Sunday, September 26, 2010


I have been seeing more and more attention given to ROOM , by Emma Donoghue, in blogs, book reviews and newspapers recently. Have you? All have given it a completely amazing review and commented on the absolutely horrible situation Ma finds herself in with her son Jack. Most reviews comment on the dark plot, sadistic character of Old Nick, and disturbing topics. And while it is no doubt depressing, I was also completely amazed and in awe of Ma.

So often these days we think we can't live without FB, smart phones, cable TV, internet, fast food, modern appliances – even something as simple as a washer and dryer. Our children scour thru catalogues months in advance of the winter holidays making up wish lists to pass out to relatives. We study history in school and always think, it may be fun to live in colonial days for a day or two, but wow I'm glad I didn't have to on a regular basis. Because it all looks hard and boring.

And so often we all have our rough days. Whether it is because our child is whining all day and Just.Won't.Listen. Or because our car breaks down 5 miles from home with cold groceries in the trunk. Or because our partner has to go away for a week and we have to single parent. Simply put, we all have our days where we truly wish everything would just go away.

But what if it did? What if you really, truly had no choice? What if you lived in a 12x12 shed with very few belongings and an infant that grows to be a 5 year old? How would you pass the time? How would you entertain, teach, and nurture your child? How would you protect your child from the person who supplies you food, electricity and clothing – the provider and also the scariest person in the world to you? How would you keep yourself sane enough to be able to show your child joy in things?

What I found absolutely incredible about this most tragic situation Ma is in is that somehow she pulls together the strength to mother Jack. She gives him the love he needs and the other basics of life he needs. But on top of that she thinks creatively to give him a basic education in not just academics, but also character development. Jack is happy, and it's because of her. I'd like to think if I were in her shoes I would do the same. I'd like to think the maternal instincts of mothering would completely kick in no matter what the situation. But I just don't know. I sure do hope I'll never have to find out.

I also think Ma should win Mother of the Year award. And I also think my rough days really aren't that rough.

I received a free copy of ROOM, and with no obligation to review, as part of the From Left To Write book club. To read other posts inspired by this book, check out book clubs website, From Left to Write.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Am I Spoiled?

Tuesday I was tucking Adam into bed (I absolutely love that at this age he Still Insists that I tuck him in each night). He says to me, "Mom, aren't you going to wish me a happy birthday week?" I ask him, "Why? Your birthday isn't until Friday."

Turns out he has decided we should celebrate birthdays all week now. "Wouldn't it be fun? We could celebrate each day and make the whole week special!"

He paused and thought for a minute, "Would that make me spoiled though? Because I wouldn't want to be spoiled. Then I might forget to be thankful and turn into a brat and I don't want people to think of me that way." He thought a few more seconds, "How about we just say Happy Birthday all week but only get presents on our actual birthday?"

I must be doing something right J

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Want to read a book?

Sometimes September is the easiest time for me to read – when the days slow down a bit while Adam is in school. And the great weather we've been having has certainly helped! There's nothing like rocking on the swinging bench on the front porch with a slight breeze and a good book.

For the next week I'm going to catch up on letting you know the latest great books I've received to review. But for now I'm going to start with a short article from Dr. Dora Calott Wang, author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflection on Healing in a Changing World

Women Will Steer the Fate of Health Care Reform

As mothers, daughters, wives and leaders of households, women often steer the health care choices of families. Thus in the coming years, women will also be a major force toward implementing health care reform and the landmark Affordable Care Act.

Whenever we enroll a child into newly available health insurance, whenever we convince parents to get mammograms or colonoscopies that will be free under Medicare in 2011, each time we appeal an insurance company's denial of care, or when we choose health insurance in new marketplaces beginning in 2014 -- we will be helping to shape the future of health care in America. In fact, much of the ACA depends upon the actions and choices of patients, with women often taking the lead.

Many ACA laws are already in effect. For example, nursing mothers in most workplaces are now entitled to time and private space to pump breast milk for a child's first year of life. Did you ever think the feds would mandate this? It's a new era.

The ACA's main goal is for nearly every American to have health insurance. New opportunities are already available, and uninsured members of your family may qualify. If someone in your family has been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing illness, check out the new "high-risk pool" insurance plans available now. Log onto to find local options, and get your loved one covered. Medicaid has been expanded, so someone in your family may be newly eligible. By September 23, you can insure your children under your own health plan until they are age 26, and insurance companies will have to accept all children under age 19 with pre-existing illnesses.

Patients (and the women often guiding them), might possibly exert the most influence on health care reform through two important ACA measures -- appeals processes that should be in place by Sept. 23, and the new health insurance marketplaces in effect by 2014.

In the words of President Obama, the ACA aims to protect patients against the worst abuses of health insurance companies. The ACA provides many safeguards against insurance companies denying coverage. Yet the devil is still in the details when it comes to holding insurers more accountable toward paying for care. To fight against insurance companies taking our premiums, then trying not to pay for medical care, the federal government is cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse. The ACA eliminates life-time caps on health insurance benefits, while mandating that insurance companies now must spend at least 85 percent of their dollars on medical care, rather than on profit and administration.

We the public can do our part to keep insurance companies honest through new appeals processes which should be in place by Sept. 23 for new insurers. If you feel your new insurer is unfairly denying care, or is stalling on time-sensitive care, you will be able to appeal to the insurer itself, but also to an external review process. The ACA leaves it up to individual states to institute these appeals processes, but the federal government will hear grievances if state processes are inadequate.

These appeals processes will be an all-important aspect of health reform -- which will be driven by patients making appeals, and therefore reliant upon all of us.

Another crucial step is that by 2014, we can shop for health insurance in new exchanges offering comparisons between different plans. So if we see an insurance company hiking rates by 70 percent in one year, for example, or if an insurance company has a reputation of not paying for care (yes, this will still happen under the ACA), the new exchanges will offer options. Collectively, by choosing insurance for our families, we'll determine which insurers succeed or fail, and thus shape the landscape of American health care.

The lady of the house has always had a large role in steering the health care choices of her family. Now with the new Affordable Care Act, the actions of women on behalf of their families will collectively shape the future of health care in America.

For more information about the ACA and its timeline, log onto the excellent website,

© 2010 Dora Calott Wang, M.D., author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Yum, Pizza!

I LOVE pizza. But I'm a picky pizza eater. I grew up in CT, right outside of NYC. And I got spoiled by good pizza. Really good pizza. After moving to Hampton Roads and then NoVa, I had to adjust to the fact that if I wanted pizza, it was going to have to pretty much be chain pizza.

Recently we tried ZPizza. Although it's a chain, its style is much closer to the pizza I was raised on. But that wasn't the only reason I got excited. As I've mentioned before, Adam has Celiacs. Pizza is one thing he has truly missed. I can make him a pizza at home, but when everyone else at the party or gathering is eating pizza that was delivered and you've got a pizza in a Tupperware container made by Mom, it's just not the same.

ZPizza has gluten-free crusts! And he LOVES them! Now on those evenings we want to order pizza we can, and we can all eat it. Gluten-free for him, Gluten for Mom and Dad. Or if he's going to a party that is having pizza, I'll pick one up from ZPizza on the way for him. It truly has been a wonderful option for him as he hits the middle school years where all those social things become even more important.

ZPizza is also very health conscious. Their sauce and wheat pizza crust are organic. Tons of fresh veggies and meats to choose from to create your own pizza or choose from their huge selection of creative creations. Not in the mood for pizza or rustica's, but your family is – ZPizza also has a wide range of salads, sandwiches, pasta and calzones (these are my personal favorite).

Getting in the mood to try ZPizza? If you're in NoVa, you're in luck. Tuesday, September 14th, between 4PM and 7PM the Alexandria location (6328-C Richmond Highway, Alexandria VA 22306; 703-660-8443) will be handing out free samples. ZPizza's Director of Training will be on site to answer any questions you have. And before you head out, be sure to sign up for the ZTribe and get a coupon for doing so!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

2:37 AM

Every now and then I have these moments where I feel like a genius. Except what I am geniusing about is, well, rather pathetic. But it still impresses me when I have these moments (it's the little things in life that make me happy).

When I got the Droid last year I was all super happy – my first smart phone. I could do this, and this, and this and that too, and how in the world did I live without a Smartphone before! I could have constant contact to everything – email, Face book, Twitter, Google Reads, silly apps – EVERYTHING! And boy do I take advantage of it. But something I never liked about the Smartphone is that when I read blog posts in the reader I never comment – too much to click over to the blog, increase, scroll, comment on a small keyboard and all that (yea, I'm pathetically lazy too). "I'll just go back to that blog and make a comment at home" I'd innocently thing. Of course that never happens in reality.

So, 3 nights ago, at 2:37 AM I had this incredibly awesome idea (this is the when I was feeling like a genius moment): I'd stop reading blogs on my Smartphone and only on my laptop. That way I could comment back!!

I tell ya, I'm a genius, I am.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Year

School started this week for Adam. My new job as adjunct faculty at a local university also started this week. The weather seems to have taken note of this ending of summer as the mornings are cool as are the evenings. Fall is right around the corner. Our kitchen and family room remodeling construction is underway.

So many new beginnings. It's like a new year. Wait – it is – if you celebrate Rosh Hashanah. I've posted in years back that September always seemed to be a better time for looking back and looking ahead than January. All that seems to really change in January is the date you write on your check.

Despite this past year being a more difficult one (husband had his first overseas long-term business trip, I was on medical leave for 6 months and am still in a flare-up waiting (not so patiently anymore) for it to end) I do have so much to be grateful for. This year brings so many new opportunities for everyone in my family. New opportunities that we've all worked hard to obtain.

L'shanah Tovah

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Limitless Love and It’s Power

I've mentioned before that Adam has a pet Gecko Lizard he named George, and how George came to be part of our family. That post was almost 2 years ago. Wow how time flies!

George is still alive and well, and loved ever so much now as he was then. George seems to knowwhen it's Adam looking in his home. If it's me or one of Adams friends he breathes faster, if it's Adam he slows down his breathing after his startle of having realized big looming eyes are staring at him.

When Adam puts his hand into the cage George climbs right into his hand. Adam takes him out, whispers sweet loving comments to him as he pets him and George rests his head on his fingers. It is truly amazing to watch this connection between Adam and George.

We go to the pet store weekly to stock up on crickets and mealworms. For the past 5 months or so Adam has been looking at the other reptiles. He'd love a cat or dog, but with allergies those aren't options. So he'll look at them, but he Really Looks at the reptiles. For A Long Time. And talks about how much he'd like another one. He's made it clear he loves George, but he wants more pets to love and take care of.

Last week Adam was rushed to the ER for severe stomach cramps. Three hours later he was in surgery for removal of his appendix. The first thing he said upon hearing he was having surgery and would be spending the night in the hospital was "But what about George? Who will feed him?" Now, George can go a day without food. He's good like that (and also helps to make him a great pet if we want to go away for an overnight trip!) Not the fact he was being put under and having an organ removed. Not the fact he wouldn't be allowed to do Tae Kwon Do for at least a month. Not the fact he was officially being admitted into the hospital. His thoughts were on George. His beloved pet. That all started with an inch worm 3 ½ years ago.

I do think it is time for another pet for Adam. He has once again surprised us with his level of growth – his ability to be responsible enough to take care of a pet. But not just take care of it. To love it. To reach out and have a relationship with another being. Something that's supposed to be very difficult for him seems so easy when it comes to George. As well as others he's let into his circle. He's come a long way. And all with the help from such small creatures.

When I was offered the opportunity to read Cowboy and Wills from the From Left to Write book club I clicked over to the author's website to see what the book was about. A boy with autism, who learns to navigate the social world along with his bestest buddy ever, Cowboy, his puppy. How in the world could I not read Ms. Holloways memoir?!? This book, a heartwarming, you won't want to put it down till you get to the end, but you don't want it to end because, well, then it would be done, touched me personally on so many levels. Thank you to Ms. Holloway for being brave enough to share Wills story so that others may see limitless love and it amazing power.

I received a complimentary copy of Cowboy and Wills, and with no obligation to review, as part of the From Left to Write book club.

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