January 30:   It is our ‘extra’ Thursday and we will meet for lunch (12 Noon) at the Old Brogue in Great Falls Village Center (one side of it also know as Katie’s Coffee).  Our own Eve Taylor (evetaylor@verizon.net) will be heading up this effort.  I would love to join you, but I will be skiing out in Utah.  Please let Eve or me know if you are planning to attend so she can make reservations.  It is always fun as the restaurant is a popular hang out and has great food. 


February:  On Thursday, 6 February, we will have our Valentine’s Party.  Please wear pink or red and bring a pink or red snack.  We will have fun, as always, and our own Bob Seiler will play romantic songs from Broadway Plays.  You don’t want to miss it!


On 20 February, we will host our Second Anniversary Memory Café Potluck.  We are advertising like mad and one couple has already called, they saw our advertisement in the Golden Gazette.  I am printing off advertisements for us to disseminate. At our last meeting, we asked if people preferred a Memory Café tote bag or coffee mug and I think the tote bag won (but if you really would prefer a coffee mug, let me know.  Eve has been looking into prices for tote bags.  At the potluck we will provide paper products,  ham and a Costco cake for dessert.  How does this sound?


If your last name begins with A-H, bring an appetizer

If your last names begins with I-Q bring a vegetable

If your last name begins with R-Z, bring a salad


Did I forget anything?


Also, our Memory Café is mentioned in the Fairfax Woman for this month within the Great Falls Assisted Living advertisement.  IN addition, GFAL gave me a form to fill out for a grant (only 3 winners) for those who help seniors in the area.  I may be calling on some of you to help me write it up.  The form asks for ideas on how we would spend money if we received some.  I can think of renting a bus to take us places and for other supplies.  What are your thoughts?  


Happy Birthday tomorrow to Ernest   (great bowling, Ernie!) .  Carol S’s is the 30th.  Hope you both have a great day.



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Join Us for Our Halloween Party

Do put Thursday, October 31st on your calendar for our Halloween Party!  Even though the 31st is the fifth Thursday, we usually do something ‘extra’ so will party then.  We will have games and prizes–we will discuss details at the meeting on the 17th.  Costumes are optional, but encouraged!! We will have prizes! 

 Also, there is a Continental Breakfast, lunch and presentation on Tuesday, November 5th from 10-3 at Belmont Country Club, 10661 Belmont Manor Lane, Ashburn, VA.  It costs $35 per person or $300 for a table of 10.  A Dementia Care and Training Specialist, Teepa Snow, will present “Learning the Difference between Confrontational and Supportive Communication”.  The topics include handling behaviors, dealing with guilt and denial, practical applications, etc. She is evidently an true expert on the topic and I know that Great Falls Assisted Living is send many of their people to it. For more information, call (703) 421-0690. 


I wrote to the musical group that played at the Caregiver’s Treat.  His daughter wrote that he is on vacation, but will respond to us when he returns.

That’s all for now–more later.  thanks.  Carol

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College of the Overwhelmed

College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It

by Richard Kadison, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo.
Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, San Francisco, 2004.
296 pages

College of the Overwhelmed is an informative read for both parents and college students. The book covers interesting and relevant topics for all kids going away and making a healthy transition to college life. The authors discuss the normal social, emotional and physical development which occurs while away at school, the stressors kids face and a variety of coping techniques.

Recently, the message for parents from college administrations, through orientations and website articles, is “how to let your freshman go”. The authors argue that this should not be the case. What should be occurring is the reshaping of the parent/child relationship, such that parents really listen and support the changes occurring in their child’s life. The authors give some good information for parents on communicating.

The authors do note some alarming statistics showing that almost half of all college students will become seriously depressed during their time at school and may engage repeatedly in binge drinking. One in 10 undergraduates, they say, will seriously consider suicide. Parents can help by communicating frequently and really listening, which is now easier than ever, given texting, facetime, facebook, email and cellphones.

We send our children off to college and ultimately wish for them to be happy and to gain new skills, knowledge, and perspectives, but college is not always an easy transition. “What parents don’t realize is that despite this appearance of comfortable status, secure environment, and pleasant social world, a multitude of hidden problems have caused a steady and alarming rise in the severity of students’ mental health problems across the nation in colleges and universities large and small, public and private.” (p.5) The pressure to succeed combined with many colleges and universities reducing their budgets for mental health services has made the situation more dire.

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Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College

Just read Crazy U by Andrew Ferguson.  It’s a quick read about the college admissions process from a dad’s perspective.  His son is applying, so the dad is worried about the prospects for college, and they are learning all about the horrors of the SAT, the US News and World Report rankings and the rest of the craziness.

At first, I thought the book funny and helpful.  In the end, it’s a lot of to do about nothing.  His son gets into a lot of great schools, including his first choice.   It’s no big decision, and everyone lives happily ever after.  The whole premise of the book was conjured up, since the kid must have had great grades, scores, AP’s, etc.

While the author spends a lot of time on the evils of the SAT, then more time defending it, he doesn’t really talk about the ACT.  Also, the crush to take all AP classes is not really discussed.  Most despicably, the author discusses the complications and the absurdity of applying for financial aid.  Not lost on me, is that the kid is going to pay low tuition at a state school (best value in the country), the author has a well-paying job and he gets free help from industry contacts throughout the process.  Lots of convenient and entertaining hand-wringing for effect.

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They’re Baaaccckk!

They are back from college.

“They” are the people who are now “guests” in your household, who rise at noon, rant about nothing to eat in the fridge and haunt the halls until the wee hours. “They” are your kids who have hopefully matured enough over the last year to do their own laundry, do some chores and to quickly find a job which will keep them busy and off the couch during the mid-day. Of course, the perfect job would be close enough to home so “they could ride their bicycles” and so you can use your own car with actual gas in it!

Summer is a fun time, and we are glad for the noise, the late nights and the energy that our college-aged daughter brings. Of course, doing a few load of laundry doesn’t hurt, either!

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It’s a Good Lesson!

It’s a good lesson!  I find myself saying this all the time now that our kids are older, away and more independent.  Everything seems to be worthy of becoming a lesson, and for some reason, I feel compelled to remind them of this fact.    

What do I mean by “lesson”?    Most of the time, this means that although things didn’t work out, hopefully you will remember what happened, so you make a better choice next time!   Sometimes it means, things went well, so do it again!  The implicit message behind it is that we always support you no matter what happens, and we would prefer knowing what’s going on.  I have to admit that sometimes it means, “What were you thinking?”, while trying to sound calm and without lecturing them about exactly they should not have done or what they should never contemplate doing again! 

Losing your luggage because you left the tags from the last trip on them…it’s a good lesson.  Aceing the test after studying in the library…it’s a good lesson.  The flight gets cancelled, so you miss your classes…it’s a good lesson.  Working hard to improve a skill…it’s a good lesson.  Not registering for a class in time…it’s a good lesson.  Going to a professor and getting extra help… it’s a good lesson.  A fender-bender…it’s a good lesson.  Not getting a summer job and not having spending money…it’s a really good lesson!  And so on…

Maybe this is all I’m left with now.  I’m left hoping that the kids have learned from us and will continue to make good decisions now that they are on their own.  Most of all, I’m left with hoping that they are happy, healthy and safe, and somehow learn to stay that way!

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Racing Flat Out – A Report on High School Curriculum

The 2009 High School Transcript Study (HSTS) has just come out which shows that the high school graduates today are earning more academic credits and are completing a more rigorous curriculum than earlier graduating classes.   Transcripts were collected from approximately 610 public schools and 130 private schools for this study.   It constituted a nationally representative sample of 37,700 high school graduates, representing approximately 3 million 2009 high school graduates.  In addition, the report uses the results of the performance in mathematics and science on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Here are some of the highlights:

1.  In 2009, graduates earned over three credits more than their 1990 counterparts, or about 420 additional hours of instruction during their high school careers.   One in five completed courses over the summer.  In addition, some students are earning high school credit while still in middle school.

2.  Nearly two-thirds of graduates who completed a rigorous curriculum took algebra I before high school.  From 2005 to 2009, there was an increase in the percentage of high school graduates who took algebra I before entering high school.  In 2005, approximately one in five graduates took algebra I before high school; by 2009, it was about one in four graduates.

3.  A greater percentage of 2009 graduates completed a more challenging curriculum than 1990 or 2005 graduates.  The percentage of graduates completing a midlevel curriculum increased from 26 percent in 1990 to 46 percent in 2009. The percentage completing a rigorous curriculum increased from 5 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2009.  During this same period, the percentage of graduates completing a below standard curriculum decreased from 60 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2009.

Having recently seen “A Race to Nowhere”,  this report corroborates the anecdotal evidence contained within that gripping documentary.  More students than ever, beginning in middle school, are facing a more grueling schedule of more complex subject matter.    Add on top of a challenging courseload, the expectations of achieving excellent grades, participation in a full complement of extra-curricular activities and increasingly stiff competition for admission into a good college, and it’s not surprising kids are feeling more pressure and stress than ever.   




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