My Head Was Going to Pop Off!

There was so much going on from the phone ringing to spills on the floor, the four boys were having disagreements with one another one after the other. I was trying to make meals, delegate chores, help another paint, and separate two crying toddlers and that's when it happened--pressure rising in my head!

I headed to the bathroom and could barely let a deep breath out. My mind was letting me know we are about to take a vacation again. The last time I felt this much pressure, a panic anxiety attack came out of nowhere and there I sat frozen staring at my children! I couldn't talk, walk or anything. Months later, I was the butt of one of my son's jokes. "Glad you think its funny," I told my class clown. "But what if I didn't come out of that one, did you ever think of that?" The laughing stopped. "It's just that you looked so funny..." He must have noticed a strange look on my face that said, "Just walk away while you still have the chance."

Living in the house with all penises (I mean boys) can get next to you as the only woman of the house! There are the urine stains that show up soon after you just disinfected the toilet, the new pubic hairs that my middle son wants me to "check out," the references to itching and adjusting--"Do I really want to hear or see all of this?" I told the same son who thinks that panic anxiety is "too funny," "You are getting too old to call me into the bathroom to check out your penis issues, see a doctor." He laughed. One day he will make some woman proud.

I tell you, the joys of parenting, I see them few and far in between. The other day I was ready to ask anyone on the street, "You want to watch my kids?" Of course, I didn't, because it was anyone on the street--might not go over too well with the Mister.

I just don't get it, why all the crying with the little ones whenever you ask them (even nicely mind you) to clean up your toys and get ready to eat or put your shoes on we are going out (last I checked kids enjoy going out.) Sometimes I just don't know...

Nicholl McGuire


Being Open to Everything, Wasn't Good for Me

In 1999 I had my first child and if there was one thing I learned it was, "I was no longer open-minded once I became a mother." My "all paths lead to Christ, pro-choice, sexually immoral, cursing like a sailor, partying in the club self" that had slowed down prior to my firstborn's birth was absent by the time he was born!

You see, I couldn't very well maintain a certain lifestyle and call myself a "mother." For some moms, there's nothing wrong with doing any of these things n(in moderation they claim, but just wait until their children do it,) because well they are still very much open-minded. It's okay in some moms' worlds to accept just about anything when outside the home talking in groups, but let "anything" show up at the door and now she has boundaries. "I don't want my son hanging around him...my daughter will not be seen with him...I don't want my children around those people!" I guess she isn't so open-minded after all, huh?

I had befriended every sexual orientation under the sun offline prior to my days of being a believer and having a child even visited a club or two. There are some people in my social networks right now, both family and friends, who still live that lifestyle. The difference from the past and now, they know where I stand. I am not as open-minded as I once was and don't mind fighting for truth! Yet, this society of openness doesn't want us to have any boundaries, morals, absolute truths, even rules. They shut you out of certain circles if you take a stand on immoral behaviors. They call you names if you try to expose errors in so-called truths. They threaten your family. They attempt to delete you and your views clear off the Internet!

Our society has a bunch of robotic people brainwashed to make us act in ways that elitists want us to act--law abiding, quiet folk who mind their own business. Ever wonder why our government provides so many things on TV, the Internet, and on the radio? There are those that don't want you coming out of your homes unless you are working or entertaining yourself indoors-distractions! If you don't spend much time studying various brainwashing techniques, you wouldn't know that even you have been brainwashed to buy into a certain belief, purchase a certain product or service, or say and do certain things to further someone else's cause.

There is something about having children that snaps you back into reality! That makes you think less about your self and more about them. You re-learn what it means to love. You rediscover who you are as a woman and what you really want to do with the rest of your life. You are very critical of yourself. And of course, you are concerned about you and your family's image.

Nicholl McGuire

Nicholl McGuire


It's a Girl! Observations of Dads Who Really Wanted Sons
Some fathers can't hide their disappointment, they anticipated boys and didn't get what they wanted. Therefore, they reason they can still have their boys by creating "Tom Boys" of their daughters. Article explains.
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Exposing Cinderella, Snow White, & the Little Mermaid: What Are We Really Teaching Young Girls?
Some Disney books have decades of sending the wrong messages to young children, yet we continue to let our children read them. Article addresses some widely popular books for girls that could aid in future problems.
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The Five Lies of Motherhood

Within the past fifty years, motherhood has gone from exaltation to embarrassment. Instead of being proud to claim motherhood as a career, we cower in the corner and mumble out a feeble, "I'm JUST a mom!" Just a mom? Give me a break! This entire mentality wasn't even present in our culture until recently. The media is a powerful force! It can discredit motherhood with its lies and we just gulp them up like hot doughnuts. So, what lies are you living?

Lie #1--You need to take a load off. Have you heard this lie lately? It's subversive because there is so much truth in it that is being distorted. We see it in magazines, commercials, talk shows...moms are being stretched so thin, trying to do everything under the sun. Sooner or later, there is going to be a straw that breaks the camel's back. Before it's too late, mama, you had better take a load OFF! Well, here's the truth in it. Yes! We often do too much, but think for a second about what we're doing. What is eating up so much of your time that you can't do the really important stuff like raise your kids? How many television shows are you watching during a week? How often do you try to beat someone's high score on a Facebook game? How long do you spend talking on the phone? When today's culture tells us to take a load off, they mean to drop the kids off somewhere and take time for YOU. I'm ready to tell you that you need to take a load off where it really matters. Find those pointless time wasters that are pulling you away from the family and drop those from your life!

Lie #2--Your job is temporary. I know you've heard this one. It's the lie that our culture tells us over and over. Motherhood is just a little thingee to do for now. So, take a deep breath. You won't be stuck in this trench forever. It's the lie that gives you a temporal perspective on the whole family thing. Without even realizing it we begin to focus on relief from our circumstances rather than glorifying in our responsibilities. We begin to believe the lie and think that life will be good '..when the little ones finally get in preschool,..when the summer is over and the kids are back in school,..when the teenagers are finally out of the house,..' Do you see the danger here? Our culture has us believing that we need to look forward to a day when we finally get our days back! I'm ready to tell you that your job is eternal! The moments you are investing in your family today will build up in time to reward you in ways you could never imagine. THIS is your life and you need to enjoy it NOW. If not here, where? If not now, when?

Lie #3--You could do a lot better. We see this lie everywhere in the media. It's that twenty-something picture-perfect model with the little kids that seems to have it all together. It's that stunning actress posing with her family. It's the business mogul that manages to balance family and a burgeoning business. This is a lie! You cannot serve two masters. One will have your heart and the other gets the leftovers. Our culture has taught us that motherhood is failure...it's only for those women who didn't really get a decent education or can't hold a good job. It's for women who aren't creative or don't have any drive. This is a subtle message but one that certainly has rocked our ships way off course. The lie tells us, "C'mon, mom, really? Couldn't you do any better than that? Where's the glory in motherhood?" I'm here to tell you that the glory is inside of you. It's how you look at the world. When you look at the world through earthly eyes, you see it all extrinsically. Everything is outside. It's the kind of car you drive or the house you live in. It's your career title or your circle of friends. But when you look at the world through heavenly eyes, you begin to see it all intrinsically. Everything is inside. It's the contentment when you hold your baby or the pride when you see your teen succeed. It's the love that grips your heart and won't let go. And believe you, me, you cannot do any better than that!

Lie #4--You need fulfillment. Every message that the media delivers to moms is filtered through the "not enough" lie. This is an awesome tactic by the media because it works so well. You can sell anything if you create a need for it. And unfortunately, moms are buying into the lie that we don't have enough. We need it easier. We need it cheaper. We need it quicker. We need it now! If our culture can convince moms that they need fulfillment, then they have created a huge population of eager shoppers. There's only one problem here. If things make life easier, then why does it seem to be harder than ever? If things make life cheaper, then why is the average family drowning in debt? If things make life quicker, then why can't we get enough done in an average day? I'm ready to tell you that fulfillment doesn't come from without. It comes from within. Until you find fulfillment in your life where you are right now, you'll never find fulfillment where you're headed in the future.

Lie #5--You don't need to take it so seriously. Our modern culture feeds us this lie that motherhood and homemaking is just something you do on the side. And we are now seeing firsthand the results of this belief--broken homes, disparate families, failing marriages, and rebellious kids. And at the heart of it all is a mom who thought she didn't need to take it so seriously. I mean, it's not like it's a real career or something. Well, they're right about that. It's not just a career. It's a calling. When God called you to be a mom, He wasn't kidding around. I'm ready to tell you this is NOT a job to be taken lightly. This is a career that requires every bit of you and more. It is something you do with your whole heart. Stop believing the lies that our culture feeds us. See through the methods our media uses to discredit motherhood. Do it now before you waste another moment living with less than the best. The world keeps telling moms to do just enough to get by. But God sets a higher standard. He demands excellence. Motherhood is an eternal investment. You may not be able to see it now, but when you give it your all, when you approach this profession with the respect it deserves, when you stand up tall and profess loudly, "Yes! I AM a mom!" then, and only then, will you see the blessings of this consecrated career unfold before you.

Now, it's your turn. What do you think? Has our culture been handing us lies? Are you believing any of them? I want to hear from you!

Hannah Keeley is the founder of http://www.hannahkeeley.com and the mother of seven kids. She is the author of "Hannah's Art of Home" and "Hannah Keeley's Total Mom Makeover," and has appeared on the Today show, Fox and Friends, and the Rachael Ray show. Her national television show, Hannah Help Me!, is currently airing in its second season.



Why Mothers Cry
Frustrated veteran mothers, angry new mothers, resentful stepmothers, and other types of mothers can relate to a newly published book by Nicholl McGuire, "When Mothers Cry." Visit whenmotherscry.blogspot.com or amazon.com
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Football, Basketball, Soccer, Hockey--Don't Let it Take Over Your Home

Nowadays more and more women are sitting in front of the television along with the men watching the game. I tend to compare television sports to the soap operas I use to watch with my mother and grandmother as a child (especially WWE.)

Years ago, I remember the mood of the room changing when my relatives discovered that one of their soap opera characters was being attacked. Sometimes their negative attitude lingered away from the television screen for part of the day as a result. The child that was allowed to sit and watch soaps with them would then be told that she was "in the way...go play..." WOW! The impact of television! Mom would be in a bad mood and so would grandma. It was the same negative sometimes angry-filled emotions that I also had to cope with over the years after my mother watched her beloved Steelers lose a few too many games.

I recall many Sundays smelling a dinner consisting of: a great rump roast, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, greens, cornbread, and homemade gravy along with a pound cake dessert or sweet potato pie slice. You would think with a great meal like that it was a pleasant, peaceful Sunday, right? Nope, not when the Steelers were playing. Mom was screaming, yelling and telling us children (my sister and I) to "be quiet the game was on!" and sometimes I did pray the team would win so she would be in a good mood. My dad wasn't as emotional and usually stayed away from all of us on Sundays because another work week would begin the next day. From age five until teen years, I witnessed my mom, who to this day is still a huge fan of the Steelers, scream at the TV about bad calls. She has had her share of VIP passes to watch the games, thanks to my Dad's former employer's connections.

So why am I bothered by the football, basketball seasons or any other sport seasons when it comes to the family? Because of the distractions and the negativity surrounding them. People drink during games (thank God my already hyper mother doesn't do that,) some cuss, fight, hit their women, spank their children more, and cry over games!

Just like the soaps, I know what I am about to say will ruffle a few readers' feathers, they are scripted. That's right I said scripted! You may say, "How do you know?" I would have to say, "Conduct your own research to prove that I'm wrong." Yes, there are genuine referee mistakes, serious injuries etc. But then there are also events that are created to get more people to tune in to certain games, picks, etc. ie.) Check out SuperBowl 2009 and you will learn that it was the most watched in television history, hmmm. Think about all of the events that led up to the Saints winning that game. Then think about all of the events that lead up to other cities winning the Superbowl. Think: There's a lot of money needed to run a city!

I read articles where event organizers are trying to figure out ways to get more women to watch sports on TV. If you know anything about sitting in a room with a group of women, they love drama! The marketers know what women like and they also know what men like so why not find a way to make the masses happy, right? If they can't get women to tune in, they sure know how to distract them. For example, why not put a series of Denzel Washington movies on several different cable stations like they did in Los Angeles not that long ago to keep women away from the men while the game was on.

If you ever watched a sports game on TV, you have seen the bad calls or heard your male relatives yell about them. They are referring to something unfair that happened on the field while the ref pretends as if he didn't see something or makes a call that never should have been made allowing the other "favored" team to catch up. With all the TV cameras watching the event, you would think the camera has final say with all of the calls, but it doesn't. I wouldn't be surprised to start seeing some tricks with the television replay. You thought you saw one thing, but once it is replayed (unless you have your VCR recording) you will see something totally different. It's coming, if it isn't already going on now. One's eyes clearly saw that a rule wasn't violated, yet the refs will call a foul anyway. Well, how do you think a bad call plays out in the real world in that little house or apartment in the small county of XYZ with the drunk uncle, angry spouse, or temperamental teen? There is arguing, fussing, bad moods all day, and a host of other negativity in the home just because of a d*mn game! A game that the average man will never play in! A game that doesn't help one spiritually, mentally or physically. A game that robs a father's time with his wife and his children. A game that upsets people for nothing more than the dollar bill! A game that has become a modern day idol! Then some wonder why God doesn't answer one's prayers.

Speed up to decades later and now I am a mother with sons who are passionate about the games they play in school. I am starting to see the same passion is carrying over onto some of those scripted sports games on the TV screen and yes I am concerned--very concerned. So I have been talking with dad about what we should say to the children when the team picked to win doesn't and how are we going to tone down the growing excitement for sports (scripted TV sports that is)?

I personally believe it's okay to watch some sports (that's right only select ones are watched by my children,) but what I don't believe is allowing sporting events or any events become an idol in one's household. How many banners, trophies, numbers, certificates, etc. does one have to display? I like what one father said about the numbers on the back of the young boys shirts. He said, "I would never let my son wear another man's number. I want him to wear his own numbers." I have personally witnessed and took a few physical assaults behind a temperamental viewer's obsession over a scripted game. Those orchestrated bad calls and behind the scenes sports betting may create more viewer interests, but the truth is there are families hurting because some just can't handle being hyped up about a certain team only for that team to suddenly have a great fall for no good reason!

I encourage you to do your own research on past games. Pick your favorite sports and you will see a pattern of foolish calls by refs. Interesting enough, during some of the most important games. You may have asked yourself, "What is going on?" while witnessing one unfair call after the other. But kept on allowing yourself to be mind controlled into believing that the team wasn't doing well, thanks to the announcers and your sports journalists.

Bad calls have happened so much over the years, that when you bring an argument like this to a sports fan, he or she just shrugs his or her shoulders as if no big deal. But when you say, "You know those games, some of those events are scripted." Watch the anger that grows in his or her eyes. The fan says, "Prove it." But the truth is, they can't handle the truth! Rather, when you show them the patterns of games in the past, the history of sports-betting, the tell-all books out there exposing the industry, and the commissioner, team owners and agents affiliations, they don't want to hear it. Unless you are one of the elite, even after researching, you still won't get the whole story, but you will at least get enough knowledge to make a determination whether it's even worth watching the game much less getting emotional about it.

In closing, if you are a mother who cares about her children, tell your children the truth and remind them that everyone can't be "The next great..."there is only so much space on the team. Rather, encourage your children to be the best they can in whatever their destined to become! Your child's talents can be found in this life by getting him or her involved in a little bit of this and that and not just sports!

Nicholl McGuire


Mom's Time Out!

Taking Time Out For Yourself

As women how many of you take time out of your day everyday for yourself? Statistics show very little actually do this small task that has huge benefits. So when this was proposed to me my immediate reaction was "I don't have time." Then I was asked "What do you think you need to do to take time for yourself?" This brought up some interesting ideas - massage, facials, pedicures, dancing, beach camping, friends... What we really are asking is do you take a "Timeout." Yes, just like the one we give our kids. Do you take time out for yourself everyday? I bet the answer is still no.

Something we need to realize is we need to recharge just as much as our kids need to. I don't know about you, but I'm not Super Mom, I need help with everything that goes on in my household. I also need to know when enough is enough. The dishes will be there in the morning as will the laundry. Tomorrow is another day to look forward to and finish the tasks that were not done the day before. Ultimately what is more important? Your sanity or the laundry?

Taking time out for yourself can be as simple as taking a bubble bath... that sounds like fun actually! Reading a favorite author you haven't read in a while, meditating, Floating in a swimming pool, Taking a steam bath, sauna, or jacuzzi, Taking a pleasant walk, Weekend getaway/break from the home, Listening to your favorite music, Girls night out, Evening meal at your favorite restaurant, Taking up a hobby, Finding a favorite leisure activity, Joining a club, Developing new interests. Anything in this list would benefit you and qualify for taking time for yourself.

Conscious vs. Unconscious. Reduction of the conscious mind (sympathetic nervous system) activity brought on by relaxation has the benefit of allowing the rest of the body to recharge it's self. Letting your subconscious mind (parasympathetic nervous system) bring us to a more peaceful state of being.

Affects On The Body. Strengthening the immune system, Slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, slowing your breathing rate, reducing the need for oxygen, increasing blood flow to major muscles, reducing muscle tension, fewer heartaches and back pain, fewer emotional responses such as anger and fear, more energy, improved concentration, and a greater ability to handle problems in our lives. Sounds good, doesn't it!?

Practice, Practice, Practice... Use Techniques Regularly.
At first relaxation will feel foreign, but with daily practice you will begin to become aware of your own muscle tension and other physical sensations of stress. The goal is to know what the stress response feels like, and make a conscious effort to relax and to prevent stress from gaining control of your life. These are skills that over time will become automatic for you. Be patient with yourself, stay motivated, and reduce the negative impact that stress brings to your body!

My favorite leisure activity is reading, I love knowledge. What is your favorite leisure activity that takes time out for you?

Mendy Baker is a LifeStyle Trainer who uses a new proven program to build her organization and mentors others to do the same. Go to http://www.mendybaker.yolasite.com to get more information about LifeStyle Training. You can learn more about her and get your FREE 3 Steps To A Wealthy Mindset Workbook at http://www.MendyBaker.com


Things a New Mother Should Remember

Do you love your baby, but still feel overwhelmed as a new mom? Have you been wondering how a mom does all this? Here are some helpful tips to remember when you have the blessing of being a new mother.

You can enjoy your new bundle of joy and make every minute count, if you keep these important things in mind.

* Be easy on yourself! This is all new to you and you have to learn just like you learn to do anything else. You will get better as time passes.

* A city like "Rome wasn't built in a day". It took nine months of changes in your body to bring this beautiful baby into the world, and likewise, you will need time to get your body back in shape.

* Be patient and cease the moment. Take this special time to enjoy your baby. Your baby won't be little for long. Don't think everything has to be perfect in your world right now.

* You will evolve into a routine. This will not happen overnight and it will probably take at least six weeks to see any kind of schedule coming about.

* Do take the opportunity to rest when you can. If you have mild "blues" after the birth of your baby, one of the reasons could be you are not getting enough rest.

* Even the best mothers have days with challenges and disappointments. Just "flow with the tide" and "this too shall pass." You will learn as you go and in future days you will feel the sweet joy of success, as you see your understanding of what is expected increase and you master how to handle the demands.

* Arrange for help with the baby. If you do not have family close, let your spouse know and tell him you need help and/or ask a friend for help, even if just for a few hours so you can get rested.

* Reveal to family members, a friend, or someone that is concerned, how you're feeling. Sometimes we just need to talk and express ourselves and we feel better and can "pick ourselves up" and start anew. That person may have that positive comment or perspective you hadn't thought about. It helps to talk to a person that has been through the same experiences you are now going through.

Stay positive and commit yourself to being a successful mother. Remember, being a mom is a very important endeavor. Your dear baby is counting on you for their every need!

Brianna Gustin is a consultant to mothers who need uplifting ideas and perspective regarding their important role as a mother. She is a mother with many years of experience and common sense approaches to the every day challenges of motherhood and knows the sweet fruits of success in raising a large family. Brianna is the biological mother of a large family and has experienced many demands of being a mother and the combined pressures of being the wife of an executive.

If you feel overwhelmed at times and need a coach to offer uplifting ideas and counsel with a common sense approach, please send an email to momconsultant@gmail.com. I can set up a time to talk with you on the phone or have a chat session through email. This is a legitimate business, so please email only if you are interested in positive motherhood coaching. Reasonable counseling rates will apply.

Single Moms Dating - Getting Back Into the Dating Scene

Single moms often find it hard getting back into the dating scene. Dating when you have the responsibilities of children has a number of challenges: in addition to working all day, there is the transporting or arranging transportation for children's activities, supervising homework, household chores and shopping for groceries to name just a few of these. You probably wonder how or when you could actually have a date. Below are some ideas that may help you ease into dating again.

Think about what you are looking for in a date. An adult to spend time with may be all you are interested in at this time. You may want to go to a movie that doesn't have talking animals in it or simply meet occasionally for a cup of coffee in a place that doesn't serve a happy meal. All adults need the company of other adults. On the other hand you may want to find someone to form a long lasting relationship with. Whatever you want the next step will be to meet men you are compatible with. Unless you happen to work in a place filled with single men meeting available men may be difficult.

A very popular and safe way for single moms to meet single men is through online dating sites. In case you aren't familiar with these the process for using them is very simple: In the comfort of your home choose a site, write and post a profile that includes a recent photograph. In your profile include that you have children and tell something about them. But be sure to write enough about yourself to let prospects know that you are a woman as well as a mom.

Some men may be turned off by the fact you have children, but you probably wouldn't want to date them anyway. There are men out there who would love to find a great woman with children because they love family as much as you do. When browsing through male profiles look for those who are single dads or say that family is important to them.

Since your children and their safety are of prime importance online dating may be the perfect solution for your way to meet men. You will not meet a man in person until you know him very well. When you have a match or matches you will then begin what can become a lengthy period during which you get to know each other through emails. You may go through a number of these matches before you find the perfect one. But remember, this is all happening at your leisure from home. You don't have to provide for childcare or go through agonizing dinners with someone you can't wait to get away from.

When you are ready to meet for a real live date you will not have those first date jitters because you will already know so much about him.

There are numerous single men in your area who have posted personal ads on dating sites. They, like you, are looking for someone to connect with on some level-whether it be someone to have a cup of coffee with or one for a long term loving relationship.

By Abby P. Munroe

Being a single mom doesn't have to be the end of your social life. Single moms need to go out on dates to relax and unwind from their tiring role as a single parent. You need adult company and eating an occasional meal in a place that doesn't serve happy meals. Learn about Single Mom's dating Visit my site http://singlesmomsdating.com/

How to Be a Happy Stay at Home Mom - 5 Tips to Enjoying Full Time Motherhood

For a lot of us moms, being a stay at home mom is our dream come true but it can be a struggle to enjoy it to its fullest. Often we feel unappreciated, unloved and like we are loosing who we are, or used to be anyways. How to be a happy stay at home mom is not something we are taught, we must figure out what works for us. Here are five tips that can help the stay at home mom enjoy her job more.

How to be a happy stay at home mom tip # 1 is to be proud of what you do. There is that stigma attached to stay at home moms that we spend our days getting coffee with friends or at the mall; or maybe that we spend all day in front of the TV in our pyjamas, never shower and never comb our hair. Yeah right, we know what it is really like. Don't let other peoples opinions ruin how you feel about being a stay at home mom. Be proud of what you have chosen to do and know that many, many moms would love to have the opportunity to be with their children full time.

How to be a happy stay at home mom tip # 2 is not to dwell on your past life. Yes it was great when you could come and go when you pleased without the need for a babysitter. It was great to have money, sleep in once in a while and spend a rainy day on the coach watching movies. But that was then and this is now. Lots of moms, especially new ones, compare their current life to the one they had before children. This is a useless behaviour since you can't go back, and honestly would you trade your kids for that former life? Didn't think so! Count your blessings for your beautiful family.

How to be a happy stay at home mom tip #3 is to make time for your spouse. This is so important an often the first thing to go out the window once kids come into the picture. Date nights are great, but you don't always need to go through so much trouble. Find ways to connect at home with face-to-face interaction; it doesn't have to be a romantic getaway soap opera style to benefit from time alone together.

How to be a happy stay at home mom tip #4 is having grown up time. This is not the same as time with your spouse. This is time to interact with other adults besides your spouse. Being a full time mom means having minimal adult conversations on a daily basis, so get together with a girlfriend or two once or twice a month. This gives you something to look forward to and gets you talking in full sentences again!

How to be a happy stay at home mom tip #5 is to work on your own personal development. Many stay at home moms feel like they loose themselves and their self-esteem once they leave the workforce. Find ways to continue to build your self esteem and confidence. You can volunteer with a local charity which will help keep your skills such as time management, organization and service up to date. You can take a night or online course to update your educational credentials. Some moms take a self defence or martial arts class to build self-assurance in themselves. It is increasingly popular today for many moms to start their own small online business to build their independence, improve their skills and help with the family finances.

Being a happy stay at home mom is important for you and your children. When you are happy you will interact differently with your children. Using the tips above will help foster a great synergy between the you before you had kids and the you now as a full time mom. Be proud to hold the title of stay at home mom.

Start Your Personal Development Now

To get more information on what many stay at home moms are doing online with small business to build their skills, independence and finances go to http://www.ImagineYourselfFree.com Fill out the form on the first page and then watch the video in step #3 on the second page.

Katrina Cole is a mother and Internet Marketer with one of the Largest Internet Marketing & Mentoring programs. She is dedicated to coaching other moms who want to experience a Legitimate Internet Opportunity that will teach Top Online Marketing Techniques. For more information on how to create a successful Online Home Business or transform your existing one into a more profitable opportunity, please visit http://www.KatrinaCole.com.


Stop Looking at Me and My Child with the Temper Tantrum!

"Okay, I'm guilty as charged! I brought the little boy into this world who knocked over your items in the store, interrupted your meal with all his crying while you tried to talk to your friend in peace, and snatched a book away from your child at the library. So for all of these things, I'm sorry! But must you give me that evil eye as if your child, niece, nephew or cousin never had a tantrum, crying spell, and/or whining episode in public!?"

If there is anything I hate, that's right I said hate, is a self-righteous, annal retentive observer who stares you down, because your child is having a bad day! I know what some of these folks are thinking, "I would never...she should spank him...what is wrong with him...what is wrong with her..."

It was one bad day and the sky is falling chicken little! What about all the other times my child was good, huh? No one said anything about those times, well yeah a few did-- God bless you for your encouragement! But for those others with their noses in the air, they have a lot of nerve! It's funny, because sometimes just when they are looking at me, their little angels start acting up too--I love it, sweet justice!

Nicholl McGuire


Fake Support System, Fake Friendships

Being a mother is difficult and finding a support system you can trust can be just as challenging. How many mothers out there have been burned by mothers’ groups, churches, business associations, and civic organizations? Now when I say burned, I am referring to someone who posed as your friend to get you to join the group and then when problems began to occur, he or she started acting distant, couldn’t be contacted, suddenly didn’t have any time for you, and what he or she promised was never delivered.

You see, being a mother means a “gold mine” to some deceptive individuals and groups. It means there is the potential to make money off of you especially if you drive a nice car, have children in private school and your husband makes a lot of money. The so-called friend may have been that nice young woman with the two children you met on the street who introduced herself as, “a Christian and I would just love for you and your children to come to our church!” or the nice gentleman who patted your children on their heads and said, “We have a place at our location for the children to play, so please do come to the meeting.” You may be affiliated with groups who helped you with something, offered their ears when you needed to vent, or gave you money. So you felt like you owed them and they took advantage. You may have been meeting with them for days, weeks, months or even years, but these days you are disgruntled with this person and the organization he or she represents.

I think sometimes we, mothers, are easy targets because we are so wrapped up with our children. People assume we don’t pay their tactics too much attention. For once, we just want to believe that the opportunity will help us and our families. However, what usually happens is we are used to recruit who we know, fork over money and service for cheap products, and if we are “real good” we get pennies back for our efforts.

Meanwhile, your associates are tapping you on the shoulder about their opportunities and before long everyone is going around and around in the same circles spending up cash that ought to be saved for a rainy day. One popular cosmetic company has been the talk of many for years, but how many mothers have came out millionaires from selling their products? Do you know any?

It hurts, doesn’t it? I mean all we wanted was a nice, friendly group of folks we could trust, but something just had to go wrong--“He say, she say” gossip, too many hands out asking for money, lies, and jealous women after whatever they can get! Most problems start because of false promises. Then you quickly learn that the words people say are nothing more than lip service with a dollar sign behind them. We pay these greedy people and then with eyes glazed over, they look for someone else. I mention “eyes glazed over” because if you look real close a money hungry person doesn’t have any real compassion behind their eyes. They talk as if reading from a script. They move their hands almost mechanical. Their laugh is an act. They are so busy moving paper and pens around, you find yourself focusing more on what they are doing then what they are saying. These fake friends are shaking hands with this one or that one, there seems to be no soul behind their eyes. People like this have what I like to call “a one track mind” all they see is what can you do for them, “Will she give me that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?” When all is said and done, you are lucky to get a “thank you” from them.

As a mother, you should be careful associating yourself with these people who suddenly call you “friend.” We often warn our children about their friends, but we need a reminder ourselves. Not every woman who extends her hand out and says, “Nice to meet you, I would love to know more about you…” is our friend. Not every man who says, “I would love to help you and your family…” is a friend.

As I write, I recall a storeowner who calls me “friend.” I earned that title because I am a repeat customer to her not because we sit back and drink lattes together. We aren’t friends. We are business people, but a nice term she chooses to use when she can’t remember my name. She’s not a friend.

There is a woman I know who suddenly becomes “friends” with everyone when she wants family and friends to support her children’s fund-raising events. After they are over, you don’t hear from her until they start up again.

I met another woman who wasn’t interested in getting to know me, but more concerned about my religious affiliation so that she could get me to attend her church. The long-term plan would have been to get me to work in her church. I was her “friend” too. Mind you, she never referred to me by my name.

There are those so-called online friends who seek you out because they have some perverted agenda. It doesn’t matter that you are a mother. Some of these mothers are interested in more than just a girlfriend to talk on the phone. However, in all fairness, I have met some women who I would call on-line acquaintances who periodically talk about their lives. Still, I wouldn’t consider them my friends.

Lastly, there are those fake friends who just want to be a friend, because you have connections. “Doesn’t your husband work at…” or “Do you think you can help me with such and such since you know so and so…”- definitely not my friend.


Children Look Forward to Things, Adults Don't

This summer I learned a thing or two from my active four sons. What I noticed is that they look forward to life experiences from the smallest to the largest, but I, not so much--too busy looking backward.

When my sons awoke each morning during their school vacation, they looked forward to getting ready to go outside, because they had some idea of what was ahead and even if they didn't, they fantasized about the positive. One son imagined more games for his gaming system, another assumed he was going to get more shoes to add to his collection, and the others figured they would get more play cars and trucks to push around. They had some great memories and they wanted to create more! On the other hand, I looked backward to days of scolding, arguing, spending money that I didn't have, and standing in lines I rather not with one of my sons whining about "I want that..."

Each day, almost like clockwork, the children looked forward to going to the mailbox, answering the door, saying "hi" to a man in costume shaking a pizza sign, and running through the park. As for me, I had anxiety issues about the mailbox, didn't want to stop and talk to a costume, and rather avoid the park with all those annoying insects!

I had an internal war between the negative me and the positive me. I didn't look forward to another day with four at times hyperactive boys much less want to open my eyes. You see, I was overwhelmed! I had the perfect plan for everyone and everything at the start of my summer and I was running out of steam trying to keep up with it all! (I was like Martha in the kitchen while Jesus was visiting. She was getting angry at Mary for not helping!)

In my world, what use to look bright and happy was dismal and gray! I was resenting the good and evil was blurring the lines.

Somehow through all of the glee I had saw with my children, I did recall moments with God, so much in fact, I stepped out on faith one day and found a better church to attend. It was that kind of peace (I know some of you know about it) where you are in a storm that others would rather run far away. You know this, when these so-called well-meaning advisers say, "I wouldn't put up with that...the father needs to do more...you need to do something for yourself and forget about those children for awhile..." This time I had to stay. There was no vacation or personal time. No babysitter or person who I could lean on and talk away the blues--I was a big girl now and I had to look beyond my circumstances, right? What's funny? My circumstance was my children so looking beyond them couldn't be done. Rather, I had to re-learn how to look forward to things, not run away from them and they were teaching me how.

Nicholl McGuire


Son tells Mother, "You look like a boy!"

You may have saw the music videos and sang along, "...like a boy..." You know the ones about a woman reversing her role to act like the boyfriend who has hurt her--otherwise known as role reversal. You may not have thought much about these influential female artists trading places with men. They were communicating messages about how women can be just like men--they can get dirty and give them a dose of their own medicine, so we applaud! Those messages didn't mean anything much, right? Well, when the male side of you takes over the feminine, so much in fact your son says, "Hey mom, you look like a boy!" We have a problem!

One day while walking with my son, I was wearing the typical t-shirt and jeans, hair pulled back look I often wear. My son acted like this particular day it was a new look for me and commented how much I looked like a boy. He asked me, "How come you don't wear lipstick, where are your earrings? and how come you don't wear a dress?" I told him I do wear those things, but I didn't know when was the last time I looked like my feminine self. I mean I had been raising boys for awhile now and I guess I just took on some of their styles. I was trying to remember when I traded pants for a dress, then it dawned on me that I gave that up when one too many spots showed up on my clothes from sticky fingers and tear stains. I mean, to me, it was all a bit much for my hectic schedule with them to get all dolled up! But you know what, he had a point, I looked into the mirror one night and stared back at the reflection of "the boy me" and I didn't like it. I was a mother who looked like a boy. I had allowed four male personalities including the ex and the current father's styles to dominate my taste in clothes--it was time for a change.

I could have very well just been happy with what I saw, and told my son, "Why don't you put on a dress and see how it feels?" But he had a enough sense to know that obviously his mother wasn't herself these days. He remembered the feminine me and his alarm alerted me that I was slipping into a person that wasn't really reflecting me. I think sometimes that's what we need, someone who is going to not be accepting of every little thing we do and say. They serve as our warning when we find ourselves falling into some territories that could quite possibly be misconstrued. Maybe that's why some of those lesbians I ran into while walking were so friendly with me.

It seems these days it's all too cool for women (and girls) to wear what men wear, do what men do and even take a man's woman from him. The line between female and male seems to be rapidly blurring. A blending of the feminine and masculine is what some of the "powers that be" want. For some, they revel in the madness of having both a man and a woman in one body complete with supernatural and robotic abilities--a super human of sorts. So what does all of this have to do with the mother who lives in a small town out in the midwest? Well, if she is dressing her son like a girl and treating him like one then taking her daughter and treating her like a boy--alot! She most likely was influenced by the following: her own "tomboy" past, the things she has watched or read that reverse roles, been hurt or sexually abused by someone who she trusted or think that this is what is best for her children. She may have reasoned in her mind, "I see nothing wrong with my son carrying a purse or loving the color pink" as one woman told me. You see, it's all one big experiment orchestrated by people who have spent a lot of time studying the psychology of the brain. The average person doesn't like to read much less study about how to manipulate people into furthering one's agenda. These masterminds start their quest of study by simply asking one question that has a domino affect on others, "What might happen if we raise a boy to act like a girl and a girl to act like a boy?" Before long, you have a society of confused, peculiar people who have absolutely no morals! Once these children become mature there most likely will be a tug of war between what is natural to the female/male and what is unnatural. There is no need for a parent to be saddened even angered by the outcome, he or she created the mess. Then what do most people who create messes do? Try to package them in a way that we will swallow them--I don't think so!

by Nicholl McGuire

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Top Ten Things My Sons Have Done This Summer that Drove Me Batty

In no particular order of importance the following are the issues I had to repeatedly handle and remind my hard-headed sons:

1. Don't come from outside and go into the refrigerator with dirty hands.
2. Refrain from discussing or participating in certain bodily functions at the dinner table.
3. Leave your brothers alone!
4. Avoid listening or watching anything that is sexual in nature. (Too bad I couldn't censor the prostitutes in the entertainment industry or walking along the street!)
5. Stop butting in when adults are having a conversation.
6. Read, write and learn something other than Nintendo DS. (I scheduled time during the day for all to read and complete worksheets.)
7. Stop blaming the other guy when you know you did it!
8. Don't lie to me!
9. Did you do your chores?
10. Did you brush your teeth, wash your face, and take a bath!

May the countdown back to school begin...

Nicholl McGuire

Health to Happiness


My Melt Down - A Mother's Reflection of Anger

A Mother's reflections of wild emotions experienced after her child's death...

What now? My beloved child is dead, yet the world still goes on. No one seems to understand. Everyone wants me to be O.K. "Be happy again!" They want me back to normal, but I don't believe it is entirely out of concern for my welfare. No one knows how to deal with a grieving parent. Everyone is on edge and believes that if they mention my son's name, it will upset me even more. Or, worse it will upset them. Other parents come with their own set of paranoia and fears; they think, "What if something happens to my child?" Friends and family want the "old me" back, some say they can't be at ease around me any longer. Some have gone out of their way to avoid me, to the point of turning their shopping cart the opposite direction in the grocery store aisle... just so they wouldn't to have to speak to me! Still, the few friends who do call say, "We don't like to see you like this. You have to get over it. Go on. You're not fun anymore!" The worst comment I have received was from an older woman at church who said, "I'm so sorry Dear. I know how you feel, my beloved Barney died last year!" (Barney is a DOG! Her Yorkshire Terrier! A damn dog!!!) Don't misunderstand, I love animals. I am a pet lover/ owner and PETA member! Although, I don't understand how could someone compare the loss of a dog to a child? I love my dog too, but I didn't give birth to her. A dog is a wonderful companion. My child however, is part of me, forever connected to my soul. As a Mother; I nourished his body with my own for nine months, he grew under my HEART! It is not the same!

The list of insensitive comments goes on and on! It is better just to turn the phone off. I stopped returning phone calls, emails, or even answering the door! PJ day turned into PJ (pajamas) weekend and I found myself in an internal battle whether to shower or go back to bed. I silently screamed, "I just want to be left alone!" Yet, the next moment I yearn for someone to be here to listen and understand. Wishing for someone who would not criticize or judge, just allow me to grieve naturally! (Whatever, that happens to be at the moment!) I have days where all I do is think of my departed child, I search through the photos and drag out more boxes of precious memories. Then I have other days where, "I don't want to see anyone or anything that reminds me! Not necessary of him, just that he's gone!" My emotions fluctuate like the changing winds. One moment I am calm and serene, in a state of denial. The next moment, "I am so mad, No matter what, I feel so desperately alone! I want to die, too. I can't breathe! I could KILL somebody!"

Unless, you are a grieving parent you cannot possibly understand the range of sensations swirling so intensely inside. So wild are these contrasting emotions that it feels as if I was a violent volcano just waiting to erupt! Who do you complain to? Who do you scream to, "It not fair. It's too soon. I want my baby, back!" Society dictates that we remain calm, even reserved. Yet, when a child dies, there should be some amendment, some forum or some way to SCREAM out... "I'm as MAD as HELL and I won't stand for this! It's not FAIR!" But, alas... Grieving parents usually end up suppressing their feelings or lashing out indiscriminately.

Which brings me to my personal outburst. I decided to share this story, because my grief counselor, Joe asked me if he could share my story with other grieving parents he works with. He felt it was a perfect demonstration of spontaneous rage which while is not a good thing; it is according to Dr. Joe, "Perfectly normal!"

Here's my disclaimer: To hear Dr. Joe tell it, you would have thought I hogtied and pulverized a poor defenseless geriatric. (LOL). Here's Dr. Joe's version according to his clinical notes he shared with me.

Received call from client (Dawn), who was hysterically crying and sobbing, while driving. Client had a fight at a gas station. She scared a poor old woman half to death, who was "not getting done fast enough." I could hear the frustration and terror in her voice! Provided emotional support by having Dawn pull over and practice breathing techniques to calm herself. Advised Dawn to go straight home and contact me later if necessary. - Grief Specialist

I certainly don't like the way my grief counselor retells my story. That doesn't show me in the best light, but it is his impression. I still tell him, "It was an argument, not a fight! To explain further, this 'fight' took place only a few weeks after my son, Jimmy died of an Epileptic Seizure while away at college. I was still vacillating between denial and rage. Most days I barely existed. It was in the "Stop... the World; I want to get off stage!" I was barely functioning... I slept on and off all day long, but lay awake throughout the entire night with debilitating heart-stopping grief!

Although, I selfishly wanted to join my son in death, I had other responsibilities. Some I could ignore like taking a leave of absence from work; suspended my college classes (taking a semester off) and allowed my perfectly clean home to be a lot less clean and perfect. Although, as a Mother of four, I could not suspend Motherhood. While I kept tabs on my two grown sons, trying to reach out and offer comfort, I could not ignore the needs of my daughter. Katelyn (age 13 years old) needed her Mommy more than ever. After all, she too was suffering from the death of her big brother. My concern for my daughter, turned into obsession. At thirteen, she really is a very capable young lady. Yet, through my distorted haze of grief I became overly concern about her welfare. I was so full of anxiety that my shoulder muscles tensed, my heart race and I began perspiring profusely. Yuck, I was a dirty sweaty mess. I usually pride myself in my appearance, this in itself was upsetting to me, as a woman I tend to be a bit vain.

Back to the gas station, argument... Not Fight! It was one of those days when I didn't shower, eat or function. I honestly don't remember what I did that day until I looked at the clock. "Damn it!" I was late picking Katie up from school. She had forgotten her cell phone at home and the school's phone line rang busy. I had no way to reach her and tell her I was running late. Dread rang throughout my body. All sort of scenarios ran through my mind. What if she starts walking? What if she goes home with Zoey? Is she stressing about this? Under normal circumstances, Katie is more than competent, but in my bizarre confusion... I imagined her crying and upset... feeling lost and abandoned!

On the way to the school I realized I didn't even have enough gas fumes to make it down the road. I had to stop at the first gas station. Once, there I found lines 3 and 4 cars deep for every pump. "Oh, No... Katie! She needs me! I can't reach her!" I tried calling the school again, but I think they purposely take the phones off during dismissal. Anyway, I was working myself up to a full blown panic attack. My heart continue to race, I could barely breath, my hands were sweaty and most. I kept thinking, "My child needs me and I'm not there!"

I literally prayed for a pump to be available. Finally the old woman directly in front of my car finished pumping her gas, put the pump handle back and screwed her gas cap back into place. "Thank God!" I said to myself and I readied myself to pull up to the pump. I couldn't believe what happened next. With a gas station over run with motorist, she left her car to walk across the median to chat with another old woman. They casually laughed and talked while the second woman began to pump her gas.

This is what happened next:
1) I honked.
2) I was ignored.
3) I honked again.
4) The two ladies looked and laughed at me.
5) I honked again.
6) I was ignored, AGAIN!
7) I rolled down my window and said, "Please... I am in a hurry."
8) The 1st old lady reluctantly returned to her car.
9) I waited.
10) The old lady looked in her rear view mirror at me and laughed some more.
11) I honked.
12) She laughed, AGAIN.
13) I got out of the car. I knocked on her window and begged, "Please, I am very late getting my
daughter from school!"
14) I returned to my car to ready myself to pull up to the pump again.
15) She started putting on make-up.
16) I gasped in frustration and disbelief!
17) Another, pump opened up and I maneuvered over to it.
18) I ran into the gas station to 'prepay' for my gas.
19) The old woman was still sitting in her car, laughing at me... Not moving.
20) I took my car keys and threw them past her windshield. At least that's what I told the police.
21) Actually, they hit the top of her car and bounced off.
22) I saw her writing down my tag number.
23) I finished pumping my gas and left to get my daughter.
24) I began crying hysterically.
25) I couldn't believe how cruel the world was.

By the time I arrived at my daughter's school, I was a mess. Twenty-five minutes had passed and she was busy talking and laughing with friends. She didn't even seem to notice how late I was. Katie was fine. I however was inconsolable and frantic. I called Dr. Joe, and he tried to calm and console me. His priority was to get me off the road. I pulled into a park and Joe just let me 'Cry it out.' He made me promise never to drive when I felt this much anxiety, he said have a "Stay at home day!"

In the end, I created this crazed situation because of my irrational paranoia due to overwhelming grief. It just hit me all of a sudden. I made a bad situation worse. Within an hour of leaving the gas station, I received a phone call from the local police department. They were very alarmed because the old woman called and claimed that I beat on her window and tried to get into her car to harm her! I explained that, I was very emotional because of my son's death, but I assured them I made no attempt to enter her car or harm her in anyway. I even suggested they retrieve the gas station video, which would clearly show I never touch her door handle. I was informed that they had already been to my apartment, (while I was crying hysterically at the park). They told me that my apartment manager confirmed the death of my son and that they would not be pursuing this further. Whew!

In retrospect, even though anyone would have been upset by the encounter with this old woman, I allowed the situation to push me over the edge. Unfortunately, due to my grief and desperate state of mind, I was unreasonably concerned for my daughter's welfare and I took the rude old woman's actions, personally!

Can be reached at: dawnmariesaul@yahoo.com


Transferring Skills From Motherhood Back to the Workplace

You've taken a career break for children and now you're returning to work. Whilst many mothers feel that time out automatically equals losing their career skills, in fact the very opposite can be true.

Motherhood is, in fact, practically guaranteed to increase your skills set.

The transferable skills you develop as a parent are no different in variety or value to the type of skills that can be acquired during other key stages of your life and career, such as marriage or your first full-time job. Being a stay-home parent is, after all, absolutely one of the greatest challenges there is.

Like any form of care, childcare takes it out of you emotionally, physically and mentally-especially when the children are your own! Successfully looking after your children involves continuous multi-tasking, managing your energy levels and maintaining a laser focus, not to mention clear goal setting, calmness in the face of emergencies and the ability to think outside the box.

It's really not a stretch to see how all of these skills are vital in a busy, pressurised workplace.

In an ideal world, you would be equally adept at all the above competencies. In reality, the skills that can be acquired through parenting are so innumerable that no one will have them all. Even if you did, not all of these aptitudes will be appropriate or necessary to your particular line of work. So how do you identify which skills you've picked up and whether or not they'll be useful in your work life? Here are a few ways:

  • Get feedback from others around you as they will see how you've developed.
  • Self-reflection -take time to think about which new skills you've developed. Try making a list of actions you take during the week and then listing the skills they deploy. Consider the settings, pressures and essential outcomes. What did you do, why did you do it and what was the result? Where else could these actions be valued?
  • Think about which skills you're using whilst you're actually using them, then consider how they could be used elsewhere. For example, the next time you're making up a bedtime story with your child, acknowledge the fact that this takes imagination and communication skills, which can be converted into workplace creativity and efficient teamwork.

Of course, it's all very well thinking about using your new skills once you're back at your old role, but what if you're not actually going back there? What if you're instead looking for a new position, or even career? The lessons you've learnt will be just as valuable. Creatively use your parenting experiences to sell yourself to prospective employers. Consider seeking out voluntary opportunities where you can use your newfound skills in the wider world as well as build up experience relevant to your desired career path. Get involved with a charity or offer yourself pro bono work to those you know. Training and professional development are also options which must be seriously considered; it's worth investing in yourself.

Here are some more tips for pursing a new career direction after a career break:

  • A key element of self discovery is to review past achievements and the especial skills demonstrated in effecting those successes.
  • Ask yourself what your passion is, then consider how to get paid for what you love!
  • Get hold of tools such as Tom Rath's StrengthsFinder; the book is available online and in good bookshops
  • Gather more information about your specific career interests by networking and making contacts. Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions. If you decide to set up your own business, take huge confidence from the fact that motherhood has definitely taught you how to juggle tasks and seize opportunities!
  • To brush up on specific skills before returning to work, there are plenty of ways to do this.
  • Take advantage of the many adult learning opportunities there are at local further education colleges. A directory such as Hot courses gives you an idea of the variety of classes, subjects, time frames and price ranges.
  • Get a friend to train you in a specific skill in exchange for you doing something to help them. Practice at home and go to the library to get the relevant books out if necessary. The Dummies series covers almost everything.
  • Still not confident that your parenting skills are going to help you back at work? Don't expect too much of yourself-take everything one step at a time, in bite-sized chunks.
  • Recognise that some goals need to be worked towards and will not be arrived at with one leap. It doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop. In the words of the late American football coach Vincent Lombardi, "Winners never quit, quitters never win".
  • Reflect on those other key stages of your life where testing circumstances demanded reasoned confidence in one's own ability and where success was achieved.
  • Focus on networking to find people who've done what you want to do and then talk to them about how they did it. Ask intelligent questions.

Yes, identifying and transferring your parenting skills to the workplace is not an automatic process, but with enough thought, preparation, patience and action it is possible. And the real prize? Absolute recognition that taking a career break to parent children can truly be one of the best career moves you will ever make!

Mary Cope is a Career Guide at Position Ignition, a very personal careers advisory service for professionals. Position Ignition works with individuals through their careers transitions supporting them through to achieving their goals. Mary is interested in taking careers advice to the next level!

Website: http://www.positionignition.com

Blog: http://www.positionignition.com/blog


Struggle and Triumph - Mother and Daughter

I am the proudest mother in the auditorium. I sit among many other proud mothers, fathers and guests. It is my daughter's first ballet recital. I watch my daughter dance onto the stage with determination, pride and grace. I am in awe of my daughter.

My daughter, Lisa, is 30 years old. She is a fighter. She has a congenital muscle disorder. Her ballet class began as a substitute for traditional physical therapy. It has become therapy for her spirit as well. I sit in the front near the stage and I think back, back through the years of her life...

Her story began in the wee morning hours of February 19th, 1974. She entered the world following a full-term, unremarkable pregnancy. Lisa was a healthy infant weighing in at a chubby eight pounds eleven ounces. She appeared normal in all ways. Lisa was my second child. Her sister was four at the time of Lisa's birth. During infancy, Lisa had a minor incident of swallowing difficulty that quickly subsided. For awhile, everything seemed sunny and bright in our lives. Soon, however, I began to notice that Lisa could not hold her head up as well as other babies her age. She seemed almost like a rag doll. Her developmental milestones were becoming delayed. Lisa finally rolled over on her own at eight months. Soon, she was nine months old and could not sit up. I began to worry. When I brought my concerns to our pediatrician, he said that I should not compare my two daughters. So, I waited.

However, I truly believe that mothers know when something is amiss with their child. Lisa finally sat on her own, but leaned uncomfortably forward. Her arms and. especially, her wrists were noticeably thin and weak. Around her first birthday, we focused on crawling. Her sister tried demonstrating how to crawl. We had no luck. Lisa's arms could not support her weight. Now, I was past worried. Back we went to the pediatrician and he still insisted that we should wait and see. At this time, the doctor mentioned "hypotonia", a word I had never heard before. Hypotonia means weak muscle tone. Hypotonia would become the enemy. Wait and see was not one of my strong points. Shortly before her first birthday, I began to notice Lisa's eyes were rolling around. So, the first specialist on our long journey would be the eye doctor. Lisa has gone to the same ophthalmologist for 26 years. He became a great friend and supporter. Lisa's eye muscles were also weak from hypotonia.

To this day, she can only focus with one eye at a time. We celebrated Lisa's first birthday and still, no crawling, standing or walking. Her neck and arms seemed weak. She was alert and responsive in other areas. Panic was setting in. Urged by my relentless questions of when, why and how, Lisa's pediatrician was finally ready to take action. We were on our way to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. We saw several specialists and blood tests were run. We did not get a real diagnosis at that time. They said she was developmentally delayed in fine and gross motor development and appeared hypotonic. I heard the hypotonia word again! They explained that she had weak muscle tone in "all" her muscles.

At age two, Lisa was referred to our local Easter Seal Society where she received physical therapy and began making slow, but steady progress. Easter Seal's program literally rescued us from despair. We made many more trips to St. Christopher's Hospital receiving no additional information. At one point, a doctor told me that she might never be able to read. Of course, I was determined that Lisa would prove him wrong. She became an avid reader. At age three, Lisa was tested cognitively by Easter Seal's psychologist who was on the staff of Temple University Hospital. He told us she was about six months behind the norm. He informed me that she could begin East Seal's preschool on a trial basis for six months. I wondered immediately what he meant by trial basis. Did the psychologist think she would not fit into the program? I really let my imagination run away with me and wondered what I would do if she could not attend Easter Seal's school. Lisa began school and thrived and I received much needed support from the staff and a wonderful group of parents. After one month, the school psychologist let me know how great she was doing and her placement would be permanent. Along with preschool, she received physical, occupational and speech therapy. She made great strides but never did master crawling.

It was very difficult for Lisa to speak as her facial; mouth and tongue muscles were very involved. Her tongue protruded when she was tired. I learned that she would need intensive speech therapy. We, also, noticed that her head tilted to one side and that one shoulder was held higher than the other, this due to curvature of the spine. This has left her with a chronic neck problem. Also, one toe on each foot protrudes slightly. Despite all of the obstacles in her path, Lisa remained a healthy, happy, cute little girl. I began taking her to clinics at Easter Seals to see their specialists. At one of these clinics, held while she was in preschool, we got the diagnosis of benign hypotonia. In other words, she had weak muscle tone that would not get progressively worse. She remained at Easter Seals through kindergarten. A few months before her fifth birthday, Lisa walked across her classroom floor to see Santa Claus. Everyone applauded her and I could not contain my tears of joy.

Around this time, I was divorced from Lisa's father and soon remarried a wonderful man who adopted both my daughters. With my new husband and his three daughters; Lisa, now, had a large caring family and extended family. Bob was wonderful with Lisa and fought her battles right along with me. Our next challenge was the public school system. School was a never ending battle for Lisa's rights and best interests versus the school district's lack of time, money and flexibility. My husband and I became advocates for Lisa. Our request that an extremely heavy bathroom door be modified for Lisa's use, in turn, helped many of her classmates. Many times, we felt that teachers just didn't want to go the extra half-mile for Lisa. And more times, that not, the school staff had not even taken the basic effort of reading her file.

Middle school was her most discouraging time and mine. Children at that age can be very cruel. Additionally, at the start of middle school in 7th grade, Lisa was placed in the same class with children having severe emotional and behavioral problems. Soon I discovered that this class had only one reading group which was at the first grade level. Lisa could already read way beyond that level. I told the special education administrator that this class was totally unacceptable for Lisa. Her teacher and the administrator disagreed with me.
This was a very stressful time for us. I believe that reading is a fundamental tool for life. If you can read, your horizons are limitless. I finally convinced the school psychologist to help me. But, It took three months to move Lisa out of this class.

In high school, the attitude of the other students improved. However, we soon found that Special Education in high school did not include your basics such as; history, geography, English, spelling, science, math or discussion of current events. In our school district, the emphasis was put on obtaining employment after high school in the food service industry. I fought to have Lisa mainstreamed in several subjects. I felt that she should have every opportunity to reach her own potential not the school district's idea of her potential. She did very well in these classes which contributed much to her self-esteem. However, she received little or no support from the special education staff. Several teachers had discouraged our endeavor to have Lisa mainstreamed and voiced their opinion, in Lisa's presence, that she would fail. The lack of appropriate placement, lack of individualized academic goals, and a discouraging teacher attitude cost Lisa a great deal. Despite all the problems, Lisa graduated from high school with her class and attended the senior prom.

I am a firm believer in continuing education and am still purchasing educational software for Lisa to make up for the school district's lack of emphasis on basic academics. Lisa loves to read, loves history, and speaks out on issues relating to the disabled. We, determinedly, include Lisa in family discussions of current events and political views.

In 1997, we took Lisa to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for an updated exam and genetic testing. Her doctor was a neurologist/geneticist. He confirmed her diagnosis as Benign Congenital Hypotonia (BCH). She was the first adult he had ever seen with this disorder. He told us that doctors normally see babies born with this disorder. Usually, the disease worsens and the child's weak heart and lung muscles collapse before their second birthday. However, our neurologist feels that since Lisa has continued to grow stronger that her disease will remain benign. Lisa's genetic testing was negative, however, that does not necessarily mean that this disease is not genetic.

Far from it. Some distinctive attributes of this muscle syndrome appear to be familial. Lisa has a nasal sounding voice with a high palate in her mouth and, after examination, so do I. I very much wanted to pursue the cause and the genetics of this disease. Therefore, our neurologist sent Lisa for a brain MRI. Through this, we discovered that she had a tiny area in her cerebellum that was empty. It is the precise area of the brain that controls muscle tone and fine motor development. The neurologist suggested that I should consider having a brain MRI which I did. My MRI was negative. Officially, the geneticist would neither confirm nor rule out that this disease is genetic in nature. However, he led us to believe that Benign Congenital Hypotonia is genetic. Lisa and I both support stem cell research and feel hopeful that we will soon see great progress made in treating brain and spinal cord injuries and malfunctions.

Today, Lisa is a thin young lady weighing approximately 100 pounds with a thin face. She has speech and fine motor impairments. However, she wanted to work and we did not want her sitting at home with nothing constructive to fill her time. We received help from the PA Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. They arranged for her to have a job coach to take her on interviews, help fill out applications and generally run interference with prospective employers. Her job coach became our good friend.

Lisa works at Blockbuster Video part-time, four days a week and loves her job. Her ballet lesson once a week is a high point for her. Lisa has been a bridesmaid in all of her sisters' weddings and helps care for her 13 nieces and nephews. Her social life is lacking and transportation is sometimes a problem. She and I both get disappointed, frustrated and even angry. So, we try to take a break from the problem and then continue our struggles again. We do not recognize quit or give up.

I will continue to support community, school, state and federal programs that help Lisa and others like her. Lisa and I feel that we need to demand rights for the disabled and support continuing research with the hope of making the quality of everyone's life better.

As the mother of this extraordinary prima ballerina, I have had many wonderful, life-altering experiences and met many remarkable people. It has been extraordinary! This is our story. Lisa and I hope that it will help someone else.

For More Information:
Department of Neurology
Hospital of the University of PA
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Easter Seal Society
230 West Monroe Street
Suite 1800
Chicago. IL

The Benign Congenital Hypotonia Site

Donna Katzmar is the mother of four adult daughters and grandmother of nine. She is an activist for "special" needs children and adults.

525America.com (Skye Associates)
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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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