Bishop High separates from archdiocese

Setting an independent course for its future, Bishop Garcia Diego High School officially became the first school in Southern California (and one of only a few in the nation) to separate from its governing archdiocese and become an independent, private Catholic high school on May 24, commemorating the announcement with an assembly for students and the press.

Dubbed as “a brand new day for Bishop High,” the principal, Rev. Thomas J. Elewaut, C.J., said that the board of trustees would take over the management of the high school. “We are all committed to ensure a Catholic tradition of Christian secondary education here in Santa Barbara,” he said at the assembly, where leaders of the archdiocese formally signed over the building.

The school began in 1932 as Catholic High and became Bishop Garcia Diego High School in 1959. Elewaut characterized the new management model as a sequel, stating, “It is now commonly accepted that blockbuster movies will have sequels. It is also well known that for sequels to be successful they must carry the moviegoer to new places.”

The board of trustees — which includes Patricia Aijian, John Ambrecht, Keith Berry, David Borgatello, Randal Clark, Eileen Curran, Peter Da Ros, John Gherini, Sr. Angela Hallahan, John Hebda, Carol Hoffer, Ralph Iannelli, Barbara Najera, Carla O’Neill, Lynette Patters and B. Williams — has been open with the community about its intentions to take over Bishop High’s management for more than a year, frequently publishing letters which address the changes in governance. The group has also stated that financial assistance will be made available, on a sliding scale, to every family that cannot afford full tuition of $8,500.

According to Elewaut, “We have celebrated 100 percent college admission by our graduates since 2002. This is our inheritance and our legacy to the future students of Bishop Garcia Diego High School.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 26, 2005.

Vieja Valley wins Math Superbowl

With enough intensity and focus to rival many professional athletes, 431 “mathletes” from 37 local schools competed last week at the 24th Annual South Coast Math Superbowl.

Vieja Valley School took the top prize, defeating 2004 champion Washington School. Kellogg School was in third place, followed by Monte Vista, Cold Spring and Hope Schools.

Each school uses its own screening process to choose the participating mathletes.

At Monte Vista, for example, coach Kim Barney said the entire top math group is given a test to qualify. “I take the top 12 and work with them for about two weeks and then they take another qualifying test and weed it down to five, four team members and one alternate.”

Each school was allowed to field three four-person teams of fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The overall team scores were made up of a combination of individual multiple choice test scores and a team test. There was also a hands-on activity, with separate awards, where teams were challenged to build the tallest freestanding structure they could out of straws, washers and string.

While team members can vary from year to year, Monte Vista’s sixth grade team of Ben Bordofsky, Ryan Gilmore, Johnny Manzo, Ben McKenzie and Amy Ransohoff has been competing together since fourth grade, with the alternates alternating from year to year.

“They’re very motivated to win. They want it again,” said their teacher and coach Lila Allen. The team won in fourth grade and came in second last year, but alas, this year they placed third. They did get a little consolation, however when Bordofsky, Manzo, McKenzie and Ransohoff each won individual medals (Gilmore was the 2005 alternate and not eligible).

Plus, they got the added benefit of “going out for pizza afterward and higher test scores,” laughed Barney.

The winning sixth grade team was from Washington, with Vieja Valley in second place, followed by Monte Vista, Adams, Kellogg and Hope School.

The fifth grade winning team was from Kellogg, followed by Vieja Valley, Washington, Mountain View, Monte Vista and Montecito Union tied for fifth place, and Cold Spring was in sixth place.

Vieja Valley won the fourth grade title, followed by Cold Spring, Kellogg, Washington, Hope and Monte Vista schools.

Hosted by Montecito Union, Cold Spring and Peabody Charter schools the Santa Barbara County Education Office, and Raytheon Vision Systems, representatives awarded individual Olympic-style medals to:

4th Grade School

1st Hanah Koper Vieja Valley

2nd Helen Yang Adams

3rd Eugene Cho Kellogg

4th Agnetta Cleland Vieja Valley

4th Kevin Hempy Vieja Valley

4th Kyle Mayfield Cold Spring

5th Alex Kolarczyk Washington

5th Colin Fristoe Cold Spring

5th Rishika Singh Kellogg

6th Sedric Kim Mountain View

5th Grade School

1st Devin Pearson Adams

2nd Vy-Luan Huynh Kellogg

3rd Ryne Cannon Santa Ynez

4th Thanh-Liem Huynh-Tran Crane

4th Sadnie D’Arcy Montessori

4th Connie Wang Brandon

5th Laura Voyen Kellogg

5th Jackie Botts Mountain View

5th Chloe Warinner Monte Vista

5th Astron Liu Monte Vista

5th Annie Thwing Vieja Valley

6th Avery Schwartz Montecito Union

6th Janine Wilson Kellogg

6th Jake Moghtader Cold Spring

6th Tim Cronshaw Montecito Union

6th Nicholas Carney Monroe

6th Grade School

1st Peter Bang Vieja Valley

2nd Dillon Kraus Washington

2nd Noah Connally Adams

2nd Fabian Chacon Kellogg

2nd Nicholas Below Washington

2nd Ellen Gleason Hope

2nd Qsi Tran Montecito Union

2nd Robie Behlman Adams

3rd Ben Bordofsky Monte Vista

3rd Danny Zandona Washington

3rd Jordan Carlson Adams

3rd Annie Lefley Kellogg

4th Chloe Hughes Roosevelt

4th Matt Swann Hope

4th Johnny Manzo Monte Vista

4th Louis Warne Vieja Valley

5th Cong Dinh Brandon

5th Michael Shaner Brandon

5th Ben McKenzie Monte Vista

5th Nicole Ferrel Roosevelt

5th Melinda Wilson Ballard

5th Kelly Kosmo Mountain View

5th Carly Biedul Crane

5th Sebastian Gomez-Devine Peabody Charter

5th Sergey Sushchikh Isla Vista

5th Simon Manson-Hing Washington

5th Kayvoh Mazooji Peabody Charter

5th Jason Lew May Grisham

5th Amber Wang Ellwood

6th Christian Mkpado Vieja Valley

6th Amy Ransohoff Monte Vista

6th Al Vorosmarthy Isla Vista

6th Aislinn Dunne Cold Spring

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 26, 2005.

Antioch takes an alternative approach to higher education

Antioch Hall, Antioch College, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Antioch Hall, Antioch College, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

While undergraduates across the nation sit in enormous lecture halls enduring their required courses and wondering, “What does this theory have to do with me?” undergraduates at Antioch University sit in a cozy group setting and thoughtfully ponder Professor Hymon T. Johnson’s philosophy, “theory without practice is pointless.”

Its all part of the school’s Service-Learning in the Community seminar, which is required for all undergraduates. Johnson recently took his class to the Santa Barbara Zoo, where they hosted 34 special needs children from El Camino, Ellwood and McKinley Schools, as well as eight of their teachers and teacher’s aides. This was all part of Antioch’s Annual Community Service Day, which began five years ago out of his desire to teach students, faculty, and staff the importance of “connecting in the community in which you live.”

The school has a very unique mission, “to make the world a better place.” The class really changes their way of seeing the world, said Johnson, a former UCSB professor and Goleta Union and Crane Country Day School board member.

Kym Mathers, a psychology major, said community service day was a great experience and a bit of stereotype buster. She had three boys in her group and said they were “bright, articulate, with great vocabularies,” adding, “these were not at all what you think of when you say handicapped children.”

Sitting in on one of the service-learning students’ Monday night meetings, they talked about their community service internships and related the text — which includes writings from a variety of academics, as well as the five major religious traditions — to things that were going on in their own lives.

Volunteering in the pediatrics unit at Cottage Hospital, Nicole Weaver, a psychology student, said she absolutely loves it. “I’m learning a lot about how to give my time other people.”

Ryan Ptucha, a communications major who is doing his internship at Devereux, said he was struck by how much attention his special needs charges required.

“I keep having to remember what it is to serve,” said Susan Utter, a psychology student who bemoaned the “dry, clerical tasks” she was asked to perform in her internship at the SLO Hep C Project in San Luis Obispo.

Wendy Barchat , a business major volunteering at the Single Parent Community Resource Center, is herself a single parent, and said it was difficult for her not to do “everything and then some, short of sending a check out of my own pocket,” for the people she was serving, “at the price of my own family.”

When Barchat commented about the difficulty of becoming too involved with the people she was serving, Johnson took that opportunity to lead the class into a lively discussion on codependent relationships and when the best help is no help.

“Critical thinking and diverse perspectives guide our curriculum,” explained Johnson, as his students discussed the writings of work of Ram Dass, Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I keep coming across things in the reading that fit exactly what I’m going through in my life,” said Utter.

That’s what should happen, said her professor with a knowing smile. “This is what education is supposed to do, not just fill our heads but also fill our hearts.”

For more information about Antioch University and Service-Learning in the Community call 962.8179 or visit

Originally published in SuperOnda Magazine in May 2005.

Rediscovering my princess pride

The New Girl, by JD Hancock, courtesy

The New Girl, by JD Hancock, courtesy

Boy, oh boy, it’s great to have a girls day

I have to admit, I was looking forward to doing something girly for a change. It’s not that I don’t love being a “boy mom,” but there’s a distinct void of sparkly shoes, turreted castles and pretend weddings in my life, and quite frankly, I miss it. I enjoy being a girl.

I get “pouffy party dress envy” at Easter time, when my nieces flounce around in their fancy fashions, while my son stuffs his face and dirties his khakis with chocolate. And don’t even get me started on those Nutcracker performances at Christmas.

So when my sister asked me to stand in for her at a Washington School Mommy & Me tea party last weekend, I jumped at the chance to embrace all that is pink, delicate and flowery, and play “girl mom” for a day. I am girl, hear me giggle.

I had my first clue that I was entering an alternate universe when we got in the car.

“Your chariot awaits,” I announced, trying to get into the spirit of princess culture.

“Roll up the windows,” commanded six-year-old Princess Lauren, as I strapped her into the back seat. “I don’t want to mess up my hair.”

“It’s 80 degrees outside,” I said.

“But we’re going to get our picture taken. Doesn’t your air conditioning work?” she said impatiently.

“Not really, your highness. But the hairbrush in my purse does.”

Crisis averted. But I was definitely out of my league. Many of the women at the party were wearing heels, hose and hats. Haven’t they read that pantyhose can give you brain tumors? It’s in print. Right here. At least it wasn’t the 70s, when my mom would dress us in matching outfits. I tried that once with my son. Another dollar in the therapy jar.

Lauren fluffed her hair and checked my lipstick before we posed for our souvenir photo (next to an artfully arranged tea set). At this point, I looked around for the unicorn to escort us down a trail of fairy dust. Instead, one of our hostesses, Eileen Ochsner, offered us the chance to buy raffle tickets.

“It wouldn’t be Washington if we didn’t try to gouge you one more time,” she joked, as I forked over the last of my cash. Lauren drooled over the girly girl treasures we had just bought the chance to win.

When we got to the backyard (unicornless, unfortunately) Lauren disappeared faster than Cinderella’s coach at midnight. I found her in the crafts area, buried in a sea of pink frosting. The girls were surprisingly well behaved, passing the sprinkles and gems back and forth. I had a brief flashback to my son’s boisterous Halloween cookie decorating (“Pass the pumpkin. Thwomp! … To my hand, not my hair…”).

Very impressive! I wondered if these girls had enrolled in the World of Disney princess class I had read about where Cinderella’s beautiful friend, Lady Seraphina, educates starry-eyed pupils in the four Princess Principles — intelligence, grace, thoughtfulness and honesty. I think Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful and Dopey were busy that day.

Feeling like a bad feminist, I whispered to one of my cohorts: “I totally get the princess thing. Look how cute they are.”

And they were, absolutely precious. I could almost see invisible tiaras on their freshly curled hair. They were precious in a way that little boys, well … little boys just aren’t. I adore my son and it’s hard enough to keep him clean, so please don’t ever let on that I actually find him cuter when he’s covered in dirt and grass stains than when he gets dressed up.

I coo a little over the ladybug bracelet Lauren just made, as one of the teachers comes up to admire her dress and tell her how pretty she looks.

She beams.

She is pretty, and enjoys being so, which makes me feel both proud and protective over her, as I remember what teenage boys — and preteen girls — can be like. Right now her dressing up is sweet and it’s innocent and it’s a long way from Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, but still, a part of me wants to shout, “and she’s good at math and science too.”

What am I so worried about, I wonder? Lauren is hardly prissy, and she knows she’s smart, as well as pretty. “Princess power,” she jokes with her friends, as they connect the bracelets they just made.

I say a silent prayer that she’ll hold on to her confidence. Studies say that girls’ self esteem peaks at age 9. Another found that 46 percent of high school boys and only 29 percent of high school girls reported being “happy the way I am,” which makes me feel both happy and a little guilty to be happy that I’m a “boy mom.”

“Stay happy little girls,” I want to tell them. You can be anything that you want to be. Hold on to those invisible tiaras.

Lauren and I clink our teacups — with pinky’s out — and say, “cheers to princess power.” Here’s hoping it lasts.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 19, 2005.

Group aims to influence its sphere

The unincorporated "Noleta" area between Goleta and SB, photo by Antandrus, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

The unincorporated “Noleta” area between Goleta and SB, photo by Antandrus, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

That fine line between the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta — alternately known as “Noleta,” “Santaleta,” “the unincorporated county” and “home” to approximately 30,000 residents of the 93110, 93111 and part of the 93105 ZIP codes — took a step toward becoming part of Santa Barbara on Tuesday, thanks to the petition efforts of a group called the West Santa Barbara Committee.

Some of that area’s residents’ growing unease is the result of a governmental phenomenon known as a “sphere of influence,” in which a city may designate a contiguous unincorporated area as a potential prelude to annexation.

Fueled in part by concern that the city of Goleta will include plans for the area in its General Plan, the West Santa Barbara Committee collected more than 4,000 signatures favoring Santa Barbara’s sphere of influence, as it was years ago.

“Now we have Goleta doing its General Plan and hidden from view is a potential land grab for the entire unincorporated area. We know this is happening,” said Steve Engles, committee chairman.

However, Bob Braitman, executive director of the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, told the Santa Barbara City Council that Goleta did not have any designs on the unincorporated area.

“The city of Goleta says their boundaries are appropriate,” he said.

LAFCO, which will ultimately decide the fate of the incorporated area, is in the process of doing a state-required Municipal Service Review of the zones and, when that is completed in the next month or so, Santa Barbara council members indicated they would likely be supportive of the efforts to put “Santaleta” into the city’s sphere of influence.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 12, 2005.

Home for the dying provides living inspiration

Sarah House (courtesy photo)

Sarah House (courtesy photo)

Sarah House opens its doors even wider for those in need

A residential care facility for people who are sick and dying doesn’t exactly conjure up uplifting images. But a visit to Sarah House — which has provided a home, medical care and often end-of-life care for more than 250 individuals living with AIDS — is more inspiring than depressing.

Nancy Lynn recounted what a wonderful time she and her son, and later her granddaughter, had volunteering in the Sarah House kitchen.

“It was a great experience,” said Lynn, who has since become a Sarah House board member. “It’s such a loving, homelike atmosphere, with an opportunity for families to be supportive.”

“Most people come in, and as they are walking out they say this is not at all what I expected,” said executive director Randy Sunday, who successfully navigated through the Legislature recently to expand Sarah House’s services to provide holistic hospice care for the dying poor who are not HIV-positive.

Aiming to be “the next best thing to home,” the inspiration for the facility was to provide a loving, caring place for people in the final days of their lives.

It’s heartbreaking work, but it’s also beautiful work and important work, said house manager Debbie McQuade, who has worked with AIDS Housing Santa Barbara since it began in 1991, with Heath House. Sarah House opened on the Westside in 1994 and it has eight residential care beds and three two-bedroom apartments on the site. AIDS Housing Santa Barbara also serves approximately 25 other individuals who live in independent apartments.

The good news is that fewer people are dying of AIDS, and more are able to move into off-site or “scattered site” housing. The bad news is that facilities like Sarah House are closing in other places, leaving needy people with nowhere to go.

The Santa Barbara community put so much into the creation of Sarah House — named for the late Sarah Shoresman, whose daughter, Linda Lorenzen-Hughes, remains active on the board of directors — that they were determined to find a way to keep it open.

“In order to honor our contract with the public, (we thought) why don’t we try to care for people who are dying and non-HIV,” Sunday said.

The team worked with former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to shepherd legislation that would ultimately allow Sarah House to become what Sunday termed the “first social (as opposed to medical) model hospice,” meaning it can be staffed by personnel other than registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses.

The social model allows for more staffing flexibility (for example, nurses aren’t allowed to help cook or clean) and significant cost savings.

Sunday said it costs Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital more than $4,000 a day to care for patients, while it costs Sarah House $250 a day to care for its residents.

The other difference with a social model, which is difficult to quantify, is the “next best thing to being at home” atmosphere.

“You go into a hospital, the first smell that might hit you is something slightly antiseptic. You come in here it’s going to be chicken soup or chile rellenos,” Sunday said. “And as we’re learning or seeing, hospice care is not just care for the dying resident, it’s caring for the loved ones, friends and family around them.”

“I’m so grateful we were able to get mom into such a nice place,” said Jeanette Aroldi-Schall, whose mother, Anne Arnoldi, was cared for at Sarah House before she died last month.

“Really we’re providing a great service, I feel,” said Lynn, adding that the board is working hard to get the message out that Sarah House has now opened its doors wider, to serve all needy members of the community, and that it is also seeking support in the form of monetary donations and volunteers.

For more information visit, call 882.1192 or e-mail

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara

Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care, courtesy photo.

Mother’s Day Luncheon

“Honoring and remembering our mothers” was the theme of the annual luncheon to benefit the charity care mission of Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara at the Coral Casino on May 5.

Always a tearjerker, the event singles out two mothers each year, one living and one who has passed away.

Peter Douglas spoke movingly of his mother, Anne Douglas, who then upstaged her son with a witty acceptance. Then Jerry Rubinstein shared his fond memories of his mother Yetta Rubinstein, as well as his gratitude for the services his family received from Hospice VNA when Yetta died in 2001.

Emcees Debby Davison and Larry Crandell kept things lively while honorary event chairs Judy and Peter Murphy spoke about the good work that Hospice VNA does in the community. The weather didn’t cooperate, but the unexpected rain didn’t prevent event chairwomen Nancy Kimsey and Barbara Kummer and their committees from smoothly running the silent auction and luncheon, which raised over $125,000.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 12, 2005.

Family united, a world apart

At home in Santa Barbara, proud mom soldiers on

Winning her own war against worry on the domestic front, longtime military wife Janet (Barens) Flatebo is keeping the home fires burning in Santa Barbara while her husband, son and daughter-in-law are all stationed in Iraq.

She and her husband, Gene Flatebo, both grew up in Santa Barbara. They met at a Sadie Hawkins Dance at San Marcos High, where her father, John Barens, was vice principal. They fell in love and married soon after Janet’s graduation in 1976.

At that point, Gene was already in the Marines, which he soon left to join the Army. When their twin sons, Luke and Richard, were only 5 months old, Gene was assigned to Livorno, Italy.

“I guess I had to grow up really fast,” said Janet, who gave birth to a daughter, Trina, soon after the twins. “I had three kids at age 21 and we were out of the country.”

As Gene moved up the ranks — “he was in the 82nd Airborne, he was Special Forces, he was in Delta, he was a path finder, he was a jump master, and he was in a unit, it’s called a black unit, kind of like the Delta and Special Forces” — the young family moved with him.

Italy and Berlin were some of Janet’s favorite assignments, she said, “because your friends became your family, and they are still your friends today.”

While most of the Army wives she “grew up with” have husbands who have retired and gone on to civilian jobs, Gene, who retired from the Army 11 years ago as a chief warrant officer (CW2), works for Halliburton subsidiary KBR. He volunteered for Iraq in February and will be there “at least another year.” She plans to rendezvous with him in Greece in August.

Meanwhile, she keeps company with her widowed mother, Jean Barens, and stays busy working as a registered dental assistant for Dr. Michael W. Thompson.

While still difficult, being apart has gotten easier thanks to improved communication. When Gene was in the first Persian Gulf War, Janet recalled, “I got maybe two phone calls from him, they were $50 each. … Now he calls every other day.”

Her son, Luke, an Army sergeant stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad, and his wife, Tina, a staff sergeant stationed in Remagen in Tikrit, e-mail frequently, and even have Web cameras.

“They’ll be there a year to 18 months,” said Janet. Prior to Iraq they were stationed in Korea.

As difficult as it is to have family members so far away and in danger, Janet treasures her life as a military wife. “It was a great life. I would do it all over again,” she said.

And for others, who are just beginning on that path, she advised them to pray, keep busy and not watch too much TV.

“You have to laugh a lot and always support the person who is in harm’s way. Try not to complain … as they are just as worried about you,” she said.

“Also thank anyone who is in the military … if you know anyone who has a loved one in the military let them also know that you are grateful that they are serving our country and keeping us free.

“I don’t think the military hears that enough.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 12, 2005.

Taking a vacation from my guilt trips

Not Guilty by Ged Carroll, courtesy

Not Guilty by Ged Carroll, courtesy

I’m doing the right thing. Or am I?

I was raised on a diet of guilt, albeit one well seasoned with plenty of humor (a caveat I added so that I wouldn’t feel too guilty when my mother reads this). Guilt is so deeply embedded into my DNA that I really thought it would be the one aspect of motherhood I would have mastered in advance. After all, I’ve spent most of my life making important decisions based on the avoidance of future guilt (Can the dentist really tell if I skip one night of flossing? I’d rather watch The O.C., but what if Joey gets canceled because I stopped watching?).

I hear a lot of voices in my head, and while my mother’s is one of the loudest, I’m also haunted by Humphrey Bogart’s warning at the end of Casablanca: “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”

Of course, if I were Ingrid Bergman I would have felt guilty for even having the discussion about leaving my husband, especially outside in the rain, where I could have caught a cold and died, thus ruining my mother’s life.

Yet, despite so many years of guilty woulda coulda shoulda dress rehearsals in my head, I continue to be surprised by how entwined guilt is with motherhood.

I’m still reeling from last week’s doozy.

My husband and I went to Soho to hear a friend sing, a rare night out in adult world, while unbeknownst to us (cell phones only work if you can hear them ring) our son was vomiting — for several hours — all over grandma’s house.

My poor baby! My poor mom! Her poor carpet! My stomach still hurts from feeling guilty over my mistreatment of all three of them. Of course, my overdeveloped gag reflex doesn’t help.

While the part of me that hears voices is convinced that people with clear consciences have bad memories, or are just plain delusional, the more rational part of me has decided that all of this guilt has got to go. Therefore, this Mother’s Day (while part of me was enjoying being with my family and part of me was wishing I could be at a spa, with Sven the masseuse) I resolved that there are certain things I will no longer feel guilty about. The list includes:

1. Working full time. Yeah right, who am I kidding? Even though my husband stays home with our son, I am convinced that I could be doing a better job if I were the one to say home, which of course, I feel terribly guilty for even thinking about when he’s such a great father.

2. Being more lenient with my son than I should be on the weekends, because I want our time together to be fun. (Yeah sure. Want to lay odds on that one?)

3. Gelt guilt: the Jewish version of spending the weekend buying things for your child because you worked all week and you want your time together to be fun.

Clearly I’m aiming a bit too high — or I’m a total failure at guilt alleviation, which makes me feel simultaneously terrible and guilty. Maybe I should ease into this less ambitiously. From here on I resolve to not feel guilty:

4. About lusting after my childless friends’ bank accounts and social calendars.

5. That my son’s favorite song is “Psycho Killer” instead of “Requiem in D Minor.”

6. Taking that first, wonderful sip of my latte and feeling like a terrible mom for enjoying it when I could have stayed home with my son for five minutes longer instead.

7. That we let our son watch TV in the morning so we can sleep “just a little longer.”

8. That I sometimes pretend to be asleep in the hopes that my husband will get up with our child in the middle of the night.

9. That I sometimes pretend to be asleep in the hopes that my husband will not get up with me in the middle of the night.

10. That I pray I’ll be the only one home when I pull into the driveway.

11. … Then am annoyed that I rushed from work and there’s nobody there.

12. Doing a little happy dance when I go to work and my husband has to worry about what to feed our little darling for breakfast.

13. That my husband and I spend the majority of our date nights talking about our son, and not about things like “Requiem in D Minor.”

14. For feeling guilty and then blaming it on my DNA or the voices in my head.

15. Picturing my child telling his analyst about me one day.

16. … Then putting money in a therapy jar every time I do something I know he will tell his analyst about.

There, I actually feel better.

Or at least I will when I get home and put $16 in the therapy jar for writing this column.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 12, 2005.

Taran honored for making a difference

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person,” goes the conventional wisdom. “If you want to get something done, get Sissy involved with it,” say friends of Sissy Taran.

They weren’t kidding.

The Montecito resident, along with husband Bernie and daughters Francine and Nadine, recently returned from Israel, where she helped dedicate the Center for Emergency Medicine at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem.

The Tarans were part of the largest donor mission in the history of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and were among nearly 700 donors from across the United States who gave $50 million to build the state-of the-art emergency center.

Taran, who serves as vice president of membership for the 460-member Hadassah group in Santa Barbara, said the trip was amazing, particularly given the recent announcement that the Hadassah Medical Organization was nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

“(The hospital) is called an island of peace for both Jews and Palestinians … because it does take care of so many people,” Taran said.

“I’ve just been on such a high. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been fortunate enough that my husband and I can help make the world a better place. That’s our belief.”

Taran was also recently honored as the “Queen of Hearts” by Hadassah Southern California. She sits on the organization’s cabinet and has received commendations from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn; as well as lawmakers, state officials and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The honorary dinner, held in Woodland Hills, was a benefit for the pediatric hemato-oncology departments of the Ein Kerem hospital.

“I just found something that I could become passionate about,” Taran said. “I kind of found my spirituality through Hadassah.”

Taran is also a board member of Congregation B’nai B’rith, a member of CALM (Child Abuse and Listening Mediation) Auxiliary, and is involved with the Anti-Defamation League and the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

The Tarans also work with children from Cleveland and Franklin schools as part of the Fighting Back Mentor Program and tutor for the Read Right now Program.

And somehow she fits in time to baby-sit her grandson, Ethan, and “finds time for bridge and the mahjong, the important things in life, ” she laughed.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 5, 2005.