We had a 2-week window between Phillip’s last chemical injection and the start of his radiation. It will be 40 rounds of daily radiation from June through August. He wanted to see his Mum. Click: Amazing Grace. Everyone needs their Mum at a time like this!
So we took our little one out of school late May/early June for this family emergency and visited relatives in Europe. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, Godchildren, close friends, everyone we could see within 2 weeks.
Phillip’s mother was overjoyed! Her 89th birthday was in June and she said seeing her son was the best gift ever!
Naturally, everyone we saw wanted to know how treatments were going. We could not rehash the details over and over. Not only is it draining for us but we didn’t want these conversations to overwhelm or frighten our youngest. Most of the time, we can shield her from it but when you’re traveling from home to home – or pub to pub, as is the case in England – folks want to catch up and we’re very sensitive to little ears in range.
Plus, we have striven to reclaim normalcy in the household & beyond for our family. Playing with friends & doing cool things was a mainstay.
And Legoland was awesome but laying on the grass topped all!! Why? Because there are no ticks or pesticides for ticks at all where Grandma lives and Darling was so happy!! It’s the little things, isn’t it?
While staying for an overnight with dear friends about a hundred miles south of Scotland, we ventured with the girls to a nearby castle where parts of Harry Potter & Downton Abbey were filmed, click: Castles & Angels
Later, we drove nearly 300 miles south to Oxford to visit the university and delve into the history of this beautiful medieval city, click: Oxford
And because our budding marine biologist, during these 2 weeks, would unfortunately be missing a highly-anticipated field trip to the beach to explore the biodiversity of the water’s ecosystem, we wanted to do something special for her and booked her for Seatrek at what’s known as Europe’s 1st Seabed Walk: SeaTrek
Her 5th grade teacher kindly allowed our daughter to give a full presentation to her class on the 3 adventures above & what made each so special.
And speaking of 5th grade, the Friday we left for the airport was the same day her class was split into just girls/just boys earlier that morning for “The Talk.” You know the one. Menstruation, growing bodies…
But unlike the lecture we had in school when I was that age – along with a cartoon movie with dancing flowers depicting our blossoming into young ladies – this talk was not only about girl stuff…but boy stuff, too! Would be shocking, but the school explained that with the advent of the Internet, kids see much more than we did at this age and need to know more material to educate and protect themselves.
Humm… Still found it shocking. But it certainly made for fits of laughter – of which we need much of these days – and especially with a silly 5th grader! as we passed by unassuming pubs like the Dandy Cock, or were served Nobby Nuts (salted peanuts) or when we read Spotted Dick on the menu – a British sponge pudding made with raisins & served with custard – but I mean, seriously, come on!
When we all revived in the car from laughing so hard, we arrived at one of Phillip’s oldest friend’s for a lovely meal. No, not at the Dandy Cock. We walked over buttercup-covered hills and along lakes & clifftops.
The Bright Spot – finding the hilarious things in life out of the simplest moments! And appreciating the glorious countryside with our loved ones.
My husband met Harry Bell by happenstance.
If anyone understands the value of early intervention, positive thinking, and the reinforcement of basic values, it is Harry Bell.
He was born in Bridgeport to a troubled young mother, and raised by his aunt, who realized he needed a male role model.
His aunt connected him with a local family who had a son that ended up being Harry’s 3rd grade teacher.
Their efforts paid off. Today Harry Bell is employed by both the Bridgeport Board of Education and the University of Bridgeport as a Security Officer.
Seeing so many children going through some of the same problems, Harry was determined to do something about it. He developed a very special coloring book, Color a Positive Thought! He explains how it’s an anti-bullying, self-empowering, positive thinking tool in our May 12th broadcast on WGCH radio (archived links below.)
The book has had such a positive impact on children & the community. It can be found in schools, pediatrician offices, everywhere!
Our 10-year-old loves Color a Positive Thought and gives us her perspective on it as a child. Here are some snippets of the second half of the interview, just click image below:
May 12, 2015 ChitChat with Children – a 10-year-old’s perspective
Our daughter’s principal & teachers enjoyed the interview and her 4th grade teacher even played it in the classroom.
We were thrilled to give voice to a man who’s had such a difficult upbringing, was able to pull himself up, surpass expectations and fulfill his dream. To hear the full hour, click: Full Interview.
The Bright Spot – This was his 1st radio interview and Mr. Bell & his liaison, William King, were amazed at how much this 10-year-old gleaned from Mr. Bell’s book. Very inspiring!
Click here to order the book: Color a Positive Thought
A few years ago, my husband, Phillip, held out his hand resolutely and said to our son, “Please give me your phone.” Our then 19-year-old’s eyes darted to his buddy and then back to my husband. “You, too,” he said to the friend, holding out his other hand.
They both stiffened but did as they were asked, my husband’s calm but firm voice indicated determination so they weren’t about to question it.
Phillip took the phones and dropped them into a basket on the table. Then he added his Android, the I-pad, I-pods, remotes and a Blackberry.
“We are reclaiming dinnertime,” I announced. “No more texting under the table, watching TV or the old ‘Let me just look that up’ on the I-pad. We’re going to have dinner with family and friends and we’re going to t-a-l-k…you know, like in the olden days…”
It was like sucking the life out of these boys. They sat fidgeting in their chairs, eyes shooting to their phones every time they vibrated in the basket. They were jittery, practically sweating, like withdrawal symptoms of plugged-in addicts. These teens were plugged out of the world right now and had to actually communicate for a FULL 30 minutes with real human beings in front of them.
Phillip and I are not against technology in the least. Quite to the contrary, we are social media networkers ourselves connected via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, IM, blogging, texting, and even building a number of websites for several successful businesses throughout our region. Our company, ID CardGuard, purely revolves around technology.
We enjoy the latest gadgets and encourage our children to learn & use technology to stay abreast of cutting-edge innovation and advancements in the modern world. We Skype with family across the ocean and Facetime with friends across the miles.
One of our greatest teachers of the latest technology is our Uncle Danny! 80 years old, he can out-teach and out-talk any techie!
Technology can be very good if used for learning, information and fun with friends far away like playing Barbies or using the screen like the Smart Board at school for math lessons for Skipper and her sisters.
With the increased use and need for technology in our everyday lives, new limits had to be set. Call it Common Sense or pure frustration with overuse, boundaries had to be set!
When it comes to family time, enough was enough! With kids off to school early in the morning, sports and other extracurriculars taking up afternoon time, and little ones going to bed at a decent hour, dinner may be the only chance to spend quality time – so reclaim it!!
Even if it’s only 2, 3 or 4 times a week together, make it count.
Get a basket & sound the call in your family. It’s been years now since we’ve implemented “The Basket” and everyone – the family, teens and friends – all agree dinnertime is a lot more fun. We talk, we laugh, we joke, we communicate and we do it UNINTERUPTED!
One year, I was out with family & friends for my birthday dinner and someone at the table was sending out an e-mail on a small hand-held device. “I’ll only be a minute,” he said hastily when I gave him the eye. I asked him why he was doing it in the first place. “I send out e-mails here and there and it helps me save some time.”
“Save time for what?” I queried. “You’re trying to save up a minute here and a minute there for what? To create a pocket of imaginary “saved time” for something really special…like perhaps a birthday dinner with a loved one?” I don’t even think he hit Send. He pocketed the device, I pocketed my pissed-mist, and the evening was lovely.
There are so many people who are texting, tweeting and Facebook-ing people they aren’t with, can’t see and sometimes don’t really know while they are out with people they DO know who are sitting in front of them waiting for them to stop texting!
The Bright SpotTM – Be present with your kids, your parents and your real friends, they’re waiting for you to “see” them. Put down your techno-paraphernalia, hug your kids, look in your spouse’s eyes and communicate with the people in your real space.
Phew! Yes, I feel better now. Happy Parenting!
The Positively Me program offered to 3rd grade girls to boost confidence, teach assertiveness & expression, and offer strategies to prevent bullying was positively fantastic!
Offered free by the Junior League of Greenwich, this intensive 2-day event encourages new friendships while the girls develop strength and resilience through skits & role playing, dance, journaling & thoughtful conversations about the painful consequences of bullying.
Why 3rd grade?
Unfortunately, bullying is starting earlier & earlier; it’s a topic Phillip & I have covered often over the past 15 Seasons on our parenting radio show “Let’s Talk!” currently on WGCH, formerly on WSTC & WNLK. (All shows are (All shows are archived on this site.)
One of our popular recurrent guests and parenting experts, Dr. Michelle Anthony, experienced something similar with her little 2nd grade daughter. That painful situation prompted her to co-author Little Girls Can Be Mean – 4 Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Early Grades.
Positively Me: only 4 sessions per year, 36 girls per session. The program has run for 5 years and waiting lists get longer year after year. It was marvelous to see the girls beaming each evening at pick-up, full of laughter and stories and joy.
They brought home beautiful button bracelets that matched button cards where each color represented something special, drawings/writings/self-portraits in their special journals, t-shirts with signatures of each participant, water bottles, sparkly feather pens, tote bags with the adorable Positively Me logo and mountains of coping skills to nip future snafus in the bud!
The program taught them to take pride in themselves and their accomplishments; achieve great things; stand up for what they believe in and to be Positively Me!
The girls had a special visit from a martial arts Sensei (master) who had them write their greatest fear on a wooden board and then he taught each girl how to smash through that wood with their bare hands…breaking through their fear. That was a popular activity! Other events included a yoga class, pajama party and crafting dog toys to donate to Adopt-A-Dog.
It is no wonder this program continues to grow and expand.
The Bright SpotTM – A poem – with permission from our 8-year-old – to share with you written in her Positively Me journal:
LOVE is my Guardian
When Days like Today Get in my Way,
I’ll STAND STRONG!
Positively Me Snippet
Today the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. I love the festivities, I love being in parades, I love Ireland having studied at Trinity College in Dublin, and I love that even though I’m not Irish, everyone can be Irish for the day. But there is a special reason for a few of us to celebrate: 7 years ago today our son helped save the life of his schoolmate. They were 14 years old.
It had snowed a few days earlier and a bunch of boys went sledding at school. But part of the steep hill had iced over during the night. His friend’s sled flew across the ice and he lost control slamming his head into a brick wall.
The boys didn’t want to get into trouble at school and panicked. They thought it best to get their buddy inside without telling anyone. Our son stood up and said no. He ordered one kid to run and get adult help. He told another to call 911. He ripped off his coat and wrapped it around his friend who was in shock. He told the rest of the boys to not move him at all. His friend received a plate & 37 metal staples in his head. The doctors at the hospital where he was airlifted said had he been moved, he would have died. The immediate actions to get help, warmth and stay calm saved his life.
Our son had learned emergency care in Scouts. He knew it was right to risk reprimand from the school administrators rather than risk someone’s life.
The Bright SpotTM – Both boys are 21 now. We are so proud of them ~ fine young boys grown into fine young men.
More about our son: http://www.theletstalkmom.com/tea-talk-momversations/the-making-of-a-superhero/
Credit: Associated Press
Born & raised in picturesque Connecticut just 30 minutes from Newtown, I was devastated to hear the news on December 14th. I sat in church longing for words from our clergy to help make sense of the tragedy. My heart was so heavy, my eyes and cheeks burned with tears for the parents, siblings, grandparents and friends who lost 20 of America’s babies and 6 heroic adults that fateful morning.
Christmas was about a week away and the kindly folks of that small, beautiful town felt grief beyond measure. Understandably, the holiday lights remained unlit.
Our church held several prayer vigils for the victims & surviors that horrific night, the very next morning and throughout the week. A Christmas concert had been planned for later that week and the question came up, “Should it be cancelled?” I and the rest of the congregation were so heavy-hearted. I expected the pastor to say it was cancelled.
But instead he said, “If we do not sing, evil wins. If we do not help our community move forward, we lose. If we do not light our trees and our candles, evil wins. If we do not help others to start healing, we lose.” “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you!” (Isaiah 60:1)
The Litany: “I live, at times…grieving the loss of loved ones…” “Oh Lord, You are my Light! Come, dispel my darkness!”
Closing Litany: “If we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another…”
A fellowship from around the globe! Calls poured in from our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends shocked by the news. The world community mourned the little children & brave adults all together and everyone’s wishes for strength, love, healing and comfort are flooding the families in Newtown.
456 children attended the school. There was only 1 homicide in that charming, rural town in the last 10 years. The parents will need help. The siblings will need help. Not talking about it to trusted friends or professionals could repress feelings and cause future problems. Many may feel “Survivor’s Guilt.” This tragedy has hit many adults and children in many parts of the world. We had a friend whose 8-year-old son didn’t want to go to school. Children need to feel safe. Parents need to address this in age-appropriate terms and only you, as a parent, know what your child can & cannot handle informationwise.
Phillip & I wanted to do what we could to help promote healing. We asked family therapist & trauma expert, Melissa Cook, to speak on our Live call-in radio program, “Let’s Talk!” on 1490am to give specific advice on steps families & individuals – directly & indirectly – could use to start to heal and repiece their lives. All shows are archived on this site, just click here: