Friday, September 26, 2008

Win A Trip to Anna Maria Island!

You know how much I love to travel, and you know how much I love a good deal. Well, here's something that has both. I can't take advantage of this opportunity, but you can! Florida's Gulf Islands is a wonderful Old Florida beach destination about an hour and a half north of my home. My agency has had the privilege of being the advertising agency for Manatee County for about 2 years now. We have had so much fun this past year developing some amazing online vacation promotions to coincide with our new site design. 

For this Fall, we came up with a custom vacation giveaway, where you can register to win a trip that you create yourself. It includes a free hotel stay at Tradewinds Resort on Anna Maria Island, a charming cottage-style getaway in Bradenton Beach. Then, you get to add-on 5 additional vacation experiences, including spa, dining, shopping, rentals and tours! The créme de la créme - you can forward it to 5 friends and if one of them wins, then you win the trip too!!! Damn, I'm brilliant (as are my biz partners and our highly talented team)!

Simply go to Florida's Gulf Islands and click on the bright red-orange button to register. After you're done, browse around the site we designed and see if you can spot anyone you know... we always torture our friends and family by making them be in photo shoots. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Moment in Time

I just took a wild ride on a time machine to the late 80's. The place: Syracuse University. The reason: My 20 year college reunion (shocking, I know) combined with homecoming weekend and a get together with my Chi Omega sisters. The Fam went with, and our teenage daughter Taryn was dismayed that hubby Gene and I had so much trouble getting our bearings. In fact, we were so disoriented, it took a lot of winding and weaving in the rental car to find the campus. When we finally arrived and parked in Booth Hall garage, we had to ask the parking attendant for a campus map so we could figure out which way to go to get to the quad.

C'mon now, I told her, it's been over 20 years. Many buildings have been added was my other excuse. As the memories came rolling back, and the scenery started to take a familiar course, I got my groove back and navigated the campus to show my little one the buildings I had classes in, the library where I bought cigarettes to keep me up during all-nighters, the bookstore and the creme de la creme, Crouse College... the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

My husband, who was my fiancé at the time, told Taryn about the nude figure drawing classes I took him to and I told her while we climbed the winding staircase that the only thing missing inside the beautiful old building was the smell of clove cigarettes. Taryn and I paused to listen to an opera singer practicing behind a closed door. The drawings adorning the walls and the kids sprawled in the halls made me feel nostalgic for the days of art school.

The weekend was a flood of memories, from stories told between us Chi O sisters… to a game in the Dome (all it took was a little Chi O love for the football team to win one!)… to a couple cold ones at Maggie's… to visits to my old apartments and dorm (which look exactly the same). A tour of the Chi Omega house was a sentimental and sad experience, as our chapter no longer exists at SU and our house is occupied by another sorority. They were gracious enough to grant us a tour, and we even managed a peek at the dormer on the third floor.

While some things have changed, others have not. Those items that time cannot erase: frisbee on the lawn by fraternity row, the blast of air that sends you scurrying out the doors of the carrier dome, the color orange worn proudly, a citrusy little mascot, students scattered on the quad, dollar slices at the Varsity, $3 pitchers, institutions like Chuck's, Maggie's, and Faegan's, sweatshirts from Manny's, and, ultimately, the bond formed between sisters.

Syracuse University gave me much more than an incredible education, it gave me a meaningful career, a lifelong sisterhood and an alma mater I am still proud of.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall Recruitment at FGCU

I feel like I've been out of town for the past few days. In a sense, I've been transported to 1986 and my sorority just had hundreds of girls rush through our doors in the hopes of becoming a Chi Omega. Really, this week was a blast from the past. The Chi O chapter at FGCU completed its first ever formal recruitment week today. 

As a Chapter Advisor, I spent numerous hours over the past four days at the FGCU Student Union volunteering to set up, clean up and everything in between. At the same time that it brought back many fond college memories, it gave my body a reality check. Late nights, long hours and irregular meals is a thing of the past for a reason! But it was very rewarding to be there for the bright young ladies whom I call sisters. Not only that, spending time with my fellow advisor sisters has been great fun. I can hardly wait until my daughter, Taryn, pledges Chi Omega at University of Gainesville.

A couple shouts out... one to The Flying Pig, a catering company introduced to me by a fellow advisor, Lou P. I haven't yet used the company myself, but have had the pleasure of tasting some of their delectable desserts on more than one occasion. The other kudos goes to Grandezza, where we held today's Bid Day lunch for the 50 plus new members, the 60 plus current sisters and the Advisory Board. If you haven't been, the clubhouse is gorgeous, the buffet was delightful and the ballroom would make for a beautiful wedding or event.

I have been told many times over the years that people would never peg me for a sorority girl. But those nearly 300,000 women who have pledged Chi Omega over the past 100+ years would tell you I am a Chi O thru and thru. The sorority I belong to is dedicated to the growth and advancement of strong, smart women and ideals of friendship, honesty and integrity. The XO motto, "To be womanly always, discouraged never." Chi O is about me trying to be my best self, and friends who accept me as is. Now that's a sisterhood I can relate to.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy B'Day to Me!

Traditionally, my birthday is spent out of town as it is so close to Labor Day weekend. This year, due to the upcoming trip to Syracuse University, we opted for a local event. I say event because my birth celebration is usually more than a day. Kimberly, my co-hort, calls it a birthday week. On big years, maybe a birthday month. And that is NOT because I am self-indulgent (LOL), it is because I have LOTS of great friends and this gives me many excuses to spent time with each of them in September. 

I went with a low key plan. My couz Cheryl, my hubby and kid planned an intimate dinner party at Cheryl's house to mark the birthdays of the September kids in the ABCT quartet (that's the Aberbach's, Bolebruch's, Cushing's, Thirtyacre's). We had an extra couple this year, Jodi and Paul, who are dear friends of our T contingiency - we will always give a new couple a chance to see if they can tough it out at one of our gatherings.

Fine dining - filet mignon, shrimp scampi, spagetti and clams (my choice), tomato and mozzerella, yummy yummy. And fine friends too. What else could a girl want on her birthday? Today is the actual day of my birth, and due to the progression from the dinner table to the living room where Vicki got the ball rolling with a little Hammer time video reinactment, I canceled the family coffee and cake tonight. I think I should have said no to that last double espresso vodka I shared with the girls.

Monday, September 1, 2008

SU Here I Come

Only 17 days till I visit the old alma mater, Syracuse University. I was reminded of it today when one of my Chi Omega sisters sent me the lyrics to our school song. Did I remember this? No! What do you expect, it's been 20 years!

Having a daughter in high school, it's time to begin planning for college for her. In fact, one of my other sorority sisters just dropped her daughter off at college last weekend. Where does the time go? My teen has her eyes set on University of Florida. With her in the IB program, I'm hoping this means a lesser beating on my wallet - especially because she wants to go to medical school. Not for any reason other than kicks, I looked up some recent statistics on my college.

Undergraduate enrollment at SU is about 13,000 (slightly more than the 10,000 I recall). Tuition is just over $30K. When I went, $13,000. I'll never forget that amount because my parents reminded me of it often (love you, Mom!). Other factoids: 1130-1310 average SAT scores, 41% of students are from NY state, over 231,000 living alumnae on record. Fun facts: Vanessa Williams was at SU the year before I got there and got her Miss America title stripped a month before I started college; the carrier dome is the largest domed stadium in the U.S. and I listened to the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen concerts from my dorm window in 1985; I saw Jimmy Boeheim on TV in China with the men's basketball team and he was coach at SU when I went there.

The point of this post - Orange Pride. Coincidentally, the Gators have the same colors as the Orangemen. Divine order?

The SU song:
Where the vale of Onondaga
Meets the eastern sky
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
On her hilltop high.
Flag we love! Orange! Float for aye-
Old Syracuse, o'er thee,
Loyal be thy sons and daughters
To thy memory.
When the evening twilight deepens and the shadows fall,
Linger long the golden sunbeams on the western wall.
Flag we love, Orange,
Float for aye,
Old Syracuse o'er thee!
Loyal be thy sons and daughters
To thy memory
When the shades of life shall gather, dark the heart may be,
Still the ray of youth and love shall linger long o'er thee'.
Flag we love, Orange,
Float for aye,
Old Syracuse o'er thee!
Loyal be thy sons and daughters
To thy memory