December 23, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Christmas Angel

Fifteen years ago this morning, I was resting after a long night of childbirth. I had just greeted my newborn daughter a few hours earlier and we had both gotten cleaned up and sent to our respective rooms for rest. I was too excited to sleep, instead I kept thinking about my answered prayer.

We already had a two year old daughter who was waiting at home. When she was born, I said a silent prayer that she would someday have a sister, but we didn't know the sex of the baby beforehand. My prayer was answered that morning. For the past several weeks she had taken to hollering at my stomach for the baby to come out. We never expected to have a baby born so close to Christmas, especially after the first baby was five weeks early. This baby had different ideas though. From the beginning my pregnancy was different. I had food aversions early on which was how I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test. I took a look at my bagel and cream cheese one morning for breakfast and couldn't even bring it to my lips. A pregnancy test a week later confirmed my suspicion.

I didn't have the distraction of working at a job as I had stayed home after she was born. Instead we were building a bigger house in the suburbs and caring for a toddler. It was an eventful summer and fall as we were settling into our new home and preparing for a baby who didn't seem to be in any particular hurry to join our family. I was sure I would have our second child early as well, based on my previous experience. If parenthood has taught me anything at all, I've learned never to expect anything to go the way you predict. So we waited from mid November forward, experiencing several moments of false labor only to find the due date come and go as we got closer to Christmas. The doctor promised that no matter what, he would induce me before the year was over if I didn't start labor on my own. He said not to worry that the baby was probably between 7 and 8 lbs.

I was eight days overdue and woke up that morning thinking, here we go again, false labor. I had a non-stress test at the hospital later that morning, so I figured we'd find out then. Sure enough, we got to the hospital and the tests confirmed what I had been waiting for, I was in labor, but very early stages. I wanted to go home and wrap up a few more loose ends and get ready to come back to the hospital to welcome our newborn.

We spent the day running errands. In fact, we stopped by the salon where my husband's grandmother got her hair done to get a gift certificate, and the beautician remarked that she had heard all about us and when was I due anyway, I looked like I would go any minute, she remarked. I said, well in fact, I'm in labor now, I'm going back later today when it progresses. We continued errands the rest of the day and I came home antsy, knowing the moment was finally here, but also knowing that this second baby was not particularly hurried.

One thing I knew for certain was that I was not going to be as hungry as I was the first time I was in labor. So despite warnings not to eat, lest I poop during delivery, I had dinner. We called our in-laws over to stay with our firstborn and said our goodbyes, we figured it was time to head to the hospital. Honestly, the labor was happening, and the contractions were more frequent, but with none of the pain or nervousness that we experienced the first time.

We arrived at the hospital where they were expecting us, and got settled in the room. Again, thinking I was such an authority after having given birth once, I was simply determined not to be strapped into a bed with wires and monitors. I was going to walk around and kill time. I wasn't allowed to leave the birthing floor, so I just did laps. I wasn't allowed to pause at the nurses station (for the privacy of the other patients information that was on the chalkboard), but I knew other women were giving birth as the evening was punctuated by  moans and then baby cries. I was bored and frustrated. My spouse took a nap, again because we considered ourselves such experts after our one baby.

Three hours ticked by. It was a little bit before the 11 PM shift change when I begged my nurse to let me go home and I would come back when things moved along faster. She refused. She reasoned with me that I was already halfway there, and that it was winter, I was in a safe place, and things could start to go fast.

I was irritated and my laps around the birthing wing became more pointed, stomping as much as I could in fuzzy hospital issued socks with grips on the bottom. I was getting jealous of all the moms in labor. I think I wore a ridge into the floor with my pacing. I had things to do and really wished I was at home if I wasn't going to be giving birth. About an hour later, I went to the bathroom and when I tried to stand up, I had a really difficult time moving. The labor pangs were stronger. I woke my husband and asked him to just go tell the nurses that when they got around to it, could they please come and see if I had progressed at all, but that it wasn't urgent (which is why I didn't use the buzzer). I laid down and started rolling channels on the TV.

About 20 minutes later, the nurse came in, examined me and said, "Call her doctor, NOW."

It was about 12:30 AM when that call was made. My doctor was there and ready to deliver within 20 minutes. I don't know why I was so surprised how quickly he got there, he knew I was in labor and that I had gone to the hospital. But for some reason, I didn't expect him to be there before 1 AM. But he was and I was glad to see him, especially when at 1:16, I became the proud mother of another baby girl. The baby girl who weighed 9 lbs, 12 oz., a lot more than 7 or 8 lbs. I looked at my angel who wasn't so little. She had a close cropped head of light brown hair and looked more like she was 3 months old, not 3 minutes. She was sturdy and healthy and actually chubby.

Today, that little baby who was in no hurry is the most punctual person I know. She also is tall and slender, wearing a size zero jeans with long inseams. She is funny and smart and hard working. She makes me smile with some smart aleck remark nearly every day. She is also generous and kind.

One of my favorite stories from her life was from her first grade year. We had gotten our school supplies the first week of school and about a week into classes, one morning she was rummaging in the basement gathering every thing on the list again. (We had several duplicate supplies due to having an older sister and an ever changing supply list each year). She had found an extra pencil box, scissors, markers, crayons, etc. I asked her why she was doing that. She said, I want to surprise one of the kids in my class. They don't have their supplies yet and today is the last day, so I'm going to put this on his desk before he gets to school so he won't get in trouble. My heart swelled. That little girl's compassion for others and strong sense of empathy has continued to grow. She is a good person and the world is better for having her in it.

Happy birthday, to my little Christmas angel.

We love you!

December 21, 2012

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December 20, 2012

think twice

I am humbled and saddened by the headline news. A young man did something so horrific and unthinkable.

We gasp, we pause, we wring our hands. We wonder what it is like.

I don't know. But yet, I think I can relate. Yes, believe it or not, I get it.

I am the parent of high schoolers. One in the first year, one in the last. Like the world will tell you, it goes fast. But not so fast I've forgotten. In fact, I remember all too well. I remember a moment of fear. It gripped me like a demon.

When my first child was in kindergarten, I had the typical mom fears. I worried if she would have an accident, how she would navigate lunches, and if she would be understood. My fears were quickly alleviated. She was well beyond potty training, I fed her before she went to school, and while understood, she was recommended for speech therapy. (We took a wait and see approach which worked fine).

Nonetheless, sending our first child to school was fraught with the usual parental concerns. After the first week, she came home regaling tales of another classmate who seemed to bully her. She was by far the youngest one in the class (she began kindergarten at age 4, very close to the cut off date). I advised her to not tattle, but try to handle it on her own. I said, don't bother the teacher unless it's really big. I was determined not to be one of "those parents". I wanted to let life unfold on its own terms in its own way without me hovering like a control freak.

I had no idea what would transpire.

One September afternoon she came home, upset and indignant. She proclaimed that the young person who bullied her had lied. I looked at her quizzically. What are you talking about, I asked.

She proceeded to explain how she had spent the afternoon in the principal's office. That the young bully had said something horrible to her and when she told the teacher, they were hauled to the office. What happened I gasped with terror?

My child explained. "Mommy I got on the bus, and X said, I know where you live and my mommy has a gun. I'm going to come shoot you."

I was aghast. I ran to my answering machine convinced I had somehow or another missed a phone call. I was sure my negligence was part of this issue. The machine was silent.

I called the principal. Shaking. Inconsolable.

The first words were, "I figured I'd be hearing from you".

Flabbergasted, I only muttered. Um, yeah.

I quickly regained my composure to say, "Why didn't you call me? Why did my child spend the afternoon in your office and I had no idea?"

The moment quickly digressed. The administrator was in defense mode of an indefensible. Muttering things about how they handled it in house, that they knew the family and that they didn't want to make a big deal were lost on my ears.

My child received a death threat.

We lived in an exemplary district. We chose it for many good reasons, but primarily that it was known for its schools. I was beside myself. I had no idea what to do.

None. The school felt the situation was handled. They had called the other parents and determined that that remark "meant nothing", therefore no need to alert the parent of the threatened child.

I felt dismissed, but could not stop thinking about the 6 year old in Michigan who shot a schoolmate the previous year. I could not feel comfortable sending my child to school. The school had not done a psychological evalutaion, they had not checked police records, they did nothing but call the other kid's parents. All I knew was that what I expected and what the school did was not aligned.

I contemplated my options. My own child wasn't nearly as upset as I was. She was merely upset that the other child denied what they said. (for the record, that's just not something a kindergartner can make up, there is no doubt it was said any more than the child who said it would deny as much when they got in trouble).

I didn't know what to do. I drove my child to school the following day, and marching into the principal's office. I'd already contacted the school board. explaining my problem. So I asked the principal to give me the other parent's name and contact information.

I decided to contact the other parent.

I called that person on the phone and said, I cannot imagine what your day has been like anymore than you can imagine what mine was like. But I would like to invite you and your child over to our house and see if we can work this out mom to mom, child to child.

It was no easy call. It felt weird and creepy to be honest. I felt like I was contacting a potential mass murderer. But I didn't know. I just knew that unless I made contact with the source of my worries, in the absence of school intervention, I could not continue to send my child to school there. I already had a pile of parochial schools in the list.

Instead, I listened to another mother breakdown hysterically on the other end of the phone. Wailing, sobbing, crying. She couldn't stop apologizing, stating over and over she had no idea where her child's words came from. She just didn't know.

I realized then... the only thing more terrifying than having your child threatened? Is when your child does the threatening. I shed a tear or two myself during that phone call as I tried to maintain my stance as the victim. But I realized truly the best thing to do was move forward.

They came over. The kids played and we moms drank coffee and talked. To this day, we don't know why that other child said what they said. I do know that there was a happy ending.

What more could I ask for?

OZ The Great and Powerful Sneak Peek

In a modern spin on the beloved classic, Wizard of Oz, Disney is bringing a new twist to an old favorite. Premiering in March, 2013, Fresh Daily Bread is thrilled to offer an advance peek at this upcoming film.

Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

December 19, 2012

Monsters 3D in theaters TODAY!

We are huge fans of Monsters, Inc. The Pixar film voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal ends with the beautiful reminder that children's laughter is far more powerful than their fear.

That is a powerful and poignant reminder and we're thrilled to share the news that Monsters is back in the theaters today in 3D! We love being a Disney blogger and having the chance to share this with our readers. 

Here is are a few downloadable activities for the little Monster fan in your house. Follow the links below the picture. 

Monsters 3D activity sheets
Coloring Page
Door Hanger

Monsters, Inc. 3D

December 17, 2012

Cures for feeling powerless

We will never know the full story surrounding the crimes that took place in Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine, or Virginia Tech or any of the other sites of horrific events. These places are so deeply ingrained in our national psyche that their names are forever associated with the terror that gripped them. We focus our attention intensely, study the news reports and eventually dismiss ideas towards action, feeling ineffective in a world that seems to have gone bad.

In an attempt to feel less powerless and more effective, I've compiled a list of ideas for action. There is only so much hand wringing, news stalking, and lamenting among ourselves will accomplish. It's a useful tool for processing what happened, but if we really want to do something, we are not powerless. We possess the greatest tools for change in the world. We possess love. We care. We cannot allow our shock and grief to render us ineffective.

Without further ado, here are some ideas:
*Agree that the time to talk about action is now. Waiting just means that we delay the opportunity to change something as long as we wait. Whatever opinion you have about the factors that contributed to these sort of horrors could be, work to change it. Whether it's lack of gun control, society, violent media, mental illness, or a combination? Pick the factor that you think would improve the situation and do something. Don't argue about which factor it is or why XYZ isn't the reason. You have an opinion, do something constructive about your opinion. 
*Reach out to someone who seems lonesome, awkward, or uncomfortable. Say hello. Show some interest. Maybe that is the first step to convincing that troubled soul that someone cares. We don't know. Be the bigger person and reach out. 
*Write your lawmakers. They have the power to create laws that will help protect our nation. Don't give up. Find out what they can do. Make your voice heard in a positive way.  This is the time to be political.
We can only write our own story, we cannot change the rest of the world. Why not start with ourselves?  What will you do to be a part of a better today and tomorrow?
...  these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (1 Cor. 13:13)

December 14, 2012

Family Movie Giveaway!

Who doesn't love Charlie Brown, The Grinch, or Rudolph?

We have teamed up with Warner Brothers to offer a great last minute giveaway for our readers. To qualify, just leave a comment and tell us your favorite Christmas television special.

We will give you a copy of Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection, Classic Christmas Favorites or Dr. Seuss’s Deluxe Holiday Collection on Blu-ray to give for Fresh Daily Bread's readers! (Prize will be chosen randomly from the above Blu-ray titles!)

The contest will end December 18th at midnight EST. The winner must send me your address within 24 hours or a new winner will be chosen. No PO boxes please.


Last Minute Movie Giveaway!

You have until December 18th to reply to this post to win a randomly selected movie below! 
To be eligible, please leave a comment about the best gift you ever received. 
Winners will be chosen from comments received by midnight, December 18th, EST, you will be notified the 19th and must send me your address within 24 hours. All winners are shipped the 20th to arrive in time for last minute stocking stuffing! 

December 3, 2012

Santa Unwound

We love Christmas. We love all it invokes from the faithful as well as the secular world. What child doesn't know about Santa?  And yet... what child doesn't remember that crushing moment of learning the truth about Santa?

Today, I was inspired by a former colleague and writing friend of mine to look at my Santa story with a little more scrutiny. I grew up with the stories, the displaced logs out of the fireplace because apparently Santa was able to manage flaming logs without setting the home on fire, but not put them back on the hearth. He left footprints around our yard, nibbled cookies and gave his reindeer our carrots.

We had pages of evidence why Santa existed as well as the reassurance of Mom. Santa was real. There was no doubt in my mind. I blithely accepted that truth so convincingly that in 6th grade Sunday School class, when I was 12 years old, my teacher reminded us very matter of factly that now that we were old enough to know that Santa wasn't real we needed to talk more in depth about what Christmas really meant.

I looked around my classroom at the nodding heads and had that horrific moment of uncool revelation. I was literally the only kid left in the class who didn't know the truth. I faked it the rest of the class until I ran to the bathroom holding back the tears of my embarrassment. Splashing water on my face, I gathered my composure the best I could to meet my parents for Mass. I never told them that I knew they hadn't been honest about Santa. But I felt deceived and angry. In fact, 35 years later, I still feel indignation that I could have been spared that moment if only my questions had been answered. Instead, they were deflected and unanswered. I don't blame my folks. I was gullible and I'm sure when I still believed at age 12, they were confused how to proceed. I am sure they just never expected me to still believe them at that age. I was well past the age of reason and marching towards Junior High.

My horror was so magnified that I swore I would come clean with my own children the very minute they wondered. In fact, I almost pounced on the opportunity to tell the truth when they expressed the slightest doubt. I wanted to spare them that moment of horrific realization that they were the only ones in the room who didn't know the truth about Santa.

Today those memories came rushing back when my young mother friend posted her thoughts about perpetuating the myth. She explained, "It's fun to be imaginative with your kids and play pretend with their favorite characters. The difference is, I don't put cheese on the counter with a bite out of it and a letter from Mickey Mouse inviting the family to go to Disney World... "

Her thoughts resonated with me as I reflected on my own explanations With child #1, I merely confirmed her suspicions that Santa was me when she asked. I was matter of fact and succinct. With child #2, I explained that Santa was a good man who loved children and he was so inspiring that parents everywhere carried on his traditions on Christmas. Naturally child #1 thinks child #2 got a way better revelation.

It has nagged me. Santa is not why we celebrate Christmas. Why are we making the day about anything other than what it really is? The other day I decried the "War on Christmas" as trivialized and of our own making. But maybe... that is a piece of the puzzle.

For my dear readers?

How do you handle the Santa story?

December 1, 2012

Is there a War on Christmas?

There has been a lot of talk about the War on Christmas so as a writer, I took a more careful look around this war torn nation to observe the damage.

I looked down my street and saw blow up snowmen, twinkling lights, and penguins. In fact, one neighbor even has Santa flying in a blow up helicopter. I drove through town and saw hundreds and thousands of lights synchronized to songs like Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Store windows are filled with displays of wrapped presents. The streets are lined with giant snowflakes and wreaths on the light poles.

There are reindeer antlers on the minivan next to me, and the car behind me has a wreath wired to the front grill. I am stunned by their bravery. To blatantly flaunt their celebration and love of Christmas in such a hostile environment must take tremendous conviction.

I look at my Christmas cookie baking supplies filled with frosting, sprinkles and flavorings. I have cutters to depict every single Christmas character that exists. Holly leaves, Santas, reindeer, snowmen. It's all there. I looked at my 9 foot tall Christmas tree adorned with ornaments depicting every vacation I've taken, every craft I've tried, and every event I've attended. We call it a Christmas tree, but I wonder if that offends the pagan worshipers who originated the custom.
The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime; it survived further in the custom, also observed in Germany, of placing a Yule tree at an entrance or inside the house during the midwinter holidays.
To learn more about this war on Christmas, I thought I would visit the mall. The stores have been getting ready for Christmas since mid October, and seemingly without resistance from the soldiers. More examples of immense bravery. What it must take to sell that peppermint flavored refreshment in the midst of such strife is inspiring, especially when the cup is adorned with obvious symbols of Christmas.

Neil Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves to Death contains a poignant quote, "We do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant." 

He further comments, (in comparing society to Huxley's Brave New World versus Orwell's 1984) Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions"... In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
To learn a bit more about this War on Christmas, I attended my church. According to statistics, church membership as well as attendance is on the decline for nearly every denomination in the states. Perhaps this is where the War on Christmas should be recruiting soldiers, and not the mall or city hall, tree lots, Santa workshops or front yards. Perhaps this is where to find the appropriate arsenal to combat the war on Christmas.

We have trivialized Christmas to the point of unrecognizable. That is not the fault of any government institution or other religions or atheists or agnostics. The War on Christmas is being fought from within. Jesus didn't storm city hall or demand that everyone observe as He did. Instead He went to the temple. He prayed for hours on end. He invited others to follow Him and learn from Him. He talked to the masses about caring for one another. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus does not care what we call the decorated tree we put up in any public or private venue. He doesn't care if we sport ugly sweaters with candy canes and jingle bells and He doesn't care if we wish people well, no matter what words we choose. He cares that we love each other and love Him. He asks us to forget all other distractions and remember why He came to earth.
...and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

November 30, 2012

Countdown to Christmas

Christmas MemoriesThis is the time of year when if the decorations aren't already out, we get them out. I've begun the week long process of decorating. I usually try to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving, but we had house guests and didn't want to put them to work.

I have over 1000 favorite decorations. My Christmas ornaments. I am a collector. While some folks put them on several trees, I decorate our 9 foot tall tree with all of them. For the past several years, I've posted an ornament a day on my Facebook page and told the story behind it, why it was special. Ornaments are the souvenir of choice when I go anywhere. I have ornaments I made in elementary school, ornaments from my grandmother, family collectibles, ornaments for my children, and even for the family dog as well as his predecessor, the first family dog.

They range from elegant to kitschy, from homespun to sparkly. Glass, straw, wood, wax are just some of the materials used to make my ornaments. I also nestle all the photo cards we receive that year in the tree branches.

Blurb BooksLast year, a friend of mine was enjoying my posts so much she suggested that I put them in a book for the family, as so many of the ornaments have a family story. I've decided to take her up on that suggestion,  and I have found the perfect company to do it. Blurb offers bookstore quality books at a reasonable price. The company has a fabulous program to create the perfect keepsake for a loved one. The books are shipped in 7-10 days and will arrive in time for gift giving. You can upload photos from Instagram, Facebook, or any other photo sharing site as well as your hard drive or memory card.

They have given Fresh Daily Bread a 25% discount to use as well as to share with our readers. Just enter the code: HOLIDAYTHANKS when you check out from now through Monday, December 3, 2013 at 11:59 PM your local time.

disclaimer: Fresh Daily Bread has been compensated for this post. Nonetheless, we only promote companies that we personally would use or think our readers would find useful. 

November 28, 2012

Retail's Hidden Potential: Infographic

(source -

 From a report by DEMOS, a multi-issue national organization that combines research, policy development and advocacy to influence public debate and catalyze change. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in New York City, Demos works with advocates and policymakers around the country in pursuit of three overarching goals:
  • A more equitable economy with opportunity for all;
  • A robust democracy in which all Americans are empowered to participate;
  • A strong public sector that can provide for our common interests and shared needs.

November 26, 2012

Nutcracker Movie Event: Northeast Ohio

The Nutcracker ballet is synonymous with the holiday season, as Clara dreams her way through a fantasy land of candy and princes and mice. This year, theaters nationwide are presenting a one day 3D extravaganza of Tchaichosky's beloved classic. 

The Russian Imperial Mariinsky Theatre was the original home to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in 1892, when it made its worldwide debut. Movie theater audiences will experience the marvelous talents of two of the Mariinsky Theatre’s rising stars – Alina Somova as Clara (Masha in the original Russian ballet) and Vladimir Shklyarov as the Nutcracker. Conducted by Valery Gergiev, this timeless production of The Nutcracker opens with a Christmas Eve party and a young girl, Clara, being given a nutcracker doll by her godfather, Drosselmeyer. Later in the evening when Clara sleeps, she finds herself in the midst of the Nutcracker’s battle against the Mouse King and his army of mice. Coming to Clara’s aid, the Nutcracker is transformed into a Prince and journeys with her to an enchanted island where spectacular celebrations are held in their honor.

Don’t miss your chance to share this holiday tradition with your family in movie theaters for one day only on December 3!

Enter to win free passes to see this holiday classic at several local Northeast Ohio theaters: 
  • Cinemark Tinseltown USA in North Canton
  • Cinemark 15 in Macedonia
  • Cinemark at Valleyview
  • Cinemakr 14 in Mansfield
  • Southpark Mall in Strongsville
  • Regal Severance in Cleveland Heights

November 24, 2012

What is the right answer?

Yesterday, I was brought up close and personal to one of those problems we like to ignore, or at the very least avert our eyes from when we see it. We often separate the world into an us/them dichotomy. 

Having little guests visit us for the holiday weekend, we decided to take them to our fantastic local children's museum. It's in our downtown area and we need to park in a lot a block away from the museum and walk to the entrance. After leaving the museum, we were at the crosswalk. Our group was 2 teenagers, a toddler, and a kindergartner  as well as myself. There was a crowd waiting to cross the street, including a man intent on handing out religious pamphlets encouraging us to make our lives right with Jesus.

As the religious fellow thrust the pamphlet at a disheveled looking woman and her companion who were also waiting to cross the street, the woman challenged the man handing out the pamphlets. "What is this for?" He explained that it was about Jesus. Her hostility increased. "What do you know about Jesus," she asked in a louder voice. The red light seemed endless as the "Don't Walk" continued to blink. I held the kids hands tighter. The pamphlet guy explained how Jesus was the answer. She scoffed at him and said, "My brother and I are homeless, tell me what you're doing to help us, tell me how giving me a piece of paper about Jesus will help us find a meal or warm place to stay tonight? I like Jesus. I believe in Jesus. I don't need to learn about Jesus. What I want to know though is what is someone like you doing to help someone like me?" She continued to challenge him.

I held the kids closer willing the light to change, awkwardly holding the flier I reluctantly accepted from him, but unable to ignore the conversation that was unfolding on that corner.

The man handing out the fliers muttered something about the Rescue Mission, and she again looked at him and said, "I didn't ask you about the Rescue Mission..."

The light changed and we rapidly crossed the street as her words reverberated in my brain,

"What is someone like you doing to help someone like me?" 

-Matthew 25:45

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Memories

It's been very pleasant seeing the push back against the commercialization of Thanksgiving. While more and more stores are opening, more and more people are also objecting. I do not participate in the Black Friday sales because I truly cannot imagine anything I need that badly that I would fight the crowds or camp out. I think if most folks were honest with themselves, there is nothing they need that badly either, but it's become so deeply engrained in our culture that it's almost impossible to think of Thanksgiving without the slew of ads and enticements to get us to spend money.

The irony isn't lost on me. Spending a day in gratitude for everything we have then rushing out in the wee hours to acquire "more". At some point I would like to think "enough" instead of "more".

In the spirit of remembering what Thanksgiving is about, I would like to share a favorite Thanksgiving memory.

The year was 1970.  I was in preschool and I made construction paper buckles for my shoes and hat for my head. After school, I went out to my Grandma & Grandpa's farm proudly sporting my Pilgrim costume. I spent the night at their house, in my aunt's old bedroom. I remember how cool her room was because she had a trundle bed and round bolster pillows. I would sit in that room and look at the Encyclopedia Britannica until I heard Grandma rustling together a breakfast. I went downstairs to see Grandpa was in his hunting jacket. My dad and uncle came over and the men went out to the woods to hunt rabbits. When other families had turkey the day after Thanksgiving, I remember having rabbit stew. Our family was large enough that there was rarely much turkey left over.

After breakfast, which always included Grandma's homemade bread, real butter, and homemade jam, I watched the Macy's Parade while Grandma started the turkey. I would help as much as a little kid could. Grandma had me set the table and she trusted me to handle her china, which as an adult, who is rather clumsy, I really cannot believe her level of trust. I felt so important. I also got to set the card table for my brothers and myself, where the little kids sat.

I remember the family starting to arrive and my cool older cousins would usually play a board game with me because my brothers were too little to play with me. Grandma set out her famous pimento cheese ball rolled in chopped pecans. It was such a traditional food that one year Grandma did not make the cheese ball and we spent most of the dinner talking about how much we missed the cheese ball.

After dinner, Grandpa would build a fire in the fireplace and we would watch football, either Dallas or Detroit.

I don't remember anyone talking about how early they were going to get up and shop or the great bargains to be had the next day. But we all sat and cheered or booed the teams and the adults talked to each other. After our dinners had settled, we had pumpkin pie for dessert and there were cookies for the kids.

We would then hurry home to watch the Wizard of Oz.

I am thankful for that memory. I can still smell Grandma's cooking and if I close my eyes, I can see her in her apron and Grandpa in his hunting gear. I see the fields that we traipsed through and the barns where we explored. I can hear Grandpa's cows mooing and I see the apple tree in the side yard where Grandma always warned us not to eat the green apples. I am filled with gratitude and joy. That is more valuable than any super deal on a flat screen TV or in demand toy.

Do you plan to shop on Black Friday? Why or why not?
What is a favorite Thanksgiving memory you have?

November 8, 2012

Are we Friends?

How well do you know Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Ross, and Chandler? 
Are you the biggest Friends fan around? 

Play Friends trivia and enter to win two coffee mugs and a frame like the one in Rachel and Monica's apartment. To enter the contest, take the "Which Friend are You?" quiz and leave your answer in the comments.  Winner will be selected from all entries on November 30th. 

This contest has been offered in cooperation with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to promote the release of the Friends Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set.  

Free CLEVELAND OHIO Advance Screening Passes: Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the GuardiansFresh Daily Bread invites you to attend an advance screening of the upcoming movie:


The screening will be held on Saturday, November 17th at Cinemark Valley View at 10AM.

Synopsis: RISE OF THE GUARDIANS is an epic and magical adventure that tells the story of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost – legendary characters with previously unknown extraordinary abilities. When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children everywhere. 

Cleveland, Ohio Free Movie Passes for DINO TIME!

Fresh Daily Bread has an offer for our readers take the family to the movies! For your chance to attend an advance screening of the upcoming movie, DINO TIME, please CLICK HERE.

The screening will be held on November 12th at Regal Richmond at 7PM. Enjoy the movie!


Three curious kids accidentally trip an egg-shaped time machine into operation and find themselves back 65 million years in the middle of a nest of dinosaur eggs. The first thing they see is a giant T-Rex staring down at them in happy wonder. They're not food, they're family! Now the kids have just until the real eggs hatch to find their way back to the present, facing other prehistoric monsters and dangers along the way.

Written by American Film Market.
With an all star vocal cast including:
(from IMDb)
Jane LynchJane Lynch...
Rob SchneiderRob Schneider...
Melanie GriffithMelanie Griffith...
Pamela AdlonPamela Adlon...
Tara StrongTara Strong...
Stephen BaldwinStephen Baldwin...
William BaldwinWilliam Baldwin...
Yuri LowenthalYuri Lowenthal...
Jessica Di CiccoJessica Di Cicco

November 7, 2012

Movie Review & Giveaway: The Heart of Christmas

The Heart of Christmas

(warning: must watch with a box of tissues handy)

A few weeks ago, Fresh Daily Bread was offered the chance to do an advance screening of a very special movie, The Heart of Christmas.

The Heart of Christmas is based on a true story of the Locke family in Illinois. After Julie Locke’s infant son Dax was diagnosed with cancer, she spent a year helping him fight it at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. When Dax’s doctors told her he wouldn't live to see Christmas, she decided to decorate for the holiday two months early. When his story appeared on CNN, thousands of people around the world put up holiday lights for Dax. Julie is now working to raise $1.6 million to run the hospital for a day in Dax's honor.

From a purely critical point, the movie verges on melodrama. I didn't want to criticize this story, but also felt it was fair to my readers to understand the one problem I had with The Heart of Christmas. It's a bit contrived at times as the actors' dramatic pauses and unrealistic dialogue pulls our emotions from us like an electromagnet tuned to the highest setting. However, in the spirit of the movie, I can understand getting carried away when trying to share such an important story. The movie is meant to warm the heart and it does that well. At times it just feels like it does it with a blow torch instead of a glowing ember.

Criticism aside, The Heart of Christmas is a beautiful true story of a town that reached out to a family and sick child. Such compassion and caring is the type of story we need told more often. It's never easy to watch stories about children with cancer, but the Locke family's story invites us into the world of St. Jude Children's Hospital, their small town in Illinois, and their close knit family. They show us that behind every ribbon, rubber saying bracelet, and colorful theme are people who are fighting the insidious disease and working tirelessly to make a difference.

Dax Locke FoundationThe Dax Locke Foundation, founded by mother Julie Locke, has raised over $632,000 for St. Jude. Their goal is $1.6 million dollars. She has been featured on Lifetime network's Remarkable Women series. The movie features Emmy award winner Matthew West, singing the song One Last Christmas to raise money for the cause as well.

Fresh Daily Bread is honored to offer eight copies of the movie to our readers. To qualify for the giveaway, we ask you to please share this post. You can share either via Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a blog post. After you share the story, please leave a comment or link in the Linky widget below. Let's help the Dax Lock Foundation reach their goal. We will verify the link, then mail the video to the first eight folks who spread the news. Please be prepared to submit a mailing address to

The movie will air on cable's GMC network on December 4th. Check your local directory for more information.

October 29, 2012

Land of Make Believe

Sometimes when I write here, I feel like a Johnny come lately. My children are teenagers. I've been there, did that, folded the paper, pasted the project.

I am a "mommy blogger" (despite my aversion the label)... I write about my offspring and the skills required to parent them. I resist the pull to grab all my younger blog friends and say...'Get over it, do your best and rely on me to confirm that". I want to be the "senior parent". Except for the part where I confess I don't know squat.

At a certain point, we are required to throw up our hands to the winds. Or maybe the gods of parenting. Or someting  We just accept that we've hit that place. We have done our best and at this point, our job is to observe. 

Last Friday was my firstborn's last halftime performance ever. Greatness, as defined by high school is finite. That doesn't mean I won't take it. I am beaming. They were glorious.

But I want to focus more on their song choices and the reason this year was a touching season beyond my personal bias. Barely. The day our marching band performed at the local fair, I was able to visit the fair before the performance. We had a decadent lunch of fried food with a table of folks from a local retirement village. I told them during lunch that our HS band would be performing soon, that was why we were there. 

We went to the show in the grandstand... and on the track, were our friends from lunch ready to watch the show. 

Within moments of the show starting, one of their aides encouraged one of the residents to get up and dance. I watched them trip the light fantastic and enjoy the bands while I sat in the stands. Humbly, but tearfully, watching a show that bridged young and old, strong and weak, worker and employer.

I watched them dance with joy. 

It was no Land of Make Believe. 

It exists. 
Join me. You're always welcome.

October 16, 2012

PBS and the Big Picture

I would like to take a few minutes to offer some personal thoughts on this Big Yellow Herring known as the Republican plan to cut funding for public television and radio AKA firing Big Bird, while the Democrats want to save him and his friends on Sesame Street and the rest of the Public Broadcast Shows.

Both sides are being played like a fiddle in this game.

The amount of the budget that finances public radio and television is minuscule compared to our national expenses. But just to keep things interesting, here is a different way of looking at it.

Children do not NEED television to learn anything. Nor do adults. We need books, newspapers, and perhaps even that real live experience of getting out and about and meeting the people who will shape our future. Go to a rally, attend a town meeting, listen to it happen live.

While I am no fan of commercial television, I also am  hard pressed to find programming, even public television, that isn't selling something. If you think that PBS doesn't sell things, I refer to 1997's rush on Tickle Me Elmo dolls that were being resold for as much as $1500, when there was a shortage during the holiday season on the toy.

Meanwhile, we fight over whether or not the government should fund PBS and our nation divides itself further.

It is not about whether our children will learn to read or not without the help of supposedly non-commercialized letters and numbers that sing and dance their way into their heart with fuzzy cute puppets. It is not about guarding our little ones from consumerism. If that were the case, there would not be consumer goods plastered with the Sesame Street characters, there would not be theme parks to spend spend spend money, there would not be traveling shows, and there would not be potty time apps to keep track of all the sewage surrounding this nonsense.

It's not about whether we need television, or whether that television is selling us something or not. It's about finding the right sort of president to lead us forward. It's about finding someone who will represent all of the United States, not just a vocal minority. It's about caring enough to exercise our right to vote and not flushing that vote away. We don't need an app for that.

October 14, 2012

Cleveland Boo at the Zoo & Madagascar 3 event

In honor of the Blu-Ray/DVD release of MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED, Radio Disney will be be on-site at this year’s Boo at the Zoo event at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Saturday, October 20th from 6PM to 8PM with music, dancing, games, activities and more.

Join the fun as Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still trying to get home to their beloved Big Apple and of course, King Julien, Maurice and the Penguins are all along for the comedic adventure. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to win the DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack (below) and other fun prizes.

Boo at the Zoo Cleveland

October 9, 2012

Stand with Walmart Workers: October 10, 2012

from: Corporate Action Network, CAN Action Center


On October 10, OUR Walmart members, along with community leaders and supporters will be standing up to Walmart executives in Bentonville, AR.

As Americans debate the future direction of our country and decide on which candidate has the better vision to fix our economy, Walmart retail workers are looking to Walmart—the world’s largest company and private employer—to help set standards and create decent jobs to turn our country around.   However, when workers from Walmart’s stores and contracted warehouses speak out for improvements and change in the workplace, they’re faced with retaliation, and even fired, for speaking out. 

Yet through OUR Walmart, these brave workers are starting to make real change by standing together with faith and community groups, elected officials, and other supporters and speaking out at work. But Walmart hasn't gotten the message.   That’s why on October 10, OUR Walmart members, along with community leaders and supporters will be standing up to Walmart executives in Bentonville, AR, calling for improvements in the workplace, an end to retaliation against those speaking out for change, and to urge the retail giant to work in partnership with community stakeholders to bring decent jobs to our neighborhoods. 

As these brave workers take on the largest private employer in the world, community allies and supporters can show their support and stand with workers by taking action at Walmart stores on October 10 across the country.

October 8, 2012

Dark Shadows Giveaway!

Campy fun in time for Halloween! Want to win a DVD combo? You have one week to answer in the comments why. It's simple and fun and even if you don't win, play some of the games.

Submit your comment by October 15, 2012 at midnight EST. One commenter will be chosen randomly to win. Must have a US mailing address to be eligible.

This message brought to you in cooperation with Warner Brothers.

GK, please contact me before the end of today (10-16-2012)( to claim your prize, or I need to draw another number. 

Because I never heard from the original winner, I'm going to choose my first commenter to win this prize. Chris, congratulations!

Every story has a writer and every writer has a story

Yesterday ranked very high on my personal brush with "fame and fortune". I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine who has cracked the New York Times Bestseller list with her debut novel, written two more novels and has a contract for another two. It's been incredible to have a front row seat to her success and I want to share some of the things I learned in our afternoon together.

In case you wonder who I am referring to, it's a writing colleague, Taylor Stevens. I first introduced her in February 2011, about a month before her first novel hit the book stands. In the year and a half since, her debut novel has received accolades and awards from literary groups and fans alike.

After attending the Bouchercon 2012 with authors and fans in Cleveland, Ohio, we had an opportunity to catch up with Taylor at an intimate Meet & Greet. It was an impressive afternoon for all who attended as we simultaneously marveled in her gracious hospitality and gratitude for her fans. After spending 4 days surrounded by discussion panels, industry insiders, and throngs of fans, Taylor personally scheduled time to meet with her fans one on one to just visit and talk.

The intimate gathering for about 15 fans was truly appreciated by all who attended as we were able to see and touch her Barry Award, for best first novel.

We asked questions and learned more about the craft and business of writing a novel. A few notes I would like to share.

Taylor is incredibly open about anything and everything relating to her education. It was endearing when she described how difficult math is for her compared to writing, which she needed to and successfully mastered.

If you are a fan who wants to see a favorite author continue a career? Here is advice for us, the fans.

  • If you love an author? PRE ORDER the next book to be released. Publicity is largely a numbers game. It's not necessarily fair, but a lot of sales decisions are based on how well a book is initially received. Case in point? If you are a Taylor Stevens fan who loved The Informationist and The Innocent? Please pre-order The Doll. Her career depends on it. Which in turn means our reading pleasure also depends on it. 
  • If you're choosing a pen name, pick one that starts with A, to position your book near the top of the shelf. Or find a fan who is willing to rearrange books at every bookstore. Not that it's been done, but rumor has it... 
  • Tell people about the book. Tell them repeatedly. The best publicity a book can get is word of mouth, as evidenced by the Barry Award, voted on by the fans. Take a moment to tell your friends about a book you love, suggest it to a book club, ask your book store or library to carry it. Like it? Talk about it. 

The publishing business is a brutal one. As the business side of writing is in a seemingly constant flux, the best way a fan can make an impact is to follow the steps we shared. If you don't think it matters, I only want to remind you that in this case? It did and does.

To illuminate my point without taking anything away from Taylor's personal drive and success, I was one of the first people in the world to read her first novel, in a Word Document. I was so enthralled that I took the book to a copy shop and printed it out on paper so I could mark/note/react to the words I saw. I am not so arrogant to believe the book wouldn't have succeeded without me, but I do believe that I have helped bring hundreds of fans and readers in this direction. You can, too. If you love something you read, involve yourself. It makes a difference.

Be part of the process. Don't be a passive reader. If you love it, shout it. Make it happen.

Congratulations, Taylor and many wishes for continued success! 

Taylor Stevens, The Informationist

Taylor Stevens, The Innocent

October 5, 2012

Luxury at home

More and more folks are opting to stay home instead of vacation. This past week, I had conversations with three different folks who did a home improvement project in lieu of going somewhere on a trip. The reasons vary, but a common thread is that it's easier to bring a little luxury home where it can be appreciated every day of the year, than travel somewhere that is done in seven days. My own spouse travels so frequently for work that the last thing he wants to do when he has time off work is go anywhere. The key purpose of a home remodeling project is to make the house more livable and enjoyable.

bathroom spa luxuriesOne of the most common renovations folks tackle is bathroom upgrades.  A comfortable bathroom is something that is used daily. With the styles of sinks, tubs, shower enclosures, faucets and even unique bathroom ceiling lights available, any homeowner can bring a sense of style and spa living to their own space.

In a survey of over 2000 homeowners undertaking a remodeling project, bathrooms were far and away the most popular room to redo. Older fixtures and tiles can be modernized, faucets can be upgraded, and lighting can truly reflect the personality of the owner. In regards to popular remodeling projects, a bathroom remodel can also increase the home value by offering approximately an 85% return on the investment.

By remodeling and enjoying the upgrades daily, and still recouping the money on the value of the home, the savvy homeowner enjoys a chance to bring a bit of vacation into each day and still get some return on the investment.

This post is brought to you by a sponsor. To learn more about sponsoring a post on one of our blogs, please click here

October 4, 2012

Lincoln: Coming November 9th!

Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln” is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, releases in U.S. theaters exclusive on November 9, 2012, with expansion on November 16, 2012.

Here is a trailer for the movie. It looks incredible. 

October 2, 2012

Campaign Finance Reform

There is a movement that is getting a lot of attention in the media lately, the StampStampede. The premise is simple. Stamp your paper currency with a political statement about getting the money out of politics. 

Fresh Daily Bread thinks it's a bit gimmicky, BUT the reasoning is sound. Why are we letting money dictate how we run this nation? Why are lobbyists and corporations able to wield more power than common people? It's the money, which screams louder than any voice. 

From the StampStampede site: 
  • Unlimited donations by billionaires and corporations to SuperPacs have drowned out the voice of ordinary Americans.
  • When you confuse money with free speech you give the wealthy and their corporations enormous megaphones that drown out the rest of us. A constitutional right to free speech for all is worthless if no one can be heard except members of the .01%.
  • It’s important to note that no other major democracy in the world allows for the unfettered spending on elections by private individuals or corporations. 
So whether you actually physically stamp your currency or you work to reconsider how our nation finances campaigns, it's time to bring the power back to the people. 

(thank you to Stamp Stampede for the use of their infographic)
Stamp Stampede

September 24, 2012

Single Motherhood

Dear Readers, 

Today, I am sharing a first hand account from a friend of mine who needed to live in a safe shelter for a period of time. She has graciously agreed to let me share her story.  Names and identifying information has been removed to protect the family. This letter was written by a person who utilized the services of a local domestic abuse shelter. We urge any and every one to support their local shelter. Far too often we form inaccurate impressions about single moms and people who need a hand. I am proud of the difficult decision my friend made to protect her children and get back on her feet. I also invite each and every one of us a chance to walk a mile in her shoes. 

Thank you, my friend, for your honesty and love. You're in my thoughts daily.

To Whom it May Concern,

It will be difficult to convey, in the body of a letter, the amount of appreciation I have for the ABC shelter, for its programs and staff, and for its parent organization, XYZ services. At the risk of sounding cliche’ or overly dramatic, the truth is that ABC was instrumental in saving my life and, hence, the lives of my children.

I am referring to a literal “life saving” as I was so beaten down, confused, isolated and exhausted by the time I turned to the ABC in late 2009, that I could no longer see the benefit of being alive. My self esteem and dignity were such that I entertained the thought that even my children may be better off without me. I had unknowingly enabled the cycles of power and control to exist within my marriage for 13 years by that time. My husband had broken my bones, secretly fathered a child with a mistress, and abandoned my children and me, leaving, literally, nothing. We had no support in the area. We lost our home, car, bank accounts, and so forth. Few people believed me when I finally revealed the ugly happenings within my family....until I spoke with a kind counselor at the ABC. That was the first moment of transformation for my children and I, although it took me a very long time to realize it.

My children were X and X years old at the time. My goal was to keep them both living as “normal” of a life as was possible, to feel loved, and to model for them hope and confidence (which were, admittedly, feigned at the beginning as I myself was dangling at the end of my proverbial rope.)

My youngest was largely insulated from the crisis within our family because of his age. He loved the ABC. To this day, he refers to it as “the hotel” and loves to visit on the nights I attend the women’s support group. We made friends there and he loved that there was a Wii in the living area, and lots of food. :-) He was very comfortable in our “hotel room”, and enjoyed the staff who treated both children very well.

My oldest son was uncomfortable when we first arrived, because of the procedures involved with keeping the building secure. He said, when we first arrived, that he felt like he was in jail. However, by the end of our stay, he liked the locked door. He had grown to feel very safe and secure and I am sure he sensed that I, his only caregiver, also finally felt safe and was able to rest for the first time in years. When we left, he said he missed that security.

Both boys enjoyed “the treat closet” and I loved that if I was ever without hats or mittens, the staff would find something for us. I loved the availability of certain things that helped me so much at that time, such as a gas card at one point when I needed it, free coupons for the boys’ haircuts, groceries, even bathroom supplies when I was without. Knowing that my children and I were in a safe environment, getting rest, and having people on staff at all times who understood what we were going through, was such a blessing.

During my stay, I began an education in domestic abuse, sociopathy, power and control, and so forth. The knot in my mind slowly began to loosen. Without that education, I don’t know that I could have taken necessary steps toward emotional health. I was also made aware of community resources which I have since fully utilized to create a new life for myself and my children.

The women’s support group, the family crisis hotline, and the excellent advocate services still continue to help us transition and to deal with our family history and its ongoing collateral challenges. I have also taken advantage of XYZ's other programs.

The shelter and all of its related programs were invaluable to myself and, therefore, to my children. Their future families will likewise benefit from the safety, care, education and support we received. I have come to know many other women and children who have passed through the doors of the ABC with stories parallel to my own. I am certain countless individuals benefit from the existence of the ABC. I shudder to think of how my story would have been different if I hadn’t found it.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions regarding my experiences with ABC services.

A grateful mother

September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Firstborn Child!

Tomorrow marks 17 years since the day I first became a mother. As cliche as it sounds, it seems like just yesterday. I cannot believe that little peanut I nervously held in my arms moments after she was born is now dating, driving, and preparing to graduate from high school. I swear it was just yesterday my water broke.

I want to travel back in time and share her story. I remember all of the moments up to her birth so well, but if it's never written down, it will never be permanent. It's the story of a little girl who was early for her birth and hasn't been on time since. We jokingly call her "Last Minute Libby".

Last minute LibbyI spent my pre-motherhood days as one of the grocery store head cashiers. I was also the store union steward and I wore a number of hats. I loved my work at the store, even if I complained about the hours. I loved working an honest job with salt of the earth people. I loved helping them as their union rep. I loved everything about my job. This matters because a mere week before I gave birth to my daughter, I was walking a picket line at a non-union store, carrying a sign that said 26,000 +1 (a tribute to my enormous tummy) reasons to shop union. Our medical leave was structured such that for maternity time, you were given 4 weeks prior and 6 weeks after paid leave. We also had to be off work for a week in order to be eligible for leave.

I scheduled a vacation week five weeks before my due date to fulfill the requirements of my leave. My last day was a Friday. I didn't know it would wind up being my last day ever at the store, so I clocked out and spent the evening with a few friends. Over the weekend, I finished up the baby's room, knowing that work would get harder and harder as the weeks progressed. I painted, hung curtains, put up a darling Noah's Ark wallpaper border. The room was gender neutral, as we didn't find out what the sex of our baby was. My husband worked nights so we also had all day Monday to finish up the room. We washed the paint brushes, smiled at our work and went to buy a rocking chair.

We put the rocking chair in the room and he went to lay down to sleep before he had to work all night. We had a big weekend coming up with a family wedding on Saturday and the baby shower on Sunday so I went to shop for a maternity dress at a favorite resale shop. I bought a lovely maternity dress and was excited that I found something to wear for the weekend.

As I was walking back to the car, in the parking lot of the store, I had an accident. I didn't know what exactly was happening, but I knew I had to get home ASAP. Naturally, it seemed like every single light was red or the roads were under construction, but I did finally arrive home. My bottom was soaked and I wasn't sure if I had pee'd myself, was bleeding, or my water broke. I remember our Lamaze instructor explaining that amniotic fluid had no scent. When I saw that the wetness was clear, I began to sniff. Smelling nothing, I shook my husband awake from his sleep to confirm. I'm sure to this day he thanks me for that wake up call.

We went to the doctor's office right down the street, and he did a test on the fluid and confirmed, my water had broken. Our doctor was very holistic and laid back. Upon confirming that my water had broken, he told me to go home and relax and if I wasn't in labor by morning to call him, then head over to the hospital where they would induce me. Only now, years later do I realize how unusual (but I'm grateful) his instructions were. Most doctors admit you immediately.

We went home and started making phone calls. I nervously rocked in the new rocking chair trying to figure out why this new baby was coming so early, praying the baby would be okay. To be honest, I was neither relaxed nor resting. I was jittery and stressed. I was afraid to eat, because heaven forbid I poop during childbirth, so I was trying to ignore my hunger pangs. About 8 PM, I could no longer stand it, I was sure I was in labor (I was barely) and we went to the hospital.

They immediately strapped me into every machine conceivable and hooked up wires and monitors in places I didn't know could be monitored and told me to lay still since I was five weeks early. The night crept by miserably. I tried to sleep, but couldn't. My husband and I watched some Cleveland Indians baseball where he told me that if we had a boy, he wanted to name him Omar or Orel. These are not good names for our last name, so I just held out hope for estrogen.

I was hungry but wasn't allowed to eat. I was determined not to have drugs, so while I had some childbirth pain, I can honestly say, the biggest pain was hunger. I wanted food. I asked the nurses if they could but a hamburger in my IV. Around 6 AM, with little progress, my husband went to have breakfast and they gave me lime jello and chicken broth. I was getting crabby and quite frankly aggravated. I kept biding my time and around 9 AM things really began to hurt. I broke down and asked for an epidural. I was angry with myself because I was determined to birth my children naturally. Except I asked too late and they couldn't give me anything because the contractions were coming too quickly and I couldn't stay still long enough for the epidural to be put in place. That in itself was pain relief because I knew the moment was near when our baby would be born and I would be allowed to eat. In that order, but just barely.

Did I mention I was hungry? I also should mention that every single person who thinks they can predict the sex of a baby by the way the mother looks had emphatically said "you are having a boy/I'm never wrong" or something to that effect. They had told me repeatedly that I was having a boy. I'll admit my first instinct was that I was having a girl, but in the face of their expert testimony, I was sure I was having a boy. Finally I begin to give birth. It was in a teaching hospital, so I had an audience of interns. I wonder if they remember it as well as I did. Our baby emerged and when the doctor said, "She's a girl!", the first thing I said was "Really?"

The next thing I said was...

"I'm hungry."

And so it was, our firstborn joined the world. September 20, 1995 is a day I will never forget. I became a mother to the prettiest, smartest, cutest, and most wonderful child born that day. Her bright eyes and tiny little features still exist. She has grown into a graceful and talented young lady. Being her mother is one of the proudest achievements of my life.

Plus, her name isn't Orel or Omar.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. I love you more than life itself. You give me reasons to be proud on a daily basis. Always stay wonderful. You're a special girl.


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