Category Archives: Role Models

The kind of Mother’s Day post that should be read BEFORE the day

You may have noticed that I rarely—if ever—do guest posts. Not to mention: my Mothers’ Day posts have been unconventional, to say the least.

This year, I was (virtually) introduced to Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, who has written for us the kind of Mother’s Day post that should be read BEFORE the day so that you can ACT on it. And I suggest you do it in time for next Sunday, because any mother who recieves something like this will treasure it all her days.

(Krissy Dietrich Gallagher is a Cleveland mother of two boys, Braedan, 8 and Austin, 5 (who insist on being identified as 8 ½ and 5 ½). In July 2007, at the age of 10 months, Austin was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms tumor, a solid tumor cancer in both kidneys that occurs in a mere 20 children nationwide each year. The Gallaghers were thrust into a world of chemotherapy, hospital stays and four abdominal surgeries before Austin was declared cancer-free eight months later. But after one glorious year, the cancer was back. More chemo, radiation, overnights and enough surgeries to cost him his entire right kidney and half of his left. Today, Austin is a relatively healthy, extremely happy and remarkably normal five-year-old (ahem, 5 ½ year old) despite living with Stage 3 renal failure. He is one of five St. Baldrick’s Foundation 2012Ambassador Kids. The post below was adapted from one Krissy wrote for Mother’s Day 2010, when Austin was still in treatment, on her blog The Luckiest.)
Moms do things selflessly. We sacrifice our free time, our career goals, our neat homes and our hot bodies for the sake of our children. We sometimes do it begrudgingly, but we do it nonetheless. And we rarely get thanked for it, nor do we even expect to. But after watching this 2010 video from Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place and Lift, about the Thank You note that moms really want and deserve from their children on Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but add a few of my own. Of course, I will keep doing all that I do whether I get thanked or not, as will we all, but it sure is nice to imagine….

krissy1Thank you, mom, for taking care of me day and night. For holding me and rocking me back to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning when I’m woken by some stranger taking my blood pressure. Thank you for sleeping with me in my (very narrow) hospital bed even though it means you can’t roll over or you’ll get tangled in my IV lines. And thank you for learning very early on how to silence the IV pump machine when it beeps, usually just as soon as I’ve dozed off to sleep. Thank you for remembering all my medications and making sure I get just the right dose at just the right time of day, and for turning it into a game or a race so it somehow feels fun, like when you take a Tums right along with me before I eat my phosphorous-filled cheesy meals so we can be “Tums buddies.”

Thank you, mom, for always (or at least, often) packing the right lunch and snacks and books and toys to keep me fed and entertained through hour after hour and day after day in the hospital.  Thank you for never failing to flush my PICC line every eight hours, even when that eight-hour mark comes at midnight and you’ve just crawled into your warm cozy bed. And speaking of that bed, thank you for scooting over so I can squeeze in between you and dad when I feel scared in the night. Thank you for treating me like a regular kid and letting me climb the rock wall and fall down and get hurt even when my platelets are low and my legs are already covered with purple welts. Thank you for not letting me get away with everything just because I’m sick and for laying the foundation for my future because you fully expect me to have one.

Thank you, mom, for not forgetting about me, your healthy son. Thank you for making sure I always have fun play dates when you’re at Austin’s appointments and for giving me veto power over whose house I go to, no matter how desperate you are. Thank you for emailing my teacher at the last minute so I’m not too surprised by who’s picking me up from school on unexpectedly long hospital days. Thank you, mom, for waking up early to bake homemade bread for the Teacher Appreciation Brunch, even though you have a perfect excuse for not participating in any PTA events. Thank you for running back home to get my library book on library day so I can check out a new one. Thank you for patiently explaining to my kindergarten classmates how cancer is like a weed in a garden and then listening, also patiently, to their endless – and completely unrelated — stories about pulling weeds with their grandmas. Thank you for arranging for friends to secretly take me swimming all summer even though Austin can’t get his PICC line wet. And for sneaking yogurts into my lunchbox so I can eat them away from the watchful and (understandably) jealous eyes of my brother, who follows a ridiculously limited diet.  Oh, and speaking of jealous, thank you for listening with respect and not getting too mad when I whine and I say I’m jealous of him because he gets to ride a tricycle around the hospital hallways when I have to go home and go to bed. Thank you, mom, for letting me know that I matter too and for making sure I’m remembered and heard and loved.

krissy2And thank you to my mom for always managing to fit in a several-hour visit to the hospital every single day we’re there, no matter how busy you are. Thank you for canceling fancy overseas bike trips with dad so you can both be close by to support us. Thank you for shooing me away from eight-hour blood transfusions and sending me home to shower even if Austin is screaming in your arms as I leave. Thank you for reassuring me that he will be okay in my absence and for always telling me how okay he actually was when I get back. And thank you for valuing my daily workout as much as I do and making sure I have time to go for a run. Thank you for having Braedan sleep over and getting him off to school and making your home feel like his home. Thank you for loving every second you spend with Austin in your arms and for making it seem like I’m giving you a gift when you’re really doing me a favor.

Thank you, mom, for taking care of me when I’m sick.
And thank you, mom, for taking care of me when my brother is sick.
And thank you, my mom, for taking care of me when my son is sick.

Thank YOU, Krissy for the inspiration.

pascalesplash

Oh how the world keeps shrinking

We are pulling this wedding together at an astonishing rate: in the last two or three weeks, we’ve found dresses, suits, ties, hair/makeup stylist,  shoes, a venue, someone to decorate, food, a photographer, and an attorney.

pinterest themommyblog wedding planning

Also? An event planner referred us to a photographer who was especially wonderful with children, and when I replied that her calendar showed her as unavailable, the planner CALLED HER and asked her to shuffle her schedule so we could hire her. She just had a feeling we’d get along.

Ohhhh, I’d say that’s an understatement, based on the emails flying back and forth, and the banter between Guy and her through me. They’re killing me. Imagine my relief upon realizing that I wouldn’t have to worry about dropping the f-bomb on the day. It’s more likely to be a drunken-sailor swearfest, if I’m any judge of fun. Won’t my parents be proud?

The photographer is a single mom, and none other than the fabulous Pascale Wowak, who gets the most amazing shots out of small people whose response to direction is indifferent at best. It doesn’t stop there! We have another friend in common, Michelle Riddle, who helped find our first home here in Scotts Valley when she knew a friend was about to up and moved to New Zealand. I heart Michelle.

pascale wowak photography

But wait! There’s more! She is also dear friends with the lovely Rebecca Woolf of Girl’s Gone Child! Fellow author and momversation.com panelist, and mom of four and all-around stunningly beautiful and successful blogger and writer. She just had twins, and hasn’t slowed down. She takes beautiful photographs of food she made, and of her children, which she also made. And she does it with grace and style. I would be in a clock tower with a .30-.30 and a bottle of Jack.

To put sprinkles on the whole Six Degree Lovefest, we finally heard from the minister we were hoping to have, and in her response she offered a discount for middle school parents. WTF? As it happens, her daughter has been in class with my son since first grade, and they are in eight grade leadership together. Plus? She works at the middle school and recognized my name. Man, I was trying furiously to remember if I’d had a tantrum in the office or done something else unsurprising for me, and I don’t think I have. Score one for public maturity.

Wait. Um. The minister…am I going to embarrass my kids at school? What are the odds that *I* would have to worry about bad behavior getting back to MY KIDS through one of the teachers?

Oh, I can hear you snickering. Shut up. But go look at her site. She’s made of awesomesauce.

The Mommy Blog Book List: 2011

I’m sort of sitting here with my jaw hanging open, looking at this list of books I’ve downloaded and read this year. Most of them anyway, I still have a few left to start, but holy hell that’s a lot of books, especially considering that I am supposed to be WRITING books this year.

I’ve alphabetized them by author name so they are grouped by genre and interest, though there’s a disturbing variety in a few of these author’s lists. I did have a few favorites, maybe all-time favorites, and they are The KingKiller Chronicles, Books One and Two. Book three is not written yet, which is putting untold stress on the household as Guy and I are gagging for the last book to be published. DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THAT, MAN!


My other favorite—it’s not listed below because I touched actual paper to read it—is Jenna McCarthy’s If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married. I loved it so much I gave her a free ad in my sidebar. Just click here or on the ad in the sidebar and watch the trailer and stay for the outtakes and you’ll see how if she lived closer I might stalk her if she refused to be my BFF.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did! (If you’re visual and not a list fan, here they are in my Amazon Store. In case I don’t get around to actually adding links in this massive list—which, considering that the kids are on holiday break—seems probable.)

  1. Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul By Abbott, Karen
  2. American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee By Abbott, Karen
  3. No Time Left (Kindle Single) By Baldacci, David
  4. The Sixth Man By Baldacci, David
  5. The Game By Baxter, Alan, Chesler, Rick, Boving, Nicholas, Holloway, J. Kent, Meikle, William, Nichols, Rick, Sakmyster, David, Steeves, R.P., Wood, David, Ellis, Sean
  6. Possible Side Effects By Burroughs, Augusten
  7. Dry: A Memoir By Burroughs, Augusten
  8. Running with Scissors: A Memoir By Burroughs, Augusten
  9. The Juice Fasting Bible: Discover the Power of an All-Juice Diet to Restore Good Health, Lose Weight and Increase Vitality By Cabot, Sandra
  10. Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life: Unleash the Healing Power of Fresh Juices and Cleansing Diets By Calbom MA, John, Calbom MS, Cherie
  11. Stupid and Contagious By Crane, Caprice
  12. Frenemies By Crane, Megan
  13. Micro: A Novel By Crichton, Michael, Preston, Richard
  14. Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda By Darnell, Lorne
  15. As I Lay Dying By Faulkner, William
  16. Bossypants By Fey, Tina
  17. Something Borrowed By Giffin, Emily
  18. The Solomon Effect By Graham, C.S.
  19. The Archangel Project By Graham, C.S.
  20. The Babylonian Codex By Graham, C.S.
  21. Princess Academy By Hale, Shannon
  22. Austenland: A Novel By Hale, Shannon
  23. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef By Hamilton, Gabrielle
  24. The Book of Secrets By Harper, Tom
  25. The Lost Temple By Harper, Tom
  26. Knights Of The Cross (Demetrios Askiates) By Harper, Tom
  27. The Mosaic Of Shadows (Demetrios Askiates) By Harper, Tom
  28. Siege of Heaven By Harper, Tom
  29. The Lazarus Vault By Harper, Tom
  30. Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog (Smashing Magazine Book Series) By Hedengren, Thord Daniel
  31. Scorpia Rising: An Alex Rider Misson By Horowitz, Anthony
  32. Crocodile Tears (Alex Rider) By Horowitz, Anthony
  33. Why Is It Always About You? By Hotchkiss, Sandy, Masterson, James F.
  34. Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic By Howard, David
  35. Queen of New Beginnings By James, Erica
  36. What to Expect When You’re Expected: A Fetus’s Guide to the First Three Trimesters By Javerbaum, David
  37. The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund: A Novel By Kargman, Jill
  38. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and  By Kawasaki, Guy
  39. The Lacuna (P.S.) By Kingsolver, Barbara
  40. 42 Rules of Marketing: A Funny Practical Guide with the Quick and Easy Steps to Success By Laura Lowell
  41. 42 Rules for Working Moms: Practical, Funny Advice for Achieving Work-Life Balance By Laura Lowell
  42. 42 Rules of Sensible Investing: A Practical, Entertaining and Educational Guidebook for Personal Investment Strategies By Leon Shirman
  43. Slave: My True Story By Lewis, Damien, Nazer, Mende
  44. Bad Girls By Lieberman M.D., Carole
  45. The Road By Mccarthy, Cormac
  46. Empire of Gold: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  47. The Cult Of Osiris (Nina Wilde/Eddie Chase 5) By McDermott, Andy
  48. The Tomb of Hercules: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  49. The Hunt for Atlantis: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  50. The Pyramid of Doom: A Novel By McDermott, Andy
  51. The Secret of Excalibur: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  52. The Covenant of Genesis: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  53. The Sacred Vault: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  54. I Love You And I’m Leaving You Anyway: A Memoir By McMillan, Tracy
  55. The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Revised Edition By Miller, Alice
  56. The Night Circus By Morgenstern, Erin
  57. The Naked Ape By Morris, Desmond
  58. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced By Nujood Ali, Delphine Minoui
  59. 10th Anniversary (Women’s Murder Club) By Patterson, James, Paetro, Maxine
  60. Archimedes to Hawking : Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them By Pickover, Clifford
  61. You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool By Rivenbark, Celia
  62. The Last Hunter – Pursuit (Book 2 of the Antarktos Saga) By Robinson, Jeremy
  63. BENEATH – A Novel By Robinson, Jeremy
  64. The Didymus Contingency (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  65. Raising the Past (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  66. Antarktos Rising (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  67. Kronos (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  68. The Last Hunter – Descent (Book 1 of the Antarktos Saga) By Robinson, Jeremy
  69. Threshold (Jack Sigler Thriller) By Robinson, Jeremy
  70. Instinct (Jack Sigler Thriller) By Robinson, Jeremy
  71. Pulse (Chess Team Adventure) By Robinson, Jeremy
  72. Callsign: King – Book 1 (A Jack Sigler – Chess Team Novella) By Robinson, Jeremy, Ellis, Sean
  73. Callsign: Rook – Book 1 (A Stan Tremblay – Chess Team Novella) By Robinson, Jeremy, Talbot, Edward G.
  74. Callsign: Queen – Book I (A Zelda Baker – Chess Team Novella) By Robinson, Jeremy, Wood, David
  75. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s By Robison, John Elder
  76. Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers By Robison, John Elder
  77. Subterranean By Rollins, James
  78. Excavation By Rollins, James
  79. Deep Fathom By Rollins, James
  80. Ice Hunt By Rollins, James
  81. Amazonia By Rollins, James
  82. Sandstorm (Sigma Force) By Rollins, James
  83. Map of Bones: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  84. The Judas Strain: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  85. The Last Oracle: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  86. Black Order: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  87. The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  88. The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two By Rothfuss, Patrick
  89. The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One By Rothfuss, Patrick
  90. The Pharos Objective By Sakmyster, David
  91. Buried Prey By Sandford, John
  92. Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On!: What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters that the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too By Tomlinson, Shellie Rushing
  93. Shibumi: A Novel By Trevanian
  94. Illumination – How One Woman Made Light of the Darkness By van Buren, Sophia
  95. Infinite Jest: 0 By Wallace, David Foster
  96. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA By Weiner, Tim
  97. Satori By Winslow, Don
  98. Dourado (Dane Maddock Adventures) By Wood, David
  99. Cibola (Dane Maddock Adventures) By Wood, David
  100. Quest (Dane Maddock Adventures) By Wood, David
  101. The Zombie-Driven Life By Wood, David
  102. Into the Woods By Wood, David, David S. Wood

Letters from Heaven

Each year I republish a certain letter our family received from a reader that changed how I approach the holidays forever. Henrí, I’ll be forever grateful for your kind words.

I’d like to add a second letter to this yearly ritual. This second letter is from one of my heroes, Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress. I left a comment on her blog last May, wondering aloud if someone would please write a a note to be pinned to my shirt to explain my fragile mindset. She responded immediately.

Dear friends, family members, blog readers and assorted and sundry acquaintances of Mindy Roberts: 

Mindy needs your patience and support. Cut her some slack. You can’t know what it’s like to suffer from postpartum depression and its related after effects. Sorry, you can’t. I realize that you are probably sick and tired of hearing this. You probably think she should be over it by now and should pull herself up by her bootstraps and all that happy horseshit. This is what proves that you don’t really get it.

It took me multiple years to fully get over my postpartum OCD experience, even having received help early and having had the complete support of my family and husband. To go through the depths of human darkness and to be left to fend for yourself by the very people who should have been there to help hold you up must hurt in the most profound way possible. It can be a lifelong process to heal from those wounds – three steps forward, two steps back and so forth. Mindy is doing her best to heal, while at the same time being a single mother to three children. Some days she’ll handle this better than others, as I imagine would be the case were it you or I in her stead.

And to those of you who support her even when you don’t understand, keep on rockin’ in the free world. We need more people like you.

- Katherine

Love you, Katherine.

The second letter is one I read aloud to my children every year and post for my readers to encourage them to write a similar letter for loved ones. It really doesn’t cost more than a sheet of paper and some thoughtful moments. Letters are so rare these days that no one thinks to give them as gifts.

In 2007, a reader wrote to ask if there was something he could send our family for the holidays to express his appreciation for our sharing our stories. I replied that we did not need anything, but that the most meaningful thing the children could receive was a letter describing all the things that make them special and loved. And, darn it, he delivered.

Hi Mindy, Hi Logan, Hi Dylan, Hi Daphné, 

Christmas is at the door. Santa, who knows everything, has a report on each one of you. He let me take a peek at them. Well well…
Mindy:
You’re a beautiful woman, and not only outside. You do what ever you can do keep your lives running, and boy, you are great at it! Even if it is not easy everyday, you keep up the pace, work, cook, write-in-your-blog, clean, wash, write-in-your-blog, brush teeth, clean the tub (ahem), write-in-your-blog, and last but not least, love your children (and did I say that you write-in-your-blog?). You are there, no matter what happens. For your kids, for your friends, your family… Well, you are Mindy.

Logan:
The big 7 years old. The big brother. You know what you want. You’re no longer a baby, and it shows. What you say is always an interesting point of view, although it could seems a little strange for an adult sometimes. For example, you know things about animals that a lot of grownups don’t! I wish I had a friend like you to play with, when I was younger!

Dylan:
The impredictible. No, not the “incredible”. Although… In a Flash, you disappear here and get at in the other side of the house. The toy you just dropped has not even touched the floor that you are already preparing a surprise for your mom. One thing is certain: You are full of energy! If your mom’s laptop is running low on battery, you could recharge it with your two little fingers! Even when you go to recharge yourself in mommy’s arms, you give her energy too.

Daphné:
The little princess, the little mermaid. A beautiful angel made into a little girl. Well, an angel with sometimes a devilish behavior… A pink sweety with big heart, that could let some strange green “traces” where you go. Well, a little girl that no one couldn’t love.

That’s what Santa let me see. But there is something he told me. He told me you’re a great family. You have some hard times, you have some wonderful times. You can cry, you can laugh. You can play together, you can shout at each other, even sometimes. But no matter what, you are ONE family. He also told me that he has seen mommy do unbelievable things for her children, and sometimes ground them.

But, you know, Logan, Dylan, Daphné, he KNOWS one thing for sure. Whether Mommy hugs you, or punishes you, no matter what you’ve done to deserve a punishment, she will love you with all her heart, and that is forever. YOU are her everyday gifts. And my everyday gift is to read about you all. Thank you for being there.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you.

Hugs,

Henrí (I read your Mommy’s stories)

Postpartum Progress: 2010 Mother’s Day Online Rally for Moms’ Mental Health!

I am so honored to be included in this amazing group of mothers writing open letters about postpartum depression in honor of Mother’s Day 2010. One letter will be published every hour for twenty-four hours, and mine is already up!

Welcome to the 2010 Mother’s Day Online Rally for Moms’ Mental Health! (Video)

Happy Mother’s Day! 

I’m so glad you’ve decided to visit Postpartum Progress and check out the Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health.  Today you will be reading a wide variety of letters from an amazing group of women.  I hope you will find something inspiring or helpful in each and every one of them. (And if this is your first visit, and you’d like more general information about postpartum depression and related illnesses and how to get help for them, click here.)  I also hope you will be sure to comment on the posts and thank these incredible moms for their courage.

Visit blog for intro video…

Postpartum Progress, founded in 2004, is the most comprehensive peer resource available for pregnant and new mothers suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  It has been ranked as one of the top 10 mental health blogs on the internet by PsychCentral.com and Blogs.com and has been featured on Mamapedia, BlogHer, PBS’ This Emotional Life and Health.com among others. 

Full Participant List:

  1. Melinda Roberts, author of the blog The Mommy Blog, named one of the top 50 mommy blogs by Babble.com, a regular contributor to Momversation.com and author of the book “Mommy Confidential: Adventures from the Wonderbelly of Motherhood”
  2. Meagan Francis, author of the blog The Happiest Mom
  3. Casey Mullins, author of the blog Moosh in Indy
  4. Blair, author of the blog Heir to Blair, an editor’s pick at thebump.com
  5. Sarah Visbeek, author of the blog In the Trenches of Mommyhood
  6. Allison McDonald, author of the blog No Time for Flashcards and contributor to FamilyEducation.com
  7. Ann Douglas, author of “The Mother of All Parenting Books” and “The Mother of All Baby Books”
  8. Victoria Mason, author of the blog The Mummy Chronicles
  9. Suzanne, author of the blog Pretty Swell
  10. Sera, author of the blog Laughing Through the Chaos
  11. Tamra, author of the blog Surprisingly Sane
  12. Julie Hersh, author of the book Struck by Living: From Depression to Hope
  13. Jessica Zucker, PhD, psychologist and contributor to PBS’ This Emotional Life
  14. Marlene Freeman, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health
  15. Meeka Centimano, LCSW, social worker and founder of Postpartum Resource Center of Kansas
  16. Teresa Twomey, author of Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness
  17. Alison Palmer, RN, Elliot Hospital Postpartum Emotional Support Program (NH)
  18. Adrienne Griffin, founder of Postpartum Support of Virginia
  19. Alexis, author of the blog Depressions and Confessions
  20. Amber Koter, author of the blog Beyond Postpartum
  21. Ninotchka Beavers, author of the blog Cease Cows, Life is Short!
  22. Amy Gagliardi, MD
  23. Katherine Stone, author of the blog Postpartum Progress, guest editor on postpartum depression for BlogHer.com