My first article on Huffington Post: Cyberbullying Hits Home

Lately, the news about how social media is creating a haven for cruelty especially among kids prompted me to write a post. I was fortunate enough to get a writing gig on Huffington Post! Thanks Rashida! So I decided that my first article would be about Cyberbullying Hits Home.

This is a personal story and one that had (thankfully) a positive ending. There was no emotional turmoil and the bullying ended as quickly as it began. But other kids have not been so lucky. As a mother, I would hope that I could always protect my children from anything or anyone that would dare to harm them. These days, their own home cannot shield the hurtful words, picture or videos that penetrate our walls via this world wide web. As much as good has come out of social networking, an equal and more harmful poison has threatened  the emotional livelihoods of our own children. The net allows bullies to hide behind its veil of anonymity and torture others without consequence.  They now come in droves, not in groups.

I digress…. Please read this article if you are a parent.

Next week November 14-18 is Anti-Bullying Awareness Week.  I’ll be posting another article on What’s Your Tech.  Please look out for it! cheers!

Fit vs. Fiction Body Awareness: A Platform to Raise awareness of Society’s Impact on OUR Kids’ Self Images

Marci Warhaft Nadler (@fit_vs_fiction) and I met about a year ago and the more I got to know her and what she was doing to raise awareness about what societal messages are doing to our kids’ perception of beauty and fitness, the more I learned about how important this topic is, and how many more parents need to be aware of its existence. I cannot put into words how this has changed my awareness and impact on my own kids. I’ve asked Marcie to tell her story so that I could post it here on my blog. Here are her words:

“Over the last few years I’ve become more and more concerned with the amount of pressure being put on kids to live up to the unrealistic images they see on TV and in magazines. Hard to believe, but boys and girls as young 7 yrs old have begun putting their health at risk by turning to drastic measures to lose weight in an effort to be skinny. While the recent focus on erasing the problem of childhood obesity is well intended, it may actually be trying to fix one problem by creating a different one.

Feelings of shame and guilt are resulting in parents stressing over every bite their child takes and every minute of TV they watch and this stress is filtering down to their kids. For every obese child in Canada, there are even more who are not obese, but who THINK they are and hate themselves because of it. Fear is not the answer. It’s time to stop fearing food and start learning how to enjoy and appreciate it with balance and moderation.

Fit vs Fiction is breaking down myths related to beauty and fitness and gives kids the chance to TALK about this issue in a way they never have before. After conquering my own severe body image and eating disorder issues for over 20 yrs, my goal is to prevent other kids from the pitfalls I wasn’t lucky enough to avoid.

The Fit vs Fiction Body Image Awareness campaign was designed to wake people up to the fact that our kids are struggling and need our help. We can’t control the negative messages society throws at them on a daily basis, but we can make sure they hear the right messages from us and that our voices are even louder!

Help me help kids like themselves again and forward these posters to everyone you know!”

Visit Marcie’s Facebook Page.

Good-bye Action Run Jones: July 15, 2010

I actually meant to write this post the night it happened but a lot has happened since then and I’ve collected my thoughts and wanted to write something that memorialized our beloved hamster, Action Run Jones. That’s what my kids named him when we first brought him home from the pet store January 2009. At first they wanted to name him “Race” to signify his quickness. I suggested another more appropriate name and thus we landed on “Action”.

Action was a quick little guy, pretty independent from the start. Although he was terrified of us in the beginning, he warmed up pretty quickly, although he preferred to run around as opposed to being carried and cuddled. I was always awestruck by his speed and his ability to disappear from site. We were always giving him the much needed space required to expend his energy — sometimes we were not as diligent at keeping an eye on him. The cleaners were the first to experience his disappearing act, having opened his cage just a slight to have a look at him. Before they knew it he had taken off into the open doorway. We were left a somber message later when we returned home. The cleaners were “so sorry” but they looked everywhere for hours and they weren’t able to find action. We had thought his was gone but we kept his cage open, left for dinner, and lo-and-behold when we returned, there he was resting in his cage.

There were a few times that he wound up in the walls. The first time we hammered the walls, hoping the sound would draw him out. After about 8 hours he finally came out, but not after he had made multiple trips to set up second home in that cozy crawl space, complete with cheek-fulls of food and shavings. The second time he ended up in the wall, he happened to find a small hole in our vanity. That hole led to the back of the wall in the upstairs bedroom…. then down to the wall just behind the kitchen. This time it was going to be more challenging. We would have to open up the wall underneath the kitchen cupboards somehow and find him. We had left Action in the wall overnight, hoping he would stay put. the next day Shawn put his ear to the wall, listening for scratching or squeaking — anything that would give us a clue as to where Action was. Then he used a drywall knife and started opening it up. And there he was, just sitting there with a little drywall dust on his face and body. He seemed composed as usual but he was fine. We vowed never to let him out of his cage ever again… yeah, right!

We still let Action run around and gave him license to chew up our downstairs carpets as long as we closed the doors and any potential openings. Once in a while we’d let him run up the stairs, and seemed to do so with finesse. He would always find that perfect spot on the carpet that gave him leverage to pull himself up to the next step. Once he got going he could go up a few stairs within a few seconds. But he also loved to run on the wheel and he could do it for minutes at a time. Apparently, though the amount of food he took in exceeded his daily exercise. So overtime Action became more portly and this slowed him down. But he also got older — I kept forgetting that hamsters don’t live more than a few years — the minutes on the wheel became less and less, and the time on the staircase took longer with more strained effort.

Action was slowing down. By his first birthday, Action started having respiratory problems. You could hear it when he slept and even when he was awake. His breathing was laboured and his exercise “times” found Action, for the most part, in his cage all curled up and cozy among the tissue paper and shavings. He loved to envelop himself in these things when he rested. Over time, rest became more mainstay and Action became more comfortable in this state. He came out of his cage on occasion to run around, but no sooner had he come out, he was drawn back again. Maddie and Nate played less and less with him because he rarely cam out to play. This was a sign for things to come. Soon Action began experiencing other health problems: he had developed an eye infection, and while we were able to nurse it back to somewhat ‘normal’, it was apparent that Action had lost the energy he once had.

Maddie found him after coming home from day camp. Action’s head was by his running wheel and he wasn’t moving. It was strange because he normally slept in the piled-up heap of tissue and shavings in the corner. We had to tell the kids that he was gone. Needless to say it was a difficult night. Shawn convinced the kids to write a good-bye letter to Action. In the meantime, Shawn built a little box to bury our little hamster, which Nathan lovingly labelled, “RIP Action Run Jones”

Here was Madelyn’s Good-bye to Action:

Action, my pet, I loved you oh so much. You meant more than the world to me. You were happy and squeaked and ran like crazy. Not even a quarter of the things you meant to me. Good-bye Action and I forever will love you. Your owner, Madelyn RIP

Here was Nathan’s Good-bye to Action:

Action, you meant everything to me and had so much fun together, we played find action, pat a cake and other fun stuff. I wish I could hold you one more time and play with you one more time! BYE BYE Action you’ll always be in my heart. Love Nathan

We buried Action in his special box the next day — the box filled with some food, some shavings and his favourite chew toy!. We cried one last time and said good-bye.

We love you Action. You were our first pet and you showed us how to love. We’ll see you in Heaven! Love, your family

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse….

I caught this on an email sent to me from my husband’s uncle. I normally don’t subscribe to chain emails but this one was poignant and thought-provoking. I didn’t realize how much I had taken for granted. Coming from a much simpler background I had grown to appreciate the lessons that those humble beginnings taught me. But I’m not sure the struggles I experienced were lessons that I explicitly passed on to my children. So I read it to my kids the other day and for the first time I stirred a reaction in them. Please read it and pass it on…….

Paul Harvey Writes:

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I’d like better.I’d really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated.

I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car.

And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.

It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you let him.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him/her.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.

When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a boy\girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.

I don’t care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don’t like it.. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandma/Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Hannukah/Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen.. Sealed with a kiss. I’m here for you. And if I die before you do, I’ll go to heaven and wait for you.

Send this to all of your friends. We secure our friends, not by accepting favors, but by doing them.

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