REAL Girl Camp Empowers One Girl at a Time

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REAL Girl Camp Empowers One Girl at a Time

I am delighted to have my friend, Kristen Huffman guest blog here on SuperMommyNot! For parents with girls, Kristen shares her story and how "REAL Girl Camp" can empower your precious, little girl. Thank you, Kristen!

When I was 9, I was into the Beatles, riding my bike, making up funny stories with my best friend, Jessica, and eating mac and cheese.

Kristen Huffman- Elementary School

Kristen Huffman- Elementary School

They say that this age is a precious time.  There is a not-yet-bridled vivaciousness we all remember about it.   Being a girl did not yet have rules.  I was clear on who I was, but, of course, adolescence brought with it a hyper awareness of my external environment.  When I think of the sacred time of growth that followed, I mostly remember just being scared.  Scared at school, scared at what I didn't understand, scared at all that I was beginning to see.  I did, however, continue my relationship with mac and cheese. Thank goodness.

What we shape in ourselves at that scared time shows up throughout schoolhood, and beyond.  This is an undeniable reality of social organization amongst children, amongst humans.  But what would happen if there were more openness in the nooks and crannies of adolescence?  What if, as girls, we began to celebrate the transitions occurring in our bodies, and revered those female gifts that keep the world alive?  Whoa.  What would that look like, if girls learned how to foster and support each other early on, especially as things got confusing?  What if relationships were chosen from awareness, and if girls learned how to create healthy boundaries and communication?  What if they were able to see beauty in their abilities and uniquities, in spite of the TV telling them what makeup to wear?  What if womanhood was an idea that just got progressively more exciting with age, because it was celebrated from youth?  

Kristen Huffman- Today

Kristen Huffman- Today

This is a reality, and it's a vision I am so excited to be a part of.  It starts with education, and ends in empowerment.  We can change the world by allowing our girls to remain strong.  This is highly contagious.  The effect that one empowered girl has on the world is immeasurable. Let's strengthen our world one girl at a time.

We might all wish we had such tools growing up.  Let's give them now to our daughters, our nieces, and to each other!  Join me in getting our girls ready.  REALgirl is an extraordinary program.  5-day summer camps are registering right now, and I thank you, Donna, for the opportunity to introduce REALgirl on your blog, SuperMommyNot!  

 

3 Things You Can Expect From Your REALgirl Graduate:

  1. She will have a clear sense of her unique voice and value in the world, and, therefore, feel empowered to express both with ever-increasing confidence and clarity.
     
  2. She will navigate all relationships in her life with grace, compassion, and assertiveness. This includes her relationships with her family, friends, and peers. REALgirls are equipped to handle mean girl behavior, to support others in need, and to cultivate healthy relationships.
     
  3. She will possess the tools to be a leader in her own right - whatever her path may be. She will act as an inspiration for others through leading by example, making life-decisions from a place of self-knowledge, strength, and groundedness.

 

Testimonials from REALgirls

"We learned to be happy with who we are and not try to change ourselves for someone else." - Emilia, age 10

"REALgirl taught me things I didn't even know about, and it answered questions I didn't even know I had." - Charlotte, age 13

"REALgirl helped me with being shy. It has shown me new ways to protect and help myself." - Mackenzie, age 14

"It has really taught me the power of girls and women, and how capable they are of planning and achieving their goals." Emily, age 12

 

How do we instill these powerful tools?

  • Arts and Crafts: Tap into her creative center, and visually capture powerful life lessons 
  • Yoga and Meditation: Connect with her mind and body, finding her intuition and trusting her truest self
  • Dance: Cultivate play, healthy self-expression, and appreciation for her body as a temple
  • Theater Games: Practice using her voice, collaborating with others, and giving herself permission to be silly
  • Media Literacy: Unveil truths about advertising and develop a savvy filter for media & societal messages
  • Group Chats: Learn about the powerful female body, fill in "gaps" in the history of women, and so much more
  • Guest Experts: Learn self-defense and health & nutrition so she can operate at her best
  • Sister Acknowledgement: Celebrate her own and others' strengths and unique gifts, and build sisterhood 

 

Questions? Ask us at info@realgirlprograms.com. Want to know more? Visit www.REALgirlPrograms.com.

 

 

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Passion: How to Help Your Kid Find it and Nurture it!

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Passion: How to Help Your Kid Find it and Nurture it!

As parents, we all have hopes and dreams for our children. Many of us share similar goals. We want our children to receive a quality education, be productive citizens, have values and morals, find their passion or passions in life and, of course, be happy and healthy. All of this is a work in progress and it’s up to us to guide our kids.

In our family as our own young sons grow, a theme that continues to pop up for us is making sure we are diligent in exposing our boys to all types of experiences, to help them discover their talents and passions.

At the moment, both boys love singing, dancing and playing sports.

So how can parents inspire their children without over-scheduling them? How can we avoid unwittingly pressuring them? What is the most healthy way to go about helping children find their passions?

I asked Joani Geltman, an expert in the field of Child Development and parenting to weigh in. Geltman has also raised a successful, healthy and happy daughter. She is an actress who just appeared on Broadway and has three movies out. Geltman explains that she did not push her daughter, she only supported what her daughter wanted to do. They started out small, she says “it was not sophisticated at all.” Geltman says if you want your children to find their passions and succeed it has to happen in a “natural way.”

Here are some tips from Geltman:

-Many parents bring their own interests and passions in support of family life, only steering their kids in the direction they see. Understand that when they are young “they will go in the direction you want them to go in.” You have to pay attention to what makes them happy. Parents can’t navigate everything.”

-For really small children, it’s simple. Watch them play. What are your children doing during undirected play? Put things out and take a big step back. Follow your kids’ lead, recognize what their talents are, what they want to do. In elementary school, listen to them. They will tell you what they like if you’re willing to hear it. When it comes to teens, if you don’t step back, they will go in the opposite direction you are promoting.

-Allow your child to be your child. If he is a high energy person, then let him be busy. If he is not, then just let him be.

-Introduce your children to many things. “It’s like taking them to a buffet.” But do not over schedule, it’s all about balance.

-Sit back to watch and listen- pay attention to his/her nature, your nature may be different.

-Make your kid feel understood.

-Remember too, that someone’s passion doesn’t always have to have an end result, a passion can be simply for enjoyment.

Joani Geltman is an expert in the field of Child Development and parenting. She has been working with parents, children, schools, and companies for over 30 years. Ms. Geltman has developed a number of seminars especially designed for parents of teenagers on understanding their teen’s cognitive and emotional and social development. Adolescent Psychology-The Parent Version, and Sexting, Texting, Drinking And Drugs are two that are in great demand at schools and community groups all over New England.

Joani’s book: I Get it: Three Magic Words for Parents of Teens is available on her website:www.joanigeltman.com. Joani also writes a daily parenting tip blog. Currently there are over 300 tips to help parents navigate the teen age years. http://joanigeltman.blogspot.com/

Here are some other great tips I collected from Kate Fox, the director of Free Spirit Nature Camp and the new Birch School, a child-centered learning community and home school resource center.

-Encourage time with friends. Kids learn new things from each other all the time. The path to their passion may lie in a tip from a friend.

-Be patient. Many adults are still searching for that certain thing that resonates with them. We shouldn’t expect our kids to know what their particular interest is by any certain time.

-Offer many opportunities. After school classes, summer camps, art and dance schools, museums and libraries all offer kids chances to learn more about the things that interest them. Let your children try new classes, especially those that happen just once. Look for a spark that might grow after their first exposure and be sure to give opportunities to repeat activities of interest.

-Try not to be so overly enthusiastic about your child’s new interest. Let the child’s affection grow slowly, and don’t interfere at first. Often, when you show great enthusiasm and therefore expectations, your child will back away from the activity in reaction to the pressure. Instead, facilitate the activity as necessary, but be laid back and somewhat disinterested in the final outcome.

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Celebrating Mom: Giving to the Michael J. Fox Foundation

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Celebrating Mom: Giving to the Michael J. Fox Foundation

It’s been a year since she hasn’t been with us. It’s been one of the toughest times of our lives.

We are a close family. We are loud, Italian and Catholic. We are that family, the kind in each other’s business… way too much. We can’t help it. We love each other no matter what. That intense love is what she taught us.

We know her beautiful spirit is with us, but we struggle and miss her everyday. We check in with each other via phone calls and texts, “I really miss her today,” “I felt mom just now,” “Today is so hard,” “Feeling stronger for the moment.”

But even though we miss her and our lives have been changed forever, we choose to celebrate her. We talk about her funny ways, her no nonsense parenting style and her love.

On her birthday, November 3rd, we celebrated Italian style, just the way she’d like it! We went to mass as a family and then ordered in from one of our favorite Italian restaurants… topping it all off with some heartfelt spirits!

Even though she is not physically with us, she continues to bring us together. She is our rock.

In honor of our mom, Loretta Tetreault, please give this holiday season. Any amount will help in finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. My mom looked to Michael J. Fox for inspiration and so do we. To make a donation, head on over to: MichaelJFox.org

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Parents, Do You Sing To Your Kids?

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Parents, Do You Sing To Your Kids?

Check out the highlights of a new survey on Music Education- it may change the way you see music in your home.  (Survey conducted by Music Together LLC)

 
*        72% of parents with children under 18 years old believe that you are born either with or without the ability to carry a tune 
 
*        A shockingly low 17% of parents sing to their children daily
 
*        Nearly all (98%) believe that children need music education

Photo: Courtesy of Music Together

Photo: Courtesy of Music Together

Ken Guilmartin, the Founder of Music Together says, “It is not true that you are either born musical or not.  Just as we are all born with the potential to speak our native language, we are all born with enough music ability to learn to sing in tune and move in time, as long as parents and other primary caregivers provide an adequate music environment during early childhood. Of course, not everyone will emerge as a musical virtuoso, but we also don’t expect every child learning to talk to become a famous actor. But, all children can certainly learn to carry a tune and comfortably participate in music activities throughout their lives.”

 
He adds: “While it is heartening to see that music education is valued by so many parents, the survey shows a misunderstanding of the role of parents and caregivers in their children’s music development. We teach children language by continuously talking and reading to them. Imagine if you only talked to your child once a month! Similarly, the best thing parents can do to support musical growth is to sing and dance with their children, as often as possible.” 
 
*        According to the survey, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) parents report singing to their children, yet the majority (55%) do it only once a month and 41% do it only once a week. Only 17% of parents sing to their children daily. 
 
“Listening to music is fine, but it’s a good idea to actively make music with your child every day. The good news is that you are likely doing it more often than you might think. Bouncing your child on your knee along with the TV or radio, making up silly songs, singing a lullaby—these are all ways to create the supportive and rich music environment children need to develop their inborn music potential. And keep in mind it is not about how good a singer you are! What’s important is that you model the enjoyment of making music yourself. Some adults feel self-conscious about their own singing and dancing and some may think they need to be a great singer or musician in order to be a good musical role model. But, research suggests that even parents who cannot sing in tune can still provide their child with a positive disposition for music-making. In addition, singing and dancing together can be an important way to bond with your child. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for everyone!”  according to Guilmartin.
 
Other highlights of the Music Together survey include:
 
• The likelihood of parents to agree that learning music is important to a child’s general development increases with the age of the parent: 18-34 (79%), 35-44 (89%), and 45-54 (92%). 
 
• Nearly all (98%) of U.S. parents with a child under 18 think children need a music education. The average age these parents think music education should begin is at 3.3 years old. Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) think this education should begin before the age of 1; 52% believe this education for children should begin between ages 1 and 5; and 18% believe this should happen at age 6 or older.  
 
• Dads are more likely than moms to say that music education should start at a later age (average age to begin music education: 4.0 vs. 2.7, respectively). Dads are more than twice as likely as Moms to say this should start at the age of 6 or older (26% vs. 12%, respectively).  
 
For the complete survey results, please visit: www.musictogether.com/mtsurvey2014.

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15 Ways to Ask Your Kid “What Did You Do at School Today?”

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15 Ways to Ask Your Kid “What Did You Do at School Today?”

Today Asher started Kindergarten and Jackson started first grade. And when I pick them up from school, I want to hear it all. I want to hear about every single part of their day.  Heck, if I could, I’d be a fly on the wall.  But I can’t, so it’s up to them to tell me what the day entailed and it’s up to me to get it out of them… EVERYTHING. I know that’s not going to happen, but there are a few ways to get an answer to the question, “What did you do at school today?” and hear more than, “I don’t know.”

First, what’s helped me and what can help you is to interview your kid (not to the point of exhaustion), but just enough to get some good ‘intel.’ ALWAYS ask open ended questions. If you ask simple, “yes” or “no” questions, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Make a game out of it! Then sneak in a few questions that will ensure some juicy details. My advice comes to you after years of interviewing kids as a journalist and understanding that they are the toughest interviewees ever!

So here we go!

 

1) Give me two names of kids in your class.

 

2) What was your teacher wearing?

 

3) What was the first thing you did in school?

 

4)What was the last thing you did in school?

 

5) What did you see in another kid’s lunchbox that you’d like for your lunch?

 

6) What was your favorite part of the classroom and why?

 

7) What game did you play at recess?

 

8) What part of the day did you like the least and why?

 

9) Tell me how you felt when you first walked into the classroom?  Nervous, excited?

 

10) What was one thing your teacher said to you that was silly?

 

11) Guess how old your teachers are.

 

12) Give me three chances to figure out what your favorite subject is. And if I don’t get it, you don’t have to clear your plate at dinner tonight.

 

13) What color uniform (or outfit) are you planning on wearing to school tomorrow?

 

14) If you could go back to school today and start the day over, what would you do differently and why?

 

15) What are you looking forward to tomorrow at school?

 

So you get the drift parents, and if none of this works you can always revert to bribery… here’s a little conversation that’s worked for me in the past and goes a little like this:

Me: So what did you do in school today?

Them: Nothing

Me: Nothing?

Them: Yeah, nothing.

Me: Oh gee then, you must be eating too much sugar, your brain isn’t working right. We better not have dessert tonight.

Them: They start talking…

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LG’s Junior Chef Academy

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LG’s Junior Chef Academy

Asher IS a little, tiny chef…

So last night at LG’s Junior Chef Academy he was ready to go. Interestingly the little foodie exclaimed his favorite dish was the Watermelon Skewers with Citrus Feta. Why?

Because, as he put it, it was the first time he had ever tried watermelon and peppercorn together. Nice… Recipe below.

As Asher went from station to station he was given a golden star for recipes completed. This became his project. Each step of the way, he earned his stars in an effort toward LG’s Junior Chef Graduation- he was determined. He worked and worked. He and the rest of the kids made Caprese Stuffed Tomatoes, Fruit Pizza and Mix-And-Match Ice Cream Sandwiches. All thanks to Celebrity Chef Sandra Lee.

It was non-stop for three hours, this five year old kid was into it. LG threw a perfect party. Maybe they can do Asher’s next birthday party. Maybe, LG? And when he finally “graduated” we took one last picture to celebrate the event. This one a little fuzzy, maybe too many sangria’s?

And so as we headed out the door, stomachs full, feeling happy, almost bedtime, all was good… That was until our little, tiny chef screamed at the top of his lungs, “Wait, wait, what about the refrigerator?” What? I said. “The refrigerator contest, I want the refrigerator!” What happened next? Let’s just say it was yet another exercise in keeping our cool as parents.

As promised, Asher’s favorite recipe below. But before you start cooking, one more favorite thing, this time from me. Check out my blogging buddy’s take on the LG event at BadSandy. She is a BAD A_ _ in my book. Meredith Gordon writes one of the funniest blogs in LA. We bumped into each other mid cooking and decided to write and then share our blog posts from our very different perspectives. Hmmmmmm… Turns out our kids had just one thing on their minds… REFRIGERATOR CONTEST. Check out Meredith on FB too!

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Why This Mom is Excited for Super Bowl 2014!

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Why This Mom is Excited for Super Bowl 2014!

I like sports. I really do. I am gearing up for the winter Olympics. But football has never been something I ever enjoyed watching and with all of the potential dangers of the game, I have ruled out my sons ever playing on a tackle football team. That said, I will join the ranks of the more than 100 million people who watch the big game this February 2nd.

The reason for my conversion is simple. Asher and Jackson are now 5 and 6, respectively. They watch football every Sunday with my husband, Andrew. I see what is going on. They are bonding in a new and fun way. Knowing in the back of my mind, being a mother to sons, if I don’t get in on the action I might be missing an opportunity to be a part of this new adventure.

It’s not that I’m trying to encroach on what they’ve got going. The three of them play golf without me, they talk endlessly about basketball and baseball, never asking for my comments or insight. I have no insight into any of it. But, I figured this championship game, the highest level of American football in the United States, is where I’d like to start!

As I have been eavesdropping on all the football talk, I have come to realize that there is a lot more going on than conversations about the players and the plays. In fact, Andrew is teaching them about statistics (he’s the numbers guy in our family). They talk about the cities the teams are from, the geography talk is great. They talk about the intensity of the fans. It’s kind of adorable.

So on Super Bowl Sunday, I will be on the couch, alongside my three guys. We’ll order in, we’ll talk game strategy (I’m still learning) and interestingly, this year, we’ll listen to and watch opera singer Renee Fleming perform the national anthem. Fleming is a soprano and a four-time Grammy winner. Imagine that, a little culture mixed in with the game of the year!

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No iPad Minutes This Summer…Period.

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No iPad Minutes This Summer…Period.

They’ve been officially cut off. Jackson, 6 and Asher, 5 are looking at a summer minus iPad, Internet and older cousins’ phones… no nothin.

They have been allowed 15 iPad minutes each day, that’s what we call screen time in our house. That does not include TV time. That is also limited. But as summer sets in, my boys seem to want it more and more and… more. It’s creeping into our lives in a very ugly way. The five year old yelling and screaming that his time is not up (when it is) and holding on to the iPad with a serious death grip. I’ve literally had to pry it out of his hands. I’ve had enough!

We gave the boys the news while they were busy drawing super heroes. We thought we’d soften the blow. But it didn’t seem to set in because they didn’t really seem to care. WHAT? All they said was ‘okay.’ Do they not understand what we just said? I wonder when it’s gonna sink in?

So even though this decision is a bit scary as I know it will undoubtedly cause me more trouble than I’m able to grasp. We (my husband and I) think it’s what’s best for our family. While I love technology and believe it in for children (to an extent) I do not think it is serving them well. Educational games included. I will not allow them to be addicted to useless games and hours of meaningless activity. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s okay. I just see it as a bad habit. And for my kids at least, it’s a privilege, not a right.

What’s even more scary to me is that we really don’t know what this technology is doing to our children’s brains. There’s just not a lot of research on this. Believe me, I’ve searched and I’ve asked so many experts about this topic. Our babies were born into this culture. What impact will it have on their lives and brains?

I asked Katie Hurley, a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert, to weigh in:

“‘Everything in moderation’ is a commonly used phrase when it comes to kids and technology. There is definitely a place for technology in the classroom. Kids are learning to navigate technology at a much younger age, with the hope that this will serve them well in the future. That does not, however, include games. Even the so-called educational games are created in a way to keep kids coming back for more. It is a business, after all. New stimuli and rewards are offered at certain intervals to keep kids interested. Then they get back to the classroom and teachers report inattention, fidgeting, and behavioral concerns. Can it all be blamed on games? Of course not. But clearly moderation isn’t really working. Summer is the perfect time to decrease screen time and rely on outdoor, organic play. Kids get less outside time overall right now, and that affects behavior. Unplugging for the summer gives kids a chance to learn while doing what they love to do – play.”

So that’s that. We’ll see how it all goes. I’ll keep you posted as the summer unfolds. I’m hoping for the best. What are your thoughts?

Katie Hurley also has specialized training in Play Therapy from the University of California San Diego. She worked as a Therapist and Clinical Director at a specialized day school for children with Learning Differences in Los Angeles for seven years. She runs a private practice and teaches parenting classes. For more about Kaite Hurley, head on over to her website at: Practical Parenting

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Boys Unplugged: The ‘No Technology’ Summer Experiment

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Boys Unplugged: The ‘No Technology’ Summer Experiment

In our home, Summer 2014 is officially done (the boys go back to school on Tuesday) and so is a little experiment we conducted in our household. I posted a blog about it,  ‘No iPad Minutes This Summer… Period’ in which Jackson, 6 and Asher, 5 were officially cut off from the iPad, the Internet and older cousins’ phones… the boys were going unplugged. Limited TV was still allowed. My husband and I were SERIOUS.

The results are in. Interested in how it all went? Here’s the low down along with the detours we enjoyed – yes, I meant to write ‘enjoyed.’ In the first week the boys probably asked to use the iPad about five times. Each time I stated firmly “no, not until the end of the summer.” But inside I was afraid of the tantrum to follow. Instead there was a bit of whining and asking when summer would end. (Strange question from kids, but I guess in context) Still, that was it. REALLY.

As we moved into July, the boys were busy in kindergarten/1st grade camp or zoo camp or theater camp. A trip to San Diego also filled their days. At home, the backyard served them well, as they played soccer and putted around on the putting green. Swimming was also a biweekly activity. The boys’ first book club meeting had us busy reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and more reading followed. The point… they didn’t really miss technology. It kinda felt like the summers I enjoyed as a kid, lots of down time, lots of play time and lots of fun.

In August, the boys spent time with family -just hanging out- and nights of never-ending cousin sleepovers. I would occasionally ask the boys – really tell the boys -okay, work extraordinarily hard to brain-wash the boys about the pitfalls of too much technology/screen time on their developing brains. At times they really bought into it declaring, “Mommy, even when we can use the iPad again, we won’t.” Followed by,  “It’s just bad for your brain.” Yeeeesssssssss! My plan was working!

But then, in mid August, the first detour: a friend’s birthday party, with a serious challenge, was inching closer on the calendar. This party was not to be missed… for two reasons. One, my boys love this kid -so do I- and two, there was the well known fact that a video game truck would be part of the festivities. What to do? Actually, it was simple. For me this was a way to show the boys that video games/technology can be alright, just as long as it’s all used wisely. Not to mention, this was a special occasion. The boys attended the party which also included gobs of sugar displays (first a cake, then an ice cream truck and for the grand finale, a piñata), but who cares- it was fun and sometimes you’ve just gotta let loose.  The boys played the games, but I didn’t have to pry them out of the truck (the sugar helped do that!)

It’s now the final week before school starts and the sun has set on summer. The ‘no technology’ experiment is just about complete, but not before the mammoth-sized detour we were so fatefully guaranteed. We came upon it on our family’s last hoorah of the season, a trip to Amelia Island in Florida. The boys took the flight in stride, without headphones or the iPad. They played their own made-up mind-reading game with sticks (very old school), slept, ate and talked. We were a bit loud, but I don’t think we bothered too many people. On to the hotel. And then out of nowhere, a shock for us all… none of us could have ever imagined. We see the most unbelievable, magnificent, flashing lighted game room ever. The magical noises inside the room drew kids in like zombies, ready for them to jump onto ‘black leather gaming seats,’ grab onto a huge assortment of hand held devices and become mesmerized by screens for hours, possibly days. The teenager running the room even said if there’s a game you’d like to play and we don’t have it we’ll go out and get it for you. I’m not kidding! Kind of like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ but ‘Charlie and the Video Game Factory.’

This picture does not do the game room justice. More video pods, foosball, a mini movie theater…

This did not look good. We were only a week away from success. We were practically “technology” free all summer long. How could I keep them from this game room which we will pass by every single day for five days, at least half a dozen times a day? Again, what to do? Again, it was simple. We were on vacation and my boys may never again see this amazing world that only a kid could truly appreciate. We let them in and let them at it. We told them this was one of those special occasions and all was well in their world and ours. We figured that after days filled with swimming at the pool, swimming in the ocean, searching for shark teeth (Jack found 16, Asher, none- that was not fun) collecting and examining sea shells and lots more, that at night the boys, along with their cousins, were allowed to go to the game room – on their own I might add – and just play VIDEO GAMES. It was done. We fell a week short in our experiment. Still, it was okay. GAME OVER.

Now the question, how do we move forward? Before the summer ban on technology, the boys were allowed 15 minutes a day on the iPad. Now though, the rule is no iPad during the school week, unless it’s for school. The boys are now in Kindergarten and 1st grade. But they can have weekend time- 1/2 an hour on Saturday and 1/2 an hour on Sunday… Period. The longer I can keep them plugged into real life, the better.

If you might be thinking of shifting or limiting screen time/technology time in your family, here’s my advice:

-State the new rules clearly, make sure the kids understand what is going to be happening. They need to know what is expected in order to succeed.
-BE FIRM. Don’t give in or change your new rules unless it’s really a special occasion in your mind. (It’s okay to be flexible sometimes, flexibility is a part of real life.)
-Be realistic with yourself. Set goals that you can achieve with your kids. What makes sense for your family?  (Some sound advice from my husband)
-Make sure you replace that screen time with a new activity. You want to create a new “healthy habit.”

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Teachable Tuesday: Our Thankful Tree Tradition

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Teachable Tuesday: Our Thankful Tree Tradition

Thanksgiving… what does it mean to you? The definition in black and white is “the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.”

So what are you thankful for? It’s a simple question. But too often as we move through our busy lives and sometimes difficult times, it’s hard to consciously be thankful for all that we have. So to be conscious and present as a family, we have been using a THANKFUL TREE each year to take a step back, for a moment each day, as we walk toward celebrating Thanksgiving.

And mom and dad, this isn’t just for the kids. This is a beautiful way for the entire family to announce out loud what each individual is thankful for. Everyday, each family member writes down on a card or leaf shaped card what he or she is grateful for. That person then hangs that card on the tree and by Thanksgiving day the tree will be filled with words of thankfulness.

There are so many ways to incorporate a THANKFUL TREE into your home. This year, I decided to make it really easy and went to a craft store to pick up lighted twigs, leaves and leaf shaped cards to hang.

But in the past, when the boys were in preschool and loved finger painting, we made our tree from scratch and put it up on the wall. We also cut the leaves together as a way to practice cutting. It’s great to incorporate age appropriate art activities to get the kids into the spirit of being thankful! Not exactly the most beautiful tree, but it was our tree.

Another huge benefit of the THANKFUL TREE is the habit it produces. On a daily basis we are aware of what we are grateful for and it feels good!

And so HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Whatever that might mean to you!

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Teachable Tuesday: Practicing How to Say “I’m Sorry.”

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Teachable Tuesday: Practicing How to Say “I’m Sorry.”

A micro-blog on Tuesdays with an emphasis on practical tips for successful parenting.

After a night out with my husband, we returned home to a quiet house and figured we’d get a nice report on the boys’ behavior from their babysitter. Not the case. Turns out it was more like “boys vs. the babysitter” and the chaos had just come to an end. Basically, our sweet babysitter was a bit shell shocked. She said she didn’t want to get the boys in trouble, but I urged her to tell me what went down. She said the boys fought with each other and were wild. Ok, that’s nothing new. The boys do that with us all the time. Still their unacceptable behavior got worse. It’s one thing to misbehave, but according to our 12th grade babysitter, the boys told her “We won’t go to bed unless you promise to bring us candy at 7:30 in the morning.” WHAT? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The two of them sounded like little, dare I say it, BRATS.  There was no way this behavior was going to be taken lightly. NO WAY.

So after we discussed their punishment, which included no TV from Monday through Friday, we felt we needed to do more. We thought this was a very teachable moment. So here’s what we did: We thought about having them write her a note apologizing for their behavior, but that didn’t feel completely right- they are 5 and 6 and we believe they need to understand and vocalize their regret. So instead of a note to their babysitter, we thought we would teach them how to say they are sorry. The boys say they are sorry in our home to one another and to us, but as far as having to say they are sorry in the “real world,” it hasn’t been a huge issue, thankfully. So we figured, now is the time. They need to learn how to say they are sorry and mean it and understand that their behavior can hurt people.

So we told them that because we didn’t know when we would see their babysitter next, we should send her an iPhone video and tell her “I’m sorry.” It really got them to think about what they were sorry for and how they were then going to articulate it. Here’s a look at their first try. Not bad, but still needs some work.

We are our children’s first teachers and as parents we can help them be empathetic and show them how to express their regret. This will empower them to be in touch with the world around them as well as be in touch with their feelings and emotions. We want them to know that we all make mistakes sometimes, but we can turn things around and learn from our experiences. We practice how to study, how to play sports, how to play an instrument… we can practice how to say “I’m sorry” too. 

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Teachable Tuesday: Getting the Most Out of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

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Teachable Tuesday: Getting the Most Out of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

In my past life, as an elementary school teacher, I distinctly recall three types of parents coming into my classroom for the parent-teacher conference. First, there was the very excited and in tune parent who I knew was going to make sure her kid did well, no matter what. The second type was the very nervous and intimidated parent. This parent didn’t want to rock the boat and didn’t have much to say. Finally, the third type of parent was ready to rumble. This parent was going to find a problem with anything I said and if I offered even one “constructive” piece of advice, there was no hearing it. All of these moms and dads came from different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences; but the one thing they all had in common… they wanted the best for their child.

Now as a mom to a Kindergartner and first grader, the tables have turned. I am now the one eager to make sure that my child is working to the best of his ability. I also have a bit of trepidation, as I don’t want to say something that might negatively influence how my child is seen. With that said, the most important thing to remember is that you, your child and your child’s teacher have to be on the same page and working toward the same goal. YOU HAVE TO BE A TEAM.

Your child spends most of his day with his teacher. Your child’s teacher is there to ensure your kid’s academic success. So when parent-teacher conferences roll around, you want to be there. It’s that precious time to get the one-on-one attention you and your child deserve. You want to get to know your kid’s teacher and you want your kid’s teacher to GET YOUR KID. It’s up to you to help your child connect with his teacher to ensure not only a successful academic school year, but a happy one!

Here are a few suggestions for an A+ parent-teacher conference:

Go in with an open mind
There is no room for preconceived notions. No room for engaging in rumors, etc. What one parent/child may have experienced with your particular teacher is fraught with gray matter. You and your child have a unique relationship with the teacher.

Listen
Really listen to what the teacher is expressing about your son or daughter. Try to hear what the teacher is saying. Children may display behavior in class that you may not see at home. Are you the same at home as your are out in the world? Likely, the answer is no.

Get on the same page as your child’s teacher
Remember, your child’s teacher is the person caring for and developing your child’s academic success. Do your best to enhance what the teacher is trying to accomplish.

Tell the teacher about your kid
Let the teacher know what he is like on the sports field, during down time or who his friends are. What makes your kid tick?

Do not be afraid to ask questions
If your child needs extra help or the teacher wants him to focus on something in particular, ask specifically what you should do at home to help your child transfer that to the classroom. Ask the teacher to spell it out. It’s okay. Take the time now.

Remember, your child’s teacher is only human
Teachers make mistakes too. Be empathetic to the fact that in most cases your child’s teacher is doing the best that he/she can. If you’re empathetic, he/she is more likely to want to understand and be empathetic toward your child.

Show up!
Don’t miss your parent-teacher conference unless there is an emergency.That means both parents.This will allow you to understand exactly what the teacher is expressing. It’s also beneficial to be able to bounce ideas off of one another.This is one of your most important meetings as parents!

Don’t compare your child to another
Every child is unique and every child will grow and develop at his own academic speed.

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Private School Acceptance…Or Not

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Private School Acceptance…Or Not

The letters are in the mail. The emails are ready to be sent. Moms and dads all over the L.A. area are about to hear if their soon to be Kindergartner has been accepted to the private school of their dreams. But there is a cost and it’s a hefty one. While parents are waiting, hoping and frankly, drinking in anticipation of the acceptance notification, the reality is the commitment to actually pay for it is even more blistering. I write this for all the parents who are trying to figure it all out. I know how you feel. I can empathize. I know your anxiety and your excitement. But know this, it’s all going to be over very soon and all will be settled… sort of.

I liken it to college rush. I remember the day it happened for us, only a year ago. We applied to four schools. That’s about average when it comes to applications per family. We were on the tee-ball field when the first email came into my inbox. The first acceptance was in the form of an email congratulating our son and welcoming our family. It was our first choice! A sigh of relief. On the other side of the field, I saw my husband, a big smile on his face as he had just read the email as well. Then, in only a matter of minutes, the text messages from friends. “Where did you get in?” “I’m still waiting.” “What do you know?” “We’re on the wait-list.” It was CRAZY! I was trying to process what was going on and what it really meant as far as a commitment to our children’s education. We still didn’t know if we could swing it. We knew the school of our dreams for our sons was the perfect fit and that both our boys would thrive in that particular environment. It was a no-brainer when it came to the quality of education, but it wasn’t a done deal when it came to the cost. Twenty-five thousand dollars a year, per kid and knowing it would go up, was not to be taken lightly. This meant an adjustment in our lifestyle and we knew the stress of it could be difficult on any marriage. And what about college? We have been saving since the boys were born, so we thought we were going to be ‘okay’ for college, but now we had to deal with Kindergarten.

I am happy to report that we made the decision to send our son to our first choice school and he is thriving and happy! But I must admit, while he did get into two other schools and declined by one, we would never have sent him to any of the others. The reason… we could not reconcile spending that amount of money anywhere else. The simple fact is that we knew our number one choice was the right choice. The other schools were and are wonderful, but not the right fit for our son or for us.

So my advice to you, moms and dads, stressing over all of this: you have every reason to feel stressed, unsure and confused. Give yourselves a break. This is a HUGE commitment. And understand that if your son or daughter doesn’t get into a certain school, take it in stride. There are so many reasons why children are not selected. There are simply more students applying than there are spots and when administrators are looking at building classes, there are so many factors involved. Do not be crushed. Things will be as they are supposed to be. There is a plan.

Remember this too, you are your child’s first teacher. You can supplement your child in ways a school environment could never even attempt to.

One final thought and I know it’s easier said than done, and I’m saying this having already experienced it all, but put everything into PERSPECTIVE. While sending your child to a private school in Los Angeles is a gift to your child, it is not the ONLY way to a quality education.

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Why I Said ‘Yes” To “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

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Why I Said ‘Yes” To “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

It’s not like I suggested it, he begged me. I mean, I told both my boys we needed to get their summer reading lists in order, but he picked the title, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” He said he really wanted to read the series and start with book one.

I told Jackson, age six, that I wasn’t sure it was appropriate (the words and situations). The book is really for 8 to 12 year olds and there are a lot of mildly offensive words such as, jerk, stupid, dumb, dork, heck, shoot, freak, and butt. Even milder expressions, like stinky poo, screw loose, and suck it up, are also in black and white.

Not quite sure what to do, we headed to the book store. The entire time I was thinking, once he gets inside and starts shopping, he’ll find something else.

We arrive. Of course, the first thing he says to the young lady behind the desk, “Do you have ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid?” Okay, now I have to deal with it. He proudly follows the lady to the shelf and she hands it to him. Once he’s gripped it, a great big smile appears on his face. He tells me he’s ready, he’s got it and let’s go. Likely trying to get me out of there before I could come up with another excuse not to get it. But I do…

I tell Jackson to sit down and read me the first page. I figure maybe it will be too tough to get through and that the comprehension might not be there. Not the case. The kid got through the first page and was able to tell me what it all meant. I did have to help him with the word SPECIFICALLY, but that was it.

How do you say no to a kid who really, really, really wants to read something, even if he’s a bit young for it? I couldn’t. I decided to talk to him about the use of what he calls the S word (stupid) and all the others, as those are not words he will be using. He agreed. He laughed and said he couldn’t believe he was really reading words like’jerk and dumb.’ It was as if he was getting away with something. Secretly for me: cutest thing ever.

Reading along with Jackson and explaining to him what “cooties” are really isn’t all that bad after all. Yeah, he’s six, but he can handle it. Maybe in some ways reading those “bad” words will become a way for him to better understand how hurtful they are at a younger age, guiding him to have a deeper sense of empathy.

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How to Identify Your Child’s Strengths and Talents

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How to Identify Your Child’s Strengths and Talents

What are your talents and strengths? What are your child’s talents and strengths? It’s up to us as parents to help guide our children toward success, however that may manifest itself. But identifying strengths is not always an easy task. According to Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and speaker, “You are most innovative, creative and resilient in the areas that you are strong.” So how do you identify strengths? Buckingham introduces his “strength based approach” which focuses on who a person is rather than who they are not.

Based on extensive data, Buckingham explains that most of us are honing in on fixing weaknesses instead of leveraging strengths. In one scenario, Buckingham explains that if a child receives a report card with 3 A’s, 2 B’s, a C and an F, most of the conversation about the report card is centered on the “F.” As parents we have to deal with the “F”, obviously. But it doesn’t have to be the main topic of discussion. Instead, we need to leverage our child’s strengths. How did he/she earn the A’s? What is it he/she enjoys about those classes? We need to see or identify what is already innately present in our child.

Buckingham says, “Using your strengths makes you feel strong.” Makes sense, right? But take it a step further: Buckingham advises, “put a name on what drives your child. Get kids to name their own strengths.” One way to do this is to use his personal assessment tool, “SIGN,” created to identify talents or strengths. It’s a way to look at activities and whether or not they make you feel strong.

S-Success: When you engage in an activity, you feel effective.

I-Instinct: Before you engage in an activity, you look forward to it.

G-Growth: While doing the activity, you feel inquisitive and focused.

N-Needs: After you’ve completed the activity, you feel fulfilled and authentic.

Buckingham’s advice is to use “SIGN” for one week to see what you love and to define your strengths. If your child is at least ten, he can also use this tool. Buckingham says that by age ten, a child is capable of describing his own strengths via a parent’s guidance.

In addition, asking your child pointed questions can help identify strengths. Instead of, “how was school today?” a parent can ask, “what time of the day flew by the fastest?” “What do you look forward to during the day?” These types of questions will help your child identify his strengths. You do not have to worry about the performance or outcome, according to Buckingham.

So how can you create success at home? How can you identify what makes the best teams or most successful families? According to Buckingham, there are three very powerful questions that need to be asked. Buckingham lays them out like this: “Are my family members committed to quality work?” (Only you can identify what “quality” means to your family.) “Do I know what is expected of me within my family?” (You are always tweaking and adjusting expectations.) And the number one question we should be asking ourselves at home is, “do I have a chance to do what I do best every day?” These are three questions that allow for success and building on our strengths.

Buckingham’s exuberance for what he calls a “strengths revolution” is palpable. He insists, “Do not tell a child who he is.” Instead, guide your child to realize his/her own strengths and talents. Find out what drives him/her. “The gift you give your children when you choose to focus on what they have, rather than on what they don’t, is immeasurable. Seeking ways to allow them to express the best of themselves, and supporting them no matter how obscure their dreams may be, will undoubtedly give your children a solid platform on which to build a strong, fulfilling life.”

Marcus Buckingham first conquered the bestseller lists in 1999 with First, Break All the Rules. While the title may imply an iconoclastic streak, his continuing plea for managers to break with tradition has nothing to do with rebellion; instead, he argues, rules must be broken and discarded because they stifle the originality and uniqueness — the strengths — that can enable all of us to achieve our highest performance.

Following up on his highly successful debut book, Buckingham continued to spread the message that people’s unique personal strengths are the key to unlocking their potential. As co-author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, he helped create StrengthsFinder, the personal assessment tool that gave millions of individuals a new vocabulary to positively describe their ingrained talents. The book also added the phrase “Top 5″ to the lexicon of managers and business people around the world.

In addition to refining and reinforcing his message in subsequent books (The One Thing You Need to Know; Go Put Your Strengths to Work; The Truth About You; Find Your Strongest Life), Buckingham addresses hundreds of thousands of people each year in keynote addresses worldwide. He founded The Marcus Buckingham Company in 2007 to create tools and training that would help managers and organizations access the untapped potential of their people’s strengths.

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Separation Anxiety? Draw it Out!

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Separation Anxiety? Draw it Out!

If your child is experiencing separation anxiety as he or she transitions back into school or if he/she is headed to preschool for the first time, here’s a quick suggestion that helped my son, Jackson.

DRAW IT OUT!
Jackson was having a bit of a difficult time heading back to school so his teacher helped him talk out his feelings by drawing it out. It’s made a world of difference and things are now moving more smoothly. Jackson’s picture is laminated and he takes it to school, on the car ride, everyday. He can look at it and remember he is happy once he is at school. It seems to have done the trick!

Pictured: friends at top, mommy, mommy’s car, Jackson going into school happy.

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Preschool Graduation—There’s Nothing Quite Like It…

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Preschool Graduation—There’s Nothing Quite Like It…

Preschool graduation isn’t one of those “milestones” I ever really thought about… heck, I didn’t even go to preschool. But now, during these last few weeks, as my Jackson’s preschool graduation nears, it’s all we’re thinking about. Daddy’s even in on the “thinking,” calling me from work with a great gift idea for Jackson’s big day… incredibly thoughtful and sweet, I must admit. So we’re in it and we love it, even if it’s completely silly, over the top and just plain nuts.

And in my baby’s honor, a letter to my dear Jackson, as he celebrates his preschool graduation.

Jackson

Jackson

Jackson-

You are headed into kindergarten, the next BIG step in your life… and we acknowledge, it is a big step. From your perspective, only five years on this earth, you are exiting the “baby” world and heading out to be a true, big kid.

As we count down to your graduation day, all you can talk about is graduation practice- the songs you’re singing and the group you’re in, graduation clothes- the cap and gown, even asking for an Italian suit for your special day. (We’re working on that, kinda.) You tell me you want to celebrate and Jackson, that’s exactly what we’ll do!

You’ve grown so much. In the beginning, crying at drop off and now, begging to go to school even when you’re sick. You are now reading and doing simple math. You talk about the continents. You enjoy making snacks during snack time. You have been on stage more times than your daddy and me combined. You’ve made some very special friends. You are a yellow belt. You are confident. You are filled with joy.

But among all that you have accomplished, you have developed a love of learning. The seed has been planted. In our minds, mission accomplished! Take that, Jackson and embrace it. Never stop learning.

And so as your big day approaches, know that we will be there cheering you on. And we’ll never stop cheering for you, we’ll be there every step of the way! From what so many other parents say, college is right around the corner!

Congratulations, my preschool grad! We love you!

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Loretta’s Journal – You Are Everything

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Loretta’s Journal – You Are Everything

I want to preface this story, the fifth entry of “Loretta’s Journal,” by explaining that this is not a typical story that I post on SuperMommyNot.com. We lost my mother, Loretta, to Parkinson’s disease. I appreciate all of you who read this and I hope this helps anyone living with a difficult disease or going through a challenging time in their life.

Mom, you are everything to me. You are the mother every child deserves. David, Philip, Scott, Nicole and I got lucky, blessed by God to have you as our mother. You are our protector, supporter, friend, leader and hero.

Mom, you are a gift. Throughout our lives you have given us gifts upon gifts; teaching us, cooking for us, traveling with us, making our clothes when we were little, giving us thoughtful, spectacular birthday parties, celebrations for graduations and first communions, giving us tradition during the holidays, staying up late at night typing our reports during our school years, driving us to every sporting event and music class, spending time with us, talking to us, showing us, by example, how to live Christian lives, giving us the gift of faith, laying the foundation for opportunity, cheering us on, believing in us even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. There is nothing you didn’t do for us. You personify selflessness.

Mom, Parkinson’s does not define you. You lived your life to the fullest. It was only these last few years that the disease took you further from us. Your fight against the disease was no ordinary fight. You heroically went through two relatively new procedures to help with PD symptoms, paving the way for others. Your courage is evident. You raised tens of thousands of dollars through our family golf tournaments, to benefit researchers at UCLA and USC, in hopes of helping others. In your own pain, you chose to help others. Again, proving your strength, determination and selflessness.

Mom, our bond is undeniable. When I think back on all of our years together, it is clear what we have is unique, special and sacred. We are secure in our love. There is no uncertainty in the depth of our love and our commitment to one another. Every time I need you, you are there. No matter the circumstances, your smile lights me up. Your love is unconditional. Your love is true. Your love is everlasting.

Mom, you are the mother I strive to be. As I think about how difficult it will be in these coming days, weeks and years to be without you, I know, in my mind, I have to move forward. But, mom, I miss you. My heart is broken. Still once again, I will follow your lead. You lost your sweet mother a month before I was born, when David was just a baby. But you took care of us, going on to have Philip, Scott and Nicole- creating a beautiful life with dad. For that, we are united in our love for you.

Mom, I will continue to talk to you every day. I know, in the depth of my being, your spirit is with me. Guide me, mom. Watch over us all, my sweet angel. And know, we will take care of dad. We will stand by him as he begins his journey without you. Have peace and know we are grateful for you, my beautiful mother. I love you always and forever.

Below are past entries from Loretta’s Journal:

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal-baby-steps

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal-be-my-valentine

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal-acceptance

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Loretta’s Journal – Acceptance

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Loretta’s Journal – Acceptance

I want to preface this story, the fourth entry of “Loretta’s Journal,” by explaining that this is not a typical story that I post on SuperMommyNot.com. My mother, Loretta, suffers from Parkinson’s disease. I appreciate all of you who read this and I hope this helps anyone living with a difficult disease or going through a challenging time in their life.

Mom-

As this Mother’s Day approaches I continue to miss you. The way you used to be. The way we used to be together. But now, as time passes, and your disease takes you further and further away from all of us, I am not defeated. In fact, I have come to an acceptance of where we are in this journey.

Each time we are together, I am no longer trying to will the Parkinson’s away. You know and we know, we have all fought to keep it from taking you. Instead, I accept what we can no longer control.

Each time we are together, I love you the best way I know how. I have peace that I can be there for you. I can take care of you as you have always taken care of me. I am honored to take care of you. I accept my role with an open heart.

Each time we are together, I am grateful for the time we have. You are still here with us. I am no longer dwelling on all we have lost. I am not trying to make our relationship something it cannot be. I know how much you love me and you know how much I love you. Nothing can ever take that away from us. Nothing, not even disease. Nothing. I accept our relationship as it is.

I love you, my sweet, sweet mama. Happy Mother’s Day.

Donna

As my mother and family continue on this life altering journey, I will be writing when I feel compelled. I have been journaling to my two boys since they were in my tummy. Writing is my way to gather my thoughts and understand what is happening in my life. I feel it’s time to begin a new journal – Loretta’s journal – a chronicle of this experience my mom is going through. She has approved of me sharing her story. I have learned so much from both of my parents and in reading this journal, I hope you will too. These thoughts and perspectives are solely my own.

Below are past entries from Loretta’s Journal:

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal-baby-steps

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal-be-my-valentine

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Loretta’s Journal – Be My Valentine

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Loretta’s Journal – Be My Valentine

I want to preface this story, the third entry of “Loretta’s Journal,” by explaining that this is not a typical story that I post on SuperMommyNot.com. My mother, Loretta, is undergoing stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease. I appreciate all of you who read this and I hope this helps anyone living with a difficult disease or going through a challenging time in their life.

The picture in my mind is vivid. Every Valentine’s Day, without exception, my father has laid out Valentine cards, candies and flowers on the dining room table for my mother, Loretta, my sister and myself. Valentine’s Day has always been a big deal in my family.

This year was no different and it got me thinking about true love. I’ve always viewed my parents’ marriage as solid. Of course, no marriage is perfect, but there has always been love. And now that they are in the fight of their lives, battling Parkinson’s disease, I see their relationship as absolute, unconditional, deep love. My dad will not give up and has shown my mother what  “in sickness and in health” and “til death do us part” really mean. My dad could have easily let my mother go and let the Parkinson’s just take her. But he hasn’t. He’s made a choice to do everything in his power to help her.

Tears run down my face as I write this piece… just the simple act of my father asking my mother to be his Valentine, during such a tremendously difficult time, is inspiring. This is sweet love.

My mom, Loretta, is nearly six months along in her stem cell therapy treatment. She is now due for her second treatment. We are in the midst of planning our trip which includes travel outside of the country and two days of stem cell injections.  In another three to four months my mom will receive her third treatment, more hope for even a better outcome.

The good news is that my mother is moving along as her doctor indicated. Her quality of life has improved and we are hopeful she will continue to progress. I wish everyone in my mom’s position had the support she does. I know there are a lot of people out there, suffering, who don’t. I’m grateful for my dad’s ability to truly love his Valentine.

As my mother and family continue on this life altering journey, I will be writing when I feel compelled. I have been journaling to my two boys since they were in my tummy. Writing is my way to gather my thoughts and understand what is happening in my life. I feel it’s time to begin a new journal – Loretta’s journal – a chronicle of this amazing experience my mom is going through. She has approved of me sharing her story. I have learned so much from both of my parents and in reading this journal, I hope you will too. These thoughts and perspectives are solely my own.

Below are past entries from Loretta’s Journal:

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal

http://www.supermommynot.com/lorettas-journal-baby-steps

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