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There is a Jane Austen Tour that departs for England on Saturday, April 25 and returns Monday, May 4, 2015.  The World of Jane Austen and Her Novels” will be led by David M. Shapard, who holds a doctorate in European history and has written “The Annotated Pride and Prejudice” and other annotated Austen novels. At each site of the tour, David will provide valuable background information related to Jane Austen, her novels, and the world she inhabited, often by citing crucial passages in the novels or in Jane's letters. For more detailed information, click on the link below.


Making It Last
Career Builders and Now Doting Parents
Sylvia Hom and Kevin Olden, who married in 1981, were in their 50s when they made a  "very careful, thoughtful decision" to adopt a baby.

By ERIKA ALLEN more...


Lady Susan - Missing Masterpiece by Jane Austen

New Documentary on Jane Austen's quirky novel that the author treasured--but nearly everyone else despised. Why? And how did the manuscript survive?

Local Grandmother Finds New Optimism With New Career


Posted by libbyandpenny July 14, 2012


As early as 2009, National Public Radio broadcast a show about the plight of older Americans facing retirement in an economy that had sunk to levels unseen since the great depression.  The worst predictions have come true in the form of more and more retirement aged Americans attempting to return to the workforce only to be stymied by ageism, over-qualification or simply the lack of job opportunities faced by every generation from recent college grads to those in their prime earning years.  While the economy is holding steady and unemployment hovers at the eight percent level, many aging Americans have taken other routes to continue their lifestyle and supply themselves with a respectable income. 

When faced with lots of life to live and dwindling bank accounts, Elizabeth "Libby" Worsley Crouch and Penny Barlow Liston did what few have done by taking their own experiences and turning them into an income and are now examples of two retirement-aged women who have literally taken matters into their own hands.    They wrote a book.  Both Grandmothers, several times over, their experiences with interacting with their grandchildren led them to the idea of creating something for grandparents and parent s like themselves.  Taking the often stressful and chaotic event of child party planning and finding ways that parents and grandparents can simplify and actually enjoy have led to them publishing their first book together entitled, “Planning Children's Birthday Parties: Libby and Penny’s Survival Guide”, a how-to, do-it-yourself guide to doing just this.

Libby Crouch who is a native of Winnetka, Illinois but now resides in the idealic town of Lake Bluff, holds a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and has been a Master Docent with the Phoenix Art Museum.   She is also a mother of five and grandmother of six and has a lot of first hand knowledge of her subject and it shows in the details of her book which offers realistic and necessary information.

"The idea started out of necessity more than anything.  With the drop in markets and 401K's came a rise in worry about the future.  But when you've been out of the job market for so long you're not as desirable to employers."  Libby says with a quick smile and energy that belies her age.  Doing what one does best and loves most is a key to success and that is why these two put their best hands forward. 

“When I was doing my own birthday parties my friends often asked me to help them plan the actual day of the party events for their parties. I would use their theme and develop the timeline of activities, games, crafts, when to open the gifts, and when to serve food. I often thought of writing a book, but didn’t have the time or today’s methods of publishing available.”

She also knew there was a need, “A project was done at the University of Minnesota on the very subject of out of control birthday parties. They mentioned things such as: cost, number of children attending, being on the party circuit, need to make parties perfect, kids getting over-stimulated, competition for the better party, outsourcing, and too many costly gifts.”

Penny Barlow Liston is also an educator, which is how she and Libby came to be friends so many years ago.  Now the two are taking the book a step further. “We plan to expand our website to include: additional theme parties, parties for children with special needs, a how to give birthday parties at different party locations, etc,” Worsley Crouch adds.

And now these two grandmothers are bucking the trend facing retirement age Americans in an unforgiving and unrelenting economy.  NPR, MSNBC and AARP have highlighted the problems of seniors who thought they would be sailing peacefully into their twilight years, now facing the need to continue to be a part of the work force.

Story originally posted on Lake Forest - Lake Bluff Patch

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