Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Auctions for St. Baldricks are LIVE! End Pediatric Cancer!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Monday, September 16, 2013


It's hard enough to explain death to our children, whether it's an elderly relative, a beloved pet, or a young child. But when that death occurs--to a child no less--by suicide, we are left speechless and heartbroken, not knowing what to say.

This week, two things happened in our community. First, Jaylen Arnold, age 13, kicked off his No Bullies in School 2013 through the foundation he created, Jaylen's Challenge Foundation. He began this incredible organization at the age of 8 because he was being viciously bullied due to his Tourettes Syndrome, as well as other disorders. His slogan, Bullying No Way!, emblazons glow in the dark bracelets given out to school kids at his presentation. My son's school was the first to see Jaylen and actor Dash Mihok. He came home so excited, so inspired. I volunteer for JCF so I knew about it in advance and somehow managed to keep it a secret.

The next day, Jaylen not only visited another school, his presentation moved a young lady so much, she approached Jaylen and told him that she's being bullied so much, she was planning to commit suicide that evening. She is safe and recieving appropriate treatment.

However, later that day, the body of 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick was found after she committed suicide. Rebecca had been bullied at school the previous year (at the school my son now attends). Even though her mother removed her from the school, the bullying continued through social media. She told a friend she wanted to harm herself. Being young himself, he told no one. And now our community is reeling.

There is no shielding our kids from news like this--it spread around the school like wildfire, counelors in place for those who needed it. Our friends across the street, their youngest son went to school with her. Even though he didn't know her, he's been affected. We all are. I can barely see a picture of this beautiful girl and not cry. Twelve years old. And bullies telling her she should kill herself.

Where are the parents of those vicious beasts? Who raised them to be so cruel?

So the talk needed to be had with my son. Most importantly--if he or a friend felt the need to hurt themselves or heaven forbid, kill themselves--we urged him TELL SOMEONE. That's the kind of promise that needs breaking. Better to lose a friend because they are angry (and who will probably someday forgive you) than to lose them forever to death.

Rebecca's funeral was today and my heart ripped in two, seeing one of her friends crying his heart out--he had approached her, asking her what was wrong. She wouldn't tell him. I wanted to reach thru the TV and hug him and tell him it's not his fault.

I told my son that sometimes when a student commits suicide, it can cause others to become depressed, even follow in their footsteps. I told him we would never judge him, or a friend, if they were feeling sad and needed help.

That's when my beautiful boy told me that he and his best friend had made a pact last week--that if either of them felt bad, they promised to tell the other one. As a parent, I cannot tell you the immense pride I felt at his maturity and empathy. The buddy system, working in a way I hadn't thought of.

Rebecca, I'm sorry you felt so bad that you felt this was the only way out. I'm sorry I didn't know you. I would have told you that you were beautiful, smart, and so loved. That it gets better, that help is available and to never give up hope.

I pray you are at peace, sweet angel. I pray for your family and friends. I am even more committed to helping Jaylen end bullying so that another young person doesn't choose to die becauswe that seems easier than living each day being viciously bullied.

If you are considering suicide PLEASE call 1-800-273-8255

I promise you, YOU ARE WORTH IT. Someone out there loves you. Someone can help stop the bullying. Someone can help you cope and overcome the pain.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Define Me

I saw "Define Me" by Ryan Amador featuring Jo Lampert earlier today. To say I cried is an understandment. I sobbed until I could no longer speak.

It's not enough that I am bisexual, but also disabled and fat. To imagine the hateful words that would cover my body, as I watched the video, I wanted to scream but couldn't. This song and video ripped out my heart and soul until I was a complete mess.

To know that there are others out there who feel this way.....it's so beyond wrong. I want to wrap my arms around those people who are lonely, betrayed by family, hurt, bullied and in pain and say YOU ARE SO LOVED.

You want to talk about the Bible and "sinning" well....I'll save my true words for when you DARE say it to my face. God isn't about hate. God is about LOVE. And GOD told me, to my heart, that we are ALL made in His image.

That's right, I'm going to say it: God is gay.

AND lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer and straight. If God can manage being The Holy Trinity, I don't think He has a problem taking on all the sexual and gender identies HE created.

Get used to it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Food Allergies--Nothing to "sneeze" at!

I am SO proud of my daughter--she has been accepted to the University of Florida! I'm now MomofaGator ;) Even though she didn't get into the honors program at UF (only 30% of applicants were accepted--and she can reapply), I am *so* proud of the following essay she submitted. 

We discovered her brother had anaphylactic food allergies when he was 3 and she was 10. Over the years, she not only learned how to use an epipen, she took first aid/CPR classes, learned how to decipher ingredient labels (food, medicine, creams, etc), how to advocate for him at a restaurant if we were not there, and adapt recipes at home for him.

In IB, she has to do a 2 year project--originally she wanted to do one on food allergy awareness and cooking education--how to make safe recipes, adapt recipes, avoid cross-contamination, etc. It was just *too* huge and the liability was too great.

So she forwarded her essay to me--usually she has me (the English major) proof and give feedback. But she submitted this as is. It made both me and her brother cry. For those of you worried about the teen years....for those of you with food allergic children--know that there are good teens and advocates for your kids out there.
Her essay:

The prompt was, if you could start a local business or
charity what would you do and whom would it benefit? describe your startup
process. (300 word limit) 

 I would open a restaurant oriented towards people with
food allergies and I would offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan foods as
well as foods free of common allergens such as milk, gluten, shellfish, and
nuts. This idea is inspired by my brother who has severe food allergies, and
each time we go to a restaurant my parents have to ask a lot of questions and
work hard to make sure my brother doesn’t ingest something that could kill him.

My restaurant would be a place where people with allergies could dine without
such worries, and meet with other people who share the same problem. To start up I’d obviously need a restaurant building, preferably located in a busy area where many people can access it. I’d make sure the cooks hired were trained in cooking allergen-free food and were diligent in avoiding cross-contamination between ingredients. I’d have to carefully select food suppliers conducive to allergen-free food (for example, purchase bread made without milk or eggs, and chocolate that hadn’t been processed in the same facility as nuts). The waiters and cleaning staff would also have to receive similar training to avoid cross-contamination and friendly service. 

I am not sure where I’d get the money for all of this; perhaps I could find a person or persons living in the area willing to invest in my business. In addition, I’d like to offer low-cost cooking classes that teach people how to cook allergen-free, especially children and families that have people with allergies. I would also like to raise money for allergy research through the business and promote public awareness of the cause. ~~"ScienceSlayer" (MS, 2013)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love and equality

The next few days are important. Cases being decided will define us, the United States. Do we truly want to be the Land of the FREE? Love is love. There is no reason to deny any human being their right to be LEGALLY married to the person they love. To deny families the LEGAL right to be a family. To use shame and bigotry to harm another human being.

This I believe, with all my heart and soul. Sadly, I was not always this way but GOD changed my heart. Yes, that's right, I said GOD. And who is anyone to tell me differently?

I am proud of my family and friends, gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian, transgender--or however you define yourself--who stand up for what is right and good and humane. Who see the bigger picture and respect that which is an inalienable right--to LOVE.

I am bisexual. I'm saying it here, out loud.

Am I really any different now that I've "said" that, who you thought I was a few minutes ago? I love my husband, my kids, my family , my friends. I like to write, quilt, paint my fingernails, cuddle with my dog, stand up against bullies, cheer on my favorite hockey team, cry at movies, get lost in a good book. Am I really that different from you?

I just happen to also like women.

The only sad thing about this is that I have to "hide" this part of me from certain people because of their small-minded ignorance. As do SO many people, here and around the world. THIS is wrong.

But not me, not the way I was born, not who I love.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cravebox--The Dog Box

I have been a member of Cravebox since day one--a Beta member. As such, I've gotten nearly every box that has come out. Cravebox used to be a subscription service, but it recently changed to a drawing for the boxes. Like the sound of a box? Sign up and you might get chosen! By taking surveys you can earn "guaranteed choice" points which means you will get a box of your choice.

Last year I got the first Dog Box for Willow, our 5yo adopted Malinois/Whippet Mix. She was so happy and so was I! When I saw there was another box available, I signed up and used a guarantee point. The cost of the box was $13 (boxes range between $10-$15 and include shipping).

Willow can't wait to sniff everything in her box!!

The January Dog Cravebox
Bissell Stomp & Go Stain Lifting Pads, Keen Dehydrated Dog Food, Sentry Calming Collar, True Chews Chicken Jerky Fillets and In a Dog's Heart by Jennifer Arnold

I was delighted by the variety in this box. While we have a dog food that we feed Willow, having a "gourmet treat" now and then is nice for her. The treats are always a favorite--she gets one after baths, grooming and nail trims (she gets so excited when anyone says BATH TIME!).

The other three items will come in handy as we are planning on adopting a rescue Pug this year! I've received several of the Stomp & Go pads from Cravebox (I won a whole cleaning box from Bissell and Febreeze during a Twitter party) and they look great for house training! 

The collar is a new product--it is scented with a "calming pheremone", as well as lavender & chamomile. The idea is to use it during vet trips, grooming, storms--any time a dog may feel stressed. It's good for 30 days, although I suppose it could be used for those times and stored in a air-tight container, and perhaps "recharged" by adding more essential oils. It's a smaller size--too small for Willow's neck I think. Besides, she's a rather mellow dog to begin with. But this will be great for our Pug!

A note--due to a Pug's anatomy, collars should only be used as decorative wear. Leashes should be attached to a harness so that pressure isn't applied to their head/neck.

Finally, as an avid reader, I was very happy to recieve Jennifer Arnold's book, In a Dog's Heart: A Compassionate Guide to Canine Care from Adopting to Teaching to Bonding. No matter how much you think you know about dogs, it is always good to brush up on new techniques and refresh your skills. I am a huge fan of Cesar Milan--his methods worked fantastic with Willow. She is the perfect mellow Submissive dog and sees us as her pack. But since I've never had a pug, I know I will glean something  from this book that will be helpful! Plus I just like to read books about animals.

Willow snuggling with her new treats

Overall, this is a great box, and once more, I'm a happy Craver--and so is Willow :)