We’re All In This Together

By: Sue Anganes

He stood up from his wheelchair, drew back the string and aimed. His arms shook as he held his position. His fingers released the string and the arrow flew downrange hitting the target.

It was my sixteen year old son’s second week of archery. A year ago my son would not have even been able to hold the bow up, but there he was standing and giving it his full effort. Intense physical therapy sessions three times a week had really improved his strength.imgres

As I stood watching, a couple of people made comments to me- “He’s never going to hit anything shaking like that,” “You should take him to the gym so he can work out and get a little muscle.”

I turned and walked away. My face felt like it was burning, and I knew I would either say something I regretted or burst out crying.

Everyone has a story. Ours is an extremely rare genetic disease which leaves my two youngest sons with muscle loss, tremors, and terrible pain. They have lost some of their physical abilities. They have a disability. It’s hard. As a mom, my heart breaks for them a little bit every day.

Every person in life has their own story. Not one of us is immune to loss. The loss may be physical like in the case of my boys. It may be an emotional loss such as the loss of a parent or a husband or child, or the loss of a childhood due to abuse. It may be the loss of a dream or a job or a marriage. It may be the loss of the future that you had envisioned for your child. Everyone is dealing with something hard every day of their lives.

Let’s speak with kindness, encouragement and compassion in our day to day interactions with others. Let’s remember that everyone has a story of loss in their lives.  Let’s build others up instead of tearing others down. Let’s think before we speak and greet others with a smile. Let’s remember that life can hard, but we’re all in this together.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11


A Time Out for Mom

By: Vallery Schofield- Miller

I bet if you asked any Mom who is with her children non-stop what their one wish would be, the majority of them would probably tell you they’d like some downtime just for themselves. Or what I like to call, a Mommy “time out!”

A Mommy “time out” is making time every so often for anything you need or want to do just for yourself. This does not include going shopping for groceries, kid things, or household items.  This is an actual few hours for you to enjoy doing something for yourself. This might be a hobby you enjoy doing, going shopping, working out, or catching up with friends. As most moms can attest to, we need this time to revive ourselves…otherwise we’d go crazy!

imgresI know my time outs are extremely rare.  I spend most of my days chugging along doing housework, laundry, taking care of kids, working, grocery shopping and the list goes on. I try to find time for myself to do something I enjoy, but I’ve found that it gets harder as the kids get older and begin having active social lives.

Right now I am planning my “time out” for this Saturday night. The plan is to go to dinner with friends. We are all excited to try this “haunted” restaurant we’ve all heard about.  Apparently, there have actually been stories written about supernatural actives that have taken place there and weird things that have happened to customers and the staff. As excited as I am for my “time out” I’m actually a little nervous! Hopefully nothing too intense or scary will happen during dinner.

As I sit here typing this I am listening to the news and they are saying there is the possibility of a snowstorm this weekend- which does not make me happy! Let’s hope it passes without much being left in its wake! I already have my outfit picked out, so please Mother Nature, be nice!

I say goodnight now and I hope all you Moms are served a “time out” soon!

 


How do you talk to your child about the death of a pet?

By: Michaelene Koskela

When your beloved pet crosses over the rainbow bridge it is never easy, but grief is an important part of the recovery. However, it maybe secondary to the anxiety and added emotions you may feel having to tell your child about the loss.

Recently we lost our twelve year old labrador. As we finished supper in the dining room our sweet Tootsie had finished her dinner in the kitchen. She had curled up next to her bowl and never got up again.

The emotions in losing a special canine companion can be overwhelming. Children have a tendency to mirror us, and it is important that you allow yourself to grieve but take into consideration that your child will notice the void; but they will be more in tune to how we are reacting.

Here are some suggestions that might be helpful the next time your family goes through the loss of a pet:

Do not insult your child’s intelligence or add confusing language: The concept of death and its permanence is hard to understand.

Using phrases like: “She went to a farm,” “He fell asleep and did not wake up,” or “She went to another home,” may confuse your children. They may also cause problems with sleeping, saying good-bye or expecting the pet to return.

What worked for us is minimal information, simple language that ideally gives your child room to ask questions to gather their understanding. It’s important that when asked you do not provide excessive detail. Allow the questions to flow. One of our Tootsie Frame Collarconversations went something like this.

Us: “Tootsie went to heaven.”

Her: “Why? How come she left? Will she come back?”

Us: “No she will not.”

Her: “Can I visit her?”

Us: “No but she is very happy, she will always be in your heart.”

Her: “But I miss her.”

Us: “We miss her too, we love you very much.”

Saying good-bye. If your pet is terminal and you have made plans to put your pet to sleep this can offer you a way to plan a special day, or a celebration of life before they are gone. Our good-bye was after the passing. It was a difficult choice to determine if our daughter should or should not see the animal without life.  We made the choice and allowed her to say “Good-bye”.

Love and support.  Let your child know its ok to talk about your pet. Let them take the lead, don’t force your own feelings. The loss may offer a teachable moment to talk about being mad, angry or even sharing the happy moments. If your pet is euthanized, be honest. Compassion and empathy are key components of being a pet owner. Cry together but make certain you do not lose control as this would inevitably frighten your child. If your child attends school or day care send a brief note telling of the loss. Teachers and care givers appreciate knowing circumstances that could affect your child’s behavior.

Frame a photo of the pet, save some fur, or capture a foot print. Welcome funny antics or tales that will help you all recall the happy moments. Do not be quick to remove all traces as this may be confusing. I’m not sure about your children, but mine notice if a refrigerator magnet is moved.

You are distraught. Your pet was a big part of your life, maybe long before your husband and child. Your daily mundane tasks may cause a sudden burst of tears. Her paw prints still remain in the snow. You open the refrigerator, expecting her to be in the way when you shut the door.  The most painful is that she no longer greets you when you return home. Take time out for yourself, grieve. It will take time to heal you had a special bond that needs to be celebrated.

Another Pet? Some rush out to get another animal quickly hoping to duplicate or fill the void.  This is not the approach our family is taking. We honor her, miss her and will smile thinking of her.  Our sweet girl.


Easy Lo Mein

By: Amy Dienta

photo

For this easy Lo Mein recipe you will need the following: 

  1. 1 package Lo Mein noodles (I can usually find them in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
  2. 1 package frozen stir fry vegetables
  3. 1 onion
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 2 tsp vegetable oil
  6. 2 tsp sesame oil ( international goods isle)
  7. 1/2 cup soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Boil Lo Mein noodles according to package directions and drain.
  2. In another pan add the oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Add frozen vegetables to pan with oil and onions. Cook until vegetables are done.
  4. Add noodles to pan with vegetables
  5. Add soy sauce and sesame oil toss to coat
  6. Enjoy!


Rebecca’s Big Day

By: Jacqueline Koutsoufis 

The “big day” has come and gone… Rebecca had had her tonsil and adenoids removed. While we had been preparing for the world of misery after, we have been pleasantly surprised at how well she has done. They told us when we where leaving the hospital after her surgery that it would be like having a newborn all over again. We would need to set our alarms to wake her every 3 hours to administer her pain medication and to try to get her to have a few sips of a drink.

Five days post-op we felt like things were really going well. Rebecca’s pain was under control and she was one the path to recovery. Then the “you know what” hit the fan! It started with our oldest coming down with the flu, despite the fact that she received a flu shot. I thought to myself “Okay, fine, great, we’ll just keep her away from everyone else.” The doctor suggested Tamiflu for her and everyone else in the family. I totally get it, but at $50 per person, we’ll take our chances. I’ll just plan on lots of hand washing and keeping the sick ones away from everyone else. “This will work!” I thought to myself, optimistically. That was, until the next day when the school nurse called because Madelyn was not feeling well and had a fever and headache. UGH! My heart skipped a beat at the thought of three sick kids. So we make an appointment at the pediatrician’s office for Madelyn, figuring she would have the flu like her sister. The doctor tested Madelyn for the flu and strep. I was very surprised when they came back with the diagnosis that she had strep. Her strep symptoms came on so quick!imgres

So at this point I was really starting to get nervous. I have a toddler only six days out of surgery being exposed to the flu and strep. As I’m trying to comfort Rebecca, I hear my oldest, Katie, coughing from the flu, Madelyn coughing and puking from strep, and to top it off- I’m starting to cough myself! This really can’t be happening…

Okay, mind over matter! I get up and start cleaning, just trying to disinfect everything. I need to have everything in order just incase. Well, I made it through the next few hours with no fever only to be greeted by my husband coughing, shivering and running a fever. No! This was not happening; my partner and dual caregiver to all these sick kids was now just as helpless as the rest of them. This family of seven was dropping like flies. Just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, I was reminded why they can. Within a few hours the one I was worried about most, Rebecca, was now running a fever and refusing to eat or drink.

We were now heading to our third doctors appointment in as many days. You see, I’m not one of those moms who brings their kid to the doctor as soon as they get start to sniffle so once the doctor actually sees us, the kids are usually pretty sick. Well, the doctor tested Rebecca for the flu and strep and fortunately, both came back negative. They noticed her throat (where her tonsils had been removed) was really red on one side. We left with a plan of monitoring her for 24 hrs to see if her temperature would go away with fluids. She was a getting dehydrated so if she refused to drink anything and her fever continued then we’d be forced to use IV fluids and blood work to check for infections.

So here we were, facing three different illnesses in our house. You would think it was not possible and this was all some kind of joke. This cruel joke just seemed to be getting worse; especially when victim five and six fell ill with a stomach bug… even our dog was sick that night! And then it happened- I finally succumbed to the flu. One bathroom, six sick people and one sick pet. By the time I was hit with the flu, we only had one child not sick and we needed to function enough to get her to school. I don’t think any of us have ever been this ill. I couldn’t even read a book to my toddler! Something as easy as reading wiped me out completely. How were two sick parents going to manage four very sick children? My husband and I were literally dragging ourselves out of bed each morning. There was lots of yelling, swearing, crying and whining…and that was just from my husband! Can you imagine what it was like with the four sick kids on top of that? By the time this is all done and over with I am going to be in need of a serious vacation.


6 Tips For Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

By: Danielle McFadden

6 Tips

We are now entering the third week of January and for many of us the novelty of the New Year has begun to wear off. “Life changing” resolutions have fallen to the wayside and old habits have prevailed. Let’s not beat ourselves up over this… As moms we are busy. And it’s particularly difficult when we devise a long list of these “life changing” resolutions. As fabulous as we are, it’s simply not realistic to think our hectic lives can endure so much change all at once. Especially since this change is dependent entirely on us.

I am guilty. I had a long list of resolutions… save money, spend less, lose weight… pie in the sky goals. As I sit and reflect I’ve decided to give myself credit for the things I have accomplished since turning the calendar to 2015. Feel like you’re in a similar boat? Here are some ways to ensure that your resolutions will be going strong long into 2015 and beyond: 

  1. Pick one or two resolutions and stick with them: Let’s face it. Maybe of our resolutions are now ghosts of New Year’s past. I vowed to read a page of The Daily Carrot Principle every day and complete the exercise that goes along with it. Well, that lasted 5 days. On the flipside, I have had take-out once (at work or home) and I’ve made sure that there are no dishes in the sink when I go to bed. It’s the small triumphs.
  1. Have a concrete goal in mind: If you want to lose weight, it’s not enough to just say that you are going to lose weight. Be specific: I’d like to lose 10 pounds by St. Patrick’s Day. You are more likely to stick with a goal if it is specific. It’s also a lot more rewarding when you set a goal and accomplish it.
  1. Talk about it: Let your husband, partner, friends or even social media followers know how you are accomplishing your resolutions. In many cases someone that you know is working on the same goal as you are! Life is always sweeter with a strong support system.
  1. Track your progress: Keep a daily journal about your progress. How do you feel? What are you doing to stick with your resolutions? Have a smartphone? Use the notes app to keep track.
  1. Reward yourself: At the end of month treat yourself to something special. Maybe you’ll allow yourself a night out with the girls or a latte from Starbucks. Whatever your fancy is, indulge a little to celebrate your ongoing success!
  1. Keep trying: Don’t give up if you have an off day. You’re still much closer to accomplishing your goals than you were on December 31st. Celebrate that and remember that each day is a clean slate and a new opportunity!

What tips do you have? Comment below or send a tweet to @dmcfaddenlowell.


Electronic Gadgets

By: Vallery Miller

Even though my children are only six and seven, I’ve been so happy that they haven’t asked me for any Playstations, Wii’s, Xboxes or other gadgets. Our kids would rather play outside, ride their bikes and scooters, or play basketball or hockey.  I’m always amazed at how creative they can be when I see what kinds of games they make up with their friends. During winter they love going outside and playing in the snow and sledding.

Now don’t get me wrong, they do have a computer and occasionally use tablets and their Nintendo DS.  There’s too many educational resources that these electronics can provide! However, I feel that fresh air, exercise, and creative thinking help them be well-rounded children. Getting to know the world they live in and how it works is something that I think is really important for my kids to learn. I believe that by being creative and exploring our neighborhood and getting to know the people and other kids who live in our area will help them with so many life situations. My hope is that it will help them become caring, understanding people, who can problem solve and think for themselves. I strive to give them a great foundation to build future life skills on. Social situations, problem solving skills, empathy towards others, communication skills, and a voice to speak up for what they believe.

Having said this, I have suddenly found myself staring at the “plug-ins.” Thanks a lot wicked winter weather! My kids have been influenced by this ”craze” of a game called “Five Nights at Freddy.” In this game they are the night guard at a daycare. The toys come to life at night and you need to stay alive until 6 am to win. These toys are pretty scary and evil looking and why they are in a daycare I can’t understand! (Seriously, who thinks of this stuff?!) I believe it is the same people who didn’t get outside enough as children. I have now cut time allowed on electronics dramatically as their desires to get away from the educational games we’ve downloaded begin to taper. I am striving to be a proactive parent rather than a reactive parent, especially when the lunatic mom inside me want’s to freak out every time I see these types of games out there for kids.

I really hope other parents realize what is going on in the games their kids are playing. On that note, I say stay warm until next post…..Val.


Alarm Clock

By: Michaelene Koskela 

Six days ago, towards the end of our bedtime routine, I received a strange request from my four year old.

I put the books we just read and was moving to click off the light. Small Johnson baby scent yawns still hung in the air, when I heard a sleepy voice whisper into the darkness.

“Mom, will you set the alarm for me?”Alarm Clock

I turned the light back on.

“What?” I asked surprised and she repeated her request.

I stared at her with my hand on the light switch as I responded “Why?”

My brain could not wrap itself around this request. My daughter, like the majority of 4 year olds I would assume, does not yet fully grasp the concept of hours in a day, let alone having to wake-up for a commitment. Is she even aware of what an alarm clock is? Don’t the majority people use cell phones as alarms?

Our exchange went like this:

Me: “Honey, we do not have any reason for you to wake up early tomorrow, close your eyes, go to sleep, and wake up when you wake up. O.K? I am going to shut off the light. Good night.”

Her: “Please! Why do I have an alarm clock in my room if I do not use it? Daddy wakes up with his phone alarm.”

Me: “We use yours as a clock, not as an alarm.”

Her: “What do you mean? You told me it was your alarm clock.”

Me: “It’s both and yes it alarm clock I had in the 90’s, it is much older than you are. Now go to sleep.”

Her: “Does it still work? Is it too old to work?”

Me: [Deep sigh]It works; I’ll turn it on it.”

Her: “What does it do?”

Me: “It plays music or makes a terrible beeping sound if it’s time to wake up.”

Her: [Sits up in bed squealing in excitement] “Oh show me!”

Twenty minutes later my cherub was sound asleep. She was lulled to sleep by a crackling FM station playing a classical concerto that she said sounded like Nutcracker music.

Every night since, she asks if her alarm is set.

However, every morning she wakes up a few minutes before the alarm goes off and hollers from her bed, “MMOOOMMMM, Mom MommIEEEE!! How come my alarm didn’t wake me up?” and I yell up that she beat her alarm. She of course will continue to shout down “Mom, how much longer?” Today she finally caught on and did not ask why she was up before the alarm. Our daughter played and sang upstairs in her room waiting, she may have put in a breakfast food request but overall the alarm thing seems to be working out.

This morning, while my daughter slept in an hour later, my husband and I had hot, uninterrupted, coffee together.