I grew up in Philadelphia, living with a single mother who sent me to parochial school (great start, education-wise) so she could be out all day working. She was, and still is, a great mother, an Auntie Mame type, who made childhood fun, taking me to visit every relative, exposing me to culture, tirelessly reading me my favorite stories over and over again. In my twenties, it was mom who drove cross-country with me, pumping gas and reading maps.
My dad remarried and became a college professor
while I was very young, so I guess you could say education was, and still is, important to my family. He and his new wife took advantage of the academic calendar, traveling to exotic locales during the summer or the Christmas break. Sometimes their kids got to go with them, and the joy of travel was piqued.
By fifth grade, I transfered to public school, graduating from the top all-girls high school in Philly. My college years were spent 100 miles away from home, in New York City, followed by graduate school in engineering on the west coast. Those years saw a 9-week summer adventure backpacking around Europe with a friend, and 2 cross-country car trips with stops at hundreds of points of interest including National Parks, campgrounds, Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls and several Indian Reservations.
The mom of a college pal hooked me up with my first job as an Industrial Engineer for what was then the world's largest paper company. Thirteen months into my career, there was a giant re-organization with, you guessed it, 400 employees cut. I had the unpleasant experience of being highly credentialed, yet unemployed, and was lucky to find another position after a 6 month search.
I spent the next 7 years on first in banking operations and later in the controllers department of an international money center bank. As a bank officer, I had 4 weeks paid vacation each year, which I always used to further explore the world.
One day it hit me! My boss was not "in" politically, he had a big mortgage, 2 kids in private schools and was barely making ends meet after giving the corporation 25 of the best years of his life. After deciding that this was NOT what I was aspiring to, I tendered my resignation. I was off and running...first stop Africa.
I knew that I wanted to have my own business, make my own schedule, laugh and enjoy life while I was still young enough.
Out of the Africa trip grew a costume jewelry import business, which I started and ran. I wore every hat: negotiating purchases, handling passage through customs, marketing, opening accounts, shipping, invoicing, exhibiting at trade shows. I learned a lot and enjoyed my work. But something was missing....
I wasn't married and I didn't have a child, two large personal goals. In time, I married
and conceived. I knew I was fortunate to be pregnant, and during my first trimester feared that my physically demanding work could jeopardize my pregnancy. I put my business on hold, enjoying the sleep-filled nights and the enhanced hormones of a beautiful pregnancy. Silly me, I imagined bringing my baby to sales calls with me after his birth. Wrong! Breastfeeding + Blake +Billie were 3 B's that didn't add up, and I found myself nursing the day away, unable to get back to work.
Enter Discovery Toys in the form of my sister-in-law in Georgia. Lauren, as a Discovery Toys educational consultant, had sent a spectacular basket
filled with these wonderful toys to our baby on the occasion of his birth. I noticed how my new baby loved the squeak and the scent of Tangiball, and the elephant teether with the "peanuts in the belly" that I would tell him about in high-pitched parentese. I was personally so impressed with the toys, that I offered to circulate several catalogs at my mommy's group at the local hospital. My first day out, I garnered orders from many of the new mommies, intending to pass those orders along to Lauren to help her build her growing business. She cajoled me into signing on to become a DT consultant, convincing me that I had room for the sample kit in our tiny Manhattan apartment. Over the past 14 years, as my child has grown,
my business has grown and grown alongside him. I was able to go on many class trips and take him to school and pick him up everyday. I have been able to help many other women like myself do something they enjoy, something that helps them continue to grow personally while they help support their families.
Education still plays a big role in my family as we send our son off to MIT this fall. Ponder this: was it the immersion in Discovery Toys that made our child so smart? One thing we know for sure: it didn't hurt!
As you will learn when you read my blog, it is more important now than ever before that parents help their babies off to the best start from birth until they begin school. Having toys that insure purposeful play is a must in every household.