksgiving newsletter I composed in my first full year as principal at Bishop Dunn that summed up my feelings about this very special holiday. For several years after that I would think, at this time of the year, about composing a different Thanksgiving newsletter, but, invariably, when I look at the “old” message, I couldn’t think of a better way to say “thank you” for the life and career that I have been blessed to have here. I’ve now stopped trying to come up with a better message, and I am more than satisfied to offer again my traditional Thanksgiving letter to my family at Bishop Dunn. Since I have come to know so many people in our school community so well, I remain confident that you will agree with most, if not all, of the sentiments expressed.
    “If anyone were to ask me to pick my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving most certainly would be at the top of my list. The reason I like it so much is that it remains in its essence, despite occasional half-baked efforts to commercialize it, a time focused most clearly on the values that I cherish most – those associated with caring and sharing. Thanksgiving is a time for families to catch their collective breaths before the frenzied Christmas season begins in earnest, as they come together to relax and share a special meal and a special bond. It is a time, before we get all wrapped up in buying, giving and receiving gifts, to remember, how important it is to give and share the gifts that we already have with the less fortunate among us.
     I have so much to be thankful for in my own life and in my life at Bishop Dunn, and truly appreciate the opportunity at this time of the year to express my feelings. I am grateful, first of all, for having a loving and supportive wife who has come to understand, and to appreciate why I continue to  spend so many hours away from home devoted to helping my other family, the children at Bishop Dunn, grow in spirit and knowledge.    
     I am just as grateful for my own children, who have somehow managed to absorb the values that my wife and I tried to instill, which has resulted in my two sons and my daughter choosing careers of their own that are focused on serving the needs of the disadvantaged and disabled, as well as on addressing the wider needs of the world to find better solutions to the environmental and economic problems that plague us.
     I am grateful, as well, to all the teachers, administrators and staff here for the things they do every day to set our school above so many others academically, and, as importantly, for the countless extra efforts they make that demonstrate so clearly how deeply they care for the children under their care.    
     I am thankful to all the parents of our school for showing their understanding of and appreciation for the special educational, artistic, athletic, and spiritual opportunities that our school offers, by their decision to put their children under our care and by the many sacrifices they make to keep them here, especially in these very difficult economic times. I am grateful to our parents, too, as well as to our many benefactors, for all the candy they buy, tickets they sell, special events they participate in and fund-raising efforts they make to help lessen the financial worries of those who run the school and the financial strain on those who pay to keep it going.
    I am grateful especially to our wonderful students, who study so hard, develop their God-given skills and talents  so enthusiastically, and who show so often in the way they care for each other, why the character development we work so hard to instill is as important for their spiritual growth as intellectual stimulation is for their academic growth.
     Finally, I am grateful, without fear of violating  the  public school laws that force the separation of church and state, simply to be able to offer up prayers of  praise and supplication to God at the beginning and end of each day with our students, as well as in newsletters like this on this special week of thanks.”
          In case I don’t get a chance to say it personally before school ends Wednesday, have a blessed, caring, and wonderful family-bonding Thanksgiving!
Prayerfully Yours,
Mr. DelViscio - I would like to thank my former principal, James DelViscio for once again giving me permission to publish his beautiful Thanksgiving tone which to me, it says it all. Have a great day everyone and remember to count your blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo
 

Where You Can Find Mrs. Lo on Black Friday

I love everything about Thanksgiving, from making the Turkey dinner to the Tryptophan-induced haze while we all watch the Detroit Lions. I consider Thanksgiving to be a 4-day holiday and we have always given our staff a paid day off on the day after Thanksgiving, now known as “Black Friday.” However, you will NOT find Mrs. Lo out shopping on Black Friday. For one thing, I avoid any shopping events that have a website dedicated to it called “BlackFridayDeathCount.com” (not kidding). And a Twitter hashtag #Walmart fights — which became a national phenomenon last year, a kind of window into what really happens in the big box stores on Black Friday (hint: it’s not like Whoville, with everyone singing Fahoo Fores).

Kettle Bell Michael Kieirstin
Here are some places you will find Mrs. Lo this Thanksgiving holiday:
• Collecting donations for, decorating for, and volunteering at the Newburgh Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving Dinner for our neediest citizens. Want to appreciate all you have? Lend a hand to those who are truly in need. The whole idea of braving Black Friday to save $20.00 on a video game is not our guests’ lexicon. At the Newburgh Salvation Army, I have met some of the most loving and appreciative people, just happy to have a hot meal. It helps put it all in perspective.

• At Sam’s Club, Price Chopper, Adam’s and Nature’s Pantry. Yes, I shop or food at 4 different stores, that’s the way the food world is setup nowadays. Sam’s is great for buying things in bulk. It has been a real lifesaver for me in many ways. And an epic fail in so many others. Does anyone want some Dental Floss – because I still have about 50 boxes left – or maybe Qtips? I’m pretty sure I’ll be packing those off with Christian when he goes to college. And then there’s Nature’s Pantry for all my KMF products, my gluten free pasta, my many seeds, and “Organic voo-doo crap” as my husband affectionately refers to it (“Honey, it is just me or is everything we eat now a little bit crunchier?”)

• At the Marlboro TOMVAC first thing Thanksgiving Day, taking a Zumba Class with Kattya, to get ready for the cooking marathon about to take place. Nothing feels better than sweating and dancing before a great big feast. Of course, in my case it does give me a feeling that I need to eat even more. (“A slice of pie? Better make it two, I went to Zumba this morning!”)

• In the kitchen with my Apron on, happily preparing Thanksgiving Dinner, then serving it to my Family. Followed by everyone piling on top of each other to watch football, while having seconds, and thirds, on TV trays. That’s the best party, watching everyone go back for more. And then there’s the belching. Let’s get real, when you are surrounded by males, there is a lot of belching on Thanksgiving. But hey, that has traditionally been considered a compliment — although a simple, “Great turkey, Mom” would be sufficient.

• At Water’s Edge Spa on the day after Thanksgiving, having Marianne work those sore, tired muscles and get them all smoothed out, getting the blood flowing and getting out all the toxins from all the Pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

Where you will NOT find me: at any retail store on Thanksgiving Day, night, or Black Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I am a capitalist through and through, I am all for keeping the economy going with shopping in general. I’m just not going to be out there with you guys who enjoy this contact sport.

There are so many fistfights, bloody noses and just general pandemonium at #Walmartfights from last year’s Black Friday, I actually got stressed watching them. (I quickly soothed myself with Pumpkin pie and extra whipped cream). Then there was the shopper in Las Vegas last year walking down the street with his newly purchase big screen TV, who was shot by some criminal taking his TV; the alleged shoplifter in Chicago who pinned a police officer leading to shots fired; the stabbing in a Virgina Walmart parking lot over a parking space. And the horrors of 2008 when a worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed the entrance.

OSHA has actually issued a warning to retailers that shopping on Black Friday is dangerous to workers’ health, and mandated that stores should emergency plans in place that account for “crowd-crushing, being struck by the crowd, violence, and fire”
Ummm, no thanks. Truth be told, I Christmas shop all year round and I’m pretty much done by now. I would much rather take the money I would have saved and donate it to my many charities. Or spend it on myself with a well deserved massage … say it with me, Ahhhhhhhh!

Maybe this anti-Black Friday thing of mine is because there is really nothing in the world I want that badly that I have to go out on #WalmartFightsFriday and get it. Now, if Nature’s Pantry were having a big sale on flax seeds and goji berries, that might be different!

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone, remember to Count Your Blessings, and really, truly love and appreciate those around you. If you’re lucky enough to have family coming over or are going to visit family, remember how blessed you really are — and remember and say a prayer for those in our very community who have no family, no food, no homes <3 Mrs. Lo (Photo of Little Michael and Kierstin ringing the Kettle Bell for the Newburgh Salvation Army at the Newburgh Mall – remember the money you put in the Red Kettles this season stays right here in Newburgh and helps us with our free hot breakfast and dinner that we serve daily all year long!)

Friday, November 14, 2014

HOW FOOTBALL HAS MADE ME A BETTER LAWYER – it seems like just yesterday I was dropping Christian, my oldest son, off at football camp in the sweltering July sun.  And today, he will take the field for the last time as a member of the Don Bosco Prep Freshman Football game as they take on St. Joseph’s Academy.  It has been a GREAT season, and the bonds formed on and off the field will last a lifetime.  But since this is the Mrs. Lo Blog, not my kids’ Blog, let’s talk about MY football season.  Here is one concrete thing I can take away from the indescribable joy that has been “my” Football season at one of the nation’s top football high schools:  it has made me a better Lawyer.

            Let me explain.  I have always represented a lot of men clients.  In the past, I found myself struggling to explain certain concepts to some of my clients, as my Go-To analogies were either from Power-Shopping (“It’s like seeing a pair of Louboutins on sale for half-off, of course you’re going to go for it and think about the consequences later.”) – or cooking (“It’s like like making bread, we have to be patient, and wait for it to rise.”)  Legal concepts are difficult.  Having been a lawyer for 24 years, I can say without hesitation that a good lawyer relies heavily on analogies  to break down complex legal concepts and make them relate-able for clients.  And the more my son played football, the more I found that football analogies were coming to me quite naturally.  And now, they are a staple.   
            When a client asks me where we stand, I might explain that, “We are at fourth and goal, so there’s not a lot margin for error.  But we have the clock on our side and your QB is a lot smarter and faster than the other team’s.”  (That’s right, in my analogies, I am always QB1!)
            Sometimes, I am making progress, let’s say preparing for trial, and a client will wander off conversationally on some tangent.  “Listen,” I might say, “We are up by a touchdown right now but today is Sunday and you know what that means?” (Of course, they do, it means Any Given Sunday, or anything can happen).  “Exactly.  So you need to focus on getting the ball into the End Zone, and stop looking up at the brand new shiny Jumbo-tron Scoreboard.”  (“Got it, Coach,” my clients will say jokingly, but they DO get it.)
            Or a client will ask if I read a certain report related to their trial, let’s say a monetary valuation of an asset, and want to know if it’s good or bad.  “Let’s put it this way, the season’s winding down, you came into the game with a sprained hamstring, a couple of broken fingers and a concussion.  This report is one more broken finger, but it’s not like you broke a rib.  It’s not a season-ender.”  I can practically see the lightbulbs going off over their head.
            The more I used football analogies, the more I believed that I really had a gift.  So I tried using my analogies in everyday life.  Like at Price Chopper.  Perhaps not as well as when the game is on the line and I’m under pressure to come up with good analogies.
“This butter sale is like Draft Day,” I said proudly to a Price Chopper cashier recently, “and every box is like a Heisman Trophy winner.” 
The cashier looked at me in a puzzled way.  “So do you want the butter or not?” 
            “Just stop, Mom,”  my patient but mildly irritated son would say, “Please stop with the football analogies, you can’t use them everywhere you go.”
            I guess not.  The bottom line is some concepts are complex and analogies, metaphors and allegories are helpful.  But plenty of concepts are simple (like butter being on sale) and there’s no need to jam everyone up with a sports analogy.  Keep it simple, it’s another lesson to live by.

        Have a great day, everyone, and, as always remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo … AND GO IRONMEN!  For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit; www.LoBiondo.org.  To visit our Community page on Facebook, go to www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw 

Friday, November 7, 2014

“IS THAT YOUR WIFE STUCK ON THE CHAINLINK FENCE?”

 My husband once said to me that every day married to me is an Adventure.  After 18 years, I’m finally getting what he means.  There I was, last weekend, stuck like a Flat Stanley on a chainlink fence outside of Eastside High School in Patterson, NJ, praying no one would see me.  Of course, that’s when my husband walked by.  He looked at me.  I looked at him.  No words were exchanged but I was starting to understand what he meant about the Adventure part.

            It all started out so innocently and, like most of my adventures, involved the Student Ambassadors.  Christian, my oldest son, had an away game at Eastside High School in Patterson, NJ, a town I had never heard of.  The way it works is Anthony and Christian go down our high school, Don Bosco Prep, in Ramsey, NJ early, so Christian can get the Team bus.  I go later, so Michael can sleep in.
            “Listen,” said my husband, “I don’t like you going down to Patterson, NJ by yourself, it’s dangerous.”
            “No worries, honey,” I said cheerfully, “I’m from Newburgh!”
            “You are from Fishkill,” my husband said, “and we only technically live in Newburgh. There’s a stream in our backyard and your biggest worry is that the woodpeckers are going to peck our wooden house to death.”
            “Don’t forget,” I said, “I am in the City of Newburgh all the time!”
            “You are,” he admitted, “and you drive with a kayak paddle which you consider to be a ‘weapon’.  Which it would be if you were attacked by a giant salmon.  Listen, I just want you to bring one of The Boys with you when you go to Patteron.”
            He was in luck, it so happened that The Boys (my rowing kids, the Student Ambassadors who have become like family over the past 4 years) were coming with me to Christian’s game, and then we were all heading over to watch Soup play in his varsity football playoff game for the Harvey School. 
            Saturday morning rolled around and Kelvin and Keyrell showed up at 8 am and we hit the road.  It was raining cats and dogs.  As we got into Patterson, we started looking around to see if it was worse than Newburgh.  “Definitely not worse than Newburgh,” we collectively agreed.
            We always make a pit stop before we get to the game so I can use the facilities and get coffee and the boys can get their Monster Energy drinks.  We chose a place that kind of looked like it would fit the bill.  We tried to get in the door but it was double-locked and bolted from the inside.  Kelvin knocked on the glass which he declared to be “Bullet-proof” (how does a 16-year-old know these things?).  The woman inside was clearly startled and started yelling at us to “Get Out!  Go Home, Go home now!” 
            “No, no,” I said, “we are friendly, we just want to buy snacks.”  I tried to look open and friendly as I had been taught in my Dale Carnegie course so many years ago.  She looked dubious.  Kelvin held up a $20 bill.  She started un-bolting the door. 
            “That was weird,” I said to the kids afterward.  “Obviously, she gets robbed a lot,” the kids explained to me.  Again, how do they know these things?  I felt really bad for the little old lady bolting herself up behind bullet proof glass and started to re-think the whole Patterson’s not so bad thing.
            We were almost to the high school when I turned onto a one-way street only to find the entire street was being taken up by a flat bed truck.  The driver of the truck was using a device to jimmy open the door of a car parked on the street.  “Well, what in White Christmas is going on here?” I wondered out loud.  “That’s a repo, Mrs. Lo,” the kids explained. 
            “Like a repossession of a car?”  I said.  “That sounds time consuming.”
            “Plus there’s about to be a lot of shouting.  And maybe shots fired,” said the kids.  Again, I did not ask how they knew such a thing but I doubted it was from watching Criminal Minds.
            “I got this, Mrs. Lo,” said Kelvin, “this guy is Spanish.”  And before I could say Don’t You Dare Get Out of This Vehicle, Kelvin had already gotten out, talked to the guy in Spanish and the dude was moving his flatbed truck. 
            Then things seemed to look up.  Our GPS took us right to what seemed to be the football field AND there was an open parking spot on the street.  We got out, in the pouring rain, only to find that we were staring at a chain link fence, with the football field right beyond it.  I’m not going to lie, we do climb chain link fences from time to time.  Not to trespass of course, but it is a short cut in urban areas.  The only problem is, I can climb up the fence but then I get scared going over the top, so the kids have to climb up next to me and help me over the top. I could hear the game in progress and I wanted to see my son on the field.
            “OK, let’s go,” I said, and I started to climb the fence.  Of course I didn’t have my little white Puma sneakers on, which are perfect for scaling fences.  I had my UGG rainboots on, which are basically the LLBean duckboots of the 80’s but overpriced.  They are also the worst thing to wear if you are trying to climb a fence in the pouring rain in Patterson, NJ to get to your son’s football game. 
Yup, I was stuck.  AND the boys weren’t following me.  I wondered why.  Aloud.
            “Um, Mrs. Lo,” said the kids, “the first thing you do before going over a fence is look up.”  I looked up.  Holy ((CENSORED)).  This high school had BARBED WIRE at the top of their 8 foot chain link fence.  And I was stuck on it.  Really stuck. The kids were working on trying to get my boots unstuck and I was thinking really unkind thoughts about Patterson, NJ.  I was thinking I wasn’t really sure how things could get worse at this moment.
            “Hey, Anthony,” I heard one of the football parents call out, “Is that your wife stuck in the chain link fence over there?” 
            All of life is about timing.  And that day, my timing sucked.
            And then it hit me.  Why being married to me is such an Adventure.  I looked up and met my dear husband’s crystal blue eyes.  Was he mortified?  Worried?  Annoyed?  None of the above.  He was laughing. 
“Yes, yes,” he said, “that’s her, that’s my wife stuck in the fence.”  And he came over and rescued me.
            We missed quite a bit of the football game.  But we got to see Jarrett, from Bishop Dunn, our old school, get a touchdown carry.  And Don Bosco won 35-0.  We collected Christian and headed out to Soup’s playoff game. 
            As we were heading out, my husband came over to the driver’s side and said to me, “Good thing you had your kayak paddle, honey.” 
            A marriage, a partnership, a family, your Life should be an Adventure.  Because, really, who wants to play it safe all the time?
            Have a great day, everyone, and as always, remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo -- CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG WEBSITE www.LoBiondo.org.  Also, visit our community page on Facebook www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw 
P.S. The Harvey School won their game against NYMA and advanced to the next round of the playoffs.
           

            

Friday, October 31, 2014

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THE NANNY ATE ALL MY CANDY?

Remember the very first time your kids really went trick or treating?  You know, as opposed to the times when you would dress them as a bumble bee and carry them door to door.  For us, the year was 2006.  Christian was 6, he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear.  Michael was 3 and still wearing the Bumble Bee costume (hey, don’t judge, that thing was expensive).  Christian and his neighborhood buddies walked up and down the carefully plotted streets and really felt like they worked for that candy.  He was so proud.  Which was why it was so devastating when he woke up the next morning and found his plastic pumpkin filled with empty candy wrappers.  What the ((CENSORED))??  We suspected our Nanny had a food problem but we had no idea it would come to this.


We briefly had a nanny/ mother’s helper who lived with us Monday to Friday and went back to an apartment she shared with a bunch of other girls from Ireland on the weekends.   We will call her “Jasmine” (What?  I like Disney princesses, you knew that).
I’m not sure where it all went wrong but. as with most things, it all started as a generalized feeling that things weren’t going in the Mary Poppins-like direction you had intended.  You know that feeling when you can’t wait for Friday – well, in our case we REALLY couldn’t wait for Friday, so we could have the house back to ourselves.  (We have since had au pairs that we have loved and stayed with us for years, but that’s another Blog for another day).

We also began picking up clues about Jasmine’s food issues as we looked around the kitchen.  It started with conversations that went like this:
- “Jasmine, I had two boxes or Oreo cookies, do you know where they are?”
- “No, Mum,” she would say, “I don’t.”  But, you know, the black cookie crumbs on her clothes would say otherwise.

        Then we realized food was disappearing.  Rapidly.  As in, I would make a Crockpot of stew in the morning and nothing would be left by the time I got home from work.  Or I would make lunch for my husband the night before and it would be gone by the next morning.
Listen, if you’re hungry, that’s one thing.  I get it, really.  My brother had been on the Wrestling team from junior high to senior year of Varsity,  I get that some people need more fuel than others.  But Jasmine ate 3 meals with several helpings and then ate just about everything in sight.  The groceries bill doubled.

But she had so many good qualities.  A lovely singing voice.   A wonderful ability to tell children’s stories.  And she was teaching Christian to play ice hockey and Irish rubgy, as she had been a nationally ranked player in her native land.  On a men's team.  She was probably 6’ tall and 250 lbs.  It’s where Christian first learned to tackle.   What can I say, Jasmine was a multi-faceted person.

Then came what is commonly referred to in our household as the “Halloween Candy Massacre”.  Imagine your little boy waking up, all excited, and running downstairs to take a look at the Plastic pumpkin filled with the fruits (or sweets) of his labor.  At first we couldn’t find the pumpkin.  Then we found it pushed in the back of the coat closet.  Not empty.  Nope, it was filled with the empty candy bar wrappers.  Who does that?

We finally confirmed it was Jasmine.  (Our dog  – briefly --  was the other suspect -- but if he had hidden opposable thumbs and the ability to tear wrappers off I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this Blog right now).   We broke the news to Christian.  At first he was uncomprehending.  Then his lip started to quiver.  He was 6, it was a big deal.  But up til that point, he had not really faced down any adversity so why not turn it into a teachable moment?

“Son,” we started out, “you know that different people have different challenges, you know some people are scared of heights ….”

“I get it, Mommy,” said our 6 year old.  “But there’s also right and wrong and eating candy you didn’t earn is wrong.  She could have gotten a pumpkin and gone door to door like I did.”  The kid had a point there.

We setup some household rules that Jasmine decided she couldn’t live with.  Like the only snacks between meals would be from the fruit bowl, the veggie tray or granola bars.  Once I stopped buying cookies, bread and baked goods, Jasmine decided she was going to try to get a job closer to her home in NYC.  We did stay in touch for quite a while via the computer.

What did we learn from our time with Jasmine?  Well, the world is full of different and interesting people.  And a good leader (yes, parents are leaders) will learn to get along with all different types of people.  And some people come to the table (slight pun) with more challenges than others.  You can still embrace them and all their flaws and quirkiness, and teach your kids to do the same.  But, you know, you can do it via email or Skype, that’s OK too.

        Oh, and how to kick a rugby ball, we learned that too.

Enjoy your hard earned Halloween candy, everyone and, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo
www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw (Photo from Halloween 2007)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tales from a Mom suffering from Samhainphobia - Yup, Fear of Halloween

Yes, that is a real phobia.  And yes, I diagnosed myself.  But I’m pretty sure I have it.  I do try to embrace this all-American holiday that everyone else seems to love but I just can’t get into it.  In fact, I really don’t like it and I can’t wait for it to be over.  It wasn’t always like that.  I used to love Halloween -- when it was all about the Great Pumpkin and cute costumes and the thrill of knocking on a door and getting free candy (that part is brilliant, let’s face it).

            Then came high school, and Halloween got, well, DARKER.  Instead of the Great Pumpkin, we started to watch movies like “My Bloody Valentine.”  Instead of the little kids dressing up like cowboys and princesses, classmates were dressing up like zombies and murder victims.  And it seemed to be the mission of every boy in high school to scare the crap out of you.   You guys know who you are – the ones that jumped out from dark corners in a devil costume yelling “BOO!” Thanks a Million, guys, you’re lucky they never had to get the defibrillator for me.
            Then I went to NYU and moved to New York City.  The NYC version of the ritual known as Halloween can only be described as – well, I can’t describe it – you would have to experience it for yourself.  Aand if you’re over 25 that ship has sailed.  Let’s just say it’s the absolute pinnacle of Halloween excess.  The Halloween parade in Greenwich Village is off the charts.  The costumes are Academy Award worthy and they have full on parade floats.  From which they blast dance music, with everybody in the street partying and dancing.  It’s the street party of the year, and it makes you happy to be in your twenties.  Unless you are scared of Halloween, and then it stinks.  But I endured.
            And so when I moved back Upstate (yes, sorry guys, looking North from Manhattan, this is upstate.  But, you know, anything north of 125th Street is Upstate to New Yorkers).  I decided to shun all things Halloween.  Every Halloween, I pretended it was just another ordinary day and watched uplifting movies (OK, yes, I watched Mulan and other Disney movies, you got me).  I refused to acknowledge the existence of Halloween at all.  And all around me, the cult of Halloween-fun and Zombie-fun began to morph and grow.  Still, I refused to give in and celebrate Halloween.
            Then things changed again.  They always do when you have children.  At first, Halloween was easy and cute.  You know, costumes from the Disney store and decorations from Pottery Barn Kids.  Then the kids started trick or treating and I realized that there are a lot of people who enjoy scaring the  Snickers out of trick or treaters.  Okay, truth be told, my kids thought it was entertaining, but I did not -- when we would walk up to a house and some suburban Dad would jump out from behind a tree looking like Beetlejuice and revving a chainsaw. 
            And then, a couple of years ago, Michael said to me, as he rooted around his plastic pumpkin, looking for Peppermint patties:  “Mommy, why are you so scared of Halloween?”
            Isn’t every body scared of Halloween?, I asked.
            “No,” he said, “it’s just a lot of theater and makeup.”  And that’s when it hit me.  The kids enjoy the pageantry and imagination of it all.  The ability to completely turn into another person (or superhero or monster) for the night.  The ability to live in a world populated completely by Imagination.  And candy.  And I vowed to face my fears and embrace Halloween.
            Last year, I started the Zombie Oktoberfest tradition, as a fundraiser for the Newburgh Rowing Club.  I bought a Bride of Frankenstein costume and was a “pretty zombie.”  This year, I stepped it up, and had full on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) makeup done, by the fabulous Chloe, who also gave Michael some pretty scary Zombie facepainting.  The fundraiser at the Newburgh Brewing Co was a success both years, especially this year when we added in “Zombie Zumba.”  And finally, this year, tonight actually, I will be going with my kids and the Student Ambassador Quad to the ultra frightening “Headless Horseman” in Kingston. 
Yes, I am scared.  But I also want to show my kids that it’s OK and legitimate to have fear.  After all, we ask our kids to face their fears all the time.  Every time they go to a new school.  Every time they get on stage to perform in a play or orchestra.  Every time they lace up for football, suit up for soccer, or Sit Ready in a crew shell.  I can’t very well ask them to face their fears if Mommy is scared of Halloween.  So yeah, if you are at Headless Horseman, and you see a Mom with a bunch of kids, burying her face in her 10 year old son’s shoulder, screaming like a banshee, that would be me.  And for Pete’s sake, please don’t tell me they have scary clowns, that’s a whole other phobia!
Have a great day and a happy Halloween, everyone!  And don’t forget, you could win a $50.00 gift card in the Mrs. Lo’s Halloween contest, if you are a fan of the page.  Just read the pinned post for more info! <3 Mrs. Lo www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw (collage of some Zombie Oktoberfest photos from last year and this year)

            

Friday, October 17, 2014

Why Mrs. Lo is a Nan Fan

I don’t think it’s a big secret:  I am a Fan of anyone who helps kids in the City of Newburgh, and especially the kids in my Student Ambassador Program.  I first met Nan when she was running for Congress in 2011.  It was at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, at a fundraiser for a NYS Supreme Court Justice.  I had no idea who she was, but I was mesmerized by her whole aura.  I’m not going to lie, the first thing that impressed me was her shoes.  You don’t see a lot of people in the Poughkeepsie Grand wearing Manolo’s.  I told her about some of the programs I was working on and she said, “I’m going to remember you, and we will talk again.”  I laughed and said, no, you’ll get elected and forget about me.

            Nan was elected.  But she did not forget about me.  Whenever I have asked for her support of any of the children’s programs and charities I work with, she has been there for the kids.  Sometimes I think to myself:  Nan and I have a lot in common.  We both are committed to children’s causes.  We both have dads who are immigrants, and veterans.  We both have been successful business owners.  We both love Louboutins (what’s not to love?)
            But that’s where the similarities end.  Unlike me, Nan not only reads the newspaper, she creates news.  She knows stuff.  Really, she knows so much stuff it boggles my mind.   From global politics, to national politics, to local news (right down to who’s running for dog catcher).  And she cares.  She notices things like one of my Student Ambassadors didn’t go up to the buffet, and did I think that maybe he had a stomach ache (She was right, he had not eaten.  But that was because he didn’t understand the concept of a buffet.  Once he figured it out, he hit that buffet quite a few times and hasn’t slowed down since).
            Successful people know a few secrets and here’s one:  once you master the art of public speaking, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a room of 50 people or a stadium with 10,000, it’s all the same.  In a sense, it’s easy because it’s fairly impersonal.  You talk, the crowd listens.  However, there are precious few people who can work a crowd AND sit, talk and listen in small groups.  I’ve seen Nan bring huge crowds to their feet with standing ovations.  I’ve also seen her on my back porch, sitting and talking with working moms about the work-family balance.  Over the summer, she and I sat on my back porch and talked about the horrible tragedy where the young boys in Israel had been found murdered.  Whereas I was simply appalled to the point of paralysis, Nan was appalled but determined to make a difference.  She was on her way to speak at a memorial service for them and to help in an active way. 
            Both my sons love Nan.  Especially Michael (see his YouTube video).  Little Michael, at age 10, is a very precocious child.  He senses stuff.  As a matter of fact, since he was about 7 years old, he would meet someone and moments later sum them up in two words.  And be right on point.  He would meet the coaches at the Boathouse, and come up with nicknames that stick with them to this day.  At 7 years old, he sorted the coaches into:  Big Coach, Nice Coach, Tough Coach, and Married Coaches (anyone who was around the Boathouse 3 years ago can figure those out).  After Nan left the BBQ at my house over the Summer, Little Michael turned to me and said:
-“I hope Nan gets elected again.” 
-Why is that, I asked him? 
- “Because,” said Michael, “she really likes me.”
And there you have it, folks.  Little Michael seems to have a sixth sense about people.  My husband and I are more politically involved than I let on,  although I usually don’t blog about it.  But, truth be told our kids have met a LOT of politicians.  And without question, Nan is my kids’ hands down favorite.
            I know Nan Hayworth.  I think it’s fair to say I know her quite well.  She is a good person, and she cares deeply about the children of our area and our nation.
            I think my slogan for her would be:  “Nan Hayworth: Doctor, Mother, and Friend of Little Michael.”
            Election day is coming up, people, whatever you do, get out there and vote.  I hope you vote for Nan but whatever you do, don’t sit home and waste your vote.  A lot of people, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights workers of 1964, gave their lives so that we could all have the right to vote. 
            And with that in mind, have a great day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3  Mrs. Lo www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw
(Collage of some photos of Nan and the LoBiondo’s, and some fundraisers)


Friday, October 10, 2014

That Time that Mrs. Lo Almost Shoplifted

THAT TIME THAT MRS. Lo ALMOST SHOPLIFTED – it was accidental, of course.  I left the grocery store, lifted up my giant Disney tote, and there they were:  a small tub of mozzarella balls and a can of tomato paste.  My first reaction was horror, and my 10-year-old son picked up on it right away.  “What’s the matter, Mommy?” asked Michael, looking at me with his big, bright blue, innocent eyes. 

            Hmmm, how exactly do I explain this?  Mommy accidentally shoplifted?  I think I made a giant mistake?  How about:  “Mommy forgot to pay for some items …”
            My child doesn’t mince words:  “You STOLE from Price Chopper???”  This would be one of the infinitesimally few times that being a lawyer comes in handy in the world of Motherhood.  “No, no, larceny requires a mens rea, which is to say an intent to deprive another person of their property …”
            My child was clearly not impressed.  There he stood, in his Catholic School uniform with his arms folded, with a look that said, OK, Mommy, cut the lawyer ((CENSORED)) and fix this.
            And we did.  We were very late to our next appointment but we went back in and waited on line to explain what happened, and to pay.  The cashier really didn’t need the whole backstory, she just wanted to keep the line moving, and rightly so.  I had my items and my receipt. I was trying to explain how the items got underneath my Disney bag but she was not all the interested.  Is this how it all starts for a petty thief, I asked myself?  Just one can of tomato paste and your whole life goes downhill?  As I was waiting, I thought of my very first jury trial client.
            I was 25 years old and a freshly minted attorney at the Legal Aid Society in a county south of here.  I was waiting for the “perfect” jury trial.  In other words, someone with such a bad case and such a long record that the prosecutor would not offer a plea bargain.  Someone who was going to jail for a year no matter what. 
            His name was “George” (no, it wasn’t, but you knew that).  He was charged with stealing a pair of shoes.  I could wrap myself in his rap sheet many, many times.  It was filled with petit larceny convictions and arrests.  106 of them to be exact.  “Listen, ma’am, I will plead guilty, I just want my three hots and a cot,” he had said.  As a favor to me, he allowed me to try the case to get experience, and I agreed to teach him to read.  (I had a reading group at the local jail, I read stories to them out loud, after work, and then we did Hooked on Phonics). 
            Your first jury trial is terrifying, and I was a person who did local theatre in New York City and took some acting classes at NYU; but nothing can prepare you for your first jury trial.  I stood up in front of the jury and promptly forgot my own name.  George was convicted (not because I forgot my name but because he was guilty).  I gave him a copy of “Call of the Wild,” the book I was reading to my clients, as a parting gift.  He wrote me to tell me he finished reading the book in jail and went on to another book on the reading list I gave him.
            Flash forward 25 years, to the grocery store.  “Mommy, you are daydreaming again!” said Michael, as he poked me.  “Pay for your tomatoes and cheese.”  I did.  And I said a silent prayer for George and all the clients in my reading group.  Did he mend his ways, or move on to other accessories?  I will never know.
            But in the end, that’s all we can do.  You can take, take, take from the world or give, give, give.  When you decide to be a Giver, it becomes a habit you just can’t break.  Unfortunately, the same is true of the habit of Taking.  “Did you have any doubts Mommy would go back in and pay?”  I asked my son.  “No, I did not,” he said.  “You’re not a Thief, you’re my Mommy.”  And with that, I figured I must be doing something right.
            Let’s take a moment to say a prayer for those who do lose their way, and remember always:  There but for the grace of God go I.

            Have a great day, everyone and, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com (stay tuned for a special SUNDAY EDITION of the Mrs. Lo Blog tomorrow!) (Photo of the boys in 2009) www.Facebook.com/LoBiondoLaw