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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.