Friday, September 30, 2011

Self Rediscovery by Robin Gorman Newman

It's never too late to see your passions come to fruition....even as a mom caught up in parenting.

I've adored theatre my whole life.

In high school, I was part of the ensemble of Anything Goes.  While singing is not my strength, I won the role of an Angel, and took pride in that status.  My family came to cheer me on, and it was an experience I'd not soon forget...and still makes me smile.

In college (Hofstra University), I was the Arts Editor of one of the school newspapers, and when I graduated, my dream job was to become a professional Theatre Critic.  But, when Frank Rich was hired by the NY Times that very year,  my bubble was burst. He had scooped up the job I yearned for. So, instead, I took an entry level job in corporate America and freelanced on the side writing theatre reviews for the Queens Tribune and other local publications.  While not prestigious like the Times, it kept me on the pulse of theatre, and I got to see many shows and do interviews with performers and other entertainment folk.  I was in my element!

Over the years, reality set in and the lure of a paycheck, and as I ultimately found my way to a career in public relations, my theatre critiquing took a backseat.  I still attended shows but as a leisure pursuit.

When my books were published, How to Meet a Mensch in New York and How to Marry a Mensch (decent person), I was thriled to be an author.  As a little girl, I dreamed of writing books (I used to make them as a kid) and one day seeing my book in a store or library and to catch someone actually reading or buying it.  That dream was realized!

But, in the back of my mind, the thrill of theatre always loomed.

I decided to explore what it might be like to become a producer.  I reached out to some producers, and they were kind enough to meet with me.  One, who has sadly passed away...way too young....became my cheerleader and would invite me to readings of shows so that I could experience that part of the process.  Then, one day, out of the blue, he said to me MENSCH: THE MUSICAL.  I'll never forget it!  And, I said, what?!  And, he resplied and repeated as if it were a no brainer.  MENSCH: THE MUSICAL.  And, I said, really?!

He was suggesting that my books might be adapted for the off bway stage as a musical and that he had interest in the project.  I was stunned...thrilled....and scared out of my mind.  I didn't have playwriting experience.  I took some classes and took at stab at it, but had no level of confidence in my ability.  So, I tabled it...but never forgot.

Parenting became my focus, and I launched MOTHERHOOD LATER...THAN SOONER after being tired of feeling like the oldest mom in the playground.  I've worked at the site and organization tirelessly for about 6 years now (and continue to), and a friend one day said to me that it's my "platform."  I knew what that meant...but didn't grasp what it was leading to or what specifically she might have been alluding to.  Did she know something I had yet to discover?!

She was right!  One day, I got wind of a show that had just closed in LA called IN MOTHER WORDS.  I reached out to introduce myself and didn't think I'd ever hear back from anyone.  Then, I got a pleasant surprise.  The co-creators/producers reached out to me via email and suggested we arrange a chat.  I wasn't sure if they had an agenda or what I even had in mind, but at the very least, I wanted to know more about the production to see if might somehow support it.  Clearly, we were curious about each other, and that's a good place to start.

I had been writing theatre reviews for and working with marketing companies on a promotional level...since reaching moms and mom bloggers had become all the rage...and I know how to do it!  So, I knew I could do that for IN MOTHER WORDS.

What emerged from our phone conversation was so much more.  I understood these women.  I liked these women.  They excited me.  The conversation was stimulating, supportive, and I felt a connection to kindred spirits.  The project was something I wanted ot be part of.  Little did I know, they were planning to next bring it to NY.  The name became MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD, and they sent me the script.  After a read and further discussion, and a meeting with the NY-based conceiver/producer, I was sold.  Associate Producer became my title, and I've embraced it with everything I have!

At 51, I'm coming home professionally.  What a smart marriage of my parenting efforts and love of theatre.  The universe planned it perfectly....even if I didn't see it coming.  I was putting the steps into place on a gradual basis.

I'm now working on writing the book for MENSCH: THE MUSICAL, and I look forward to seeing that come to fruition one day.

My spirit has come home.  I'm psyched and feel like I'm on the career path I was meant for.

Who knows what the future will bring?  But, I do know that if I can do it, you can do it.  What is it you've always longed for professionally?  What steps can you take?

It's certainly not easy even contemplating that when you're in the throes of everyday parenting.  I get that, and sometimes feel like a chicken without a head, but if you want it badly enough, it may be done.  So, I urge you to go for it when the timing is right, and aim high...even if it means taking babysteps alongside your child!

A BIG thank you to Susan Rose and Joan Stein, and the rest of the MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD team for welcoming me with open arms!!  A big hug right back at ya!  And, if you haven't already seen the show, it's a must see for any mom or anyone with a mom! See it with your mom or daughter! You'll find it to be a bonding experience, with much to talk about.
Stay tuned for MENSCH: THE MUSICAL.....coming one day to an Off Broadway theatre near you.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 2 - Birthdays and Bloodwork by Liimu

We have eight, count them, eight birthdays in September. And I hate to admit that birthdays are pretty much sugar all day long in our house, from the donut with a candle the birthday girl/boy gets first thing in the morning all the way through to the cake of their choice at night. I have resisted the temptation throughout all these birthdays but I swear I came close tonight. Cold Stone Creamery actually makes a cake with whatever candy you want inside the ice cream. I call it "Devil Cake.".

Despite my resolve, my second weigh in was anti-climactic to say the least. I don't know if it's because I am what they call AMA (advanced maternal age) or if there's something wrong with my thyroid (I had bloodwork this morning and should know for sure by the weekend) or if the nibbles of pretzel goldfish here and there are wreaking more havoc on my program than I'd like to admit. All I know is that I had my baby over six months ago and I have lost a grand total of 30 pounds and that is including the initial post partum loss of 17 pounds. So in five months I have lost a whopping 13 pounds. That stinks. After my other kids, I lost that in a month. The last time I worked with this online trainer, I lost twice that in a month. So I am frustrated to say the least.

That's the bad news. The good news is that my eldest daughter is paying close attention and making some good choices of her own. She gave up the last bit of donut this morning (first time for everything) and she even said that next year she wants to have fruit instead of cake, I told her we didn't have to be extreme, that it's ok to have cake every once in awhile. Her response, "But mom, fruit tastes really good!"

So, maybe this new healthy lifestyle of mine (which is what I call it, rather than a "diet") is having some positive influence I hadn't even foreseen going into it. Either way, there's no turning back now. I am committed to this thing until I get my cute little body back. (Though I do secretly hope maybe something's wrong with my thyroid that good old-fashioned western medicine can fix.)

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Or, more accurately, what a difference a medication can make over the course of one day!

As I ranted last week about my son continually taking off his medication patch for his ADHD, my HUSBAND (yes, the same one who would NEVER, EVER put his son on ADHD medication!) actually put a call into my son’s ADHD doctor to see if we could switch from using the patch medication to a long-acting oral pill. We were given the same medication that was in the patch, but given by mouth once a day instead.

What a difference a day DOES make!

The first day that my son took the pill, he behaved exactly like our son only toned down a few notches. Even better, I discovered that my son has exhibited less overall anxiety and has been far more in touch with his feelings. Instead of blowing up when his anger became too much to handle, he has been much better able to communicate what he wants or needs in the present moment. I have found that ability in him to be remarkable. And it is all due to a tiny, time-release medication. I thank the Heavens that this med is working for my son and working well. I don’t think my husband would tolerate trials of different medications to see which worked best. I have finally discovered my true Angel, only a little more new and improved!! And I absolutely love it!

My son’s ADHD is genetic on his paternal side. His father has it. His Uncles have it. Even his Grandfather has it. Only one of my son’s Uncles is willing to admit he has ADHD. The rest of the family is in denial. My blog today focuses on parents and how they deal with their children’s diagnoses. ADHD is often genetic. As I mentioned above, my staunchly adamant ADHD husband, who was against giving my son ANY form of ADHD medication, now is convinced that we have a “new and improved” child!

The research is quite intriguing. From what I have both researched and personally experienced, parents come in two distinct categories when it comes to their ADHD children. There are parents I have met who accept that their child has ADHD even if the other parent refuses to accept the diagnosis (such as in my case). The accepting parents try very hard to play an active role and be the very best role model they can be when they are with their child. They try their best to educate themselves and learn to work with their ADHD child rather than against him or her.

On the other hand, there are parents who resemble my husband. These parents refuse to acknowledge that their children have any disorders at all. They are harsh with their children, overly strict, and domineering. A combustible combination if there ever was one. Because ADHD children are commonly very intelligent, they recognize that they are not being treated fairly and power struggles ensue. Relationships with these types of parents either never “jell” or they fail miserably because of the parent’s refusal to look beyond themselves and see who their child really is.

I discovered some interesting facts through my research of how parents relate with and affect their children. There are parents who take classes, look for books or articles to read or join support groups to learn as much as they can about their ADHD child. Also, the parents who are accepting of their child’s ADHD should try to educate themselves not only about the disorder, but also about the different types of ADHD and how it affects their child.

According to an article from the Northern County Psychiatric Associates, ADHD has three basic features:

•  Inattention (distractibility, daydreaming or “spacing out”)
•  Physical hyperactivity (fidgetiness, running about, or “flitting” from one task to another)
•  Impulsivity (acting without thinking and many times later regretting it)

The article states, “Children with combined ADHD involve inattention along with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. This is a classic ‘boy type’ ADHD. These children can be creative and charming, but may require more of the parent’s time and energy.” My son falls into this category. And as an older Mom, I could have told them that these children definitely require much more time and energy!

I am not the only one in a situation where parents are divided on this issue. As the aforementioned article points out, “Some parents may base their opinions on inaccurate or skewed material. In previous generations, there was more stigma associated with mental illness and behavior disorders." If a parent perceived ADHD as shameful, they didn’t want to think that it could appear in their family.

Very unfortunately, there are parents who constantly yell at their ADHD children. Some parents spank their ADHD children. The article goes on to say, “Parents should take special care to avoid such punishment in ADHD children because it can lead the children to become impulsive. These children might get the message that the use of hitting or violence is a way to resolve conflicts. Gentler methods, even if they take longer, provide the child with a model of how to resolve disagreements.”

Parents must strive to use gentler methods and be a positive role model to their children. This was why it was so challenging to discipline my son last week when he was going through his “rebound effect.” His nerve endings were going through withdrawal. It would not have been fair to my son to punish him when he has absolutely no control over his nerve endings! The best I could do was to try to keep him safe until the medication left his system.

Above all, treating the child with respect elicits lasting respect between parents and their children. This is the foundation in every action you have with your child. Especially an ADD/ADHD child. Respect goes a huge way towards fostering a loving, caring relationship with any child and his or her parents.

“Parents can fill an important psychological role in their children’s development,” the article states. “Children tend to perceive the parent’s acceptance as more unconditional. In many cases, the parent can be a source of advice and comfort. Even during adolescence, a child may try to pull away from their parents but because there is still respect, the teen usually will choose to maintain a closeness to their parents.” This is why it is so imperative that parents be encouraged to learn all they can about ADHD and how it affects their children. The more empowered parents feel, the more proactive they can be.

A little bit of knowledge, at any age, can go a long way towards helping children with ADHD feel loved, accepted and successful. And respect can go a very long way to fulfilling lasting, unconditional relationships between both parents and their children. And one day, should your child require ADHD medication, you might see a miracle buried inside of your wonderful child. Then you will agree and be saying, “Wow! What a difference a day (or a medication) makes!”

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It’s Our Prerogative… by Elizabeth Allen

What mother of a teenage daughter doesn’t like to be addressed as “her older sister”? Granted, the comment is usually delivered by some sleazy salesman as he attempts to close a sale or a just-pubescent waiter fishing for a larger tip, but still, it feels nice.

I find the older I get, the less selective I’ve become regarding the source of the compliments. I will gladly allow my morale to be boosted and my ego stroked by just about anyone from any walk of life or gender – with the possible exception of homeless people (although there was that one guy who looked remarkably like a scruffy Gerard Butler as he gulped his Mad Dog…)

The fact is, younger mothers probably get mistaken for their kids’ sisters all the time and take the faux pas for granted, while we more seasoned moms recognize that very narrow window and struggle to squeeze through for as long as possible.

CUE: hair color, face lifts, Botox, anti-wrinkling cream, or any one of a plethora of youth-mimicking devices or applications. Okay, I’ve only succumbed to coloring over my gray but I hail from a family of women who were no strangers to cosmetic surgery. That doesn’t mean I intend to follow their footsteps, in fact, I don’t want a face so tight you could bounce a dime off of. (Joan Rivers and Donatella Versace come to mind…ugh!) It would be fun though to hear some young man whisper under his breath “what a cougar” at me and not directed at a ’67 Mercury.

I’m not trying to look as young as my daughter; if I want to feel 16 again I’ll wait for senility to kick in. And for the most part, I’m pretty okay with the aging process. I had my fun before becoming a mother and contrary to Mr. Shaw’s quote, I did not waste my youth. All things considered, I don’t exactly have one foot in the grave, but who says we have to look like it?

                                      I’ll keep flirting until someone says, “Is there something in your eye?”

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Following in My Footsteps—by Jamie Levine

“Jayda—you are just like your mother!” Those words actually came out of my mouth the other day while I was in the midst of reprimanding Jayda for her stubborn behavior. And it’s true: She’s as strong-willed as me. It’s a trait that may serve Jayda well in the future, but as her mother, I find it extremely frustrating to deal with.

When I was a child, my mother used to joke that I should be a lawyer; I always had to get the last word in—and I always stood my ground. Who knew that my behavior would come back to haunt me—all wrapped up in a miniature version of myself? But my daughter does look exactly like me, and she does spend the majority of her non-school time with me, and I am her number one role model, so why am I surprised? I guess I’m really not.

Lately, Jayda’s stubbornness has morphed into a battle of wills between us. Everything I ask of Jayda turns into a negotiation. If I say, “it’s time for me to brush your teeth,” she says, “first you have to count to 30.” I realize that she’s trying to take control of the situation, and if her request is a simple one such as that, I comply, simply to get the task done quickly. But often, she’ll continue to make me jump through hoops: “No—not yet. I want to wash my hands first….and then you need to say, ‘pretty please with sugar on top.’” And then, Jayda may just force her mouth closed and simply refuse to get her teeth brushed despite my insistence that it has to get done. And it will get done. She never wins this battle; sometimes it even ends badly, with me forcing her mouth open and jamming the toothbrush in her mouth. When I threaten, I follow through on my threats. And when a task is non-negotiable, like picking up her toys, going to bed, or, the aforementioned teeth-brushing, I never back down. Jayda knows that…but she still never gives up. And just as predictably, a short while after Jayda has lost a battle, my teary-eyed daughter always throws herself at me sobbing and declaring, “I’m sorry, Mommy.” Then we hug, and Jayda promises to “never do that again,”…but she does.

In the past few weeks, our altercations have been escalating—and occurring over every little thing—but Jayda’s “I’m sorry, Mommy,” comes a whole lot sooner than it ever did—almost immediately. And I appreciate Jayda’s apologies—and her realization that she was wrong—as I know how difficult and embarrassing it is for children (and adults!) to admit their mistakes. But I keep trying to explain to Jayda that “just doing what Mommy asks—for once!” would be a whole lot more commendable than simply apologizing for her refusal. She keeps nodding her head…but she just doesn’t get it. Or maybe she does. Maybe she really is just like her mom…who always has to be in control. And if that's the case, boy am I in big trouble.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Art of Surrender for Mothers by Leta Hamilton

During those years of our lives we call “motherhood,” the act of surrender begins from the very moment of conception. Whether or not we have been able to naturally conceive, nature chronicles a list of events over which our minds have little or no control. What we want and what we receive are not always the same. Take my current pregnancy, for example.

Like any responsible married couple, my husband and I have always taken family planning seriously. I started out our marriage on the pill until we felt ready to enter the world of parenting. Then I had our first child (a son) and went back on birth control until we were ready for the next one. That did not turn out to be so easy. Almost 3 years and a miscarriage later, we finally did have that second baby (another son). Next there came an impromptu pregnancy that really did not fit into the “responsible parenting” category. We played with fire and our third son is the outcome. He’s cute and we love him, but we thought, “Three really is a lot. Let’s stop while we are ahead.”

Enter the vasectomy. My husband very willingly had this procedure to keep the number of children to three. Two years later, I was wondering why I seemed to be gaining weight when I was jogging every day and eating a very healthy diet. The lack of menstrual cycles had an excuse in the fact that I was still breastfeeding our 2 year old. The sore nipples were chalked down to his teeth. My head was buried deeply in the sand until I started feeling the butterfly movements of a fetus.

Why is it that I am pregnant again with a fourth child (another son) when some women are unable to conceive even once? The physical reasons for this do not diminish the fact that in birth and parenting, life can seem awfully unfair. The act of surrender reveals itself to be the only alternative when faced with circumstances that are not of our conscious choosing. I have had to surrender my feelings about having a fourth child, my career as an author and radio show host and many other ideas onto which I clung about my family and life.

Letting go of what we “wanted” to embrace what is, is an art. It takes practice. It takes time. Over the last 2 months, I have learned to surrender this pregnancy, this new baby, this unexpected new direction in our family life and so much more because, quite frankly, I really did not have another choice. This baby wants to be here. It chose us for his parents and it kept really quiet until there was no turning back. Other options like surrogacy and adoption do not feel like choices. It is our baby and we will welcome him into the fold.

What occurs for each of us will be unique to the individual circumstances of our lives. However, to surrender all that we are unable to control or manipulate is a universal movement for which we can support and embrace. I cannot explain into fairness why I am “blessed” with a child that was not planned (in fact, was proactively planned against!) and another woman is unable to have even one child. What I can do is ask friends and family to understand my feelings of reservation and spend a certain amount of time each day in quiet meditation to emotionally let go of all my previous expectations so that there is room for what is really happening.

Surrender allows us to be grateful for the things happening in our life, no matter how unfair it may seem on the surface. It is all a learning experience. This pregnancy is teaching me the art of surrender. With an effort that follows conscious realization that there are things over which I am powerless, I can let go of previously adopted notions about who and what I am “supposed” to be in this world and, instead, embrace the me that is here right now writing these words.

I am big. I am overwhelmed at the thought of having another baby. I am scared. I am also incredibly fortunate to have a husband who loves me, 3 beautiful sons who will adore their new baby brother and an extended network of family and friends upon whom I can rely during the intervening years of parenting a house of testosterone! It is what it is. Surrender has, by necessity, become an art at which I am gratefully adept.

Leta Hamilton is mom to 3 boys with another on the way (possibly a girl this time?) and host of the parenting radio show "The Way of the Toddler Hour." She teaches simple techniques for practicing inner peace in the midst of poopy diapers and piles of laundry to moms groups across the Seattle area. Her book The Way of the Toddler is an honest look at the craziness of modern motherhood and the spiritual lessons we learn from kids. More information about Leta, her radio show and upcoming guests can be found at

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Flag Football by Sharon O'Donnell

Flag football. It sounds easy, doesn't it? No tackling, no real rough stuff. You just reach out and grab the runner's flag and the play is over. Yet, as many parents and kids have found out, it is actually one of the most exasperating lessons in patience you can find in life. One the guy on the opposing team is running past you down the field, you could easily grab him and pull him to the ground. But noooo --
you have to try to grab that stupid little 3 x 6 inch flag on stuck on the side of his pants with Velcro. As the flag dances in the wind and moves with each step the player takes, you position your hand to grab it and then suddenly the player's waist moves and the flag goes out of your grasp. And the player is off. Touchdown!

Okay, you can tell that for the past several weeks, one of my 3 sons has been playing flag football. Yep, my youngest son Jason, 11. He's played pretty well, with some touchdown passes and a touchdown reception, but the other teams seem to score touchdown after touchdown because our guys can't seem to grab those blankety-blank flags. Last week an opposing player scored a touchdown after running with one of our kids right on his heels all the way but our kid was unable to grab that flag. I had to laugh when our guy asked the coach, "What would happen if we tackle them?" The coach told him we'd get a penalty.

Sometimes, though, I think it would be totally worth it.

I'm off to another football game.

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Early Morning Ramblings by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

“I am not really a techie, I just play one on TV.” I wish this were true. The reality for me is that I know just enough about technology to get myself into trouble (i.e. I sound like I know what I am talking about; I know what’s possible, but I don’t know how to personally use the technology.) Sometimes this is depressing. This morning I was surfing around Aliza Sherman’s blogs looking for something that I wanted to share here. That woman knows her technology. And she has for years. Many years ago she had a vision about the power of technology and it’s implications for women. She is a pioneer and many women have been empowered through her work. Check out her latest book: Mom Incorporated. Sadly, I zigged when I should have zagged oh so long ago when I worked with her briefly. She found me annoying. I didn’t really live in the world of technology and I still don’t. I read her blogs and feel up to date on what is possible, but I just don’t use this stuff everyday.

Funny, but blogging mostly feels like I am talking to myself. So note to self, I am who I am: am an educator not a techie. But at a new teaching gig I now have at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, technology and education connected. A student at the end of class asked if he could use his iphone to take a picture of my white board with the homework assignment on it. Of course, I said yes and had my mind blown: wow that would save me so much time if I could do the same thing. That moment made me want to upgrade my ipad NOW. Too bad I am struggling to get by. (Okay, do I whine about the fact that I teach at the three local colleges and I still make s$#t for money?)

Okay where am I headed here? Sometimes I sit at my computer and I reread my posts and I all think is: who cares? Do I really have anything of value to say? I follow a few other mommy blogs and mostly I feel like I’m not hip enough, tech savvy enough—I feel like I am spinning my wheels career-wise. Reading blogs reenforces the notion I carry around in my head about what I think I should be doing. It is the dreaded expectation—the story of who I imagined I would be. A hip, sexy mommy with a fabulous career. Instead I am kind of plump, struggling about work and frankly, pissed off about my lot as a woman in the 21st century.

Orlando, the film adaptation of Virginia Woolfe’s book (of the same name) starring Tilda Swinton comes to mind. But at the end of that movie Tilda’s character is an empowered woman. I don’t feel like that. (I think I need to watch this movie again. I have been getting into watching movies that I enjoyed before I was married or a mom. This film by Sally Potter is dang near 20 years old. Definitely a netflix request.)

Okay it’s 5:22am. I think I am done complaining. Today I am having a party for my daughter’s sixth birthday and Captain Jack is making a guest appearance (no, sadly, not Johnny Depp). Really what could be better than that. Once I post this I’m headed off to finish cleaning the guest bathroom and the stovetop and generally present the false appearance that I keep a tidy house as fourteen little six and seven years descend upon my home. Pizza, an ice cream sandwich tower and gatorade must be prepared. It’s going to be a really fun day. I love birthdays. (Hopefully readers read all the way to the end of the post and can see that I am not a total whiner.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Adoption by Robin Gorman Newman

My son has always known he's adopted.  Way before he was old enough to remotely comprehend, we advised him.  We wanted to make it a non-issue.

We met him at the hospital on day three of his life, and he's been with us ever since.  It was a domestic adoption.  We met the birthmother, but she would never reveal the birthfather.  We took photos of her and video.  We even went to the downtown area near where he was born, and shot video, so that one day, if/when the time came, we could make it available.  He would know his place of birth.

Seth is 8, and over the years, we've read fiction picture books about adopted animals, etc.  It's never been a big deal.  It's just his story, and we shared the story of others.  He never thought much of it.

I anticipated one day that he might show some curiosity, but in my mind, I couldn't predict when that might be.

Last week was the time...out of the blue, as I was driving the be exact...with him in the back seat.  In between rounds of Pokemon on his Game Boy, he splurted out how he's the only adopted kid on the school bus.

I asked how he knew?

He said the other kids were talking about it.  That somehow it had come up.

It's always been hard to get a straight answer out of him at I didn't quite comprehend how the subject of adoption was broached to begin with. Why would the kids initiate such a discussion?  Were they all talking about where they were born?

Seth knows he came from Illinois.

So...before I had a car accident, due to the shock of the discussion, I pulled over and attempted to calmly share.

I asked if it bothered him that he was adopted?

He said no.

I explained that not all parents tell kids they're adopted...for whatever reason.  So, perhaps some of the kids actually are adopted and don't know it.

He said..why wouldn't they tell them?  Because the parents think the kid might be sad?

I said that some parents might want to wait until a child is older to explain.

I asked are you sad?

He said, well it is kinda be given up.

I could see his point. 

I said we met your birthmother.  She was a nice lady, but couldn't take care of you.  She had three other children from another relationship, and couldn't afford another child.  She had no phone.  No car.  Barely a place to live.  We had given her some money for expenses.  She gave you up out of love.  She wanted you to have a better life than what she could provide.  She knew you deserved to live fully and was confident that your father and I would provide a loving, secure home.

We love you high as the sky, and always have.

I ran off a list of other adopted children we know...some of whom are friends of that he could see he was in good company and perhaps didn't realize it.

Then I asked, after taking a deep breath...would you like to meet your birthmother one day?

And, he said yes.

I know he doesn't mean at this point in his life...but for the first time, it truly sunk in, that that day might come. For now, we don't know where she is.  It was not an open adoption.  But, we remain in touch with the adoption agency and each year send photos there for her, but we've been advised that she hasn't gotten them in recent years.  They surmise she has moved and didn't provide a forwarding address.  Was it on purpose? Or was it an oversight on her part?  We don't know, but I do know that if we have to track her down one day, we will do our best to find her, if it's important to Seth.

This discussion got me wondering what else Seth thinks about with regard to his becoming part of our family.  For the moment, I felt badly. I didn't want him to feel sad and unwanted.  That was certainly far from the truth.

I told him that adoption is an act of love on the part of the family adopting and the birthmother giving of her child to strangers who she is trusting with her precious baby. 

Perhaps some birthmothers don't love their children? I do believe that Seth was loved by her, and from that love sprung what I'm sure was not an easy decision, but something that she deemed necessary.

I tried to explain that to Seth.

I think he got it.

Time will tell.

But, what I do know is that I couldn't love him any more than I do.  And, I hope he feels the same about us...and in my heart, I believe that to be true.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week 2: Clean House or Clean Mind? by Liimu

I have had people suggest in the past that I clean my house of all junk food, both to make it easier on me and to encourage my kids to not eat junk, ever. Personally, I don’t think that’s realistic. Junk is everywhere in our society. It just is. You can’t drive down a highway in the US without hitting a McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts. You can’t watch a television show without seeing an advertisement for Dairy Queen or Chuck E. Cheese. In 2009, over $4 billion dollars was spent in marketing to children by the food industry. Amidst all that unhealthy noise, I would like my kids to feel like they can still be healthy, active and overall in good shape without having to be completely sheltered from it. I want them to learn how to have it in moderation, how to increase their activity to counterbalance it, and feel comfortable making a choice to have it one day and not the next.

It seems to be working.

The girls have an account in their cafeteria and the first year they were there, I randomly monitored it and found that not only were they abusing it – ordering chips, rice krispie treats, ice cream every day, even an extra lunch one day that was eaten in favor of the one we had sent with them to school, which was deposited in the trash! We had a sit down and a conversation about it and I explained to them the importance of eating healthy and said that if they needed more snacks, I’d be happy to pack something. They said that would be good and I did pack them each two snacks every day – one healthy, one not as healthy (e.g., string cheese and a bag of baked Doritos).

Last week, I got a notice from the school that their accounts were low. I thought they had high balances at the end of last year, so I got worried. When I went in to check, how thrilled was I to find that all they’d been ordering was milk to go with the lunches we’d sent them? My honest opinion is that they are making healthy choices because they are armed with the right information and given the freedom to make choices. Plus, they are not forbidden anything, they are just encouraged to make good ones. So heartwarming to see.

The same applies to me this week. I would love to work out for two hours every day, it’s not always possible. And I would love to either be surrounded by nothing but healthy options or be able to succumb to every craving (the yummy looking oatmeal cookies at this meeting, for instance). Not an option.  Instead, I either forego the items or put them in the freezer to have on a high-activity or cheat day (like the birthday donuts from Sunday).

Monday through Wednesday this week, I had meetings that kept me from getting to the gym where food was brought in that could have derailed my efforts. I have made some very healthy conscious decisions to counter that challenge:

(1) I brought food with me all three days so my food has been crazy clean.

(2) I have kept up with my water – I am currently on liter #3 today, and managed to get four liters in yesterday and the day before.

(3) I have been meditating in the evening and throughout the day to keep a positive mindset, knowing that a few days off from working out can be a good thing if I keep my mindset right. Not only will it give my body some much-needed rest, it will fuel my efforts tomorrow and Friday because I will go even harder in the gym when I finally get back there.

Like I encourage my children to do, I’m doing what I can to counterbalance the lack of activity. Bringing my food and foregoing the junk the meeting facility offers, drinking my water, and logging my food. On Sunday when I ran five miles, I let myself have a bite of an Auntie Anne pretzel because I knew I had run the calories to offset it. I like to think that they are following my lead.

So, I will just keep being the best possible example to them for how to make healthy choices with regard to eating right and exercising, not to mention staying positive. I can’t always control the course of my day or the temptations I’m faced with, but I can certainly arm myself appropriately to ensure the best and healthiest possible outcome for me.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stress Overload - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

 Stress: a situation, occurrence, or factor causing physical, mental, or
 emotional strain or tension.
- Oxford Dictionary

Ahh stress. I am under so much stress right now, I'm surprised I can write this blog. I am under so much stress, the thought of eating makes me sick. I am under so much stress, that my run down body came down with a cold, my irritable bowels started acting up, I got my period two weeks early, and my face broke out in a huge way. All in less than 24 hours. I would guess that by virtue off all of this happening in such a short period of time, I would suffice to say, I am experiencing stress overload.

I probably should begin with last weekend. My son started on an ADHD medication patch. For the first three days, it worked beautifully on my son. Even his teacher noticed the improvement. Then, all of a sudden, the patch started disappearing. I asked my son if he had taken the patch off, prefacing my question by letting him know that I would not be upset with him at all. I truly just needed to have an estimated time to record. He said he had no idea.

On the same day, I received a court subpoena to appear as a defendant in a court case. I needed this like I needed a whole in my head.

In any event, the next day, the medication patch turned up "missing" again. Concomitantly (and this will have a direct correlation, as you will see), both my son and I had been getting mosquito bites on our legs and arms. I was layering our bodies with calamine lotion. It also happened to be warm last week so shorts and tee-shirts were the attire. My bites were healing with calamine lotion. My son's looked like they were getting more infected. The fact that he was scratching them relentlessly certainly didn't help. I was covering his multitude of bites with antibiotic ointment and bandages. The bites did not seem to be improving, and he had been accumulating more. Now we must jump back to the medication patch.

I could tell when my son took off his patch too early because he displayed a "rebound effect." All of a sudden he was all over the place, uncontrollable, rude, disrespectful, obnoxious...not even nearly what he was like before he started the patch. I called his doctor. Since I get up at 4:30am every day to take one of my own medicines, the doctor and I thought that if I put the patch on my son where he wouldn't know where I placed it, such as between his shoulder blades, we might be able to have my son not even think about the patch, thus not taking it off. This worked for two days until my son caught on to where I put it when I had to take it off. Then he was back to removing them as soon as possible. Now, back to the mosquito bites. (There IS a reason for this bouncing back and forth between topics...).

Thursday night I noticed bug bites on my son's neck, shoulders and right ear. His ear itched him the most. I was able to put calamine lotion on my son's neck and shoulders but didn't feel comfortable putting it on or in his ear. All night long, my son scratched his ear until it was bleeding. In the morning, I cleaned his ear. It looked better and my son said it felt better, so I sent him to school.

Late in the school day, the school nurse called me to explain that my son was again scratching his ear until bleeding, but she also detected a clear fluid coming from somewhere within the ear. She advised that I see my son's doctor as soon as possible. I immediately called my son's doctor but the earliest they could give my son an appointment would be first thing the next morning unless I felt that my son needed to go to the emergency room. I honestly didn't feel that my son needed to go to the emergency room, so I kept gently cleaning my son's ear, despite the fact that my son was still scratching at it. Later that night I noticed a sticky, clear discharge coming from his ear. I was certain it was impetigo. And yes, my son had taken his patch off again at some point during the day.

By the next morning, my son's ear looked ten times worse than the night before. Even his bug bites looked more red and swollen. Marks even showed up on his face. I dutifully put my son's medication patch on and we went to see the doctor. While we were in the waiting room, my son was pacing, stopping every few feet to scratch a bug bite or his ear and eventually the site where I put his patch. I asked if the patch bothered him. He angrily said, "Yes! That's the whole problem! Every day you make me wear that thing, my itching gets worse! I want it to come off!!" I told him that we would have to speak with his doctor before we could do that, knowing full well that the patch was completely unrelated to his bodily itching.

When we first saw the doctor in the examination room, the doctor took one look at my son and said, "I want to admit him into the hospital for IV antibiotics." My son was angrily stating to the doctor that the medication patch was the problem. He explained, logically in his 8 year - old mind, that if the itchy patch were taken off, he would get better. To my son's dismay, the doctor reassured my son that the patch had absolutely nothing to do with the itching on the rest of his body. Very cryptically, the doctor and I discussed the issue of the hospital admission or not. I have a medical background, so we spoke using medical lingo and higher level vocabulary. I essentially said to the doctor that if my son were admitted into the hospital, he would need to be either sedated, restrained, or both because my son would be pulling out his IVs left and right. My son is also deathly afraid of needles, so he would end up being an extremely difficult patient to manage. Based on this, the doctor came up with a more reasonable solution: Give my son oral antibiotics equivalent to what he would get through IV, quarantine him for the entire weekend, wash his sheets with boiling hot water after 2 days on the antibiotics and ear drops, and sanitize my hands after touching my son. He was diagnosed with systemic impetigo, however the doctor was very concerned that this could rapidly turn into MRSA, the "flesh eating" disease.

Okay, now that there was a plan, there were more obstacles. My son gags and vomits when you try to give him pills and he abhors the taste of children's liquid medicines. My son was adamantly refusing to take either the antibiotic pills or liquid. The doctor and I had to lay his options on the line: Either take the meds at home, or go to the hospital and have the med be given through a needle. Decision was made: Home with liquid medicine.

Since my son was extremely contagious and my husband was out of town on business, I waited for a parking spot close to the pharmacy door and had my son stay in the car while I brought the prescriptions into the pharmacy. I dropped them off and went to go check on my son in the car. Outside of the pharmacy, but within site of my car, I called my husband to tell him what was happening. He was going to arrange a change in his flight back home, but called me back and said that one of the men he was meeting with had his own private jet, so the private jet would fly my husband home immediately (Rough life my husband has. Wait until I get to HIS part of this never ending story). 

I finally get the medicines for my son, go home, but my son won't take the med. I even tasted it and it tasted vile. Since it had a hint of orange flavor, I tried adding a bit of milk hoping it would taste like a creamsicle. No such luck. And this kid had to take this medicine three times a day. I reiterated that the only other option was the hospital. I barely got a half dose of med in him. And he took his medication patch off again. So now I have a VERY sick kid, literally (and I do mean literally) scaling the doorway to the top to touch the ceiling because he is going through a rebound effect, and is practically uncontrollable. (Are you exhausted yet by just reading this? I promise to summarize and spare you any further exhaustion).

My husband came home and got a pill form of the oral med to try to get my son to take. He tolerated it, although my son continued to fly off of my bed, onto his beanbag, scale the doorway, was insolent and uncooperative. I had to just keep that in mind that all of this behavior was because of the rebound effect. I couldnt strictly punish my son because his brain chemicals were imbalanced. A call went in to my son's ADHD doctor. Here is the icing on the cake...

I was terribly behind in checking my e-mail. I tried to go through some of it and what did I find? A forwarded letter from my lawyer that stating that my husband is counter-suing me for divorce with full custody of my son with...get this one...visitation only outside of my home!!!
NOW can you say stress overload??

At the very end of the day, one of my sons toys broke and he had a complete and total breakdown. His hysterical crying was not simply due to the broken toy. For an hour, I huddled behind him on the carpet as he was clutching my arm tightly around him. He sobbed, ranted and raved about things that occurred to him TWO YEARS ago! This poor child had been bottling up two years worth of frustration and anger that I never knew of. He was experiencing his own stress overload and it needed to be released.

As close as I am to my son and as comfortable as he is coming to me with things that bother him, I am going to take extra time to try to dig a little deeper and find out if there are issues that are worrying him, that he might have temporarily forgotten about. I want him to know that I care about everything that goes on in his life. Even the fact that he got a locker last year that never fully shut and it frustrated him. As parents, we forget that children are at risk of stress overload too. We need to be there for and be mindful that our children experience stress also. Stress is not limited to adults with mature minds and full plates. Little minds experience stress in different ways and often cannot express it. It is up to us, as parents, to keep a tab on issues that are affecting our children and help them sort out their problems or just lend an ear.

Communication is going to be a lot different from now on with my son. I am going to be much more mindful and reach out to him more frequently. No one should have to lie on the floor spewing frustration from two years past. Especially not a child.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For the Sake of the Kids…Really? - by Elizabeth Allen

How many unhappily married couples with children have you heard recite the overcooked excuse “We’re staying together for the sake of the kids”? How many of you are saying that even now in your current lives? Let’s take that one step further – do you really believe that staying in a toxic, loveless, dysfunctional relationship is actually healthier for your child than to forge ahead barefooted over burning coals (from which your soles will heal) toward something or someone who will be infinitely better? And what if forging ahead means being a single parent?

“I can’t do it – I need his help with the kids. It’s just not worth the hassle.”

“My parents fought all the time, in fact I’m sure they hated each other. But I turned out all right. I believe it’s more important for my child to have a mother and a father together than for me to be happy.”

“My kids adore their father. They’d hate me if I left him and I couldn’t bear that. At this point in my life, what difference would it make? Besides, who’d want me now?”

“My kids deserve a mother and a father. Moreover, what gives me the right to be selfish? Their needs are more important.”

"We've been together too long. Why rock the boat now?"

“I can’t be alone. I’d rather be in a bad marriage than none at all. At least it’s familiar. After all is said and done, I know what to expect anyway.”

And so on and so on…

My parents stayed together for our sake – the magic number being twelve. They stuck it out until I, the youngest, turned 12 and then went their separate ways. So was it better that two people who battled daily with the ferociousness of Siamese fighting fish lived in the same house and kept up appearances? Gee, let’s see. I don’t recall feeling the love from them as much as anger, grief and desperation. I picked up some vicious verbal strategies when it comes to arguing which would have served me well had I become a lawyer. I observed how two people who have no respect for each other act and I learned how the two most important adults in my young life pretended to be something they weren’t. And I learned to see through the pretense.

Kids know. I don’t care if they’re six or sixteen, boy or girl, functional or autistic – they know when their parents are faking it and when their mother is unhappy. They want their parents to be happy, even if it means living apart. Is it really selfish to extricate yourself from a harmful relationship? I say no. It’s selfish to stay.

Why are we willing to sacrifice our very lives - step in front of a charging bear if need be – to protect our children? But when it comes to breaking up the family which may, in greater likelihood actually fix it, we stall. It’s that hesitation, that lapse in gumption that could mean the difference between evolving into a well-adjusted person who witnessed their mother make tough courageous choices and persevere or evolving into a clone who ends up in and settles for the familiar no matter how bad it is.

For the sake of the kids? Really?

Go ahead and rock the boat. Tip the freaking thing over if need be. Your kids will swim and be stronger for it.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Fertile Dreams—by Jamie Levine

I became a single mother by choice because my biological clock was ticking and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to become a mother simply because I couldn’t find Mr. Right right away. I figured I’d do things backwards: become a mother first and a wife second. I made the right decision; today, I could never imagine my life without my daughter, and I give thanks daily that I didn’t wait—and potentially miss out on motherhood. However, missing out on married-hood is still a concern for me—and partly because of that damn biological clock.

I have two dear friends who are both on the verge of hitting 40—and have finally just found their mates. They both desperately want children and aren’t wasting a moment—or a fertility treatment—trying to get pregnant. Had I not become a single mother years ago, I could have been just like them, and am thankful I’m not going through their trials. I’m 41, and with my current resources as a single mom, one child is all I can handle. But since the birth of my daughter, I have happily pictured myself marrying a divorced dad and step parenting another kid or two. I never realized that most of the divorced dads I’d meet would picture things differently.

After a recent conversation with my ex—and a lengthy stint on some online dating sites—I’ve discovered that many men are only interested in siring children who share their own DNA. Most single men who have no kids yet want only to father their own biological ones…and those who already have one or two children potentially want more bio babes (or at least a woman who brings no kids to the table). I’m fit, self-sufficient, smart, sexy, and appealing in so many ways, and yet, at 41, I’m starting to feel washed up…all because my fertility window is almost closed.

I wish I could be content as a single mom, but I’m not. I want a partner—and ideally, a terrific dad for my daughter. I’m aware that step parenting is far from easy, but if I’m willing to take it on, why are so many men unwilling? Likely because they can afford to: In New York, desirable men have a lot more dating options than desirable women—and they also have more time in which to produce children. They think they can hold out for someone who fulfills all their fantasy criteria. And while I’m not willing to settle, myself, I do think I’m a bit more realistic about what I need to be happy. And it has nothing to do with a man’s fertility…or the kids he created before he met me.

Ironically, we all know men who married young women and still found themselves unable to father children because of their new wife’s surprising fertility issues. And a 41-year-old like me could potentially get pregnant for several more years (there’s a good reason why I’m on birth control pills!). But on paper, I appear less-than-ideal to many—simply because I’m a 41-year-old mother of one. Of course there are exceptions to every rule…and I’m hoping I can still find my own exceptional mate: Someone who appreciates and accepts me for who I am—and especially for the child I already have. Being a mother has made me a much better woman. But the challenge that remains is finding a man who understands that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: Letting Go Stirs Us Up by Loren Buckner

I lost a ring recently. It belonged to my grandmother. She gave it to my mother, who gave it me. I was planning on giving it to my daughter. I've turned the house upside down looking for it. I thought I knew where it was, but when I went for it, it was gone.

The interesting thing about this is that when I knew where the ring was I never thought about it. Now that it has disappeared, I can't get it out of my mind. To feel better, I remind myself that no one is sick and no one has died. I've lost a thing not a loved one. Loss has a trickle down effect, though; one loss flows into others.

As parents, we tend to think about what it means to have children. We don’t focus very much on how difficult it is to let go of them. We know it's important to be present in their lives and we want them to know that they can count on us. There's an inherent problem, however, that catches many parents, mothers especially, by surprise. As we create meaningful relationships with our children, we also become deeply attached to them.

Feeling this deep connection is wonderful. It helps our kids develop inner security and self-confidence. Watching them grow up and away from us is a source of pride and joy but it's also sometimes painful.

Separation begins early. Allowing babies to amuse themselves alone in their cribs and encouraging them to reach out toward other people begins the process. As we support separation, children will look forward to starting school, making friends, trying new things. Eventually they learn to drive and finally go off to college or out into the workforce. It’s a step-by-step repetitive process of their leaving and returning, leaving and returning. Our task is to face the emotional storms these milestones stir up.

I can still remember how I cried as I prepared to stop nursing my children. When I left them at daycare, I could hardly bring myself to walk out the door. I couldn’t wait for them to go off to camp, but then I missed them terribly every day they were away. As much as I was ready for our son to go off to college, it hurt my heart that he was really gone. And when it was time to launch our daughter, I was excited and proud. But the reality that she was grown and ready to fly also made me feel sad and lonely.

Don't get me wrong. My children's developmental milestones generated feelings of relief and delight. As they became more independent, I loved the growing sense of freedom that went along with it. When arguments about bedtime, homework time, and mall time became things of the past, it felt pretty darn good. And when the worry about where they were and who they were with was finally over, there was cause to celebrate.

Nevertheless, part of the normal parenting process also includes mourning. Feelings of sadness and loss that we have to address over and over as our children grow and change.

Mourning our losses may seem like a painful idea. “Shouldn’t I try to forget about my sadness and move on?”

Mourning is painful but not mourning is painful too. Holding our feelings inside and denying their existence doesn’t mean our feelings are gone. It’s a little like leaving food in the refrigerator for too long. At first we are completely unaware the onion is even in there. But, gradually, the whole refrigerator smells bad.

Grieving is like taking the onion out and wiping down the inside of the fridge. Not a chore we like to do but one we feel better about after it’s done.

“So, what do I have to do? Sit around and cry all day?” Not exactly. Mourning is allowing our thoughts and feelings to wash over us: crying, remembering, laughing, thinking about the good times and the bad ones too. From time to time, allow what comes to mind to linger there.

Although the ring is probably gone, I'll keep looking for it. I know now that the feelings it has triggered go beyond the ring itself. I still miss my mom, who died many years ago, and I'm feeling a little sidelined as my kids lead their busy lives.

These emotions I'm feeling aren't easily put into words. They're a fact of life, a normal everyday occurrence. And yet, I mourn for these losses as I get ready to start my day.

The author of ParentWise: The Emotional Challenges of Family Life and How To Deal With Them, Loren Buckner, LCSW received a B.A in the Administration of Justice from American University and earned a Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University. She is a Fellow at the International Psychotherapy Institute, a member of the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance, and a member of the Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society. Loren Buckner lives in Tampa, Florida, where she is in private practice as a psychotherapist. She is the mother of two grown children and has been married for over thirty years. A sought-after speaker and presenter, Loren has addressed local, national and international groups about the emotional challenges of raising children

Visit Loren Buckner on the web at:

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coming Up for Air by Sharon O'Donnell

I've been absent from writing for this blog since May; I wrote my blog for about 6 months and then in May, I decided I needed to take a break from it due to my middle son's ongoing battle with anxiety. He's had severe anxiety and OCD repetitive thoughts since late October of 2010, and after being somewhat under control with medication, it flared again in the spring. When he goes through these low points, it affects the entire family, especially me. He might be 17 now, but in my eyes he is still my baby, and I feel I have to protect him. Thus, when he has an anxiety flare-up, my world seems to stop as I focus totally on him: I do constant research on the Internet about his most recent flare-up, I'm on the phone with his doctors, I'm sending emails to coaches and teachers, etc., etc. For the most part, I can't write -- I just don't have it in me. Going through all this with my son drains me emotionally, mentally, and physically. It's exhausting.

When I feel sometimes that his anxiety is under control, I slowly start to once again get interested in the other things in my life like writing, getting together with friends, going to movies, and working on other projects of mine. Literally, it feels like I'm coming up for air after being under water for a long time. And then BAM! My son's anxiety will flare again, and I'm back under water. When he hits those low points, it totally overwhelms me. I've resigned myself to the fact that this is a pattern and that there will be a few weeks of 'being okay' followed by an anxiety flare-up, and then it will repeat again. We can't let the low points/flare-ups get us down too much because the pattern shows that things will get better again. But then they seem to get worse, and when my son nosedives, he nosedives quickly.

His anxiety, unfortunately, is not about school or performing on his high school sports teams; it's about life in general, and he constantly asks questions in his head about how life began, what more is there out there, why things in history happened as they did, etc. He comes from a religious home, he's gone to church and Sunday school, Boy Scouts, etc., but still these questions come because this is the way the OCD has chosen to manifest itself now. It's called existential anxiety, and it's awful. In middle school, the OCD showed up in milder forms like his getting indigestion a lot, but last year, it showed up this way, which is so much tougher. The trick is -- and it does seem to be a trick -- is for him to learn to manage these thoughts and not to let them take over his mind because when they do, he literally becomes unable to function. He can't go to school, he can't go anywhere with friends, he can't even make himself focus enough to play the games he loves (baseball and basketball). We don't know when the anxiety will worsen and he will suddenly become like this, and I am always feeling like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. It's an awful way to live, and I know for myself, for my family, and for my son, I have to get past this myself and not be so overwhelmed and emotional when these flare-ups occur. Easier said than done, though.

Over the summer, he spent a week having a team of doctors evaluate him, and he is now on a second anti-anxiety medication (the first one he was on in May led to a serotonin excess in his system which caused him to crash). Since he is evidently sensitive to these meds, they have to be regulated to the correct dosage because too little or too much can cause similar bad effects (we've also tried natural supplements that are precursors to serotonin but that didn't work). So doctors have gradually increased the new medication, and it's been doing well overall -- but still, there have been a few blips in the past few weeks where he feels bad. I'm hoping and praying that they will remain blips here and there that he will learn to manage (he has therapy with a psychiatrist/psychologist) so they will not become major flare-ups.

The junior year of high school (which he had last year) and his current senior year are very stressful for any student, but particularly for teens like him. Add in all the bad news they hear 24/7 like about terrorism, the terrible economy, the environment -- and then throw in how competitive it is to get into college these days - and wow, it can be mind-boggling. It's scary how many teens have similar problems with anxiety, and I fear that we are creating a society dependent on these drugs because of the anxiety and depression. I'm not sure what to do about it.

I do know that all of this certainly has put things in perspective. I really savor the good days and good times with my son -- and my two other sons, too. And I just hope and pray that as my son matures (which he has a lot in the past year with this anxiety), the anxiety will lessen -- and as the stresses of high school and getting into college decrease -- so will these OCD thoughts. In the meantime, we have to hold on and keep taking deep breaths even when we feel like we're under water.

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Enjoying the Grammie Factor by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

Yesterday I happened into a new little shop and chatted up the owner. There was a hand towel that said “Caution: Free Range Children,” which got the conversation going. After talking a bit about the book Free-range Kids, the woman mentioned that she was a grandmother and her daughter, who was over 40 had three little ones under three. I, of course, told her about Motherhood Later.

After I left, I was thinking of my own mom. The grandmother in the store was really into supporting her daughter much like my mom. I know one of the sad things about being a later mother is that one’s parents may be dead, but the other thing that is possible—as is my case and the grandmother’s I met—is that the grandparents are retired.

Yes, sometimes the energy of retired grandparents can be less, but in a great way the temperament between grandparents and grandkids can be similar. When my daughter visits my mom and stepdad, everyone takes a nap after lunch. My folks take a nap everyday and they go to bed fairly early. My daughter’s time is filled with doing things “like they did in the old days”—hanging laundry on the clothes line and making waffles. Getting up extra early is expected and so a quiet moment of hot chocolate to watch the sun come up is relaxing (instead of mornings at home that have a “go, go, go” quality.)

There is a natural rhythm working during those visits. I feel pretty lucky that I live close enough to my mom and dad to enjoy their support. This relationship with my retired parents is one that I never really thought about before my daughter was born, but now I can’t live without it. When I consider moving to another state I am struck by how much would be lost by such a move.

Next week is my daughter’s birthday. Grammie and Grampie are coming into town for the party and picking up the pizzas on the way to our place. How lucky am I? daughter has a relationship with my parents that provides balance to the intensity of modern family life. I hope I get to have such a relationship with my future grandkids.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stopping Traffic by Robin Gorman Newman

My son has long been a Rescue Hero in the making.  That's when he's not busy being a CSI Investigator, SWAT Team member, Policeman, Fireman, EMS worker, Spy, Power Ranger, etc., etc.

He has an impressive collection of baseball caps emblazoned with a wide array of motifs fitting these various bills.  He has costumes replete with pants, vests and accessories that further feed the frenzy.  On top of that, he has Nerf guns, play handcuffs, flashlights, etc.

Add to all that a widely vivid imagination and a deep desire to do good/help people, and you never know what can result.

I witnessed it first hand at an impromptu playdate last week.  A friend he sits with on the bus popped over after school to give him something, and he wound up staying for two hours.  Thankfully, the rain had finally subsided, and they opted to play outdoors.

They rode bikes up and down the street, but when the paraphenalia and role play started to break out, things took a more complex turn.  I was watching them for some time, and then retreated to my office where I could see them out the window.  But, I learned that I can't turn my back for 5 seconds.

The phone rang, and it was my next door neighbor Jill, who we're friendly with.  She asked, "Do you know that Seth and his friend are stopping traffic?"  I was stunned...embarassed (for not knowing)...thanked her for calling and bolted out the door.

I should have taken a picture of what I saw.  Seth was on one side of the street in front of the house, and his playmate in crime was on the other side across the street, and they had strung a piece of plastic rope across the road so cars had to stop.  They also put out plastic cones that Seth likes to play with when he's creating a "construction zone."  Very authoritatively, they proclaimed they were stopping cars as they endeavored to drive down the block, to make sure they were wearing seatbelts.  They took huge pride in pointing out the Fed Ex truck they had also stopped, and how the driver thanked them for so dilligently trying to protect people.

I ordered them off the street and to gather their gear from the road and tried to explain how, while they meant well, there are people in this world who might not embrace their efforts.  What if they ran into someone like that?  Seth then showed me a hammer (real one) he had taken from our garage, and how he was prepared to use it in self defense if needed.  Part of me was glad he had thought of that, but I certainly didn't want him engaging in a fight.

He and his friend both complained how I ruined their fun.  And, I suppose you could say I did.  But, what's a mother to do?!  I need to somehow help channel his desire to do good and play security into a safer mode of expression.  What, at the moment, I don't know.

What also concerns me is that I now feel I can't let him out of my sight for even a brief period, even in front of the house.  That's all it takes for something to happen, and even in the safest of neighborhoods, bad things can result.

Next time, my son goes to play outside, perhaps I'll join his SWAT team or whatever it is at the moment.  I'm sure he'd welcome the additional manpower, and I'd have an up close 'n personal look (and control) over the situation. Stopping traffic is not a game I'd recommend.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Goes Up, Must Come Liimu

Nine months up, nine months down...that's what they say. So, when I was coming up on Max's six month birthday (it was yesterday), I decided it was time to get serious about losing this baby weight. I asked Robin Gorman-Newman if it would be okay for me to chronicle my weight loss journey for all of you. I mean hey, I shared with you guys all the ups, downs, ins and outs of the pregnancy. Why not share with you all the sweat, blood and tears of becoming my best self after the fact? I promised Robin I would also share all the idiosyncrasies of raising four kids and feeding them and a 6'2, 230 pound husband while trying to eat clean and workout like a maniac.

So, here we go...WEEK ONE

The day before my journey began a friend asked me if I was on a diet, almost as if she expected me to say yes (maybe because I've spent most of my life either on a diet or cheating on one). This time, my answer was a solid and resounding "NO." Now, it just so happened that I hadn't actually started my Dreambodies journey - yesterday was Day 1, as you know. But to be honest, even if I had been asked the question after I started, my answer would have been the same.

I don't believe in dieting anymore. We've all read the magazine articles that talk about the fact that diets don't work, and I believe that to be true. It doesn't work to go "on" a diet, because that presupposes that eventually you will go "off" the diet. In my case, my period of being "off" a diet more than counterbalance any of my good dieting efforts.

All that being said, though, my reason for being so convicted about not being on a diet when my friend asked me had less to do with the efficacy of diets and everything to do with the Law of Attraction. The fact is, I am done with perceiving myself (and being perceived) as someone who has to diet in order to have a great body, beautiful skin, and tons of energy.

So, I am not on a diet. I am on...


I am stoked to be on Dreambodies, because I basically get my marching orders - daily meal plan, workout, etc - and then I don't think about it anymore. If I feel myself weakening, I send an e-mail to my trainer and he e-mails me right back with an answer to my question, words of encouragement or a virtual kick in the pants.

I am on a mission to become a leaner, stronger version of myself, better even than before I got pregnant.

I am on a mission to show my daughters that motherhood, aging, and fierce beauty don't have to be mutually exclusive.

I am on a mission to reclaim the inner vixen, inner goddess, inner Betty Boop that I have carried with me all these years but only in small spurts have been released to the outside world.

I am on a mission to follow through on my commitment to myself, my health and my children's desire to have me around for a long time.

I am on a mission. Feel free to come along for the ride. :)

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hallmark Really Cares - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Back in December, Hallmark started marketing their line of Recordable Storybooks. What made them particularly enticing was that they were similar to recordable cards. The recordable books, however, went a step further. They allow you to stop recording, if necessary, make corrections, and speak at your own pace. Perfectly modifiable!

My son gave me one of the Hallmark Recordable Storybooks for the Holidays. What made this book extremely special to me is that my son has a learning disability which makes it particularly difficult for him to read. With my husband's guidance and my son's practice, I was able to hear my son read me the recordable book, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," almost flawlessly! Tears were welling up in my eyes as I heard my son's sweet voice! I was overjoyed hearing him read an entire book cover to cover!  This very special book will be treasured for the rest of my life.

I wanted to reciprocate to my son, not only what the recordable book represented, but obtain a book that would convey the special bond my son and I share. I started looking in every Hallmark store I knew of to find one of two recordable books as a special birthday present. To my absolute dismay, I couldn't find either of the books I wanted at any of my local Hallmark stores. My heart was very heavy.

My son's birthday was in August, ironically falling on the same day as the BlogHer '11 Conference. He was going to be away during the weekend of his birthday, so I took the opportunity to go to the BlogHer '11 Conference that weekend. During the Expo part of the conference, I spotted a Hallmark booth. It was the very end of the day. I approached one of the sweet Hallmark representatives and begged her for information as to how I could purchase one of the recordable books I wanted. She told me she would send me the book that I had been so desperately looking for and had me write down my address. I promised I would write a blog review about the book as a thank you for her very kind gesture.

Once I returned home, I was contacted by a different Hallmark representative asking me if I would mind doing a blog review on some of their Back-to-School products. I gladly acknowledged that I would be happy to, especially knowing that the first representative was sending me the recordable book I wanted so badly.

Within a week's time, I received not only the special recordable book I requested from the first rep, I also received a package from the second rep with an amazing surprise inside. As I opened the top of the box, I saw what looked like a recordable book along with several other items. I held my breath as I slid the book out of the box. To my absolute astonishment, there in front of me was the other recordable book I had been looking for! I just couldn't have been happier! I had received the very two books that I so wanted to record for my son! To make it even more exciting, I received sample cards from the new Hallmark Kids Collection that I could fill out for my son's first day of school and an adorable booklet of messages that I could tear out and put into my son's lunch tote!

I recorded the "All the Ways I Love You" book before my son went away on vacation with my husband for a week. My son looked at me with mouth agape as he listened to my voice, and turned each page! He then said to me, "How did you get a book like mine?" (He was referring to the "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" recordable book). I told him that Mommies sometimes have magic powers! (And wonderful Hallmark representatives!).

A couple weeks later, I recorded the second book. The night before my son had his first day of school, I presented him with the "Guess How Much I Love You," recordable book. Again, my son was enthralled! I had read the actual book to my son dozens of times. But hearing my voice as he turned each page added a completely different dimension to it. Here I was, sitting next to him, but silent, except for my voice coming from the book. Both books are displayed on my son's dresser, as his is displayed on mine.

The Hallmark Recordable Storybooks are great if you are a parent who travels. Your children will be able to hear your voice, even when you are away. Additionally, these books will provide an opportunity to help develop reading skills. Most of all, they provide bonding time with your children whether you are next to them or far away.

Once my son was asleep, I packed the unrefrigerated parts of his lunch and included a lunch message from the booklet, "Lunch Notes for Kids." There are 50 notes in the booklet. I chose one that said, "I'm hugging you in my heart right now. I know, I know...I'm squishing you. I'll let go in a minute." Using these adorable notes will surprise your child with a serving of love and pride. The unexpected "I love you" or "good luck" will let your child know you're by their side even after they get on the school bus.

When my son came home from his first day of school, I presented him with a card from the Hallmark Kids Collection of cards. The cards address topics for both young and older children. These include messages that provide positive reinforcement, hard work achievements as well as topics for tweens/teens which focus on peer pressure and choosing friends wisely. The card that I chose to give my son said, "If I could hug you every time I think of you..." on the outside, and "you'd be smooshed!" on the inside. He gave me a big grin as I hugged him until he was "smooshed!"

The Kids Collection of cards can either be snuck into a notebook or backpack as a surprise for your child to open during the day. Or, if your child might get embarrassed like mine, but loves getting mail, they can have a card waiting for them in the mailbox at the end of the day.

With backpacks bulging with new notebooks, pencils and glue, kids sometimes need more than school supplies to face the exciting and challenging situations the upcoming year holds. This is why Hallmark created it's Back-to-School line. When you are helping your child get off to a good start with the new school year, don't forget to throw in a little encouragement and confidence from Hallmark! You know your child will be getting the very best from you!

I would like to thank the fabulous Hallmark representatives for providing me with these wonderful Hallmark products to use and review. I am truly appreciative!

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