good samaritan #11

Saw CBS hit show “Undercover Boss” last night, and realized I had to write about this particular segment when I saw that my husband was tearing up along with me, routine for me, not for him. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the reality show, it follows a corporate CEO who shows up at company work sites to witness the day-to-day operations, first hand.

Kim Schaefer, CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, is the first female boss to do the show. Changing her appearance, with a new haircut and color, she, with camera crew in tow, pretended to be a stay-at-home mom being filmed for a reality TV show. Dressed down, that is, not in her usual suit and high-heels, Schaefer buddied up with an employee in each of the following areas: the day care center, the water park, the front desk and the restaurant. I’m pretty sure some, if not all, were at different locations, of which there are 10 throughout the country.

As a result of her findings, Schaefer reported back to her management team that  no drastic changes needed to be made, but there were things that needed tweaking. Front desk registration took too long, sometimes up to 15 minutes, causing long lines to form. The sweltering heat in the water park was great for guests, but unbearable for employees. Schaefer asked managers responsible for these departments to look into making the necessary modifications. She went on to say the company should look for ways to acknowledge its appreciation to its employees, for their dedication and great service. Credits at the conclusion of “Undercover Boss” noted that Great Wolf Resorts is now rewarding all its employees by allowing them free access to any of its locations for family vacations.

Schaefer acknowledged that while her motivation to go undercover was prompted by her position as CEO, her on-the-job experience as working stiff reverberated with her as that of a working mom. “My expectations were that I was going to come in as a CEO and look at it through the eyes of the CEO…It ended up being about the people and me as a working mom.”

At the show’s start, Schaefer was shown with her family, her husband who enjoys being a stay-at-home dad to 2 teenage children, a son and a daughter. Schaefer acknowledges that she is passionate about working, that she couldn’t imagine not dedicating herself to a job outside the home. In observing the family dynamics, it’s obvious she is a loving mom and appreciative spouse. She looks and behaves nothing like the domineering, sharp-tongued, controlling Miranda Priestly in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Unlike Meryl Streep’s character, Kim Schaeffer seems perfectly capable of being a top-notch CEO while maintaining the warmth of a normal, human being who loves her husband, children, and yes, even her employees. In the “great reveal,” Schaeffer invites to corporate headquarters, the 4 Great Wolf Resorts employees whom she shadowed during filming. Each arrives separately for a meeting with the CEO, unsuspecting that they’ve already met, albeit under very different circumstances.

I couldn’t help but think, as I’ve thought before, that moms would make the best bosses, the best leaders. That’s not always true, as in Sarah Palin’s case, in my opinion. But Kim Schaefer was as warm and unassuming in her CEO attire, as she had been in a camp counselor’s get-up, aquatic assistant’s shorts, waitress’ uniform, and receptionist’s drab garb. Schaefer spoke from the heart, reaching across her desk to hold the employee’s hands in hers. Her appreciation for their service was genuine, as were her tears. Her words weren’t “office speak.” They were the language of compassion, of empathy, for the plight of the working man and woman. 

To each of the four, Schaefer made a personal gift in addition to promotions and pay raises. For the mom who supervised kids in day care, her daughter was given a full scholarship to college. The young man who oversaw aquatic operations would realize his dream of becoming a pilot, with fully paid flying lessons. The receptionist who suffered with knee problems because of a bad fall would not only have surgery, but would be guaranteed the day shift so that she could better parent her children as a single mom, and some extended time off to be with them.

The most heart-wrenching to watch were the tears shed between Schaefer and the waitress, who’d lost a 9-year-old daughter years earlier in a car accident. Of all her employees, this woman resonated the most with her boss who realized how precious her own daughter, and son, were to her. The waitress’ positive attitude about life, “I live each day as if it were my last,” and “I do my job, regardless of the size of my tips,” was an amazing testament to her character. The fact that she worked double shifts to support her family, including a baby, moved Schaeffer to cut her employee’s work hours without reducing her pay, by making her a floor supervisor. In this capacity she would impart valuable customer service experience to others.  And she was also given extended vacation leave to enjoy her family.

As I said before both my husband and I wiped a few tears from our eyes, watching CEO Kim Schaefer interact with her employees. I even said to him, he should keep his eyes and ears open if he ever heard that someone was looking to hire an amazing person to run their operation.

from my lips to bill gates ears…hugmamma.

Following are the 10 Great Wolf Lodges and their locations:

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Poconos PA, Scrotun, PA
  • Grapevine TX
  • Charlotte, Grand Mound WA
  • Mason OH
  • Williamsburg VA
  • Kansas City KS
  • Traverse City MI
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Sandusky OH     
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catholic education, a good thing

Father Brian was not on hand today. He and the pastor of Mary Queen of Peace, in Sammamish, switched parishes today so that our pastor could promote St. Joseph’s School and Catholic education, as an alternative to public schools. A charismatic public speaker, I’ve no doubt Father Brian got his point across, and some.

Of course my antennae were on full alert, ascertaining that Father’s “star” is indeed, “on the rise.” As a result of his impending 3-year review, I’m almost certain he will be moving onward and upward to a larger parish. He is such an asset to the Church’s growth with his youth, energy, intelligence, leadership, people skills, and passion for his calling. He deserves advancement where he can realize the utilization of all he has to offer. I will miss him, as will his entire congregation. But there is need for men like Father Brian in transforming the Catholic Church into a religious institution for today. It has long outgrown its facade of centuries past. We are overdue for another ecumenical movement.

Then again, I may be “barking up the wrong tree.” My husband will definitely be smirking if I’m wrong, and Father stays put. It won’t be the first time. Once I almost convinced my daughter a woman dressed like a beautiful gypsy, sashaying in front of a cathedral in Florence, Italy, was a “lady-of-the-night.” I think I said “p——–e”, but this is a religious post after all. I say almost, because a little later my daughter pointed out that the woman was carrying a flag, leading a group of tourists. That was my daughter’s “aha” moment, meaning mom doesn’t know what the heck she’s talking about. From then on my grown daughter  has questioned my word as being the gospel truth. In fact, I think she starts out thinking I’m guilty until proven otherwise. I jest of course,… at least I think.

As part of today’s homily, a homemade video was shown depicting a day in the life of the students at St. Joseph’s. It was charming, reminding me of my days as a Catholic school student in Maui. Attending St. Anthony Girl’s School from first grade through my senior year in high school, gave me the foundation I needed to overcome barriers that were part of my reality as a person born into poverty. The Maryknoll nuns not only taught us academic skills with which to earn our living as adults, but they imbued us with lifelong values. We graduated as well-rounded young women, prepared to take our places as citizens of the larger community. In today’s world, that kind of education would be a priceless commodity.

I left Mass today, committed to making a donation to both Catholic schools, St. Anthony’s and St. Joseph’s. Just as children need to practice their 3 Rs–aRithmetic, wRiting, and Reading–everyday, so too they need to practice their values.

treating others as we would have them treat us…should be a lifelong lesson…hugmamma.  

  

egyptians, no different

I haven’t as yet delved into what the media is printing about the current Egyptian uprising. I only know what I see and hear on TV. At the moment, until things resolve themselves one way or the other, it’s a lot of information to digest. Trying to decipher what I think of everything isn’t something I can wrap my brain around right now. The outcome of their fate ultimately rests in the hands of the Egyptians themselves, from the top politico to the peon in the street.

The one thought that runs through my mind is that because of technology, a combination of television, computers, mobile devices, the internet and its myriad of tools, people around the world, living in hovels or palaces, can witness what occurs in other countries. And like snapshots retained in our memories, what we see can fester in our subconsciences for a long time, until we decide to act upon them.

It’s my personal feeling that both President Obama and the Tea Party Movement have been catalysts in what we are now witnessing in Egypt and Tunisia. While there are those who disagree, I think the President has shown himself to be a champion of the middle and lower classes. From health care reform embracing 13,000,000 Americans without insurance to speaking up for better education for the less fortunate, he has shown himself to be the son of a woman who died of cancer while fighting for health insurance coverage.

The Tea-Partiers have successfully shown millions at home and abroad, that the masses can unite via the internet to unseat politicians, replace them with candidates of their choosing, and ultimately, influence government decisions. Heady stuff for a movement started by 2 Atlanta housewives, Amy Kremer and Jenny Beth Martin, strangers to one another, who were stewing over the economic downturn and its negative impact upon their lives. (My post of 11/3/10, “two housewives,”founders of tea party movement”.) Power to the people has never been more overwhelmingly proven than in what these 2 ordinary citizens initiated, to have it become the Tea Party Movement as we know it today, a force with which to be reckoned.

History has proven time and again, that people will rise up to challenge whom they perceive as their oppressors. We who enjoy the benefits of an American democracy can do so far more rationally than countries ruled by dictators. We can protest without provoking full-out civil war. I think we learned our lesson a long time ago under another president I admire, Abraham Lincoln. He too was not a favorite of all Americans, but he did the best he could, according to the principles in which he believed, one being that all people, including slaves, should live freely.

The Egyptians, and Tunisians, want to choose how to live their own lives. Like us they want to earn a living, provide for their families, take pleasure in small things, and give their children hope for a better future. Not so much to ask for really. In fact, they just want what we Americans already enjoy.

I may have oversimplified the unrest that rages in the Middle East. But sometimes the experts complicate matters by interjecting too much hyperbole. I’m not an expert, just an ordinary housewife who understands that people like me just want to make a decent life for our families. Not a big deal really, but, in fact, it is a really big deal when we’ve only got one chance to live our best lives.

people the world over want the same things…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…hugmamma.

a special relationship, daughter and father

Readers of my blog from the start, know that I was fatherless as a child, my dad having died when I was one. Age 30 at the time, my mom never remarried. I don’t know how she felt about remaining a widow, but I remember wishing she had a husband. I would have happily helped her pick one.

When my mom worked as laundress, part-time cook, and sometime-chaperone at a Catholic orphanage in Paia, Maui, Mr. Chalmers worked there as groundskeeper. He was tall, with sandy-blonde hair that fell gently across his brow. I remember thinking his blue eyes were kind-looking. Even as a youngster in elementary school, I sensed there was chemistry between my mom and this “hauole,” Hawaiian for “foreigner.” But it went nowhere.

As I reflect back, and I have many times, I wonder if my mom felt uncertain in the company of a “hauole” man, being that she was native Hawaiian. The cultures are so different, especially back then, in the 50s. Perhaps she felt him too different, even while she might have found him attractive. All I know is I liked him, I wanted a dad, and I wished my mom would have brought Mr. Chalmers home to our family!

When I was littler, I wished my mom had married “uncle” Lot who lived next door with his sister, “aunty” Miriam. They weren’t family but they made us feel as though we were.”Uncle” would cradle me in his lap, where I’d curl up, my sleepy head nestled against his shoulder. Maybe uncle wasn’t my mom’s “cup of tea,” but he was most definitely mine.

Then there was our next door neighbor, and landlord, Ah Sing. We’d moved to one of his family’s rentals when I was beginning kindergarten. Unfortunately he was already wed, to my best friend Leola’s mom. Her dad seemed a better match for my mom who was friendly and warm like Ah Sing, both having Hawaiian blood coursing through their veins. His wife, on the other hand, was Chinese. She reminded me of the ice queen in the “Narnia” movies. So there went another great candidate for my dad!

But the “piece de resistance” was Dr. James Fleming. He too would’ve made a great pairing with my mom, in my limited child’s experience. He was a little plump, like my mom. And though he wore wire-rimmed glasses and sported a crew cut, though slightly longer, he was still attractive. He had a broad smile, a twinkle in his eye, and always gave me a big, orange gumdrop at the end of each visit. When he vaccinated me with an injection in the arm, I’m sure I cried. The needle looked like it would’ve been used on a horse, not on my scrawny arm. But Dr. Fleming made me feel brave, and would reward me with 2 pieces of candy. Now what kid wouldn’t want him for a dad! But alas, he already had 3 sons, and a wife. No matter, I continued to fantasize.

Dr. Fleming was of the Lahaina, Maui Flemings. Throughout my childhood, up until I was 16 and left for college, we often frequented a beach near their home, named after the family. I’m not sure if it’s still known as Flemings Beach. It might have been renamed something more befitting the island’s commercial growth, especially if the Fleming’s no longer own property in the vicinity. But even before I learned he was wealthy, Dr. Fleming was the knight in shining armor sitting astride a white horse, who would come galloping along to whisk my mom, and me, off into the sunset. Yes, even then I was a romantic.

When I was older, probably of middle school age, my mom revealed a secret, one I wished I’d known earlier. She told me when I was born, Dr. Fleming offered to adopt me. He’d have welcomed a daughter into a family of all boys. Obviously, my mom declined, but I’m sure she lingered over her decision. She had 8 other mouths to feed, although some of the older ones might have since left home, to make a life for themselves.

What would I have done if I’d known of the adoption earlier? Probably just what my mom did, think about it, but then reject the idea vehemently. After all, my mom and older siblings were my world. One of my brothers was adopted by a childless couple. I’m not sure how he felt about being given away at the time. Did he cry, refuse, sulk? I never asked. I’m not sure if he’d tell me now, at 71.

Writing this blog has proven cathartic, therapeutic. What’s become increasingly apparent these last 6 months, is not growing up with a father has impacted me more than I’d realized. There’s a void no one can completely fill. It’s as though my life has listed since birth, like a sailboat that never righted itself. Thank goodness family and friends have helped anchor me, ensuring that I’m not set adrift. I’ve learned to accept my imperfect life, my listing, continuing to “sail” far and wide. The world that passes before my “bow,” is the same one seen from the bow of a sailboat that maneuvers perfectly.

My daughter has been nurtured by two parents, who love her dearly. And I have been lovingly nurtured by she and my husband. Going forward in life, she and I agree that we’re blessed to be “drinking” from glasses that are always half-full. But I’m so thankful that my daughter has my husband for a father. He would have been my choice as a dad too, if he’d been an adult to my child. But watching him with our daughter, more than compensates for the father I never had.

a father-daughter tradition, hugs for…hugmamma.

more bad news, unless you take action

Sorry to be the bearer of so many “beware” notices. But as I said in the “spokeo.com” post, “I’ve got your back!”

On the local evening news, viewers were alerted to the fact that car break-ins aren’t because the thieves want to make off with your car. No! They’re looking to steal your identity! Most of us leave the original copies of our vehicle registration and car insurance safely ensconced in our glove compartments or consoles, right? Wrong! Evidently the thieves are hijacking those documents so that they can become…US.

Police are suggesting that car owners take said documents with us when we leave our cars unattended. Okay…

looks like i’ll need a bigger purse…but what about the guys?…there might be a resurgence in the market for male hand bags, like in the 70s?…hugmamma.

“news trivia,” wall street journal

“david vs. goliath”………..Corporate giant Wal-Mart got a “stone between the eyes” when historical preservation groups united, using their “slingshot” to stop the world’s largest retailer from building on a 52-acre site bordering Wilderness Battlefield. It was here that “Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee clashed for the first time in battle in 1864.” Evidently there were 30,000 casualties with neither side winning the battle conclusively. But it looks like the “little man” went nine rounds and won this time. Yayyy for “David!!!”  (Wall Street Journal, 1/27/11-“Retailer Retreats From Civil War Battlefield”)

“protestors to have front row seats at royal wedding”………Looks like 62-year-old Brian Haw has had his ticket to William and Kate’s April 29th wedding since June 2001. Did he know something the rest of the world only learned recently? No. It seems Haw has been a long-time “resident” of Parliament Square, a small grassy park, that sits across the street from famed Westminster Abbey.

As a peace campaigner protesting sanctions imposed upon Iran, Haw gained entrée into “a very, very beautiful part of town,” according to Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster City Council. Spending most nights there in tents, Haw and his associates, seem able to invoke squatter’s rights because “The court of appeal made an exception for Mr. Haw, partly because he has been protesting so long, allowing him to continue to camp while his case is reviewed by the high court.”

So while 7 foot-tall metal barriers were erected around Parliament Square, per orders from London Mayor Boris Johnson, space was made for Haw’s 5 tents. Protestors for a variety of other causes who followed Haw’s example over the years, moved their encampments “to the adjacent pavement, which technically doesn’t fall under Mr. Johnson’s order, but rather the Westminster City Council. Hoping to close that loophole, the government last November proposed to outlaw tents in and around the square. But the law is unlikely to be passed in time for the big wedding.”

Once Haw pitched his tent in 2001, didn’t the politicians foresee that he was setting a precedent? I’m sure they weren’t naive enough to think he was just going to go away. Why would he give up prime real estate once he “dug in his heels?” (Wall Street Journal, 1/26/11-“Westminster Squatters Just Aren’t On Wills and Kate’s Guest List”)

“still overpaid, but why ?”……… The L.A. Angels hired Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells for “a $23 million salary in 2011.” In doing so the team is guaranteed to have baseball’s “most expensive outfield–one that actually costs more than the entire payroll of several teams.” Fellow outfielders Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu will make $18 million and $9 million, respectively.  Meanwhile the Angels are “still on the hook for the remaining $11 million on Gary Matthews Jr.,” who was sent packing in early 2010. The total payout costs the team “43% more than the next priciest group.” Unfortunately, this outfielder foursome “combined for 9.7 Wins Above Replacement–a metric that measures a player’s total value over a Triple-A call-up.” The Red Sox quartet scored roughly the same, but the foursome, Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, and Jacoby Ellsbury, are earning almost $22 million less than their counterparts in Anaheim. “Even the much-maligned Chicago Cubs outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Marlon Byrd produced more value for significantly less money.” I may not know baseball, but I know when money’s being flushed down the toilet…big time! I continue to maintain what I posted in “a hand up,” on 7/27/10. Millionaire athletes should consider investing a portion of their mega bucks into helping the careers of athletes, like ballet dancers who are as talented, but are paid “peanuts” by comparison. (Wall Street Journal,1/26/11-“The Absurdly Expensive Angels Outfield)

and the world goes round and round, sometimes spinning upside down…hugmamma.

 

 

 

“spokeo.com,” selling your personal info

Had coffee with friends Mary and Amy who still attend Kristina’s exercise classes. I vowed that I’d be back soon. Need all that bumping and grinding to keep my “plumbing” in top notch working order. Anyway…

Mary informed us of a very interesting and scary bit of info.  Amongst many online sites that are probably making money off of our heretofore private information is one called “spokeo.com.” My friend explained the rundown of personal data the site had amassed on her, her husband, and their 2 daughters. After gasping in disbelief, I whipped out my notepad to take some notes. Mary proceeded to inform us how we could opt out of “spokeo.com.” At least they give you that!

I’ve successfully removed one of my files. I need to repeat the process for another, and then do the same for my husband and daughter. Of course doing so doesn’t extract my information from other websites guilty of the same identify theft, but it’s a start.

So here’s how you can proceed to follow our lead if you like.

  • Go to “spokeo.com”
  • Type in your name.
  • Select from among the choices offered. (There are 2 other people blest with my name, or something akin to it.)
  • After you gather your wits about you, scroll down to the very small print, and notice “privacy.”
  •  Before clicking on “privacy,” however, take your cursor to the top of your screen’s left hand corner where you’ll see the URL for your profile. Copy it. Then click on “privacy.”
  • “Paste” your URL in the area indicated.
  • Type in your email address so that “spokeo.com” can confirm that your profile has been removed from their listings.
  • Finish by typing in thecode word provided.
  • You will be instructed to visit your email address.
  • You will be asked to click to confirm that you desire removal.
  • VOILE! Your personal info will be returned to your safekeeping…until some other site makes you a “star.”

Maybe I’m a real novice to internet intrigue, but with a little help, no, a lot of help, from friends, and family, I can hang onto my innocence a little while longer. And if you want my help? Hey! I’ve “got your back” too!!!

why can’t people think of ways to make money without underhandedly mooching off of others?…hugmamma.

a hand-up, our military defenders and their loved ones

  

 

Armed services personnel and their families were the focus of today’s Oprah. Guests included 2 servicemen, one wounded in war, and their families, a mother whose soldier son was killed in action, retired TV anchor Tom Brokaw, renowned journalist Bob Woodward, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Brokaw brokered the deal with Oprah to produce the show. He asked that recognition be shown those, a meager one percent of the American population, upon whom the rest of us depend for protection. Those who appeared with Brokaw agreed that the men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those continuing to do so, along with their loved ones who remain behind managing their lives as best they can, MUST register more substantively within the American psyche. They cannot be dismissed as statistics on the news, or given a pat on the back in the airport and forgotten.

Oprah admitted that she too was ignorant about the extent to which the current wars have impacted those serving, and their families. Until yesterday she, and very likely most of her viewing audience, in studio and at home, couldn’t put faces to those defending our freedom. In fact, Oprah indicated that she knew no one serving in the military. Nonetheless that doesn’t excuse us from reaching out to those who put themselves in harm’s way for our sakes, and their families who are without their loved ones, struggling to make ends meet, or feeling alone and isolated.

It’s obvious from what I’ve witnessed firsthand as well as on TV, that military households maintain the same attitude as those who serve. Wives and children “keep a stiff upper lip,
 and keep on going. Many of them, unaware as to when their family member might be returning home. And probably most of them dreading the possibility that person may not make it back to them. How they wrap their minds around the ever present “what if” that must occupy the furthest corners of their minds, I don’t know.

One of my nieces, Danielle, is a military wife caring for several young children, 4 or 5 of them, if my memory serves me correctly. Her husband is a career soldier, having seen 3 tours, beginning in Iraq and ending in Afghanistan. Loretto evidently demonstrated great leadership skills for he is now teaching at West Point Military Academy in upstate New York. From what I know, he has willingly gone to war, while my niece has handled life at home. But not only has she done fine, she seems to have thrived.

Leaving Hawaii and an extended close knit family to live on the mainland, didn’t seem to upset Danielle. In fact she loved the independence she acquired. Raising her children without the safety net of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, did not deter her from creating a community among new friends. She shared babysitting services with others, gathered with them socially over home-cooked meals and outdoor barbecues. When the family returned to Hawaii for a few years, Danielle got her nursing degree. Upon moving yet again for her husband’s West Point appointment, she found work as a pediatric nurse while her children are in school. God bless my niece’s stamina for tackling the unknown with a young brood, and her obvious resilience in making a home for all of them, regardless where that might be. I would wish the same for all wives and moms, military and non-military alike.

Having raised our awareness of the plight of military families, Mrs. Obama recommends that Americans can reach out to them in big and small ways. Educators can seek out and offer support to those students who have parents serving. Health practitioners can offer affordable care to returning vets in need of counseling, or physical healing. My chiropractor, for example, displays a notice in her window inviting vets in for a free session. How cool is that?! Neighbors can help military moms by giving them a break from children, meal preparation, or an invitation to coffee and an opportunity to vent. When Danielle happened to be living in the same city where I lived with my daughter while she was training for her ballet career, we prepared a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. Memories of that day remain vividly etched in our minds and hearts. It was a loving, family celebration.

In a post from 12/6/10, “good samaritan #8” Michael Reagan has found a way to “give back.”

The website, www.fallenheroesproject.org puts those wishing to “bring a loved one home,” in touch with the artist. It also allows those touched by Michael Reagan’s humanitarian service, to make donations toward his singular effort. Besides donating his labor, Reagan also makes a gift of the materials. I’m certain he’s  also included the silent tears he’s shed, as a bonus.

In trying to do my small part in the effort to reach out, I would like to offer words of solace to those in need of comfort. I understand that I might have a gift for writing, so if you know of anyone suffering emotional scars as a result of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, or their family members, I would welcome the opportunity to email brief notes that might provide respite from their pain.

we can all do something…however small…hugmamma. 

 

moms do what’s needed

Got a surprise call from a blogging friend today. Jaclyn and I met months ago in Cat Rambo’s “Blogging 101” class at Bellevue College. I got good vibes from Jaclyn while in class. And she’s every bit as nice as I thought she would be.

During our conversation today, she reminded me what her life is like on a daily basis. For 18 years Jaclyn has been caretaker for her only child. While this doesn’t seem an unusual situation from that of other moms, her situation is unique in that her daughter has a rare disease known as Galactosemia, a milk sugar disorder.

Galactosemia is a rare congenital disorder which affects the body’s inability to convert galactose into glucose. Galactose is a type of sugar, which is a breakdown product of lactose. Lactose is found in milk and milk products, including breast milk. Given that the galactose can not be broken down, it builds up in the body and acts as a poison that can cause serious damage to it‘s carrier(“galactosemia“). “As milk is important to a baby’s diet, early diagnosis is essential to avoid lifelong problems from this potentially fatal disorder.”     

The first trace of information that was brought to light about galactosemia was in 1908 by Von Ruess. He composed an article of his findings in an infant with many of the symptoms we now relate to galactosemia. This work has widely been accepted by scientists as the first reported case of galactosemia. However, at this time the diagnosis of galactosemia was not yet possible. It would be nine years before a similar diagnosis of galactosuria was largely accepted by scientists as a hereditary disorder. 

At the time Jaclyn’s daughter was born, galactosemia was not yet within the mainstream of medical knowledge. So doctors failed to correctly diagnose her digestive problems. Meanwhile the disease took its toll on the youngster’s body, leaving her permanently handicapped, mentally and physically. Having recently turned 18, the young woman reads at the level of a 4th grader.

Needless to say Jaclyn has been at the forefront of fighting her daughter’s fight to make the most of her life, such as it is. Where schools were not willing to pursue academics at a more challenging level, consigning her daughter to classes for children with special needs, Jaclyn decided to home school instead. With the help of other adults, her daughter is experiencing as full a life as she can. Their assistance also allows my friend some much-needed respite from her 24/7 role as caretaker.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, I never find anything in my friend’s voice to suggest that she is pained to be saddled with her daughter’s predicament. Jaclyn sounds like other moms I know who love their children, and do what needs to be done for them. Jaclyn is always upbeat, never belaboring the fact that her child is, in fact, unlike those now capable of venturing forth to make their own way in the world.

When Jaclyn calls it’s usually to ask how I’m faring with my blog. The last time she phoned it was to suggest an online site where I might want to self-publish. Today she recalled that I’d mentioned that my writing skills were honed when I had served as a paralegal for TWA in NYC. She wondered if I had the title of the book which had been instrumental in my learning to write. I replied that I learned on the job. I was enrolled in classes at night to obtain a paralegal certificate, a condition for the job to which I had already been promoted. So writing legal briefs for the attorneys with whom I worked during the day, quickly instilled me with the skills I still possess today. I learned to organize my thoughts on paper, and offer support for my assertions. Blogging has enabled me to regain my skills as a writer, after a 24-year hiatus.

When I asked with what she was currently involved, Jaclyn explained that she’s trying to secure social security benefits, however meagre, for her adult daughter. We both agreed that government bureaucracy can be mind-boggling. Because galactosemia is unfamiliar to most, she has found it daunting trying to convince bureaucrats of her daughter’s disability which has essentially robbed her of an independent life.

Ending the phone call with her usual laughter, Jaclyn admitted to signing up for Cat Rambo’s class on the writing of fantasy stories. My friend wants to take a breather from reality, and escape to the land of fantasy. God knows she deserves to enjoy a little make-believe.

for a mom whose life is her daughter’s, huge hugs…hugmamma.

i’m a sucker for…

Cats and dogs, kittens and puppies! If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you know I have my share of them, 3 cats and a dog, and a “grandson” who comes to stay once-in-awhile. Of course I think they’re all the “cat’s meow” and the “dog’s bow-wow!” One of these days I’ll capture their antics on video. Until then, my daughter shared the following with me. We had a good chuckle as we both viewed the video at the same time, 3,000 miles of land separating us. Needless to say, there were many “isn’t that so cute”s reverberating through the phone’s receiver.

Whether or not you’re a sucker for felines and canines, I think you’ll agree this video shows the little furballs at their most hilarious. Go ahead and laugh out loud!

laughing’s good for the soul, and the waistline…always remember that…hugmamma.

please! and show your kids too…

Couldn’t help but repost what was contained previously in “magical and musical!!! but how???”

When I need a small lift, I click on the following. For a few minutes I’m immersed in fantasy and make-believe. As I sit watching the magic unfold before my eyes, it feels like a prayer without words. The accompanying music also holds me captive, keeping my spirit suspended if only for a moment, before reality releases me from my dream-state.

Come see what I’ve seen…

http://www.elion.ee/docs/joulukaart/eng/

wish there were more…even Misha agrees…hugmamma.

a child’s “truth,” a lesson for all

It’s unusual that I write back-to-back posts about Oprah segments. But I’ll venture away from the norm because today’s show spoke of her relentless efforts to educate her viewers, numbering in the millions, to the gay and lesbian dilemma. If I remember correctly, Oprah has dedicated more than 100 segments of her talk show to the cause. Her goal has been to encourage gays and lesbians to own their truth, reveal themselves and live their best lives.

Among many who have spoken their truth about homosexuality, sitting alongside Oprah on her show, were Olympic gold medalist diver Greg Louganis,

Latin singer Ricky Martin,

and more recently country singer Chely Wright. Today’s segment also spotlighted viewers who had “come out” in their own lives to family and friends, as a result of seeing celebrities do so on Oprah’s talk show. Perhaps the most unusual guest was an Indian prince who’d announced his homosexuality to the world, including his parents, several years ago as a guest on the show. He returned today to say that Oprah’s public support, especially in view of her own heterosexuality, did much to loosen the once hostile attitude toward him and others like him.

A gay daughter and her mom made the greatest impression upon me. They had visited the show before, when the daughter’s rebelliousness and the mom’s refusal to accept the truth were obstacles in their relationship, going forward. After that show’s conclusion, Oprah introduced the two to her chief of staff, Libby, a lesbian. She spent 2 hours explaining her own experience. Hearing of the woman’s struggles to accept her truth, the support of her family when she revealed her homosexuality, and the tremendous strides she made in her own life since, convinced the girl’s mom to finally learn to let her own daughter be who she is. That was a “lightbulb” moment for me!

I realized that whomever my daughter decides is her soul mate will be her choice. Even as a heterosexual, she will know who makes her happy and who fulfills her life. Parents of straight children are also guilty of thinking we know best. We forget that we’re thinking what’s best in our estimation, not theirs. It’s not easy relinquishing control over the course of our children’s lives, but we’re not exempt from dying, so we’d better let them get on with living, now.

a lesson learned, hugs for…hugmamma.

oprah’s half-sister, patricia

Now that Oprah’s leaving her talk show after 25 years, I’ve become more of a regular viewer than in all the years past. Never a fan of shows that sensationalize the problems of others, I pretty much stayed away from all day time talk shows. Oprah has definitely evolved from her early days as TV talk host, making her show more varied, with professional as well as amateur, singers and dancers gracing the stage from time to time. Again, however, I was still selective. Too, I wasn’t one to sit in front of the flat screen panel for hours on end.

Now that Oprah is nearing the end of her run on NBC, I’ve managed to catch some of her shows, especially since I’ve finally registered that it’s always on at 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. One of my favorite segments to date, after Oprah’s interviews with Lisa Marie Presley and Katherine Jackson, was yesterday’s when it was revealed that the talk show hostess has a half-sister.

What moved me, yes to tears, was the obvious connection between siblings who have only recently found one another. Patricia, the younger of the 2, was given up for adoption in the hospital, immediately after birth. Her life thereafter was spent in and out of many foster homes, some good, some bad. Many years later she decided to search for her birth mother. When she contacted the Milwaukee Social Services Department she learned she had siblings. She saw their names and birth dates on records sent to her by the department, but her mother’s name was withheld.

While watching Oprah’s show one day, Patricia saw Oprah’s mom who revealed details about her other children. Patricia called her own daughter to join in watching the program. It became clear to both, that Oprah’s siblings were, in fact, Patricia’s as well, according to her birth documents.

Since that time in 2007, Patricia tried to make contact with Oprah, without success. Even Patricia’s pastor communicated with Oprah’s pastor to no avail. When Oprah learned that something was afoot, she confronted the executive producer of her show who confirmed that she might indeed have a sibling of whom Oprah wasn’t aware.

Yesterday’s show included a home video of this past Thanksgiving Day when Oprah met Patricia for the first time in her humble home, over dinner. Both looked joyful beyond words to have found one another. And in closing her show, Oprah expressed her gratitude to her half-sister for not having sold her story to the media long before now. That, Oprah felt, was a sign of Patricia’s true character. And what did she get from all this, Oprah asked Patricia? “Family! I got family, nieces and nephews…and you, Oprah.” In that moment, I felt, and Oprah probably did as well, that Patricia had given her sister the greatest gift anyone could ever give billionaire Oprah Winfrey: pure, unadulterated love. As a bonus, Patricia gave her 2 grown children, family, which they hadn’t had before.

Oprah has everything money can buy, and some. It warms my heart to see her in the company of simple people, like us. Celebrities are fine, but they’re not like us. So when Oprah is in their company, she seems unavailable to “normal” folk. While she certainly enjoys the friendship of the elite, she seems to relish time with those from whom she came. Oprah’s roots run deep. Every so often, her roots are “uncovered.” That’s the Oprah Winfrey I enjoy seeing.

hugs for patricia, who never gave up on herself, and Oprah…hugmamma.

working out the “knots,” makes a difference

Had my second physical therapy appointment today with Pierre at Olympic Therapy. Several weeks ago, I had experienced muscle pain in the area of my neck, upper back and shoulder blades which traveled the length of my left arm, including my fingers. The tingling sensation that went along with it, and the sharp pain in my armpit, had me thinking heart attack. Needless to say I lay awake all night, wondering. By the following morning, I’d decided the chronic ache I’d been experiencing for years, had gone into overdrive. A visit to the chiropractor and the internist later that day confirmed my suspicions.

Following almost immediately upon the heels of my back problem, I caught my husband’s cold. The hacking cough I developed as a result, lasted weeks. My back, and ribs, took a beating. I decided then and there that once I was well enough, I was seeing a physical therapist. I needed deep down relief from the tightened muscles I’d lived with for years.

Many have told me that my neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles felt like a block of brick, including doctors, alternative health practitioners, my husband and my daughter. Doctors prescribed over-the-counter pain medications, as well as muscle relaxants. Chiropractors and massage therapists have given me great relief which lasted, until I returned to the daily grind of lifting, bending, twisting, slouching. But I knew the day would come when I needed physical therapy to undo all the “knots” that had accrued over my lifetime.

Pierre has allowed me to see that I needn’t live with chronic pain. In my first session last week, he evaluated the extent to which my head could turn from one side to the next. It was obvious that turning to the left met with some resistance the further I tried to move my head. Pierre taught me exercises to do there, and at home, which have loosened the tightness in that area considerably. He also recommended corrections to how I should sit at the computer, sliding forward to the edge of the seat so that the weight of my body rests on my legs. Having done as he suggested, my return visit already showed signs of improvement.

Today as I lay looking up at the ceiling, Pierre used a roller of some sort to work through the knots on the left side of my neck. I felt pressure, but no pain. He concurred when I asked if the knots were scar tissue that had amassed in the area over time. He again confirmed that he was working to release the fascia which encases the muscles. Finally, he warned me that the tiny capillaries were releasing blood, so that my neck would have red bruises for a couple of days.

When I sat upright, my vision was so clear, as if someone had inserted new eyeballs into my sockets. Pierre chuckled when I told him. But more significantly, from the time he worked on my neck until now, there is such a looseness in the area of my neck, the likes of which I’ve not felt in more than a decade. I realize, however, that more needs to be done to ensure that the healing is long-lasting, and not a temporary fix. Especially if I want to remain active, and capable of lifting, bending, twisting, but NOT slouching. I’m going to sit up straight from now on, even if it kills me!

Medical doctors are not the “be all and end all” to good health. Many of them will tell you, a little help from alternative health practitioners goes a long way toward keeping our bodies oiled and primed to enjoy quality of life. And one of my main priorities, apart from my family, is to keep my “chassis” up and running, and good to go!

you might want to do the same…hugmamma.

on our way to 10,000 viewings!

Wanted to keep you posted on our efforts towards 365 posts and 10,000 views by the end of next month, February.

The day I first posted the challenge, January 22, my blog “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul,” had a total of 171 viewings. The following day, there were 122 viewings, and thus far today, there have been 112. The 3 day total equals 405 viewings!

On January 22, I indicated in my post “an impossible challenge? not for a “superior chinese mom,” that viewings thus far that day were 8,307. And today, thanks to the fantastic totals of these last 3 days, viewings are at 8,621!!!

We’re not too far off our goal, just another 1,379 viewings to the magic 10,000, and another 84 posts, to arrive at 365. We can do it!!! I know we can…I know we can…I know we can…

just like the little train “who could”…hugmamma.