Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

3/25/19, School Days. Golden Rule Days.

Posted on March 25, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope that last week went well for you, and that some good things happened…..some nice surprises!!! I did one of my usual standard marathon times, travelling six thousand miles in three days to visit my children, dashing through three cities, from one of my home cities to the other. Fortunately, I sleep on planes, (and catch up on movies). Travelling can be very challenging, and I’m always grateful when it goes smoothly, without cancelled flights, long delays, or lost baggage.

 

And I had one of those “maturity-challenging” experiences, when I had dinner with my best friend, and he brought his puppy, an adorable little dog, and we were talking animatedly (with the puppy and one of my favorite purses I’ve had for years, wear often, and love, were under the table, and a man at the next table said, “Excuse me, the dog under the table is eating your purse”. Ugh. Sure enough, the puppy was happily chomping away on my purse, and when I rescued it, I saw that the puppy had made two holes in my purse. Boo Hoo!!) I know it sounds silly, but I was very sad about it. If that’s the worst that happens to me, I’m a lucky woman!!! I’ve had worse of course, we all have, but I do like that purse a lot. It’s a favorite (and I’ve managed to keep my daughters from stealing it for years!! They like it too!!). The next day, I went to four repair places, hoping to get it fixed, but they all told me it was irreparable. I love my friend dearly, like a brother, so I wasn’t mad at him, and the puppy is so cute, so it was just one of those things you have to be a good sport about. I wasn’t mad, just REALLY disappointed—-so if you ever see me wearing a green purse with two holes in it, and think ‘what’s wrong with her?? Why is she wearing a purse with two holes in it? You’ll know why. I was very grown up about it!! I didn’t cry, I didn’t get mad at the friend or the puppy. Things happen. Occasionally, the price of friendship—-and new puppies—is high!!! But my friend is much more important to me than an old purse, and the puppy is just a baby. Oh well……

 

Last week was an important week for many kids and parents in the US. A VERY stressful week for kids seeking to enter private high schools, and all universities, when acceptance letters landed in trembling hands. An important turning point for kids and parents alike. Setting aside the current college scandal in the US—–which in a distant way, I can understand people’s desperation to help their kids faced with the academic pressure cooker and high anxiety of a situation you are helpless to make better for them—-but losing their ethics, creating a situation where you break rules and laws, and ultimately sacrifice your child’s well being, set them an appalling example, and some parents have been arrested and will go to prison—-that I do NOT understand, nor the people who made money preying on those parental anxieties and misguided efforts to help their kids. (It has been recently revealed that some parents with a lot of money, paid dishonest well placed employees at some universities to falsify records, and manipulate results, so that some college applicants were able to get into colleges they couldn’t have been able to get into fairly. The whole sordid scandal has been exposed in recent weeks. Those kids won’t get into the desired schools of course, and both the parents involved and the people who took the money at the schools, are being prosecuted, and many will go to prison). In most cases, or maybe even all, the students had no idea what their parents had done, and wound up as the victims of terrible judgement and ethics on the part of their parents. It must have been a crushing blow to the kids. The whole thing is terribly wrong, and really sad, for the kids mostly, and the whole thing is really shocking.

 

But back to ‘normal’ kids and families who spent last week waiting for admission results to high school and college, for those who went the traditional, honest route to get in. Getting into school at any level is fraught with tension and uncertainty these days. It always was, but with fewer places available, and more students, there is tremendous competition now for everything from kindergarten to college. Parents can think of nothing else, futures are decided and affected by the results, and kids are nervous, stressed, and groomed, tutored, coached, helped, encouraged, threatened, and desperate to get into their first choice schools, and often convinced their lives will be ruined forever if they don’t get in. They take extra classes to help them pass standardized tests, and there is just an incredible amount of stress and tension waiting for the results, and a huge amount of pressure on the kids. And last week, all of those 8th grade and High School seniors got the results, some with shouts of joy, others with tears and sinking hearts. Some were wait listed at their favorite schools, which will prolong the agony for several months, maybe with good results in the end.

 

I have a theory about those results (first of all, that many parents put way too much pressure on their kids. There are lots of people who are successful in their lives, have great lives and careers, who did not get into their first choice colleges—-and some who didn’t go to college at all, or not particularly great schools. Your life is what you make of it, and what school you do or don’t go to isn’t everything in life. It matters, but not always as much as we think, and sometimes not at all.) My theory about it is that we are always, or almost always in our right place. The school we think is The Only One, and the right one sometimes isn’t, and sometimes NOT getting into that school is a bigger blessing—what the French call ‘un mal pour un bien’, a bad thing which turns out to be a good thing, even a great thing. We don’t know the blessings that will unfold, or the unexpected circumstances we can’t foresee, which turn out to be absolutely the best possible result that could have happened (which you may not even realize until years later, looking back). There is fate involved here, destiny, and things we just don’t know. So if you, or your child didn’t get into the high school or college of your choice last week, it could turn out to be the best possible thing that could have happened. So what looks like a disappointment could turn out to be the greatest opportunity of all!!!

 

And I can’t let today go by without mentioning that last Friday, March 22nd, was the third anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Brussels airport, where thirty two people died, and an enormous number injured. It was a family event for us, my nephew’s daughter was at the airport on that day, was nearly killed, and lost both legs at seventeen—-as you may remember. I can tell you now that after close to a year in the hospital, and many, many operations, and wonderful rehab, and the fact that she is an Incredible Remarkable, Fabulous girl—-since that day, she has graduated from high school, is attending college now, had rehab at the Navy Seals rehab facility, as  the victim of a terrorist attack (and her mother is American)—-and she is back in training (she was an Olympic class rider, which is her passion), and she is currently training and qualifying for the Paralympics, on the Equestrian team. She is mind-blowingly brave and fabulous, with more courage than anyone I know. So I had to acknowledge that date. It’s a day we will never forget, and should be remembered, for the brave people who survived it, and those who lost their lives.

 

So have a great week, a safe, healthy, happy, fruitful, fun exciting one!!!!

 

all my love, Danielle

 

 

PS, Dear Christine thank you for your beautiful comment about your mother, and the passage from my book, which meant so much to her. Thank you with all my heart for sharing it, it means a great deal to me, and I’m glad the book meant a lot to her. Our journeys are all dark at times, it’s the nature of Life. We live for the good times, and live through the hard times and survive them. And dark things happen to us all. I’ve had my share of them too. Somehow we get through them, and they make us deeper and better—not easily but they do, and the good times are more powerful than the bad. I’m so sorry you lost your Mom, and thank you for reading the piece of my book.

 

And to Patricia, my very deepest sympathy about your son. Whatever age we lose a child at, it’s an almost unbearable loss, that somehow we have to live through, and still find meaning and joy in life. My heart goes out to you. I lost my son Nick at nineteen. He will be forever missed, loved and remembered. I often laugh when I think of him now, and remember some of the ridiculous, silly, and funny things he did (he did a lot of them). I hope that time will be gentle with you, and you will find some peace and meaning in the loss, from the love you shared with him. I send you both my love.

 

Please know that I cherish your comments and messages. I read them all, even if I usually don’t comment on them. My blessings, love, and prayers to you both.  D.

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Kids | 4 Comments

2/11/19, Valentines Day: Love or Chocolate

Posted on February 12, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is well with you. I’ve been under lock down for the last week, working on a book, about a subject I found interesting. I’ve been working on the outline for the last four months, and finally took the leap into the pool to get started on it. So it’s been a hardworking and hard-driving week, laying out the story for a future book. It’s a long process from here on. Once I complete the first draft, then I re-write it anywhere from three to five times over the next two years—while working on other books at the same time. And of course the subject is a surprise (from everyone!!) until the book comes out!!!

 

My current new book, Turning Point, is still doing very well, so I’m happy about that.

 

And yesterday was my youngest son’s birthday, so I had lunch with him, and dinner with him, our family, and some of his friends. With 9 children, we have a lot of birthdays in our family and each one is a special event!!!

 

And of course this week will be Valentine’s Day, which gets mixed reviews. For anyone with a special person/romance in their life it’s a fabulous day, hopefully, and for those who are having an off-year, it’s not so great. I’ve had both kinds of Valentine’s days, and I hope it will be a special day for you this year.

 

Now that I’ve been working nonstop on a book, I’m trying to catch up on ‘real life’, things I need to do that I’ve put off while I’m writing. When I write, I can’t do anything else. I don’t go out, I don’t see friends, I don’t read other books or watch movies, it distracts me from the story and then I have trouble getting back into it. I took the time to celebrate my son’s birthday yesterday, but anything other than that, I don’t do if I’m in the middle of writing a book. Four of my kids were present at the birthday (the others live in other cities), so it was a fun chance for me to catch up with them.

 

I’m excited to watch Season 3 of “Victoria”, about the young Queen Victoria. I haven’t seen this season, so I thought I’d take a peek at that, since I reached a point in the book where I can take a little break, and will be back to work on it in about a week, after I let the book ‘breathe’ a little bit, and then go back to it with a fresh eye. (Kind of like an artist with a painting).

 

So I hope your Valentine’s Day will be fabulous, full of happy surprises and special moments, the love of your life, and a special day—-and if not, then a whole lot of chocolate!!! Seriously, I hope you have a lovely day.

 

Take care, and have a terrific week, love, Danielle

 

12/24/18, “Happy Christmas!!”

Posted on December 24, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Happy Christmas!! It’s Christmas eve…..and all through the house, not a creature was stirring—-except at my house on Christmas, everyone is stirring. Two of my children couldn’t come home for Christmas this year, one has to be with her in laws, and the other has to work in Europe, so it will seem a little emptier than usual. The first year that any of them has missed Christmas at home.

 

I’ve been ridiculously busy getting ready for the holiday, and flying around. And I finally found the last gift four days ago, so I’m done. And still wrapping up my work, and reading research for the next book. There is always a lot to do at the end of the year!!!

 

I hope that you have plans that warm your heart, and that you’ll be spending Christmas with people who are dear to you, and mean a lot to you. My kids and I are going to watch some movies together, and just savor being together. We used to bake a lot at Christmas (brownies!!), but we haven’t done that this year.

 

Just know how grateful I am to you all year for your support, and have the merriest, happiest, best holidays ever!!

 

With all my love, Danielle

12/17/18, Twas 8 days before Christmas, and all through the house…..

Posted on December 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that things are going well for you. The demonstrations and riots are continuing in Paris, but are thinning out, and were less violent this past Saturday. The government made some concessions, and I think people are just worn out from the strain of weekly violence, and so much destruction. Businesses are sufferring, and thus the economy, and all merchants, with shops and restaurants closed every weekend for the past five weeks, so close to Christmas. And hotels are empty. People don’t want to come to Paris with so much unrest in the country. I hope the New Year brings some peace to all!!

 

Other than that, my new book is out, Beauchamp Hall. I hope you’ve had time to read it, or will over the holidays, and I hope you gave it as a gift to someone. And my paperback, Accidental Heroes, is doing really well, and is an exciting read.

 

It’s been a checkered week with some good and bad things thrown in. A friend came to visit and stayed with me for a week, which was fun (except for the lockdown weekends due to the demonstrations and riots). But other than that, we had a good time. A close best friend lost his adorable little dog, hit by a car, which was heart breaking and we all felt terrible for him. And on the happy side, I had my Christmas party, with 28 good friends. People stay much later than they do in the states, so they stayed till about 1:30 am, on a school night, which was really fun. I gave a Christmas ladies’ lunch too, and had some women friends for a pasta dinner in my kitchen. So I saw a lot of friends this past week, which is fun in this season. And I’ll be seeing my children soon, which is the best part of the holidays for me.

 

I’m still trying to catch up on work, and I’ll be back at work, deep in new books when the holidays are over. I can’t believe Christmas is only 8 days away. I’m still scrambling for the last few special presents.

 

I hope these are happy days for you, that you are finding something to celebrate, and the time and opportunity to spend time with family or friends. The one thing I realize every year is how fast time flies, and how fleeting the precious moments are, they fly through our fingers like angels and bless us as they rush past. My hope for you is that you are enjoying special times with people you love, and who love you. I hope that the days leading up to the holidays will be happy ones for you, and that the holiday will be a memory you cherish. Thank you for the blessings you share with me all year round, reading my books, and enjoying my work.

 

Thank you, and much love to you, Danielle

10/29/18, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 29, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and that this week will be more treat than trick for you!!! (Treat being lots of dark chocolate or whatever makes you happy!!!)

 

I worked REALLY hard last week, writing 20 hours a day, so I am definitely back up to fall speed and my winter writing schedule. And I finished what I was writing on Friday, so I treated myself to a fun day on Saturday (after Xeroxing everything I’d been writing, since I type it on a typewriter and don’t use a computer). After the Xeroxing, I did some Christmas shopping….and of course a few treats for me!!! I’m having my Godchildren for a Halloween dinner, and they’re still young enough to really enjoy it!!

 

After Christmas shopping on Saturday (I went to a really cool store that is ALL men’s socks in a million different rainbow colors—–great stocking stuffers for the men on my list!!)—after that, I did something I never do. I NEVER go to restaurants alone, I’m not a big eater, wouldn’t enjoy being in a restaurant alone, it always looks weird to me when I see women alone in a restaurant, or people alone generally, and it’s no fun without someone to talk to. If I’m out doing errands, I just plow through until I get home, and I always have a bar of dark chocolate in my handbag if I get hungry, and it doesn’t hurt to skip a meal. I’d rather do that than go to a restaurant alone. And I’ve only done that once in my life. But Saturday, I decided to spoil myself a little after a week of hard work, and spotty meals. I tend to eat food that’s easy to eat and I don’t have to pay attention to when I’m working. Like hard boiled or scrambled eggs, the occasional sandwich, and waaayyyyy too many cookies!!! But Saturday I stopped for a late lunch, I had truffle risotto and calf’s liver (I love liver—-I know, no one else does). It was yummy, I was on an outdoor terrace, having a ball watching the people go by, sitting in the sun, feeling lazy and spoiled and enjoying it thoroughly. It was a fun restaurant I go to a lot, so they know me, and the kind of place where families and couples go, and all kinds of people so I didn’t stand out alone. And the people watching is superb there. Lots of foreigners, on my right were two Chinese women who looked like they were having a good time. They took photos of each other with their phones. to my left were two young Americans, maybe about 18 or 19, a boy and a girl, talking about college and exams, and how awful their parents are (I tried not to laugh at that. The boy said he had to take a trip with his father and said “Erghk!! How Sinister is That!!”) And beyond them was a beautiful Russian woman with what seemed to be her boyfriend. Lots of people came and went in some wild outfits. It’s a restaurant where a lot of people go in the fashion business, and some models, actors and actresses sometimes, and people who want to see and be seen. There was a Chinese actress posing for photographs in front of me, and some crazy outfits: one couple had on matching suits with Bermuda shorts, and she was wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It was a fun interlude for an hour, and at least I had a decent meal after a week of eating snacks nonstop.  I did some more errands after that, and went home and listened to some music and answered some emails.

 

I still haven’t figured out a Halloween costume, I have a pink sweatshirt with Miss Piggy on it, and may settle for that this year. I hope you have a GREAT HALLOWEEN!!! Whether in costume or not, and I hope you get lots of treats!!!

 

I learned something VERY unusual this week by the way—At least I think it is, a social event popular with the Millennial generation (late 20’s to early 30’s) Apparently the big trend is for “Gender Reveal” Parties. Clearly, I’m from the Dark Ages because I’d never heard of it before, although all my children knew about it when I checked. It sounded extremely sexy, but apparently isn’t. Here’s how it works if you don’t know about it either. When a Millennial is having a baby, instead of having the doctor tell her and her partner or spouse the sex of the baby, the doctor writes the baby’s sex down on a piece of paper, seals the paper in an envelope and the future Mom takes it to a party planner and a baker, and they throw a party, which will either have a pink or a blue theme, they invite all their friends, and when they go to the party, they discover the sex of their baby, along with all their friends, from the pink or blue balloons. I have to admit, I was stunned, I can’t imagine wanting to share that discovery with 50 or 100 friends or even two. In my generation, it was a very private moment to share with my husband and not discover at a party. But apparently, Gender Reveal Parties are a big deal now. You learn something new every day!!!

 

 

Trick or Treat!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

10/22/18 “Night Owl thoughts”

Posted on October 22, 2018

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a great week, and had a great last week. I’ve been very, very busy, with a heavy writing schedule, as usual this time of year. I settle into the winter, and hibernate for a while, writing new books, and working on new ideas. So it’s writing time for me.

 

And special greetings to one of the readers who responded to my last blog, —- clearly a soul mate, whose tech skills are on a par with mine, and can’t find the apostrophe on her laptop. You’ll notice that I am lazy about apostrophes too!!! Her daughter tells her she doesn’t even TRY to learn—-I hear that all the time. And as much as I love my ridiculous ancient Nokia cell phone with the disco lights when I get a message, texting on it is a nightmare, since it’s the kind where you have to press several times on a key in order to get the right letter, and if I get it wrong I have to start all over again. So I keep my texts VERY short. Anyone over 30, not to mention 40 or 50, is of a very different generation from current texters, who would rather text, than call or talk, and the words just seem to flow from their fingers. The only thing I do on my IPad is play solitaire, and I see 2 year olds in their strollers happily working their IPad, and I want to hire one of them to show me how!!! If I ask someone in my office to call someone for me to leave a message—-they respond immediately, “I’ll text them right away”. It doesn’t even occur to most people to call anymore, they only text, and don’t even bother to answer their phones. And I guess it is true, that I don’t even try to learn new technology. The day will probably come if I am very old one day that I won’t know how to work the lights in my bedroom, turn on the TV, or open the curtains—-everything happens on an IPad or some form of ‘device’ these days. And as soon as you do learn something ‘techie’, it becomes obsolete immediately, and you have to learn all over again. I’m going to have to start hiring 5 year old consultants in my office who are up to date on all the latest technology. It does seem a shame though that everything is so high tech now, it definitely cuts out the human element in communications, it’s also a perfect way for people to dodge giving you straight answers, and avoid a simple question, like “where are the kitchen chairs I ordered 6 months ago?” And there is an App for everything now, none of which I have on my phone, or would know what to do with if I did.

 

I’ve always been a night owl, it runs in my family. My father and grandmother stayed up very late, and needed very little sleep, and in some ways I’ve been lucky to be like them too. It allowed me to manage 9 children AND a writing career (I wrote at night when the kids were asleep when they were young), and get by on very little sleep. I still do. I’d go to bed late (around 2 or 3 am, after writing for many hours), fall asleep the instant I hit the bed, and wake up ready to go 4 hours later—–a real blessing at times!!! I still go to bed late, now that my kids are grown up, and still get by on very little sleep, and write until the wee hours, but now I wake up earlier, and often wake in the middle of the night, and then my mind starts racing, and I think about all the things I should be doing, have to do, or should have done. I sometimes get the best ideas during those sleepless hours, but I find that I worry more about silly things in the middle of the night. I’ve made a lifetime career of a fertile imagination, and I sometimes get ideas for new books in those late night wide awake hours. And then of course, there is the silly stuff—like I just remembered the Halloween table cloth I ordered in August, which never came. This time of year, I lie awake thinking about what to get people for Christmas, I haven’t worked out my Halloween costume yet…..and I am working on several books at once, which gives me plenty to think about in the middle of the night, as I work out the plots or search for a title. If I lie awake for long enough, I get up and answer emails (which come in at all hours from all over the world)….and….true confessions, my one concession to High Tech: I have discovered online shopping, and I can get up to some real mischief with that!!! I notice that with all the complaints (in my family and office) about my lack of computer skills, and offers to bring me up to date, NO ONE has offered to teach me how to shop in the Internet, and I pretty much figured it out for myself with very little help. And I have some real fun with that sometimes!!! For someone who likes to shop, which I do, internet shopping is a huge temptation, and I have gotten some really fun stuff!!! It’s so easy that it feels like it’s free at times (it’s not!!), and I feel like a kid in a candy store….I want that and that and that….and that!!….and oh wow!! Look at how cute this is…..It’s a very dangerous sport, but can be a lot of fun. And they make it very easy, even for non-techies like me!!! So now I can shop in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep. Uh oh!!!

 

I’m including a photo of something very fun I got recently. I saw it in a shop window, as a display item, and tracked it down. It’s a company that makes furniture made with teddy bears and other toy stuffed animals. You can either get it with the teddy bears over the whole surface of a chair or bench, or just around the edges. It’s easier to sit on with the teddy bears just around the edges, so I went with that. I love it, it’s so fun, and super comfy to sit on. I ordered it with little white polar bears, but you can have it with any kind of toy animal you want: monkeys, camels, bears, dogs, cats, swans, flamingos. It’s a silly fun thing and I love it.

 

I hope you have a fun week ahead. Halloween is approaching, and I haven’t figured out a costume yet. My favorites over the years were as a ‘ghost writer’, with a white face and white wig, dressed in white with a necklace of pens around my neck, Cruella de Ville, and my famous/infamous whoopie cushion costume, undignified but funny….maybe I’ll just be me this year. One of my daughters dressed as me for Halloween a few years ago, and looked exactly like me, in a black turtle neck sweater (my uniform because I’m always cold), black jeans and black loafers, red hair in a long pony tail, glasses on her head, and lots of bracelets on both arms. I laughed when I saw her, and she put on my serious “I’m thinking about a new book” face. I hope you have something fun planned for Halloween. You still have time to figure out a costume!!!

 

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

9/17/18, Hard Day, Hard Week

Posted on September 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, even a great week, as the Fall gets off to a busy start. For those of you with children, they’re all back in school by now, which keeps parents busier than ever, until the new routine is established, and things settle down. And with after school activities, and sports teams, kids keep us running. Mine are all working now, and I miss those school days (which will sound crazy to you if you’re dashing all over the place with your kids, and wish they’d hurry up and grow up. Beware of what you wish for!!! They grow up all too soon!!). I still have one child living at home, and am grateful that I do!!! Every time she leaves her laundry stacked up in the front hall, or borrows something and forgets to return it, or loses something, or scrambles my schedule, or uses enough towels to stock a hotel, I remind myself of how lucky I am to still have her at home!! Any time I spend with her is precious.

 

I had a busy, mostly fun week last week, doing errands, catching up, seeing friends for lunch and dinner. I love having friends in for dinner after the summer, to catch up with how everyone’s summer was. I worked, and finished an outline I love, for a future book, and can’t wait to get to work on it. And I’ll see a few friends this week too, and visit two of my daughters, and see 2 more of my kids by the end of the week. Seeing my children will be the best part of the week. And I have a bunch of real life stuff to do too. A visit from the plumber to solve a (lack of) hot water problem, a trip to the vet to check the dog who was sick this summer (Blue, with a disk problem), put away summer clothes, call to complain about the kitchen chairs I ordered 5 months ago and haven’t received yet. Ordinary real life housewifely stuff, which I enjoy. I got a new TV for my bedroom, after 14 years, which is fun. I like the rhythm and routine of ordinary life, I find it comforting and relaxing to get small things done. Last week had its serious moments too, I went to the memorial service for a dear friend, and unfortunately will go the memorial service of a beloved brother in law this week. The friend was 91, a famous fashion designer (Hubert de Givenchy, an extraordinary really lovely man). My brother in law was in his late 80s, and like a real big brother to me since I was 16. Both men led good, full, long productive lives. I will miss them both, but it is in the order of things for people to leave, and both lived well lived complete lives to a great age, which makes their leaving easier to accept.

 

But all in all, I know this will be a hard week for me. However well I fill the time, whatever I do, there is a date that I cannot escape every year, the anniversary of my son Nick’s death, by suicide at 19. He was greatly, great loved, and still is, and I miss him always. Talented (in writing and music), brilliant, funny, loving, compassionate, he was a wonderful boy, suffered from bi polar disease all his life (I first noticed it before he was 2, and knew it for sure by the time he was 4 years old). We did everything we could to help him, but he finally just couldn’t live with the pain anymore. He led a remarkably full life in his short time, he already had a successful career in music (writing lyrics and music, and lead singer in a successful band). And even after his death, his life has been a blessing to many people. We established two foundations in his honor, to help mentally ill people, and the homeless. Thousands of people have been helped in his name. There is a blessing in even the hardest events in our lives.

 

Anniversary dates are always something of a mystery to me. The person we loved, and still love, is just as gone the day or the week or month before and after the anniversary. But there is a power to the anniversary date that is like the sound of a gong that reverberates through you, shattering the silence and any sense of peace. It’s as though your body knows what day it is as well as your heart. Life stops for me on that day, as I try to remember him without remembering how terrible that day was. Birthdays are easier because there are happy memories of that day. There are no happy memories of the day someone you love dies, and it pierces your heart like a spear. The memory of that stops you in your tracks. I try to keep it as gentle as possible, but there is no easy way. This will be the first year that I won’t be with some of my children on that date, but I will see them the next day. There is something particularly terrible about losing a child, at any age, because it is not in the correct order of life, and a child is part of you from the moment they are born until you die, and they take with them a part of you that belonged to them.   So it will be a hard day. It always is. Some years are harder than others, and some years are a little better, and gentler. You never really escape it, but some years whatever you do to soothe the pain seems to work, distraction, seeing friends, whatever you do, and you get through it. Other years you barely crawl through it. The pain begins to dim the next day and gets back to something you can live with, but you hit a wall on those days, time stops, and you are catapulted into the past to a day you wish had never happened. In a way, the agony of that day doesn’t make sense, because they are just as gone before and after the day, and you learn to live with it…..but the actual anniversary date is particularly tough. I dread it, but one gets through it. It comes at you like a heat seeking missile, headed straight for your heart.

 

He was an incredibly sweet boy with a huge heart. Forever missed, forever loved, for the rest of time.

 

Have a great week!!! I hope it is a gentle week for you, with lots of happy moments in it.

 

all my love, Danielle

 

8/20/18, Bea, an Amazing girl!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are, the last week in August, Labor Day is just around the corner, and we have ‘done’ the summer. It has whizzed past us, I hope you had lots of fun, some time off and vacation, and I hope you’ll look back on this summer with a smile. And now we have all the excitement of the fall to look forward to, and our winter plans and projects, in some cases moving at high speed after the summer. I am definitely back at work, and working on new books.

 

I wanted to bring you up to date on something I have mentioned to you before, that happened in my family two years ago. My nephew’s daughter Bea, my great niece, was 17 years old then, a beautiful, happy normal high school girl. She grew up in France, her father is French, her mother American, and they had just moved to Brussels, Belgium from Paris a few months before. Her passion was, and is horseback riding, her dream was to ride in the Olympics. And her great love was, and is, her beloved white horse Deedee. She has two older brothers, lots of friends, and lots of dogs. A very normal high school girl. And in March of 2016, her whole world changed. The family went to Florida for Spring vacation, she stayed back a day, and set out to join them in Florida a day later. She went to the Brussels airport for her flight, and Fate intervened in a very major way. It was the morning that terrorists blew up the Brussels Airport, right as Bea was in line to check in. We know now that she was standing roughly 3 or 4 feet from one of the bombs when it exploded, and was one of very few survivors in the terminal. It is a total miracle that she survived at all. Seven months in the hospital of fighting for her life, dozens of surgeries ensued. Hundreds of people were killed and injured. She was in a military hospital along with the other survivors, because the wounds inflicted were so extreme that they were only comparable to wartime military injuries, not civilian ones. She was burned over much of her body, was paralyzed in the days and months after the explosion, her body was full of shrapnel, pieces of metal in the bomb designed to do the most damage possible to a human body, and she lost both legs. It’s the kind of horrifying event you read about in a newspaper, but doesn’t happen to anyone you know. But it did, to this very wonderful 17 year old girl. And the future looked dark indeed for a while.

 

We don’t have any idea how any of us would respond to catastrophic events in our lives. Something like that is beyond imagining. She was in a medically induced coma for a while, to alleviate her suffering. And what not only survived but flourished and grew to incredible proportions was her extraordinary spirit, her strength and determination, not only to survive, but to have an amazing life in future anyway. She has a family who adores her, and a remarkable mother who exhibited strength and courage that kept Bea fighting for her life at the darkest times—and fighting for the quality of her life.

 

One of the most touching moments in her early recovery was when she was finally well enough to sit in a wheel chair and be rolled outside for some air. Her horse trainer had arranged with Bea’s mother and the hospital to bring Bea’s beloved horse Deedee to visit her. The video of it reduced me to sobs, and still does. Bea was sitting in her wheel chair, not expecting a visit, as Deedee was led out of the trailer, was instantly alert, and literally raced across the parking lot to where Bea was sitting, found her, licked her face adoringly, and then rested her head on Bea’s shoulder. It was pure love between those two. It was a turning point for Bea in her recovery. A day or two later, she was cautiously lifted into the saddle on Deedee, and held there so she wouldn’t lose her balance and fall, and thus began the next chapters of Bea’s life, with courage, love and hope, and a fierce determination not to be beaten or destroyed by what had happened.

 

Fast forward the long arduous film of what came after: 7 months after the attack she left the hospital, and went back to school for her last year—-she was greeted at school by a standing ovation by the entire school. People around the world, who didn’t even know her, had been praying for her. In June, 15 months after the attack, she graduated, and walked across the stage in braces to accept her diploma. She went to rehab at a Naval Facility in San Diego and is still there. Next month, she will start college. And for many months now, she has been training for the next Paralympics in Tokyo. Three countries invited her to ride for them. They first contacted her after someone had seen the first meeting with Deedee at the hospital. She is hard at work now training for the Paralympics, and getting ready for college. Her determination, and extraordinary spirit are astounding—-how can any of us complain about the problems and disappointments and minor inconveniences in our lives when you see someone like her, determined, strong, never lagging, never giving up, absolutely passionately determined to have an amazing life, and not be robbed of her youth and spirit and courage about life. After college, she wants to start a company for sports equipment adapted for people with physical impairments. She has feeling in her legs and back now, and her hope is to continue to improve. She has worked incredibly hard in the most grueling way at her recovery, and is continuing to do so.

 

Bea is a remarkable girl. Extraordinary, remarkable, incredible, courageous, amazing, don’t even begin to describe her. And her remarkable mother has fought alongside her every inch of the way. Her whole family cheers her on. I am stunned by her courage and spirit. It’s breathtaking.

 

What she has done and is continuing to do is an inspiration to anyone who knows her or hears about her. She didn’t quit, she didn’t give up, she didn’t complain about her losses, she held on tight and celebrated what she did have, and reached out toward all the good things and good times and victories that lay ahead. Her whole life is a victory, a shining example to others, an inspiration to us all. She is the best of what a human being can be faced with incredible challenges, and she has met them all.

 

I am in awe of this brave nineteen year old girl who has faced the unthinkable and is turning it into a victory every single day. And this is only the beginning of what I know will be a shining life that will continue to dazzle and inspire us all.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Kids, Paris | 30 Comments

7/2/18, Happy Fourth!!!

Posted on July 2, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope your summer is off to a great start, and that you’re getting ready for a festive, relaxing Fourth of July. It does bring back happy memories of the Fourth of July parties we gave when my kids were little, which eventually became barn dances with line dancing. It was lots of fun, the guests were all ages, old and young, with dozens of children running around, lots of yummy food, games for everyone to play. It was a real, old fashioned Fourth of July.

 

And I’m in the category of ‘Beware of what you wish for’ right now, in the midst of a heat wave. It’s sweltering, and was chilly only a week ago, but at least it feels like summer!!!  My summer has gotten off to a busy start, with 3 of my children visiting me for 2 weeks, and lots of running around with them. And four more arriving tomorrow, with friends, for another 2 weeks of my children visiting. They’ve been coming in shifts this year!!!  And between the two ‘shifts’, I just had a ‘grown up week’ to myself. As much as I adore my children, and am grateful for every moment I spend with them, it’s nice to have some grown up down time too. I had lunch with a friend almost every day, which is rare for me, since I work through lunch most of the time and don’t go out for lunch, but I indulged myself. I had lunch out every day, with leisurely opportunities to chat and catch up. I had dinner out once with a very interesting friend, a psychiatrist who is also a writer. And I had a group of women for dinner, whom I try to see once a month. We laugh a lot, and also talk about some serious things. I caught up on some reading, did a couple of writing projects, went shopping on Saturday, and am ready for the next group of visitors. The best thing about summer for me is spending time with my children, and although I love it when we’re all together, I also enjoy it when they come in smaller groups, which gives me time to focus on each one of them, and spend some individual time. We’re a big group when we get together!!!

 

Without getting involved in the political issues, my heart has ached recently for the children who have been separated from their parents, due to immigration issues. It always saddens me deeply when children become the victims of adult actions, and are in precarious situations. Children in jeopardy is something that is dear to my heart. As I understand it, there are 3,000 of those children, separated from their families, in limbo at the moment, while adults attempt to solve the situation. It breaks my heart when children pay the price for adult actions, whatever the reason. Childhood should be an innocent, protected time, in a perfect world, which is so often not true, starving in ravaged areas, or the victims of wars, living homeless on the streets in our own country, or even children of ‘good homes’, being abused by their parents. And often there is so little one can do to help and protect them. I hope that those 3,000 children are rapidly reunited with their families. Children are so often at the greatest risk, in every country, even ours, ravaged by poverty, disease, or neglected by irresponsible parents. Children are always at the mercy of the adults in their lives.

 

I hope you’re busy making summer plans, and will get some vacation this summer. My vacation is the time I spend with my kids, we’ll spend a week at the beach, and as soon as they leave, I go straight back to work. I don’t know what to do with my free time when I’m not shepherding kids!!! Old habits die hard, and I’m grateful that they spend time with me!!!

 

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. And between the hot dogs, hamburgers, Southern Fried chicken, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream, it’s good for us all to remember and be grateful for the immense freedoms we have in this country, and all the advantages.

 

We are very lucky!!! Happy Fourth!!!

 

And much love, Danielle

 

 

Have a GREAT week!!!

5/28/18, Memorial Day

Posted on May 28, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you’re enjoying a long lovely weekend for Memorial Day. This holiday always symbolizes the beginning of summer….which is not quite the weather we’re getting anywhere on my route. Cold and gray in San Francisco, a friend tells me it’s cold and rainy in Boston, I think it’s been cold in New York, and everyone in Paris is complaining about how cold it is there. And I was in Napa and wore two sweaters and a jacket. So come on, Summer!!! Please try a little harder!!! I brought out my summer clothes this week, and am wondering why I did!! But other than the weather, It’s a lovely holiday, and is kind of a book end for summer, with Labor Day at the other end. So summer has officially begun.
 

In years past, my husband and I used to spend the Memorial Day weekend getting our home in the Napa Valley ready for the summer, dragging out all the pool furniture, dusting off the porch, pulling summer toys out of the barn for our kids. We spent the whole weekend cleaning things and getting ready, a big job. Our Napa home belongs to my children now—-and I’m still on the cleaning crew, although I only go there once a year now. And I spend several days before the holiday, with helpers, doing the same chores before Memorial Day now. It always warms my heart to go there, and do the same things again, getting it ready for my children to enjoy the place now with their siblings and friends. It’s a tradition now. We bought the home before most of them were born, and there is something touching about continuing the traditions of the past, which is in great part what Memorial Day is about, memories and cherished people. So I spent this week cleaning house and sprucing the place up, power washing, a little painting here and there, and freshening things up. And we are particularly grateful this year, as the big Napa fires last October came within less than a mile of the home. My youngest son very bravely went up during the fires to save all the photographs of their childhood, and mementoes of their father, in case we lost the house in the fire. We were all very grateful we didn’t, and copied the photographs he brought back. They normally hang all over the house, it’s their whole family history on the walls of our old farm. It’s very quaint and cozy. And my BIG BIG job this week was hanging all 464 photographs back on the walls. I hung them chronologically this time, so you can trace back to my husband’s youth, his early days, when we met, our wedding, all the children’s christenings (a LOT of them with 9 kids!!), their childhood and growing up years, right to the present. It was a lot of work, but I had a wonderful time doing it, and it brought back tender memories of happy times. I hope it will do the same for them!!! So that’s what I did this week. A long walk down memory lane and a lot of cleaning.  One daughter always helps me, and we always have fun doing our annual clean up week. So we’re spiffy clean and ready for summer when it shows up!!
 

The big news for me this week is that my new book, “The Cast” a week after it came out, will be #1 on the New York Times and several other lists this week. No matter how often it happens, it is a thrill for me every time!!! Thank you for buying the book—I hope you love it. It’s about the members of the cast of a hit TV series, and all the complications and secrets in their lives, and their interactions with each other in real life and on the show. It was huge fun to write, with some wonderful characters in it, and surprises, and I hope you love it!!! It should be a really fun read for the summer with characters I loved when I wrote the book.  And now that my big annual cleaning mission is done, I’ve been writing all weekend. I really do hope you love “The Cast”.
 

I have some busy times ahead, with a lot of work to do. The books don’t happen by magic, so I’m getting to work.
 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful long holiday weekend, and are starting to make fun summer plans. Thank you for everything, and for making the book #1.  Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle