Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Octo'easter by Margaret Hart

In thinking about this week's blog, I couldn't escape my thoughts about the Nor'easter that slammed the New England states this past weekend on the eve of Halloween.  The network news covered it, but it was the countless posts and pictures on facebook that really told the story:  there were children in snowsuits posing with snowmen and scarecrows alike, pumpkins with snow beards, and tree branches hanging like so many cobwebs over streets, parked cars, and "haunted" houses.

We all heard it was coming, but no one wanted to believe it. So we all went about our business on Saturday, and then all of a sudden, it hit.  Giant clumps of cold, wet snow falling rapidly from the sky.  Traffic ground to a halt as it tends to do at the first big snow of the year. I started receiving email alerts about Halloween events that were cancelled. By mid afternoon, tree limbs were hanging so low, heavy with wet snow, that they literally hit my windshield as I hurried home from errands. Tree limbs had snapped and fallen across streets in my neighborhood. 

By evening, the lights had flicked on and off a few times in our house and we held our breath each time. We hunkered down, popped in the "Great Pumpkin" video and just bedtime, we were astonished we still had power as the predicted winds had picked up and the trees were really swaying.  We jumped when we heard a loud thump, thinking it was a tree branch hitting the roof, but then realized it was clumps of heavy, wet snow falling off trees.
We live in a densely wooded area and trees are always a problem for power lines. So we made a reservation at a local hotel, just in case, and got one of the last available rooms. By morning, we awoke in our own beds to learn that some 800,000 people in our state of Connecticut were without power, and our governor had declared a state of emergency. New Jersey and New York had not fared well, either.
In most storms, we are among the first to lose power and the last to have it restored. But by some stroke of luck, we had made it through this storm, still had power, and thankfully, no damage to our home. I turned on the television news only to learn that the storm had wreaked havoc throughout New England. Several million people were without power along the east coast. And in Connecticut, our governor announced at a press conference that citizens should expect prolonged delays in restoration. Needless to say, people were not happy.

While I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of a storm in October, I was relieved that this Nor'easter, rather, this "Octo'easter," spared us this time around. I felt bad for all the people who lost power and remain without it as I write. It's a shame that Halloween parties and events were cancelled. Many school districts in neighboring towns cancelled school on Monday (and beyond), and some communities cancelled trick-or-treating out of safety concerns due to downed trees and power lines.
But it was Halloween, and determined moms were finding creative ways to make it a fun holiday for their kids and trying not to let Mother Nature get the best of them.  Facebook chatter switched from "12 hours and counting with no power" to "come to our neighborhood to trick or treat."  Resilient moms (and dads) in "dark" neighborhoods just moved their troops to neighborhoods where the pumpkins were glowing and the bat wings were flapping.   
In the end, this Octo'easter will likely be a Halloween that our kids will remember not because of the power outage and broken trees, or even the postponed or cancelled parties; they will remember it because it snowed on Halloween. Kids are great that way!

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Happy, Harrowing Halloween—by Jamie Levine

I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. As a sugar addict, I get dizzy with delight over the abundance of candy corn, mini boxes of Dots, and specially-flavored tootsie pops crowding the shelves at every supermarket and drug store in my neighborhood. And also as a sugar addict (and former fatty), I worry about losing control and eating every sugary treat in sight this time of year. I also worry about my daughter, Jayda. She, too, is a sugar addict—and has the propensity to be on the higher-end of the ideal weight range for her height. I do allow her just about every kind of “treat” in moderation, but am constantly on a quest to limit her sugar intake. Add to that Jayda’s poor track record with cavities (at 4-1/2, she’s already had four of them filled), and it’s clear that candy should not be a big part of her diet.

My Halloween rule is “anything goes”—meaning that Jayda can eat whatever she wants while she’s trick-or-treating, and all evening long. It’s a special day–and thus a permissible day of gluttony (as long as Jayda doesn’t eat so much she gets sick). I'm truly ok with that. But what bothers me is the days leading up to—and especially after—Halloween. It’s hard as heck to keep those days from being sugar-infused, too.

Halloween celebrations seem to start earlier every year, with school parties, neighborhood events, parades, and gatherings galore leading up to the day—and all revolving around edible Halloween treats, of course. There are “special” Halloween Oreos, which Jayda “has” to have at a play date, and mini-chocolate bars sitting on store counters, which cashiers can’t help but offer to my adorable child. And then there’s the aftermath of Halloween—the basket of treats Jayda comes home with after traipsing through our neighborhood. She’s still young enough that I can confiscate her trick-or-treat bag after Halloween, and dole out candy to her in moderation (and even throw some out, unbeknownst to her), but it still exits: Candy for every day of early November. Candy I’d never give to Jayda (and for which she’d never ask) if it were another month, like March, for instance. But because it’s Halloween-time, candy-consumption continues for Jayda…and for me (and I don’t have anyone taking my candy away from me).

Per her request back in June, Jayda’s dressing as a cheerleader this Halloween. At one point, she asked me to wear a costume, too. Impulsively, I asked her what I should be, and she thought for a minute, and responded, “you should be a cheerleader like me!” I am rather fit and could certainly pull off a mini-skirt—but would rather not risk looking like a slutty suburban mom and getting all the wrong attention, so I opted out of her plan and decided to accompany her without a costume. But cheerleaders are athletic and energetic—and they’re generally in good shape. So I’m hoping Jayda’s aspirations to be one (she insists she’s going to be a cheerleader when she “grows up”), can help me keep her sugar-addiction in check. Jayda knows it’s important to eat well and exercise to be healthy and strong…and post-Halloween I’m going to make a concerted effort to stress that those habits are especially important for cheerleaders. It may not help—but it can’t hurt. I want Jayda to know that too much candy is nothing to cheer about.

Have a sweet Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cyma Shapiro Chats with Dr. Kalyani Gopal, author, "The Supportive Foster Parent: Be There For Me"

FACT: There are nearly 700,000 children in the foster care system. At any given time, 200,000 get to go back home. 408,000 remain with their foster families.

FACT: 1/3 of foster parents give up due to their own frustration

FACT: 40% of American children have insecure attachment. This rate doubles for children in foster care.

FACT: Failures in foster care are sometimes due to lack of knowledge and skills.

FACT: 16-25% of homeless children were funneled through the foster care system

FACT: Approximately 80% of those incarcerated have been in the foster care system.

Q: Dr. Gopal, your book seems to have struck an important chord in people, and filled an important need. What led you to write this book?

Thanks Cyma! Every day I see four to five new foster families and each day I seem to be repeating myself over and over again about the pitfalls and joys of foster parenting, the unique coping mechanisms and how to bond with someone else’s child. It dawned on me finally, that there was a dearth of adequate information about the nuts and bolts of foster parenting for new and current foster parents including those who are experienced foster parents. I felt in order to improve the lives of our foster children and prevent destabilization of good homes; we need to educate our foster parents, child care advocates, and administrators.

Q: Your book provides a myriad of factual tips for approaching this journey from many different angles. It appears as if this is an objective, nonemotional approach to a very emotional and often trying experience. Did you intend to write this in this manner?

Yes. Most foster parents are overwhelmed with the day to day drama and emotional issues these children present for no fault of their own. Foster parents usually do not have any time to read a book peaceably. So, this was written in a simple, factual, straightforward manner with the intent to address a myriad of issues in a plain speaking matter of fact approach. I have written the book the way I speak to foster parents every day! They appreciate the honesty and lack of bells and whistles to the issues of foster parenting.

Q: What one fact continuously strikes you when working with this group?

That foster parents do everything they can to bond with their foster child, but they do not realize that the child is going to resist the bonding because of the primary alliance with their biological parent. They take this rejection very personally and as a result feel unappreciated.

Q: What little known fact do you wish to inform/educate the public about?

A foster child is not just any child – she/he is very special in terms how they live their lives. Each night they go to bed not knowing if they will be returning to the same home after school the next day. Foster kids are picked up from school and transported to a brand new foster home with no warning or preparation. These anxieties are deep and the average child or family does not share this daily trauma.

Q: You place much emphasis on the impact and parenting skills of the parent. However, many parents, themselves, have hidden wounds that often emerge after parenting (esp. a difficult child) begins. What can you say to this group?

What a fabulous question. It was this very issue that kept me burning the midnight oil when I wrote this book. I have had foster moms break down and literally weep when a child says innocently that she/he is scared of their foster mother. They are devastated as they were either from abusive homes themselves and have opened their hearts and homes to this child. That is why I state at the very onset of the book that even if you open your home to welcome a child, that child does not want to be in your home. The attitudes towards their own biological mother and/or father are transferred to the foster parent, all of it and if the child was beaten and abused by their mother, they will be scared of their foster mother doing the same.

Q: Many new older mothers cannot successfully conceive, and are therefore looking into adopting or fostering children. What advice can you offer this group?

Definitely adopt a child. These foster kids are amazingly beautiful, once you have their trust. They are more loving, caring, and empathic than even a biological child can be due to their deep sense of gratitude. If they act out, it is only because of the unfairness of their lives, the sense of not worthy of being loved. So, certainly adopt and foster and shower them with love the way they can handle it not necessarily the way you wish to show it. The rewards are immense. Foster parents often are described as ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Be the extraordinary parent by fostering or adopting.

Q: In writing this book, what one overriding theme do you wish to convey?

Children who enter the foster care experience multiple changes in placement due to lack of knowledge on the part of foster parents with regard to how to parent these children. They cannot be parented the way we parent our biological children. So no matter how successful parents have been with their biological children, they can set themselves up for failure with foster children and fall first into confusion and then depression. This causes many family problems. This should not be happening. Foster parents armed with the knowledge in this book and others such as this one, should have all that they need to achieve success in foster parenting. Knowledge of what to expect and how to handle crisis situations is power, and I wanted to EMPOWER all foster/adoptive parents.

Thank you for your time. I intend to purchase this book for my dear, single 54-year-old-friend, who intends to become a foster mother for the very first time. She will appreciate this!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our Dog's Birthday Party by Sharon O'Donnell

This past week we had a birthday party for our seven-year-old long-haired dachshund. I usually get him some special treats or toys for every birthday, but this year my husband wanted to have an actual party with cake and ice cream and even a birthday meal. He went out and bought the cake, some Porterhouse steaks, and potatoes. Of course, Fenway, our dog, would get his usual dry dog food, but we would complement it with a few small bites of steak and a tiny bit of cake.

Through all of this, I couldn't help but think of all the birthday parties I'd planned and implemented for our three sons over the past 20 years: the Scooby Doo scavenger hunt party (must have been out of my mind to go to all that trouble), the SpiderMan party, tons of Power Ranger parties, the ones at the roller skating rinks, the ones at the baseball hitting facility, the ones at Bullwinkle's play space, the ones at the Putt Putt golf course, and our eleven-year-old's most recent -- a chaotic one at Frankie's, a huge place with laser tag, go-carts, arcade games, etc. Oddly, my husband never expressed an interest in planning any of our sons' parties but suddenly with our dog's seventh birthday, he became the chief party planner. He even invited his mother over to share in the festivities. Of course, I was the one who marinated the steaks, cooked the potatoes, made a casserole, rolls, and tea -- plus cleaned up the house (with the help our our eleven-year-old) because my mother-in-law was coming over. Also went out and bought some treats for Fenway plus some new shampoo and conditioner. Ok, -- so maybe my husband planned it, but I still had to implement quite a bit of it.

We actually set Fenway in a chair beside the table in front of the cake and sang Happy Birthday to him. No, we did not insist that he blow out any candles. So there he was with his front paws up on the table and a tiny piece of cake in front of him. He leaned his head and floppy ears over the table and gobbled the cake down in what seemed like one bite. The frosting stuck to the plate, however, so he then spent the next few minutes licking the plate to get every last morsel that might still be clinging there. I had to admit he was cute.

I realize, though, why my husband hadn't been so interested in having a full-blown birthday party for our dog in years past. Fenway had his first health problems a few months ago, and I think that was at the forefront of my husband's mind. He and Fenway are very close (Fenway guards my husband's belongings when my husband is away and follows him everywhere when he is home). Fenway is very playful and we'd all thought of him still as more of a puppy than an older dog. News Flash: dachshunds are considered 'seniors' when they are 8 or 9 (read that in a book). The dachshund we had when I was growing up lived to be 16 years old -- but he never had any back problems, which dachshunds are prone to. But back in August, Fenway did. One morning, he didn't want to move -- we could tell it was painful to move his back legs. Knowing such back problems can be serious to dachshunds, we went off to the NC State University vet school -- one of the top vet schools in the country -- where they have a small animal clinic. After some xrays, they told us that Fenway did have some disc problems but they didn't do surgery unless the dog was immobile because of how fragile the spine is.

Thus, we've been doing 'conservative therapy' -- which is basically carrying him up and down the stairs inside our house and the small steps outside down to his gated area off our deck. He got better quickly and seems like his old self again -- but we know we have to keep carrying him or the problem could flare again. With all this carrying, Fenway is more spoiled than ever.

But it was this health scare that made my usually not very emotional husband emotional. Thus, the birthday party celebration. Understandable. Still, I couldn't help thinking about all those parties I'd planned for the boys without a sign of interest in helping from my husband. Must be yet another 'guy thing.'


Friday, October 28, 2011


Transport Group, the Drama Desk and OBIE award-winning theatre company is presenting the world premiere of the new musical, Queen of the Mist, with words and music by five-time Tony Award nominee Michael John LaChiusa, directed by four-time Drama Desk Award nominee Jack Cummings III. Peformances began October 18th, and it opens November 6th.

Based on a true story, Queen of the Mist stars two-time Tony nominee Mary Testa as Anna Edson Taylor, who, in 1901, set out to be the first woman to shoot Niagara Falls—in a barrel of her own design. Navigating both the treacherous Falls and a fickle public with a ravenous appetite for sensationalism, this unconventional heroine vies for her legacy in a world clamoring with swindling managers, assassins, revolutionaries, moralizing family, anarchists, and activists. Convinced there is greatness in her and determined not to live as ordinary, she sets out to battle her fear and tempt fate. With a score that incorporates turn of the century themes with signature LaChiusa elements, Queen of the Mist is the tale of a single great fall, and how one woman risked death so that she could live.

What a treat to see this musical!  Who would have thought that in what felt like a make-shift space..a narrow hardwood gymnasium floor and bleacher-style seating...that brilliance could result?!  The story was emotionally gripping, and Testa delivers a knockout performance. She is captivating from the moment we set eye on her eyes filled with intensity and passion, and when she sings There is Greatness in Me, we acknowledge that she does indeed!  The perfect choice to play this little known historical heroine, she is on the mark whether delivering comedic lines with bite or capturing the depths of despair with strength and tears.  Her co-star, The Falls, came across loud 'n clear as well, thanks to the roaring sound effects and lighting.  The audience was right there with her, and we were as engaged as no doubt the real life onlookers were when her custom designed barrel submerged, and Ms. Taylor survived.

Supported by highly capable cast members D.C. Anderson (The Phantom of the Opera, The Life Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby); Stanley Bahorek (See Rock City and Other Destinations, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee); Theresa McCarthy (Titanic, Floyd Collins); Julia Murney (Wicked, The Wild Party, First Lady Suite); Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific, Tales of the City); and Tally Sessions (The House of Blue Leaves, Yank), the ensemble works well together (adeptly moving props, a piano and furniture around the stage, on top of playing their respective roles), displaying a wide range of talent and versatility. Stanley Bahorek was particularly affecting in a tender scene as Mike Taylor, a Soldier, who is a fan of Ms. Taylor.  And, Andrew Samonsky as Frank Russell, Anna's scheming manager, is commanding, both in presence and voice.

Queen of the Mist is the inaugural production of Transport Group's 20th Century Project, a ten-year initiative spanning ten productions, each production focusing on a different decade of the 20th century. The ten productions comprise five musicals and five plays—including three commissioned musicals, two commissioned plays, and five revivals. Queen of the Mist focuses on the decade 1900-1910.

Michael John LaChiusa’s most recent work includes the music and lyrics to Giant, (book by Sybille Pearson); Los Otros, (book by Ellen Fitzhugh); and the score for Maria Aitken’s production of As You Like It at the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C. As a composer, lyricist and librettist, his other works include Bernarda Alba, See What I Wanna See, The Highest Yellow, Little Fish, Hello Again, First Lady Suite, and Break/Agnes/Eulogy for Mister Hamm. Mr. LaChiusa was represented on Broadway during the 1999-2000 season by The Wild Party and Marie Christine, receiving nominations for Best Score and Best Book (with George C. Wolfe on The Wild Party) for each show and he received a Tony nomination for Best Book (Graciela Daniele and Jim Lewis) for Chronicle of a Death Foretold. He has provided scores for the children’s television show on Nick Jr, The Wonder Pets, for which he received two Emmy Awards.

Queen of the Mist has choreography by Scott Rink (Hello Again, Crossing Brooklyn); musical direction by Chris Fenwick (See What I Wanna See); orchestrations by Michael Starobin (Hello Again, Falsettos, Sunday in the Park With George, two-time Tony winner for Next To Normal and Assassins).

The scenic design for Queen of the Mist is by Sandra Goldmark (Hello Again, Drama Desk nominee for The Boys in the Band); costume design is by Kathryn Rohe (The Boys in the Band, Hello Again); lighting design is by R. Lee Kennedy (three-time Drama Desk nominee: The Audience, Bury The Dead, and See Rock City and Other Destinations); sound design is by Walter Trarbach (The Farnsworth Invention, Cymbeline).

The Gym at Judson is a new workout space for the arts in the heart of Greenwich Village. A creative home for both established companies and emerging artists alike, The Gym presents an eclectic mix of new plays and musicals, classics, experimental work, dance, cabaret and music. Occupying the site of a full-size gymnasium with 20-foot ceilings, The Gym is a fully-equipped, multi-use theater, with flexible seating for up to 200.

Queen of the Mist was commissioned by Transport Group Theatre Company and is made possible through major support from The Shen Family Foundation.  Founded in 2001, Transport Group, under the leadership of Jack Cummings III, Artistic Director, and Lori Fineman, Executive Director, is a not-for-profit theatre company that develops and produces work by American playwrights and composers with the aim of exploring the American consciousness in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Queen of the Mist plays Tuesday through Sunday at 8pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2pm, at The Gym at Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson Street at Washington Square South. The evening performance on Saturday, October 29—a gala fundraiser—is at 7:30pm. The schedule for the week of November 8 is Tuesday, Thursday through Saturday at 9pm; Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm; with a Saturday matinee at 4pm. General admission tickets start at $58; premium reserved seating tickets start at $65; opening night tickets are $65; gala fundraiser tickets are $95.  The show runs through November 20th.

For tickets and information, visit or phone 866-811-4111.  You may also visit, and save $10 with code TGMAMA. 

Note: Join the Twitter Party for the Musical: Tuesday, November 9th @ 9PM, #QueenoftheMist

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week 6: Distance Running and Weight Loss by Liimu

First, let me apologize for getting your hopes up if you ended up at my blog after googling "distance running and weight loss." Truth is, my experience has been that distance running alone does not lead to weight loss. It leads to increased hunger and a false sense of security, which if I'm not careful, results in weight gain rather than loss.My connection between distance running and weight loss has more to do with how similar the journeys are. I was running 8 miles this past Sunday, admiring the beautiful trail, adorned with trees of the many colors of the changing leaves, the sounds of the Wissahickon as it babbled alongside me as I ran. I had a momentary tug to try to run faster, get a better overall time, which I quickly dismissed.

I have learned over the years of distance running that if I run a pace that's too fast for me I will quickly get discouraged and either need to stop or at best, feel like I'm struggling through the entire run. If I get the pace right, I feel like I could run forever. And at the end of the run, I have the same sense of satisfaction from having completed the run. Moreover, I often find that my pace is almost exactly the same as it would have been if I'd pushed it harder.

I realized as I jogged along that my weight loss journey is very much the same. If I go at too fast a pace (3-4 pounds a week), I have an unrealistic expectation that I should be able to maintain that pace and then when I can't I get discouraged and stop. The whole point is to finish the journey - to get to my goal weight - and I'll get there faster overall if I just pick a reasonable pace that I can sustain and just keep going no matter what. Pick it up when I hit a downhill slope (maybe when I'm feeling high energy and there are no holidays or birthday parties to deal with) and hunker down and really focus when I'm facing an uphill climb (like this next couple of months).

Anyway, it's really helping me to feel good about my 1-2 pound a week weight loss. In fact, the more reasonable the pace of my weight loss, the more encouraged I become because I know it means I'm doing things in a healthy way that's sustainable for the long haul. I know that I will get there if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

BodyFIT update: One thing that was really neat this week about BodyFIT is that I was totally dragging one day and my BodyFIT told me I had only gotten 6 hrs of sleep! I thought I had gotten more, so it definitely explained my dragginess.

In other BodyFIT news I'm still setting new personal records - my new overall calorie loss record is 3,854 calories in one day and my new overall sleeping record (same day) is 8 hrs 42 min. Oh, and I logged over 22,000 steps!!! How about that?? I'm struggling a little bit with wearing it all the time, but I sure am loving the motivation of tracking how much I'm burning on a regular basis and how well I'm doing from a calorie deficit perspective. You can get your own BodyFIT armband at

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Through Tears Comes Wisdom - by Cara Potapshyn Meyers

She must have cried herself to sleep every night for seventeen months. That's at least how long it would have taken me to put my words onto paper without falling apart.
I am referring to an article I was offered to read. This article was written by a mother whose son has Tay-Sachs disease. A child with this horrendous disease rarely lives to see their third birthday. This woman's son is now 18 months old. Here is the direct link for those who choose to read it: Be warned...have a tissue box in hand. For those who choose not to read the article, I will summarize for you.
Emily Rapp, is a professor of creative writing at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She tells how she had genetic testing for Tay-Sachs, not once, but twice. Both times the results were negative. None of the prenatal testing came back positive. Emily and her husband were excited, looking forward to a happy, healthy baby. They read all the prenatal books to ensure that they would make the best choices for their baby. I can certainly relate. Both my husband and I had $3,000 worth of every genetic test available. We came out with 100% perfect results. Like Rapp, we did the same thing. We read the best books, were staunch advocates for breast feeding, I even put ear phones on my belly for an hour each day, playing classical music while I napped (my son was calmest when Vivaldi or Bach was played). My son was such a sleepy, quiet baby, that at one of my prenatal check-ups, it took almost three hours! The technician needed to take important measurements and my son just would not move. She even called in the doctor, who straddled me and massaged my abdomen to get my son to move. Again, no luck. I ended up having to come back the next day. Thank goodness my son was much more cooperative then.
I look back on my pregnancy, as Rapp must have, with spinning mobiles and fancy bedding dancing in my head. I fantasized about holding my baby in a sling as I did errands, completely non-sleep deprived (I did say it was a fantasy). I was eagerly looking forward to a perfect baby in every way, as I'm sure Rapp was.
I'm not sure when Rapp was given the diagnosis of her son's condition. I do know that the nightmare I had with my son began during labor and only started to wind down about two years ago, once all of my son's disorders were finally identified. My son was six then. Six completely draining years. Six years of ineffective bonding. I regret those six years. But I have developed such an incredibly strong, impenetrable bond with my 8 year-old son, it is as if those first six years never happened. My son doesn't remember. Unfortunately I always will. 
 As I was up with my baby son multiple times per night, with his colic and reflux, for just about three years, I can imagine Rapp welcoming watching her son sleep at night, sighing in his sleep and reaching out to pick him up if he needed comforting. What I viewed as torture, to Rapp would have been, and probably is, the loveliest time of her day. As my son easily had a good twenty-five meltdowns a day, starting at eleven months old, Rapp would probably have embraced laughingly that her son still had so much vigor and fight left in him. When my 18-month old flung his plate of spaghetti and sauce across the kitchen, splattering every wall, floor, and 2 dogs, and I wanted to slide down into a heap and cry. Rapp is probably flinging spaghetti herself, just to hear more laughter come from her son.
Looking back, I wish that I was aware of each of my son's disorders when he was a baby. I blamed myself for my son's uncontrollable nature and didn't realize I had prolonged postpartum depression. I would have forgiven him as well as myself for our lack of bonding those first young years. Rapp is giving her son a gift. A gift he will never be aware of, but she will. And the grief and pain will probably never fully dissipate. But the knowledge that she spent every waking moment (and unslept moment) being fully with her child, must fill her with even a small amount of gratitude. She gave of herself completely. Without self-pity or repressed anger. That is what makes her story so special. She asks the question: How do you parent a child who has no future? You don't. You throw the "rules" out the window and make each day more special than the day before.
She must have cried a bucket full of tears. I know I have. But I still have my precious son with me. She does too. But only for a little while longer.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Motherhood, Like a Fine Wine by Margaret Hart

I'm excited to start blogging for Motherhood Later. I've been a professional writer and editor for more than 20 years, but this is my first time as a blogger. In thinking about my qualifications, I guess I've been blogging since I was a kid. In elementary school, my mother said I'd lay on the living room floor and hum, while writing a story or a poem. In middle and high schools, I wrote letters, had pen pals, and like every teenage girl, I kept a diary. In college, I wrote poetry and short stories, and I kept a journal, encouraged by professors during my semester abroad.

So where to begin? A good introduction, I thought, would be the start of my motherhood journey. I was well over 35, but to be honest, I didn't feel older. Being older has been a gift. While other, younger moms were having their first kids, I was observing and learning, and taking mental notes. When it was my turn, I was scared, but calm and more self-assured. My friends would comment how I just didn't seem to get flustered by the baby and toddler years. It's true no one is ever truly prepared to become a parent, but being an older mom definitely gave me advantages often envied by younger moms.

When you get right down to it, though, whether you become a mom at 25, 35 or 50 (a good friend of mine just became a first-time mom at 50!), we are all faced with most of the same challenges and joys of parenting. Still, I often can't help doing the math. When I'm in my 60s, my son will graduate from college, and hopefully I'll still be cool enough to throw him one hell of a graduation party! When he's in his 40s, chances are I'll be in a nursing home, despite my efforts to stay fit and eat right. I probably won't be here for him like my parents are here for me today. That's reality, but I don't have to like it, and it makes me cry. But being a "glass is half full" kind of person, I tell myself I'm doing everything I can to be the best parent, and hopefully when my time comes, I will have left my son with a legacy of independence, strength, courage, and love to face life's challenges without me.

I admit I sometimes feel sorry for myself, wishing I had married younger and started a family sooner. But had I taken that path, I would have missed out on all the bright lights of the big city that I experienced living and working in New York City in my 20s and 30s as a writer and editor, traveling the world for business and pleasure, and not to mention, dancing until dawn at most of the famous clubs of the 1980s. It wasn't a conscious choice, I just lived my life knowing that when the time was right for me to get married and have a family, it would happen.

Today, I don't really think about being an older mom a lot, and I try not to let myself do the math. When I feel my thoughts drifting there, I remind myself that I am blessed with the most incredible little man in the world. I try to refocus, and to just live in the moment, enjoying the simple and complex pleasures of being a mom. As weird as it sounds, I've enjoyed staying up all night changing bed sheets after rounds of vomiting. I wear it as my badge of motherhood! I know I'm stronger having survived my son's severe allergic reaction to penicillin that nearly hospitalized him. I've developed a thicker skin defending my son against bullies and honed my diplomatic skills with parents who have no boundaries for their children. I've also loved every off-key concert performance, and cherished every home-made Mother's Day present. And I have way too may boxes filled with school projects and artwork.

Most of all, I am grateful for the love and laughter my son brings to me every day, and the opportunity to be a mom -- his mom! Speaking of laughter, I almost peed my pants from laughing so hard when, on the way home from a Halloween event, my 6 1/2 year old son handed his vibrating pumpkin lantern to his best friend and said, "Put this on your penis--it feels good!"

For me, motherhood just keeps getting better, like a fine wine! And I drink it every day!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Smiling through the Pain—by Jamie Levine

Last Tuesday morning, I woke up suspecting I had a sinus infection brewing, and stopped at my internist’s office to pick up a Z-Pak and some nasal spray to fight it off. I took the antibiotic and thought things would be fine…but that evening, wound up in bed as soon as Jayda was asleep, suffering from excruciating head pain, a low-grade fever, and such nausea that I was dry heaving all night long. Wednesday morning, I managed to get Jayda dressed, fed her breakfast, made her lunch, and left my father to put her on the bus while I crawled back to bed. And that afternoon at the ENT, I was prescribed a much stronger antibiotic and steroids after the doctor verified what I already knew: My sinus infection was a horrible one—and no match for Zithromax.

After seeing my ENT, I raced to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions, scarfed down a small bag of pretzels to fill my empty (and still queasy) stomach before taking my first dose of pills, and got to Jayda’s school just in time to pick her up for her ice skating lesson. I knew how much Jayda looks forward to her weekly lesson, and despite my horrible discomfort, I didn’t want her to miss it. Usually, I get Jayda to the rink early, put on a pair of skates, myself, and we skate together for awhile before her lesson—as well as after it’s over. But when I buckled Jayda into her car seat this week, I informed her, “Mommy’s really sick today so I’m not going to skate with you.”
Jayda responded, “That’s ok, Mommy! I’ll skate by myself before my lesson—and after, too.”
I smiled and drove to the rink, and, as we headed through the park gates, swerved to the side of the road, threw my car door open, and puked in the street.

“Mommy! Did you just throw up?” Jayda asked.
“Yes, honey, I did.”
“So…we can throw up in the potty, in the sink, and in garbage pails. And now we can do it in the street, too!”
In an effort to keep Jayda from throwing up in her bed—or on me—when she has the stomach flu, I’ve tried to teach her that she should at least attempt to race to the bathroom when she feels nauseous. Clearly, she’d learned that lesson. And now I’d expanded her repertoire.

At the rink, I managed to lace up Jayda’s skates, and help her put on her helmet, gloves, and jacket. I apologized again for not being able to skate with her, but she marched off with barely a glance back at me, and hit the rink to skate on her own. I watched her glide across the ice as best as I could, but spent most of the time during her lesson with my head in my hands, leaning on the glass in agony.

Library Guy and his kids also skate at the rink that we go to, as his boys both take lessons there on Wednesdays, too, and Jayda likes to skate with them as much as she can. However, a few weeks ago, I finally told Library Guy off—and insisted that he stay away from me (he’d been worming his way back into my life and my affections…with no intentions of making any commitment to me)—and since then, I've completely frozen him out. I refuse to speak to him about anything other than the kids (they adore each other—and I adore his boys—so I won’t force Jayda to avoid them), but when I see him at the rink, I try not to look at him or talk to him as much as possible. It hurts not to spend time with him—but it hurts more when I think of how badly he's treated me. However, as I stood turning green outside the rink, he saw me, and came over to see if I was ok—and to offer to take Jayda home for me. I turned him down and walked away. Later, he offered again. And still later, after hearing me beg Jayda to get off the ice because I needed to go home and be sick, he coaxed her inside, and insisted on taking off her skates for her. I suppose he was just trying to be nice—and was certainly trying to offset the guilt he had about his behavior towards me the prior few weeks—but it still upset me to see him helping and caring. I walked away feeling violated and angry.

On the car ride home, Jayda remarked, “Mommy—I really like Library Guy's kids."
I responded, enthusiastically, “Me, too, Jayda.”
Then she continued, “But I don’t like Library Guy so much anymore…”
“Really?” I asked. I’d never said anything bad about Library Guy to Jayda because I know how much he and she adore each other, and don’t want to taint that relationship, or Jayda's image of him. But I wondered if she’d picked up on my hurt feelings, and was showing her loyalty to me. “How come?”
“I really don’t like his new haircut. It looks really, really bad!”
“Yeah, Jayda, it does look bad,” I laughed, as I smiled at her in the rearview mirror. And she smiled back.
“Are you feeling better, Mommy?”
“Yeah, baby, I am a little.” And I was. Because having Jayda around can make any pain seem less severe....everything from sinus ache to heartache.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Five Lessons Learned While Waiting for Labor to Begin by Leta Hamilton

My house is a mess, and I don’t feel ready to have a baby, but my body is saying, “READY! READY!” Can’t I have everything exactly the way I want it before bringing this baby into the world? There is nothing in my medical history or past birth experiences to merit anything other than a vaginal delivery of baby #4. I know, for me, this is the way it is meant to be. For other moms, a scheduled c-section or induced labor is par for the course. And while a part of me may envy their foreknowledge of when and where their baby will come, I also have a deep reverence for the route I am going. In this time of “any time now,” I am learning five important lessons about what it means to be at peace in an uncertain world.

1. Not knowing when my baby is coming forces me to be present in a way that is otherwise rare. I took out my calendar this morning and looked at my plans for the week, knowing that they may or may not happen – and also knowing that if I missed a meeting because of bringing new life into the world, it would be ok. I am grateful for the opportunity to be present with my body, my family and my schedule. It is a refreshing change from the norm!

2. The waiting and the messy house gives me an opportunity to work on those areas that mean the most to me and let go of the rest. What can I live with? Where do I want to deploy my energetic resources when every time I walk through the house I feel like a whale swimming through molasses? Today I showed my husband where the baby blankets, newborn clothes and diapers were. Secure in the knowledge that I won’t have to think about these things when I am pushing out my baby, I feel like that is pretty much it – we are ready.

3. I am practicing self-compassion and taking the time to rest so I have the energy to do the things I most want to do. Yesterday I had three things in my schedule and I did none of them. Today I have two things that I don’t want to miss and I have the energy to attend them because I took other, less important things, off the agenda yesterday. I am learning how to make compassionate choices that create more harmony within. Physically, I may feel like a whale, but the peace that comes with self-compassion more than makes up for it.

4. Looking into the future is a game. Will he come before or after Halloween? He may be born on Halloween for all I know. All of this uncertainty is a metaphor for how life treats us generally. There are always unforeseen events in our existences. This is a given. Having this time to deal with a big unknown gives me tools for dealing with the surprises that I know are forthcoming. Giving birth over to nature allows me to participate in the cycle of life in a way that is congruent, not adversarial. This flow brings overall peace and I am grateful.

5. Finally, the mystery about the exact day and time I will go into labor brings complications into the picture that serve to enhance my ability to surrender what I cannot control over to the universe. There is a saying, “If you have a problem and can do something about it, why worry? If you have a problem and can do nothing about it, why worry?” It will be alright, no matter what mania surrounds me in the first moments of active labor. I know this. I may not be ready for a nighttime birth with my two year old sleeping next to me, but I know that in the moment I will have a solution. This is faith and a sprinkle of it over my overall approach to life has much needed benefits to my peace of mind.

All of the above are guiding lights toward a peaceful heart in the midst of chaos. As every mom knows, family brings an abundance of that. I know this time of waiting is a deepening of tolerance for whatever mayhem awaits me. With 4 kids ages 7 and under, I need this growth to my spiritual perspective. It’s perfect just the way it is – whale belly swimming through molasses and everything.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Forever Different by Sharon O'Donnell

Today I'm on my way to tour the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with my husband and our 17-year-old son. It's one of the colleges to which he has already applied, but he has not yet taken an official campus tour. The school offers several of the majors he is considering and has made national surveys in the up and coming type categories. Of course, the university is in Wilmington, which is on the coast and near several beaches -- a definite plus. As a matter of fact, I've been on the Internet searching for the best seafood restaurant to go to after the tour. (Haven't told my husband this yet -- but we have to eat, and eating on a deck by the ocean sure beats stopping on the interstate for fast food.)

It's extremely hard to believe that my son is old enough to go to college. My oldest son, Billy, is a junior in college already, and I'm just now finally getting used to having him gone. And now it's time for son #2 to take that step. Thank God I still have my youngest son at home with me or I think I'd be a basket case. Families do change quickly though as the kids get older. They are still your kids of course, but once they leave, it's different. Forever different. I find myself getting misty-eyed when I'm shopping and see moms out with their young sons - - particularly when the boys are brothers spaced age-wise about the way my oldest two boys are -- three years in between. I can't help myself. All those times when my boys were little and people would say to cherish those times -- well, I was too caught up in the present then to really pay attention. And I thought it would happen gradually -- that I could feel it happen gradually -- and I guess in a way it is gradual as they do things like get a driver's license, shave, and date. But overall, it doesn't feel gradual at all. One minute he is at the dinner table with us or battling his brother for the shower, and then the next minute he's not here. Nothing gradual about that at all.

So I have to learn to adapt, to accept the fact that my family dynamics will never be the same as they used to be. My sons are successful and talented young men, and I'm proud of them and want them to pursue their dreams wherever they take them. Independence is a part of that. But I've found I can never be fully independent from them. They are my life. Sure, I have my own dreams and goals that I still pursue, but I don't mind saying that they truly are the essence of my life. Always will be.

I was sitting on the couch last night with my youngest son, Jason, 11. We were watching the complete season 2 of the show The Middle (great show, if you haven't checked it out) and laughing out loud at the mishaps that hit very close to home for us. One episode was about how the youngest child in that family had to always go with his mother to run her errands, and Jason could relate to that very well. At the end of the episode, the boy's mother explained to him that one reason she made him go with her everywhere was that she liked hanging out with him since her other kids were teens and didn't do anything with her anymore. As Jason leaned his head against my head and pulled a blanket up over me, I calculated how long it would be before he would be going off to college.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Hebrew School by Robin Gorman Newman

My son started Hebrew school this fall.

I didn't become Bat Mitzvah. In fact, I was a young Hebrew School dropout.  Until I had my tonsils removed, I had so many sore throats that attending became nearly impossible...or at least that's my recollection of why Hebrew School fell by the waistside.  True or not, I never thought twice about it.  I didn't have any girlfriends who attended, and I didn't know the difference.

As a family, we celebrated the primary Jewish holidays at home, and went to temple for the High Holidays. We exchanged Hanukkah gifts and lit the menorah.  We ate matzoh during Passover. My parents lit Yahrzeit candles for their parents, something you do in honor of the deceased.  That was pretty much the extent of religious observance in our household.

Fast foward some decades, and my son is now 8, and on the road to a Bar Mitzvah.  I'd like to think Seth, Marc and I are all on the path to an amazing trip to Jerusalem, where Seth partakes in a service at the Wall, and we later celebrate by floating in the Dead Sea and take in all the beauty, history and spirituality that is Israel. This is my dream Bar Mitzvah.  It would be hugely memorable.  But, I'm not at all certain that my husband and I are on the same page.

Marc was raised in a household by a mother born in Germany and rasied in Israel.  She speaks and writes Hebrew.  I do neither.  My husband and his brother both became Bar Mitvah.  And, my son's brother has already Bar Mitzvahed two of his three sons, with the third not far behind.

The Bar Mitvah for his middle son was lavish, to say the least. It was a swanky black tie county club affair, with separate dining and party areas for the kids and teens. A retired baseball player signed balls.  Multiple bands.  No doubt it cost a pretty penny, and was over in a flash, despite months of arduous planning and expense.

It was not at all my style. At this point in my life, I treasure the people I feel connected to, and to have a huge event to "keep up with the Jones" isn't something I care to host.  Yet, it is what many Jewish families do. Do we have to follow the pack?  Would the temple we belong to expect us to Bar Mitzvah there?  It brings in good money to synagogues, and fundraising is always important for them.  I suppose we could do a small kiddush after the Bar Mitzvah, but then Seth might compare it to friends of his who might have their own swanky party.

Time will tell.

In the meantime, we have to get through Hebrew school or some sort of Jewish study so he is capable of a Bar Mitzvah.  He attends on Tuesdays after school.  Our preference was a Sunday morning, but the Reformed temple we joined didn't offer that.  After school isn't ideal.  It's a lot of concentration to expect after a full day in third grade, followed by homework, bath, dinner, etc.  The evening takes on a bit of a frenzy.  I agreed to try out the school and see how Seth does, with the understanding that if it doesn't work for me, we'll explore private studies.  So far, he's been a trooper, though a reluctant one at times. 

I know that attending synagogue is very important to some people.  I have a non-Jewish friend whose son attends Hebrew school (his father is Jewish), and she has embraced the religion and gets much out of Torah study with the rabbi.  She loves to learn and share the wisdom she takes in with her son.  I admire that. I do believe in spirituality and have yet to integrate the temple into my regular activities, but who knows?!  Maybe it will take on greater meaning to me?  I am making an effort to be present for special activities there, to show my son that this can be a fun family experience.

Ultimately, Seth will know way more than I about Judaism. He'll share that understanding with his father.  How he chooses to apply it to his life and future family will be his own decision.  We'll know that we raised him with some level of tradition, and what's important about a Bar Mitzvah is that he will be a young man recognized in the Jewish community, and that, alone, makes the occasion momentous, regardless of how or where it's performed.. My little buddy (who will always be little in my eyes) will be growing up.  He's come a long way since his Bris, and I treasure witnessing his development every day.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week 5, Trust the Process by Liimu

So, this was an interesting week. Last Thursday, I snuck a peek at the scale and was PISSED to see that I was up from where I was the previous week. I started to chalk it up to a visit from Aunt Flow, but then realized that her visit was more than a week off yet. Dammit. Must just be that yet again, this whole process isn’t working. Why isn’t it working??

Now, in the past what I have done is say f*** it and hit the cupboards for anything salty or chocolate-y I can find. Well, I am happy to report that this week I took a very different approach and decided to at least eliminate the human error component of what might not be working about my plan. I tightened up my food even more and hit the gym even harder. I went through the whole weekend taking special care to watch my sodium intake and up my water to 5 liters from four, just in case I was somehow holding onto water thanks to the occasional pretzel knot I’d been enjoying along with my kids.

My weight didn’t drop much – I was still up .8 by my official weigh in day, but what did surprise me was that good old Aunt Flow showed her ugly face five days early! It was PMS, after all! Good thing I didn’t throw in the towel. In fact, if I look back on the past six months, that pattern is exactly why I still have 40 pounds of baby weight to lose. I would have an expectation of what I wanted the scale to do (an occurrence over which I have absolutely no control) and then when that expectation wasn’t met, I would get frustrated, lose faith in the process and sabotage all my efforts. There’s a saying in recovery that “an expectation is a resentment waiting to happen.”
So, just for this week, I have had a small triumph in that I pushed through the discomfort and frustration and stayed the course. I hope to have a victory as a reward for my efforts when I step on the scale next week. Either way, at least I have learned that when my body is acting like something strange is happening (like a hormonal shift due to the onset of my period), it probably is.

BodyMedia FIT update: I’m still enjoying the BodyMedia FIT band a lot. I wish it were thinner, as I feel a little self-conscious wearing it all the time, but fortunately I can leave it off if I need to (like when I have a meeting to attend) and then manually enter any exercise information, if necessary. They’ve recently released a new product called the BodyMedia CORE, which is a lot thinner. Lucky you all who get to purchase that one! It’s really my only complaint right now, and given the fact that I’m used to wearing my iPhone on my arm while running to track my distance, it’s a pretty minor complaint, at that. I did hit some personal bests this week. On October 16 (my long run day), I :

- burned 3840 calories
- took over 22,000 steps
- was active for nearly 2.5 hours

Coincidentally, that’s also the day I got the most sleep. Tee hee! I like having these notifications, because it motivates me to compete in what I think is the most healthy way possible: against myself.

More next week – don’t miss it!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cara's Fabulous Finds and a Backpack Giveaway - by Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Lisa Damiani's
StarRock for Kids
1989 Star Search Winner, Lisa Diamani, created a premiere CD compilation featuring kids ages five to seventeen! These talented kids sing hits from past decades to today's hottest songs on this new CD!
Curator of talent and Founder/CEO Lisa Diamani wanted to create a platform to provide all children an equal opportunity to express their creativity regardless of economical or geographical challenges. 
As a top vocal coach in NYC, Diamani hopes that StarRock for Kids will encourage both introverted and extroverted children a way to pursue their dreams. Lisa says, "I wanted to create StarRock for Kids not as a talent competition, but as a way for children to gain confidence and express their creativity."
StarRock for Kids CD features 18 songs from various decades, including S.O.S. (Rihanna), Holiday (Madonna), It's a Beautiful Life (Ace of Base), Girlfriend (Avril Levigne), Makes Me Wonder (Maroon 5), You Make Me Feel So Young (Frank Sinatra), If I Can't Have You (Yvonne Elliman), and L-O-V-E (Nat King Cole).
I listened to the CD with my eight-year-old son and his music loving friend. Although they performed their own "moves" to all of the songs, they particularly enjoyed, "See You Later Alligator", "Boogie Oogie Oogie", "We Got the Beat", and "Funkytown". Command performances were requested for each of these favorites! I am sure girls would choose more of the emotional songs as their favorites. The CD as a whole, though, was a hit with my son and his friend! I would definitely use it for my son's next party or special event!

StarRock for Kids is available online at or at major retailers such as Target and Walmart.

Z-Access 3D Display Frames
Have you ever wanted to display souvenirs, keepsakes or other memorabilia, but have found that traditional shadowboxes just don't work? Then the 3D Display Frames are just for you!
Z-access Display Frames allow you to showcase your most treasured items in full 3D. Your items are safely protected against dust, moisture or fingerprints. With innovative polymer film technology along with do-it-yourself simple assembly, the Z-Access Display Frames suspend your special items in an affordable, moisture resistant, worry-free way. The slightly tacky film stretches to fit a wide range of shapes and sizes. It is puncture resistant, will not damage delicate surfaces and leaves no sticky residue.
My son collects real shark teeth. He has 2 large ones that were just sitting on his shelf, collecting dusk, with no place to meaningfully display them. I placed them in the Z-Access 3D Frame. We now have his treasured shark teeth, suspended in a frame that allows him to see all sides of them! (See photo). No more clutter, mess or dust! I would like to buy more frames to use for several of his other "treasures"!

What is even better is the fact that the Z-Access Display Frames conform to virtually any shape and still afford a tactile experience without any damage to the item itself. And, unlike shadowboxes, the Z-Access Display Frame allows you to touch the items and feel their unique texture without the risk of damage.

Each 6" x 4" frame can hold up to three pounds. It also couldn't be simpler to use: open the frame, place your item inside the film and close the frame. If you want to change the item in the frame, just pop open the frame and swap out the items. The memory-film will reshape to fit almost any new item of similar depth. The film inserts can also be replaced, with no need to replace the entire frame.
Z-Access Display Frames are available in three models: a Stand Alone version with a fixed base for $12.99, a Slimline rotating frame-within-a-frame for 360 degree viewing for $16.99 and an Executive rotating frame-within-a-frame for $29.99.
For more information, or to purchase a Z-Access Display Frame, visit
Company Kids / Backpack Giveaway

Company Kids is very graciously giving our readers a chance to win a child’s backpack! Even though school is in session, I know that a Mom can never enough of anything when it comes to kids! In fact, just last week, my son’s backpack was dangling from the kitchen chair and water had pooled underneath. When I looked closer, I found the dripping coming from the bottom of my son’s backpack! His water bottle was not closed fully and was on it’s side, soaking the bottom of his backpack. Out came my spare for him to use the next day while this one dried!
Children also need different backpacks for events they participate in. Sometimes they simply forget to bring it home from school. Others simply wear out by mid-year.
I was able to to see one of the actual backpacks being used for the Giveaway. I was highly impressed! The backpacks are high quality, durable canvas. It comes with adjustable straps, side and front pockets, even a small pouch inside for change or small items to tuck away! It can also be personalized with a monogram from a variety of fonts and colors to choose from!

To enter this giveaway, tell us why you would like a Company Kids backpack and how old your child(ren) are. Include your name and e-mail so that we can contact you. You must post a comment by October 30, 2011 to be entered to win. Winners will be chosen at random.
Good luck!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: Killing the Dream by Amy Wall Lerman

On October 5th of this month, I put an end to my reproductive life.

Having lived through thirteen years of abnormal bleeding which has always taken a toll on my health and quality of life, I came to the painful decision that it was time to take care of myself and stop fantasizing about having more biological children. So after months of deliberating and internal struggle, I decided to have an endometrial ablation which effectively put an end to my ability to bear children. It's a procedure that removes the lining of the uterus so that the endometrium can no longer develop. And, of course, without that valuable lining, a fetus cannot survive and periods cease for good. I'm 46 years old, I'm not menopausal, and while there are many women out there becoming pregnant at my age, either naturally or with the help of medical technology, for me the dream had to be put to rest.

Here is why I made the decision and why it was so hard to get there. When I was 32 years old I started to bleed erratically – spotting for six weeks at a time or heavy bleeding for several days straight – sometimes hemorrhaging to the point of missing work and spending a lot of time on the phone with my doctor. My cycle was never regular and when I did bleed it was almost always heavy and painful.

I was in a relationship when I was 32 but it was a rocky one, and my boyfriend was not ready for kids so I worked very hard with my doctors to keep my reproductive health in tact until I was ready to have a child whether with him or without him (preferably the latter). I always knew having a child would require the aid of reproductive science so I made it my job was to keep my uterus intact and keep the dream alive. Even then I wasn't 100 percent sure I wanted children, but there was no way I was going to let my body dictate my choice.

When I was in a stable relationship at 40 years old my husband and I were told if wanted a child we would have to go directly for IVF and we had no time to waste because age was against my eggs. What? No Clomid? No IUI? Straight for the hard stuff, huh? So we took the doctors' advice and went for it; a couple of times. When I was 42, after IVF with PGD (Pre-Genetic Diagnosis) I gave birth to my beloved Evan – a miracle and a blessing because things were not looking good for us. Out of 9 embryos, only one had normal chromosomes and that turned out to be my little boy.

My story is not unlike many of yours – at least those of you who underwent fertility treatment. What may be different is the level to which I fantasized about becoming pregnant again despite the fact that I did not want to go through IVF again; or the level of grief over the death of a dream, or maybe even my level of masochism at not knowing when enough is enough. When I really thought about it – and oh I really thought about it - I didn't want any more kids. Evan is perfect, and I love being his mommy. He's enough for me. He's my dream come true. But I wasn't ready to kill the fantasy of having a house full of kids; of having a Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by a big family; or of having twenty-five grandchildren 30 years from now. How do I put an end to a dream I've worked so long to preserve?

You'd think I would have made up my mind this past August when, in the ladies room at Disney World, I watched blood run down my legs as I dug for one of my son's diapers so I could make it through the "electric light parade." After cursing-out my husband and going into a funk for the next few hours, I should have called it quits right then and there. I should have realized that if I continued on that path I would not be able to be the kind of mother I want to be, the kind of healthy woman I should be, and the kind of wife my husband would prefer. No, instead I thought I could keep going – keep the dream alive. I wasn't ready to let go even if my health was at risk. Even when I was told I was severely anemic, I still thought I could keep my options open.

What made me change my mind in the end? I think it was something my mother said. She reminded me that when I was 10 years old, she took me for my first bra – much against my will. This was not an exciting day for me. I was a "Tom-Boy" and I did not want to wear a bra. And sure enough I was teased at school and had to tell the little girls snapping my strap that it was a bathing suit for after-school swim class. At 11 years old I got my period. I cried and cried. How would I play kickball now? How would I ride my bike? How would I hide this horrible secret from my friends? I was a shy kid and my developing body would not let me hide. My mother reminded me that I had always felt betrayed by my body - that it had always had a mind of its own and never did what I wanted it to do and things were no different now.

But there is one significant difference this time – and that is that I have control. I can stop my body from doing what I don't want it to do. While it involves a death of a dream, it also involves the birth of renewed life – for me. My quality of life will improve. I will be happier. I will be healthier. I will be the person I want to be – for the first time in a very long time. Periods be damned. This is my time and I'm making the best of it. My family will be a small one, but my new dream is to make it a happy one.

Amy Wall Lerman, Editor the Motherhood Later...Than Sooner eZine, Baby Bloomer, is a television producer, freelance writer and editor. She is the author of several books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Critical Reading and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games. Her poetry has been published in the online literary journal Patchwork. Amy lives in New Jersey with her husband and 4-year old son.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Putting It Out There—by Jamie Levine

Back when I was in my early 30's, I had a good friend who was perpetually husband-hunting, and used to ask everyone whom she met to set her up. If she ever found herself chatting to a woman in the grocery store, and somehow the fact that my friend was single arose, she would shamelessly ask, "do you know any nice single Jewish guys?" I used to laugh at her antics, but she sure scored a lot of dates. And, ultimately, she snagged a nice Jewish husband, to whom she's still happily married (though she met him on her own—not through a set-up).

I’m blessed with a multitude of really good friends—both female and male—who know how badly I’d like to be a relationship again, but who rarely introduce me to dateable men. Not because they don’t love me, or think I’m a “catch,” but because they don’t know anyone great—and single—whom they think is my match. So, I’m on my own. Post-breakup with Library Guy, I attempted online dating, and found it pretty disappointing. I’ve also hit several bars—and met a few guys—but no one who’s left me smitten. I’ve flirted at the gym, as well as at the playground with Jayda, and come across a handful of appealing—but married—guys. And it’s been frustrating. Very. In my heart, I’ve always believed that a good man will fall into my lap, organically—at a soccer game with Jayda, while picking out produce in the supermarket, or in the children’s room of the library (been there, done that). But right now, I don’t feel like waiting for Mr. Right to come along. I want to do a lot of dating. I want to balance out mommy-hood and the stresses of graduate student life with some good, old-fashioned, grown-up fun.

Thus, I’ve started opening up my big mouth even more than usual. The other day, Jayda and I were invited to an old friend’s house for dinner, and soon after we arrived, my friend’s younger sister stopped by. I greeted her, and after asking about her kids and the status of her job, I blurted out, “do you know any nice, appealing single men?” She laughed, paused, and then said “let me think about that for awhile…I may!” Five minutes later, she told me she was having a birthday party for her husband the following night and said I should stop by. My friend asked her, “will there be any single men there?” and she responded, “maybe one or two…” As fate would have it, I couldn’t make it to the party—but it was nice to have the option.

Similarly, as I was lamenting about my singledom with a woman I know from the locker room at my gym (whose husband works at the front desk), she asked me what kind of man I was looking for. I told her: Someone athletic and fit, from 36-48 years-old (though I’m flexible on those numbers), preferably with a kid or two (and if not—someone who won’t expect me to have more with him), and someone who’s good with kids. Of course, like any woman, I want my mate to be affectionate, generous, kind, and have a good job—but I’m not wrapped up in trivial details like his height, religion, or whether or not he’s super-hot. I’m discerning—but not super-picky! Days later, she said she might have a guy for me—and that her husband was on the case, too. In the midst of our conversation, another woman walked by and smiled at my friend’s remark, so I caught her eye and said “hey—if you know anyone great who is single, please keep me in mind.” The woman smiled again—possibly because she thought I was crazy—but hey, you never know.

I’m pretty self-sufficient—stubborn, too—so I generally take care of myself, and all of my needs, on my own. And I must admit that most of the men I’ve dated in the past have been men I’ve met without anyone's help. But desperate times require desperate measures, and I’m finally learning that it doesn’t hurt to ask for some help when you need it. So…blog-readers…do you know any wonderful single men with whom you can set me up? Who knows what might happen! At the very least, it could make for an interesting blog…

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