Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Calling All Golfers and 'Do-Gooders'!!

A one-time-only photo of James, My Dad and my brother, Chalie on the golf course!!

I received this message from my brother yesterday. He is participating in a great event and is looking for pledges. If your life has been touched by cancer or if you know of a child who has lost a parent to cancer, please consider sponsoring Chalie in this awesome endeavor! Any amount will help!

I've sponsored him for $5 a hole... Can't wait to see if he makes it!!!


Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you well! I would like to tell you about a feat that I am undertaking on November 8, 2010. This event will take place in Charlottesville, VA in support of the UVA Cancer Center. It will be a huge challenge for me but I am up for the task and the rewards are priceless!

As you know I am an avid golfer and I'm going to be playing golf from sun up to sun down in hopes of playing 100 holes of golf. You are probably asking yourself the same question I did, why would I want to take on such a lofty goal. The answer is simple.... to help children who have a parent with late stage incurable cancer. These kids are faced with the reality of loosing their mom or dad in the very near future and I am committed to helping.

I have partnered with the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. When you are diagnosed with late-stage, incurable cancer, you think immediately of your children. You realize the many future memories you looked forward to with your children-the birthday parties, the first crush, learning to drive, going out to the ball park, graduations, weddings & grandchildren will not be realized as they were supposed to. This is the most anguishing & distressing facet of late stage cancer, its impact on the children left behind by a parent who dies.

JAJF ensures the children and their Mom and Dad capture indispensable memories together that will be both a return to some normalcy now and a legacy to cherish. They have and are securing a wide range of"WOW! Inventory" defined as: shared family experiences such as VIP status, special access, privileged guest appearances/tours, tickets, perks, and meet and greets.

WOW! Experiences™ include resorts, award shows, concerts, professional and college sports, all-star games, The NBA Draft, PGA Tour experiences, theme parks and attractions, Broadway, etc.


Here is a great segment by Ann Curry in a recent TODAY Show piece she did on the foundation

Here's where I need your help! I am raising pledges based on the number of holes I complete this day. My goal is to play 72 holes, myself and those children who are loosing a parent would so appreciate your support.

Please click on my fundraising pledge page to make your pledge to help these families


Please visit the website of the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation's website at to learn more about the great things that are making a difference is these families lives.

Thank you,

Charley Farren

Chalie with Jack and Kate

Chalie and wife, Kim

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Club 33...Shhhh, It's a Secret!

From Wikipedia:

Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. Officially maintained as a secret feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club is located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at "33 Royal Street" with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it. When riding Pirates of the Caribbean, just as the ride departs, the Blue Bayou restaurant is visible, but the balconies above it are actually a part of Club 33. Club 33 members and their guests have exclusive access to the club's restaurant, and the premises are not open to the public at large. It is the only location within Disneyland to offer alcoholic beverages.

Now, before you go getting the idea that we are the type of people who would pay $10,000 a year to eat at a restaurant... We are not. The (private) company that James is employed by does offer some nice perks. Use of the membership of Club 33 is one of them. Dining at the Club was a unique experience, very hush-hush and secret handshakish (new word!)

A dinner reservation at Club 33 includes a complimentary 1 day park-hopper pass for Disneyland and California Adventure for each person in the party. The first thing diners are made aware of is the fact that no entree on the menu at the Club is priced below the cost of a day's entrance to Disneyland. Best to be forewarned, wouldn't want anyone choking when they see that the 'kids meal' (which consists of fruit salad, 3 chicken fingers, fries and a dessert) is $59.00 !!!

Our dinner at the Club was a belated birthday gift for me from James. We brought the girls and they each brought a guest.
We chose the Chef's Menu:

Forest Mushroom Vol au Vent Spiced Mango Cream
Rock Lobster, Tree Ripened Peach Risotto, Charred Asparagus
Braised Chateaubriand Medallions, Maui Onion Consomme
Regional Artisan Cheese
Lemon Creme Fraiche raspberry Gateau, Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

The Rock Lobster Second Course

The Chateaubriand Third Course

Special kids dessert - vanilla cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate fudge icing, edible Mickey face

We'll be going back to Club 33 when my parents come for their visit in January. I'm sure they'll love it as much as we did!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My 30 Year High School Reunion

I'm wondering how this could have happened... Going to my 30 year High School reunion when mentally, I'm still about 18.

For most of the summer I busied myself with preparations for the reunion. One would think this meant a crash diet, some laser work around the eyes or a few Botox shots. But, no! For me this meant sitting in front of my computer, getting reacquainted with some old classmates.

I really haven't met too many people who can claim that their high school experience was terrific. The teen aged years are fraught with insecurities - trying to find one's place in a group, a school, a community... the world. I was no different. Outwardly, I guess I did all the 'right things'. I kept reasonably good, but not stellar, grades. I was a cheerleader. I was the Photography editor of my yearbook. I kept out of trouble.

I transferred to Old Mill High School in December of 1976, having spent grades 1-8 at Maternity BVM grade school and the beginning of my Freshman year at Archbishop Ryan High School for Girls (Philadelphia). Public school was overwhelming for me. For the first time ever, I had to have clothes to wear to school. I never thought I would wish for a school uniform, but those first few weeks at Old Mill I cried for my solid blue jumper and Peter Pan collared shirts!! I missed my friends in Philadelphia terribly and was devastated when their letters stopped coming or when they arrived containing details of how life was going on there without me.

In Maryland, the neighborhood kids tortured me. I was a 'city slicker' (really.) Apparently, they also had some imaginary source of information about me before I arrived... my 'reputation' was assailed almost immediately. I was constantly ridiculed for my 'accent'. This, from a bunch of hicks who didn't wear socks with their shoes! (My Dad nearly died laughing when he saw Docksiders worn with no socks - never really understood why he found it amusing but he used it as evidence of being surrounded by bumpkins all the time!) But, time moved on. I made some nice friends, became active in school activities and just prayed for it all to end quickly.

I was so pleased when, over the course of the summer, I came to know my former classmates as some truly outstanding human beings. Turns out, they suffered some of the same indignities as I did. They felt the same sense of befuddlement and alienation. They turned out great. I guess I did too.

Once I accepted that I was not the 128 pound 17 year old cheerleader anymore, I began to really enjoy getting in touch with old friends. I had no judgement for my female friends who had put on weight or male friends who were losing their hair. I just loved them... really just adored all of them. I was really happy to be in their presence for those few hours on Oct 9th.

Pictured above is me and Chip. We have been friends for 30+ years. He has always been a source of fun, laughter and general mischief for me. We were on the yearbook staff together and generally ran in similar circles. We've kept in touch for all these years with quick visits squeezed in when we were both in the same area. His Mom, Kay, is still one of my most favorite people in the world. I loved watching him become a Dad with his incredible daughter, Grace. He's a keeper. He was one of the people I spent a good part of the summer working with on the reunion. He will be one of the people who shares all the happy times to come.

Here are a some photos and details from the reunion:

This is Laura, who was the driving force behind the reunion. I spent more time laughing with Laura than I have with any other person in years. In high school we ran in the same general crowd and were on the yearbook staff together. I didn't know her well then, but I adore her now. I miss talking/emailing with her everyday. From this point on, all trips to the East Coast will HAVE to include visits with Laura and her family. She's another keeper, can't imagine not having her in my life from here on in...!

This is Karen and Deb. Both have been my dear friends for 30+ years too. Karen and I were roommates in Annapolis for a number of years in the early 90's. We carried on like sisters for the longest time... we fought, we shared, we worked together. For most of the past 30 years though, we have been staunch allies and the best of friends. Deb has been a near constant in my life for 30+ years as well. We double-dated midshipmen together, attended each other at our weddings, celebrated the birth of our daughters together and shared just about all major life events. She is a trusted and life-long friend.

Here's Maddie with Karen and Deb. (Maddie came along to work the registration table)

Other highlights of the reunion:

Helen, me, Dana and Annette.

Helen worked on the reunion committee, too. We have been fortunate to have shared company with Helen twice here in California. She's a great gal and we hope to see her in the months to come. My dearest Dana, whose home I practically lived in for most of my high school years, has weathered some incredible adversities. 6 hours after arriving in Maryland I sought her out... I found her looking just beautiful and none the worse for wear after surviving a brain tumor 3 years ago. The tumor left her deaf in one ear and she has some memory issues. However, she recognized everyone at the reunion and I think she had a great time. Maddie, Josie and I visited her and her Mom, Miss Gloria, on the day after the reunion. It was great to be 'home' again! Annette has been married for 26 years to Carlos, who was such a pleasure to share time with. I learned that my Dad had worked with Carlos & Annette when he was in real estate many years ago. I found Annette to be the same fun-loving girl I knew so long ago.

Carole and Leigh

Yeah, I'm secure in saying that Carole turned out to be the class 'hottie'. I thought there would be a line of male classmates lining up to greet her and I wasn't too far off. She is a treasure. Leigh and I were cheerleaders together - she was very low key in HS, kind of like the quiet amongst the chaos... Look at how beautiful she has remained!

Cindy, Burt and Sandy.

It was the first time I had seen Cindy since leaving high school. She looked fabulous and glamorous. Burt was my cohort in mischief for a good part of our HS years. He is the person I hold personally responsible for our homeroom teacher, Ms. Green, hating my guts. He's a grandfather twice over, married for 28 years and still a troublemaker. My Maddie absolutely loved him... like Mother, like daughter. Sandy was on the reunion committee, in charge of press releases and promotion. I was thrilled to learn that Sandy and I share the bond of being adoptive parents. I'm hoping to meet her children and visit with Sandy when I return to the East Coast...

Cindy, Susan, Christine and Marilyn

Susan remains the ultimate cheerleader, like she was in HS. She still has boundless energy and enthusiasm for everyone and everything! She is the mother of 3 handsome and accomplished sons - a one-person booster section for each, I'm sure. Marilyn has her own business - successfully spreading joy in the form of Botox shots for a large clientele. She has 3 beautiful kids, a handsome husband and no doubt, a lot of joy in life.

I could go on and on about how successful, friendly and accomplished my former classmates are and how much they have contributed to their respective communities. Time, and a monkey named Josie climbing on my back are preventing me from doing that! I am happy to report however, that based on the suggestion of another Old Mill alum, we will all be getting together to celebrate our 50th birthdays in 2012. It's going to be a lot of fun and I am determined to not only attend but to actually have full conversations with everyone who attends....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cruises and Colleges... Oh My!

I’m feeling a bit of ‘let down’ these past few days…

I feel like I’m always playing catch-up. Took me nearly four days of thinking, unpacking, flying and driving just to sit down at my computer to update this blog. Writing here is like therapy – with pictures! So much has happened in the past 10 days – really important stuff – that I’m still trying to organize it in my mind and share it with all of my family and friends. It all feels like an unfinished sentence…just on the tip of my tongue then poof - its gone! But, I think I can get it all down now…

Our trip ‘Back East’ was wonderful. It began on Friday, Oct 1st with a trip to Annapolis for shopping and an early dinner with the girls. We had dinner at a sushi restaurant, Joss, which is on Main Street. When it first opened in the early 90’s I had dinner there about once a week. Back then, it was a well kept secret. Now, they’ve expanded and the line is out the door! Got my favorite – spicy scallop roll (pictured above). YUM!

Later in the evening we met up with my Goddaughter Katie and my dear Karen. Katie’s boyfriend (Josie’s too!), Jesse, worked the bar. Maddie and Katie were deep in conversation and Karen and I discussed details of our up-coming 30th High School Reunion. A very fun evening.

On Saturday, we boarded the Enchantment of the Seas for a 5 -day cruise to Bermuda. Joining us were Josie’s Pre-School Posse BFF’s , Maria and Emma, who were kind enough to allow their mothers and big sisters to tag along for the trip! Maddie and ‘Big’ Emma disappeared into the teen center on board and we saw them only at dinner and curfew. Last year, Jamie, Lori, Claudine and I took a cruise without the kids. This year we decided to bring our girls along, due in no small part to their fathers’ collective inability to multi-task for longer than a few hours!

This year, Claudine stayed at home with her new ‘dober-daughter’, Midori.

In her place, Lori’s friend Karen provided the 4th wheel to balance our traveling road show. Such good company! Here are a few shots from our trip:

Maria & Josie with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background

In my late 20's, I spent lots of time sailing under this bridge...

The posse: Emma, Josie and Maria

Emma and Maria rock out on Guitar Hero!

Maddie and 'big' Emma (Jamie's older daughter)

Hamilton, Bermuda

Hamilton, Bermuda

My Girls at the Snorkel Park

Jamie and her Girls

Maddie and Emma on the way to snorkel Bootleggers Cove

Three beauties!

Exploring together is the Best Fun!!

More of the Bermuda Aquarium

Lori assists the girls at Bootlegger's Cove

Such a drag to be missing school!

The Captain made a BIG mistake when he let these two drive the boat!!

Our second day in Bermuda.

The post-cruise blues...

We call this the "Aunt Claudine commemorative portrait" (She did this in nearly every group shot on last years cruise!)

While we were on the East Coast, my sister Suzanne suggested that we join her, Zach and Liam for two campus visits. Zach is a senior at Archbishop Ryan in Philadelphia. He’s determined to go to the University of Pennsylvania, but we all felt it best that he have a few ‘back-up’ schools. Maddie is a Junior at a Catholic HS here in CA – a school which encourages students to start campus visits in their Junior year.

We were truly fortunate, while touring Georgetown University, to meet up with Chris D. Chris is a sophomore at Georgetown and also the son of one of my grade school classmates, Michelle B-H. Chris is such an accomplished young man. He answered all of our questions honestly and was quite patient with us. Thank you Chris, for making our visit to GU so enjoyable…

Meeting Chris...

Sacred Heart Chapel, Georgetown University

Suzanne with Zach and Liam on the Georgetown Campus.

Madeleine loved Georgetown, as did I. I loved watching her look around and take it all in. Next year, she will finally make the first real adult decision of her life - where she'll live for the following four years. We've moved around so much. I told her this is her chance to choose where she wants to live, the kind of community she wants to be a part of...the kind of people she wants to surround herself with. It's an exciting and important prospect. I know she will make her choice carefully.

Next post will cover my 30 year High School reunion. It was a blast! Can't wait to share it!