Visiting Family

By: Carolyn Coleman

We just recently returned from visiting with both my family and my husband’s family. Both our families live in Louisiana, so this was a nine-day vacation for us. One important thing I learned is that because Louisiana is our home, our family doesn’t realize that we are on vacation when we are there. A lot of times they think that since we are “home”, we should just beignetsdo whatever we did when we lived there. However, that doesn’t work since we haven’t lived in Louisiana for over 24 years. Since Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, nothing is the same, so there are often times when we are very lost in a place where we both grew up.

While I am still questioning this East Coast way of living and longing for family, this is the life my son knows and he has all the family he needs here. My son always reminds us that New Orleans is our home – not his. So for him, it is truly a visit. There were lots of things he wanted to try, one of which was the famous “beignets.” He also wanted to try a snow-ball, another dish the city is known for. I am disappointed to say that he did not enjoy either of them.

Snow ballsOn the plane ride back home, I asked him what he enjoyed most about the trip and he did say he enjoyed seeing both families and that he would like to visit more.

On the other hand, for me, the visit was a bit odd. My last visit was October 2013, when my father passed. My father was my only living parent for the last 25 years, so to go home this time and not see him was stressful. I felt as though I did not want to bring up his death because in the months afterward, my family was left with the task of cleaning out his home, letting go of his things, and putting their lives back into perspective. So while I often found myself feeling very sad, I did not want to project that feeling onto anyone else. I certainly did enjoy visiting with both families, and I always enjoy getting to spend a vacation at the beach.

Enjoy what’s left of your summer vacation.

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Drowning in Testosterone

By: Jessica Aldred

Raising boysAs a mom of three little boys, living with three adult men as well, there is quite a bit of testosterone around our home. Luckily, most of the pets are female. As I go about my daily tasks of cooking, cleaning, transporting and entertaining my brood, I often find my present self shaking her head at the pre-child me.

Things have changed quite a bit. I’m not a neat freak per say, but I like things in their place and I keep a pretty tidy home. I don’t like to let dishes stand in the sink or see tumble weeds blow across my floor. While pets have always been in the mix, the addition of children put quite a wrench in my daily/weekly cleaning regimen.

You see, any mother of boys will tell you that there are some things that you encounter with little boys that are likely not an issue with girls. There are also some stereotypes of little boys that are just not so. As I go about my daily business I’ve been taking a moment to reflect on these types of issues and jotted down a quick list for your amusement.

  1. I’ve come to accept that I will never, ever get rid of the pee smell in my bathroom. I’ve washed everything I can think of in there – even rotting the hardware off the toilet seat at one point – and still the smells remains. With one more little boy to potty train I’ve thrown in the towel.
  2. Matchbox cars are a close second to Lego’s when it comes to stepping on toys in the middle of the night. While Lego’s win in the all-out pain department, our Hot Wheels collection has a special way of hurting like heck while also helping you remember that splits are no longer (and likely were never) an option.
  3. Not all boys love bugs. In fact, my second son hates them! I use this to my advantage as I recently resorted to telling him there were spiders in the sanitary basket in women’s restrooms. While I seldom have to remind him to “stop touching that” from within bathroom stalls anymore, I still find it amusing to hear the women in the adjoining stalls jump out of her skin when I remind him why.
  4. While potty training, it seems like a good idea to let your son pee outside. At least he’s not doing it on your carpets, floors, or in his pants, right? Wrong. Because of this potty training tactic, I now find myself sprinting across playgrounds as he drops his pants under play structures. This is only one of the many awkward places I’ve had to stop the public urination with a soft nurturing voice so as not to set off a potty regression. Earlier today I heard my husband say, “Don’t pee on the dog!” I just kept walking…
  5. We don’t do art! Art is best done in the school setting in my opinion. Okay, once in a blue moon you’ll catch us coloring or painting something, but on the whole I just don’t have time for the clean up that goes with it. I have friends with little girls who talk about making jewelry, painting pottery, and participating in other delicate and concentrated activities for hours on end. At our house, painting is most often done with mud after a rainy day, on the most washable canvas, and concludes with a thorough hosing down on the porch.
  6. Sometimes boys will be boys and they just need to work it out. While I struggle with whether I should admit it or not, sometimes I just let them duke it out. There are days that, after saying “stop touching your brother” 400 times, it results in me throwing my hands up and telling them to work it out. This goes one of two ways: 1. I hear some key words reflecting my amazing parenting skills like, “I don’t like the words you’re using” or “that wasn’t very nice” OR 2. They throw down and we see who the tougher kid is on any given day. Okay, #1 has only actually happened once to date, but the credit is still due.
  7. My sons love My Little Ponies, Littlest Pet Shop and Barbie. I have no little girls to thank for this but I secretly love it. I love that society has not impacted their decisions on what they like yet, and I sure as heck am not going to pass judgment on their preferences. I am 100% down with watching Frozen for 100th You haven’t lived until you’ve heard my boys “Let It Go!!!!!”

So, as I struggle to tread water against tides of testosterone, what silly stories of child rearing are you willing to share?

Posted in Family, Jessica Aldred, Mommy Advice, Parenting Advice | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Free Spots for Autumn Adventures

By: Martianne Stanger

As we approach autumn, stores scream, “Back-to-school!” I, on the other hand, cheer, “Stay outside!”

When summer winds down and unfolds into fall, I think it is more important than ever to ensure ample time for children to play and explore outside. Young bodies (and, truthfully even old ones, like mine) are not meant to be inside and sedentary all day every day. In fact, everyone needs good-old-fashioned exercise and fresh air!

Thus, each fall, I compile a go-to list of local spots to tempt my children and I toward abundant outdoor adventure. Since we are homeschoolers, I tend to start our experiences with nature, art or science study, which, inevitably unfolds into something we all delight in: child-led, unstructured time.

If my children were in traditional school, I would likely start with a simple hike to unwind between school and homework and then let our adventures unfold as they would. And, in the case of afternoons or evenings with other planned activities or a lot of homework, I might combine things: Take a back pack with homework papers in it to do next to a river or on rocks overlooking a bay. Plan a quick jaunt to stretch legs between school and extra-curricular activities. Prepare a picnic dinner to enjoy at a park or preserve.

Regardless of how children are schooled, I truly believe all benefit from time in nature!

So, I encourage you to think of back-to-school time as enjoy-a-trial time, too!

Trails to Start With

Some easy trails you might start with are:

Eel River to Russell Mill Pond,

Eel River to Russell Mill Pond, which we were introduced to at an awesome Moth Ball we attended.

Lloyd Center The trails around the Lloyd Center for the Environment, where we enjoyed one of our Marine Biology Co-op lessons this past summer.

Bay Farm Conservation AreaBay Farm Conservation Area, which is a favorite spot of ours for walking and picnicking.

Pratt Farm

Pratt Farm, where I led a 4-session Habitat Explorers co-op in the fall.

Great River Preserve

Great River Preserve, where I kicked off a fall Art-n-Nature Club last year with an Element of Line hike.

I’d love to hear some of your favorites, too!

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Shingles Pain Like No Other

By: Kathy Trainor

Your know how people say they feel like crawling out of their skin?  I now know the meaning of this phrase.

In July, I had a horrible back ache in my bra line and I felt like I had the flu. Since I work with children, I though it was a virus that would go away.  Even with the most excellent hand washing, it seems like children often end up sharing germs.

One night, I was up all night. Even the touch of my soft sheets made me cry. I lay awake wondering what was wrong. WHY was my skin so sore, burning, numb, and itchy?  Why did I feel so ill when my muscles didn’t hurt.  My hands, arm, and shoulder were numb and weak. Did I hurt myself or was something greater going on?

By 3am I knew I had to go to the doctor. I knew that whatever was wrong with me was more than the stomach bug or flu. Around 7am, after a very painful, tear-filled shower, I was getting changed and I couldn’t even put on my bra. My husband said “Hun, I think you have poison ivy.”

I snapped back, “Ya, ok, I am itchy but poison ivy doesn’t hurt and I have had that in areas it should never be…”

I got dressed, even more mad than before, and I realized I’d have to go to the doctor’s bra-free. (I know, totally exciting.) I knew that Signature Healthcare’s Urgent Care Center opened at 8 a.m. and I really didn’t want to go to the ER.

The nurse checked me in and I sounded like a nut trying to explain I was hurting, burning, itching and numb in a spot that makes and L on my back.  (I was sure she was thinking, “Oh man, it’s Saturday at 8 a.m. and I get a wild one.”)

The PA came in and reviewed everything. She took a deep breath and told me in a calm voice,  “Please don’t be stressed. It’s ok.” ( OK, great, she could see I was losing my mind…)  She looked at my back and touches it ever so lightly. I jumped in pain. She stopped and calmly said,  “I am so sorry. Please know you are ok. You have Shingles.”

She then explained fully what shingles are and how anyone can get them.

Shingles is defined by the Mayo Clinic as:

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Signs and symptoms may include:

-Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
– A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
– Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
– Itching

Some people also experience:

- Fever and chills
– General achiness
– Headache
– Fatigue

Here is what my shoulder looked like:

Shingles

That may not seem like much, but it feels like someone is stabbing you, punching you and scratching you so deep in your body that even a light brush past you makes you want to drop the ground in full tears.

I was given an anti viral made just for shingles and was told I can’t spread it unless I have someone touch the rash. Since there is nothing topical I can put on it, I knew I wouldn’t spread the rash to anyone.  The pain was managed with over the counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

After about 10 days my pain was less and the rash was gone.

Have you ever had Shingles? What was the experience like for you?

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Fun, Local Events

By: Angela Semeta

Boy does time FLY when you’re having fun! Before you know it the kids will be back to school, but there is still time to get in some excitement for the family that won’t break the bank and won’t empty your gas tank! I’m keeping it local, as promised, and have some pretty amazing ways for you to get involved in the community.

I’ll begin with Brockton’s Second Annual Peace March & Unity Festival. 
Last year, my 6-year-old daughter and I were proud to march for peace here in our city. Hundreds of people showed up with signs in hand featuring photos of loved ones lost, peace signs, and balloons for a release. We chanted through the streets “We want peace on Brockton streets!” It was monumental! 
I tell you, I was proud to march with my community, but even more so to have my daughter march beside me. I could tell she was proud to hold her sign and march as well.

Brockton’s Second Annual Peace March & Unity Festival

This year, the Second Annual Peace March & Unity Festival will be held on August 2nd. It will begin at noon at the Arnone School at 135 Belmont Street Brockton, MA. The event will feature music, poetry, community service awards and face painting, as well as a balloon release for loved ones lost. There will also be local vendors on hand and a chance to meet local law enforcement and members of your community.

Brockton’s Second Annual Peace March & Unity Festival

Another fantastic and free way to entertain the family is to come check out Fuller Craft Museum located at 455 Oak Street Brockton, MA. Come celebrate Free Fun Friday’s on Friday August 8th, 2014 from 10am to 5pm as part of the 10-week summer program presented by the Highland Street Foundation. The event will feature crafts and activities for children and adults including wood turning, weaving, and storytelling.

Movies on the mall

Lastly, come check out Movies At The Mall. Every Tuesday for the remaining month of August/school vacation, Westgate Mall here in Brockton will feature a film at 11am in the children’s play area. Events will take place Tuesday, August 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th.

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Disney

By: Heather Desmond O’Neill

Disney WorldI did it.

I can’t believe I actually did it.

I booked a trip to Walt Disney World.

I booked a trip to Walt Disney World … in August.

The temperature and the crowds will most likely be unbearable …. But I couldn’t be more excited!

This will be our first “big” vacation since our honeymoon. Sure, we’ve planned weekend and day trips, but nothing like a week in the happiest place on earth!

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a Disney-fanatic family. My brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew and mother will be joining us.

There is so much planning that actually goes into a trip like this. The adults have all been to Disney multiple times. My brother and I actually worked there on the Walt Disney World College Program, so our expectations may be a little more extreme than others who are traveling down for the first time.

I want this vacation to be exciting, fun and filled with joy, but I also want to enjoy some down time – relaxing by the pool, soaking in a little sun and letting my kids take pleasure in the world that is Disney.

The kids have no idea that we are going. I’ve told my boys that we need to “save our money.” They both got piggy banks and have been stuffing loose change and small bills into their banks. This has worked well when we are out and about and they ask for something in a store. My reply, “would you rather have that toy or go on vacation?” The vacation always wins, thankfully!

With about two weeks to go until our departure, my husband and I sat down with the boys to see what they came up with. I figured we’d have anywhere from $20-$25…we counted $75! I’m not sure where or how a 6- and 3-year-old could come up with this amount but they did! We’ve been adding to the piles every chance we can and the plan is to tell them the night before that we finally have enough saved and we should leave in the morning!

I have small backpacks with activities for the plane (books, sticker books, invisible marker pads, etc.), personalized “My first time at Disney” t-shirts and special snacks for each of the children. My sister-in-law has created a special message from Mickey and Minnie with bags containing autograph books, lanyards decorated with special pins and fan/water bottles for the parks.

The adults have downloaded the “My Disney Experience” app, arranged for airport transportation, placed an order with the grocery store to deliver essentials to our room (milk, fruit, etc), made the dining reservations, booked the fast passes and made reservations for the Pirate League (the boys will be made into real pirates) and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (my niece will be made into a beautiful princess).

I think we’ve covered all of our bases.

I’ve got plenty of sunscreen and space on the camera to capture the magic.

I’m giddy with excitement to share this with my children, niece and nephew.

Keep your fingers crossed that all goes as planned and that there is somewhat of a cool breeze in central Florida.

Posted in Family, Heather Desmond O'Neill, Vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Son, His Basketball, My World:

By: Carolyn Coleman

A father’s pride and a mother’s joy. The birth a male child speaks to lineage, longevity and perceived success. As soon as he breaks the womb into this world the dreams start to rise.

student athleteSometimes I don’t think people realize the dedication it takes from a parent and child to raise a student athlete. My son is now 15-years-old and will be a sophomore in high school this fall. He has been playing organized sports since the age of 5. My husband and I put in countless hours traveling with him, bringing him to practice, and making sure he understands that his education comes first.

Playing sports requires a commitment of time and energy, but the benefits far exceed the disadvantages. Playing sports will teach my son commitment, dependability, motivation, and teamwork. He will also gain a wealth of knowledge about his overall physical health.

I feel as though the last two months has been a whirlwind of traveling for basketball. My son has been to Providence, New Jersey, Virginia and, most recently, to Pennsylvania twice. I welcome the break from basketball for a few weeks.

Basketball gives a mother a chance to scream from the stands and a father a chance to raise a man. As I watch my son approach each and every game with such determination to help his team to a victory, it brings me joy to know that we are raising such an amazing young man.

As I close, I’d like to remind you to help your child balance life as a student-athlete. Be sure they find time to unwind, stay focused, socialize, and remember that school always comes first.

I welcome your thoughts on the student athlete, artist, dancer, etc. you are raising.

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