Inside The O’Briens by Lisa Genova

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Inside The O’Briens

By Lisa Genova

Award winning author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova has brought us inside the world of Alzheimer’s, Autism and more. With her new book Inside The O’Briens we follow the family through the world of Huntington’s Disease.

Joe O’Brien is 44 years old. He is a devoted husband, father of four adult children, and a respected officer. The O’Briens all live together in the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Joe initially blames his odd behavior to the stress of his job. But as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure.

Each of Joe’s four children have a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. The youngest daughter, Katie, struggles with whether or not she wants to take the genetic test and find out her fate? She has a boyfriend and a career she loves. Will life be better not knowing?

Lisa Genova writes her stories in a heartfelt and emphatic way that will have you laughing, crying and wishing you had a place at the O’Brien table. The ending left me wanting to know more about what will happen to the O’Briens.

Find out more about Lisa on her site: lisagenova.com. Connect on Twitter: @LisaGenova.

 

 

Why I Love Spring Break

Seattle1990 The movie let out on time. My belly is full of popcorn. My friend’s boyfriend unlocks the bed of truck. I squish up against the passenger window as he revs up the engine. I really wonder if I am going to ever stop being a third wheel?

It has been a month since I was dumped on Valentine’s Day. I threw myself into having the best Spring Break by getting together with friends, going to movies and shopping. Judy and I went to the States yesterday for more shopping. My foster mom is pretty awesome. She is giving me the childhood I never had after mom died.

Riding down the main street in town while being elbowed by my friend in the middle seat, I want to be anywhere else but here.

Our driver starts to swerve on the road and explains he is trying to get the attention of a beige station wagon that is changing lanes. The wagon verves left into the Cold Beer and Wine store parking lot.

My friend and her boyfriend jump out to join the people piling out of the wagon. I stay behind, bored out of my mind. I hear a yell, “BUBBLES, GET OVER HERE!.”

I look over at the group crowded in front of the beers store curb. I uncross my legs, which were relaxingly stretched out on the bench seat. I stroll over to the loud cluster.

I step off the curb and look up into the eyes of familiar caramel brown eyes. The tall dirty blond man is leaning up against the driver’s side of the station wagon.

A light bulb clicks on in my heart and soul. It’s him.

25 years later, a certain look from him can spark my light bulb in my heart and warm my body.

Happy 25 years together, my best friend.

I will always love Spring Break, thanks to you.

Here is to the next 25 and more!!

xoxo

 

Thank you, my village 

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Dear Village,

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. Having put myself last countless times, I lied to myself that it won’t matter. I’ll be okay. I didn’t blame anyone, but myself. It’s just how it was ingrained in me at a very young age. I don’t matter.

Years droned on. I couldn’t find it within myself to say no until after my miracle bonus babes picked me to be their mom. I continued to jump into whatever I needed to do for my family. It’s how it’s always been. It’s what you do when your village is tiny.

Until my doctor told me otherwise, I did matter. Surgery happened so fast. I had to lean on my village’s shoulder. You let me. I got better. Then, I snapped into reality. I have to be my own priority. Some members left after showing their true colours. Some showed up, which made me feel taller and stronger. I felt like I counted.

Thank you my village for sticking around. I am forever grateful for your effort to hold me up. I am relieved to know you are here.

The health chapters are not yet closed. I do appreciate and respect all the amazing health professionals out there. Thank you.

With forever love,

Danielle.

PS.. call your mom. Make a yearly checkup with the doctor now. Because I said so XOXOs

Mom Saver: More Boredom Busters Twitter Chat

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 3.30.21 PMI have a mom confession. I am a terrible crafter. I don’t know how to make DIY anything. My poor kids might be suffering. When I saw Boredom Busters on the shelf at Chapters, I opened it up hesitantly. I was pleasantly surprised on how easy the activities are to do.

The fun continues in More Boredom Busters. It has over 50 awesome activities for 7 years old and up. Each chapter is themed for occasions all year-round. There are lots of ideas to inspire you to make DIYs for favourite holidays, including party food.

My favourite is the Permanent Marker Mugs. I am going to make one for myself!

I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the fun things to-do this March Break.

Are you on Twitter?

There is a Twitter Chat happening just in time for Spring Break! Log into Twitter March 12th 12:00pm-1:00pm EST for a chance to find out more, and how to win a copy! Follow @ParentClub and use the hashtag #MoreBoredomBusters.

Boredom Busters and More Boredom Busters include easy instructions and uses for simple materials found around the home or classrooms. Both books are sold at your local bookstores and online. To find out where, check out the author’s site.

Follow Caroline Fernandez on Twitter: @ParentClub and check out her site: www.parentclub.ca.

When Fairy Godmothers Die

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 12.06.13 PMMy hand reaches for my phone. I wonder how I could’ve handled the situation with my daughters better. I need to find out how I was to my sister when I was younger.
I scroll through my smartphone to find the number. It is there. I’m about to call when my heart starts to pound so loud I think my neighbors can hear it.
I put my phone down and try to calm my shaking hands. The pain shoot through my heart and thrashes my soul. It has been six years since my foster mom died. Judy saved me when I needed someone. For years she and my mom maintained a strong friendship through university and beyond. When my mom became pregnant with me it was obvious who would be my godmom.
Judy and I had our weekly date for many years. I believed the fairy godmother from Cinderella was made because of her then my mom died. Nannies and the stepmom came into my life as she faded into the background. Six years later, after an extreme fight with my dad, I made a call to Judy. It was my cry for help, and she answered. She recommended I should go through the foster system so she can be registered to be my foster mom. That way she could get money to support me.
It felt like my life and, my childhood, began again after a long blackout. As I grew older, got married and became a mom she remained an important part my life. She was my shoulder and gave me advice. In this moment, I needed her. I forgot. She is gone. I will never forget her nor will her grandchildren.
If you have a special mom or mother figure in your life, phone her or contact her today. You never know when it will be the last. I would like to forget how she died, so I will focus on how she lived.

The Irony of Anti-Bullying

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 9.15.31 PM My ears are burning before it clicks with what she just said to me. Tomorrow is Anti-Bullying Day. She commented on how cute my daughter will look in pink for Anti-Bullying Day. I shrug my shoulders and say, “ Well, if she wants to wear pink?” The woman stared at me aghast and mentioned she would’ve thought ‘families like mine’ would make sure my children wear pink. Because it’s Anti-Bullying Day. I jump back into my car because I need to get my older daughter to her school. At that moment, the irony hits me smack upside my forehead. Did she just want me to strong-arm my girl into ‘making’ her wear pink for one day?

For the past few years, Anti-Bullying Day has grown in popularity, which is great. We give our children the freedom to wear pink, or any other colour for that day. It is their choice. That’s the whole point.

We commend everybody who does to wear it. We appreciate what started this conversation. Funny thing is, when you live and breathe bullies every day 24/7, 365 days a year, you’re good.

I pull-up to my older daughter’s school, give her a hug and spy her running off with her friends. I think of the irony, it’s just one day. But for us, it’s a lifetime. It is not about wearing pink for one day a year as a symbol of anti-bullying.

Anti-bullying teaching begins at home, it is in words and actions. We all have choices, to be kind or not.

A Gift From My Mother

I get into position to begin my freestyle program for the upcoming regional competition later this week. I start as I hear my music come though the arena loudspeakers. I am fueled by the power and motivation that I will make this double salchow. I have to do it. There is no point of me competing if I can’t do the jump to give me higher points. Here we go. Up and away I go. Half way through I think about the land and feel that I will not make it. I land on two feet again. Ignoring my coach, I continue the routine. I do love figure skating but am not competitive. My family is filled with figure skaters.  When I showed interest at four years old, they jumped me into lessons.

The wind from my speed stirs me around the corner towards the viewing area where all the moms, grandparents and other spectators are watching today’s practice. I look up and catch my mom’s eye. Her smile warms the chill I had felt.  Seeing her face reminds me of the talk we had just this morning. She looked me in the eye and told me to have fun, and that is all that matters. If I am nervous, don’t be.  Just have fun.

My mom died of breast cancer a week after that fateful day in the arena 31 years ago. Today. I am in the viewing area of the local gymnasium watching my eight-year-old going through her routine.  She does not land everything nor complete her rolls. I told her the same thing my mother told me all those years ago. When the fun stops we will find something that is.

Through the double-pane glass, I see my darling daughter searching for me. Our eyes connect and share a warm smile.  The class does their wrap up song and then the door opens.

I hold my arms out to welcome my little acrobat. I ask her if she had fun. She replies with a big YES! I get her shoes on and we head out the door to the car.

I only had my mother for the first ten years of my life. I never appreciated her mothering gifts until I became a mom. She never was a great housekeeper or cook, but she gave me a great lesson. Unconditional love is the best gift I received from my mom. We have a lot more in common than I realize since being a mom myself.

I smile to myself as we pull away in the car. Knowing I parent as my mom did with me makes me feel closer to her.

Last Happy Picture of Me and My mom

Don’t Go

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I try to steady my shaky hands. Swallowing doesn’t help put my heart back in my chest. I am afraid to talk in case the tears fall. I know I have to let her do this simple task. All her friends are doing it. She is old enough. I know I can trust her. I have been raising a great kid.

“Can you drop me off there, Mom?” is still ringing in my ears and heart. She wants to be dropped off at the school driveway.

Exhaling a long breath, I nod. My voice has left the car. She unbuckles, grabs her Monster High backpack and gets out of the car. She leans in my window to kiss me goodbye. Not waiting for me to say anything back, she races off to see her friends at the playground.

It was just yesterday when she didn’t want to leave my arms.

It was just yesterday when she started to run back into my arms.

It was just yesterday she played dress up in my closet.

It was just yesterday when I wanted to pee alone.

She must have sensed me still watching her. She turns around to wave at me and goes back to playing. My eyes sting with tears that is ready to burst. Time does go too fast.

“Don’t go.” I say to the empty car. My voice travels over the discarded toys and booster seats.

“Don’t go.”

The New Valentine’s Day

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I spy my husband’s truck pulling around to our home. I see the red balloons bopping up in the passenger’s seat. I do not tell our daughters that daddy will be home any minute. A smile reaches my lips when I recall the Valentine’s Days of our past, or rather before we had kids.

On our first Valentine’s Day we never saw each other. I had high school classes and he had to work. After Social Studies I went to my locker. I felt bummed that for the first time having a boyfriend on V Day  I will not see him. The previous year, my boyfriend had broken up with me the day before Valentine’s Day.  I turned my lock and unclicked it. As I swing open the door I got confused for a second. There was a white long box in my locker. Then I realised they were roses from him. I opened the box and smelled the fragrant flowers. I could not stop smiling all through the rest of the day. For years after we never went all out for Valentine’s Day. How could he top the one that meant so much, so I never expect it?

Since being parents, we stay in for February 14th. As our girls get older we have made the day more about family love. My husband brings home a small gift for each. Having girls, we desire to set the precedent that they are worth being acknowledged and loved. For dinner we either order out for a Boston Pizza heart shaped pizza or we cook favorite foods.  One year we ate all red foods like tomato sauce with pasta, cupcakes and, for us, red wine.

After the paper plates (no cleaning required) are cleared, we break out a game. Our favorite right now is playing Wii bowling. We cheer each other on as we take our turns. For bedtime story we read a special story like: Clifford We Love You.  We laugh and enjoy our special night. When they get even older, we probably will not see them for dinner on that day. Right now, I love that we make it about us being together.