Completing the Grieving Process

By: Jessica Aldred

Grieving the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult things we will go through in our lives. In my life, there is no exception when it comes to my fur-babies. After five long months without my beloved puppy girl, and an unexpectedly difficult grieving process, I finally felt compelled to visit the animal shelter we had originally adopted our her from over a decade ago. Not all people can understand the significance of this step- not only me, but for my family as a whole. My husband and I had grown up with at least one family dog all our lives, so to be without for these past few months has been awkward to say the least. I often heard a bark in the distance or caught something out of the corner of my eye that instantly sparked a memory. I even had a moment around the holidays when I literally thought I’d forgotten to get her a gift, only to sadly realize it was not necessary that year. So, needless to say, today was a big day!

I packed my family in the car and drove the hour and half to the shelter we know and trust. The children were aware of where we were going and we discussed names as we drove along. My stomach churned with a mix of excitement, nerves and sadness. I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to react when I went in there. Some of the puppies we’d seen available on their website looked so much like my girl. The strangest part is that they were all conceived right around the time that we lost our girl. I’m a realist, but I couldn’t help but think it was a soul circle and she was finding her way back to us.

When we pulled up to the shelter there was an unexpected line of cars. I looked at my husband with fear. Had I dragged my boys there with the hope of bringing a new puppy home only to disappoint? There were way more cars than the number of dogs I knew were available, so the fear was real. We received a number and waited for our turn to meet a puppy. As one after another was removed to go to their forever homes, we found ourselves standing in front of two cages. The dog that we had been eyeballing online was spoken for by the woman directly in front of us. As I turned to see what other options remained, I crouched down and found myself nose to wet nose with a gorgeous brown-eyed girl. She was the last of her litter, a calm and sweet little lady. When we were asked if we’d like to enter her cage and get to know her my children jumped at the opportunity. All five of us piled into a small cage and crouched down to meet this timid pooch. She looked nervous, and so was I. Would she like my crazy children? Would they like her? Would her temperament be a good match for three very active little boys? Would my old girl approve? As the minutes went on she warmed up to us. She crawled into my eldest’s lap and began sharing kisses. She allowed my rambunctious middle man to pat her and didn’t flinch at his enthusiasm for life. She even let the baby gently tug at her fur. As she nuzzled up to us, her new family, I knew in my heart that she was our match.

When we finally got her home, with all her puppy things in tow, she started to open up as she explored her new home. This puppy, who had only known shelter life, had hit the puppy jackpot! A warm home filled with cozy beds, lots of toys and treats, and a busy family eager to play with her. She by no means replaces my previous dog, but represents a big step in making peace with the loss. As I chase babies and puppies in opposite directions, I remember doing all these things for her. I can only hope that our new girl will become such a loved member of our family as we train her to be a good family dog. I’d love to hear how your family has dealt with these significant losses and moved on?

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Battling the Dreaded Stomach Bug

By: Kathy Trainor

We are battling the stomach bug!

It all started when Pat-man went down. When I went to wake him up Wednesday I discovered that he had thrown up all over his bed and pillows. He found the one spot that was not dirty and slept there rest of the night. Talk about major mommy guilt for not hearing it!

Next was my husband. He came home for work and totally defiled my bathroom on Thursday night.  Lucky, he was sort of able to take care of himself. I’ve learned that adults handle the stomach bug much better than children.

Then last night, on our way home from grocery shopping for the other two, my older son, John, announced (a block from our house!) that he was going to be sick.  We made it home in time, but there was no doubt that he had also fallen victim to the stomach bug.

We have officially hit DEFCON 5 in my house, with three of my guys coming down with the stomach bug.  This got me thinking about some of the tips and tricks I use to help deal with the stomach bug. I’ve put together a list of stomach bug treatments we use in our house.

We all know about ginger ale, crackers, soap, and extra sheets, but what about the other things? You know, those things you often over look, until it’s 3 a.m and you suddenly realize you need them! The stomach bug is bad enough, don’t make it worse by not having the right things in your house.

Top 10 stomach bug treatments and tips you can do at home

1.  Shower Curtains- These little dollar store gems help in so many ways. Say your little one is resting on the couch. Just put one of the shower curtains under them and your couch is saved, not to mention it also makes clean up really easy.  They work great as a mattresses protector and rug guard for small toddlers who don’t know to throw up in a bucket or bowl. This is a hidden jewel to stomach bug treatments in our house.

2. Bleach Wipes- From the toilet to the floor, and the wall and the door, you need bleach wipes! Do yourself a favor and just get a big roll and hold on to them. The last thing you want is for these germs to spread.

3.  Sports Drinks- Some kids can’t handle or don’t like ginger ale and getting down pedia-lite is very hard. A sports drink can help mix up the fluid intake. The last thing you want is for your child to get dehydrated.

4.   Coloring Books- I have found this to be a soothing activity to distract people in times of stress or nerves. I always keep a few stashed away, with a fresh set of crayons, for them to pull out for something new to do while they feel blue.

5. BRAT- Items from the BRAT diet- Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Tea or Toast. These bland items, which also includes oatmeal, can be a great starter meal for anyone who has lost their lunch.  Most doctors will suggest this diet for stomach bug treatments.

6. “Bucketie”- That one bowl or bucket you keep ONLY for when people get sick. We have silver bowl and we keep it under the kitchen sink just for times like these. I would call this another hidden jewel of  stomach bug treatments. It also helps kids know where to get sick if they can’t make the bathroom in the middle of the night.

7.  Air Freshener-  I think this is pretty self explanatory. I don’t think I need to tell you how bad the smells are in the house when the stomach bug is in full force.  Pick something strong to mask the odor, but make sure it isn’t so bad that you gag on the smell.

8. Coffee- This is for the care takers. Late night loads of laundry or early morning puke patrol are bad enough, but I couldn’t imagine tackling those without coffee.

9.  Movie-  I suggest something that no one has seen yet. Although they might not feel great, an impromptu new movie can help lift their spirits while they try and keep down some toast. Also, On Demand or Netflix would help you with that long night or afternoon of wooziness.

10. Extra Pillows- This is not only for the sick one that threw up on their pillows, but for the mom or dad who is sleeping upright against the wall to keep an eye on their sick child. Parents need to keep comfy, too.

Do you have anything else you would add to help you though the stomach bug or flu? Do you have any  stomach bug treatments your family uses? Feel free to share below!

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Gross!

By: Heather O’Neill 

I remember watching my father wipe my little brother’s nose with his bare hands and being totally grossed out. His response to me was, “Once you become a parent you’ll do things you never knew you would.”

Iimgres certainly know this to be true.

When you first become a parent you understand that changing diapers comes with the territory. My son peed all over my husband during the first diaper he ever changed. Funny, yes, but we quickly learned to maneuver things just so that history did not repeat itself too often.

Additionally, I never could understand how a tiny little baby could create the amount of poop that would shoot up its back, down the legs, out the sides of a diaper and fill a onesie. It was triumph if poop only got on the onesie and you could save the outfit. I must admit though, I have certainly cut off my fair share of onesies because I could never figure out how to get a poop filled one-piece off of an infant and not smear it all over the only parts that weren’t covered in some of the nastiest smelling mess I’d ever experienced. And I may have used the entire package of wipes.

While people prepare you for diapers – no one tells you about the horrors of potty training, until you are actually immersed in it. Cleaning up bodily fluids becomes second nature. I can now wipe down my son after a wet “accident” and clean up the floor using only one wipe! As parents, we understand this is part of the experience. You expect it, deal with it because it’s your child, and move on with your day.

However, if you are not a parent, cleaning up these messes is a completely different story.

I encountered a boy, probably 16-17 years old, working at one of the local indoor inflatable play spaces. I watched a mother help her son off of one of the inflatable obstacle courses. She had a bottle of water in her hand as she helped him off and then people started looking for an employee for assistance. There was a small puddle on the floor near where she was standing.

The “I’m so happy I work in a place where kids are running, screaming, and out of control” employee comes over armed with a paper towel, bends down and starts wiping. People around him stare in shock. I’m standing to the side when (based on the horrific looks of the adults around) I realize seconds before he does what the actual puddle is.  Suddenly he stops, looks at his hand and cries out in horror, “Oh my God, is this pee?!” Then he jumps up and runs away.

The adults all chuckle. This is something we deal with on a regular basis, so we are prepared for it. This poor boy had no idea what he was walking in to. Another employee comes by with a Swifter and effectively cleans the area.

A few minutes later I am sitting to the side of the inflatables and a group of employees are behind me. The “victim,” if you will, walks up and they immediately start busting his chops. He replies, “Guys, I just washed my hands like a million times!”

I am biting the inside of my cheek, trying not to laugh at the poor boy. If he ever becomes a parent, he has no idea how many more times in his life he’s going to be subjected to this exact scenario.

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Fantasyland

By: Rachel Ventura 

Looking for something completely out of the ordinary to do with your children? Feeling cooped up at home with all of the snow and cold temperatures outside? Getting tired of the same play spaces you frequent? I know we are. So when I heard about Fantasyland in Seekonk, MA, I knew we had to check it out!

I have to admit it… This place is pretty cool! It’s basically an indoor carnival with an lots of rides and arcade games. We opted to purchase the wristband, which comes with unlimited rides, but there is also the option to buy individual tickets. My kids had a blast going on all the rides, including bumper cars, a carousel, ferris wheel, train ride, jumpy house with a slide, and more! They also have a large assortment of arcade games and small kiddie rides. There’s a birthday party area as well as a small café with food and drinks.

The entire space is pretty large, perfect for running around, getting some energy out, and most importantly, having fun! We spent 2 ½ exciting and fun-filled hours here, and could have stayed longer if we had the time! They also have an awesome looking outdoor mini golf course, which we will be sure to check out once the weather gets warmer!

I highly recommend checking this place out with your little ones. They are only open on weekends, holidays and school vacations, be sure to check the website for dates, times and a complete schedule.

Here are some pictures from our fun day at Fantasyland!!fantasyland1 fantasyland10 fantasyland4 fantasyland8 fantasyland9 fantasyland6 fantasyland5 fantasyland7 fantasyland2

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Evolution of Valentine’s Day

By: Jessica Aldred

Reservations made weeks in advance, an outfit carefully laid out and a thoughtfully selected card prepared for a romantic night out with your significant other. Laughing and reminiscing over good food and a few drinks, followed by a movie or some other form of night time entertainment…ok, stop laughing.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is once again upon us, but the romanticism and blissful thoughts that this day may have once represented are long gone. Now this day represents another bullet on the To-Do list, another set of half cut-out hearts slathered in glue and glitter, and a crazy price spike in all things red. If you’re lucky enough to sneak out to celebrate, you’ll likely find yourself quietly consuming a meal prepared by someone else, without playing waitress to your minions, and discussing the upcoming kid-focused needs and events. Your significant other may even feel somewhat special that you’ve worn “real” clothes, slapped on some mascara and brushed the dried baby food out of your hair. Ah, yes, we reproduced friends and this is what Valentine’s Day has come to.

UnknownI remember standing at the altar on my wedding day; the Justice of the Peace was going through the motions as we followed along. When I reflect on that day, one statement stands out above all others: “These are the hands that will carry your children.” No truer words were ever spoken. These hands carry my children, their food, drinks, bags, blankies, toys and anything else they demand I schlep around for them. I’m a Pack Mule Mom, remember. It’s no wonder these tired hands don’t have time to hold my husbands’ anymore. It shouldn’t come as a shock that we don’t have time to sit and enjoy a peaceful meal, simply enjoying each others company anymore. We wanted this. We brought this on ourselves and while the J.P.’s words once represented something so dream-like, they now represent our daily reality as we struggle to keep our roots planted in what drew us together in the first place.

As this Valentine’s Day approaches, you’ll likely find my husband and I bathing small children, filling sippy cups, and yelling at kids to stop fighting. When bed-time finally sets in you’ll find us sitting in opposite chairs in our living room watching reruns of our favorite shows, or perhaps splurging on a movie! We’ll sit quietly, together, and enjoy the calm after our daily storm. We’ll reflect on the silly comments our kids made, our plans for the next day and whatever other fleeting thoughts we didn’t have time to share. It’s not where we started, nor where any of us intends to be, but it’s where we are and I’ll take it. I’ll take a fridge covered in Popsicle stick art. I’ll take the crumbled heart shaped cookies we made together and I’ll take the spontaneous hugs and kisses that we’ve shared. This is my life. The life I created. The life I love despite the daily stress it causes me.

This Valentine’s Day I’ll tip-toe into my children’s rooms. I’ll tuck them in and check their breathing. I’ll stare just a little too long. As I do so, my husband will watch from a doorway doting on the woman who carried his children, who worries about them daily, who fills their bellies, cleans their clothes and keeps them going. And, as I reflect on how my Valentine’s Day expectations have evolved, this one will rank pretty darn close to the best ever.

I’d love to hear how having a children or a family has changed your perception, or reality, of Valentine’s Day fun?

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Today’s Teens & Cyberbullying

By: Amy Williams, Guest Contributor 

As a parent, what do you fear most?

Do you anguish about choosing fabric or disposable diapers? Are there times you fret over which educational toy to purchase or the number of hours your child should sit in front of a screen? Is this organic? Yes, you may have stressed over these and other topics too.

Unfortunately, for many families, the list of concerns could go on and on forever.

In today’s world, it is common to worry about providing the best childhood for your offspring. Often times our misgivings are unwarranted, but on occasion we do have a reason to be uneasy. Lately, there have been a lot of horrific stories about cyberbullying filling the headlines and conversations over the airwaves.

Cyberbullying By The Numbers

Cyberbullying is a new epidemic facing the youth of today. According to recent bullying statistics, the evidence is mounting that something needs to be done to snuff out this problem.

Here is a compilation of heart wrenching data from a 2014 study:

  • 25% of teens claim to have experienced repeated bullying over cellphones or on the Internet
  • 52% report being cyberbullied
  • 11% of adolescents report embarrassing or damaging photographs taken without consent
  • 33% of teens reported that bullies issued online threats
  • 10% of all middle school and high school students have been on the receiving end of ‘hate terms’ hurled against them
  • 55% of all teens who use Social Media have witnessed outright bullying
  • 95% of teens who witnessed bullying on social media report ignored the behavior…
  • More than half of young people surveyed say that they never confide in their parents about cyberbullying
  • 1 out of 6 parents are even aware of the intensity involved with cyberbullying
  • 80% of teens regularly use cell phones, making them the most popular medium for cyberbullying
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying; among them, between 10 and 20 percent experience cyber bullying regularly
  • Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyberbullies than girls
  • Victims of cyber bullying are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and to consider suicide as a result

Keeping Children Safe

Growing up, if you were the target of bullying you were able to escape the damaging ridicule away from school. A victim could seek solace at home, the library, or with close friends.

Today’s children are surrounded by technology and many have constant connectivity with Smartphones, tablets, and home computers. Unfortunately, present day tweens and adolescents aren’t afforded that luxury. This makes the job of protecting our children even harder.

Listed below are a few tips to help curb Cyberbullying:

  • Encourage your child to friend only their “real” friends
  • Help set your child’s privacy settings
  • Add your child as a friend on social networking sites
  • Keep electronics in common areas
  • If your child is a victim of cyberbullying through Facebook, remind them that “this too shall pass”
  • If you notice cyberbullying, document each post with screenshots
  • If Social Media is becoming a problem, have your child wait until you can sit and read the messages together
  • Interact sparingly with your child online. Observe at a distance
  • Avoid posting embarrassing photos and comments regarding your child
  • Instruct your child about social media etiquette

Moving Forward

Raising children doesn’t need to be daunting, but we can’t go through life with blinders on.

Cyberbullying may distress parents, but with proactive interventions and a little guidance we can all rest a little easier. Awareness is the first step to halting these behaviors and regaining some innocence back into your child’s upbringing.

Hopefully, tomorrow you will only need to stew over what to make for dinner.

KeepingChildSafefromCyberBullying

Posted in Cyberbullying, Signature Moms Blog, Social Media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

When Autism Turns Normal

By: Kathy Trainor

Being a parent to a young boy with Autism is very hard. I often find myself hoping for “normal” moments, or cases where despite my son’s autism, he can do something that we all would consider normal. We don’t usually have those “autism turns normal” moments.  Each child with autism is very different, and what works for some may not work for others. Things that work for you one day, may not work the next. This is what makes it so hard to have an “autism turns normal” moment.

We have always been pretty lucky. Our public meltdowns have always been fairly controlled.  Restaurants are never easy, but we make it work. Autistic children are usually opinionated about what they will and will not eat.  

Every Friday we do date nights with Daddy. We drive to a restaurant and wait for Daddy to finish work and meet up with us so we can eat out as a family. For a while, John- my autistic son, didn’t eat anything at the restaurant. In an effort to make him feel normal, I would bring him a snack that I knew he would eat. However, over the past few months John has been getting better about eating bread while we have date night with Daddy. Since we usually eat dinner at the same two or three restaurants, we’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what will happen and how John will react.

cheeseburger

Tonight we went to the Chili’s in Plainville, MA, which is about 20 minutes from our house. John sat down and looked at the menu. We expected him to ask for grilled cheese, like usual, knowing he would only eat the bread.   Tonight, to our surprise, he asked for a cheeseburger slider from the kids menu. Puzzled, my husband and I chose to entertain this idea because at least it had bread.

John, without any prompting or begging, took a bite of the cheeseburger.  We held our breath and with napkins ready, we waited. We’ve learned that just because John takes a bite of something doesn’t mean it will be swallowed. Most of the time he just gags and throws it up. But this time we watched in amazement as he swallowed and took another bite!

I, with a face full to tears, started snapping photos with my phone. I was in total shock! Our waitress came over, and after seeing me in tears, asked if there was anything she could help with. My husband replied “No, thank you, we’re fine,” and she paused, obviously confused, just to make sure. I stuttered with tears gushing from my eyes, ” He is eating a cheeseburger! He is eating a cheeseburger!”  She smiled, I’m sure still confused, and told us to enjoy our meal.

He ate almost 70% of one small slider. I am not sure if he will ever do it again. I’m not even sure if he fully knew what he was doing, but for me and my husband, we had an “autism turns normal” moment we will never forget.

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