“Dad, I need to Pop!”

He took one look at her shoes and asked, “Are you really going to wear those?” And Jen said, “Daaaaad, I need to Pop!” — AND SHE DID!

JenShoesWe just arrived to attend the First Year Engineering Conference*and met her before her presentation. It was a lively day with more than 500 professional looking Freshman presenting at their allotted time.  A combination of interested parents, smiling upperclassmen hosts, eager presenters, and posters that hung on the walls created the energetic atmosphere. We

  • saw Jen’s winning “best in group” poster,
  • learned that Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes are the topics of interest to many students, across engineering disciplines.
  • ate a plentiful and YUMMY Lunch!
  • enjoyed Jen’s presentation skills
  • watched the roommates’ visually interesting presentation.
  • met the friend group parents and enjoyed a dinner for 12 at Lidia’s Pittsburgh.

The day was one of those days you feel blessed to have!  Can’t wait for another event.

*Each year the entire First-Year Engineering class at the University of Pittsburgh participates in a professional-style conference. Each student and a partner prepare a conference research paper and poster then present their paper to their peers, alumni, family and faculty. This paper is the completion of a year-long writing project.




Every Call is Precious Time

Picture 1179

I’m sending out gratitude into the world — for the opportunities to connect with my adult children in by phone or video.

  • Tonight a Google+ chat about the stresses of homework, the joy of discovery, the challenge of a project and the thought/search into next semester classes.
  • A few days ago a call to share an update:  the search for a place to live when moving to a new place for a first full time job, finding someone with which to share an apartment,  the first day of work scheduled and the plan for the first few weeks after graduation.
  • Snapchats, Facebook, Instagram and Texts — all a view into who they are and who they are becoming.

I appreciate the connection,  I always learn something new, learn something about myself, and my heart expands with love.




Ever notice how you carefully craft an email and the receiver doesn’t actually answer your question or doesn’t know the details you provided?  Well,  face it, in this world of tweets and texts, an email is, well, just too much.

Here’s some ideas to craft more successful emails (anyone have other GREAT tips?)

The SUBJECT for the email should let the receiver know when a response is needed

USE FIRST LINE in email to let people know is you require something or what is most important- add explanations and background later.

CAPITALIZE important words to communicate.

BOLD important concepts – or things that the reader can scan and get most of the understanding from the email.

KEEP EMAILS SHORT, a few lines — if you have a long drawn out email — you might consider calling the receiver to confirm they get all the info.

PUT A LINE SPACE between each idea or thought….a huge long paragraph will be completely ignored.

My thought for the day!





Looking forward to Lunch

I recently had the opportunity to substitute at our county Vo-Tech School in a supervisory role for two students.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got to go to the Culinary Arts classroom.

It was Chinese week,  mmmmmm. Food on the menu was General Tso Chicken (one of our family favorites) and Pork Fu Yung.  The part of the class I was with was making General Tso’s.  What Fun!  We collected and measured ingredients, cooked and cleaned up.  I enjoyed talking to the students and their chef/teacher, learning about their passion for cooking and baking. The kids even got to take their food home with them in to-go containers.

You might imagine how I felt – like I was in a candy store. The dry storage was a large room with lots of things,  the bag of chile peppers was like a big pillow there were so many; the walk in coolers had lots of bounty; their were bunches of sauces and vinegars, and condiments.  The stoves were humongous.

The best part — they serve breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday.  We are so THERE when you guys get home from college, maybe even a few times!

I brought the recipe home.  We can compare with the recipe Jen makes — should provide good kitchen entertainment for the family:)

Green Roof Cabin

When less than 5 of us are together, we always include the missing Dudek in our conversation, our social media connections, and our hearts.  Our recent trip to the GREEN ROOF CABIN near Raystown Lake at Raystown Country Cabins was one of those experiences.  We made sure Casey, who was not in attendance, was honored and remembered by

  • having an Snapchat Blitz Session.  Chris and Jenny were even snapchatting each other while sitting right next to one another, I think that is a Casey and Jenny pasttime too.
  • lamenting that our photos would not be the same without her,  and certainly the quantity of pictures is about 1/100 of normal quantity:) 
  • watching Duke play into the Elite 8 at the beginning of the weekend and then lose to Louisville for the Final Four at the end of the weekend.  Go Duke!
  • hanging out on Google+ with Casey on our last day.  She had to watch all 4 of us try to stay within the camera view:)

We also spent time


  • visiting the outside of Raystown Lake Visitors Center which is hosted by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau.  I say outside because it is not open on weekends or holidays — does anyone else find that funny?


  • parking and walking by the Marina and Boat launch.  It was beautiful and there was still some ice on the lake.  When a few boats launched they disturbed the ice and it crackled and made the most amazingly beautiful sound.


  • noticing silt socks all along the lake edge where some walkways were added.  Dad said it was over $50,000 of protection and there was no silt that was against them.  Hmmmmm, money well spent?
  • listening to lots and lots of frogs, spring peepers maybe, during our walk on the Riverwalk trail along the Juaniata River.  We also saw a hooded merganser and a couple of chain saw statues along the river.
  • dining at Kelly’s Corner in Huntingdon.  Dad and I wanted to share a dinner so I suggested he get the Salad Wedge while I ate from the salad bar.  I got my salad then sat down. THEN I SAW the wedge salad with blue cheese, dressing, candied walnuts….my mouth started watering.  I thought Dad probably wouldn’t like all that blue cheese so I offered to eat it,  when he said he was ok,  I asked for a bite. Well,  I didn’t give that salad back. He had to eat the salad I made at the salad bar. Dang.
  • making Swiss Meringue to top off the butterscotch pie we made earlier in the day, courtesy of Paula Deen’s Recipe.  That Swiss Meringue is tenacious, once it touches any surface it stays.  It even migrates without anyone looking.  It was everywhere. And it was oh so sweet,  just skip the butterscotch pie part (well Chris preferred butterscotch but Jen and I preferred Meringue).


Looking forward to the next time the 5 of us are together,  the Pontiac Lake Cottage perhaps?



Just add JOY!

I was cleaning up my scanned files and found this short aritcle about Joy. I remember I scanned to share with Chris back in Spring of 2011, not sure in what magazine I found it.


I might just have to track down the actual study.

For me it also connects to Shawn Achor’s work, he has an awesome Ted Talk, Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work and a book too (a great Birthday idea for a really nice Mom).

Sending you JOY!

Learning thru Shared Eyes

I am a blessed and loved Mom.  I cherish every contact my kids choose to have with me as they learn and grow.  One of my very, very favorite things is to be included in writing and speech classes assignments,  my world expands with new and shared learning.

Every time one of my kids engages me in their assignments for writing or speech I’m thrilled.  I’m an engineer by training and my writing skills are not so good.  But I make up for this in my voracious curiosity. And I think this is what my kids might enjoy, that I’m totally enthralled with the learning.

The last couple years I learned about the food industry with Chris, particularly meat production and antibiotic usage for the animals that provide our meat. I learned how to search for local, antibiotic free meat, and organic local foods. I also got to share in conversation after watching “Food Inc.” It was pretty cool what I learned about Penn State’s library and search engines and databases. Today, I’m a better consumer and much more aware of online sourcing.

This year, with Casey at Duke, I’m being challenged to read about, of all things, MAPS and what story the cartographer chooses to share. I’ve learned some world history, I’ve learned about writing (from her Professor’s comments to her), I’ve had the joy and pleasure to read stuff she writes and in awe of what she thinks about. I can even comment per her wishes. Maps are never, ever going to be the same to me again.

Now, as Jen matures, I’ll be looking forward to what I can learn with her. I can’t wait.

I am blessed. The connections my kids choose to make with me touch me deeply and give me joy. Thank you!