Friday, April 30, 2010

The "H" Word - by Robin

What is it about hormones that have the power to dictate how you feel?  Who granted them that right?! 

I never gave much credance to hormones.  Did mine feel neglected all these years, and now they're making themself known much to my chagrin?   I've always know they're there.  I've always known they're important.  But, I guess I mostly took them for granted.  They did their job, but now they are taking somewhat of a hiatus or at least making a shift.

I've always had regular menstrual cycles that I could count on to the day.  Raging estrogen led to my having fibroids that were once dealt with surgically, only to grow back.  I remain challenged by them, but I'm not inclined to pursue a hysterectomy unless I have no choice.

Of late, I feel like I'm in hormone hell....if they are in fact the cause for how I feel.

Ever since Seth and I returned from our spring break trip to Asheville (we had a great time), I've been having headaches on 'n off.  And, I've never been a headache gal.  After over a week of frustration, I decided to see the neurologist, and I'm getting a brain MRI to check things out.  My impression of my doctor visit is that he's anticipating things will be fine on the scan, but that said, I don't feel great.  Hormones came up in our discussion.  That dreaded "H" word that has become part of my almost daily vocabulary and the bane of my existance.

It's become quite the topic of debate in my social circle.  Partly led by me, and also broached by others in peri.  We're members of the Peri Club...and it's an active one, yet it's not one we opted to join.  It's not an easy phase of life for everyone (though some seem to breeze through it).  In fact, it's downright confusing. And, not just for me, but my husband and potentially my son.

With its emotional highs and lows, I had two hysterical cries this week.  Both were thankfully when my husband and son were out of the house, so that was good.  What each was about exactly, I'm not sure.  But, it felt necessary at the time.  A release.  I know that waterworks is often part of peri, so I'm keeping the Kleenix at hand.  I don't want to take out my mood swings on those nearest and dearest to me, and I don't want to turn into "wife the weeper" or "mommy meanest."  So, I'm trying to have a higher consciousness of little things that push my emotional buttons and to give myself some space when I feel particularly frustrated or out of control (not easy for a Type A gal).

What's happening to me?!  Who is this 40 something unstable person who has invaded my body?  And, more importantly, what to do about it?  I much prefer the notion of natural supplements vs. hormone intervention.  And, in general, I'm the sort to "tough" it out, until I can't take it anymore.

But, will it get worse?  I saw the show Menopause the Musical, and it didn't make me laugh.  It made me fearful.  Menopause survivors, of which there are many, will tell you their tales and immediately get an empathetic look on their face if you ask what it was like for them.  They'll share their woes, and you secretly hope it doesn't happen to you.  My beloved mom, unfortunately, passed away, so I don't have her to talk to about female matters.  I have not had hot flahses, and I pray that's not part of my fate.  I have had sleepless nights, stomach upset, among other amorphous symptoms that can easily lead you to the doctors office and perplex any competent MD...all while making you feel like a total hypochondriac in the process. 

I have often used the phrase "the joys of being a woman," but now, more than ever, it's on the tip of my tongue.  I don't want peri to take over my life.  And, I don't want to be hyper-focused on hormones.  I could easily spend half my day researching them on the web.  I already bookmarked WebMD.

Instead, I'm going to stry to devote some quality downtime to hanging with my new cockatiel Smokey.  She relaxes me.  Get some exercise, which will help me sleep.  Pop my newly prescribed anti-inflammatory pill, and hope that helps.  And, cross my fingers that the MRI goes well this week (It's hard enough getting one of those tests.  If you've ever had one, you know what I mean.).  I'll close my eyes, while the pulsating clicking of the machine reverberates in my head, and envision myself laying on an exotic beach in Bali or some place where raging hormones need a passport of their own (and I didn't invite them to join me).

It's supposed to be in the 80s this weekend in NY, and a little Vitamin D sunlight is good for the spirit, and hey, maybe it's good for hormones too?!

It helps to know, as 40 something women, we're in this together.  Somehow everyone gets through it and lives to tell.  I know I'll eventually come out the other side.

Labels: , , , ,


(Photo credit: Serge Nivelle)

The Kid is based on the true story of what happens when sex columnist Dan Savage and his boyfriend decide to start a family. Created by Andy Monroe (music), Michael Zam (book) and Jack Lechner (lyrics), it was the winner of the 2009 BMI Foundation Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre. And, I can see why. It's engaging, entertaining and particularly affecting, if you're a parent, and you had any adoption experience.

Dan Savage, author of the memoir, The Kid: What Happened after My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant, is widely recognized for his syndicated relationship and sex column “Savage Love” and weekly podcast “Savage Lovecast.”

Directed by Scott Elliott, the cast features Christopher Sieber (Broadway: Shrek – Tony® Award nomination, Monty Python's Spamalot - Tony nom.; TV: "Pushing Daisies") in the role of Dan Savage,and Lucas Steele (B’way: The Threepenny Opera, Off-B’way: Oliver Twist-TFANA, Corpus Christie-Bouwerie Lane Theater, Wickets-3LD) as Dan’s boyfriend Terry.

The company also includes Kevin Anthony, Susan Blackwell, Jill Eikenberry as Dan’s Mom, Jeannine Frumess, Ann Harada, Tyler Maynard, Brooke Sunny Moriber, Justin Patterson and Michael Wartella.

Set Design is by Derek McLane, Costume Design is by Jeff Mahshie, and Sound Design is by Ken Travis. Music Supervision/Arrangements/Orchestrations are by Dominick Amendum.

Musical Direction is by Boko Suzuki, and Musical Staging is by Josh Prince. Animation is by Jeffrey Scher, whose work appears in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Academy Film Archives, Hirshhorn Museum, Pompidou Centre, Musee d’Art Moderne, Vienna Kunsthalle and Austrian National Archive, and others.

Scott Elliott (Director) is the founding Artistic Director of The New Group, where he has produced over 45 plays, 20 of which he has personally directed. Broadway credits include Present Laughter, Barefoot in the Park, and 3 plays produced by The Roundabout: The Threepenny Opera, The Women, and Three Sisters. He is also a film director and screenwriter.

Andy Monroe (music) wrote the music and lyrics for The Tragic and Horrible Life of The Singing Nun (2006 New York Musical Theater Festival). He is the recipient of both the 2001 BMI Foundation Jerry Harrington Musical Theater Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement and the 2009 Jerry Bock Award. Dramatist Guild Fellow (2007-8) and proud member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.

Michael Zam (book) is penning a stage adaptation of the novel Selfish & Perverse by Bob Smith for director Jerry Mitchell. Screenplays include (with co-writer Jaffe Cohen) Best Actress (Black List of Best New Screenplays, 2009), to be produced by Plan B Entertainment and directed by Ryan Murphy; and Wife Vs. Ninja for DreamWorks Pictures. With his collaborators, Zam was honored with BMI’s Jerry Bock Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre for The Kid. He teaches screenwriting at NYU (Award for Teaching Excellence, 1998 and 2007) and Modern British Drama every August at NYU in London.

Jack Lechner (lyrics) is a songwriter, most recently for the HBO special A Family Is A Family Is A Family (with Andy Monroe); a writer; an NYU professor; and a film and TV producer, based at Washington Square Films. Member of BMI Musical Theater Workshop (Advanced); won 2004 Jerry Harrington Award.

The Kid plays at The New Group @ Theatre Row (The Acorn Theatre/410 West 42nd Street, between 9th& 10th Avenues) as follows: Monday at 8:00 PM, Tuesday at 7:00 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 PM, with a matinee on Saturday at 2:00 PM.

Tickets may be arranged through Ticket Central at or
(212) 279-4200, or at the Theatre Row Box Office (12:00–8:00 PM daily). Tickets are $60.00 plus $1.25 restoration fee. For more information, visit

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Long Wave Goodbye - by Cyma

Today, I waved to my daughter riding away on the bus. The silly kind of wave – two arms, as if flagging down a passing ship. We both continued waving until the bus was out of sight. Walking back to my house, I had a lump in my throat. I am sad.

I guess I’m sad for the lack of these experiences with my own mother; sad for the time which is passing so quickly; sad, too, that I see that my parenting must be working well – my own daughter still longs for me. I did not have that with my own mother. I will continue to try my hardest to fulfill that need, until her hands stop reaching for mine, the arm waves stop and I see her waving to her friends, not me. That time is coming. In fact, it’s just around the corner.

Writer Kelly Salasin recently blogged, “There are so many deaths in mothering, beginning at the beginning, and arriving every day after. But equally matched with these deaths are the blessings of a new life – new growth – new possibility.” These words are haunting me. I spent so much time trying to keep things the same. Having kids changed that. I spent so much time trying to live the same life. Having kids changed that. I spent all my time trying to keep people out, and keeping my life (force) in. Having kids changed that, too.

When my children arrived, I listened to little that people said. Everyone had advice, even if mostly unsolicited. They didn’t understand the traumas we all adjusted to; they didn’t understand the struggles we’d all had just to get here. But, the one thing I heard and followed was to ‘cherish these times wisely.’ (Translation: be in the now). I say this daily. I pray with these words.

So, the next time the bus drives away from our house, I will wave with gusto, count all my blessings, and cry if I need to. I’m in the now of my life.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Like Riding a Bicycle - by Cara

My 6 1/2 year old son learned how to ride a bicycle without training wheels for the first time this past week! I must give all of the credit to my “husband” who worked with my son almost every nice day after school. I was unable to physically participate due to an injured rib (a long story). My husband runs between 5 - 10 miles each day, so he was physically able to run next to my son. At first, my husband would hold the seat, next he kept his arms out in case my son wobbled. Finally he ran next to my son, coaching him on how to use the brakes!

I’m so proud of my son! More importantly, my son is so extremely proud of himself! He would come into the house with his red, rosy cheeks and report to me how he didn’t even wobble once! Or that Daddy didn’t have to keep his arms out to catch him anymore! You could tell my son was beaming with enthusiasm! Every day there was another small accomplishment to describe with confidence and self-satisfaction!

I can remember back to the days when I learned to ride my own bicycle (those were the days before bicycle helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads!). My father took off the training wheels and ran behind me, holding onto the seat. I seem to remember catching onto bike riding with only 2 wheels pretty quickly. I was off! Wind blowing through my hair, streamers fluttering in the wind off the ends of my handle bars! The requisite bicycle bell, and a pretty pink basket tied to the front of the handle bars! Most of all, though, I can remember feeling that riding a 2 wheel bicycle was one significant step towards autonomy! In my childhood days, once you were able to ride a 2 wheel bicycle, the world was your oyster! You could ride to a friend’s house several blocks away and knock on their door to see if they could come out and play (they were not bogged down learning algebra or statistics in those days!), and if they were free, the two of us would find streets with hills or curves! We were learning to master riding our bicycles! It’s a shame that life for children is not the same as it was 40 years ago (was it REALLY that long ago?).

But back to my son...he has nothing else to compare his riding experience to, so he is enjoying every moment of his own new-found autonomy! He is knocking on friend’s doors, along with my husband. My husband then becomes the “chaperone” for the two young riders! I am grateful that my husband sends me video clips so that I will have this milestone event caught digitally to be watched for years to come! And photos taken with my son holding up his bicycle without training wheels!
The smile on this little boy’s face is priceless!

Once my injury heals a little more, I too would like to resume my own exercise regimen. I love to walk long distances and alternate with yoga.
And now that the weather has been mostly cooperating, I am sure that I can slowly work up to the vigorous workouts I still remember so vividly.
I long for the days when I would get up early and walk at least 3 miles before going to work! It energized me and made me a much more productive employee! Even exercise classes taken at night would never “rev me up.”
I used to sleep like a brick those nights after a workout.

So, perhaps getting my body back into the exercising “mode” may not be too difficult, even after years of being a “slug.” I guess it will be like riding a bicycle; Once you master the technique, you never forget how to ride!

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Big Year - by Laura

We did it. We made it our first year with twins. Only 362 days and 2,933 miles ago we finally became parents at the age of 44. Somewhere in that year I might have gotten some sleep, fallen more in love with my husband, and learned a thing or two about babies. I also learned a lot about friendship. When we brought our little guys home to our farm in Oregon, there were friends coming and going, bottles of wine opened, meals shared, blankets received, and lots and lots of good, strong arms for holding babies.

These are my favorite memories from the year:

• The first time I saw the boys I was coming off the anesthesia as they wheeled me into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Sunlight poured into the room as if God and every one of my relations was visiting, too. To show my deep appreciation, I threw up all over the NICU floor.

• The drive home from the hospital was spectacular. Behind the wheel of our minivan with husband and boys in back, I felt a profound sense of satisfaction and joy. Colors were brighter, music richer, touch more sensuous. It stayed that way for me a long, long time. All summer long. All of those images burned into my memory, and I can look them up any time and get that same feeling instantly.

• Watching my friends get high from holding my sons, and hearing to them talk about their fantastical drive home while they were drunk on baby love.

• Waking up at 2am to feed one of the boys, watching the moonlight pool on the tiles in front of the sliding glass doors, and listening to my baby’s breath as he returned to a state of sleep.

• Listening to the boys giggle as they watched the chickens outside on the lawn peck and prance around for their breakfast.

• The first time the boys held hands as they napped together in their crib.

• Spending a week on Lopez Island, WA, hiking the boys all over the place so they could see their first bald eagle, gray whale, sea lion, bunnies and deer.

• Flying over New York City and looking at the lights of Manhattan with Lyle on my lap. I pointed to the buildings and said, “Our new home.” Lyle jumped up and down and laughed and suddenly I didn’t feel so bad or so scared any more.

It hasn’t been an easy year by any stretch or measure. People often ask how I do it. If I stop to think, I get overwhelmed. I just keep my head down and keep going. Having two is incredibly intense. It requires practicing great patience with them, with my husband, and with myself. And after a year of juggling, I couldn’t tell you how hard it is because I don’t know any different. But I do know better. And if you ask me, twins are better.

Happy Birthday Boys!

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Don't Leave Me This Way - by Jamie

My daughter, Jayda, has been a day care kid ever since she was three-and-a-half months old. She loves school, and some days I even have a difficult time getting her to leave the center after eight hours to come home with me. She also takes a dance class whereby I drop her off and watch her prance around through the glass; generally, Jayda’s so immersed in the activity and the other kids in her class that she rarely acknowledges me with more than a wave when she’s changing from her tap to her ballet shoes. And she recently started taking swimming lessons; the moment Jayda is greeted by her teacher, she never looks back.

But lately, when we’re together in the house, Jayda won’t stop clinging to me. I can’t eat a meal or read a magazine without her demanding, “I want to sit on your lap, Mommy!” And she doesn’t want to let me out of her sight for even a moment. The other morning, while Jayda was watching a “Max and Ruby” DVD and I was making breakfast in the kitchen, I announced that I needed to run to the bathroom for a second. “Are you coming back?” Jayda responded fearfully. Huh? I couldn’t even joke with her about the unlikelihood of falling in and drowning, but simply remarked, “Of course!” Another morning, we came downstairs to the den and Jayda instantly begged, “Mommy! Don’t leave me!” I explained that I would never “leave her.” I might go to the bathroom or the kitchen while she was busy playing, but I’d never be far away. And that same morning, when I told her that I needed to run back upstairs to grab something for school, she insisted on coming with me…grasping onto my hand the entire time.

Jayda’s separation anxiety continued the other night, when I had plans to go out for drinks with a girlfriend—which is something I’ve certainly done in the past. My parents agreed to take Jayda to the diner for dinner that evening—and to put her to bed. Jayda was excited about going to “the pancake store” with Grandma and Poppy…until she discovered I wasn’t coming along. And when she found out I wouldn’t be home when she returned from the diner, the waterworks started: “You’ll come back though…right?” she wailed. “Of course I’m coming back,” I explained, as I seem to do all the time now. “I love you too much to ever leave you. And while I may have places I need to go to now and then, I’ll always come back to you,” I assured her. For the moment, Jayda was placated…but not enough to let her fall asleep until I came home; though she burrowed under the covers in her bed to placate my parents, she insisted on waiting up for me. Only when her sleepy eyes confirmed that I had, indeed, returned to her, did she let herself drift off, completely.

I’ve never “abandoned” my daughter; I’ve never even been separated from her overnight. And whenever I have to leave Jayda to do something (even to simply enter another room in the house), I always forewarn her about it. So I can’t figure out where this behavior is coming from. It’s true that sometimes my daughter’s devotion is heartwarming, like when she throws herself on me when I’m lying in bed, and wraps her whole body around me so I can’t go anywhere…literally. Or when she holds onto my hand and murmurs, “I love you sooooooooo much” as she’s falling to sleep. However, other times, Jayda’s dramatic attachment to me is worrisome, and I’d like for it to lessen. But I suppose nothing is as worrisome as the future, when my then-adolescent daughter will likely be telling me “Go away, Mommy!” or “Leave me alone!” As the mother of an emotional young girl, there always something to worry about, isn’t there?

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hare Today, Here Tomorrow - by Liimu

It is such a beautiful and sunny day and I’m so grateful to have the life that I have today, especially when I think about how far I’ve come. Sometimes, though, I have to be conscious of where I’m going, and how fast I’m trying to get there. Like the tortoise and the hare, I can often be so focused on going, going, going, that I burn myself out and then end up missing the entire point of the journey.

I have a friend who I have known for many, many years. She and I have traveled along together in the journey of becoming our best selves, including losing weight. In fact, I met her online on eDiets, and over the course of time as we became friends, we began to see each other in person and then she moved to live 5 min from me. She saw me gain 90 pounds with my first baby and lose 70 of it in the first 7 months. She saw me quickly get pregnant with my 2nd child, less than 9 months after the birth of my first, and then lose the 45 pounds I gained in less than a year. She has essentially seen me work my ass off, literally. But what she has also seen are three things: She has seen me workout diligently 5-6 days a week since she has known me. She has seen me workout at that pace, regardless of how heavy I am; in 2008, I ran a half marathon tipping the scales at 196 pounds (I am 5’5”). She has also seen that no matter how hard I try, if I am not paying attention to what I eat, I can’t make any forward progress and that often if I work too hard, I burn out and then eat everything in sight, essentially undoing any progress I may have made.

What I have seen in her, if nothing else, is unerring consistency. Initially, she consistently was unable to make any forward progress. Last May, she joined me on a program that I absolutely believe is one of the top fitness programs available today, an online nutrition and fitness program called Dreambodies. Where other programs that touted the benefits of counting points, using meal replacement shakes, or getting in-person counseling and pre-packaged meals had failed us, Dreambodies seemed to have the perfect formula for success. When my friend saw that I had blasted out of the gate yet again and lost 30 pounds, she finally acquiesced and signed up herself. She saw immediate results, and now, a year later is within just a couple pounds of her goal. I still weigh the exact same amount that I did the day she signed up. With her unerring consistency and dogged persistence, she has surpassed my success and gotten even further along the journey, just like the tortoise passed the hare sleeping at the base of the oak tree sabotaged by his overeager start (and overconfident arrogance). I am learning from my friend what it means to be consistent, and the value of patient persistence.

Until yesterday, I was focused on and frustrated by my lack of ability, instead of being motivated and inspired by my friend’s unique constancy and how it has served her. Finally, in these last couple of days, I have noticed my energy and shifted it to a positive mindset and I have realized that if I can learn from her example and exhibit the same consistency, faith, positivity and courage (and keep track of what goes in my mouth), I will break through the barrier of self and have the same wonderful success she is now enjoying.

Yes, this week I’m thinking about the tortoise and the hare and how sometimes the world looks at the hares of the world and celebrates their slick, fast moves – Nicole Richie lose the baby weight in 6 weeks! Kim Kardashian loses 5 lbs in 5 days to get back at her ex! And maybe I’ve been the hare in this whole thing up till now, and it’s done nothing to get me where I’m going. Hare today, here tomorrow, as if I’m the one sleeping at the base of that old oak tree. But I’m awake now and ready to hop alongside that tortoise at a nice, even pace. So, big shout outs to the tortoises of the world. Thanks for reminding us that slow and steady wins the race!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Daddy Will Fix It: Facing Consequences - by Dr. Jenn Berman

When you help your children understand at an early age that they are responsible for the choices they make as well as for the consequences of their actions, you promote a sense of mastery and self-confidence in them.

One of the most difficult tasks for parents is allowing their kids to suffer the consequences of their choices and actions. But in order for children to grow up to become responsible adults, they need to know how to deal with these kinds of consequences. It is a crucial developmental step for them to take.

Mark, a college student, was sent to me by his parents because they were concerned about his pot smoking and poor grades. Mark, who was clearly very bright and got fantastic SAT scores, was completely unmotivated. He attended an expensive private college with a great academic reputation. When I asked him what he planned to do after college he told me he would go to law school.

“How are you going to get into law school?” I asked him. “You are barely passing your classes right now, and law school is highly competitive.”
“My dad has connections. He can buy me a spot in at least three of the top schools,” he told me.

Apparently Mark’s dad had already bought his son’s way into his current school. Up to that point, Mark had never had to face any of the consequences of his actions. If he forgot his homework his mother brought it, if he forgot his lunch the maid brought it, if he forgot to feed his goldfish and it died he was given a new fish. Now mom and dad were still getting him out of trouble, and at the age of nineteen Mark had no life skills, no discipline, and no motivation. Had Mark suffered the consequences of his actions at an earlier age, he would have learned to apply himself. Adversity leads to growth. If you allow your children to suffer the consequences of bad choices, they will learn to make better choices. Protecting kids from those kinds of consequences only retards their ability to develop into responsible adults.

Excerpted from the book The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids © copyright 2007 by Dr. Jenn Berman. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

Dr. Jenn Berman is a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist in private practice in Los Angeles. She is the author of the Los Angeles Times best-selling book The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids which won the Mom’s Choice Award gold medal in parenting. She is also the author of SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years and the co-author of the children’s book Rockin’ Babies. Her “Dr. Jenn” parenting column runs in Los Angeles Family Magazine and elsewhere and won a Parenting Publications of America award. She is also on the Board of Advisors for Parents Magazine. Dr. Jenn has appeared on television including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, The Early Show, etc. She currently hosts a call-in advice show on Sirius/XM’s Cosmo Radio. Dr. Jenn has an eco-friendly clothing line for adults and children called Retail Therapy. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and twin daughters. For more information, visit

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Discipline -- by Robin

My husband and I got in to a spat this past week re: discipline.

Seth wasn't doing good listening, and in a heated moment of weakness, Marc lost control and hit him. Not hard. But, with anger.

Both Seth and I were in shock. And, Seth cried. More, I think, because he was taken aback than from actual pain.

But, I was pained.

My husband was raised by a father (may he rest in peace), who would sometimes take a belt to him and his younger brother. Leather...not cloth.

I can't imagine being chased by a belt, not to mention being potentially hit with one.

Where does this discpline approach come from? Is it passed down from the generations? Did my father-in-law's father hit him with a belt? And, when does it stop?

As far as I'm concerned, it stops right our household.

What lesson does hitting impart? Not one I choose to endorse.

I spoke with my own senior dad about it who admitted that my sister and I were sometimes spanked, though I honestly don't recall. So, I'm sure it wasn't a frequent scenario. But, still..........

What message does hitting send to a child?

Do you want your child to learn that it's ok to hit? And who? Other children? Their own children should they grow up and become a parent?

Do you want your legacy with your child to be that of a parent who couldn't control their temper and used physical force to get their point across? What will your child remember more? Your point or your blow?

I have moments when Seth pushes my buttons and I have to walk away and take a deep breath. But, I endeavor as much as possible not to yell at him and I would certainly never take a hand or belt or any other body part or blunt object to him. And, particularly as he matures and gains strength, I wouldn't want him to do it to me. Striking is not an option in our home.

While he apologized to Seth, and Seth to him, I shared with Marc that I never want to witness a repeat episode.

I recognize that discipline isn't the easiest and sometimes we don't know what to do, but almost anything is better than laying a hand on your child.

PS - Thanks to Hasbro for the cool Nerf 'N Sports Weather Blitz Flyer...a disc designed for maximum performance. And, the Nerf 'N Sports Curve Pitch Baseball Set that lets you throw trick pitches. My son, 7, plays on a baseball league, and is loving it. And, we play with the frisbee as he waits for the school bus in the morning, and it's a lot more durable and easier to throw than others we have. Visit Nerf.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kid-Friendly Travel -- by Cyma

Vacation week. It’s taken me a while to catch on, but I’m now getting more and more clever.


Now, I know you’re laughing, or probably scrunching up your face, but consider this: last year we vacationed in North Carolina – nearly 800 miles away from our home in Connecticut. It took us TWO FULL days to get there; it was scorching hot; we heard nothing but belly-aching; we had to stop G-d knows how many times to empty someone’s bladder; were stuck in endless traffic jams, and by the time we got there, we were beyond pooped.

I spent days packing, at least one day unpacking, and literally just moved one week’s worth of toys, clothes, food, linens, etc. from Point A to Point B. Seven days later, I repeated this exercise in reverse.

This may have been somewhat of a vacation for my husband and children, but by the time we arrived home, I had lost years off my life and truly needed days to recouperate. Now, I needed a vacation.

When we fly overseas, we pack (yes, we take food, toys and clothing); drive to the airport; fly; drive from the airport to a destination a few hours away and stay put. From there we take simple day-trips; see things we’ve never seen; eat food we’ve never eaten and my children are usually very, very quiet. (Watch a 5 yr. old trying to understand or read Italian or French. They’re quiet and reserved; heck, they CAN”T FIGURE IT OUT!!)

So notwithstanding money issues, and a few preplanned future trips to Disneyland, Grand Canyon and San Francisco, I’m happy with this arrangement. More importantly, my children not only get to see the world, but realize that getting anywhere in the world isn’t fraught with dilemmas – it’s only a plane-ride away.

I dare you to try it.

Note: Cyma left with her family (her children are 5 & 7) for Belgium, France and Holland on 4/15. They have already been to Russia, Italy and Ireland.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mid-Life Motherhood Crisis -- by Cara

I read Robin’s Blog on Friday, and it resonated with me. To the core. On many levels. Up until 3 years ago, I, too, had to care for my elderly father and a young baby/toddler. I honestly don’t know which was worse...explaining for the 100th time to my father why he had to take a new medication or racing all over the house, preventing my young son from writing on the walls or taking everything out of drawers so he could sit it them!

I call this “Mid-Life Mothering.” Many “later” Moms are feeling this crunch. And even if their parents are healthy, being a single Mom or a working Mom with few resources, can only burden one even more.

I feel for Robin. At the time my father was alive, I, too, went the holistic approach, looking for ways to manage all of my stress. I tried holistic medicine, tinctures, vitamins, Acupuncture (and drinking this horrid “tea” three times a day, which I had to boil for an hour! Oh the stench!!). I started going to a therapist, got weekly massages, exercised regularly. All of these things a limited extent. My stress level was mounting and I just couldn’t get a handle on it with nontraditional methods.

Enter the big time meds. They worked! They worked REALLY well! Twenty-four/seven! And as much as I hate having to rely on these meds every day, twice (or more) a day, they are what my body needed and still needs. So I understand what Robin is saying about not wanting to rely on meds to manage stress. But sometimes the stress is beyond just ordinary stress. At that point, you need to decide whether the meds might help. If they work miracles (as they did for me), fabulous! If they don’t, you can just opt to not take them anymore.

The reason I am droning on about this is because we ARE the “sandwich generation.” The other day, I went for a walk to try to calm myself down from some stressful news. The walked worked. But only for about 45 minutes afterwards. Then I was going into the medicine cabinet to help myself calm down again.

I am in no way addicted to these meds. I forget to take them sometimes. And then life starts to get to me, and I have to check my pill box to see if I took all of the meds I’m supposed to take. And I’m not a drinker, so that would be of no help to me. In fact, I’ve been reading articles stating that Moms are becoming the newest, “up-and-coming” category of binge drinkers! It starts with a glass of wine once the kids are in bed and escalates to running for the wine glass as soon as they come through the door at the end of the day. What is scary is that I have two friends who do this, and I am quite concerned for them. I personally would rather take my meds and have a fully clear head about me.

So what does all this mean? And where do we go with this? I wish I had the answers. I have my ongoing issues, as we all know. But then “life” throws us a curve ball. Or two or three, all at once! I guess each one of us has to manage our stress in whichever way works best for us.

Before my son was born, I used to take yoga classes for an hour and then go home and meditate between 40 - 60 minutes. I no longer have the luxury of that “healing” time. If I can get a 30-minute walk in most days a week, I’m thrilled! Now I need that time to help my son do his homework (and refocus him to do his homework!). I have to help him learn algebra (yes, First Grade. I think I learned it in 9th Grade. What is wrong here?? Why does a First Grader NEED to learn algebra!)? All of these added burdens accumulate. Until your head wants to implode.

I, unfortunately, don’t see my life getting any easier. I do hope and would love to eventually get off all of these meds and enjoy a peaceful meditation session. (Maybe once my son goes to college!) But it seems that as soon as you think you have everything under control, something changes. And it just happens when you least expect it. At the worst possible moment in time.

Have any suggestions or stories to share? I would relish reading and learning how others cope throughout this “Mid-Life Motherhood Crisis.” Please share them with others and me.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beating My Parents -- by Laura

My mother hates my father. She has hated him for years. Like so many women of her generation, she got married thinking it was the cure for her loneliness and unhappiness. She thought my father would fix her, that he would be her therapist, that he would be her best friend, and, of course, that he would be her knight in shining armor. And like many women her age, she is resentful that he could do or be any of those things.

But unlike many women of her generation, my mother elected to stew in her anger rather than get counseling. Instead, she used me as her therapist. Throughout my childhood my mother gradually poisoned me against her husband. From age 12 to about age 20, I thought my father was a cold, neglectful, indifferent man. I refused to listen to him, I deliberately disobeyed him, and I was mean, mean, mean to him at every opportunity.

When I was 23, I moved to a part of the city that was only a few blocks from my father’s office, and on the nights I was not waiting tables, he would call and ask if he could stop by. He’d bring a six-pack of Coors beer, and we would sit on my patio even on the coldest of days, drink a brew, and play fetch with the dogs. My dad loved dogs. And he especially loved Labrador retrievers, and I had rescued two of them from the pound where he sometimes volunteered. They were the magnets that helped draw my father and I back together, and in my heart I have built a glorious memorial for those dogs.

On those evenings I got to know my father really well. And what I found was a man who was very much like me. He loved books, the outdoors, gardens, hiking, dogs, beer, and he especially loved his children and his life with them. He even loved the woman who had berated him all of his life, alienated him from his brothers and sisters, and tried to turn his own children against him. “She can’t help it,” he told me once. “She didn’t grow up with anyone loving her.”

To say I dislike my mother is an understatement. But over the past 20 years, I have tried to remember his words: That no one loved her, and that’s why she is the way she is.

I struggle with her more now that I am a parent myself. I look at her behaviors toward her family, and something deep in me bubbles up into my throat. My mother drove a wedge between my father and his twin brother. If a woman ever did that to my twins, I don’t know what I would do, but my wrath would be severe. My mother also liked to be divisive with her own children because she learned that if we were angry with one another, we would go to her to talk about the sibling we were disgusted with at that time. It was her way of guaranteeing attention. And saddest to me is that I bought into her lies and lost precious years with my father and siblings. It’s something I have not forgiven myself for.

Last week my mother found a letter I had written my father more than 10 years ago, and she sent me a venomous email in response. In the letter I discussed my mother’s accusations of his affair, and I suggested to my father that if the accusations were not true that my mother could be experiencing delusional episodes due to her own childhood. I also suggested that after 40 years of emotional abuse it might be time to leave my mother. I recommended he divorce her and go live with his twin brother. It was the right advice to give.

I was particularly worried about my father because he had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and I knew as the disease worsened my mother would not take care of him. I knew she would let him deteriorate, she would not help him with his medications, she would not want to take him to the doctor, and when she did she would not participate. She would only hinder. She was angry with him and felt he had done this to her on purpose.

My mother is furious with me for writing that letter. She should be. But I am not sorry I wrote it. I am, however, finding myself angry with my father for sticking with her. If he had left, he’d be getting better care right now. If he had left, maybe he could have reconnected with his twin brother. If he had left, maybe he would not be declining so quickly. Sometimes I blame his disease on her entirely. Living with her constant criticism, her accusations, and her lies has to take its toll. I know it did with me.

It’s a fight, really, not to be a bad parent when you are raised by someone like my mother. Every day it’s a fight, so to ensure I battle in a good way, I am committed to picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment with a counselor. It’s good to have someone walk me through it so I can understand my mother and her hatred. I am not going to repeat this with my sons and my husband. I want them to love me as I love them. But sometimes I hear myself saying the things to my husband that my mother said to my father, and it knocks the wind out of me. And that’s when I pick up the phone and call.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sweet Life -- by Jamie

When I was a child, I was a terrific eater; my mom often relates her memories of me gnawing on a lamb chop when I only had a couple of baby teeth in my mouth. And throughout my youth, I always loved to eat—both good foods and bad-for-me foods—as evidenced by my baby fat, which lingered far longer than it should have, well into my adolescence.

As an adult, I’ve embraced healthful eating by balancing a diet of lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of veggies and fruits, with an occasional sugar binge when I can’t ignore my ever-present cravings. I DO love sugar, but try to avoid it as much as possible. My daughter, Jayda, however, is a toddler, and has no self-control: Though I do allow her all kinds of treats—in moderation—she begs for cookies at 6 a.m. (as well as throughout the rest of the day!), and for ice cream every time she hears the music from the truck. She’s also the pickiest eater I know; aside from our shared love of sugar, her eating habits are nothing like mine. And it’s so frustrating.

When Jayda was a baby, she ate all of the vegetables I put in front of her; as a toddler, she refuses to consume any of them. Oddly enough, the only veggie she’ll willingly nibble on is an artichoke, but I think her pleasure mostly comes from emulating me (I’m an artichoke fanatic), and eating with her fingers—not from the taste of the artichoke, itself. The teachers at Jayda’s day care insist that my daughter likes the veggies they serve there once a week, but I suspect she’s just eating them because all of her friends are. Because when other kids are not around, it’s nearly impossible for me to even sneak veggies into Jayda’s diet. Sometimes, as a treat, I’ll give her a can of V8 V-Fusion, which combines vegetables with sweet fruit juice. I also bake low-fat zucchini/carrot bread on occasion—but I have to call it “pumpkin bread,” or my daughter, who insists she hates carrots, will refuse to try it (though, remarkably, when she perceives it as pumpkin bread, she’ll devour slices of it). But my creative solutions end there: Jayda won’t eat pasta with red sauce (so I can’t puree vegetables and hide them in the sauce, as many people have suggested), and she won’t consume anything green, no matter what I douse it in.

Similarly, when it comes to protein, Jayda’s not a fan. She’ll eat rotisserie chicken once in awhile, but nothing else. No hamburgers or hot dogs, nor any kind of meat. No fish or shellfish. Not even chicken fingers (which, secretly, I’m pleased about). And pizza? She takes the cheese off, chucks it, and simply eats the crust. She’s also the only kid I know who rarely enjoys macaroni and cheese. Cheese sticks? Never. Eggs? Sometimes she’ll scarf down a scrambled one on a Sunday morning…but most other times, she’ll turn up her nose. Fortunately, she does like yogurt, and Greek yogurt is a staple in my home. Sometimes, I mix it with a sprinkle of Splenda, generously smear it on bread, and call it “cream cheese.” Jayda always asks for seconds. Other times, I serve Greek yogurt and a bowl of fruit for Jayda’s evening meal. When I was pregnant with Jayda, I secretly worried about cooking family dinners. I’m no Martha Stewart and I stressed over the idea of producing hot balanced meals for both of us every night. Little did I know I’d have nothing to worry about; Jayda eats somewhat nutritiously, but not because I’m cooking nutritious meals for her.

Lately, I’ve been buying “Pure Protein” ready-made shakes; they come in a can, and I pour about 1/3 of the contents into Jayda’s sippy cup of milk and call it “chocolate milk.” She consumes about 15 grams of protein in several swigs, and both of us are satisfied. She also likes to take bites of the protein bars I eat after my work outs—and has even devoured a Balance Gold bar (also 15 grams of protein) all by herself after an active day at the playground.

I believe I’ve been fairly creative in seeking out healthy food choices for Jayda, because left to her own devices, my daughter would survive on cookies, candy, ice cream, and bread. Oh, and fruit, too (she loves every kind—which isn’t surprising considering her raging sweet tooth). But dining out is a complete nightmare; no matter what I order for her, Jayda just eats the dinner rolls that are put on the table, or worse—the French fries that come with her entrée. So, I’m forced to always bring a healthy, protein-packed selection of snacks with us wherever we go. While other kids are given potato chips to munch on with their sandwiches, in lieu of the sandwich (that Jayda won’t eat), I give my daughter what we call “chips”—a bag of Glenny’s Soy Crisps (low fat, high fiber, and 9 grams of protein in a bag). They’re delicious and nutritious—though a rather unconventional choice for a meal.

My daughter is healthy, active, and isn’t overweight. But her eating habits stink. And I often wonder if I’m doing Jayda damage by turning her into a perpetual snacker, and allowing her to eat so many sweet foods (even if they are healthy ones). Grazing is supposed to be healthy for adults…but is it a positive habit for a kid to develop? I have no idea. All I know is that I want my daughter to thrive nutritionally, to always enjoy her food, and that mealtimes should never be a battle for us; and for now, I’m sticking to those rules. I have too many other things to worry about!

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who I'm Not -- by Liimu

I’m not God. I can’t possibly control all that happens in my world, and I’ve long since given up trying. I’ve known many women and marriages that have broken down over a woman’s futile attempts at maintaining control and some unattainable level of perfection at all times and in all areas. I know a woman who spent her entire career working to be the top dog in her field, until she realized that no amount of money could repair the damage caused by neglecting her husband and kids for nearly twenty years. I know another woman who spent fifteen years spending all her energy trying to be the perfect mom, then woke up one day to find her children about to leave the nest and a man laying next to her in bed she hardly recognized.

I am crazy busy. Anyone who knows me knows that. Bless Robin for including me in this website knowing that fact, but I guess it’s because she also knows that I try very hard not to make commitments unless I fully intend to keep them. If asked where my first priority lies, they might be surprised to know that it’s not actually to my children. It’s to God, and finding ways to best serve Him, and following that, to myself. Because what I have learned is that if I neglect myself or my spiritual life, I am really no good to my children and husband. I’m cranky, irritable, ungrateful, self-centered and just downright yucky to be around. My husband said to me once when I was in one of these moods, “You need to do whatever you need to do to get re-centered. When you’re miserable, everyone in this family is miserable.”

So, I no longer try to be all things to all people. I start with getting connected to God and to being me, the best me I can be, and everything I do is to support one of those two goals. I usually start the day by running or going to the gym for a good workout. (When people ask me how I have time to run, I explain that I multitask. When I’m asked to go out for coffee or drinks, I always ask if we can get together to run instead. That way, I’m combining catching up with a good friend with my never-ending quest for health and fitness. My spiritual tank ends up twice as full!) Today, I ran three miles with a friend at 6 am, and was feeling pretty good about things. I worked for a few hours, and got some excellent feedback on my performance so I was feeling really jazzed. Then at about a quarter to 4, I got all freaked out when I checked our bank account online. I knew I didn’t want to pick up the girls in that state – I try hard not to raise them with the same sense of financial insecurity I grew up with – so I called my sponsor to get some support.

My sponsor told me a story from a recent production of Cinderella she saw. She said in the story, Cinderella asks her fairy godmother if she can go to the ball. She tells her fairy godmother how badly she wants to go and how disappointed she is not to have the right dress to wear or a way to get there. Then she says, “Well, I guess I could borrow my mother’s dress and catch a ride to the ball. I don’t really have to go in a fancy carriage in a fancy dress.” And of course then the fairy godmother grants her the wish, but in this version of the story she says it’s because Cinderella is willing to do everything she can to make her own dreams come true. That opens the door for the Universe to do the rest. “So,” my friend of more than 15 years then said to me, pausing only to breathe deeply (which, in turn, prompted me to do the same), “have you done everything you can do to make your dreams come true?” “I don’t know!” I cried. “Yes,” she assured me. “Yes, you have. Now, just go outside into your beautiful backyard for ten minutes before you pick up those girls and give thanks for all you have. Because just for today, it’s enough. You are enough.”

So, I did. I sat on the patio in the middle of my park-like backyard which, now that Spring has sprung, is bursting with color thanks to the flowers that are in bloom in the grass, the trees and the bushes. I sat there and looked around and then I looked up and said, “I’m sorry for doubting You. Thank You, God. Thank You for taking such good care of me. I promise, I trust You.” And before I knew it, it was time to go pick up my girls.

As I walked down the driveway to meet the bus, my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was a colleague of mine who has been helping me secure project work consistently since the beginning of the year. He was calling to tell me that a resource they had assigned to an upcoming project had backed out and he wanted to know if I was interested in taking it. I smiled to the Heavens and said another silent “thank You” to the God of my understanding, who was – yet again – reminding me that there is a God, and it isn’t me.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ROBIN'S SHOW RECOMMENDATION: John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean

John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean, which recently opened on March 31 in NYC, takes audiences on a live musical voyage to the bottom of the ocean floor and follows the escapades of Dorsel, Tank and Bubbles. Treasure map in hand, this loveable trio of best fish buddies embark on an aquatic adventure, leading them to new friends and discoveries.

Created and written by Tony and the Emmy Award nominee (perhaps best known for the hit musical Avenue Q), John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean is an inventive family musical with a positive message for children. With direction and musical staging by veteran musical theater performer Donna Drake, music and lyrics by William Wade, this interactive sea tale boasts spirited production numbers, memorable characters, cool black light puppet technology and even glow in the dark bubbles. My son, Seth, 7, enjoyed it, as did my husband and I...though the audience was full of many younger children who had a good time.

“I created this show with families in mind,” says John Tartaglia, ImaginOcean writer and producer. “With the one hour running time, it’s a perfect activity for parents, grandparents and children of all ages to see together.”

With increased demand for weekend performances, ImaginOcean is scheduling two additional shows on Saturdays starting the week of May 10. New Saturday show times will be at 2PM and 4:30PM in addition to the current 11AM performance. Other show times are Wednesdays at11AM, 2PM and 7PM; and Sundays at 12PM.

ImaginOcean is produced by Jellyfish Jive Productions; Philip Katz, Michael Shawn Lewis along with John Tartaglia.

Tickets are $39 and may be purchased through TeleCharge (212) 239-6200 or and at the box office at NEW WORLD STAGES, 340 West 50th Street. For groups of 12 or more, please contact Group Sales Box Office at 800-223-7565 or visit

For more information about John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean, please visit the official show website

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fun -- by Robin

Why does it sometimes feel as if fun is so short-lived?

Seth and I had a terrific time away in Asheville, and since we've gotten home, life has felt full of challenges. It's amazing how things can seemingly turn on a dime.

Earlier this week I was out to lunch at the diner with my senior dad and his live-in aide...the same day he had two doctor appointments....follow-ups from his recent hospital stay. All was ok, he told me the doctors said. Then, just the next day, my father called me to say he was calling a car service to take him to the hospital because he was severely constipated.

I thought we were done for now with the hospital and my father, and I was grateful.

Why didn't he say anything to either doctor or me that he was struggling that day in the bathroom department? Why did he wait until it became a dire matter? It's like having another who is 91.....and can't take care of himself.

Just yesterday I had a physical myself because it's time, and I haven't been feeling up to par since our trip. I await the results of the blood work and am trying not to be overly anxious about it. The raging hormones of perimenopause can cause many symptoms, I'm aware. Not to mention stress.

Then, we had a meeting at my son's school, and he's having some challenges which we need to address.

I also found out that a good friend of mine....a nurse.....slipped and fell at work on a wet floor and fractured a bone in her knee, and she's now out on workman's compensation, yet she was scheduled to retire early next month and go to Ireland, which she may not now be able to do.

And, let's add to the pot that my mother-in-law tore something in her arm....and is awaiting MRI results.

I was speaking on the phone with a friend today who said that maybe I should consider taking something like Lexapro. That she took it when she went through a particularly rough period, and it helped take some of the edge off. And, she's not a pill popper, nor am I. We both tend to be more holistically minded. So, I don't know.........

When did life get so complicated? So unpredictable. I used to welcome the unpredictable because it felt full of promise.

Now I ask.....

Where's the fun?

Where's the peace?

I don't have enough of either at the moment.

Can I jump on a plane back to Asheville and leave all this behind?

I should at least jump on the meditation bandwagon.

A friend said I need to consider revamping my life. Maybe do less? But, I don't think that's the issue for me. I like being busy. It's better than bored. But, anxiety-ridden is something else.

I'm at the point where it's about somehow accepting that this is what midlife is ...especially when you're living the sandwich generation (which I've blogged about before.) But, I need to find the joy and not just the responsibility and uncertainty of it all. It's so beyond my control. All I can control is my reaction to it. I don't want to walk around feeling like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I know things could be worse. But, I could personally use a dose of nurturing right now....and some genuine belly laughs.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

T.G.I.M. (Thank God It's Monday) -- by Gina

You’ve heard of T.G.I.F… the well-worn battle cry of the 9-to-5 crowd? Well, I actually found myself this Monday morning thinking, and actually saying out loud to my co-worker, “Thank God its Monday!”

Of course, I started the weekend off like any other Monday to Friday office worker, looking forward to the weekend.

Friday after work was a quick bite with my husband and daughter, then off to shop for shoes for Gianna. Her 3-year old body is outgrowing clothes and shoes at a stupefying rate. I had so many things to do that weekend I figured it best to squeeze it in Friday evening.

Three shoe stores later, we arrived home weary and exhausted, and way too late, even for a weekend night. My neck and back were killing me; I realized it was from bending over lacing and unlacing many pairs of size 9, 10 and 11 sneakers (including ultra-cool Hannah Montana extreme high-tops, which after all the lacing and unlacing – you guessed it - didn’t even fit!)

After pizza, and what I foolishly thought would be a quick stop in to Toys R Us (HA! Did I mention it was a “sale day” and the line was longer than it is on Black Friday?), we headed to my niece’s ice skating party. My husband (thankfully) picked up my 3-year old so I could be just “Aunt Gina” and not “Mommy” for the rest of the afternoon.

After fighting traffic and getting slightly lost, we arrived at the indoor skating rink, tired but excited. My sister had assured me that I did not need to ice skate; there were going to be instructors there for those kids who have never skated, and none of the parents were going to be skating. I laced her skates up, headed for the ice, then waved over a coach who said it was too busy for him to spend more than a minute with her. Alissa, brave as she was, stayed on the ice, clutching the side of the rink and inching her way slowly and carefully around, while I followed along with her on the other side of the plexiglass, bumping into metal bleachers, giving her a thumbs up, and shouting, “You’re doing great! I’m so proud of you!” In an angry voice, she yelled through the glass, “Why can’t you go get ice skates and come help me!?” How could I explain there was no way I was getting my 41-year old feet into ice skates? Especially as her friend Valerie’s mom, (a 20-something tall, thin, blond), went gliding over to Valerie, took her hand, and skated off with her. My niece was glaring at me as I blurted, “But your mom said the parents didn’t have to skate!”

Then I noticed the poor child’s frozen little hands (apparently everyone knows you have to wear gloves when you go ice skating.) Not only because its cold, but as another mom shared with me, “We went to a skating party where a kid got his finger sliced off.” Great – that’s all I needed to hear as I quickly ushered Alissa off the ice, consoling, “You did great for a first time! I think its time to go back to the party room for cake!”

By this time, my niece is crying that her feet hurt too much to walk the long walk back to the skate rental counter to get her shoes. I took her skates off and, feeling sorry for her, (and guilty that I hadn’t donned skates, jumped onto the ice and helped her), I carried her back to the skate rental piggy-back style (I don’t know which was worse: carrying a 50 pound child on my already sore back, or her frozen little hands crushing my windpipe as she clutched onto my neck.)

Arriving home exhausted, I rested briefly then got ready for our next “Moms Night Out”. It was supposed to take place at- get this – “adult skate” at the new roller rink (!) which I just couldn’t face – I convinced the moms to change the agenda to just dinner… it turned out all the moms were, like me, too tired for a Moms Night Out!

The next day, as I wearily arrived for a big family Sunday dinner (late), my sister cornered me, asking a favor… “Can you take my son to a party next week – I can’t make it – it’s at the Y – a pool party… but don’t worry, you don’t have to swim…” She must have seen my eyes glaze over at the thought of it getting in the pool with a bunch of 11 year old boys….

Good thing I have another party, far away, already scheduled for that day, so I got out of it. The best part? It’s at a nice, quiet, toddler puppet show!

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Getting Into Science -- by Cara

A few weeks ago, I, along with Bloggers representing other social media, were invited to an Open House at the New York Hall of Science, along with our families! I was very excited to go, as was my son, because they were featuring, Sid the Science Kid Family Day (which my son watches on television endlessly)! Also featured was an exhibit called Math Midway, an interactive exhibition similar to a math theme park! Math Midway was promoted to demonstrate fun and challenging math games which encourage physical interaction to discover the amazement of just how varied mathematics can actually be!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day! As we walked towards the entrance, my son spotted a mini golf course. He wanted that to be his first stop! Upon being greeted graciously by the Blogger Open House staff and given a folder with directions detailing where to go and what to see, my son shot off to the Rocket Park Mini Golf course! Little did we realize that this wasn’t an ordinary golf course! It was a gravity defying designed course where your skill had to match the force of gravity in order to get the ball into the hole! My son, having already been on a real golf course with his Grandfather, knew the proper techniques of playing golf. However none of these techniques were working on this mini golf course! My son even approached other children who were having a difficult time, and instructed them to, “Keep your thumbs pointed down!” This tip actually worked for a little girl who had been struggling to get the ball to cooperate!

Next, we went back inside to visit the Sports Challenge area upstairs. In this area, you get a chance to throw “baseballs” of different weights and sizes to see how far you are able to distance them. There is a mini rock climbing wall, a surfboard simulator, and an interesting display of Wheelchair Racing.” Here, you sit in an actual wheelchair with an opponent next to you. When you both hit the “go” button, you must only use your hands to push the wheels to try to beat your opponent. My son was amazed at how much work it took to roll a wheelchair using just your arms! I explained that there were many people who need to use only their hands to “steer” their wheelchairs all around, everyday. My son said that they must be very strong people! I told him that I was certain they were!

Our next stop was the Science Playground which was outdoors. My son was climbing, sliding and trying out concepts such as motion and solar energy. He had the most fun climbing up the giant spider web! At one point he was hanging upside-down! The weather, as I said, was beautiful, so I had a difficult time convincing him to come in for lunch!

Finally, after lunch, we went to the Math Midway! At this new exhibit, children can learn about and test theories such as probability and symmetry in a carnival-like atmosphere! There were nine exhibits, however my son gravitated towards the ones that caught his interest the most. One exhibit that he spent quite a bit of time on was, “Pirate X and Lady Y.” He teamed up with a little girl and each took turns placing or taking off small weights in order to “balance” the “ship”. They did quite well and were able to get the ship ALMOST perfectly balanced!

Next stop in Math Midway was the “Universal Wheel of Chance.” My son was either very lucky, or the wheel was designed to stop on a higher number each time! Imagine the fun my son had spinning the wheel over and over only to have the wheel land on a higher number with each consecutive spin! What is the probability of that?

Then we were off to “The Mysterious Harmonograph.” Here, children get to create their own unique mathematical drawings from a swinging steel pendulum! My artist son had a blast with this one! He created a design with more unusual squiggles and circular patterns than I think one can reasonably put on a large piece of paper! He didn’t want to stop, though! He was getting a kick out of the “art creation” he was making!

My son’s last stop in Math Midway, was an exhibit called, “Polyhedral Puzzle Plaza.” At this exhibit, children used oversized toys, sticks and cubes, working collaboratively, to create whatever their imaginative minds would allow them. Except for a squabble between two little girls, the children all nicely worked together to build what they interpreted as a “castle.” No matter what the outcome, this activity gave the children the resources to come up with an unusual geometric design of their own imagination and choosing. My son loves doing things with other children, so this was an ideal activity for him!

We eagerly wanted to see Sid the Science Kid. There were two showings in the auditorium; one at 2 pm and the other at 3 pm. The line at the 2 pm showing was wrapped through the museum. I knew my son would never be able to stay in line long enough to wait for the 2 pm showing, nor would he be able to get and stay in line long enough for the 3 pm showing. So, unfortunately we didn’t get to see Sid. But my son was more than appeased when we looked around the gift shop and ended up buying a gem set for him to take home and examine with his microscope!

All in all, it was a fabulous day at the New York Hall of Science! The gorgeous day allowed us to spend some time at the outdoor exhibits, while the indoor exhibits provided plenty to see, do, examine and explore! What a wonderful museum for the entire family to explore! I know we will be back soon...even if it is only to collect more “gems” from the gift shop!

Then, again, having a gemologist in the family may not be such a bad thing after all! Especially when he is your own son!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Infertility and Friends -- by Laura

I spent five years trying to get pregnant. Desperately. It was the most painful thing I have ever been through, and when the test finally came back positive, the world seemed like and all-you-can-eat buffet of joy. But not everybody was happy for me. And I understand why.

When I was trying to get pregnant, it seemed like everyone else in the world could get pregnant but me. Every other month I was pushing a shopping cart through Babies-R-Us, until I just couldn’t even drive past the exit without wanting to throw up in my mouth. There was only one other person in my life who could not get pregnant. One of my best friends. I’ll call her Liz. We had been friends for over 15 years, and when we were together, we laughed like mad women. And our lives seem to parallel in so many ways, so when we both started trying to have children, we believed were in it together, and together we would triumph.

At first we were sort of private about our attempts. We wanted to endure the dreaded two-week wait alone. But we went through the same treatments at almost the exact same time. We even had the same doctor for the first two rounds of IVF. But as we continued our treatments, Liz became more and more bitter and more and more competitive. She was a wealthy woman, so she could afford to do more rounds of IVF and go to private clinics with more personalized care. I knew my shots were limited, so I plowed through books, trolled the Internet, and joined an infertility support group to gather as much information as I could. When I would present my findings to her over coffee, she called me obsessed and dismissed the conversation.

Liz was right. I was obsessed. If you want to get pregnant when you’re 40, you have to be. So I was, and I did.

There came a day when I had to tell Liz I was pregnant, and I knew I wanted to tell her in a good way. I wanted to tell her before I told my other friends so she would not hear it second hand. I wanted to tell her quietly and in person when her husband was there so he could be there to support her. I wanted to be calm and quick about it, and make sure the conversation shifted to other things at the right time. I practiced. My husband shook his head.

The right time came to tell her. It was a late November morning, and I had just hit the three-month mark. I drove an hour to her house, brought her muffins, drank tea and sat in her kitchen chatting about nothing in particular. Just catching up. Then when the muffins were eaten and the tea finished, I did it. “I’m pregnant,” I said. I could hear her heart break. I knew that feeling. I had sat where she sat many times over the last five years. It is miserable. It’s as if a sheet of shame has settled on the heart because you know you are supposed to be happy. You know you are, but all you want to do is curl up in the corner and cry.

Liz stammered. And stuttered. And I could see her face flush while her mind raced. She kept swallowing even though the tea was long gone. Her husband came in the room and placed a hand on her shoulder. I began to talk quickly. I felt like I needed to apologize, and I remember saying how hard it had all been and that I was still scared. And it was going to be a rough pregnancy with twins. “Twins?” she said. “You have twins?” And I could feel her world fall out from under her.

I changed the subject to her. To her adoption process. To her job. And then I said I had to go. She was relieved. And when we said goodbye, there were no congratulations from her. There was no more acknowledgment. I didn’t expect there to be.

After that day, she did not reply to my emails. She did not return my phone calls. She sent me a Christmas card but did not sign her name. I did receive a mass email from her four months later that she had successfully adopted a baby girl. I sent her a note congratulating her and wishing her the greatest happiness, but I never heard back.

To say I was hurt and angry about it is an understatement. At the same time, I knew exactly how she felt. I hoped that with the adoption of her daughter that somehow we could mend things. That her heart would be put back together. I was going to reach out and send her an email, but then my husband said, “Why would you want to reconnect with someone who treated you so badly while you tried to get pregnant and then was unhappy for you when you did?”

He had a good point. But there are other things to consider. Infertility brings out the worst in people. It’s a sad, sad thing. It’s grotesquely painful. Did she act badly? Sure. Would I have done the same thing? I don’t think so. My friendships are precious.

Perhaps it is time to let go. Perhaps there wasn’t the friendship there that I believed was there. But if I let my heart speak, it has its own take on the situation. It wants to pick up the phone and call her, so we can laugh the way we used to. It wants to see an email from her in my inbox with one of her silly titles. It would even take a Christmas card she didn’t bother to sign.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Some Friendly Advice -- by Jamie

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a busy single mother who doesn’t have time to waste—or simply the result of being older and wiser—but ever since Jayda was born, I’ve been more selective about which friendships I choose to foster. I consider myself very fortunate to have so many wonderful friends from every stage of my life—high school, college, my “single in the city” days, former jobs, and even my few years of motherhood. But it’s quality, not quantity that counts to me. And at this point in my life, when it comes to friendship, I only give as good as I get.

Over a year ago, I met a woman at my gym who, aside from our shared stair-climbing workouts, I had very little in common with; she was single, childless, rough-around-the-edges, and after devoting herself to her ex-boyfriend for years, now had no girlfriends to speak of. But she appeared to have a good heart, and she needed a friend, so I let her into my life. The woman latched on to me, called me incessantly, and, despite all the hours of listening and support I gave to her, never gave anything back to me; she was simply self-consumed. When we got into an argument a few months ago, I easily made the choice to “let her go,” as I don’t have the time or energy for people who drag me down and never do anything to lift me up.

That said, friendships are a complicated thing…and sometimes “letting go” of someone who really isn’t “good for you” isn’t as easy at sounds. For instance, my mother has been friends with one particular woman for decades—a woman whom I almost consider to be part of our family. But over the last several years, there have been countless fights between these women, tons of miscommunication issues, and lots of hurt feelings. In the last few weeks, things came to a head, and my mother was attacked by this woman for a long list of silly offenses my mother had purportedly committed. When this woman called my mom, my mom was put on the defensive, and hung up the phone crying; she has been miserable about the situation ever since. Everyone tells my mother to “let this woman go,” and I personally advised her that she shouldn’t be friends with someone who makes her feel so uncomfortable—someone whom she has to step on eggshells around, and always be fearful of offending. But dumping a long-time friend isn’t so easy. There’s history there, and lots of emotional investment. Sometimes it’s even a “pride” issue: We want people to like us—especially our old friends—and we sometimes bend over backwards to “fix things,” even when we’re not the ones who broke them.

I’m trying to teach my daughter, Jayda, the value of good friends—and what she should expect from them. Fortunately, she knows a bunch of sweet, little girls whom she likes to play with, and I try to foster these relationships by organizing play dates and encouraging Jayda to be a good friend to her friends. But there’s one little girl at Jayda’s day care who has been a source of angst for both of us. This girl is a close friend of one of Jayda’s best friends, and, as is often the case with threesomes, jealousy issues and conflicts have arisen between the girls. Jayda has told me on many occasions that this girl is “not nice” to her. And several times in the last few months, there have been notes on Jayda’s daily progress sheet informing me that my normally-well-behaved daughter has pinched or pushed “a classmate.” Upon pressing Jayda for details, I’ve learned that Jayda’s attacks have all been toward this particular girl, and Jayda always prefaces her confessions with the fact that this girl was “not nice.” I spoke to Jayda’s teacher, who told me there was nothing to worry about, but I still felt the need to speak to Jayda about the situation. I told her not to spend time with this girl, and to, instead, hang out with girls who were nice to her and treated her well. I stressed that friends should respect one other and make each other feel good—not hurt each other physically, or hurt each other’s feelings. She seemed to “get” it and, lately, has been proudly informing me that she’s been hanging out with “good” friends, and offering the names of a few kids whom I know treat her well.

Recently, I’ve started planning Jayda’s upcoming third birthday party, and asked my daughter which of her classmates she wanted to invite. After offering the name of her “best friend” and a few other nice girls from her class, Jayda rattled off her former nemesis’s name, too. Huh? She says they’re friends now. And the other morning, Jayda waited for this girl in the parking lot so they could hold hands and walk into day care together. I’m not sure if this truce is going to last forever, but for now, I’m hoping the kids have truly worked things out. As I said before, sometimes it’s not so easy to let go of a friend…and sometimes, if the friend turns out to be a decent one (as I hope this little girl will be), you find out you don’t have to, after all. But in the long run, spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself is what counts the most. And I just hope Jayda—and my mother, too—will figure that out.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Worry -- by Liimu

It sometimes seems no matter what I do, no matter how many post-its or To Do lists or Outlook reminders I have set up for myself to stay on top of the things in my life, lately I have still been waking up at 1 or 2 in the morning unable to return to sleep for thinking about what I've forgotten to do. This morning, at 2 am, it's this blog that on my mind. Don't feel bad, readers. Yesterday, it was something else.

I truly believe that this just as drinking is said to be the symptom of the disease of alcoholism, and not the issue itself, waking in the middle of the night anxious about having forgotten something isn't the problem. What it is that I've forgotten isn't even necessarily the problem. The problem is a lack of acceptance. Earlier today (okay, now yesterday) I was talking with my sister about a friend of hers who is dying of cancer. All the things I had just been ranting and raving about - my worries about upcoming tax payments, my skin now breaking out again because I gave in to my dairy cravings even though I now know I'm allergic, the aches and pains that come with age - suddenly seemed trite and unimportant. I told my sister how much I appreciated her sharing so candidly about her friend and how it reminded me that I need to be grateful and not get bogged down with my own privilege problems. She said, "You don't even have privilege problems. You have privilege non-problems." It's true. Lately,

I have been worrying and complaining about things that aren't even real. It's the perception of how things are going in my life that is the problem, not how things are going.

The trouble is, my perception of things can actually be quite aggressive in staking its claim as a card-carrying member of the club for Things That Are Worth Worrying About. It has the right to do that, but I am the one who decides who is granted access to that club. Just for tonight, I'm restricting access to the things that really are worth worrying about. And as I fall back asleep, meditating on all the things I have to be grateful for - my husband and children, my home, my job, my health - taking a welcome break from my incessant worry prayers and spending the extra time saying prayers for all those around me who have real problems that only real prayer can solve.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Raising a Sensory Smart Child - by Nancy Peske, author

There's something up with a child you know. He's clumsy, picky, always on the move, or flopped in a chair like a wet noodle. He's impulsive, intense, and quirky. Maybe he has a learning disability, ADHD, or autism, or maybe not, but his behavior and responses to everyday sensations are puzzling. Why does he withdraw or act out? Why are transitions so difficult? Can he really hear the fluorescent lights that he claims are distracting him?

It's very likely that this child you're concerned about has sensory processing disorder, also known as SPD or sensory integration dysfunction. An estimated 1 in 20 children and almost all children with autism have SPD.

This child's nervous system is wired atypically, causing her body to process everyday sensations differently. Unable to rely on her senses to give her an accurate picture of what is going on in her body and her world, she is prone to anxiety, distractibility, impulsivity, and frustration. A child with SPD will tune out or act out when overstimulated. The need for sensory input such as movement and touch can be so overpowering that the child truly can't control her need to seek it out. Many of us have difficulty tuning out background noise, or prefer clothes that fit a certain way. These are sensory preferences. When a child's sensory issues interfere significantly with learning and playing, he needs the help of an occupational therapist and a sensory smart adult who can teach him how to feel more comfortable in his body and environment.

Fortunately, many of the accommodations that can make a huge difference in the life of a child who has sensory issues are simple and inexpensive. Here are just a few:

  • Cut out clothing tags, turn socks inside out or buy seamless ones, and avoid clothing with embroidery and elastic that will touch the skin and create distracting, irritating sensations.

  • To tolerate the intense sensation of having his teeth brushed, the child with SPD may need to use nonfoaming toothpaste and have his mouth and lips desensitized by using a vibrating toothbrush or even just gently pressing a hand-held vibrator against his cheek, jaws, and lips before attempting to brush.

  • To calm and focus a child with sensory issues, you can try applying deep pressure against the skin as you compress her joints. Hugging, or pressing pillows against her body or rolling her up in a blanket to play “burrito” are often enjoyable ways for a child to get input. Always pay close attention to what a child is telling you, in words or body language, about her response to sensory input. Do not upset her with unwanted touch.

  • In school or at home, allow him to sit on an exercise ball or an inflatable cushion, with a smooth or bumpy surface. This will meet the movement needs of a child who just has to be able to squirm and help the child with poor body awareness to better sense where his body is when he's seated. When these needs for movement and body awareness are met, the sensory child will focus better on listening, eating, or doing schoolwork.

  • Provide a quiet retreat when she's overwhelmed by the sensory onslaught of everyday life. Whether she sits alone with you in a car outside of a party or restaurant, or in a quiet, darkened room, listening to relaxing music on a personal music player with headphones, a sensory break can do wonders for a child's ability to tolerate her environment.

A pediatric occupational therapist, trained and experienced in helping children with sensory issues, can work with parents and teachers to plan and carry out activities for the child that can help him or her function better at home, at school, and away. She can also help problem solve and discover accommodations that will ease the child’s discomfort. Whether working on a consultation basis, in a sensory gym nearby, at home or at school, the right sensory smart OT can make a huge difference for a child with sensory processing disorder.

Nancy lives with her husband and son in Shorewood, Wisconsin. She ghostwrites, cowrites, edits, and serves as a book doctor. Her son, who at age 2 was diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction, or sensory processing disorder, and multiple developmental delays, inspired her to envision and cowrite the award-winning Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. Visit

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring Break Vacation -- by Robin

I survived. And, more than that, we thrived.

If you read my earlier blog, you may recall that it was with trepeditation, yet hopefulness, that I traveled for the first time alone with my son. Marc, my husband, couldn't get away due to tax season.

We went to visit a friend in Asheville, North Carolina, and from the moment the trip started, it was as if it was tailor made. The universe had a plan, and both Seth and I had a great, if not tiring, time. It made me feel good as a mom to know I was capable of 24-7 parenting on my own, though having support from my friend who is a wise, nurturing grandma and former guidance school professional gave me an extra shot of confidence.

We flew Delta from NY...the only non stop flight we could find. It was a small plane you boarded from the runway, a new experience for Seth. On the plane, he had the opportunity to enter the cockpit and meet the captain and co-pilot and pose for photos. And, the fact that it was a short flight was a bonus for an energized kid.

My friend, Michele, met us at the airport and we drove straight to Hendersonville, a nearby town. Bringing back memories of my trips to Woodstock, NY, I enjoyed strolling the streets and perusing the various shops both in town and along the way. (Honeysuckle Hollow was a favorite.)

I was just so glad to be somewhere else. Life had been feeling particularly stressful of late, and I needed a break big time. From the moment we exited the plane, my body started to relaxed.

At my friend's suggestion, we checked into the Renaissance Hotel in Asheville, and it was a good choice. The location offered an easy walk to town, and Seth enjoyed the indoor pool, room service, and mountain view from our window. The staff was friendly and accomodating. The first night was particularly eventful, and one that Seth will never forget. The smoke alarm went off in the hotel, and at 10pm we had to walk down 8 flights of stairs and evacuate the building. Turned out there was a small electrical fire in a supply closet on the second floor, and once the fire trucks came, it was readily extinguished. Seth was in all his glory. It was as if we were on a movie set. Nothing gets him more excited than seeing fire trucks or firemen, and he got to pose for photos with the firemen and to first hand see them answer a call.

The next day we took a Gray Line Trolley Tour of Asheville. It gave us a helpful lay of the land downtown and beyond, and the driver/tour guide narrated as we drove along. It's a convenient way of getting around, as you can get on 'n off, since Asheville isn't a town where you can just hail a cab on a street corner. (A big change of pace for us New Yorkers.)

The following day, and a highlight of the trip for Seth, was our excursion to Franklin where we went mining at Mason Mountain Mine. There you can purchase buckets of dirt at varying sizes/prices that are stocked with gems and minerals, and you sift through the dirt with water to discover the buried treasures. Mason's gem expert Sandy will happily weed through your findings and let you know what is most of value. If you like, you may pay extra to have your stones cut, polished and made into a finished piece of jewelry. We didn't go that far, but we carted home four weighty bags of raw sapphires, emeralds, quartz, rubys, etc. Seth can't wait to do it again one day.

We had delicious BBQ food one night at the rousing Fiddlin' Pig, and it was a total hoot. We lucked out and got a table front 'n center by the bluegrass band, and clog dancers performed as well. It's very family friendly, affordable and great fun.

We shopped at Biltmore Village at the wonderful New Morning Gallery. If you are a fan of arts and fine handmade crafts, decorative accessories and furniture, this is the place for you, as is Asheville in general. The town is strewn with galleries featuring everything from pottery to jewelry.

On Easter Sunday, we visited Biltmore, America's largest house. It features 250 rooms of arts and antiques at George W. Vanderbilt's historic property. They host year round events, and Seth participated in an Easter egg hunt, we toured the spectacular house, tasted Zinfandel and more at the Biltmore Winery, held and pet baby chicks and other animals, etc. You can also eat and shop there, sleep at the Inn, ride a Land Rover, take a carriage ride, hike, float on a raft or kayak, etc., etc. The activities are endless. And, it's nice just to chill and take in the grandeur of it all, including the gardens.

Downtown Asheville, Seth enjoyed visiting The Health Adventure at the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center. They currently feature exhibits/play areas with Clifford The Big Red Dog. While well done, Seth was more interested in the supermarket section and taking a stab at the many mindbending puzzles featured on the second floor. It's a particularly good place to visit with very young children, and comfortable for parents.

On our last day, we took a cab ride to Black Mountain with the new Black Mountain Cab Company, and had a delightful conversation with Kim, one of the owners/drivers. She was good company and recommended a great dinner spot, Ole's Guacamoles (great tilapia) . Kim's taxi company also offers the lowest prices for a cab ride to the airport from downtown, and they plan to offer excursions/day trips to cool places in and around Asheville, so check them out. For general information about Black Mountain, another nice small town to explore, visit It's about 20 minutes from Asheville.

Seth and I had such a nice time away (some special mommy-son bonding time), that we wound up staying an extra night. The weather couldn't have been better. I got in some quality shopping. Spent time with a good girlfriend, who also made dinner for us one night at her home on the moutain. (I could see why she moved there from New York.) We drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and took in the views. We could have stayed even longer, and I know we'll return. Seth said he wants to live there. We'll see what the future brings. Next trip we'll pack his hiking shoes and go from there.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 08, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Friendship -- by Jeffrey Zaslow, author, The Girls From Ames

The research is clear: At around age 40, women start working harder to rediscover old friends -- and to make new ones. It’s as if a voice in their heads starts whispering: “You need women in your life!”

I learned this while spending two years immersed in the friendship of 10 women, now in their mid-40s, who grew up together in Ames, Iowa. I was writing “The Girls from Ames,” a book tracing their friendship, and I found that their lives mirrored the results of a host of studies.

When women are in their twenties and thirties, they have to work harder to stay connected because those are the years when women are starting their careers, getting married, having babies. They’re busy. But at around age forty, they often start yearning again for old friends.

In studies before the 1990s, researchers attributed this uptick to women’s lockstep march through the life cycle. After a couple of decades spent finding a mate, building a marriage and raising kids, women finally had time for themselves because their kids were more self-sufficient. In previous generations, at age 40, the average woman already had sent her oldest child off to college or into the workforce, while her youngest child likely was in high school.

These days, at age 40, a woman might be busy having her first child or starting her second marriage. (Indeed, when the Ames girls hit 40, none of them had children older than age 13. One of them, Jenny, still hadn’t had her first child.) Yet, in this new century, even women busy with careers and child-rearing duties become more friendship-focused entering their forties.

“We’ve begun to understand that it has to do with a life stage,” one researcher told me. “In their early forties, women are asking, ‘Where do I want to go with my life?’ Female friends show us a mirror of ourselves. Even lesbians say they see a need for non-sexual relationships with women at about age forty.”

Friends such as the Ames girls, who’ve traveled the timeline together, tend to have more empathy for each other’s needs and ailments. They knew each other when they were younger and stronger, and they’ve watched their bodies change. Studies show that having a close group of friends helps people sleep better, improve their immune systems, stave off dementia, and actually live longer. In fact, researchers say a woman who wants to be healthier and more psychologically fit in her old age is better off having one close friend than half-a-dozen grandchildren.

The Ames girls haven’t tracked all of this research. They just feel it in their guts.

Cathy, a makeup artist in Los Angeles, says she is buoyed by her relationship with her old friends from Ames. “What keeps me going back to them?” she asks. “What is it I don’t want to sever? I think it’s this: We root each other to the core of who we are, rather than what defines us as adults – by careers or spouses or kids. There’s a young girl in each of us who is still full of life. When we’re together, I try to remember that.”

Jeffrey Zaslow is a Wall Street Journal columnist and coauthor, with Randy Pausch, of The Last Lecture, the #1 New York Times bestseller now translated into 41 languages. Zaslow attended Dr. Pausch’s famous lecture and wrote the story that sparked worldwide interest in it. The Girls From Ames also grew out of one of his columns. Zaslow is also the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Highest Duty by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Zaslow lives in suburban Detroit with his wife and three daughters.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Loss of "Fishy" -- by Cara

Fishy died today. He had been struggling off and on for a few months with a disease we just couldn’t seem to pinpoint. Now he is gone, and I am the one feeling the loss.

My son got Fishy, a blue Betta fish, as a birthday party favor (don’t ask...that’s a whole different blog), almost a year ago. He was a happy little fish, in his own tank, swimming around and enjoying the interaction with my son. Soon, as winter approached, our upstairs became drafty and cold. I noticed that Fishy would hide in the bottom of the tank, in a corner. I bought a Betta care book which clearly stated that Bettas like to be in warm water and warm environments. I ran out and bought Fishy a tank heater.

Fishy didn’t seem to take to the tank heater at all. Maybe it frightened him. But Fishy stopped eating. I took the heater out of Fishy’s tank and put the tank on the floor, right up against the radiator. At the same time, we bought a red Betta fish (which my son named, “Red”), and another tank, and put Red right next to Fishy, against the radiator, on the floor. Red was the best thing to happen to Fishy! Fishy would watch Red with his beautiful display of long, flowing fins, and it motivated Fishy! Fishy began to eat again and swim over to watch Red! We were so happy! We thought the problem was solved!

Then over the past few weeks, Fishy stopped eating again. We changed his water weekly. I went out and bought the entire variety of Betta fish food the pet store offered. Red would see me coming with all of the containers of food and start giving me a full body wag! Fishy wouldn’t try anything. A couple weeks went by and Fishy hadn’t eaten. He would just hide in the corner of his tank.

Then, this past week, we decided to get Fishy a larger tank with a filter. We let the water with water conditioner in it sit out for 24 hours. We rinsed off the gravel and plants before they went into the tank. Then we put in Fishy. Everything went downhill from there, day by day. Fishy would hide behind the filter and get “caught.” Then I noticed that his skin was sloughing off on his back. This poor fish was sick. I had to try to save it.

Monday morning I went to the fish store in my pajamas (not kidding!). I brought Fishy with me in a container wrapped in a towel. The manager took one look at Fishy and said he doubted that Fishy would “make it,” but gave me some medicine to try with Fishy anyway.

I raced home, put the medicine in the tank, then put Fishy back in, and waited. I checked on Fishy just about every hour. He looked worse. I hoped another day of medicine might help Fishy a little. Fishy only looked and acted even worse. I put Red next to Fishy. Fishy didn’t respond. Red seemed disappointed.

Finally, today, I discovered Fishy lifeless and floating at the top of the tank. My heart sank. Not only did I feel disappointed that I couldn’t “save” my son’s fish. I felt as if just about everything in my life was dying. And here I was struggling to save this poor fish. I couldn’t even do that. I seem to be trying aimlessly to save a lot of things in my life; my marriage, my family, my son’s fish. And the disappointment is mounting because the reality is that I don’t have full control of any of these things right now. I wanted desperately to be at least Fishy’s savior. But I couldn’t even be that. We will most likely replace Fishy with another fish. I wish it were that easy when it comes to a marriage.

Labels: , , , ,