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.

September 18, 2012

Sellout? Or something else?

This is my personal blog. This is where I pontificate about the slices of my world that make my life work. This is where I bring my bare soul.

Advertising on Fresh daily breadIncluding the one that really does want to make money doing it.

Paraphrased, theologian Frederick Buechner has written that, "Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need."  I agree and I accept my vocation with joy. I define my vocation as the gift of sharing words and ideas. So share, I do. Have I found vocation? Am I compensated?

Fact is, that is reader dependent. I share books, products and services that may be useful to you. I won't claim that I've tried them all. Maybe half. But I will claim that I tried to match up advertisers with you. I hoped that the companies I gave space to on this blog would resonate with you. I hope that if their product interests you as much as it did me, you'll find out more, sign up for a newsletter, perhaps buy something they sell.

It isn't super important. I have no expectations that I will achieve lifelong wealth by writing this blog. I will admit, I expect that you'll find what I have to say worth investigating. And I hope you enjoy those who graciously sponsor my words enough to patronize them.

September 17, 2012

3 Essential School Supplies—That Aren’t on Your List

YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

When kids have friends, they’re more likely to grow into happy adults. How to help your children develop the tools they need most.
Crayons by Chris Metcalf
Art supplies, a cool thumb-drive, and a new backpack are nothing short of thrilling in my household. We love preparing for school. And like a lot of parents, I assumed for years that success in school would be a safe route to happiness in life.
But a new study, which followed nearly 1,000 people over 32 years, makes it abundantly clear that preparing kids for academic success does not necessarily lead to happiness. You know what does predict happiness in adulthood, according to the study? Friendship. When kids have a lot of friends in childhood and adolescence, they tend to grow up to be happy adults.
I’m not suggesting we should stop helping our kids with their homework, or that we should casually send them to school unprepared to learn. Obviously not. But this study reinforces the most important thing we’ve learned about happiness in the last 100 years, across academic disciplines the world over: Our happiness is best predicted by the breadth and the depth of our relationships with others.
All of this is to say that there are a few back-to-school “supplies” our kids need that are not usually on the lists schools send home. They need tools to build social intelligence.
If your kids are lucky, their schools will provide these tools. My own children are blessed to have Dovetail Learning’s Toolbox Project curriculum taught at their school, Prospect Sierra. Toolbox teaches a set of 12 Tools—or skills, practices, habits—that kids can use to forge friendships and navigate the sometimes difficult social waters at school.
Below are three of my favorite Toolbox school supplies, and ideas about how to send your child back to school with them.

1. The Courage Tool

Returning to school takes courage for many children, especially when they are changing schools or are moving from elementary to middle school. Kids use courage when they do something they know is right, like inviting a new student to sit with them at lunch. They also use courage when they don’t do something they know is wrong, even though someone is pressuring them to do it. And they use courage when they express themselves, such as by standing up in front of the class or asking a question they’re afraid others will think is stupid.
Here are some ways to send your kids to school with courage:
  • Ask them what the word means to them. Talk with them about facing difficult things without fear. Share examples of ways to use courage at school.
  • Teach them that courage is like a muscle: The more they use it, the easier it is to stand up for what they know is right. The courage they build now will serve them for the rest of their lives.
  • Help them be aware of the thoughts they have that influence their bravery. What can they say to themselves to help themselves feel courageous? (I am strong enough to do the right thing.) What types of things do they say to themselves that make them fearful? (Everyone will think I’m weird if I tell her about that.)

2. The Garbage Can Tool

Our kids’ social lives are full of conflicts, large and small. To help them navigate these conflicts, Toolbox suggests how they can treat “unkind words and actions” as garbage and throw them away. The “Garbage Can Tool” helps kids brush off unkindness, especially slights that were unintentional or not meant as personal injuries, and foster resilience.
Here are some ways to send your kids to school with the Garbage Can Tool:
  • Talk with your kids about how some conflicts and unpleasant words aren’t worth giving time and attention to. These things are just like trash: stinky, rude, or inappropriate. The place for them is the garbage.
  • Help them symbolically create a place to put “trash”: Once they decide that something is garbage, or that an unpleasant event is over, they can move on by throwing it away (tossing it aside to get it out of their physical space).
  • As Epictetus said: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Talk about how the Garbage Can Tool can be an effective way to respond to something unpleasant.

3. The Breathing Tool

If I had to pick only one of these tools for my children, I’d pick this one. It’s the tool I use most myself: I use it to diffuse stress, to focus, and to keep myself from overreacting. My daughters also “take five”—five long, slow breaths as described below—before resolving an argument, which makes them seem mature beyond their ages, like little Buddhas.
A lot of good science suggests that focusing on their breath can be powerful for students: It reduces stress, stimulates creativity, boosts test scores, and improves focus.
Here are some ways to send your kids to school with the Breathing Tool:
  • Practice this with your kids: Put one hand over your heart and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Focus on the sensation of fresh air coming into your lungs and on how it feels as your belly expands. Pause briefly, relax, and then exhale through your mouth, counting slowly to five.
  • See if you can take five or even 10 intentional breathes like this.
  • Ask kids to pay attention to how their body feels when they use the Breathing Tool.
Developing tools like these can have a remarkable effect on your child’s ability to deal with difficulty on the playground and make friends—just watch this powerful video of kids talking about how they use their “tools” to deal with bullying at their school (the last minute in particular moved me to tears).
The kids in this video offer clear evidence that children are better served when we prepare them for tough choices they have to make on the playground, not just the tough choices they have to make on standardized tests.

September 6, 2012

Frankenweenie Sweepstakes

FrankenweenieThis is message brought to you as because I'm a  Disney blogger. But who wouldn't love to win a trip to Disneyland? 

Frankenweenie Monstrous Sweepstakes:
Enter the Frankenweenie Monstrous Sweepstakes for a chance to win a spooktacular vacation for four to experience all the fun of Halloween Time at the Disneyland® Resort. Plus, don’t miss The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibit only at the newly expanded Disney California Adventure Park, where you can get an up-close look at the amazing world of Frankenweenie through sets, puppets, props and more. And for a limited time Guests will be treated to a special 4D extended preview of the film at the Muppets Vision 3D Theater before Frankenweenie comes to theaters in 3D October 5th!

Visit to enter the Monstrous sweepstakes and you could win Halloween Time at the Disneyland® Resort for some frightfully family-friendly fun!

August 23 - October 7, 2012

Mobile – Text EDGAR to DISNEY (347639*) to enter for a chance to win. *Msg and data rates may apply. If you’re under 18, get your parents’ permission first.

One (1) Grand Prize – A 4 day/3 night vacation for four to Disneyland® Resort and Disney California Adventure Park to experience the world of Tim Burton and Frankenweenie during Halloween Time.

Five (5) First Prizes – An Autographed Frankenweenie movie poster

"Like" FRANKENWEENIE on Facebook:

FRANKENWEENIE arrives in theatres everywhere on October 5th!

September 5, 2012

Monsters, Inc. in 3D

Sulley, Monsters Inc
Our Little Sulley, c. 2002

My family just loves this movie. It's such an adorable story for all ages. We even had a mini Sulley in our family (my thing about Halloween costumes is well documented). If I couldn't buy it, they couldn't be it. But my daughter was thrilled that I could buy Sulley. And so it was. She was the cutest Sulley. I may be biased. But now Monsters, Inc. is being released in 3-D. All the story, an additional dimension. Here is a synopsis and a bit of trivia, courtesy of Disney Bloggers. 

“Monsters, Inc.,” one of Disney•Pixar’s most beloved and visually imaginative feature films ever, returns to 
the big screen to delight a whole new generation of audiences and fans alike, this time in stunning 3D. The now-classic Academy Award®-winning animated comedy adventure “Monsters, Inc.” is set in Monstropolis, a thriving company town where monsters of all shapes and sizes reside. Lovable Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and his wisecracking best friend Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) are the top scare team at Monsters, Inc., the largest scream-processing factory. The main power source in the monster world is the collected screams of human children—and at Monsters, Inc., an elite team of scarers is responsible for gathering those precious natural resources. Believed by monsters to be toxic, children are strictly forbidden from entering Monstropolis. But when a little girl named Boo (voiced by Mary Gibbs) accidentally follows Sulley back into his world, he finds his career in jeopardy and his life in utter chaos. So pals Mike and Sulley plot to rectify the mistake and return Boo to her home. But when the trio encounters an unexpected series of complications, they become embroiled in a cover-up catapulting them into a mystery beyond their wildest dreams.

    Monsters, Inc. 3D
  • “Monsters, Inc.,” originally released on November 2, 2001, was the highest grossing animated film at the global box office in 2001.
  •  After 15 previous Academy Award® nominations, Randy Newman finally won his first Oscar® for the “Monsters, Inc.” original song “If I Didn’t Have You.”
  • “Monsters, Inc.” and director Pete Docter were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in the first year that category was established. The film was also Oscar nominated for Best Original Score and Best Sound Editing.
  • Director Pete Docter went on to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature for “Up” in 2009 and has also been nominated for Best Original Screenplay three times: “Up” (2009), “WALL•E” (2008) and “Toy Story” (1995).
  • Co-Director Lee Unkrich made his solo directorial debut with “Toy Story 3,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2011.
  • Producer Darla K.. Anderson also produced “A Bug’s Life,” “Cars” and “Toy Story 3,” for which she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture in 2010.
  • On June 21, 2013, Disney•Pixar will unlock the door to a prequel, “Monsters University,” that tells the story of how Mike and Sulley met in college, overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

September 4, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Blog Survivors

My blogging friend Christy, author of the Ruminations on Love and Lunchmeat, recently nominated Fresh Daily Bread for the prestigious award:

She had this to say:

Fresh Daily Bread: Kim’s blog was one of the first blogs I started reading, and my own blog changed a lot as a result of reading it, realizing that blogs could be many things all at once.

I humbly accept the nomination because everyone knows that Lunchmeat without Bread is just slimy. We go together and I am happy to have her back during the Zombie Apocalypse. Part of the requirements for accepting the nomination include sharing 7 little known details about myself and nominating 15 other survivors. Since her blog readily admits it's not about math, I'm not going to expect her to count. Instead, I'll just let you know a few random facts as well as some of my favorite blogs.

What you never wanted to know about me will probably have you running for the hills. But I'm already designated as a zombie apocalypse survivor, so you have no chance. You may as well accept all this stuff you now know about me.

*Childbirth gave me hemorrhoids. I don't think I have to say anything else about it, but it did and I've had a constant reminder for almost 17 years now.

*I don't like seeds in my food. This means I won't eat rye bread unless it's seedless and strawberries and raspberries drive me crazy even though they taste good.

*I am not a cat person. I'm sorry to all my cat loving friends. Even better? Your cats know it and whenever I'm around, they find me and snuggle, weaving around my ankles, walking on the couch behind my head where I'm sitting and watching me shift uncomfortably.

*I usually ignore expiration dates on sour cream and yogurt. It's already sour and spoiled, right?

*I love opinion surveys. They are one of the few intrusive phone calls that will keep me on the line. You want my opinion? You're willing to take 10 minutes to hear it? I am so in.

*I cannot stand cell phones with their miniature everything and touch screens. I rarely remember to charge it, my kids make fun of me trying to text with it, and I don't even like to talk on it. The ear and mouth are not proportional to my face and that just bothers me. I don't like to give out my cell number because that means someone may actually try to get a hold of me on it. And unless they are conducting an opinion survey, I'm not interested.

*What? You want more? Okay. I had two kids, which apparently doubles the amount of hemorrhoids. But this isn't a post about that. It's just that for some reason that's what's got the majority of my attention today.

For the rest of the nominations?

Because I really am rather distracted today, I'd like you to just go over there------------------> to my sidebar and look at my handy little blogroll. Those are folks I enjoy reading for a variety of reasons and they bring a great deal to my blog-life. I like them all and want them around in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, even if they bring their zombie cats. Though I'd prefer a case of Tucks or Prep. H.

Love and Lunchmeat
I'd also like you to go over to the Circle of Moms and vote for my nominator, 

as a Top 25 New York Blog. Plus, she knows how to play euchre, which will keep us well entertained in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Thanks again, Christy!

The Fahrenheit 451 Jacket Competition

Fahrenheit 451 jacket competiton

Fahrenheit 451

from Fahrenheit 451's Facebook page:

Big news, Fahrenheit 451 fans! In honor of next year's 60th anniversary of the book's publication, we are launching a contest to redesign the jacket. Check back to see other submissions as they come in. You have until November 30th to enter, so get to work! Open to US-residents 18 and over, please (sorry, international/young friends). 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury turns 60 next year. To commemorate the anniversary of this classic novel, we're holding a competition to redesign the book jacket. The winning design will be used for the first printing of the special 60th anniversary edition, which will be sold in stores across the country and online.

The winner will also receive $1,500 for the use of his or her work. See Official Rules for more details.

Limit three (3) entries per person.

We're looking for work that is original, inventive, relevant to the book's content, and well-executed.

We'll be accepting submissions from September 3rd through November 30th, and the winning design will be announced in January. Submit your own jacket design here, and keep checking this page and our Facebook page to see entries as they come in!

Browse the full submissions gallery.


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