My household has mirrored the experiences of so many others, with my wife Cynthia getting off the career path about 10 years ago to stay at home with our children and do all that she could to help nurture my career.

She was the one, for example, who was home while I pursued an M.B.A. degree on nights and weekends, and who watched the kids when I needed free time to write a book about the bond market.

Staying at home has seemed worth it for Cynthia, and she has had many wonderful experiences with our children these past 10 years, attending school trips and fairs, trick-or-treating on Halloween and watching them in dance school and so on. To a parent, these experiences are priceless. Still, she has been getting the itch in recent years to pursue her interests -- in her case, her love for cooking.

Beginning in October, Cynthia began attending culinary school at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City, one of the oldest and most prestigious culinary schools in the country. The program is rigorous, with Cynthia attending class on both Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5. The work doesn't end there, as Cynthia is required to complete lengthy assignments that occupy large chunks of her free time.

Although most of the assignments are written, there are other tasks assigned that are far removed from the office work she once did and this is what helps make the work so interesting for her. One recent assignment required that she slice foods such as carrots and potatoes into very specific shapes that it would seem only a sculptor could achieve.

What a timeless skill cooking is, and what enjoyment it has brought to people throughout the ages! And what a far cry from emailing and faxing! (Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, as yours truly can attest.)

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