Innocence Died Fifty Years Ago Today

DSC0004150 years ago today I felt my world change.

A lot has happened in those 50 years–to me and to the world.  I was a child in elementary school and I remember the night John Kennedy was elected as the President.  I was too young to care either way, but he was the first President I remember.  And he was larger than life.

He was so handsome, his wife so beautiful, their lives seemed so magical to a little girl.  I saw photos and video on the TV of them sailing, golfing,  and playing with their children.  Through that screen, he seemed to love them all so much.

What kind of President was he? He did some good things–such as pushing us to start space exploration and peacefully settling the Cuban Missile Crisis.  He said inspiring things like “Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your country.”  He did some bad things like the Bay of Pigs and his extramarital affairs.

What I knew was that he was my President.  I was old enough to know how important that was.  When they announced at school that he had been shot, my heart stopped.   I hoped and prayed that he would live and still be my President.  But, then, we were told to go home–the President was dead.

Some of the kids laughed and thought it was funny or a good thing.  But not me.  I was sad for his children whose Daddy was not coming home.  Mostly, though, I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life.  I believed our country would end–that with his death, the Communists would immediately attack and take over our country.  Why would they not?  Our leader was dead.  What was going to happen to us?

For weeks I waited and feared.  Gratefully we have a country that can withstand an assassin, bad legislators, civil unrest, and differing opinions among its citizens.  We have a constitution that lays out the orderly transfer of power and I witnessed that first hand as we immediately had a new president and everything went on as it had before.  My life was no different.

If I had told my parents how I felt, I am sure they could have reassured me and made the time seems less threatening.  But I kept it all to myself.  I don’t think they knew how many nights I lay awake scared and listening for sound of bombs.  Parents, when something like this happens, always be proactive in helping your children understand and voice their feelings.

I eventually learned not to fear and to trust in the system of government we have.  While I mistrust many politicians, I believe in the system and know it works.  I pray we never change that system, for that could very well be the beginning of the end for this gift of God called The United States of America.

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From Size 14 to 10!

IMG_0433Update on my exercise program!

I lasted more than two weeks.  In fact, amazingly I am finishing my fourth week.  So, how am I doing?

Well, the first week was purely miserable.

I sweated.

I ached.

I whined.

I cussed–yes, I really did.

There were exercises I could not even dream of doing so I laughed at it.

But now I can most of the exercises, even if I cannot do as many reps as the glam people on the tape.  Also, I am not sore very often.  In fact I am doing well enough that I will tell you it is Tap Out and I am recommending it to every one.

And I am seeing muscle poke through the fat!  The best part was that my jeans were really loose so a few days  ago I went to buy new jeans.  I pulled a 12 off the rack believing that I had dropped a whole size based on how my 14’s fit.  To my surprise, they were a little loose too.

So just for grins I decided to try on a pair of 10’s.  Imagine my joy when they zipped right up!  No sucking it in.  No holding my breath.  They just zipped and felt great.

Now what are the odds that I will finish the 90 days of this program?  They have gone to 99.9%!  I am seeing results and feel great.

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Manziel is a Teaching Tool, Parents

manzielJohnny Manziel.  Johnny Football.

Parents, here is a good case to use as a teaching moment for more than one reason–but mostly for inappropriate behavior.

Yes, he won the Heisman Trophy last year.  Personally I am opposed to giving such a prestigious award to a freshman, but I don’t get a vote.  With that on his resume, he could write his own ticket–legitimately.  All he has to do is stay out of trouble.

However, since the Heisman presentation, all we have heard about his is getting into one jam or another.

We must teach our children humility as well as the desire to be great.

We must teach them that there is more to life than whatever any of us are doing at any one moment–especially if that is playing a game.

We must teach our children to appreciate what they have been given and grateful for what they have had the gifts and desire to gain for themselves.

We must teach them that there are rules in life and that, like them or not, we have to abide by the rules.

For instance, in this latest scrap he is in, Johnny is accused of selling his autograph which is explicitly against NCAA rules.  I have heard a lot on TV today about this.  Some say that it is an unfair rule.  I agree.  Some say the NCAA is hypocritical because they sell his jerseys when he cannot make a dime off his name.  I agree.

The point is that the rules are plainly stated.  In civics class I learned that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Neither is ignoring the law because you don’t like it.   We are a nation of laws and rules.  If we don’t like them; change them.

Use this example to teach your children right from wrong, honest from dishonest, and the fact that life is not always fair.

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Can You Put Your Feet Beside Your Ears and Scratch Your Butt?

IMG_0376Last week I started an exercise program–not sure why.  Well, yes I am.  My daughter in law does it (the one next to me in this photo that weighs less than 100 lbs.–the other beautiful lady is another daughter in law–this was from a race we did a few months ago) and she said it restored her body after childbirth–including her chest.  I looked down at the ravages of childbirth and gravity on my chest.  I thought about my grandmother who, when I was young, I thought had a extra roll of fat around her waist and no boobs–turns out that roll was her boobs after gravity and 10 children.  I bought the tapes.

So now I am 4 days into this torture and can hardly move.  My rest day is after two more days of smiling hard bodies staring at me from the TV screen saying “there’s no quit…” and BS like that.  (I am pretty sure they are paid actors because no one could really love this program as much as they seem to on the videos.)  However, I am seriously considering that tomorrow, instead of being about more leg exercises, will be an ibuprophen day.  You know, lay around and take ibuprophen every 4 hours all day while watching movies and groaning in agony.

It’s not that I am completely out of shape.  I jog and just did the 6.2 miles of the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta without walking at all.  I can also get down a river in my kayak and still roll it–middle age or not.  They may not be class IV rapids any longer, but I can still make some sweet moves.

Nonetheless, this tape series is really kicking my butt.  There have been moments when I just sat there watching in amazement at what they were doing, thinking it is a camera trick because surely no human can actually do that move.  Is it really possible to put your feet beside your ears and scratch your butt at the same time?  And if  you can, is it possible to breath in that position?

Originally I thought that if the tapes are about 50 minutes long and I do each exercise a couple of times, I will still get good exercise.  But then there he is, looking me in the eye, and telling me that there is no quitting and making me feel guilty.   Well, I argue with him by telling him if he was my age and my weight, he would quit–or at least take extra water breaks.

So will I finish this 90 days of self-imposed torture?  Vegas odds right now are even money that I don’t make it past the second week.  But I will keep you posted.

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Parenting: Who Made You the Expert?

thCAV836DPMayim Bialik, an actress who played Blossom in the hit sitcom several years ago and now plays on The Big Bank Theory hit the news with her announcement that she was tired of people arguing with her about her choice of parenting styles.

My question to those people who are harassing her is “Who Made You a Parenting Guru?”  Why do you claim to know more about parenting than she does? From the way I see it, we all start in the same way.  We find out we are going to have a child, we try to figure out how to raise that child in a loving way, and we do our best every to do just that.

Mayim believes in attachment parenting.  That was not my style but that doesn’t mean that I think it is wrong.  Wrong would be to not love the child.  Wrong would be to abuse the child.  Any way you love a child and can make that work within the framework of your family is fine.  I give her kudos for believing in something and sticking to it even when she is attacked for it.

Parenting is a difficult task.  Each person has to look within themselves and decide what is best for their child and for their family dynamic.  Every person I have ever met who is an advocate of attachment parenting is a loving parent who only wants what is best.  Don’t all parents want that?

Why do we think we need to criticize other parents for what they do or don’t do just because it is different from how we believe?  What does it gain?  Meaningful discussion and debate is one thing, but to try to live some else’s life for them is quite another matter.

Let’s quit throwing stones at others through our own glass houses.

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Stay at Home or Work?

6C7954358-tdy_home_mom_130620_blocks_desktop_mediumThere has been much debate on the subject of whether moms should stay home or work in their profession after the children come.  It has been hotly debated in the media.  Moms have struggled with the dilemma for decades.  It seems that no matter what we choose, there is enough guilt to go around for us.

Recently Lisa Endlich Heffernan stated in an article she wrote for the Huffington Post that she wished she had worked instead of staying home.  Her reasons were not because she regretted the time spent with her children–she didn’t.

Instead her reasons were that now the children are grown and she has been lost in the job market.  It is a legitimate issue to raise.  If you have a career before your children and leave the market for 5-20 years, what are your options?

Here is what I suggest:

  • Make your decision based on what is best for your family.  If you want to stay home and it is economically feasible, do it.  If you want to work, work.  Some moms are better moms when they can focus outside the home for some time during each day.
  • Forget the guilt.  Make your decision and celebrate it.
  • Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks–you are living your life and either decision is the right one if it is right for you.
  • Decide if you might return to work at some point in the future–bear in mind that divorce, death, job loss of the spouse, and other causes may send you back whether you planned for it or not.
  • Keep up with new trends and technology in your field so you will be prepared to go back.
  • Maybe you can work part time to keep your skills sharp and up to date.  Failing that, maybe go to a conference once or twice a year.
  • Keep all licenses up to date–often that requires some form of continuing education credits.
  • Go to school and acquire new skills if you wish

When my children were small I had no choice and had to work.  It was not what I would have preferred, but I learned a lot that helped me be a better mother.  For instance, I learned how to use my time wisely and how to create quality time with my children.  Later, I was able to stay home with them for a few years when they were teenagers.

This article put a new spin on the old discussion and I would like to hear what you think.  The author recommends that moms, “Keep a pilot light under your professional life.”  That is probably good advice to moms who plan to return to work as well as those who never plan to return to work.  You never know what the future holds and what you may have to do to support your family.

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Tired of Parents Who Are Absent on Discipline


Today I was at a neighborhood pool with my son, daughter in law, and grandkids–a fun way to spend with family on Memorial Day, right?  As my daughter in law entered the pool, she was hit in the nose by a Frisbee.  The perpetrator (a boy about 11 or 12 years old) never apologized or acknowledged in any way that he hurt her.  What is worse is that the parents were sitting by the pool at a table directly in front of where it happened, saw it , and never said anything to that child.

I am so utterly tired of parents who are absent on the subject of discipline.  What are you people thinking?  Is it your goal to raise bullies, street thugs, and juvenile delinquents?  If so, then you are succeeding beyond your wildest imaginations.

In this instance, the boy was old enough to have known he should at least apologize and claim it as an accident.  Why did he not?  Because his parents were not interested in teaching him basic manners when he was younger.

What will his future be?  I hope he practices the phrase “Do you want fries with that?” because that is all he is going to be emotionally able to handle as an adult.

Somehow in this country it is not politically correct to raise children with good manners who occasionally need to be punished for inappropriate behavior.  If this doesn’t change, this country is going to be in a lot of trouble.

I know it is difficult to be the “bad guy”, the disciplinarian.  I raised three children as a single mom and believe me, there were many days it would have been easier to let them do what they wanted to do.  Many days I cried and begged them to behave so we could have a good day.  I knew I would not be doing them any favors if they did not learn restraint, respect, negotiation, and a sense of common decency.

Parents, many of you do it right and don’t think it is not noticed.  At the beach last week I heard a young father call his child back to say “Yes Sir” instead of “Yeah.”  I was proud of him and know his children will be fine.

But I have serious concerns for this young boy I saw today.  To his parents, I say not to be surprised when he turns around and hurls a curse word in your direction, or worse.  When you are surprised and wonder how he could do that, just look in a mirror and blame the person who is looking back at you.

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Texting in Cars–Parents, You Are the Example!

Text DeathThis is the text Alexander Heit was sending when he lost control of his car and died. He was 22 and a college student with a full life in front of him.  In a effort to keep others from texting while driving, his mother said, “In a split second you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone who loves you.”
Now pretend that you are texting in the car as you are driving your kids to ball practice or to school.  Your son turns to you and tells you not to do that because it is dangerous.  You look at him smiling sweetly and say, “It’s okay, son.  Mom knows what she is doing and is safe and so are you.”  Years from then, disaster strikes.  Your son is in a coma and not expected to live.  His girlfriend has lost a leg and another friend is dead.  All because he was texting while driving.  Why?  Because he learned from you that it could be done safely.

A recent AT&T study found that 49% of adults admit to texting while driving and 43% of teens admit it.  Hmm, that means that more adults are impairing their driving skills with a phone than kids.  And most often with today’s adults, they are slower texters.  So does that make them even more dangerous?

Remember you are the example your children will follow. Don’t make the potentially fatal mistake of  telling your children that there is a safe way to text and drive.  There isn’t.  It is your job to be the example.  You are, either way, so why not be a positive example?

Your life and your child’s life may hang in the balance.

Posted in child behavior, children, driving with kids in the car, family, grandchildren, healthy lifestyles, parenting, Teens driving, texting/phones | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Your Children Feel Safe

Where you, like me, working at your computer when you saw the news blip about the bombing in Boston?

Put yourself on the marathon route when the explosions occurred.  Picture the chaos and uncertainty.  How would you feel about your safety?  How would you feel about your family’s safety?

Did you eventually think, “How do I help my kids feel safe when I don’t?”

It is normal after an horrific event such as what happened in Boston on Monday, April 14 to have those fears.  I guess we have been lucky nothing like this has happened before now in the US.  Other countries live with the fear of explosive devices as a normal part of every day.  But we have not had to untl now.

So how do we heal ourselves and our children and move forward?  For the past two days I have been researching this and, based on the advice of experts in the field, here are some insights that will help you.

  1. Human beings are made to recover and move past tragedy–it is part of our inner beings.  Trust in that ability and coping mechanism.  Time will do its job and things will return to normal.
  2. Being afraid or uneasy is perfectly normal and children should be assured of that fact.  Listen to them and don’t discount their feelings.  Allow them to voice their concerns.  Admit that sometimes bad things do happen.
  3. Reassure the children that they are safe–they are far away from what happened, you will protect them, God is with them, whatever makes them feel better.
  4. Limit access to news reports.  There is no sense in “piling on” to the fear.  Let it gradually move from their immediate focus.
  5. Get a normal routine restarted as soon as possible.  Normalcy gives birth to peace of mind.
  6. Know what your kids know–you may be surprised what they have heard in school or around the neighborhood.  You cannot adequately reassure them if you don’t know what they are afraid of.
  7. Take time to examine yourself and your own fears.  Work through them and do not communicate your anxiety to your children.
  8. Monitor the family and if one or more of you are not coping appropriately with  the fears, get professional help if you see prolonged or abnormal signs of stress.  This is more important depending on the closeness of the tragedy.  If one of the dead or injured is a family member or close friend, it is probably going to be necessary to get counselling.

In the meantime, give your children a big hug tonight and say a prayer of thanks as you tuck them into bed tonight.  Something like this reminds us how tenuous our hold on life is and that we need to realize how precious it really is.

Then say a prayer for those who were negatively affected by the cowardly act in Boston.

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Electronics Have Replaced Mom and Dad at the Dinner Table

I have copied this post with permission.  It was written by Mary Jo Rapini and is an insightful and important statement about family.  Pat

IMG_0067I was out for dinner last week. My husband and I went to a family restaurant we both really like. It’s low key, just the right amount of noise, and the food is wholesome and fresh. The restaurant attracts families because of the prices, but the families eating there are different than they use to be. Family dinners are fun because the whole family gets together and talks about the day’s events and who said what to whom. Moms and dads can be heard laughing at their kid’s antics and expressions. This particular night there was some of that interaction, but also a new interaction that I call “electronic parenting.”

 At several of the tables, we noted kids with ipads or phones engaged in their activity. There was absolutely no communication between mom, dad, and the kids. The kids were careful not to spill food on their electronic devices and what seemed to make the biggest impact was one time when one of the mom’s almost dropped the ketchup on the child’s ipad. The kid became animated and basically scolded mom. I was hopeful that if the electronics were babysitting the kids at least mom and dad would have some intimate time, but no, that wasn’t the case. Mom and dad didn’t really engage with each other either; dad was fidgeting with his phone or mom looked frazzled. I thought about this scenario for several days because I am concerned about what these kids’ concept of family will be.

 Family dinners are so important for continuing communication among the family members. Dinnertime is a time we listen to one another, are reminded of table manners and also mentored about appropriate behavior between mom, dad and kids. You don’t have to eat at home to have a family dinner, but a family dinner is so much more than eating.It’s important that families realize the invaluable opportunity to have an electronic-free meal. Parenting has a lot to do with setting boundaries, saying no, and also making sure you teach your child appropriate social behavior. If your child is on the phone or ipad during dinner they are in their own virtual world and not engaged with the family.

 There is no doubt that we are moving in a more electronic wave for the future. Smart phones are smarter than many humans, and as we continue to evolve and grow with technology it will be more and more important that families keep their boundaries strong to preserve the unity of family. The only way to do this is to stay engaged with your kids and your spouse, and keep sacred some of the family rituals such as family meals. Below are some suggestions for keeping your family together and engaged. Your kids may groan, but believe me, in time they will come back and thank you.

 Here are some thoughts on having a family dinner: 

1. As much as possible, have family meals during the week. These don’t have to be done at home; however, they should include your whole family.

2. Have a plate or a container where all electronics are dropped prior to dinner. Make sure you silence them as the noise of a text or email incites the mind and distracts from family.

3. Conversation at the dinner table should be kept at a level where everyone can hear one another and you can also enjoy the food.

4. Make sure you remember you are parents at the table and not your child’s friend. If a derogatory word or motion is made at the table, correct your child/spouse. The dinner table should remain family friendly.

5. Continue to show respect and manners with your child at the dinner table. One of a parent’s most important jobs is socializing their child so that the child can feel confident in their ability to demonstrate manners and respect for others.

We cannot go backwards in time, nor should we, but as we continue into the digital age there are some rituals we must keep sacred as a family. Family dinners are one of those. A family is only as strong as its leaders; so parents, it’s time to parent at the dinner table. Electronics can never teach your child family values as well as a parent.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read about Rapini at

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