Debby Dearest

Just another UMW Blogs weblog



I had a lot of fun and learned so much taking this course.  It has been one of the most enlightening and applicable courses I’ve taken as well. I originally took the course to fulfill a general education requirement.  Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  In the end, I walked away with no regrets and a handful of useful skills that will help me in so many ways.

I loved how Professor Groom found so many ways for us to tell stories using Internet tools and various media resources. The assignments were challenging at times, but learning the skills necessary to use the tools made everything worthwhile. My favorite assignment was definitely the overall digital story about my mom. However, if I had to choose a second assignment, it would definitely be the assignment where we combined the use of Jing and Google Street View. Making a brief video about my hometown was harder than it looked, given the amount of time Jing allotted for the video. It’s amazing how quickly those few minutes fly by when you’re talking about something that means so much to you.

Making a blog was probably the most frustrating Internet experience I’ve ever had. Because I signed up for the course 2 days after it had already started, the rest of the students who were given detailed instructions were ahead of the curve.  The thought of 10 dollars automatically being drawn from my account every month made me queasy!! However, once I set everything in motion (with the webhosting account/domain name, etc) that “accomplishment” feeling afterwards was indescribable. I remember struggling to come up with a name for my domain. I thought about what was important in my life and immediately decided to name it after my mother. At this point the blog was solely named after her — I had no idea that she would be the inspiration for my digital story.

Deciding to make my mother the subject of the digital story was one of the most rewarding decisions. My whole family gave their input when I was writing the posts. Afterwards, they would all read and comment as well.  By collaborating, it brought our family closer together as well as gave us a chance to get to know more about each other’s lives.

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better professor. Professor Groom is probably the smartest person I know when it comes to Internet technology. He is so enthusiastic about every facet of this class. His enthusiasm is literally contagious. He has been so supportive and helpful every step of the way. If you needed help or advice on an assignment, contacting him was a breeze to say the least. He took the time to get to know the students, follow their digital stories, and give supportive feedback on how to make it better. I loved how he would gave us creative license to do the assignments any way we wished, as long as they were within the guidelines. For example, Professor Groom assigned us to use Audacity, which is a tool that makes audio files. Given the “has to be a minute and 30 seconds” guidelines, Kenny and I came up with a rather ridiculous/inappropriate audio story.

Overall, this was a phenomenal class to take. I know this is the first semester that this class was offered and it was basically an experiment for each teacher. Professor Groom did an amazing job with this class and taught all of us so many useful skills that will help us in the future.

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True Life: Debby Jolissaint – "Becky"


The Dramatic Part:

My mother has always wanted a daughter of her own. Between the ages of 18 and 40, my mother gave birth to 4 boys. If you remember from the previous entry, she had my half-brother at a very young age and the other 3 boys shortly after she married my father, Greg Jolissaint. I do, however, have a half-sister from my father’s previous marriage. Having such a big family has been the best blessing I could ever ask for. I have never once thought of my oldest brother and my sister as being “half” siblings. In fact, I didn’t even know that they were my half siblings until I was around 7 or 8 years old. Maybe I didn’t care, maybe the thought never even crossed my mind, or maybe I loved them so much that I couldn’t even possibly think of them being anything other than 100% family. Then again, what does it mean to be family? The wonderful thing about love is that there can never be enough of it.

The Funny Part:

My mother has always had dreams about having a daughter named Rebecca. I mean could you blame her? After having 4 boys, all she wanted was a daughter she could dress up, take shopping, and talk about boys with…I guess you can say she got me instead — good times. So after trying essentially half of her life to conceive a baby girl, my mother decided to invest in a promising alternative: an inbred Cocker Spaniel, which my mother named Becky. Although Becky wasn’t very feminine, preferred nudity over dressing up, and was more interested in sodomizing stuffed animals than talking about boys, my mother loved Becky as her own. Becky was an untamed, wild spirit. Literally, she was so inbred that training her wasn’t even an option. Despite her intellectual setbacks and disabilities, the family still loves her to this day for the wonderful person she is, and obviously not what she has to offer.

When Becky was 3 years old (21 in dog years) my mother decided to get another Cocker Spaniel. This time she got a little boy, which she named Jackson. Little did the family know that this innocent puppy would cause one of the most dramatic non-human events I have ever had to personally deal with. After turning almost 7 in dog years, Jackson started to develop sexual feelings toward Becky. Becky did not reciprocate such affection. However, with nearly 2 weeks of persistence from Jackson, Becky eventually grew to love Jackson for the handsome tween he would soon become. Just like Mary Kay Letourneau, Becky had found her mate, her love, her baby daddy. My parents knew that if they did not “fix” the problem soon, we would have a borderline fiasco on our hands. Given that both of my parents work full time, the problem was never “fixed.” Becky became preggers with Jackson’s children, all 7 of them. I forgot to mention one small detail, Jackson and Becky have biologically the same parents – do the math. My parents were hysterical when they found out Becky was impregnated. Ironically, after coming to terms with their predicament, my mother decided to completely change her story and RAVE about how much of a blessing it was to have puppies on the way! These puppies were realllll special and extra inbred. Again, good times.

P.s. I saw Becky giving birth and I almost keeled over.


Josef, Hannah, Jackson, and Becky


Josef and Jackson howling


Becky and her puppies




More puppies!

True Life: Debby Jolissaint – "Second Chances"


“I remember thinking to myself…God, how could you let this happen to me?”
– Debby Jolissaint

This is the firsthand account of the single event that changed life as she knew it. However, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. A blessing that brought my oldest brother, Christopher, into this world. My brother is now 38, living in California, and raising his 2 children. Nicole is now 19 and Christopher III is nine years old.

Here is her story:

“Young, naïve, and barely 18 years old, I thought I was in love. The boy told me that he loved me and wanted to marry me too – the simple words every hopeless romantic teenage girl dreams about hearing.”

My mother got pregnant almost a month before graduating high school. Relationships at such a young age rarely make it through trials such as this. She soon realized that from this point on, life would never be the fairy tail she dreamed of.

“I was 19 years old, alone, and working at a Payless drug store in New Orleans, Louisiana with a small child to support. Life was anything but a fairytale.

Helen Reddy’s song, ‘You and me against the World,’ was number one that year. That’s exactly how my life played out. Life seemed to be giving us no breaks. For years it was just my baby boy and myself. The world was against the world.

My mother encouraged me to come home and live with her and my father, an environment much more conducive to raising my son. They offered to help raise Christopher so I could go to college.”

I had nowhere else to go; nothing left to offer. I was the prodigal daughter. My advice to everyone is this: count your blessings, your family will always love you, and trust in god that he has a plan. I packed my bags and went home to New Orleans. I was offered a second chance by the people who loved me most. I rejoined the Catholic Church, rejoined my family, and began to realize once again that life can have a fairytale ending.

I realized that it was God’s plan for me to get pregnant all along. He wanted to teach me. Having a baby at such a young age was the consequence of my actions; I needed a major dose of wisdom. From this point forward, when I prayed to God I actually listened. Wisdom came my way. Wisdom led me to be celibate, work my way through college, and graduate as a Registered Nurse. My baby, Chris, is now a grown man with a family of his own. He is a wonderful father who volunteers at his son’s school, coaches his baseball team, and makes his own wine in California. Trust in God. He always has a plan.”


Josh and Christopher


Chris and Christopher


Chris and Christopher 2


“Self-Portrait” by Christopher Conrad Keating III

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True Life: Debby Jolissaint – "Just Dance"


My mother has always be an avid practitioner of what I call “the trifecta” — live music, alcohol, and dancing. All 3 parts are intrinsically incredible. However, when they are all experienced simultaneously, magic happens.

My mother grew up during a time when music was soft and innocent, the thought of two individuals dancing back to front was seen as vertical fornication, and the legal drinking age was only 18. Needless to say, I can only think of a single pro.

Dancing has always been one of her passions and she dances any chance she gets. Luckily this trait has passed on to all of her children (minus my frat-boy brother josh who dances like a paraplegic) and continues to this day to be a bonding point in our family.








True Life: Debby Jolissaint -"Random Facts"


1. she used to hide plates of old food under her bed as a teenager
2. she can telepathically communicate with cats
3. she is highly skilled in astrology (so skilled it’s scary)
4. she wears spf 100 sunscreen
5. she has whipped cream binges
6. she has not 1 but 8 closets in our house where she stores her vast clothing collection
7. she is an avid supporter of the Poor Clare Sisters
8. she is of Italian and German descent
9. she is one of 7 children. 2 girl and 5 boys. She credits her love of sports to growing up with 5 brothers (her sister was not born until Debby was 10 years old)
10. She is hopelessly addicted to her Facebook account

True Life: I'm a Caffeine Addict


by Brianna Gavigan
featuring John Jolissaint, Olivia Cooper, and Jillian Trent





Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. I input the entire blog (every word written) and wordle created an interesting tag cloud.

Picture 1

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True Life: Debby Jolissaint –- "Discovering More To Life"


This short story is about how my mother decided to go back to school at the age of 57.

At this point in my life (which is VERY recent) my mother and my father had already put 2 kids through college and grad school, had 2 children attending undergraduate universities in Virginia, and were putting the baby of the family in a Catholic High School where they currently live in Maryland. Since the last of the children was graduating from high school in may and attending a 4 year undergraduate university in the Fall, she decided to pursue her dream of earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice. At the age of 57, my mother was accepted into one of the top graduate nursing programs at the Catholic University of America.

My mother states, “My Italian grandmother was my main motivation for pursuing this goal so late into life.” Theresa Guercio Montalbano, my great grandmother on my mother’s side, got married at 17 and never graduated from high school. After being married almost 40 years she graduated with a GED and enrolled in college at the age of 57. She received an associates degree in history at the age of 60. Her entire family was so proud of her accomplishments. “The whole family was amazed that Maw Maw would want to go to college at 60.” It wasn’t about finding a better job or trying to further her career. My great grandmother just wanted to prove to her family and to herself that anything is possible if you work hard for it and you can achieve anything at any age. My mother states, “My grandmother showed me that all things are possible.

I applied and was accepted to Catholic University Graduate School at the age of 57. Same as my grandmother. When I graduate in a few years with my Doctor of Nursing Practice, I will remember my beautiful grandmother and pay tribute to her memory.”


// <![CDATA[
// Pictured above: Melanie Montalbano Sprague// <![CDATA[
// (far left), Mark Montalbano Sr. (4th from the left)// <![CDATA[
// , // <![CDATA[
// Debby Montalbano Jolissaint (the face being half-covered by the hand)// <![CDATA[
// , David Montalbano (the kid highest up in the photo obviously fist pumping)// <![CDATA[
// , Dawn Montalbano-Riley (underneath Uncle David Montalbano)

This photo above shows my mother, a few aunts/uncles, and various other family from the Montalbano side. New Orleans, Louisiana — Circa 1978.


Pictured from left to right: // <![CDATA[
// Ed Moise// <![CDATA[
// , Tommy Fornof// <![CDATA[
// , Clay Moïse// <![CDATA[
// , Clay Moise// <![CDATA[
// , Jackie Moise Palumbo// <![CDATA[
// , Big Momma// <![CDATA[
// , Terry Fornof// <![CDATA[
// , Jules Moise// <![CDATA[
// , Nino Montalbano Jr.// <![CDATA[
// , Michael Montalbano// <![CDATA[
// , Joyce Wusthoff Montalbano// <![CDATA[
// , Mark Montalbano Sr.// <![CDATA[
// , David Montalbano// <![CDATA[
// , Stephen Montalbano// <![CDATA[
// , Debby Montalbano Jolissaint

City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana. Circa 1961.

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True Life: Debby Jolissaint — "Life is like a Marathon"


My mother once told me, “Life is like a marathon. You can either give up, or face the obstacles.” After years of using this quote at the most uncalled for of times, this piece of advice was literally put to the test.

My mother, at the young age of 53, decided to run her first 1/2 marathon. The official date of the marathon took place on October 1, 2005. At the time, she worked as a Nurse Case Manager in Fort Eustis, Virginia. Being a natural runner, training for this seemed like a walk in the park. Having a fit, energetic, and upbeat/active mother is always a plus. On the other hand, it’s sad when your mother is more in shape than you are.

The motivation behind her insane midlife crisis was an injury that kept her from enjoying her favorite past time since the age of 50. My mother said, “I was a runner for most of my life. In 2002, while moving out of our home in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a large landscaping timber fell on my foot and broke my right big toe. I didn’t think I would ever run again. I literally couldn’t run for almost 3 years. In the summer of 2005, my pain suddenly disappeared. At the drop of a hat, I began to run again! I had something to look forward to everyday; something to build goals upon. By October of that year, I ran my first 1/2 marathon.”

Her time was Time 1 hour and 58 minutes. My mom joked about almost giving up at mile 9, even after running all that time. “My legs and feet were cramping. I saw the bus behind me to pick up the stragglers. I did not pay my $25 DOLLARS TO RIDE THE BUS HOME,” said the Cat Whisperer. “I DETERMINED THAT I WOULD RUN AGAIN . I RAN IN UNDER 2 HOURS!” The second ½ marathon was Thanksgiving Day in 2005. It was the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Fun Run. She won for her age group (senior citizens – joking ?) and she didn’t even know it until they gave her a medal. Being an amazing mother, she left right after the race was over to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for the family (which was amazing as always). She joking said, “I was so old that I did not have much competition. One of my friends, Debbie Hendricks, saved the trophy for me since I left, assuming I’d won nothing.”

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a little bit about my hometown


Using Jing and Google Street View, here is a small snippet of what it was like growing up in “Bad News”, Virginia

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