Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Person... First

"You know who I am talking about... That ___________person"

"She is __________. I think her name is Sue."

Why must we put the label first?  Why do we let a label define us?  We all have such long lives to live and most of us will go through different incarnations. One day, one label suffices and the next day it is totally wrong.

What about a child?  How about the child with a developmental disability?  Why do we let their diagnosis define them?

I have been lucky enough to be give two major blessings in my life. My sons bring so much joy and light into my life. They teach me new things every single day.

My oldest, Ben is an incredibly sensitive and empathetic little boy. He knows just the right way to give you a hug when you are sad. He watches over his little brother and makes sure that he doesn't stray too far from his best friend the hippo.  He loves Thomas the tank engine, and Curious George and the movie Cars. Ben has the deepest most contagious belly laugh and a very special twinkle in his eyes.

Ben lives in a special world that we are a just lucky to be visiting. He sees the truth behind everything. He knows the deep down meaning of love.

Ben sounds like a typical little boy who loves to run and play with his toys. You wouldn't be surprised to hear that his nickname at school is "The Mayor".  There are so many adjectives to describe Ben, that Autism is always LAST on the list. His diagnosis does not define his identity. It does not change who he is, it supplements it. The word autistic is never placed before my son.

The concept of person first language is to emphasize the person rather than the special need, the individual and not the diagnosis.  By changing the way a sentence is structured the focus changes with the intent of focusing on our commonalities.  With person first language Ben going from being, "My Autistic son Ben" to "My son Ben who has Autism."

 To see more information on how you can utilize person first language check out this simple chart People First Chart

Monday, April 22, 2013


 It is rare that I venture into the city that never sleeps, the one in my backyard, a mere 50 minute train ride away. It is even rarer that I find myself embarking on a trip there alone.
Don't get me wrong.. I LOVE the city, but I love experiencing it with friends. It is a place that automatically makes you feel small and insignificant without heaping being alone on top of it.
But today, I stepped outside of my realm of comfort... I am at a book launch event for an author that I recently discovered., Jon Acuff. I am an avid listener of the Dave Ramsey show and was introduced to the book "Quitter", a very honest conversation about finding and following your path to your dream job.
Jon's new book "Start" promises to help you punch fear in the face and move into a life of awesome. Jon's writing is very much a no holds barred discussion with an old friend. He is witty and current but has a way to hit you to the core with a sucker punch of reality. 
This launch event was an intimate gathering in an off Broadway theater.  Jon shared with us the main themes of this book in a way only he could. He touched on narwhals, and geriatric versions of Thelma and Louise, shared his path to awesome and the pain of cutting loose the negative forces in your life. We were challenged to take the power away from the voices inside of us, bring them into the light of day to see how small and untrue they are.  It was time to examine our life and move it from average to ordinary! 
All of these words hit me hard. Do I know what my dreams are?  Am I strong enough to fight the voices that are so powerful on the inside?  He told us about the site he started called No More Voices. I have spent some time on there and I think that it is an amazing place for anyone struggling with self doubt.

I don't know what my future holds.  But what I do know is that my future self will be tickled to look back on this day as my START!
Sarah and Jon Acuff
Sarah and Dave Ramsey
Check out this video about the book "Start"

The Foods for Thought:
I had some time befor the event started and needed a snack. You gotta love food trucks so I took the opportunity for a yummy portobello empanada from Nuchas NYC.
  • Yummy crispy and pocket change prices!

Dinner was a great happenstance!  One of my very special "heart friends" was also in Times Square today and we were able to connect!  We went to one of her favorite places (and now mine too). Havana Central- just one block off of Times Square had the impact of instantly transporting us out of NYC. With beautiful decor and a lively band we shared an amazing seafood paella that left us both wanting a nap!
  •   Convenient and authentic for a special night.
Amazing Seafood Paella!
Julie LOVING her Paella!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jam Saddness

In July of 2012 I had a GREAT idea!!  I will make JAM!  I will make jam for our family for a year... I will make jam for Christmas gifts for our relatives and friends...  I will become a jam making goddess!!  Other jam makers will cower at the mention of my name.  I will be able to sell my jam and quit my day job!

I started the pre-requisite research and got the equipment that I didn't have.  Went to the store and bought Ball Jars and lots of strawberries and blueberries and mangoes and raspberries and a giant watermelon!

My secret....  using the recipes in the "Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving".  No one would ever know that these were not time honored recipes from a tattered and handwritten cookbook that was passed down through generations of ____________ (fill in the blank with one the of many family names here).  This would be how I would make my millions!!!

And.... jam was made.  It was made in great quantities.. There was strawberry, and blueberry lime.  There was mango raspberry and watermelon.  The process was simple.  But... it was JULY!  My kitchen is a postage stamp of real estate in an apartment that feels smaller everyday.  I have no exhaust fan over my stove. I had to do most of my cooking for the jam at night after the boys had been put to bed for fear of them testing out their super hero climbing skills and toppling the large vats of boiling sugary goodness!  All of these factors, in the dead of summer, made the jam factory of my kitchen a terrible place to work..  I found myself counting every finished jar twice hoping they would multiply and I would hit my production goals quickly!  When I found that I was finished... I had my own personal ticker tape parade in my head....
Fast forward to a burgeoning spring day in April... A trip to the pantry to get a fresh jar after finishing some blueberry lime jam earlier in the week.  I was shocked!!  The very last jar of jam was in my hand.  All of the fruits of my hard labor had reached their final jar opening.  I was surprised at the emotion that I felt, setting out the bread, the peanut butter, my opus.  Does this mean that I have lost my title as Jam Goddess?  Are my dreams of being a Jam-millionaire never to be realized?  Will the Ball jars rise again to be refilled??

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bucket List Realized

A few months ago I was approached by a coworker to join her in running the Spartan Race.  Little did she know that this was a bucket list item.  I was honored but that she wanted to run with me. I didn't want to admit that I was terrified!!!!

I am no small girl. I have run a few 5k races in the past year, so I really wasn't worried about the distance.  But.....  There would be WALLS... 5, 6, 7, and 8 foot tall walls...  This girl, would have to find her way over many, many walls.... This would be a feat of epic proportions!

I did the best training that I could (taking into consideration my limited time). I worked on strengthening my upper body. I worked with my trainer using a TRX system.  I worked on body weight exercises. I didn't train as much as I wanted to, but I did as much as I could.

When it came down to the day of the race, I was very very anxious.  It was one of those do or die moments.  I knew that I was going to have to pull on strength from a very deep place and I was unsure if that place even existed within me.   I knew that I was going to have to rely on the team that I was running with!  There would be obstacles that I would fail if there wasn't a hand up or a cheering section standing with me!
Upon meeting this great group of people, I knew that I would make it through!  We were all there, joined by a common goal.  This team had come together to fight hunger on Long Island.  There are still so many people in the region feeling the impact of Hurricane Sandy.  We were there to become "Champions Against Hunger".

Very quickly it was time to line up in the corral... We got closer and closer to the start.  Every minute or so a group of  20 would line up and get released onto the course..soon there were no more people in front of me... I found myself standing at the start line..My inner monologue was waging its very own civil war.  In one moment I was building myself up...  I can do this.. I will succeed.. and in the next...  Are you crazy?.. Do you know where the closest hospital is?....
Once we crossed that start line, it became very surreal... the details jumble together and it felt like a total out of body experience...  There were walls.... Lots of walls...  But there were also feats of strength, lifting, carrying, moving... There were calisthenics... a weighted jump rope, a rowing machine...  Then there were the things that were just crazy!!!  I never thought that I would have to train for hopping up 4 flights of stairs with a rubber band holding my ankles together!!!

But sure enough... each obstacle was conquered... each mile was ticked away.. yes I needed the support of my team... I needed a scoot over a wall... I needed to be pushed to finish the box jumps at the end...  But.... 
I FINISHED..... I conquered the Spartan Race!  I finished in one hour and 48 minutes...  This was not a record setting time.. but there were over 300 people after me!!! 
 I am so thankful to everyone on the Fishbattlers Vs. Sandy team that stuck with me, that served as my strength when I had none, and cheered me on when I felt defeated.  I would not have this medal, and the bruises and body aches too, if it were not for all of you!!!

Below is a video that chronicles the event that was made by the marketing company Fishbat.  They were responsible for putting together the Spartan Race team and have become a driving force against hunger on Long Island.  Please take a couple of minutes to watch!!

See the rest of my Bucket List!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Many Hats

When I was a child, one of my favorite books was: "Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Some Monkey Business".

  This book by Siberian author Esphyr Slobodkina was published in 1940 and has entertained generations of preschoolers.  The peddler walks around a small town with a stack of hats on the top of his head that reached so high...  I won't ruin the story for you, but as a little girl... I wanted to be that peddler with those caps piled high.....

Fast forward 30 years....that little girl has become a mom, a business woman, a cook, a runner.  Each moment of my day, I reach up and place a new hat on my head.... I am finding that I AM that peddler!
There are so many things to do and places to be each day, that I feel that stack of caps, sway and pitch.  But somehow, with the magic of mommy hood, the hats stay on my head!

L to R: Benjamin, Rus, Sarah, & Alexander

Join me here at Mommy in Pieces as I see just how many hats I can wear at one time!  I will become the champion of the 10 minute healthy dinner, the conquerer of clutter, the enviable entrepreneur, the family budgetress, and Florence Nightingale to all the boo-boos.