Let's Talk Making Memories

An Appliance for Mother’s Day? No, I Got a Memory Maker!

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

When my friends found out what I asked for, and got, for Mother’s Day, they all thought that I was nuts. There reaction ranged from “you wanted an appliance”, said in a tone of complete disbelief, to “won’t that just make more work for you”. Well, yes and no, it’s not really work if it’s something you enjoy.

I got an ice cream maker for Mother’s Day. And, no matter what others think, I really like my ice cream maker. I have fond childhood memories of homemade ice cream. The maker my parents owned was a huge monster of a thing. I remember my parents putting it in the kitchen sink to help minimize the mess. My mom would fill the cylinder with all the ingredients and then mom and dad would take turns stuffing ice or snow, if it was winter, around it to keep it cold as it mixed. If too much ice got packed in, the cylinder would get stuck and then my dad would mutter not nice things under his breath as he tried to get it going again. All the while, my sister, brother and I would be chirping in the background, “Is it done yet?  Is it done yet? Is it done yet?”. It took a couple of hours for the ice cream to set up enough to eat.  But, oh man, that was the best ice cream ever.

I wanted my son to have the same memories so that’s why I wanted an ice cream maker. My maker is a lot different from my parents. It’s compact and I don’t need loads of ice (or snow). I freeze the cylinder over night, then mix up the ingredients and let them chill for a couple of hours, pour the mixture into the cylinder, put it into the machine and 20 minutes later you have ice cream. I wasn’t disappointed. My son was so excited the first time I made ice cream, I thought he would bounce out of his skin before it was finished.

I’ve made two batches of ice cream so far, one chocolate and one vanilla. They didn’t last long. Next I want to try coffee flavoured; my parents used to make great coffee ice cream with their ice cream maker and I saw a recipe online for avocado ice cream that looked really tasty. I think the ice cream maker is already a huge success. It’s already making great ice cream and great memories.

Health Let's Talk

The Warrior

Getting Real With & Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

The Warrior

A true warrior

Who’d fight till the end

Is it a sister, neighbor, lover

Maybe your best friend

Is it the soldier

Who wears a uniform each day

Walking out the door

Maybe the last of their stay

Your neighbor

Leaving from time to time

Family waits their return

Their life on the line

The friend

Talking to you dusk to dawn

Wondering if you’ll be okay

Check on you the next early morn

It might be the person

Who takes you to lunch

Giving you a big hug

Whispering I love you so much

A family member

Who becomes extremely ill

You become their warrior

Giving them strength to heal

See warriors change face

All the time

They don’t always hide

Behind enemy lines

Our warriors stare

Us straight in the face

We never know it

Because we ‘re looking in the wrong place

Always thinking the warrior

Our father, husband or brother

When all along the warrior

Was our mother


In Honor of Mom . . .

We learn first about love from our moms. They protect us and care for us and allow us to stretch their bodies out of shape and make it so their bladders never quite work the same – and they do all that before we’re even born. Then, once we arrive, moms provide the security and safety to get us through those first months when we can’t fend for ourselves. It is through the love of our mothers that we first experience the world.

Obviously, we think moms are pretty important, and we go about trying to put a little Mother’s Day into every day. On this special day, though, we invited all of our contributors to share a little something about their moms – the women who helped make them the great moms they are today.

From Lisa Van De Graaff…

My mother makes everything, really every thing, special. She made clothes for me as a child and matching clothes for my dolls, she taught me to garden and cook and draw and dance by doing it with me side-by-side, and she created memorable celebrations for each of our individual and family achievements. On rainy days, we cooked Snickerdoodles together, on sunny days we had picnics, and every day was filled with her infectious laughter. She was and continues to be a shining example of a person’s capacity for unconditional love of family and dear friends. Somewhere in my 20s, our relationship shifted to a deep and knowing friendship, and now that I am a mother, we are best friends. I treasure my mother. I remember my grandmother telling me that when she held my mother in her arms for the first time, she looked at my mother’s translucent skin and could see and feel that she was a pearl – a rare and natural gem that would bring joy and beauty to the world. Grandma was absolutely right.

From Wanda Morrissey…

I’ve started and deleted this, I don’t know how many times. I can’t seem to find the right words to say how special my mom is to me. My mom was always there for my siblings and I, no matter what. She would go to bat for us when she felt we had been wronged, she would listen when we needed a sympathetic ear, she always had a hug and kiss ready for us and she made sure we never wanted for anything. She felt our hurts, rejoiced in our accomplishments and cheered us on when we needed it. My mom is the most loving, caring, thoughtful person I know. She’s always willing to lend a hand and help in any way she can. Now there’s 2000 kilometres of Canadian highway separating my mom and I and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I lived closer to my mom. I miss you, Mom. I hope that I can be as good a mom as you are.  I love you, Mom.

From Jennifer Poole…

I come from a family of strong, independent Irish women. My grandma is still going strong at 100 1/2 years old.  My mom raised two girls on her own from the time I was 5 until I was 15. She taught my sister and I how to be independent and responsible. She juggled work, home, and family to help ensure we grew up to become the confident women we are today. My sister and I learned by example how to hold our heads high and know that we can accomplish anything we want! You hear so much about troubled kids coming from single parent homes and we were far from perfect but we were good kids who became caring and dedicated adults thanks to our mom.

From Kathy Winn…

Plain and simple, my mom is the most important woman in my life. Even as an adult with a career, family and children of my own, I look to her for guidance, support and friendship. We’ve laughed together and cried together. She’s dropped everything to help me when I needed her, never stopping to ask any questions. She is generous and strong. She will give her all until there is nothing left. As an RN in an emergency room for decades, she works hard and is admired by her peers (and can run circles around those striving to be her peers). And watching her as a grandma to my boys is one of the greatest blessings in my life. In all my life, I never doubt that she will be there for me. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

From Danica Sorber…

My mother is important to me because, not only did she survive an incredibly abusive relationship during my childhood, she raised three children on her own despite the struggles of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. She is a woman with strength beyond human bounds, and a love for her family that cannot be measured in human words. She has given up everything to be a mother, and is still the most generous and kind woman I know. I love my mom—she is woman who helped make me into the woman I am today…a woman who will teach her own daughters the true beauty in strength, perseverance, and love.

From Veronica Ibarra…

My mother is a pillar of strength and practicality. Growing up she would always answer my questions about anything and everything. She was always someone to whom I could turn no matter how nervous or anxious I was about what I needed to talk about. She would always listen to everything I had to say. Sometimes she smiled, sometimes she frowned, but always she listened.  The only times she told me what to do were always in relation to chores and school responsibilities, but when it came to my life, my choices, she rarely offered advice. She would provide me with options and information as it related to whatever issue I had at the time then she would look at me in earnest and ask me what I planned to do. I won’t say that it didn’t matter what I decided, but she always supported me. If something didn’t work out then she encouraged me to figure out what I could and move on. Life continues, no matter what. She demonstrates this every day. Some of the things she has endured, like the death of my father leaving her to raise three kids would be testament enough, but she has been through so much more. To tell her story would amaze anyone, yet she wouldn’t see it that way. But for all her strength in the face of adversity and determination to raise her children to be competent, capable individuals, she is also fun and adventurous. She loves art projects, and still sends me care packages full of stickers and activities for my kids and me. She puts confetti in cards, and sticks out her tongue while blowing out if she thinks someone is being pig-headed or boring.  She taught me many things, and teaches me still.

From Shadra & Tiana …

We have written about our mom, Linda Lund, several times. She remains one of the biggest inspirations in our lives and in the way we mother our own children. Mom passed away in 2006, but her legacy lives on in us and in our daughters. We know that we would not be the moms we are today without her.

Health Let's Talk

From One Mother to Another, Happy Mother’s Day!

Getting Real With Amalia Starr

Just hearing the words, Mother’s Day, sends tears streaming down my face and forces me to sit down. It makes me reflect on the past, where I have come from to where I am today.

My first son, Matt, was born forty years ago. He was adorable, sweet, and easy to parent. Then two and half years later my second son, Brandon was born and my life began to fall apart. Yes, he has autism, epilepsy, and severe learning disorders. The road has been more than bumpy, it has needed paving many times over and major construction work often. It has been a very long and extremely difficult journey. I don’t want to pretend that getting to where we are today did not take tons of hard work from both Brandon and myself. But what made it work was patience, acceptance, and most of all, love, unconditional love. Yes, I know you have heard this before, but it is so true.

Brandon has given me a second chance in life, an opportunity to become a much kinder, caring and loving person. He has given me the strength to discard or change old negative behaviors.  He has taught me the true meaning of life by forgetting anything negative, and to focus on what is important – the here and now, today, not yesterday, not tomorrow. He simplifies life and focuses on what is at hand. He does not have many friends and is not able to express himself very well and is very naive. He has great difficulty in making his bed and opening cans are nearly impossible. He will never be able to drive a car so walking and buses are what he relies on to get him to where he is going. He is a simple man at age thirty-eight, and yet even when the professionals told us he would never be able to live alone we did not listen.

Brandon is a very determined man and when he wants something, he gets it. What a fabulous trait to have. There has not been much that he has wanted over the years, but living alone was not up for discussion, because he had to live by himself due to all the negative treatments he had received from his peers over all the years while growing up.

Yes, as parents we are fearful and extremely worried about our autistic children and what will happen to them as adults, and rightly so. But sometimes we are asked to dig deep, very deep, and to trust and be courageous, more courageous than anyone thought possible. There were many times I would ask myself if I had made a big mistake by allowing my son to be on his own. But over time, I saw Brandon grow and develop from experiencing everyday life. That was encouraging enough to allow my son to continue his dream of independence.

Next week, Brandon will be celebrating fourteen years of independence. His life is far from perfect and never will be. Almost everyday there are challenges for him to work through. My goal is to keep Brandon living independently long after I am gone. I will work with him until the day I leave the planet. He is my inspiration. He gave me my calling. Today, I am an autism motivational speaker, independent living coach, and author. We have a very rich and deep connection, even when no words are spoken. As far as for my oldest son Matt, this is the year to rekindle the beautiful relationship we once had.  It is true the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It is time Matt gets more attention from me.  The beautiful part of all this is that it is never too late.

Moms, I know you too work very hard so please do something special for yourself today. You know what they say, “If mom is happy so is the rest of the family.”

Happy Mother’s Day!


Mom’s Legacy

It’s almost Mother’s Day again. These years, Mother’s Day is very different for us. Our mom, Linda, died in 2006 after a long battle against cancer. Mother’s Day 2006 we could barely force ourselves to acknowledge the day because we were still grieving so terribly. The past years have been easier, but never without their moments of longing for just one more afternoon with mom. We’ve spent the beginning of each of the past three Mother’s Days at the cemetery, spending a moment connecting with mom by leaving flowers at her grave and telling her how much we miss her.  Now, Tiana is in Utah and I’m in New York – 2,500 miles away from where she was laid to rest.  We’ve realized over the last few years, though, that mom is with us all the time…and we owe her a debt of gratitude for the success we’ve had as moms and as stepmoms.

When mom was 11, her parents split up. This was in 1961, when divorce was not common. Technically, our grandpa took off, leaving our grandma with four kids, of whom our mom was the oldest. The youngest, our uncle, was only six weeks old.  Our grandma didn’t have any money, and our mom lived in poverty. After a time, she also got a step dad and a new sister (shortly after her 16th birthday), along with a long-distance move that left her spending her senior year in a high school full of strangers. She knew all about being a stepkid, about what it felt like to have a parent abandon her, and about how lost and lonely you can feel when your family disintegrates.

When I got married, not only did mom welcome my stepkids with the open, loving arms of a grandmother (Nana, the kids all called her) but she took a particular interest in trying to fill them up with love to wash away the pain they had experienced from having a parent choose a life away from them. As Tiana and I added kids of our own, she cherished them in ways that have left a lasting impression on all of her grandkids, all of whom remember her with joy and happy memories.

When I was first learning to be a stepmom, it was our mom who helped me do better. When I was exasperated because Dave and I couldn’t get a babysitter and get any time alone, she reminded me how much the kids needed to feel like I wanted them there. When I was frustrated because I felt like an outsider, she helped me understand what it must be like for the kids to have a stranger suddenly living with them. When I felt like my stepdaughter was trying to undermine my authority, she helped me realize how terrified Kira must have been to have her mom gone and only her dad to cling to.

When Tiana was having her babies, our mom was at her side. When her marriage fell apart, mom helped her deal with having four kids under 7 years old on her own. Whenever either of us needed advice, mom was the one we turned to first. With her gone, we rely on each other. I share with Tiana what I’ve learned about being a stepmom. We share memories of her and strive to honor her.

Our mom died because her heart gave out. The chemotherapy treatment was too much for her heart to handle. But we always think about how much her heart gave in the time she was with us…how she helped me open my heart and transform a little group of virtual strangers into a strong and loving family, how even my youngest daughter, who was only four when Mom died, still sings the songs she learned from Nana and still remembers cuddling with her, how each of us have inherited some of her strengths. She may be gone, but her gift of love lives on in us, in our children, and in the many people whose lives she touched.

It is in her spirit and memory that we have started MomsGetReal™.com … we want to share with others the joy that comes from motherhood – and share the laughter, tears, frustrations, and tear-your-hair-out moments that happen along the way. We hope you’ll join us.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom (Nana). We love you and miss you so very much.