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Nov 24 2014

That Time Dr. Oz Ambushed Me at the Grocery Store

By at 3:53 pm

That Time Dr. Oz Ambushed Me at the Grocery Store

So we’ve all been sitting on our couch watching TV, at one time or another, and have seen someone get ambushed at the grocery store. The slender, healthy TV personality (in full make-up) goes through the chips, soda, cookies, and white bread in the shopping cart and they tell the poor, unprepared mom who just popped in, sans make-up, with her yoga pants on, why her children should not be eating sugary snacks.

I never thought it would happen to me.

On a random Thursday I popped into my local Publix grocery store with my 1-year-old, sans make-up (with yoga pants and my worn and beloved orange and blue Coca-Cola t-shirt on) for my regular mid-week shopping trip. This trip usually consists of things I forgot to get over the weekend, or things like fruit and milk that we’ve run out of. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 22 2014

Why I Won’t Let My Son’s Allergies Be Anyone’s Problem But Ours

By at 11:48 am

Why I Won’t Let My Son’s Allergies Be Anyone’s Problem But Ours

At the age of 4, my oldest son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. He was also determined to be allergic to dairy, chocolate, and eggs, i.e. The Four Kid Food Groups.

The allergies weren’t life-threatening. The biggest problem was that he’d get congested, the fluid would clog up his ears, and, in addition to recurring infections, he ended up suffering a hearing loss and speech delays before we caught on and removed the above four products from his diet. (The amount of time that it took us to notice goes under the heading Parenting Fail. I have many.)

For his entire elementary school career, he was extremely diligent about his diet. Even as a 5-year-old, he knew that he couldn’t partake in the pizza, cake, and ice cream served at most birthday parties. If my husband and I could arrange it, we’d send him with his own treat (my husband, the engineer, had figured out how to bake his own cakes out of more or less flour, sugar…and air). But, if it wasn’t possible for us to pack him a special meal, he just abstained. The practice taught him amazing self-discipline that I can only hope will come in handy now that he’s a typical, risk-taking teen. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 20 2014

My Mastectomy, My Story

By at 9:58 am

i got a mastectomy

Cancer runs in my family. About nine years ago, when my aunt was suffering from ovarian cancer, after having battled breast cancer, doctors identified a mutation in her BRCA1 gene. Sure enough, this mutation is associated with increased risks of breast and ovarian cancer. My father tested himself and found that his DNA had the same mutation. This genetic mutation is either inherited from a parent or, with equal chances, is not.

I decided to get tested, and I learned that I, too, have a BRCA1 mutation known as 185delAG. This mutation, a missing piece in the 185th position of a very long strand of DNA, has been a part of my cells from the very start. News but not new; the newness was in knowing about it. This mutation is what is known as a “founder mutation,” which  means that it’s thought to have originated from a single individual. Because this mutation has been found among Sephardic Jews as well as Ashkenazic Jews, some estimate that the mutation predates the dispersion of Jews after the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 14 2014

In My Friend’s Memory, I’m Raising Awareness for Pregnancy-Associated Breast Cancer

By at 10:25 am

belly

Last October, I wrote about how devastated I was to learn of a dear friend’s pregnancy-associated breast cancer diagnosis. I wrote in order to spread awareness of a rare disease and to honor her fight. This month–Breast Cancer Awareness Month–I write again about my friend. To again spread awareness, but now to honor her memory.

At the end of July, my friend’s husband had to tell their daughters–4 and not quite 2–that their mom wasn’t coming home again. She was a week shy of her 36th birthday. Despite nine rounds of chemo, the cancer had spread to her brain and spinal fluid. She’d been diagnosed only 10 months earlier.

I think of my friend daily. We knew each other for only four years, but we got together every other week for most of that time. It’s hard not to go to the places we frequented and not expect her to walk up. I see her sitting in my basement while our kids play together. I see her at my side as we sweated through a Stroller Strides class. I see her in my dining room during my daughter’s birthday party. I see her getting into her car and pulling away from my house for the last time. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 8 2014

Will Sukkot Be the Same If We Leave the Farm?

By at 11:17 am

Sukkah-Tanya

On Sunday afternoon, our family walked around the farm looking for a place to build our sukkah. I like to have a new location each year so we can have distinct memories of each Sukkot.

We chose a sandy spot near the barn on the top of a hill that we called the beach when we first moved in because it is the sandiest soil on the farm. It is a spot where you can grow Mediterranean herbs and not much else, where you can imagine a desert, imagine the land of Israel. Imagine a new home.

Sukkot is always one of our favorite Jewish holidays. We love building our sukkah right on the edge of our fields in the midst of the fall harvest. Sukkot is the perfect holiday for Jewish farmers like us, connecting us directly with farmers from long ago, celebrating the bounty and enjoying the first cool days. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 11 2014

The Three Things I Never Thought I’d Let My Son Do

By at 3:32 pm

sippy-cup

Back when I was pregnant, I had many preconceived notions about the type of parent I’d be and the things I would and would not tolerate. But now that I’ve been a parent for over two and a half years, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let go of those thoughts, plans, and ideas, and instead adapt to your circumstances. Case in point: There are three things in particular I always said I’d never let my toddler do–but now he does:

1. Drink Juice.

As an avid baker and self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I believe in letting my toddler indulge in moderation. But to me, juice is just a waste of sugar. At playdates, I’d politely decline when parents offered juice as an option. And at daycare, I gave my son’s teacher strict instructions to provide him with water instead of juice at snack time. But one day at pick up, she informed me that my son had gotten very upset when he realized he was the only child at the table with water instead of juice. I thought about it and realized that causing my son to feel left out was far more detrimental to his wellbeing than the small amount of sugar the daycare’s watered-down kiddie juice cups contained. I still do my best to avoid serving him juice, especially if we’re home or in a controlled environment. But if we’re in a situation where he actively requests it, I don’t automatically say no.  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 12 2014

What I Can’t Stand About the #ShareACoke Pregnancy Announcement

By at 9:58 am

mcgill-cuddys

If you’ve been on the internet recently, you may have noticed a video going around about a couple announcing they are expecting by way of the new “Share a Coke” campaign. In case no one has posted it to your Facebook page, you can watch it here:

For many who have watched it, they first noticed how original this concept was to publicize a pregnancy. For others, they observed the high production value of the video. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 11 2014

I’m Turning into My Mother-in-Law & I Think I Like it

By at 9:57 am

Mah-Jong

Mah Jongg is an old lady game.”

I tried to block out those words as I carried the small red suitcase of tiles to my first lesson. I had fully assumed I wouldn’t like it, but honestly, once I understood the whole “crack bam dot” business, it was a blast.  Challenging, fast moving and competitive, all of the qualities I like best in a game.

“So I like Mah Jongg,” I told myself, “doesn’t mean I’m old.”  Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 22 2014

Why I Don’t Believe in Family Secrets

By at 4:03 pm

family-secrets

Secrets are not good for a healthy family life.

Discretion is. But secrets are not.

I was already in my 30s when one of my closest friends, the daughter of my mother’s best friend, told me that my grandmother had had multiple sclerosis and my own mother had a mild form of the same disorder. I remembered my grandmother being unable to walk, but my mother would never discuss why. If I asked, she’d say, “It doesn’t matter.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 27 2014

Coming Out of the Cancer Closet After 20 Years

By at 4:36 pm

cancer-closet

A few years ago, my mom’s cousin passed away from ovarian cancer. While I live far away and could not attend the funeral or shiva, I wanted to do something and so I wrote a note to each of her children, my cousins, sharing with them personal recollections I had of their mom and hoping that these memories would help bring them comfort. I also made a donation in her memory to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Since then, I have been receiving the Fund’s email updates and newsletters on a regular basis, usually a few times a month. They have been sitting in my inbox, or when I think to move them, in a separate folder, all unread. I can’t bring myself to delete them because what if, God forbid, I ever need to glean some tiny but important piece of information from them, and yet, I can’t bring myself to open them, because for the past 20 years I have been trying to move on and live a “normal” life. But the fact remains, I am an ovarian cancer survivor.

During my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 of a very rare but also very chemo-responsive form of ovarian cancer. After betting I could keep up with several friends in the gym and doing 200 sit-ups in one day, I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain and drove myself to the emergency room believing I had appendicitis. (In hindsight, I should not have been driving and should have called 911.) Read the rest of this entry →

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