The point of this story need not identify of the owner of the 1-eyed teddy bear, but rather WHO this fellow is made all the difference in saving our son’s cuddly animals.
The man actually cannot be identified because he is a secret agent on a very significant level. He is close to our family and we all adore him but we keep conversation limited to family stuff, old friends, or school happenings. He signs his holiday envelopes as James Bond. It’s all very cool in a surreptitious kind of way, the “secret” in secret agent makes it sound so hush-hush, and the undercover missions we are never allowed to know about are wrapped in clandestine mystery. All very exciting, so what does this have to do with stuffed animals?
Our eldest is a strapping 24-year-old dude with beer posters in his room and a steady girlfriend at the helm.
Rewind about 14 years and here was a kid with a ton of stuffed animals, some from babyhood, others won at the amusement park, many from the big glass box with the grabber handle thingie at the diner. An admirer of big cats, one of his favorite was a huge white tiger with sharp blue eyes.
For a long time, my husband felt our son needed to unload his cuddly animals. I’d protest seeing the quiet sadness in our child’s eyes. The subject came up at significant milestones, like award ceremonies, moving from elementary to middle school, etc. I understood my husband’s point of view: he wanted to make our son grow up, be a man, get tough. I understood my son’s point of view: at that time he was still an only child and he wasn’t ready.
Then one year we visited Washington, D.C. and James Bond invited us to stay in his home. He was away, as usual, and he couldn’t say where he was, except that he would leave the key for us under the mat. Under the mat?!? He lives with all this enigmatic secrecy but leaves the house key under the mat!
It was very exciting to walk around his home. Medals, awards, Christmas cards from the presidents over the last 20 years, and as we walked upstairs to pick out our rooms for the night, there, in the middle of the master bedroom, sitting proudly atop the big bed, was a 1-eyed Steiff teddy bear with a worn nose, an untied yellow bow & fur so loved-off and cuddled, it was a treasure to behold.
It was also ammunition to ward off any more attempts to clear out stuffed animals from our son’s room. “If James Bond can keep his teddy bear, so can I!”
So that was that. More than a decade’s passed and on his own, our son has donated his stuffed animals along the way – but that’s the important part of this story – it was on his terms, his timing and his choice of where they went. The huge white tiger is now the centerpiece & reading buddy in a fantastic enrichment school.
I never take anything from my children without asking them. Together we donate what they choose to give up when they choose to. It teaches them to let go, to give to others and to stay organized. (Little One sorting>>)
There is a marvelous organization called YoungLives which helps teenage mothers. Every 3rd Wednesday, the young mothers meet at a church in Norwalk, CT to learn about God and their children, plus, they can choose items they need that people have donated.
When our daughter was ready to donate her toys or princess dresses, etc., we would bring them to the church and she would see firsthand the children light up with joy as they picked out what they would like. She saw a little 2-year-old boy dive into her Elmo chair exclaiming, “That’s mine, I love this chair!” And little girls picking out sparkly dresses. Or Barbies. Or unicorns.
The children were happy and it made our child well up with joy to see the kids’ faces light up while new life was instantly breathed into her cherished pieces. It deeply linked giving to pleasure. You can check out organizations in your area like YoungLives, Birthright, Hopeline or any organization that benefits a cause you believe in. We’ve also donated her crib, baby furniture and Pack-n-Plays.
Our daughter has given up lots of her cuddly animals, even packing & sending many huge boxes to Africa.
The Bright SpotTM – The exciting thing about the missionary we shipped her stuffed animals to is that they sent back photos of orphan children cuddling her animals! A fine day, indeed. Again, on our children’s terms while reinforcing a life skill of giving as a pleasure.
“You might want to turn on the news, there’s been talk that a plane hit the Trade Center,” Phillip said to me that fateful morning 14 years ago as he headed toward Wall Street on the subway. The phone lines went down and I didn’t hear from my husband for another 8 hours. My mother-in-law was visiting from England and we turned on the TV, watching in disbelief the horror unfold minute by minute. One of Phillip’s cohorts was on the 1st plane. Phillip saw the burning towers and felt his building shake as they collapsed to the ground.
We knew 6 people who perished that day; we felt great conviction to attend the memorial service at Yankee Stadium September 23rd, 2001. Our 9-year-old son came down the stairs in his boy scout uniform, “Is this okay to wear?” We were so proud of him. Little did we know this shy young boy would appear in over 60 publications worldwide shining as a beacon of hope for many people. Credit: Associated Press
Years have passed. We prayed with our fellow congregants for continued healing and peace. Many of the 800 members of this church either work(ed) in New York City or know friends who did. It is very personal for this community.
Try to imagine voices of passion in our New England church, established 1731, singing the 4 full verses of America the Beautiful. I dare you not to cry as you read and soak in those incredible words. It just says it all – who we are, what this nation is, and where we came from.
Later, we visited the September 11th Memorial in our area; it’s on the water and faces where the Twin Towers used to be.
Someone found a rock in the shape of a heart.
The Bright SpotTM – God bless our country and our diverse people. We work our way through adversity by standing together.
Our 9-year-old led us on a 14-mile bike ride to the Freedom Tower on Mother’s Day.
7 miles down Manhattan Island & 7 back along the Henry Hudson River South Waterfront Bike Path in sunny 75 degree weather.
As we rode along New York City’s beautiful path, we enjoyed an air display, basketball games, families picnicing at the many parks on the water, the famous ballerina statue, the Intrepid, Concorde & space shuttle, views of the George Washington Bridge & distant Tappan Zee, and best of all…discovering a mama bird feeding her newborns on Mother’s Day in a blossoming tree!! Breathtaking!! (precious video below)
After stopping for ice cream, we enjoyed a lovely dinner and then Phillip gave me one of the most wonderful, thoughtful gifts ever!! Ever!!
To put into perspective how special this Mother’s Day gift was to me, may I just say that one year, he surprised me with a beautiful Mercedes convertible in the driveway; another year, matching silver Mercedes’ with huge green bows. Yes, those were exciting.
But the gift he gave me this evening made my eyes tear & my heart swell! I’ll explain at the end of this story.
Stopping for ice cream after the 14th mile:
Mama Bird & her babies:
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
Blessed with lovely skin & timeless English beauty, my mother-in-law, Grace, and the Queen have always borne a striking resemblance. A woman ahead of her time, Grace, always gave new things a shot.
And nothing slows her down! Approaching 90, she has a personal trainer at the gym, Skypes us every Saturday without fail, uploads her digital images to her hard drive and e-mails family nearly every day.
The epitome of Englishness, she is gracious, discreet and always polite. During tough or sad times, Grace keeps a stiff upper lip and her chin up.
Her mainstay, of course, is proper English tea. It must steep in a silver pot and the teacup must have a white interior.
She keeps her gardener busy and has redecorated parts of her home four times in the past 10 years.
In Grandma’s Gardens:
Grace is an avid reader & animal lover. She enjoyed many years dancing with her dashing husband, Geoff, whom she misses very much.
I’ve learned lots of things from my mother-in-law over the years, from baby tips and awesome authors to food advice, fabric care and beauty tips.
One of my favorite gifts from my mother-in-law was this beautiful statue sent from England shortly before I gave birth to our daughter.
A few months old (above) 4 years old (below)
To avoid arthritis in her hands, Grace knits and knits and knits. Beautiful sweaters and hats and any request our little one desires.
I mean any! Like the day our 7-year-old said, “Grandma, can you please knit me a cuttlefish & grimpoteuthis?” And in short order, the beautiful cuddly sea creatures arrived in the gift package made with grandmother’s loving hands. A whole array of knitted marine life:
Knitted headbands & sweaters, ballerina shrugs and ponytail hats!
The loss of her beloved husband took a toll on her but did not stop Grace from living life. She hopped on a plane to surprise my husband for his birthday and stayed for Christmas that year.
Grace flew over every summer to stay with us. In 2001, my Mom took Grace and me to Mohegan Sun, the big casino upstate for a grand shebang before my mother-in-law headed back to England. It was the 1st time she visited a casino. My husband warned, “My mother may weary, don’t stay out late.”
Honestly, nothing wearied her the past 8 decades… so when I arrived home at 4 AM with two happy grandmas, my husband was speechless. Not only did his mother have a marvelous time, she even won!
A few hours later, the towers came down and the world changed forever. Flights were canceled that week and Grace stayed with us longer that year. Phillip worked by the towers and felt the 2nd building crash to the ground. It took hours and hours and hours for him to get out of the City and back home. It was a mother’s nightmare and
a wife’s torment. Late that night, he finally made it home. We were grateful to be together as a family again, safe and sound.
The Bright SpotTM – A Grandma’s love. Every visit with Grace has been memorable. The stories she tells, reminiscing the history of the family and her great love of Britain; she is a treasure in our lives and all who know her.
My mother-in-law and the Queen were born the same year…Grace is our very own queen xoxo
How time has flown!! Little One turns 10, what a wonderful decade it’s been!
Video: Here is a look at the early years with her very own Superhero Big Brother:
VIDEO: Here is a look at the early years with her very own Superhero Big Brother:
Everyone kept asking me what Phillip was planning for my 50th. He’s arranged some pretty spectacular things for me over the years so I knew whatever it was I’d be thrilled. Our son captured the moment:
Good Lord! What could it be? Well, prior to opening this envelope, Phillip planned a weekend of delights including dinner at La Panetiere.
We visited the Cloisters on the northern tip of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson to enjoy the stunning array of more than 5,000 pieces of European Medieval works of art from the 12th – 15th centuries including the famous Unicorn Tapestries. The Cloister’s Library contains over 15,000 volumes of books.
Later, we toured the World of Wings butterfly atrium where I had my 1st opportunity to take photos with my gorgeous new Canon from my son. For the amount of time I invest in my photography, this latest Canon with touchscreen, image sensor & built-in Wi-Fi was the p-e-r-f-e-c-t gift!! Thank you, darling!
And if anyone knows our family well, you’ll know why the logo above is so significant!! 🙂
As you can see, this day was magnificent with brilliant sunshine & deep blue skies. But 50 years ago, there was a blizzard and my mother arrived at the hospital with a police escort. That’s one way to make an entrance.
Mom recapped the story over dinner. Then she surprised me with a very special gift…a piece of jewelry I’ve admired for 45 years. It was given to mother by my father’s mother when I was 5.
I’ve worn it in the past with great delight (photo on right), but on this special night, my mother said it was now mine. Overjoyed is an understatement. It means so much to me on many levels.
So what was in the envelope in the opening pics? Let me first explain that my greatest gift ~ now & always ~ is being loved by my family & friends. Flowers & cards, emails & posts. All is appreciated. The kindness, the thoughtfulness, the time spent to make my day special. Thank you all!!
The above cards from my children touched my heart deeply. My son chose a card that says I make him feel understood, happy and loved. Wonderful, wonderful!! And our little one says I make her happy every day…down to even the school snack. What more could any mother want? Happy, thriving kids – this was, by far, the very best gift of all!!
16 years ago, I started the Harry Potter series with our son…reading it in “real time,” that is, waiting each year for another book to be published…standing in line at midnight openings with great anticipation for 1st edition hardcovers. We saw the movies, he had the posters, the comforter set, the throw pillows, the robe, Harry’s wand, etc. He even had a Harry-esque look to him, especially when he got his glasses.
Fast-forward more than a decade and our little daughter & her friends are relishing in the adventures, quoting the spells, whipping up potions and donning the robe. The perfect hardcovers have moved from our son’s room to our daughters’s bookcase. Over the holiday break, we watched all 8 movies (Yes, 8. The last book was filmed in 2 parts).
My friend, Sara, took one of our daughter’s best-est friends (since the girls were infants) to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter last month. The girls are now 9 & 10, the perfect age for the story. Sara posted this video of Platform 9 3/4 on her FB page & that was it!! What more fun could our family have than to venture through the fantastical world of wizards?
CoCo Key water resort & hotel:
We finished up the weekend celebrations with my favorite movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, with Jane Seymour & Anthony Andrews. Luscious ~ Dreamy ~ Yum!
So many other details went into this weekend that I would just like to say thank you to my husband, my whole family and my friends for marking this milestone with great joy.
The Bright SpotTM – Thankfulness that my mother is feeling better, it’s on & off and for my birthday she was really “on!” Even sparkly! And thank you to all who sent wishes for a beautiful birthday weekend. So ready for this next great decade, bring it on!!
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!
If you knew Moussie, you knew he was one of the most loved dogs in the history of forever.
Saved from a brutal past and surviving on 2 1/2 working legs, we cherished every day together from the time I was 29 until 42.
Moussie was on air with me at the television stations,
he walked me down the aisle at my wedding, he soothed my aching heart when I lost my beloved father, he and our newborn came to work with me every day when we opened our own company, and Moussie adored our son and protected our daughter every single day.
I spent the years ceaselessly protecting & caring for his broken leg & mangled paw, carried him over any asphalt or concrete, lifted him up staircases and into my car…
…met with prosthetic doctors in Texas, surgeons in Connecticut, boot fitters in New York, and pet massage specialists in Illinois in any effort to help ease the strain & pain on his permanently broken leg. (Dr. Randie Shane with Moussie)
When an emergency procedure led to an overnight stay in the hospital – Moussie’s 1st night away from me in an unfamiliar place – I immediately ripped off my shirt in the car and had my husband bring it to the ER vet so Moussie could feel comforted with my scent all night long.
My husband & son administered an IV in his neck for weeks following.
There is nothing we would not do for our animals. They are family. We are a tight family.
We used to jest with friends that if Moussie, Phillip and I were in a canoe and it was sinking and one of us had to get out, Phillip swims. 🙂 (Unbelievably, one person didn’t get it…she said, “Oh, you have a canoe?” *sigh*)
People have often quipped if they return from Heaven, they’d like to come back as one of our pets! Here’s a few reasons why:
Moussie worked the morning shows with me. My neighbor, Kristi, babysat him till I was done with the noon news. She always had it on the TV so he could hear & see me. He had many wonderful sitters: Stephenie, Adrienne, Mark, Dottie, Kep, John and Shanie, just to name a few.
Reminiscent of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, we, too, crisscrossed the United States, enjoying adventures on the free roads, visiting many states and friends along the way.
Birthday dinners of filet mignon, cuddles under the covers, drive-in trips to Sonic, and his fun job at the TV stations listing the school lunch menus on the morning show and assisting with the weather, and even the contest “Where’s Moussie?” for viewers spotting him around town. Moussie was loved and cherished every minute of his life in our family.
Raised by grandmothers & mothers who were healers and lovers of animals, it was natural for Phillip and I to instill deep compassion, respect and love of all animals. All children should be taught kindness toward every creature, big & small.
No words were better spoken than those of Don Vincenzo Giobbe, circa 1700: “…and I whispered to the horse: trust no man in whose eye you don’t see yourself reflected as an equal.”
Such is our belief for all animals…so it is no wonder our 8-year-old daughter published her 1st book, The Healing, How Little Kids Can Help Even the Tiniest Critters, and she has been busy with author’s visits/book signings and will sit on a panel of doctors & healers in a few weeks to discuss her book from a child’s perspective. (Author’s Visit with 77 children/10 adults)
Teaching children to use gentle voices and soft hands is so important.
Teaching kindness, compassion, respect and tenderness is the premise for my children’s book, Moussie Tales, due out when I finally find the perfect illustrator who can actually capture Moussie’s eyes, an ongoing search, indeed.
The understanding and care you show your children yields understanding and care to those in the world around them.
Over the years, Moussie thrived along with all of our family’s animals and life was great.
We spent many beautiful years with Moussie, and when he passed away, a huge part of my heart went with him. (Getting the worst news ever from the vet on my 42nd birthday)
Saying our good-byes.
Days of yesteryear…
The final goodbye 🙁
Shattered and lying in bed, I wrote Moussie a letter that raw and painful day he crossed over Rainbow Bridge waiting till I would once again embrace him in my arms. I didn’t know my husband found the letter on my laptop and built an entire website dedicated to Moussie around it! Www.MoussieTales.com People wrote the loveliest comments on his Remembrance Page, thank you all!
The Bright SpotTM – Our darling Moussebaby brought us years & years of joy. For that, we are forever grateful. When our neighbor brought us The Rainbow Bridge poem, it was the only thing that eventually comforted me. Picturing Moussie running freely without pain, the wind flapping about his beautiful soft ears, eased my pain. Until I hug you again, rest my sweet, precious Moussie. I love you!!
“The love you take is equal to the love you make,” oh, how I love this passage from The Beatles!
Like sponges, with unconditional love, your children will not only pass your love back to you a million-fold, but to their children and to the world. Ode to a good, ole fashioned snuggle!!
They are the mirrors of your life…set the examples of love, kindness, gentleness,
They are the Superheros to each other…
And with love…
they will blossom into giving and nurturing young folks.
Snuggle your children and it will come back to you and the world many times over.
The Bright Spot – the natural and giving nature of children.
Such a joy! So grab your kids and snuggle away!! And watch the sun shine in your life with smiles!
Is he a kite-flyer? Is he a trampoline-flipper? Is he a bike-fixer? Yes, he’s Superhero Big Brother!!
A hurricane protector, a shoe-tier, a cookie dough-maker, a tree climber, a boo-boo fixer, an Easter egg opener, a stuck zipper fixer, a skating racer, a perfect-pumpkin-picker, a snuggly dude, a super swing-pusher, the best storyteller, the technology teacher, the family-endorsed official opener of all packaged holiday toys, and, of course, an honorary member of the stroller posse! But most importantly, the kindest big brother who nurtures and protects his baby sister.
People often ask how we got such phenomenally-bonded children. As parents, when you show love, tenderness and respect to each other and to your children, it filters through the family, growing and bonding it together with immeasurable strength.
And from that strength, the freedom to love and express kindness and thoughtfulness is just natural.
Our son was 13 when our daughter was born. He was a part of the whole pregnancy journey, from building the crib and changing table with Dad, to using the zapper at Babies-R-Us to register for the baby. The baby shower was a huge party, not just for ladies, but for all friends, young and old, male and female, and our son was center stage as the new Superhero-in-the-making!
We put him in charge of opening the gifts which he unwrapped with great zeal seeing all the items he had zapped weeks earlier. He was an integral part of every step. And the day his baby sister was born, she gave him an I-pod, so, of course, she was just the coolest!
When he held her that 1st day, he marveled, “She can’t even lift her own head.” I looked at him wearily and smiled, “No, she depends on us for everything, and she will look to you to teach her the most amazing things.
She will always look at you as her Superhero for the rest of her life. We are very proud of you.”
The Bright SpotTM – Our daughter just turned 9 last week. Our son turned 22. He is a Superhero in our daughter’s eyes…and ours.