Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Good Summer Read -- Light and Easy

As a mom who loves reading, sometimes when my head hits the pillow at night I am so tired that the last thing I want to do is read to shut my brain off from the work and parenting day. All I want to do is sleep.

Before having a child, I read a lot. In fact, much of that time on reading was on James Patterson novels. However, I read too many in a row and would start to have nightmares and wake my husband, who then banned me from not reading Patterson books in a row without a book break with another type or style in between. So, rather than take a break from Patterson all together, I started to weave in some Chick Lit, a type of fiction that addresses issues of modern womanhood with humor and a more laid back approach. I have to tell you, there is something to be said about light reading with no pretense. This was very welcoming.

I have even become more involved in reading Chick Lit including authors such as Jane Green, Lauren Wiesberger and Emily Giffin, just to name a few, more so than I have with crime fiction.

Much of this new approach to reading had to do with time being available and to be able to focus on a good read without as much available time watching my daughter in the water at the beach, not commuting to work anymore (which thankfully I don’t really have to do any more with my great job that enables me to work from home) and the plethora of after school or camp activities.

Therefore, when I do read, I do have to find something that grabs me. I do get pulled in by a cover, but if the summary either on the book jacket or back cover doesn’t catch my fancy, then I put it down.

As a blogger, recently, I was offered an opportunity to read a new Jane Green novel titled Summer Secrets.  At first I thought, I don’t have time but then read the summary and was hooked. Green has done it again, she has grabbed my interest and am now reading this novel, which is engaging, charming and an easy read.

So, while my speed is a bit slow in reading this book due to time, I have to say that after reading two other fiction books about 30 pages in for each and having to put them down, I am still going strong on this new read, and am nearly halfway through.  I am invested in the characters. While it’s obviously predictable, it’s good story telling with seemingly attractive visuals that I would like to be on Nantucket too right now.

If you are looking for an easy and light read that allows you to turn off your life and become devoted to the main characters that are strong female leads, then this is a book for you. It is a great summer read and one I encourage. It’s necessary to shut off parenting and work, and other activities, and invest in your interests. Why not do so with this book?


Disclosure: I was fortunate to receive a complimentary copy of this book to read and share a blog, and post my experience and recommendation on social media. I would be happy to share this book with the first reader who reaches out and would like to give it a go as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Myth Busted: Getting a Grip for our Teeth


I was recently invited to an event for an opportunity to flex my blogger muscles, which was great, and to learn that dentures are actually not just for the grandparents. As a parenting blogger I was interested to learn that more than 53 percent of people who wear dentures were aged 44 or younger according to a survey conducted by Survata, an independent research firm and commissioned by the GSK Consumer Healthcare group, the makers of Polident and Poligrip products.


There isn’t a time I don’t worry when Sarah is playing a sport such as soccer or gymnastics or even time in the playground that she can suffer a tooth injury to her adult teeth. She has broken her wrists, why not her teeth? And, these traumatic tooth injuries can happen and do happen in kids and young adults, more often then we care to admit.

As parents we want the best for our kids. So going to this event and getting an education was my responsibility especially because dental issues can arise due to genetics, and I have a family history of periodontal disease that I would like to prevent for Sarah, as much as I am able to. The good news, Sarah has been to the dentist every year since her first year of life, getting comfortable with a dentist, learning about the importance of healthy teeth and proper care methods.

For me personally, I was often petrified of the dentist, having braces at a very young age, and then in my 20s, I experienced an abscess in one of my molars that was so painful and led to the tooth having to get pulled. I decided that instead of doing an implant I would have the bridge option.

Who would have thought that my temporary bridge was actually a partial denture.

It’s so funny the language that is used with young adults, because we are so vain. Whether it’s partial teeth or bridges, these are dentures.

So, during this time, I was encouraged by my dentist to carry along with me some adhesive cream in case my temporary bridge or partial denture fell out and needed extra support to keep it in place. I was warned by the dentist not to put too much in and following the directions to just add a few drops.

As you can imagine, the first time the bridge fell out I ignored my dentist’s recommendations and the instructions and felt I needed to add more adhesive to make sure it wouldn’t fall out. While my bridge didn’t fall out, I had to make up for all the extra saliva that developed in my mouth as result of the unnecessary excess product that was oozing out. I learned my lesson, you can be sure of that.

The thought of my bridge falling out was stressful; however, it didn’t stop me from going out and spending time with friends and family. While waiting for my permanent bridge to be ready and be placed for good, I actually made sure to stay away from some specific foods so as not to risk my bridge falling out. You can bet I was ready to use the cream, and not too much, should I need it. It came as no surprise, also from this survey, that as many as 56 percent of people who wear dentures also avoided certain foods because of concerns of getting food stuck. It’s funny how it’s not until you have these temporary teeth that you start to think about what you consume, more so, for fear of your teething falling out.

I learned, at this event that many people with dentures actually avoid favorite foods and sometimes even avoid social events fearing that their dentures would fall out. Having been in that position before, and with the right tools to help manage, I realized that these individuals don’t have to hide any more.

In two decades since my abscess, medical and health advancements have evolved. To hear about the Polident line of products and to see them used in a demonstration, had me convinced that they work, and that learning more about what can be done to manage dentures and to help avoid pitfalls, was reassuring.

There is so much excitement and joy to be had with friends, and even with meeting new people, that it’s unfortunate that people with dentures actually run home to avoid these settings.


Seeing what full and partial dentures can do for a smile damaged by disease, genetics, trauma or poor dental care in youth, I was amazed at how beautiful these smiles are. They should not be hidden but instead out for all to see. I was sad to hear that 35 percent of people with dentures don’t live their lives to the fullest, and keep walls up.

Many of us think of TV or the movies, and dentures in a clear glass on the night stand before bed. However, wearing them all day, people with these temporary teeth, need support to help them stay in, and to stay confident. It was great to hear that GSK Consumer Healthcare group has an entire line or products for all types of people with dentures to best suit their needs. Check them out at www.mydenturecare.com


Importantly, I learned that people who wear dentures, young and old, that we shouldn’t use toothpaste or bleach to clean them. While our regular teeth are strong, dentures are made of plastic and can be damaged as a result including scratching of the surface, discoloration, plaque build-up and so much more.

Not only was I fortunate to be a part of this event for the education, and the great eats, some of which I look forward to making soon, I want to also thank the GSK Consumer Healthcare group, as it just so happens that my town was in a blackout without power, at the time of the event, for quite some time due to a tornado-like storm. Being able to get to the City for the event, and then to bring home some vegetable goodies to our bare fridge was great, and you can bet we all had delicious salads and a great conversation, thanks to you.

Disclosure: GSK is a client for the agency that I do work with. I am so glad that I was able to go because it was a good learning experience the knowledge I gained was tremendous.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Rare Type of Epilepsy – Dravet Syndrome

I may be familiar with the disease epilepsy but I had never before this year known of a severe form of the disease called Dravet Syndrome (also known Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy), and that it tends to begin in childhood. Dravet Syndrome, from what I have learned, occurs in a specific gene called SCN1A, which is a sodium channel in the brain, that doesn’t work.

Do you know someone with the disease or even a parent of a child with the disease?

I have a friend whose daughter is my daughter’s age, and she has had more seizures from another type of epilepsy in her short life than I could ever imagine. I also had a former boyfriend with a type of epilepsy, and always knew where his medication was at all times should he ever need it, and to know when to act to get him help should he need it.

Can you imagine that this is what some families experience as their “normal”?

I was most surprised by what I learned from the Epilepsy Foundation, and here are some alarming and disturbing statistics:

  • As many as 3 million people in U.S., and another 65 million worldwide, suffer from epilepsy
  • As little as 40,000 are diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome; the disease is diagnosed during infancy and can be lifelong
  • Most staggering is that, as many as 200,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed each year
  • Epilepsy receives far less financial support from the government despite being more prevalent that Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Parkinson’s Disease combined
  • In over 30 percent of patients, seizures cannot be controlled with treatment
  • Because as many as 80% of Dravet Syndrome patients have the gene mutation SCN1A that leads to problems in how ions work in the brain and thus these patients are not as responsive to medication. In fact, there are some sodium blockers that can worsen seizures.
  • Also, most of the diagnosed kids ages six and up are likely experience developmental disabilities.
Another friend of mine, Jaime, (the super mom to right) has a child with Dravet Syndrome. This rare form of epilepsy puts patients at a high risk of getting seizures. She and her husband Jason always amaze me. To help manage their daughter’s condition, while raising two other healthy children, together they have researched and decided that a special high-fat, low carbohydrate diet called ketogentic (also known as The Keto diet), was the best approach for them to stave off their child’s seizures. In fact, their daughter has not had a seizure in over two years, and that’s impressive.

The Keto diet, as it is also referred to by the community of families impacted by this disease, is no ordinary diet. It’s strict. It produces what’s called ketones, which are formed when the body uses fat for its source of energy. Thus, fats become the necessary fuel.  Apparently, the higher the level of ketone levels the more improved control there is of seizures.

Jamie and Jason (pictured left with their kids) often have their scale and calculator where ever they go, to prepare and measure food that their daughter can eat, and are often rifling through pages of food options and measurements to make sure their daughter is fed well, with the right of amount of calories and fat, and so much more. 

What’s even more amazing is that they have become such a great team and work so well together to help their daughter. Even more, their daughter has learned about life with and without seizures and has gone along with the restricted diet to help reduce, or in this case eliminate, her seizures. 

I am always amazed at what Jamie and Jason do, and continue to do, to help their daughter, and also to raise awareness Dravet Syndrome.  There are so many activities, fundraisers and events they are involved with to help put this disease more on the map.

To think, managing a healthy baby, especially in the first year is challenging, I can’t even imagine what it is like with a child with special needs, let alone a rare condition.

Dravetfoundation.org, a non-profit organization started by parents of a child with the disease, is a community committed to awareness of the disease, and to motivate much-needed research. The group also offers grants for syndrome-specific research. Their role is to help move forward the medical community to finding better treatments and a cure while assisting with patients and their families coping with this disease.

Jaime and Jason also chronicle their own experience online at theketochronicles.blogspot.com. There you can also hear about their experiences first hand, fall head over heels for their adorable and precocious daughter, and their ongoing journey with Dravet Syndrome. Jamie says, “The first few months getting adjusted to this diet is important. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be tough. Your kid is going to want out. Stick with it, I implore you. It has worked for us and we still hit snags in the road, with our daughter not wanting to do this anymore and wanting a special treat. Being reminded of being seizure-free for over two years keeps us going.”

Raising children is a hard job. Doing so with a special needs child is even tougher. Mommy’s Point of View has signed up to support Dravet Syndrome and will continue to do so to help raise much-needed awareness and funds. If you would like to donate, as every penny counts, visit here.

Being in public relations, it is very hard to sit quietly and not do my part to help spread the word. So, I wanted to take this time to acknowledge Jamie and Jason for their incredible and tireless efforts for Dravet Syndrome, and for their daughter, and wanted to acknowledge them as health heroes for this cause.

A special shout out to Jamie and Jason for being awesome and dedicated parents, and who are today’s Mommy’s Point of View Health Hero’s, for Dravet Syndrome.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Helping Kids Not to Quit


This summer, my daughter asked to join the local swim team. My husband and I were so excited, and we didn't push her to sign up. We were none too happy when she asked, and excited to support her and cheer her on. 

However, for all of us, we had no idea what joining the swim team really entailed. 

It wasn't until my husband and I sat down with our calendars after we signed up, paid and committed that we realized that swim practice included "intense" Monday through Friday afternoon practices starting in early June when school was still in session for nearly two months, with "A" and "B" meets (home and away) all in one week. 

Daniel and I looked at each other and wondered, "what did we sign up for..swim boot camp?"

Now, don't get me wrong. I love to swim and Sarah has been in the water since she was an infant and loves it. We knew that Sarah's idea of swimming was frolicking in the water, learning some strokes, playing games, and doing somersaults. Nowhere in her head did she envision laps, after laps, after laps.

We don't think she, nor we, planned for what would happen on the first day of practice, and moving forward. The coach was, and is, tough, and despite getting glowing reviews from so many member parents, we struggled through Sarah's first practice, grinning and baring it as she swam 25 meters, and then 50, then 100 and more. All we could think of was that Sarah's little arms must be so tired and that this was a lot for a kid her age.  

After that, you will not be surprised to hear that Sarah wanted to quit on the first day.

In my head I thought, "what am I doing pushing her to stay involved?"  I thought, "this was nuts to encourage her to do this when she just was so unhappy, and tired."

I felt terrible. I felt like an inadequate parent.

There were moments where I wanted to grab Sarah, and let her cry, which she did anyway that first day and a few more after that, and tell her that she can quit.

I was really stuck between a rock and a hard place. I wanted so much to be part of the swim mom "club" and to cheer on my daughter as much as everyone else. However, after that first swim practice, Sarah always asked, "is practice cancelled" and I wondered if we should proceed. She would get upset when we said it didn't get cancelled, even on days when the weather may have been questionable. 

Once Sarah learned the backstroke, we thought maybe there might be a change in her disposition, as it was a stroke she had not really done before, and was nailing it and seemed happy, as were we.

As parents, we want to encourage our children to strive for more...and for them not to quit and see things through. Despite many conversations that swimming on the team is not about winning but instead growing as a swimmer, she didn't seem to change her thinking. What is also so very hard is that sometimes after practice she is glowing and smiling because she did so incredibly well. The same was true for her first big swim meet.  

Oh, it's so confusing. We want to encourage our child to strive and excel. But, at what cost? We don't want her to hate us for pushing her into something that maybe we were not fully prepared for, and to give up too easily in the future when things in life are hard.

We can't all be Tchaikovsky when we first sit at the piano or van Gogh when we want to paint a masterpiece, or the 2012 Olympian for backstroke Missy Franklin, without training, passion, enthusiasm, and a little pushing. 

Sarah knows that she is continuing with swim this season and we hope that by the end she sees the lesson we have been trying to teach her, and for her to be proud of the already accomplished swimmer she has become. She has come leaps and bounds in the pool and we are so incredibly amazed at what she has accomplished in such a short time.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Rare Disease Day on February 28


Tomorrow, February 28, is rare disease day. 

Being a parent is a tough job, as many of us know and experience first hand. We worry about our kids when they are little and as they get older, and even well into their adulthood. The reason: because being a parent never stops and that's what we do. We love our children to the point that it hurts. We want to protect them from harm’s way and to prevent them from getting hurt emotionally and physically.

Now, elevate that worry for a parent who is raising a child with special needs. There is a whole different kind of concern that they have to live with and manage on a daily basis to keep their children safe and protected.
Imagine what it would be like to raise a child living with a rare disease that only 1 in 100,000 people are diagnosed with and where there is no cure or currently approved treatments to do more than just manage the disease's symptoms.

For one mom in particular, Deborah Sittig, my boss and friend, this is her reality. And, in honor of Rare Disease Day, here is her story.


I shared Deborah's story last year on my blog, and felt it was important to share again as this disease continues to be rare and the community of families impacted by this disease are growing.

Deborah's son Cannon, one of her three children, lives with a disease called hypophosphatasia (HPP), an inherited metabolic bone disease that results from low levels of an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase (ALP), which is normally present in large amounts in bone and liver. Abnormalities in the gene that makes ALP lead to production of inactive ALP for people living with HPP.


The severity of this disease varies from patient to patient, which includes both children and adults, with the most extreme cases failing to form a skeleton in the womb and are stillborn to those mildly affected showing only low levels of ALP in the blood, yet never suffering any bony problems.


Cannon Sittig, HPP patient
When Cannon, was just 4 months old, Deborah noticed something was a bit off about his body and his development. She said, “His wrists looked wide. He did not bear weight on his legs. He was not a strong sitter. My pediatrician blamed it on low muscle tone and said this one “won’t be our athlete.”” 
Deborah could not let it go. She wanted to figure out what was causing the low muscle tone and why her baby’s wrists looked the way that they did.


That is when her extensive research began. She frantically scoured patient forums, read every possible website, emailed and chatted with patients, and conducted endless Internet searches leaving no stone unturned to get to the root of her baby's problems.


When Cannon turned 18 months he received his HPP diagnosis. Deborah said, “That was the one web search with results that left me breathless. Children diagnosed with HPP have a 50 percent chance of survival. Many go on to do quite well.”


I don’t know about you, but I am having a hard time breathing thinking about what could have gone through Deborah’s mind with worry for her child.


Having a child with special needs was one thing, but having a child to endure life with a rare disease where very little information and resources were available, let alone treatments to cure or even manage symptoms was a very scary place for Deborah, and the many parents and caregivers of children and adults living with HPP.


As a result, she began her mission for awareness and public policy around HPP. Deborah founded an organization called Soft Bones: The U.S. Hypophosphatasia Foundation. Because there were little to no resources specifically dedicated to this disease impacting her son, or a place to vent, cry, express, and share, she made it her mission to create that haven for others.


The mission of Soft Bones is to “provide valuable information, education and support for people living with HPP, their families and caregivers." The Foundation also promotes research of this rare bone disease through awareness and fund-raising efforts. The organization has been running now for six years.



The following heart felt video was created of the many faces of HPP around the world to commemorate Rare Disease Day and to recognize this terrible disease, HPP.


To help show support, let's take action let's tweet and post this story and the mission of Soft Bones in various social media channels and share it around to help spread the word. And, if you would like to do more, feel free to visit the Soft Bones website to make a donation to research this important cause. 

Deborah is one of many health heroes. But, at the end of the day she is a loving parent dedicated to doing everything she can for the sake of her children. It's her commitment to helping others that makes her someone I admire and support.
 



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah - Helping Others

The Chanukah decorations are all out inside our home. The lights are ready to be lit tonight on the first night of the holiday.  The table is adorned with menorahs both old and new, passed down from loved ones and bought along the way, a slew of dreidels to spin and play games with, and arts and crafts projects to create and enthuse, as we begin to celebrate.

Getting this all set up has become a favorite pastime for Sarah and me each year. She gets so excited when I bring out the bin with our growing collection of old and new keepsakes, and traditions for her to see and follow.

We have a new addition to family holiday and traditions. His name is George -- a.k.a.  Mr. G.  He’s our mensch who came on a bench and who has been appearing and disappearing all around our home making us all smile. George can be held and hugged. We encourage it.  He watches out for us but not to see whether we are good or bad. Instead, he is just there to be part of our family tradition. He brings an element of fun and surprise to the holiday. Just the other day he was up to no good, as you can see here, and hanging around. He also likes to eat a lot. He recently got stuck in the bread box and the refrigerator door. 

As parents, it's our job to help guide our children, especially as far as teaching them about religion and spiritual beliefs. Therefore, when Hanukkah comes around for us, especially as my daughter starts to gain a better understanding of this holiday, it seems as if more needs to be done on my part, and her daddy’s, to help her see its true value and meaning, especially beyond the gifts and glitz and commercialization around us.

I admit that I often go a bit over on presents. However, one thing is true, I never lose sight of doing what we can to help others. And, that selfless act of kindness is what I continue to teach Sarah day in and day out.

Last year, Sarah agreed to give up one night of her presents and to pick something out to donate to a child in need through the Toys for Tots program. This year, when that discussion came up through a friend helping out a specific family in need, Sarah decided that she wanted to give up not just one but instead, two nights of her gifts, for a boy and a girl. Together we picked out the gifts that we donated. I am so proud of Sarah and feel that it’s never too early to teach our children to give back and help others. In Hebrew, this is Tzedakah, helping others.

So, as the lights burn starting over the next eight nights, dreidels spin, fried food being eaten, and time is spent with loved ones, let's be reminded of the efforts made in our history to create the freedom we now experience today. And, let's celebrate with the lights of the candles as they flicker and be reminiscent of what has been done for us, and what we need to do moving forward to help others.

Eight days and eight nights
The candles flicker and glow
Freedom and giving

Happy Chanukah
Festival of shining lights
Pray, sing, eat, play, drink

Happy Chanukah
Thanks Macabees for freedom
Tzedakah, help others

Happy Hanukkah
Time with friends and family
Festival of lights

Menorah, candles
Holiday of lights goes on
Illuminating

Smiles all around
Watching kids open presents
Happy Hanukkah

Hugging children tight
Thanking G-d for their presence
Life's most precious gift

Happy Chanukah to you and yours!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy Jewish New Year - Helping Kids to Believe

Sarah's love for the holiday
shines through in her drawing.
It made me smile knowing that my
teachings are resonating with her.
To all of you, my faithful readers, and your loved ones who celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah -- L' Shanah Tovah -- Happy New Year.

I wish you and your families a prosperous, happy, and healthy new year filled with renewal and forgiveness and the great start to many things grand.

The start of Rosh Hashanah is my favorite time of the year.  What I most love about this holiday is that it's like a restart button. You look at the past year of life and reflect on what you did, what you said, who you hurt literally and figuratively, what you did for your community, and the way you treated yourself.

The latter is often an offense many of us commit. I am indeed guilty.

We often hear the phrase that we must love ourselves before we can love others fully. This couldn't be more true. While we may not love everything about ourselves it is this time of year to forgive ourselves for being so hard on ourselves and give ourselves a break.

This is a lesson that regardless of religion should be taught to children so that they can grow up with confidence.

I know all too well that it is easy to be hard on oneself. However, in order to admit, then forgive and move past it, you will always be stuck. We are human. We may not love everything about ourselves, but we can certainly be nicer to ourselves.

While many look at the World's New Year in January as the time for reflection and new beginnings, as Jewish people that time is now for us.

From a previous blog post on Mommy's Point of View I said, "It is a significant time dedicated to reflection, thoughts for change, memories of the past personally and historically, and commitment and plans for fresh starts personally, professionally, and in local, national and global communities. It's also a time for family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods, especially apples and honey to celebrate this joyous New Year."

As a Jewish people, we commit to resolutions, but don't call them resolutions. For example, wanting to lose weight, quit smoking or start exercising are important life-altering behavioral changes, but on this holiday our commitments run deeper and involve change that centers on righting the wrongs we have done to others, and to ourselves, and to establish new paths for growth, change and Jewish learning moving forward. It's as if we get to the meaning behind how we feel, the anger we have against ourselves and others, and the emotional and physical commitment to make a change."

Therefore, it is my job to look in the mirror to be honest with myself, be happy for whom I am and who I have become, and to be the parent I am and wish to be, and to love me. It is also time for change all around us. It could be getting more involved in your community, making a new friend, apologizing to someone for how they have been treated, or asking yourself for forgiveness and starting anew.

As parents we have a great responsibility to help our children to understand what it means to believe including traditions, values, and history to help them start on the path to their own spiritual connection.

I look forward to continuing the education with my daughter on the traditions I grew up with and those I have come to love and appreciate and own in my adulthood, and creating new memories with her to have for years to come.

I wish you a sweet and joyous new year, prosperity, love, happiness and, most importantly, good health.

Happy New Year. L'Shanah Tovah.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not Tolerating Bullying and Loving Oneself

A few weeks ago while my daughter was at the pool getting ready for a swim lesson she said to me, "Mommy, you want to know who I love the most in our entire family?"  She said, "me" referring to herself.

Listening to my child tell me something that is not an easy lesson to teach that she understood warmed my heart. It made me see that I am doing all that I can to show her the way and to help her love who she is and to help her to find herself through passions, relationships and more.

It's important to remind our kids that in order for them to love others and to be loved they must learn to love themselves.

We try so hard to protect our children from bullies, mean-spirited individuals and obstacles that will come their way. While we cannot be there to defend them and protect them all the time, all we can do is help them to build confidence in themselves to hopefully stand up and be proud and to just walk away with their head held high.

I know that this is all very easy to say. But, having been on the receiving end of what is now being called bullying and not always feeling so good about myself when I was a kid, you can bet I am going to arm my child with the tools to help her be confident and to love herself, when there are haters and others who may want to knock her down.

When I was younger, the word bullying didn't really exist. We used to call it "getting picked on."  But, with the latter it was seen as a single act versus a behavior that happened one too many times.

When my sister and I were kids and went to a sleep away camp for years, we were called names by kids, and by some counselors, for having a chin that was a bit too big for our faces. We were called "chinsters." I also had a scar on my chin, a few inches in size, and was also called scar face. As a kid, you can only imagine how that could hurt ones feelings. My sister, not sure how, was able to take it in stride and just ignore it. I, on the other hand, more insecure, wasn't as brave. My feelings were hurt often. As a result, I think it was hard to love myself when I wasn't feeling love around me.

To add to all of this, it didn't help that kids in my bunk at camp who I thought were my friends, also took my favorite stuffed animal (right insert) and throw him outside on the ground at night for me to find him with yet another tear the next day.  Let's just say that I couldn't wait to get home every summer where safety awaited me and my friends and family that did care welcomed me with open arms.

As you can see I still have this stuffed animal (picture right) with its many, many, many stitches of thread sewn by the camp nurse. He is a constant reminder of my past vulnerabilities and the strength and confidence I have developed.

I couldn't make sense of my summers at camp with the constant name calling and "being picked on" as I didn't at all have that experience at any of my schools or in my circle of friends.

One friend from that camp many years ago, who knows who she is, loved me for me and chose not to listen to others and not make fun of me. She chose to appreciate and like me because I was a good person with a big heart, and we are still friends to this day.

I kept silent for too many years, not saying anything about how I really felt all those summers. When I finally told my mom, in my 20s, she cried and was so sad that I had held it in for so long not saying or doing anything. I was hurt but also embarrassed that I could let it happen and for so long, not having the confidence to stand up for myself. Only now, well over 30 years later in the eyes of my daughter, do I feel confident enough to say that I was bullied and that I chose to stand up for myself and those I love encourage her to do the same and share with me whatever she is feeling and experiencing so I can support her.

Sarah and I have actually done quite a bit of role playing when there have been instances in which a kid hurt her feelings or she wanted to stand up to a kid who was not being nice to her.

Kids can be mean and start out very young impacting our children's feelings. We also have to be very careful about the fine line between those that are mean and acts of bullying.

It's no wonder today that I am more confident than I have ever been and more conscious of the people I surround myself with. I no longer tolerate people who are mean to me or to those who I love, and am more aware of those kids in my daughter's circle with this awareness.

Our goal as parents is to love our children as hard as we can and to teach them to love and be loved and to be kind to others, to work diligently and to strive for what matters most to them. We must encourage them to surround themselves with others who care about them too and that it's not about how many friends we have but the ones that matter who love us for us.

Here's to supporting our children and guiding them to make good choices, even though we know there will be some bad choices along the way and people to bring them down. We need to help them to stand on their own, be confident, be respectful of others, and above all, learn to love and appreciate themselves. 


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Last Day of Kindergarten

Today is Sarah's last day of Kindergarten. She doesn't seem to be fazed by it, but for me this is a huge milestone. As I write this I have a huge lump in my throat and feel tears coming on.

Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled and happy to see my daughter grow and thrive. It has been so much fun watching her learn to read and write sentences, and achieve in more ways than I could have ever imagined. But, knowing that I will not be going through this again makes it hard and I just want to hold on to this feeling just a little while longer.

I never really affected by school ending for Sarah in the past as her summer program was at her preschool and she was staying in the same place. For her it didn't seem different as the people were the same too.

This year is different. I feel it alright.

There have been so many new firsts for Sarah, and Daniel and I as her parents. Not only did she start a new school for Kindergarten, but now Sarah will be going to camp with her school friends for a true camp experience.

This is a BIG DEAL!!! This is all indeed A BIG DEAL!!!

I am just so glad that I followed an idea that a friend of my had with getting the Dr. Seuss Book, Oh the Places You'll Go and having Sarah's teachers signing it since preschool, with the plans for us to give it to her when she graduates High School...as a personal year book.

Oh the places that Sarah will go is skies the limit. I am just so proud of her and we have such a great canvas in her to work with. She is so loving and compassionate yet nutty and rambunctious. She keeps Daniel and I on our toes.

I look forward to all the future adventures we will have together with Sarah and the journeys she will experience on her own. Watching her grow up and being her mom has been my life's greatest pleasure. The reward for me is being her parent and having the opportunity to experience life through her eyes. Oh the joys, and sometimes sorrows, we experience together I wouldn't change for the world.

This next chapter in our lives, in Sarah's life, will be exciting and amazing and challenging. I look forward to each step we take together as a family and as we watch her flourish and develop into her own.

This year of school done
Kindergarten is no more
Ready for first grade

She is growing up
My baby is a big girl
Learning and soaring

So proud of Sarah
She's my life's greatest reward
Watching her grow up

Letting her go free
So very hard to let go
watching her flourish

School's out, summer's here
Together time will be fun
Rest before school year

My baby is growing up and my heart hurts, but in a good way. I love who she is and who she is becoming.  My life is complete because she's in it. Being her mom, and being a parent, have been so rewarding, challenging, educational and amazing all rolled into one.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sharing Thanks this Memorial Day


Sarah Begun original (circa. Flag 2014)
While many of us may be off from work today possibly going to a barbecue, going to the beach, taking advantage of shopping sales, or resting and relaxing with family and friends, it is most important for us to take time to reflect to remember and thank the millions of men and women who have risked their lives to protect our country, which helped to give us the freedom we have today, and every day moving forward. 
Lest we not forget, the men and women who continue to go to war and combat and who train tirelessly away from their families and friends to.

So before, in between, and after today's festivities, let's take time to remember with sadness, and pride, as Americans, the many souls who sacrificed their lives and continue to do so every day, and veterans who dedicated and continue to dedicate their time, energy, and attention for the love of their country, to help fight for our freedom.

Words of thanks go to all the men and women who commit themselves to protect our country, and for those especially who lost their lives in the war for freedom.

A special shout out to all of Sarah's grandfathers and Great Uncle who participated in wars doing various jobs from medic to enemy lines battle to keep our country protected and safe. And, even when the war was not won we know the effort to try was hard and intense.


My heart also goes out to the children, both young and old, whose lives were and still are impacted by their parent's bravery to fight for our country, and especially the time they have away from them in order to do so.  

Credit: H.D.B Photography
(a.k.a. Sarah's awesome Uncle Harold)
Today, let's memorialize, and honor, all who risked a great deal for our United States of America. Here are some special haiku I wrote, a drawing made by Sarah and a beautiful photo by Sarah's G-dfather and Uncle who lost a different battle -- to cancer. Let us commemorate and remember the commitment of so many and share our thanks and appreciation.

Memorial Day
Today, time to remember
Lives of many lost

To all men, women
Thank you for protecting us
Forever in debt

Thanks to those of you
Risking your lives to protect
Our USA

For red, white, and blue
Colors continue to sore
Time to remember

You're special people
With the biggest hearts of all
Thanks, infinity

Appreciation
To all the men and women
You mean a great deal

Much love and appreciation to all of you, men and women, and moms and dads, and everyone who dedicates their lives to protect our country. You are a special kind of people, selfless human beings who are looked at in the highest regard, for all that you do, sacrifice, and continue to risk each and every day, and we thank you to infinity.

You are forever in our hearts and we at Mommy’s Point of View want to say THANK YOU!!!