Category Archives: Proud Mama

The Helpers

During a week like this, when bombs filled with shrapnel explode at the finish line of the iconic Boston Marathon, our federal government fails to represent the people they were elected to serve, an explosion levels a town in Texas, letters laced with ricin are delivered to Senate offices and the White House, and an entire metropolitan area – and our nation – is terrorized, we must, as Mr. Rogers suggests, find the helpers.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'”  — Fred Rogers

At six and four years old, my kids are still young enough to be shielded from the news (#gratefulmama).  I don’t have to tell them about bad people and scary things that happen in the world, and I don’t have to explain to them how to look for helpers (yet).  But, believe me, I’m still searching for them.  I’m searching for them because I need to see them.

Thankfully, I’ve found a bunch.

Like Team Newtown Strong, a group of parents from Newtown who ran the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon to honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook massacre last December.

Like the courageous volunteers, first responders, police, doctors and nurses, and concerned citizens who ran toward the blasts to help victims.

Like the marathon runners who ran straight from the finish line to nearby hospitals to donate blood.

Like the generous Bostonians who gave money, clothing, food, and shelter to cold, hungry, lost, and stranded runners.

Like Newtown father, Mark Barden, who lost his seven-year-old son, Daniel, at Sandy Hook and vowed on the White House lawn to keep fighting for common sense gun control because, in his own words, “we will always be here because we have no other choice.”

Like Gabby Giffords for whom speaking is difficult but made her feelings crystal clear when she wrote in the New York Times, “I’m furious.”

Like the first responders and volunteer fire fighters who raced into the fire in West, Texas.

As a blogger, I spend a lot of time reading other blogs.  I just happened to discover a new one recently called Chasing Rainbows where author Kate Leong writes about her journey to raise her children, including one with special needs.  A week ago, just when I started reading her (beautifully written) blog, her five-year-old with special needs, Gavin, died.  I hadn’t even read enough to know what his disabilities were, but in the end, a series of seizures and cardiac arrest took his young life.

Like Kate Leong who asked her readers to honor her son’s life by doing one simple thing – to help someone in need.

Like little Gavin who in death has already save a life with his kidney donation.

On Friday, I attended the Women’s Fund’s Annual Power of the Purse Luncheon.


The Women’s Fund is Miami-Dade’s only organization directing all its energy toward creating equal opportunity, access, and influence for women and girls.  Leadership development, reproductive justice, economic security, and freedom from violence are just a few of the issues in which the Women’s Fund invests.  In a place like Miami, where the community is diverse and the socio-economic, ethnic, and gender disparities are enormous, an organization like the Women’s Fund, quite simply, saves lives.

Their luncheon brings together more than a thousand people each year and celebrates an entire community of women and men who make a difference in the lives of women and girls.  While madness unfolded in Boston on Friday, I sat in a ballroom in Miami bursting at the seams with helpers.

And purses (#shopaholicmama).  Oh, the purses!  A silent auction, including to-die-for bags and purses, has become a hallmark of the luncheon.

Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo



Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg



There were tons of other silent auction items, too, including this one, which had my name all over it!


Alas, there were no owls to bid on (but I’m not angry or anything).

The Purse is definitely a powerful catalyst for change. For me, though, the real power is the People.

One of the speakers at the luncheon was a teenage girl who beat the odds and broke the cycle of poverty, abuse, and teen pregnancy that swallows girls whole in her neighborhood.  Another was a woman who fought her way back to freedom and economic independence after a sexual assault in the military led her to addiction, crime, and incarceration.

Yeah, as it turns out, finding helpers was easy.

Like the two courageous women at the luncheon who became helpers by merely giving voice to their stories.

Like the hundreds (thousands?) of Bostonians who took to the streets on Friday night to cheer for the police.

Like the stranger at Blue Martini in Fort Lauderdale who bought a round of drinks for everyone at the bar, including perfect strangers, because he wanted to remind people that even in the midst of great suffering, we must remember to experience joy and live life to the fullest.

Like my six-year-old son who gave his ice cream money to a friend at school who forgot to bring his own (#proudmama).

But what about now?  Now that the mayhem is over, the adrenaline has receded, and regular television programming has resumed, will it be as easy to find the helpers?  Will we even be looking?

At Friday night’s press conference after the second Marathon bombing suspect was finally apprehended, I was struck by something said by Col. Timothy Alben of the Massachusetts State Police.  He said, “We’re exhausted.”

Exhausted, indeed.  But let’s keep looking for helpers, okay?  And let’s keep helping.

For Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier.  For their families.  For the injured in Boston.  For the victims and their families in Newtown.  For West, Texas.  For Gavin.  For women and girls.  For our kids.  For each other.

Did you look for the helpers this week?


Filed under death, fear, Grateful Mama, guns, Proud Mama, Shopaholic Mama, Uncategorized

A Letter To My Dog

Dear Harry,

Happy eighth birthday! In dog years, that makes you forty-five and my wise elder, which suggests that perhaps you should be writing a letter to me. Since you have no opposable thumbs, though, I’ll continue.


It has recently come to my attention that you won’t be here forever. The gray hairs sprouting above your eyes are one clue, but it’s something Riley said a few weeks ago that really got me thinking (and, of course, worrying) about it. He said, “Mommy, when I grow up I will take care of Harry.”

This touching declaration of love and friendship (from an almost four-year-old) made me a very Proud Mama. It also made me cry on and off for the rest of the day because, my Harry-Barry/Bo-Berry/H-to-the-Berry, you won’t be here when Riley is grown up.

I simply want to thank you being in my life.

I’ll never forget how little you were when we first met you.


For weeks, I feared I would sit on you or roll over on top of you in my sleep (because even though I didn’t want you to sleep in my bed, you weren’t going to have it any other way.)

I’ll always cherish how you instantly loved Dylan when he came into our lives and how you treated him just like a little brother, sibling rivalry and all!


I remember when you slept with your head on my belly when you knew I was pregnant with Riley (before I did), and I’m grateful for the grace with which you welcomed him into our home when you knew full well that it meant you’d receive even less attention (if that was possible).


You let me embarrass you.


This is from a Father’s Day card photo shoot (from before we had human children and we had nothing better to do than put a neck tie on our dog and force him to pose for pictures).

You let me dress you in a bee costume for Halloween.

Harry the Bee

Year after year after year.

Harry the Bee

Harry the Bee

You even let me put you in an argyle sweater (dry clean only!) once in a while.


(It was cold.)

To say you prepared me for motherhood is an understatement.

You taught me responsibility. After about a week of being your Mama, I secretly wished I could give you back. (Sorry.) Taking care of you was so much harder than I imagined! If it makes you feel any better, now you’re the easy one.

You taught me that love is in the details. Do you know that I can make you fall asleep just by rubbing your front legs?

You taught me fine art of guilt and blame. Shortly after your arrival, I accidentally dropped you headfirst on the concrete of our front walkway. I cried for a week straight.

You also taught me forgiveness. After that terrifying fall, you came back into my arms.

You taught me how to handle a crisis panic. Like the time you had a bone lodged in your throat blocking your breathing and I had to race you to the vet (through two school zones!) to have it removed. Or the time when you ate a rib bone and an x-ray revealed that you had dozens of bone shards traveling through your digestive tract. Or the time when you vomited from anesthesia (when you were neutered) (sorry) and – surprise! – dozens of unchewed, whole Greenies came flying out of your mouth. If it’s true that every family has an “emergency room” kid, you are definitely mine.

The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like me, your skin is sensitive and you suffer from anxiety. And like your brothers, you occasionally torture me with your picky eating (what kind of dog turns down ground beef?) and persnickety personality. Like yesterday when I presented you with your birthday present – a soft, cozy new bed handpicked especially for you – and you weren’t all that impressed.


If you could talk, you would’ve said (just like your brothers), “What else did you get me?”


Still not diggin’ it.


This was just to spite me, right?

Eventually, you embraced it.


I think you love it, actually, but I respect your stubbornness. (You get that from me, too.) And at the end of the night, I’m glad you decided to cuddle with Mike and me in our bed, which is exactly where you belong.

Happy Birthday, Harry. Wishing you many, many more!



Your Mama


Filed under birthday, Harry, motherhood, Proud Mama