My Brother, My Friend

My daughter had an English assignment recently. She wrote it following a specific format they were told to use. She concisely summarized 18 years of her brother’s life in relation to hers. Towards the end she extrapolates to when her brother will go off to college next year. When she says, “ Mom is crying”, I sure was when I read this. It also reflects the deep friendship that she has with her brother. In her words she mourns the natural loss of childhood and the departure of her brother to college but with her parting comment she leaves the reader with a sense of hope that life goes on and that all will be well. I hope you enjoy it.

My Brother, My Friend

By Clara Petrucelli

Mom and Dad moved to Brussels, Belgium. You were born Christmas Eve of 1997. You were the first child, everything was new. You were so small they didn’t know what to do. You had big blue eyes. You were always laughing. You learned how to walk. You were told you were getting a baby sister. You ate spaghetti with your hands. You played with your Playmobiles and Legos. Connor with Custom Car - Jun, 2000_new

I was born on August 16th, 1999. You were an older brother. You always squeezed my chubby cheeks. I always cried. You always laughed and wanted to hold me. You were playing with your toys. I wanted to play, too. I grabbed your toys. You grabbed it from me and said, “not baby’s toy”. You were still little. You were expected to act like an adult.

C&C - March 24, 2000_new

We moved to Connecticut. You learned how to ride a bike. I learned how to ride a bike. You learned how to “swing” a baseball bat. I learned how to “swing” a baseball bat. You started preschool. We went trick-or-treating. C&C posing in Halloween costumes - 6 We played pretend secret spy agents. I started preschool. We made snow angels in the several feet of New England snow. We looked for the hidden Easter eggs. You always found the most. You started your first day of kindergarten. I saw you get on the big yellow bus and disappear. I stayed at home and played with my dolls. We learned how to ski.


C&C with Tokyo and Paris spring snowstorm.JPG

The lucky dogs, Paris and Tokyo, who were fed broccoli.

We played hide and seek. You tied my shoelaces for me. We secretly fed our broccoli to our dogs. 

I started my first day of kindergarten. I came to your bedroom, even though the door had a drawing that said, “No girls allowed, only Dad”.  We woke up when it was still dark out on Christmas day. We ran down the stairs to see the gifts. We walked around town following the pattern of stones on the ground. You led, and I followed your steps. DSCN1650_newYou went to karate class. I went to ballet class. You started reading chapter books. I was still reading picture books. I looked up to you. We were best friends.

We moved to Pennsylvania. We played in the pool for hours. DSCN0748_newYou tried to teach me basketball. We played Garageband everyday. We bought a Wii together. We played Mario Kart. You told me Santa wasn’t real. You started middle school. You started to have “homework” after school. I rode my bike outside after school. We broke the wishbone together on Thanksgiving. You started reading bigger books. You started to grow out your hair. I got my hair cut. You got your first cell phone.  I started middle school. I got my first cell phone.

We moved to London.


We went to Rome. We went to Prague. We went to Paris. We went to Vietnam. We went to Spain. We went to Austria. You started high school in 2012. I could not believe you were already in high school. I thought that 9th grade sounded scary. You warned me about different teachers and who gave harder tests or more homework.

Here we aren’t, so quickly. We move back to Pennsylvania. We both start attending the Episcopal Academy. I start high school.

Version 2

With Maya our Chocolate Lab

 We no longer have time to play pretend secret spy agents. I am shocked at how much schoolwork there is. Every year you tell me, that the next year is more work than the last. I don’t believe you, but you are right. We sleep in on Christmas day. We don’t run down the stairs to see the gifts, we walk. We go skiing.DSCN1954_new

We don’t look for Easter eggs anymore. We don’t go trick-or-treating. You drive us to school everyday.

We start visiting colleges.


Picked up new member of the family, Jessie, at the end of our New England College Trip

You start filling out college applications. You get accepted to college. You graduate high school. You start packing for college. It is move-in day and your dorm is all ready. Mom and Dad hug you goodbye. Mom is crying. I say goodbye to my best friend.

I will see you soon.



Happy Marty McFly Day

If you are a Back to the Future fan, you’ll know that today is the day that Doc programmed into his Delorean Time Machine to travel into the future to Oct 21, 2015 07:28.

I can tell you that I had no vision in 1985 of what today would be like for me. I only envisioned technological advances just like Hollywood did. So today I share with you the contents of my not very technologically advanced kitchen blackboard spelling out some of the day’s very ordinary events. I’m about to go prepare dinner for my family, some delicious chicken quesadillas, a freshly prepared salsa, and tostones (fried plantain). My two children, a junior and a senior in high school are busy doing homework. My son will work on his college essays later. My hubby is on a business trip. Our 8-year old chocolate lab and our 4-month old black lab are taking siestas after eating their dinners. I just took an apple crumble out of the oven. Today was just another ordinary autumn day, in the month of October of 2015, in our family life.

I take a few minutes to remember Back to the Future and laugh at reminiscing about Doc’s crazy hair and his flux capacitor. I’m happy to report that today’s ordinary events are the small things that add up to 1.21 Gigawatts of an extraordinary lifetime. Take time to enjoy today’s ordinary events because they were yesterday’s future that we so anticipated. Take time to enjoy today’s ordinary events because once they are over we don’t have a Delorean Time Machine to go back.

Happy Marty McFly Day!!!

On Our Kitchen Board Today

On Our Kitchen Board Today

Boy Scouts of America – They Finally Did It!

Boy Scouts of America – They finally did it!

I have been an avid supporter of Girl Scouts of America since I was a child. In 1969 my Girl Scout leader was a wonderful African-American woman who was my neighbor and a working mom. I admired her for being so devoted to our troop even though she was such a busy woman. Girl Scouts taught me leadership skills, developed my self-esteem, and taught me about community service. The message that Girl Scouts gave to me was that I could be anything I wanted to be. Over the years I saw Girl Scouts of America evolve into a magnificent organization that supported girls and most important was “inclusionary”. Girl Scouts of America was ahead of its time in initiating a dialogue on diversity and accepting members from all backgrounds regardless of their social identifiers*. In 2004 I became a Girl Scout leader for my daughter’s troop. I loved bringing the values of Girl Scouts to my little Daisies.

That's me as a Girl Scout Brownie in 1969.

That’s me as a Girl Scout Brownie in 1969.

Naturally, when my daughter joined Girl Scouts I looked into Boy Scouts for my son. I had heard rumblings of some negative feedback about Boy Scouts in my past and I decided to follow-up with additional research. Contrary to Girl Scouts of America, Boy Scouts of America had a reputation for being exclusionary, especially around the topic of homosexuality. In some regions of the country, Boy Scouts of America functions under the auspices of Catholic Charities and has to conform to their policies. In many ways, Boy Scouts has also mirrored the United States Military policy on homosexuality. The more I thought about it I could not have my son join an organization that was not inclusionary and whose values on diversity were so different to mine. My mind was made up; my son would not become a cub scout.

One evening at the end of July my son, now 17 years old, gave me his cell phone showing a news update and said to me with a smile, “I guess you’ll let me join the Boy Scouts now!” I was so pleased to read that on July 27, 2015 Boy Scouts of America lifted their ban on openly gay leaders and employees. I said to my son, it may be too late for you but maybe someday your sons can join.

Thank you Boy Scouts of America for becoming a kinder and more inclusionary organization.

*Diversity – The original “Big Eight” Social Identifiers

1. Ability- Mental and/or physical
2. Age
3. Ethnicity
4. Gender
5. Race
6. Religion
7. Sexual Orientation
8. Socio-Economic Status/Class

Additional Social Identifiers:

  • Body Image (“lookism”)
  • Educational Background
  • Academic/Social Achievement
  • Family of Origin, Family Make Up
  • Geographic/Regional Background
  • Language
  • Learning Style
  • Beliefs (political, social, religious)
  • Globalism/Internationalism

A Day in Maya’s Life

As I have shared with you before our chocolate lab, Maya, is certified as a therapy dog. What this means is that through the auspices of Therapy Dog International, TDI, we can offer our volunteer services to places like schools, hospices, and nursing homes. For the last two years Maya and I have been volunteering at a public school as part of a reading program for second graders. It has been found that having children read out loud to canine companions increases their self-confidence, interest in reading, and overall reading skills.

At the end of the school year the teacher invites us to a goodbye party.

At the end of the school year the teacher invites us to a goodbye party.

Maya and I attend the school once a week. Before leaving the house I tie a red service bandana on Maya that sends her into a frenzy of joy because she is anticipating where we are going. Once we arrive we check in at the office where Maya is greeted by the staff. We then walk down the hallway to our classroom with Maya prancing, tail high, and budding curiosity making her turn her head to peek into classrooms we pass along the way. I love to see teachers’ and children’s faces light up when they see Maya and often they stop to pet her. We quietly enter our classroom, wave hello, and make our way to our special reading spot. Although we try not to disrupt the class, we still hear little voices whispering “Hi Maya”. The children start arriving according to the schedule. Maya greets each child, sometimes a group of children, and settles down to story time. Although Maya is friendly with all of the children I have noticed in the two years that we have been volunteering that Maya has her absolute favorites. When these favorite children show up, Maya can barely contain her excitement. After the greetings the child and Maya snuggle up against each other and begin the reading. Once our task is done we try to leave quietly, but undoubtedly we hear the children’s goodbyes as we leave the classroom.

At the end of the school year the teacher holds a goodbye party for us. The children love this because they all get to be up close to Maya even the ones that did not participate in the reading program. Maya loves it because she gets attention from everyone including the teacher. This year the children wrote Maya thank you letters. One letter stood out in particular because the little girl handed it to me two weeks before the goodbye party and because I never expected this kind of feedback from this little girl. In many ways she appeared disinterested in Maya during our reading exercises. But after reading the letter, I think that Maya meant more to her than she let on. When I read this letter it confirms to me how special Maya is and how she is making a difference with these children.

A Thank You Letter for Maya

A Thank You Letter for Maya

Happy International Women’s Day: Become Aware and Help Raise Awareness


It is a day in which we celebrate women’s achievements and also raise awareness for continued equality for women worldwide.

The official theme for 2015 is “Make It Happen”

The United Nation’s theme for International Women’s day is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”

I feel that as a woman “we” have achieved a lot especially in the western world yet I always say there is room for improvement, especially when we look at women and girls around the world. Join me today in this special celebration. Become aware and help raise awareness. There is still so much more to be accomplished. I have included various links below to sites you may find useful.

In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the new “Let Girls Learn” initiative that will be a collaborative effort between the Peace Corps and worldwide Girl Scouts organization.

From the Girl Scouts Organization site:

For more information visit the International Women’s Day website:

Also visit the United Nation’s sites:

For Unesco Events:

I leave you with this quote from Malala Yousafzai:

I speak not for myself but for those without voice…those who have fought for their rights…their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.