Saturday, January 30, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Communication with Sons - by Renee Martinez, founder,

Walking into motherhood after leading an independent life is an enormous change in itself. Having a boy adds an entirely new dimension of newness to the mix.

As women, caring for a girl is familiar. We share the same bodies and for the most part, we know the twists and turns that life will present her. We may have lived through the mother/daughter dynamic and know what to expect at various stages. We lived through it.

Mothers of sons are a special batch. We have an opportunity to shape the men of our future. We’ll never know what it’s like to go through puberty as a boy or to be one of the guys. We’ll likely not understand the unique pressures boys in our society face firsthand, but being different doesn’t mean being distant.

Oftentimes, I’ve heard moms say that they can’t relate to boys, that playing with trucks doesn’t appeal to them and that they find it difficult to connect. How well sons communicate when they are young often impacts their success to handle interpersonal relationships as they grow into men. With that said, the most wonderful gift you can give your son is to keep the lines of communication open so he feels comfortable sharing with you. Working to build a relationship of trust will have tremendous benefits at various stages throughout his life.

The key to any successful relationship is communication. On the drive to school, take the opportunity to ask him questions about what’s going on, what he’s concerned about etc… Tell him about your plans for the day. When he starts chatting about the baseball game in detail that you could care less about, don’t push him away; listen and ask questions. He’ll come back and talk with you when it’s something important because he’ll be comfortable and know you care about what he has to say. When approached, stop what you’re doing and look at your son, listen as you would to a friend or colleague. Give him the respect that you expect him to give you. Listen, listen, listen and try to avoid being confrontational. Don’t finger point or criticize by pointing out problems, instead try to work together to come to a realization of the problem and an appropriate solution…as if you’re playing on the same team.

Getting your son to open up as he grows older can be a huge challenge if you never took the opportunity to make him feel like you could relate when he was young. Why would he suddenly want to open up with you if he felt ignored when he tried to before? Keep in mind that while forging a friendship is nice, he is your son, and your role as a parent is to guide him, not to be his buddy.

So the next time you hear someone say they feel like boys are from another planet, tell them it would be wise to take the time and connect with him and live in the same world with him before he finds living in another universe preferable.

Renee is the founder of

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just a Number -- by Robin

Earlier this week, I attended a luncheon gathering of some interesting older women writers in my town. I love being with upbeat elderly people, women in particular. There's so much to be said for learning from the experiences of others, especially those who have lived longer than you. I try to soak in their wisdom like a sponge. Such a yest for life which knows no age. And why should it?!

I was speaking on the phone with a friend today who is in her 50s (but doesn't look it)...and she said that she has been asked how old she is, and she's coined the response, "Age is just a number, and mine is unlisted."

I LOVE that. And, I'm going to borrow it, I let her know. She laughed.

Her philosophy, and I agree, is that anything is possible in life. Getting caught up in age can potentially lead to self-limiting beliefs. Expectations...or lack thereof. And, either way, why should we do that to ourselves? We deserve better.

I took an acting class this fall, and I just learned that the acting teacher is about to go on a trip to India to work in an orphanage. She recently celebrated her 70th birthday. She looks much younger, and, she's never, to my knowledge, had plastic surgery. Not that I'm against it, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. (I've never done it.) At present, I prefer to go the healthy green tea route. :)

Certainly, as a later mom, especially if you're feeling tired a lot, it's easy to say that you have less energy now than you did when you were younger. But, what about mental energy? Are you doing things that are stimulating to you? Do you allow yourself some quality time with friends who really know you and you can share with in a way that feels authentic and meaningful? That in itself can be reinvigorating.

I just signed up to take two local adult ed classes starting in March, and I'm very much looking forward. One is called Writing from the Heart, which is taught by my former acting teacher. The other is an introduction to Tarot Card Reading. Just for fun! I'm curious. I've had my cards read in the past and have always been intrigued by it. It will get me thinking out of the box, for sure. And, the description says you will even learn how to read your own cards.

So, who knows what I'll uncover in the cards? Though, I don't really want to dwell too much on the future. I'd prefer to live fully today. And, I'm curious who will be in my classes. Since they're offered midday during the week, my guess is that they will be popular with seniors. And, I welcome that with open arms.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hugs, Cuddles and Eskimo Kisses -- by Cara

In my last blog entry, I discussed how I took a little “vacation” from being a full-time Mom and how my husband wanted to take over running the house, working full-time from home, and taking care of our son and one of our dogs. I must give him a lot of credit. He took on a huge that I certainly don’t think I would want to voluntarily assume! And he is even still loading the dishwasher and emptying it!!

But although I give my husband kudos for doing such an incredible job, I discovered something even more wonderful. The incredible love I have for my son.

When you get caught up in the minutia of daily living with packing lunches for school and making sure the dog got her medication and racing to the grocery store to pick up some desperately needed essentials, you sometimes take your family for granted and don’t show them or tell them how much they really mean to you. Because every day is “beat the clock” day, we overlook how important it is to stop and spend time - REAL, focused time - on our children.

I read a very good book a year or so back that stated that every child has an “emotional tank.” Similar to a gas tank in a car. This author wrote that if you let your car get depleted of gas, it won’t be able to function. He said that it was the same with children. If you don’t fulfill their “emotional tanks,” they, too, won’t be able to function and may become depressed, act out or engage in unhealthy behaviors. But the author assured the readers that if you kept your child’s emotional tank full, as much as possible, they would be happy, secure, self-confident kids!

I often refer back to that description when I notice my son acting out or going out of his way to seek attention. So when I returned home (and found that the dishes had been all put away!), I spent a lot of time with my son just hanging out, reading books, and playing games. He would sometimes cuddle into me almost as if he were trying to resume his place in my womb...all warm, safe, and cozy. We had tickle “fights” and lots of hugs! We had fun kissing each other and then kissing the dog to see who the dog would try to lick back first! And we did a lot of Eskimo kissing (rubbing noses back and forth)! I truly have never enjoyed myself more than I have this past week!! My son’s emotional tank must certainly be overflowing! But my emotional tank is overflowing too! It feels so good to be loved unconditionally, in a reciprocal relationship. And I am going to try to keep both my son’s and my emotional tanks filled as much as they can be, as often as possible!

The laundry can wait to be folded. The dog can get her medicine a half hour later than usual. And the dishes almost seem like they are washing themselves lately! But a child needs constant love and affection. And from now on, my son is going to get that unconditional love from me every day. With an Eskimo kiss as he goes off to school and some cuddles and hugs before he goes to bed. He knows that I love him. And I’m going to keep showing him how much, every single day!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around: Sending Sick Kids to School -- by Jamie

Last week, after a perfectly normal Thursday, I put Jayda to bed, only to have her wake me up at 2:30 a.m. saying, “Mommy, something’s not right.” I touched her forehead, and it was burning hot. After taking her temperature and discovering it was 102.6, I dosed her with Tylenol and insisted she put a cold cloth on her head while I held her in my arms. Always the drama-queen, Jayda then started moaning, “I sick, mommy…I sick.” “I know, baby,” I murmured, “Mommy’s here…and I’ll take you to the doctor first-thing in the morning.”

“I don’t want to go to the doctor!” Jayda snapped back. “I want to play!” And she jumped out of bed and proceeded to do just that…for two hours. Some fever. After dozing on and off, myself, until 4:30 a.m., I finally coaxed Jayda back into bed with me, and she fell asleep in my arms. At 6:30 a.m., I woke up and felt her forehead, and it was cool as a cucumber. The thermometer confirmed this, displaying 98.6 degrees. And yet, despite Jayda’s protestations, as well as the big pile of writing projects waiting for me on my desk, I took Jayda to the doctor at 9 a.m. He couldn’t find anything wrong with her—even swabbed her negatively for strep throat when I told him it was rampant at Jayda’s day care—and surmised that it must have been a virus, or even a minor strain of the flu that had only lasted for a few hours because Jayda had been immunized. Jayda’s exam was over by 9:30, so I had to ask: “Can I send her to school today?” The doctor looked at me sternly and said, “That’s not a medical question—it’s a social question. She IS fine…but she obviously caught whatever she had last night from someone at school. Do you really want someone else to catch it from her?” And so, I took Jayda home with me—a very healthy, incredibly hyper Jayda—with the realization that all the work I’d planned to do that day because I wouldn’t be able to do it on Monday (when Jayda would be home with me for Martin Luther King Day) would have to get done after Jayda’s bedtime. And an already-exhausted mommy would have to spend her entire day entertaining a tireless kid. Sometimes having a conscience sucks.

Last week, we had a play date with a friend whose 2-1/2-year-old son has never been in day care; my friend’s mom watches her little boy while she and her husband work full-time. However, my friend called me an hour before we were supposed to meet to give me a heads-up that her son had a runny nose. I laughed. Well, of course I also thanked her for her sensitivity (it’s always nice to know I have thoughtful friends), but then I informed her that as long as her child didn’t have a fever or a contagious disease, I had no problem with my child playing with him in a public place (as was our plan). These days I don’t even blink an eye at runny noses, coughs, and colds, as they’ve been a part of our daily lives ever since Jayda started day care at 3-1/2 months.

Jayda has a constant flurry of colds all winter long; if I kept her home from day care every time she had one, half of my tuition would be wasted. And while personally having a cold can make me pretty darn miserable, having one doesn’t seem to slow my kid down much. She won’t nap. She won’t rest. And she certainly won’t go to bed early. If anything, she just requires even more attention from me than ever, and, if I dare ask how she’s feeling, she only plays on my sympathies (Jayda: “Mommy, I sick! I need a special treat to feel better.” Me: “Oh, poor baby. What kind of special treat, honey?” Jayda: “M&Ms, Mommy. Lots of them.”) So while on occasion I wonder, “Should I keep Jayda home today?” when she seems especially congested, I generally wind up sending her to day care in the end, because I figure she’ll be happier there…and, let’s face it, so will I.

But is that fair? Is it the right thing to do? I can’t say for sure. But it is my reality. It’s tough keeping a kid home from school when you have other obligations—no matter what your circumstances are. So I’ve given myself some slack in regards to minor sniffles and colds. But fevers and flus and infectious diseases? Never. The kid who gave Jayda her mysterious fever should never have been at day care—and the parent who sent the child there should be ashamed (if the child was exhibiting symptoms, that is). I bitched and moaned for days about staying home with Jayda on Friday, and it took me three weekend nights to finish the work I’d hoped to do on her sick day, but I know I did the right thing—even if Jayda never seemed the slightest bit sick. And Jayda certainly didn’t mind having an extra day at home with her Mommy…or an extra helping of “feel better” M&Ms.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Wisdom Tooth Week -- by Robin

I got my lower left wisdom tooth pulled this week. A filling had cracked, and I was advised to take it out.

Years ago, I had had four adult teeth pulled when I was getting braces, and I survived. I had totally forgotten that I also had my lower right wisdom pulled decades ago. I have a vague recollection that it was coming in crooked.

I know in the scheme of things health wise, the tooth pulling this week was thankfully not a big one, yet I found myself feeling uptight about it. Especially, when the dentist gave me the lengthy list of the potential aftermath that I might experience, however unlikely, that I had to sign off on. Who would want to get a tooth pulled after reading all that?! I wanted to bolt from the chair immediately, but the assistant came in and reassured me it was standard procedure.

Once the procedure was over and I was all numbed up from novacaine and on Motrin, I did some thinking.

Why was I so nervous? It was only a tooth.

I do have discomfort and a mild headache from it, but it will pass. And, ok, I'm eating just yogurt and sugar free jello right now, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

This procedure pushed a button. A fear button in me. And, one of control. I've found that as I've gotten older, I feel more vulnerable, yet at the same time, protective of my body. In my 20s, I didn't much think about it. Perhaps I felt invincible at the time? Now, I don't.

A number of years ago, I had a scary health scenario that ultimately turned out ok, but it left me with huge trepidation when it comes to doctors....or anyone in the medical profession. I want my body poked and prodded as little as possible by anyone in a white jacket bearing instruments or instrumentalia (as I said jokingly to a friend the other day).

I am appreciative for good medical care, but I'd prefer not to need it.

I recently saw the comedian Susie Essman perform at a very cool event in NYC called Women Who Write. She was hysterical, as she read from her new book (currently featured on the home page of I felt like the words were coming out of my mouth, as I think many in the audience did. Susie is in her 50s and admits to often thinking she has diseases when she learns of someone who contracted it. Even if it's prostate cancer. LOL. I have been known, at times, I admit refer to WebMd to look up symptoms I have in the search of self diagnosis. Sometimes it's calming, and other times it gets the wheels turning even further anxiously in my head.

Fortunately, I don't do this with my son. Although, when he recently was put on Tamiflu, I did read up on it a bit. Being informed is a good thing. Being overly fearful when it's not warranted isn't.

I certainly don't want Seth to know I do this....or to have health fears himself. I don't want this to rub off on him. My husband is not this way.

Is it a female thing?

Is it life as a 40 something female thing?

Is it life as a 40 something peri-menopausal female thing?

Perhaps all of the above.

I wish I could return to my more fearless 20-something self. But, we can't turn back the hands of time. And, like it or not, we need doctors, dentists, etc. I was not in a position to pull my own tooth...though my son probably would have taken great pleasure in rising to the occasion for me. He was quick to take out his toy medical kit when I got home. And, he was hugely disappointed when I told him I didn't have the pulled tooth. He asked why? Who knew it would be such a letdown for him not to see my cracked, cavity filled tooth?! If there is a next time (I have two remaining wisdom teeth), I'll know better.

He really is all boy. Perhaps a little dentist in the making? While I'm not so sure of that, I do appreciate his concern for my welfare and his curiosity about the human body.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vacation from Motherhood -- by Cara

My husband and I decided, after much debate, that he could handle taking care of the house, our dog, our rambunctious son, work from home...and do it all really well, all by himself. I said to him, well, millions of Moms do it everyday, why don’t you try it if you want. And he really wanted to. So I said, “Go for it!”

So off I went to stay at a vacant home of a friend I know of, with my dog as my companion, and left him to his desire. The first call came not an hour later, “What are these weird dishwashing cubes and how do you use them?” I told him that they were a new type of dissolving dishwashing soap and to read the back of the package for instructions about how to use them.

Then the first day passed, and I received a call about my son running out of underwear. I decided to pack up my laundry and trudge over to do a load or two because A: I know it took ME, who reads manuals, almost two weeks to fully understand how to use this high-tech, front-loading machine, and B: The last time my husband did laundry, all of the whites turned pink and some of the other clothes looked poorly tie-dyed. So I offered to take care of the laundry.

Then I found out that the fish hadn’t been fed in days! The poor things were staring at me and then looking up at the top of their tanks for some food!! I quickly gave them some food, then wrote a note in bold letters, “FEED FISH EACH DAY!!” My son could easily do that.

The next day there were questions about what to pack for lunch and how do you keep some items cold ( ice pack??)? What does my husband do with school notices ( them??), what does he do with the book ordering form (go over it with our son to see if he would like a book or two??). This went on for a few days. At least he remembered to feed the dog!! (I did have to remind my husband to give her daily medication, though.)

To my delight and amazement, after several days, my husband had gotten into the swing of things and I’ve caught up on a lot of work that had been accumulating and have been completing long overdue continuing education credits.

I must also say, living alone for now is giving me time to reorganize my life; embark on activities I had long put aside, and give me a huge breather from the stressful, hectic pace of everyday life! The only other being I need to care for is my dog. And he sleeps most of the time!

This experiment has also given me a window into what my life used to be like, when I was single or what life would be like now if I hadn’t married or had a child. It’s very intriguing. I try to see my son every day, so I’m not completely removed from motherhood. But I am removed from the daily trials and tribulations. On the contrary, I also miss seeing my son do his math homework in the blink of an eye! Or sharing with me that the reason we stand is because of gravity! I know this way of living won’t be forever, but it sure sheds some light on what my life could have been versus what it actually is. They both have their advantages. For now, though, I am enjoying my little “vacation.” Reality is eagerly waiting right around the corner. And the big question? Will my husband still run and empty the dishwasher once I’m back, now that he knows how to use those “little dishwashing cubes”??

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Putting Things in Perspective -- by Jamie

Last weekend, the mother of one of Jayda’s day care friends invited us to join them in attending “Disney on Ice.” Jayda was thrilled when I explained to her that “Mickey Mouse and all the Princesses would be ice skating, and she and her friend could sit together and watch them.” Mickey and Minnie introduced the show, and Jayda clapped happily from my lap. But as the characters from “Aladdin” came out for the first act, and a procession of genies skated out across the ice, kicking like Rockettes, Jayda quickly turned around and buried her face into my neck. I suddenly realized that a performance that had appeared magical and impressive to me, seemed ominous and frightening to my little girl.

As the show continued, though Jayda did enjoy it (and woke up the next morning demanding, “I want to go to Disney again!”), she also dragged me out to the lobby for walks at inopportune moments, changed her position (from my lap to her own chair back to my lap) at least a dozen times, constantly fished for snacks from my pocketbook, and often tried to engage me in conversations (“Mommy! Talk about our day!”). While Jayda’s friend, who is several months older than Jayda, sat mesmerized in her seat for the entire show (even through the intermission!), Jayda lacked the focus—just as she doesn’t have the patience to sit through a DVD at home (or even more than 5 or 10 minutes of a TV show, for that matter)—without constantly getting up to play.

Jayda’s in nursery school, and her development over the last six months has been astounding. She goes to the bathroom on her own now—even shuts the door in my face, insisting on her privacy. She also grabs her bedtime books from me and takes a turn “reading” to me almost every night. And when I remind her that something is “for grownups,” she counters, “I a big girl now! I can do it/use it!” So, sometimes I forget that Jayda isn’t even three years old yet. Often she forgets it, too. But our experience at “Disney on Ice” was a much-needed reminder for both of us that Jayda’s still a toddler in many ways: She gets scared of monster-like genies no matter how graceful they are, and she can’t sit still for a show—even if it is vastly entertaining. And that’s just fine. I don’t need to rush her to grow up any faster.

Sometimes we expect too much from people—or even from ourselves. And I think we’ve all been victims of not seeing clearly what’s in front of us. The other day, I met an old friend for lunch in the city. First and foremost, he’s an old friend. But he’s also my former personal trainer. Before I had Jayda, I trained with this friend three times a week for many, many years. And while I still work out and eat healthfully now, I certainly don’t have the physique I’d attained while training with Jim. As he sat across the table from me, Jim told me I looked great, and I scowled at him. While I don’t expect to have the 8% body fat I used to, I would like to be 10 pounds lighter, and I certainly don’t feel like I look fabulous these days. But after our lunch, Jim emailed me that I really DO look great…”much better than I believe.” Reading his email made me smile. And I realized it’s all about keeping things in perspective. Every woman—and every mother—needs to keep things in perspective: Her daughter’s true age. The way she looks. Even the kind of mother she is. And sometimes all we need to do is take a step back and look at things from a different angle (or from another person’s viewpoint) and we’ll better see the truth. It’s a good thing to do once in awhile, and I think we all need to remind ourselves of that.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Birthday Dreamin' -- by Robin

What have you dreamt about doing that you wish you could make happen?

A friend raised the question this week, as I pondered how to celebrate my birthday this summer. This summer? - you're probably saying. I know...I'm thinking WAY ahead, but time goes fast, and it is important to me. I want to mark this particular occasion in a way that feels as satisfying as possible.

Why? Because I'll be hitting yet another milestone. Reaching another decade. And, while I'm grateful, it is a bit hard to swallow, I must admit. I can't quite say it out loud yet. February 11 will be my half birthday...not that I'm counting. :)

So, what to do? How to make it a super cool occasion? One where the excitement outweighs the fact that I feel like I'm aging.

One friend suggested I consider a retreat or spa visit to Tuscany. Sounds tempting.

Another gal mentioned Prague and Berlin. I am interested in Prague. Don't know much about Berlin.

I, myself, am curious about a retreat I had read about in Sedona. But, it will be scorchingly hot there in August.

So, I bought the book 1,000 PLACES TO SEE IN THE USA AND CANADA BEFORE YOU DIE....and I'm perusing it nightly. (I should buy an edition re: overseas as well, if there is one.)

I read about an annual art show in August in Laguna Beach, CA that struck a chord. But, do I really need to go to CA for an art show? (one friend pointed out.)

The same friend suggested I might look at the website where you can sublet someone's residence, thereby making it a more authentic experience than staying in a hotel. And, maybe I'd want to do that and get a place in Manhattan? she said. I had shared with her that I always regretted not having had the experience of living in the city back in my single days, and perhaps and this would satisfy that urge and curiosity?!

So, I started browsing the site and came upon on a couple of apartments that readily grabbed me. What part of town would I want to stay in? And, what's it like to sleep in someone else's bed? I'd bring my own Egyptian cotton Ralph Lauren sheets, no doubt. And, I am picky about my mattresses. I hate memory foam. I'm a pillow top kinda gal, but I wouldn't be toting my own feather bed, so I'd have to be accepting. The older I get, the more I appreciate my own creature comforts. Would I want a terrace? A gym? What else? Air conditioning for sure, in summer.

It would certainly be an adventure, and I could use that.

There are so many neighborhoods in Manhattan, each with a distinct feel. Do I have a favorite? Depends on what you want to do I guess.

I like Chelsea. I love the West Village. But, how would I want to spend my days and nights, aassuming I'd be there alone? I'd have to arrange child care with Marc, my husband, for Seth....if we can swing it. No doubt he wouldn't be entirely thrilled, but hopefully he'd respect and somewhat understand my need for this experience.

I adore theatre. I'm thinking I might want to be in the Times Square area and see lots of shows.....though some shows play downtown too....and I'm not wedded just to Broadway.

I'd like to consider taking a class. Definitely shop. Eat out. But, if I were to act as if I live there, what would my daily existance be? Certainly I'd bring my computer, as I'd want internet access. But, I wouldn't want to be on the web as much as I am now because then I'd just be in the apartment all the time and defeat the purpose of being in Manhattan.

Would I plan out my activities in advance? That would make sense. How long would I go for? A week?

It's something to think about. And, it does kinda get me excited, which is the whole idea.

Is it crazy, though, since I live in NY? Would I wish I went overseas once my birthday passes? Maybe I can just celebrate the whole year and take various trips (if we could afford it)? Now, that's a thought.

And, how would it feel if I'm in the city (or anywhere) without Seth and Marc? The point would be to reconnect with myself and a desire I've always had. I'm sure I'd miss them...but it could be a good growth experience....and hopefully we'd all appreciate each other all the more once reunited. That's not a bad thing.

Who knows?! One day, when we're empty nesters, Marc and I might get a place in the city. I do think about that. Though, there is something to be said for having a lovely community summer pool and being surrounded by trees as we are in this neighborhood. But, life in the suburbs isn't always stimulating (to me). I suppose there's no one entirely perfect place, which is why some people have summer homes.

In the meantime, one can dream, and I'll be doing a lot of that between now and August.

Stay tuned. And, feel free to share any ideas with me! Or you own personal experiences about how you've marked birthdays to make them feel extra special. I'd love to hear them.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Loving Without Regret -- by Cara

I read Robin’s article about happiness on Friday. She truly loves her son, and it most certainly comes across in her blogs. I know she has exasperating days; we all do as parents. But Robin doesn’t give up. She lives in the moment and tries to find a silver lining in even the most trying of situations with her child.

I aspire to be more like Robin with my son. He’s tough. He can easily give you a run for your money and you usually have to be two thought processes ahead because he’ll stop you in your tracks, speechless, with some of the things he says. He is not rude or obnoxious in any way. He’ll just catch you off guard when you least expect it. For example, if I ask him to clean up his toys and he doesn’t want to, I will give him a consequence to ponder. I will inform him that if he will not pick up the toys, I will give them away to other children who need toys. His comeback, “Okay. You can take that game over there. I don’t play with that anymore either.” See what I mean? He’s tough and he’s smart.

I sometimes run through a lot of days like this with him. Sometimes a whole week of moody, irritable behavior. And I admit, I say to myself, is it really worth it having a child? Yes, I marvel at how adept he is at putting together a complex Lego set. Or melt when I see how gentle and empathetic he is with all types of animals. But those trying days, especially several in a row, do make me question my decision to have had a child.

I decided to blog on this topic because another Mom, on a different website, posed the same question: “If you had a second chance, knowing what you know now, would you still have children?” I must say, that’s a bold and gutsy question to ask a group of other Moms! But this group of Moms can take questions such as this and not be overly judgmental about them.

The answers were shockingly honest, but the consensus was that although this group of Moms want to sell their own children sometimes (this IS a bold and gutsy group!), they do not regret being parents at all!

So I asked myself the same question: If I were able to do it over, knowing what I know now, would I still have wanted to conceive? And the answer is without a doubt, YES! I would hate to get to age 80, childless, and be left with “what if” floating over my head. I want the experience of being a parent. And it is an experience that changes and matures you like no other experience ever could or will.

Yes, I wish my son were not so antagonistic or whiny or moody. But he is who he is. And I accept that. He is still young at 6, and is just at the point in his life where he is testing limits and boundaries and new dance moves! He is learning what acceptable versus unacceptable language is, no matter where he hears it from. He is learning tolerance and at least a little more patience. He is bursting with newness every single moment!

So as a 40+ Mom, do I get tired? Yes. Exasperated? Yes. Even too worn out to properly discipline? Unfortunately yes to that too, sometimes. But do I regret being a Mom and watching my son grow and evolve? Not a single chance! A little extra sleep and a few extra cuddles definitely helps makes it ALL worthwhile!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to School -- by Jamie

This was a big week in the education-department for the Levines: Jayda started nursery school, and I registered for some important classes of my own. Both were big milestones for each of us, though Jayda’s transition was far easier than I expect my return to college will be.

Jayda has been at the same day care center since she was 3-1/2 months old. She’s always been ahead of the learning curve, and has been promoted into each of her classes at an earlier age than most of the other kids. Thus, in September, when many of Jayda’s friends (who are slightly older than Jayda) were moved up to the nursery school program, I expected Jayda would be following them. But due to classroom overcrowding and some annoying day care bureaucracy, she lagged behind for awhile. Ultimately, my daughter successfully potty trained, vastly improved her vocabulary, spent much of her time helping the younger kids in her toddler room, and, in sum, displayed what I felt was extreme readiness for nursery school. Fortunately, by the holidays, my relentless hounding of the school’s director finally reaped success, and to my relief, Jayda became the only child allowed to transition to nursery school in January.

Jayda’s first day in nursery school was drama-free for both of us. She took to the ground running—literally—and leapt out of my arms, shouting, “Mommy—LEAVE!” as she ran to join her old friends, who were playing happily in her new classroom. When I came to pick Jayda up in the afternoon, her new teacher informed me that Jayda had had a terrific day, and it had seemed “like Jayda had been in nursery school forever.” As I’d suspected, Jayda’s move into nursery school had been long overdue, and she’d been more than ready to get started there.

I, on the other hand, am likely to have more trouble adjusting to my new classes. I received a B.A. in Communication from the University of Michigan in 1991, and never imagined I’d be going back to college at almost-40-years-old. For more than 15 years, I worked in children’s publishing—as a writer, a school book club editor, a marketer, and a buyer—and have always loved my career. But sadly, as the result of corporate downsizing, I found my job eliminated a year ago. Freelance writing and consulting have kept me financially afloat, but I’m no longer fulfilled by my daily work, nor do I have the job stability I need as a single mother. After much soul-searching, I’ve decided to pursue grad school, specifically for Speech Pathology—a career that would profit from my occupational experiences and strengths, and provide the job-flexibility and salary I need to raise my daughter.

However, I can’t just take the GREs, apply to grad school, and get started on a second career. First, I must fulfill several Speech Pathology-related undergraduate prerequisites. And before I could even register for those classes, I had to apply to (and be admitted to) a special university program. Fortunately, I was accepted to the program at Queens College, and this past week, I met with an advisor to help me select my classes. At this late date (classes start at the end of January), most of the classes I needed were closed, and I was only able to get into two. But that’s a start. And what with commuting to Queens from Long Island twice a week, continuing my freelance work (I still need to bring in as much money as possible), and taking care of my daughter, I guess that’s enough to get my feet wet.

Because I’m a “planner,” it has been my natural inclination to map out my “school plan”—to consider all the work I’ll be doing for my classes, as well as the time I’ll need to spend schlepping back and forth to the campus. But not everything involved with going back to school at my age is so easy to predict. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to listen to a lecture, take copious notes, or study for a test. When it comes to being a student, I’m out of practice—as well as out-of-the-loop in regards to modern-day college practices. Even applying to school this time was a novel experience for me: When I applied to Michigan, I typed out my application and essays on an electric typewriter—and mailed a check to the school. This time, I applied online and simply entered my credit card number. A lot has changed in two decades.

This week, while I waited for my appointment with my advisor at Queens College, I sat in a waiting room with other prospective students, who, technically, were young enough to be my children. And that’s going to be an interesting experience, too. Things may be different in grad school, but right now, while I’m taking my undergraduate classes, I’ll be sharing lecture halls and assignments with young men and women who are literally half my age. And that will definitely be an adjustment—for me and for them, I’m sure. I’m fairly certain none of them will be juggling their studies with mother- or fatherhood, and I’ll be a novelty.

The other day, I told Jayda I was going back to school, and she got very excited about it. She wondered, “Is it a big school?”—like the elementary school we pass on the way to her day care center—and asked, “Will you be going on a school bus?” which is her own personal fantasy. And, of course, she asked if she could “come, too.” There is actually a nice playground outside the Speech Pathology department office building, and I may bring her there to check it out in the spring. While my time at school certainly won’t be full of fun and games like Jayda’s nursery school adventures, hopefully it will still be a positive experience. And I may as well show Jayda some of the fun that can be involved, since nothing—including going back to school—is a solo venture for me anymore.

Back in September, Jayda and I appeared on a local cable TV show in a segment about SMCs. If you’d like to check it out, here are the YouTube links:

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Quick Trip to CT -- by Robin

(Shark Tank at the Maritime Aquarium)

To break up the holiday week break from school, we decided to go away for two nights. Not far. Just to get a change of pace. We picked Norwalk, CT, and it was a good choice.
We stayed comfortably at the Doubetree Hotel Norwalk conveniently located on Connecticut Avenue....a stones throw away from my favorite stores TJ Maxx and Home Goods. So, of course, I was happy to visit both and get in my shopping fix.
We walked around the South Norwalk "SoNo" area, with some eclectic shops and restaurants. And, ate in a totally stellar dinner spot called Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar. Recommended by a partner in my husband's office, the Spanish food was excellent. They served both Tapas and entrees....and we shared both. Calamari, a humus-type dish, and wonderful paella. I wish there was a branch on Long Island. I'd be a regular. They have various Connecticut locations, and I'd love to return one day. It only took us 50 minutes to get to Norwalk from our house, so if the spirit moves us, it is even a feasible day trip. And, it was a fine restaurant for suitable for kids.
Aside from shopping and eating, we went to Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk. Learning and fun go hand-in-hand at Stepping Stones. Their exhibits and educational programs help expand a child's world by engaging them in fun, playful exploration. With four main galleries, a toddlers-only gallery and over 100 hands-on activities, Stepping Stones offers children ages ten and under plenty to explore and discover.
He particularly adored the Build It exhibit.....where he befriended other children and played with all kinds of construction tools, blocks, bricks, he wore his hardhat and other attire. It took me back to his earlier days when he was a little Bob the Builder in-the-making. We spent over two hours there, and he found a cool wooden firehouse in their gift shop, which made the visit complete.
Another day we went with two other "later mom" families to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. It was a perfect destination, given the cold, blustery weather. We were lucky the snow wasn't more significant when we were there.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk offers a window into Long Island Sound at the gateway of New England. Located just off Interstate 95, the Aquarium combines entertainment with education, offering living exhibits, interactive touch tanks and educational activities. It has the first and largest IMAX® theater in Connecticut, showing classic nature documentaries and Hollywood features on a screen six-stories tall. A new exhibit “Go Fish” opens in February and Meerkats arrive in June 2010.
More than 1,500 animals on display at the Aquarium represent the amazing life of Long Island Sound, plus other water habitats of significance from around the world. Seven harbor seals are fed thrice daily in a special presentation. Two river otters romp and play in a rocky exhibit. A column of jellyfish float in a serene setting. Exotic frogs and reptiles have their own exhibit. Big sharks swim inches from visitors in an 110,000 gallon tank. Visitors get even closer to animals with two touch tanks, one for shoreline animals and another where they can pet a stingray.
Gulf Stream visitors are represented by coral reef tanks, a sea turtle exhibit and other special tanks. Important habitats beyond Long Island Sound are represented by changing exhibits. For 2010, Africa is highlighted with the African Underwater Safari which shows some of the weird adaptations of African fish, including the lungfish that can live more than a year out of water. The Africa exhibit also includes snakes, geckos, penguins and Meerkats.
There is also an interactive dophin (not real dolphins) ride-film and a dedicated play space for young children.
All in all, Norwalk was a worthwhile, easy destination to get to from New York, and it was worth the trip.
PS -- Thanks to Stepping Stones and the Maritime Aquarium for hosting our visits.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Happiness -- by Robin

I caught a gal on the Today Show this morning, and it got me thinking. It was Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, a new memoir in which she chronicles her quest for happiness and what she's learned that perhaps others might benefit from.

I was immediately drawn in.

She is a mom. And, they showed a clip of her and her young daughter walking to the school bus stop. Every school day, this is what they do, and it's part of their daily routine. One that could easily blend in with a host of other things they do regularly and don't necessarily give much thought to. But, one day it occurred to her that this is her daughter's childhood. And, she'll only be a child once in her life. Time is fleeting. And the day will ultimately come when they no longer walk to the school bus stop together, and how will that feel?!

I have to admit. I'm getting a bit choked up just thinking about it.

It snowed lightly here in NY this morning, and normally I'd be a bit grumpy re: having to put on my snow books and parka, just to cross the street to the bus stop corner with Seth. But, this morning, I gave my son an even bigger hug than usual and relished the moment. It used to be that he could only cross the street tightly gripping my hand with his little fingers. Now, as long as I make sure he looks very carefully both ways, he can cross himself with me standing closely next to him, if it's not an overly busy street.

Before I can blink my eyes, I'm sure the day will come when he charges across the street yelling "bye mom!" as I watch from the doorway, because he won't even need me to be at the bus stop with him. Sure, I won't have to hustle to put myself together when I'm not a morning person. And, I won't have to hastily put on my boots and other winter attire....but maybe I'll wish I needed to?!

It's not that I'm ungrateful. Some days I'm just tired. Is that beccause I'm 40+? Perhaps. Is it because I'm peri-menopausal? Perhaps (since I often sleep poorly). Is it because I often feel like I'm racing the clock trying to both work from home and be there for my family? No doubt.

But, all that said. Life is "busy." I don't know many people who doesn't use that word regularly when you ask how things are going for them....especially if they're a mom. And, there are days that feel so chockfull that we might not feel particularly happy. But, I guess the point is...are we laying in wait for a certain set of circumstances that we are convinced will make us happy? Or is it just the little things that we will one day realize were truly special once we no longer have them?

I don't want to put off happiness. And, I want to enjoy both my child and my life as a mom and woman. I'm not entirely sure what my expectations of parenting were, but even if the picture isn't exactly as I envisioned, I adore my son, and wouldn't trade my home life.

I'm off shortly to get a reflexology massage. It's my new year's gift to myself. And, I deserve it! And, I'll be home in time to await Seth's arrival at the bus stop. And, I'll be glad for the pampering time I had to myself, and will do my best to revel in his return home and the weekend we are about to begin.

PS -- Long Island Family magazine profile Motherhood Later in their January issue. Click below to read the article.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Some Things Never Change -- by Cara

When I read Jamie’s blog a couple days ago, I was taken back to the days when my son would fight going to sleep any chance he’d get. Back in the days of toddlerhood, nothing, and I mean practically nothing would cajole this boy to sleep. To make matters worse, he was a vomiter, so we couldn’t just let him cry for very long because my husband and I would be cleaning up from his display of irritation.

He also didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost 3. He’d wake up for water or just want to know someone was around, and I took over the “night shift.” Almost 3 years of non-consecutive sleep. To this day, I don’t know how I did it.

Actually I do know how I managed to catch up on my sleep. We signed him up for full-day Daycare. He had energy to burn at the Daycare and I would spend my day taking naps, which I continue to do now, years later.

I don’t know what kind of magic sleeping dust this Daycare sprinkled over my son, but they got him to take naps. During the week. And only during the week. On the weekends when we knew our son was tired, we would lay down in his room and try to get him to sleep, thinking if he saw us going to sleep, he would follow suit. Didn’t happen. We even invested in a thick exercise mat that either my husband or I would lie down on with him, trying to get him to sleep. That didn’t work either. He would end up climbing all over us, finding things to do. It could take up to and sometimes more than 2 hours to try to get this child to sleep!

I read every book available on how to get your child to sleep, tried every technique. I even called one author to see if I could make an appointment with her and pay $250 to have her help me get my son to sleep! Alas, she was booked 8 months ahead. I had to find a way on my own.

We eventually resorted to taking him on errands on the weekend and while he slept in the car, either my husband or I would sit in the car with him and just close our eyes.

My son is now 6. He rarely falls asleep before 10 pm and if he does, it is usually a clue that an illness is brewing. And he wakes up around 6 am. He is a true 8 hour sleeper, which means that I continue to be chronically sleep deprived because I always wait until he is asleep before I go to sleep. And I usually have at least a half hour of things that need to be done before I settle into the covers.

So, although he is growing and maturing every day, he remains the 8 hour sleeper. And I remain the chronic napper. I am so jealous of Moms who say, “Oh, it’s 7 pm...we have to get home so that Kevin can get his bath and be in bed by 8.” I laugh to myself, thinking, you don’t realize how wonderful it is that your child goes to sleep so early! But in my home, it just will never be.

What age do kids typically go away to sleep-away camp??

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Losing Sleep over Losing Sleep -- by Jamie

I hate bedtime. Not my bedtime—I actually long for the moment I’m able to crawl under the covers and go to sleep. But Jayda’s bedtime is a completely different story.

From the moment she was born, Jayda was a horrible sleeper. Even when she was just a tiny infant, everyone joked that this kid simply didn’t want to miss anything. She was alert and happy most of the time—and turned into a screaming lunatic when anyone tried to put her down for a nap. It’s a lucky thing she was so cute and good-natured, or I don’t know how her daycare teacher would have tolerated her, because getting Jayda to nap was probably the toughest part of her teacher’s job. Other moms I knew could count on 2-3 hour breaks throughout the day during which they could get chores done—or even take a nap, themselves—while their babies were sleeping; I never had that luxury. I was lucky if Jayda napped for an hour twice a day. And nights were even worse: Jayda was up every few hours, and thus, so was I. It took until Jayda was 18 months old before she finally started sleeping through the night (“the night” being from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m., which to me, at that point, was utter bliss). Even now, she rarely sleeps past 5:30 a.m., and is my daily alarm clock. But at least she doesn’t disturb me in the middle of the night anymore.

However, just as when she was a baby, Jayda still won’t go to sleep on her own. From the start, my child needed to be held, rocked, carried around the room, and coaxed to sleep. She never fell asleep in her car seat, nor in her swing, and certainly not just by laying down in her crib. My father was the master of getting baby Jayda to konk out—he’d hold her close to his chest and sing to her and walk around the house until she succumbed to his “charms.” Then he’d let her take her entire nap on his chest, because he wouldn’t dare risk putting her down—and having her wake up. We used to call him “Mr. Mattress.” As Jayda got older, carrying and rocking her to sleep was replaced by rubbing her back while she laid in her crib…but even that required tons of time and patience, as Jayda would fight sleep for as long as possible.

As it’s always been, Jayda’s bedtime is full of rituals. Every night, Jayda changes into her pajamas, uses the potty, and crawls into bed with me with a pile of books. After our book-reading, we turn out the lights and cuddle and, as Jayda requests, “talk days.” I tell her about my day and she tells me about hers, and then I tell her what we have planned for the next day. After that, I rub her back until she goes to sleep. However, lately, that can take forever because my child has become a master procrastinator.

First, she’ll ask for a drink of water (which I keep next to the bed), then she’ll toss and turn and start to ask questions that she already knows the answers to, like “Where’s Grandma?” or ridiculous ones like “What’s Rocco (her friend at school) doing?” If I ignore her, she’ll keep repeating her questions until I answer. And when I tell her to stop talking, she turns all mushy on me and asks for a “big hug,” which, of course I can’t ignore, and sometimes showers me with kisses. Then comes the “Mommy—I have to use the potty!” request. As a very recently potty-trained child, she has me wrapped around her finger because she knows I won’t refuse her a trip to the bathroom. This request only comes once though, since, after I take her to the bathroom, I warn her that we’re not coming back, so she “better make use of her time there!”

Some nights, Jayda adds new surprises to her repertoire. The other evening, she tossed and turned in bed insisting that her back hurt and she needed an ice pack—clearly imitating her grandmother. Once, she insisted she needed dental floss because her “teeth hurt.” She’s also been known to change her mind about what doll she wants to sleep with (wanting the one that is downstairs, of course), claim that her feet are cold and she needs special socks, or suddenly decide that she urgently needs an application of “tushie medicine” (ie: Desitin).

Of course I don’t give in to every demand Jayda makes, and I don’t calmly lie next to her for hours. But leaving her to fall asleep alone isn’t a solution either. Because if I do, Jayda screams and cries for awhile, and then she just calmly sits in bed and waits for me to come back. She’ll wait for hours, too. There have been nights when I’ve gone out for drinks with friends, and have come home to find that Jayda has waited up for me. My mom will put her to bed, and Jayda will lie there calmly…but she won’t go to sleep until she knows I’m home with her. If I’m out very late, eventually exhaustion takes her out…but it could take hours…and I don’t want my kid staying up and losing her much-needed sleep simply because I don’t have the patience to sit with her for a bit longer. So, each night, I return to cajole her to sleep.

As an overtired mommy who LOVES her bed, I’ll never understand why Jayda doesn’t welcome sleep as I do. Even when she’s totally exhausted and rubbing her eyes, and it’s clear to both of us that she needs to pass out, she won’t. She’ll fight me with her very last bit of energy—and she’ll fight hard. My willful child has conquered her naps, of course, and no longer takes them. Oh, the irony: Jayda’s needing (or at least succumbing to) less sleep than ever…and I need more. People tell me this will change…but I fear it won’t until she’s a teenager. I hope I’m proven wrong.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: "FORWARD" - by Gigi Garner, author, Girl Talk; Celebrities and Other Extraordinary Women Share Their Secrets

(I call this the “FORWARD” because this book is about moving ahead, learning, evolving and bettering ourselves and each others’ lives.)

I am not a professional interior designer, teacher, nanny, travel agent, cook, housekeeper, gardener, or beauty consultant. I am probably just like you and every other woman out there who must rise to the occasion and be all things to all people, but we seem to crave enlightenment anyway. Women have found that we can be experts on a lot of subjects that have to do with life in general. We can be surprisingly resourceful when we need to be. We know what we like and why we like it. Through trial and error, we gain a sense of what works, what’s great, and what we are crazy about! We love to share these little tidbits of information that we have acquired with our girlfriends, and we are always anxious to hear the benefit of our friends’ hard-earned knowledge as well.

Some of us are particularly guilty of cruising the “superhighway to Betterville.” Our close friends always notice what’s new, what we’ve changed or what we’ve moved. How many times have you been in a ladies room, doctors office or just minding your own business when one of ‘your tribe’ blurts out, “Where did you get that?” When women get together, either stranger or friend, we are compelled to exchange ideas and share our knowledge. And there are always tons of questions floating around our heads like, “Does that no- ironing spray actually work? Do you know of any antibacterial soap that doesn’t smell like medicine? How do I keep ‘critters’ from getting under our outside hot tub? How do you put your makeup on in a dark motel room without looking like a cast member from Cats?”

I decided to go on a grand scale fact-finding mission. I asked as many savvy women as I could find, “What little secrets do you have locked away that make your life better? What are your tricks of the trade? What neat little confidences have you learned over your life that you will share with the rest of us gals? How do you make your home your sanctuary and haven?” Well, I ended up with a whole slew of interesting answers and decided to write a book to share my discoveries. The book features everything from makeup secrets to good advice, travel tips to reading recommendations, quality pet supplies to motivating techniques and household hints to traditions…from one woman to another. I interviewed, investigated, researched, surveyed and just simply picked the brains of the most together women I could find. Everyone from the famous, such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Kim Alexis, Lucie Arnaz, Joan and Melissa Rivers, June Lockhart, Naomi Judd, to the just ‘famous at home!’ They allowed me to delve into their intimate space to uncover the details that make their lives better, more enjoyable and truly wonderful!

This is a generous gift we can give each other! So enjoy, and pass it on sister! Here is a sample of the MOMMY TIPS section of Girl Talk:

“DO THE MATH” by Joan Rivers, Mom & Grandma
When my daughter Melissa was in her terrible teens, my husband and I decided to give her a little lesson in freedom and some learned responsibility. We did not give her an official curfew like the rest of her friends. The only stipulation was that she had to be home eight hours before she had to leave the house again. So, if she had a game the next day, she would have to figure out how long it took to get to and from where she was going and count back eight hours. It gave her a false sense of having no formal time to be home but she really did. It worked beautifully. No rebellion here!

"THE SECRET DISH" by Mary Oberstat, Busy Mom of Three Boys
When my three boys were little, they hated vegetables like most children. I had a very difficult time trying to get them to eat anything healthy. One night, when the twins were about three and our oldest son was about six, we all sat down for dinner and I placed one of those covered metal Chinese compote serving dishes in between my husband and myself. Well, the boys' eyes grew as big as saucers, and they all asked,"What's in there?" I replied, "Oh, that's adult food, and you can't have any until you are older." They cried, "We want some!" Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. Child Psychology 101. They were putty in my hands!
I didn't give them any food from the dish that night, but their curiosity about the covered secret dish, and what was in it, ran rampant! Finally, I let them try something (a vegetable) from the dish. They loved it and wanted more! So gradually, I would put more and different healthy foods in the secret dish, until I could get them to eat virtually anything out of it! It worked like a charm! I recommend this to all new mothers.

"PARKING FOR TWO" by Kerry Buckley, Investment Banker
Near the end of my sister-in-law's pregnancy, she asked me if I could go with her to the grocery store to help her do her weekly grocery shopping. Of course, any excuse to shop is good for me so, I picked her up and we went to a market that I had never been to before because it was close to her house. Well, lo and behold like a beacon in the night and an answer to a prayer, right in front of the store there was a special parking space saved for expectant mothers! We almost couldn't believe ours eyes when we saw the pink sign with the stork on it.

I asked the store manager, "Whose great idea was it to put that sign there?" and he told me it was a woman named Ashley Caldwell and she is the owner's daughter. He also told me that many of the elderly customers hated the idea and had complained, and that I was the only person who had said I liked the idea. I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. Excuse me but, don't any of these people have children? Don't they remember what it's like to try to walk, breathe, shop and sleep with a whole baby in your belly? Are charity and sympathy completely lost? I realize and respect the hardships experienced by the handicapped and elderly but, they still have some twenty odd handicapped parking spaces left.

All I can say is that I believe that every self respecting woman should ask the management of their supermarket or grocery store to include one of these parking spaces in front of their stores! They have made two customers for life!

"THE MAGIC BOX" by Gigi Garner
Most kids are fascinated by magic, and when I was a year old, I was no exception. Like most children, going to grandma's house was a real treat. My grandma was and still is a very creative person. One of my fondest memories when I was a child was going to grandma's house and playing a game she made up for all of her grandchildren. It was called "The Magic Box," and she would keep it high in her bedroom closet. She would take the magic box down and secretly put all kinds of things inside of it, and then we would stick our hands inside and touch and feel the objects to try to identify them. The real magic was that it was just a simple box with a hole in the top, various little objects, and a piece of black felt over it, but grandma made it mysterious and fun! Obviously, this was before the invention of video games, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. There is something to be said for good old-fashioned fun and ingenuity! Fun things to put in the box : A toothbrush, a jelly bean, a cotton ball, a wishbone, tweezers, a nickel, a troll, a bobby pin, a spoon, a coffee bean, a thimble, a rose petal, a rubber band, etc.

For more on Gigi Garner, visit Gig grew up in West Los Angeles where she attended Westlake School for Girls and USC Film School. She had studied/lived abroad in Germany and England and had two record deals with a top twenty single in Europe. Gigi was also hostess on a live Thames television show for teens in London. She was a model, commercial actor, and even a licensed Private Investigator like her Father, actor James Garner, played on his TV show " THE ROCKFORD FILES" ~ She speaks three languages, is scuba certified and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. You may purchase her books on

Her first title "THE COP COOKBOOK" was on a best seller list!

To order "Girl Talk", visit..

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Generations -- by Robin

This past weekend, my 91 year old dad came to stay with us, as he does often when his live-in aide goes home some weekends. He sleeps on a cot in Seth's room, and I've always felt that it was a nice bonding experience for the two of them.

It's getting to the point now, though, as Seth gets older, that he's becoming less 'n less tolerant of my dad's snoring and getting up frequently to visit the bathroom. It's been waking him up, and he doesn't want him in his room anymore. So, we may move the cot into the living room. That would be a bit of a longer walk for my dad to the bathroom, but he could potentially manage.

I found myself sad during this stay. I miss what my dad was. He spends so much time complaining about how he feels, that it leaves me depressed. I want to treasure our time together...and his time with Seth....I just wish it could be a beat more upbeat....even if not perfect.

Is this what happens when someone gets old? Is it to be expected that their health becomes a primary topic of ongoing discussion? My dad says that when he goes to the senior center for lunch, everyone shares about their ailments. I guess it gives them some level of comfort to know they're not alone, but isn't it better not to dwell on it constantly?! If you do, then I would imagine it can take over your thoughts, and what kind of life is that?! Say it...get it out...and then move on.

I don't want to pass judgment. Who knows what I'll be like as a senior citizen?

I feel blessed to have my dad, but I have to be gentle with myself as well, and allow the feelings that come up for me. Even, if that means taking a break from listening to him. I just don't want to get angry, but sometime I can't help it.

My dad laughs when he talks about how many doctor appointments friends of his have...and he has his weekly share as well.

The weekend left me with tremendous guilt, which I know I don't deserve. I had the need to escape my dad at one point and took myself to the movies. Marc watched Seth, and my dad was napping. The break did me good.

A friend wrote to me that I should do something fun with my father. But, the problem is, he isn't up for much. He gets tired easily and frequents the bathroom. He does enjoy eating out, so we always at the very least do that.

When my dad returned home, I felt relief. He's in good hands with his aide, and I can speak to him on the phone as I do daily (more than once), and not feel quite as immersed in his negative talk. I'm blessed that my six year old is upbeat and makes me laugh. He is good company, and when he makes my dad laugh, and forget his age for a moment, I have visions of what my dad was like when I was young. It warms my heart because I know no one will love me like my dad, and there's alot to be said for that. And, I'm thankful that Seth knows his grandpa, snoring and all.


PPS -- If you don't currently receive our newsletter, sign up at and be entered in January to win a free Kajeet phone.

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