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photo credit: www.dogonews.com
photo credit: www.dogonews.com

GRATEFUL…Don’t Sweat the small stuff! On this anniversary of 9/11,  We often get wrapped up in small stuff that just does not matter. We stay angry with loved ones and close friends for things that are so unimportant. Tomorrow is not promised to us and God has a plan for each one of us. Tuesday, September 11th 2001 is a day that I will never forget. It was a horrific day in American History, and I can remember that day as if it just happened yesterday. I take comfort in knowing that those innocent people who lost their lives on that day will never be forgotten. I have not visited the 911 museum but it is on my list of things to do next time I am in NYC. All we can do is LIVE, and not get so wrapped up in sweating the small stuff...Life is a gift that should be treasured and never taken for granted.

photo credit inhabitat.com
9/11 Memorial photo credit: inhabitat.com
Kurt had a touching poem in his possession called Just for Today  by Sally Meyer a poem to a child from a mother and it touched me so much I wanted to share with all of you. (Click here to read the poem)
 I can remember when I first moved to Sag Harbor 17 years ago…with a then 8-year-old and a 2-year-old. Kurt was working in NYC and I was alone in a new area with no friends or family, feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I was still working in Brooklyn for the 1st month and I remember the morning of 9/11 I had just dropped Dani off at school and I was going to drive into Brooklyn with Allura to my job. Kurt had called me because he had just received a phone call telling him his father was diagnosed with cancer and he was so distraught, I talked to him and he was able to pull himself together and continue his drive into NYC to work. An hour later he called to say Ness turn on the news…do not drive into the city today. That is when I remember turning on the TV and I felt frozen…many of my friends worked in many of the world trade buildings and a feeling of intense grief came over me. I am grateful all of my friends are doing well, but many parents did not make it home to their children. On this very special day and the anniversary of 9/11, I share this poem with many parents feelings overwhelmed and not taking a minute to just enjoy your child. Although my children are much older 25 and 18, I realize that I often get wrapped up with work and I do not stop to enjoy a conversation with them. Take the time turn off the cell phone, television, computer. When everyone is together we play a game of Sorry...a board game. The cell phones are put away and we just enjoy each other’s company.

I am so grateful and blessed for my wonderful daughters in my life and there is not a day that I do not say thank you for loaning them to me to raise, nurture, guide, love, teach and get to a place where they will hopefully one day become a parent doing what I have done for them.  In life, we often sweat the small stuff and this poem “Just for Today” by Sally Meyer just put things into perspective for me as a parent and I took the time to enjoy every minute of my girls growing up because tomorrow is not promised to us. My girls are now women and I still make time every day to talk to them and when I can spend time with them doing things they enjoy doing. bigstock-Mother-And-Child-1213809

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Originally Published in 2012…PARENT PARANOIA (The Rules)
As your child leaves for college here are the rules to share with them. It is slanted more towards girls because it was written with our daughter in mind…

1.    Always carry your own money. If you can’t afford to go, stay home.
2.    Take more money than you think you need, there will ALWAYS be emergencies, be prepared!
3.    Never trust your friends more than your own instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it is NOT right.
4.    Never be afraid to LEAD!
5.    Never let someone bring a drink to you without you seeing the bartender pour the drink. If you didn’t see it, assume the drink has been tainted. Take your drink to the bathroom with you. DANGER Will Robinson, 20,000 VOLTS!
6.    If you leave your drink, NEVER return to drink it. Buy a new one.
7.    You can accept a drink if someone offers to pay, BUT the purchase of a drink does not BUY your companionship FOREVER. Never feel compelled to stay in the company of a stranger or a friend because they brought you a drink!
8.    Offer to pay the bill and then PAY IT.
9.    Anyone who seeks to control your movement, choice of friends, contact with family or freedom of speech is NO GOOD for you and MUST be avoided.
10.You don’t have to wear LESS to be noticed. We tend to be more attracted to mystery, so cover it up!
11.Sex is NOT a bargaining tool.
12.Listen to your inner voice, it is your intuition and it will help guide you. TRUST yourself.
13.Admit when you are wrong then move on.
14.Speak up, tell YOUR truth and be prepared for people to NOT believe you. It’s OK. People lie. Truth is truth and facts are facts but sometimes they are not the same, know the difference.
15.Pay Your Own Bills. Pay your bills On Time. Never borrow money (except from Mom or Dad reluctantly). Money IS the root of all evil but boy can it be useful!
16.Always believe in the goodness of man but be prepared to deal with the Creeps, they are out there waiting to spoil your good time. Don’t let them.
17.Walk away from danger (see moths and fire!). Police sirens and flashing lights to the right, time to turn and exit stage left!
18.Life is good, enjoy it, but never at the expense of others.
19.Laugh a lot. Keep it simple. Is it really that serious? Think about the worse thing that happened to you five years ago, guess what, you’re still here. You WILL survive!
20.Have Faith and Believe in God as you perceive Him to be. He will never fail you.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Greetings Hamptons Mouthpiece Readers……My Friend Tara Posted on her Facebook Status Favorite things about me…see the post listed below…I loved it so much I thought that I would do a blog about this topic. We live in a very superficial world where everyday you are judged on your appearance. We are saturated with inflated images of what is considered beautiful. These photos have been photo-shopped to give us the PERFECT woman, where in reality no one looks likes this. Did you know that you really cannot believe anything you see in a photo in any magazine. Everything can be changed, the eye color, the shape of the head, nose, mouth, ears…your lips can be altered and the list is endless…If you can look in the mirror and like what you see then you should never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough.
“My favorite things about me: my mind, my body (from the top of my head to the tips of my toes), my eyes, my smile, my voice (has made me $) my shoulders-never needed pads, my breasts-nuff said, my waist, my juicy booty (yeah, that’s right), my thighs, my upper and inner knees, my ankles, and toes, my sense of humor (I find me hilarious), my ability to love/forgive/laugh. I love that I speak my truth (even when it’s hard) I also love that I am a different thinker, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Vanessa Leggard, you’re up!”
For many years I did not like what I saw in the mirror when I looked at myself because I could not get past the realization that my imperfection did not inbody who I was. I was in an accident when I was younger and both of my feet suffered 3rd degree burns. My entire young life and young adult life I lived in fear of someone seeing my feet and the look on their puzzled faces. I would always hear men talking about women’s feet and defining who that woman was based simply on the fact that she had beautiful feet. I would see the emphasis that was placed on a women’s beauty solely based on her feet. I never thought that anyone would ever want to date me or see me as beautiful. I could not embrace someone telling me I was beautiful because I was not perfect. I indulged myself in dating many men because I was trying to fill a gap that I was craving, my self esteem was so  low. One day as I was working at Mrs’ Field’s Cookies in Bloomingdale one of my co-workers said to me…you are so pretty no one is looking at your feet….that one statement gave me the courage to take risks. I know that this is going to seem odd for you to hear but it is true…the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life was the very first day i wore shoes with no stockings…I was opening up myself for ridicule, pointing and whispering…I was taking a risk…It was the best thing I have ever done and it gave me the courage to take other risks in my life. I now live my life where I just don’t care who talks about me, it is irrelevant, because I like me and that is all that matters. I live my life with this one statement “God has a plan for everyone” I believe my plan was to be empathetic to all imperfections and to never judge but to get to know that person for the special gifts they bring. I am no saint I still judge but never on imperfections…I might judge because you are wearing something utterly ridiculous and that can be fixed….
So Tara…here is it: My favorite things about me:
•    I love my body from my head to my toes
•    I love my feet (I am grateful that God spared them and I have the ability to walk, and that is all that matters)
•    I love my smile, my voice, my lips
•    I embrace my voluptuous breast (maybe I would like to go a size smaller)
•    I love my laugh
•    I love my ability to love
•    I love that I am a good friend…I make mistakes but I try hard to be a good friend
•   I love my daughters and my husband
•    I love my mind
•    I love my sense of humor
•    I love my ability to forgive
•    I love that I am opinionated
•    I love that I love to talk
•    I love to wear sexy dresses
•    I love that my friendship and my love come with no conditions
•    I love to help people…makes me so happy
•    I love that my family loves me unconditionally
•    i love to cook for my friends and family
There are always things that can be improved, staying in shape is for health reasons…My life is filled with so many blessing and I thank God everyday that I wake up to see another day. I thank God for my beautiful daughters and my hubby who is my ROCK and #1 FAN…So Hamptons Mouthpiece readers take the time to make a list of your favorite things about you…and I am happy that I have been able to share something personal about myself with you. LOVE YOURSELF, LIKE YOURSELF and if you are not there yet, find a way to get there, it will change your life for the better.
Special thanks to my friend Tara Sharp for this inspiration for this blog post….

Hamptons: You have been accepted to College now What? It has been awhile since I last posted a blog and that is because I have been spreading myself so thin that most days I barely have time to eat lunch or relax. I have dedicated the last year of my life to helping my daughter with her college process and it has been rewarding, stressful, exhausting and nerve wrenching.DSC_3335

I am pleased to say that she applied to 9 colleges to continue her study of Art with an emphasis on Graphic Design and she has been admitted to all 9 of those schools. Our delima falls in the category that most students and parents face in this tough economic time and that is the cost of most of these private institutions. Nothing is more upsetting than seeing your child apply to their 1st choice, being accepted then having to tell your child that this school is too expensive and they cannot go because you cannot afford to pay the tuition. Being middle class is both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because you can provide for your family but a curse because you fall victim to no help at all. The poor will get financial support from both the government and the institutions and the rich do not need the help, but the middle class is just struggling to pay our bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads, we ask for no hand-outs and for that we are often attacked and our kids suffer. Yes your child could make the decision to still go and financially put themselves in a financial crunch all to enjoy the cafeteria food or better dorms, but you the adult know the consequences of this bad decision, when do you step in and talk common sense to your 18 year old? My daughter’s 1st choice tuition is $59,800 per year, how disgusting is that, are you f….. kidding me? For this tuition the application process should not be as difficult as they made it because who the hell can afford this tuition. We do not feel bad in telling our daughter that we cannot afford this tuition because I do not think 95% of American’s could afford this tuition. Statistics show that many adults age 29-30 are moving back home because they have lost their jobs or they have jobs where they cannot not afford to live on their own and pay off their college loans. This is a different time and parents one way or another you are going to be paying the price if you do not step up and talk some common sense into your very naive 17-19 year olds…….I am attaching the 2011 Princeton reviews for your info.

2011 College Hopes & Worries Survey Report
_________________________________________________________________________
The Princeton Review, one of the nation’s best known education services companies, has conducted this survey of high school students applying to colleges and parents of college applicants since the 2002-03 school year.  Respondents who complete the survey are readers of the company’s annual “Best Colleges” book and users of its site, www.PrincetonReview.com.
The 2011 survey appeared in The Princeton Review book, Best 373 Colleges: 2011 Edition  (Random House, August 2010) in a paper version readers mailed or faxed to the company.  It also ran on www.PrincetonReview.com where users completed the survey online from late January to early March 2011.
Findings for the 2010-11 survey are based on responses from 12,185 people: 8,219 (67%) high school students applying to colleges and 3,966 (33%) parents of college applicants.  Respondents came from all 50 states, DC, the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and several countries abroad.
The company awards a $1,000 college scholarship to one survey participant chosen at random, and it sends 25 participants also chosen at random one of the following Princeton Review books (their choice): ACT or SAT?: Choosing the Right Exam For You, Paying for College Without Going Broke, or The Portable Guidance Counselor.
Press Contact:
Jeanne Krier, Publicist, The Princeton Review Books, Rankings & Surveys, 212-539-1350
__________________________________________________________________________
2011 Survey Questions / Findings
In this report, the percent of respondents overall (students plus parents) choosing an answer is shown to the left of each answer choice.  The percent of students and the percent of parents choosing that answer is shown to the right and in parentheses.
The pluralities (answer choices selected by the highest percent of respondents) or the majorities (answer choices selected by 50 percent or more of respondents) are underlined.
The first question, “What would be your “dream” college?…” was fill-in-the-blank.  The remaining questions were all multiple-choice.  Some questions have been asked annually or in past years, and if so, results for prior years are indicated below.
1) What would be your “dream” college?  What college would you most like to attend (or see your child attend) if chance of being accepted or cost were not an issue?” 
In their answers to this fill-in-the-blank question, respondents wrote in the names of more than 585colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions as their “dream colleges” (with some schools being named by only one respondent and others being named by more than 500 respondents as their “dream college”).
The 10 colleges students most named as their “dream college” were:
1/ Stanford Univ., 2/ Harvard College, 3/ New York Univ.,
4/ Princeton Univ., 5/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology 6/ Yale Univ.,
7/ Univ. of California–Los Angeles, 8/ Univ. of Pennsylvania,
9/ Univ. of Southern California, 10/ Univ. of California-Berkeley
The 10 colleges parents most named as their “dream college” for their child were:
1/ Harvard College, 2/ Stanford Univ., 3/ Princeton Univ., 4/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 5/ Yale Univ., 6/ Duke Univ., 7/ Brown Univ., 8/ New York Univ., 9/ Univ. of Notre Dame, 10 / Northwestern Univ.
2) How many colleges will you (your child) apply to?
Almost half (45%) of respondents said they/their child will apply to 5 to 8 colleges while 22% said they/their child will apply to 9 or more colleges.
33%  One to 4 (33% Students, 31% Parents)
45%  Five to 8  (44% Students, 49% Parents)
18%  Nine to 12 (18% Students, 17% Parents)
04%  Thirteen or more (05% Students, 03% Parents)
            Combined: 22% applying to 9 or more.
3) What has been, or do you think will be the toughest part of your (your child’s) college application experience?
The plurality of students (29%) chose the answer “taking admission and placement tests” as the toughest part of their application experience, while the plurality of parents (31%) chose the answer, “completing applications for admission and financial aid.”
21% Researching colleges and deciding which schools to apply to (20% Students, 24% Parents)
28% Taking admission and placement tests – the SAT, ACT, or APs  (29% Students,25% Parents)
27% Completing applications for admission and financial aid  (26% Students 31% Parents)
24% Waiting for the decision letters and choosing which college to attend (25% Students, 20% Parents)
4) What do you estimate your (or your child’s) college degree will cost, including four years of tuition, room & board, fees, books and other expenses?
Parents’ estimates of college costs were significantly higher than students.
82% of parents estimated their college costs will be more than $75,000 while 66% of students had this estimate.
45%  More than $100,000 (41% Students, 57% Parents)
25%  $75,000 to $100,000 (25% Students, 25% Parents)
Combined: 70% said More than $75,000 (down 1% from last year)
15%  $50,000 to 75,000 (17% Students, 11% Parents)
11%  $25,000 to $50,000 (13% Students, 05% Parents)
04%  Up to $25,000 (04% Students, 02% Parents)
            Combined: 15% said Less than $50,000
5) How necessary will financial aid (education loans, scholarships or grants) be to pay for your (your child’s) college education?
Among respondents overall, 86% said financial aid would be “Extremely” or “Very” necessary with 61% of them saying “Extremely.”    More students (88%) than parents (82%) viewed aid as “Extremely” or “Very” necessary.  In 2007, the first year this question was asked on the survey, 78% of respondents overall said aid would be “Extremely,” or Very” necessary, with 51% saying “Extremely.”
61%  Extremely (62% Students, 60% Parents)
25%  Very (26% Students, 22% Parents)
86% said Extremely or Very necessary (same as last year)
12%  Somewhat (11% Students, 14% Parents)
02%  Not at all (01% Students, 04% Parents)
6) What’s your biggest concern about applying to or attending college?
The plurality (37%) of students and parents overall was most concerned that they/their child “will get into their first choice college but won’t have sufficient funds/aid to attend it.” This has been the plurality of respondents’ biggest concern consistently since 2006.  In 2006, the plurality (34%) of respondents were most concerned that they/their child “won’t get into first-choice college.”
25%  Won’t get into first-choice college (27% Students, 22% Parents)
37%  Will get into first-choice college, but won’t have sufficient funds/financial aid to attend
          (36% Students, 37% Parents)
27%  Will get into a college I (my child) want(s) to attend, but will take on major loan debt to
afford it (26% Students, 30% Parents)
11%  Will attend a college I (my child) may not be happy about (11% Students, 11% Parents)
7) How would you gauge your stress level about the college application process?
Students reported higher stress than parents.  Among respondents overall (students and parents combined), 69% reported “Very High” or “High” levels of stress.  That’s up 1% from last year and up 13% from 2003 when The Princeton Review first conducted this survey.
25% Very High (26% Students, 22% Parents)
44%  High  (45% Students, 42% Parents)
            Combined 69% Very High or High  (up 13% from 2003, first year of survey)
28% Average (26% Students, 33% Parents)
03% Low  (03% Students, 03% Parents)
00% Very Low (0% Students, 0% Parents)
8) Ideally, how far from home would you like the college you (your child) attend(s) to be?
Half (50%) of parents would ideally like their child to attend a college less than 250 miles from home.   However, the majority (66%) of students would ideally like to attend a college more than 250 from home with 37% of them wishing it would be 500+ miles and 17% wishing it would be 1,000+ miles from home.
39%  0 to 250 miles (34% Students, 50% Parents)
30%  250 to 500 miles (29% Students, 30% Parents)
17%  500 to 1,000 miles (20% Students, 11% Parents)
14%  1,000 miles or more (17% Students, 09% Parents)
9) When it comes to choosing which college you (or your child) will attend, which of the following do you think it is most likely to be?
While the plurality (49%) of respondents overall said they/their child would likely attend the college that will be the “best overall fit,” only about 1 of 10 respondents, since the survey began, indicated they’d choose the college “with the best academic reputation.”
10%  College with best academic reputation (11% Students, 08% Parents)
06%  College that will be the most affordable (06% Students, 06% Parents)
35%  College with best program for my (my child’s) career interests (37% Students, 32%
 Parents)
49%  College that will be the best overall fit (46% Students, 54% Parents)
10) If you (your child) had a way to compare colleges based on their commitment to environmental issues (from academic offerings to practices concerning energy use, recycling, etc.), how much would this contribute to your (your child’s) decision to apply to or attend a school?
A majority (65%) of respondents overall said having such information would contribute “Strongly,” “Very Much,” or “Somewhat” to their decisions (up 1% from last year), while 35% of them indicated said it would contribute “Not Much” or “Not at all.”    Students placed higher value on this information than parents did.
07% Strongly (08% Students, 05% Parents)
17% Very Much (20% Students, 12% Parents)
41% Somewhat (41% Students, 40 % Parents)
            Combined 65% Somewhat, Very Much or Strongly (up 1% from last year)
25% Not Much (23 % Students, 30% Parents)
10% Not at All (08% Students, 13% Parents)
            Combined 35 % Not Much or Not at All
11) Has the state of the economy this year affected your (your child’s) decisions about applying to or attending college?
Among respondents overall (students and parents combined), 72% say the economy has affected their decisions about college.  That’s up 4% from last year.  Almost 3 out 4 students (74%) as compared to almost 2 out of 3 parents (65%) said the economy has affected their college decisions.
14%  Yes: Extremely  (14% Students, 12% Parents)
23%  Yes: Very Much  (24% Students, 21% Parents)
35%  Yes: Somewhat  (36% Students, 32% Parents)
         Combined 72% Yes (up 4% from last year)
28%   No: Not at all.  (26% Students, 35% Parents)
12) If your answer to the previous question was one of the “Yes” choices, how would you describe the major way the economy has affected your (your child’s) college application decisions?
The majority (52%) of respondents overall said they are applying to more “‘financial aid safety’ schools” (a 18% increase over the 34% of respondents that selected this answer in 2009 of the same three answer choices).
23%  Am applying to colleges with “lower sticker prices” (21% Students, 29% Parents)
52%  Am applying to more “financial aid safety” schools  (54% Students, 48% Parents)
25%  Am applying to colleges closer to home to save on travel  (25% Students, 23% Parents)
13) What will be the biggest benefit of your (your child) attending college and earning a college diploma?
Among respondents overall (students and parents combined), 61% see the main benefit of a college degree as a potentially better job / higher income and career training rather than the education per se.  That’s up 6% from last year.
26%  The education (26% Students, 26% Parents)
13%  The exposure to new ideas (13% Students, 12% Parents)
            Combined 39% chose answers related to education and learning
42%  The potentially better job and higher income (42% students, 42% Parents)
19%  The training for a specific career (19% Students, 20% Parents)
            Combined 61% chose answers related to job, income and career.
14) For our school profiles, we collect a lot of data directly from the colleges on everything from their admission/acceptance stats to their financial aid and graduation rates.   Of the following data points, which would you be most interested in knowing about a college you (your child) may be researching?
Among both student and parent respondents, the plurality (38%) are most interested in the average SAT score ranges of a college’s admitted freshmen.
38% Average SAT score ranges of its admitted freshmen last year (38% Students, 38% Parents)
24% Percent of applicants the college accepted last year (27% Students, 16% Parents)
21% Percent of undergraduates receiving financial aid (21% Students, 22% Parents)
17% College’s graduation rate (percent of students graduating in years) (14% Students, 24% Parents)
15) (optional) What advice would you give to college applicants or parents of applicants going through this experience next year?
“Start early” has been the advice most given by students and parents every year.  About 50% of respondents say this.   See sampler of students’ and of parents’ advice on the “College Hopes & Worries” area of Princeton Review site.