Personal Foul goes to Donald Sterling: Ejection!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:16+00:00 April 29th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

That’s what the majority of people are calling for against the owner of the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling, who was recorded by his mistress saying incredibly despicable and racist things. Sterling’s punishment, just handed down by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, is a lifetime ban from the sport of basketball along with a $2.5 million dollar fine! Woot!! The fine is the maximum allowed, and there is still a chance (likelihood) that the rest of the NBA owners will vote and force Sterling to sell the team. As my 7 year old said when he saw Sterling’s face on the front page of the paper this morning, “He’s gross!” Indeed, the beliefs expressed in the recordings are racist and vile and completely unacceptable. That is certainly the bigger issue here, but I can’t seem to escape wanting to point a finger at the mistress as well, she clearly had motive and will certainly enjoy 15 minutes as a result. Oh well, that’s for another outlet to cover. There are allegedly 100 hours of rants by this guy that will only incriminate him further. We don’t need to hear it. We know he’s a racist and we need to shut him down and not give a forum to his thoughts and beliefs. We need to stand together as a community and let the “closet bigots” know we won’t stand for this kind of talk. But, as we do that, we need to take care not to punish the innocents here, like the guys on the LA Clippers basketball team. They are just doing what they love and trying to be the best they can be under the circumstances. They still have to wear the jersey, and still have to show up for playoff games. It’s tied right now against the Golden State Warriors and the whole country will be watching! The team members shouldn’t be made to hang their heads in shame because of the awful things uttered by a meaningless individual. I’ve always been a Laker fan (don’t ask), but for the rest of the series at least, I will be a Clippers fan, because I can’t imagine how hard it must be for this team to show up and still do their best in the face of all this madness. I will stand with them and let them know that I understand these disgusting thoughts are not theirs and they shouldn’t be punished as well. Will you stand with me?

Totems are on the ball!

Totems are on the ball!

Stay well.

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:16+00:00 April 27th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

I love Cardinals, always have. The birds, not the team, not that there’s anything wrong with the team, but I am only referring to the birds at the moment! I see them everywhere, and if I don’t see them I tend to hear their distinctive call and it always makes me smile. On a recent outing, Owl and I came across a cardinal, and it made us both smile!

Owl and Friend!

Owl and Friend!

Get an Owl of your own by clicking on the image to the left, or any other Totem to take around town!

Stay well.

To rescue or not to rescue….

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:16+00:00 April 25th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

that is a regular parenting question. At what point do we intervene when we see a scenario playing out that may end badly? And by badly, I don’t mean injuries or anything potentially traumatic, then we should almost always get involved. (I say “almost always” because one of these days in my house, one brother is going to sock another brother in the eye, and a lesson will be learned.) I am referring to disagreements, missed homework assignments, etc.. I have an anxious kid, and anyone with an anxious kid knows that as parents we have to be prepared for almost anything that may set that anxiety rolling. Doesn’t necessarily mean we avoid or prevent the anxiety, but at least we are prepared for it. That’s why I always have Totems on me, because you never know when you might need a tactile tool to help you stay calm. Anyway, the kids had been on vacation for about a week and a half. We went here for a couple days, they went there for a couple days, and now they were home and gearing up to go back to school. Along the way, they were queried on homework and they all said, “yeah, I don’t have much”, or “I’ve got it covered.” Well, wouldn’t you know that the night before school, there was a major freak out over work that wasn’t done, or work that was forgotten about. My older one took it all in stride and was happy to stay up later than usual to work on an art project that frustratingly came out great even though he rushed it. Frustrating to me of course, no surprise to him. That’s when you get the “Well duh, Mom”, look. My middle kid (the anxious one), struggled through the math homework, with me right alongside him, because who the heck knows (or cares) what the equation for the surface area of a cube is?! Geez! But we did it! I mean, he did it!! He was proud of himself for getting it done and still leaving time to rock out to Greenday. So imagine my absolute misery when after shoving them out the door to school the next morning, I noticed that the math homework was left on the dining room table. What was I to do? He had been out the door long enough that it wasn’t a simple turnaround to grab the homework. I could call on his phone and try to rush to catch up with him in time, but I was under the weather and still had to get my little one ready for school. Or, I could let him deal with the consequence of not being prepared, it is sixth grade after all. I opted for the consequence, which of course, had consequences for me. I waited all day, anxiously, for the phone to ring with a tearful kid on the line begging me to bring his work. The phone never did ring and my son showed up at home, just like he did most every school day, content. I asked how his day was and he said it was fine, and then I said “You forgot your math.” He hung his head and said “I know, but I can bring it in tomorrow.” Wow!! My sweet, sensitive kid handled a situation that in the past would have reduced him to tears and panic, with remorse and maturity! Yay!! Hmmmm, bet that wouldn’t have happened if I had rescued him!!

Knight in shining Totems!!

Knight in shining Totems!!

If you don’t have a Totem to rescue you, click on the images to the left of your screen and choose one today!

Stay well.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:16+00:00 April 23rd, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

This week’s choice for WARRIOR is a bit of an unconventional one, because of his connection to the academic life of one of my kids. He is my son’s math teacher, but alas he is so much more. This man made it possible for my son to find a confidence in mathematics that we had all but sealed up and filed away in that carton that sits under your bed collecting dust for years. This man goes above and beyond for his students in all the classes that he teaches, and he commands respect from the kids while receiving total adoration from the parents. This week’s WARRIOR is Tim O’Mara. O’Mara also happens to be a successful novelist, having published two novels, with two others in the works! As if his devotion to his students in the classroom wasn’t enough, Mr. O’Mara, helps outside the classroom, too. He does this in a very quiet way, and if it hadn’t been for a friend’s posting on Facebook, I’m not sure I would have ever found out about O’Mara’s birthday request. In a completely selfless act, O’Mara began a fundraising campaign for his birthday a couple weeks ago, but not for himself!  In lieu of birthday gifts, O’Mara offered the alternative of making a donation to help send one of his students to summer camp. Yep, a birthday gift, that he would in turn use to fund a students tuition at an outreach camp for at-risk youth called, Ramapo for Children.

WARRIOR Tim!

WARRIOR Tim!

I have been called a suck-up before, and I’m proud of it, and darn good at it, but O’Mara doesn’t need sucking up, he needs gratitude, which I am happy to show by not only making him this week’s WARRIOR, but by making a birthday donation to his very worthy cause. I remember at this year’s first Parent/Teacher conference, I decided to bring Mr. O’Mara a Bulldog Totem Set, not only to show my gratitude for having such a positive influence on my son, but also because he made a valiant effort to lead a class on mindfulness, in a school filled with teen’s and pre-teen’s. He was truly appreciative and moved, and said he couldn’t remember if or when he had ever received a gift at a Parent/Teacher conference. It was a gift well-earned, as is the title of WARRIOR WEDNESDAY! Keep up the good work Mr. O’Mara, and I planned to publish this late in the day so you wouldn’t think that I was trying to get you to go easy on my kid, who happened to leave his Math homework on the dining room table this morning!

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem Set yet, look left and choose from one of our four awesome Totems!

Happy Day!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:16+00:00 April 20th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

Today is a holiday for some and if it is for you, Totem Tamers wishes you a joyous one. For everyone else, Totem Tamers wishes you a happy day!

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If you would like a Totem to add to your happiness, click on the images on the left to help you choose which Totem is right for you!

7 years old and going on 40!

By | 2014-04-17T10:16:51+00:00 April 17th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

I love having conversations with my kids. With three boys at different ages, the conversations always vary among them and are certainly very interesting and even educational. It’s usually them, schooling me, of course. Sometimes it’s a conversation among the four of us and those are definitely eye-opening. We were all in the car the other day and for some reason started talking about relatives past. My grandmother Selma, whom they never had the chance to meet. My brother, who met two of my boys but they were so young they have no memory of it. Their great-grandpa Bleskoski, who I referred to as a real pisser, and then had to explain what a real pisser was! We talked about two of their Uncles on their Dad’s side, whom none of us had ever met, yet my middle son’s middle name belongs to one of them. It was a sweet, yet melancholy conversation, and I was glad to be able to talk freely with the boys about their families. I am very open in these discussions, it’s a parenting style that may not be right for everyone, but I know it’s right for our family. Especially when my 7 year old tells me so! As will happen in many of these family conversations, my little one will pop out with some nugget of wisdom that validates, while keeping me on my proverbial parenting toes! Maybe it’s his coping mechanism, when he comes out with these statements in the middle of an otherwise heavy conversation, either way I’m glad he has the comfort to do so. So here we are, talking about ghosts of relatives past, and my youngest says “Some kids don’t really know how babies are made.” We all turn to look at him for further information and a hint as to where he is going with this statement. Doesn’t take him long before he starts to talk about how some of his friends aren’t told the truth when it comes to how babies are made, and apparently it really annoys him. He continues on by questioning why parents would tell their kids silly things like “you were delivered by a bird,” or “you came from a rainbow with sparkles and glitter.” That last one got a giggle out of all of us! When my son turned to me though and said, “You don’t do that Mom, you tell us the truth,” I knew this was important to him and therefore important to me. I try to tell my kids the truth about most everything, and I do it in a way that will hopefully preserve their openness about the world around them. This is important, because the morning after Santa has paid a visit, or the Tooth Fairy leaves money under their pillows, that little innocent sparkle and glitter in their eyes from their rainbow journey in to my world, lights up my heart for an eternity.

Speak your truth.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers is all about truth and realize that we all have anxiety and that recognizing the anxiety and using simple tools can help us get through just about anything! If you don’t have a Totem yet, click on the left and choose one today!

Me, a "calming voice" at the PTA meeting? According to one person, I was.

By | 2014-04-12T10:23:25+00:00 April 12th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

That’s what a friend (and PTA co-pres) said to me yesterday as I walked out of the PTA meeting before it had officially ended. I realize now that I didn’t thank her for saying that to me because I was still busy deflecting all the death glares I got from speaking up during the meeting. Ok, maybe not death glares, but you know those looks from the disapproving moms who click their tongues in horror that someone might actually have a valid thought, yeah, those looks. Most of the parents and the teachers have been up in arms about the standardized testing we experience once a year in the state. They come in two parts, one for English Language skills, and another for Math. These tests take hours and they are supposed to measure how well a child is learning and consequently how well a teacher is teaching. It’s not accurate, at all. Some kids suck at taking tests, and the teachers have lost their license to truly teach because they are so busy focusing on getting the kids to do well on testing, that they have become automatons. I remember taking the tests when I was younger and we looked forward to them because it meant a break from our daily routine. It also meant that after a couple hours of bubbling circles with our Number 2 pencil, that we were going to get a very long recess. The test was generally a positive experience from my childhood. In NYC, that’s a different story. Kids are stressed out and parents are stressed out and schools that get graded on how their students perform on the test are stressed out. It’s stressful!!! And it was that stress that was becoming more apparent in this PTA meeting, as parent after parent complained about the anxiety and the toll it was taking on their children. Yes, there are plenty of kids who get stressed out over testing and beat themselves up if they don’t do well, and worry about how they will perform, etc.. Those kids however, didn’t come out of the womb with those feelings. We, as their parents, hold some responsibility for how our children cope. Yup, that’s basically what I said at the meeting that got me laser beam eyes from across the room. Children are awesome in their ability to recover from challenging experiences, more so if we give them the tools to cope through the challenges. And yes, I know all too well the struggles of an anxious child, I have one, so that gives me some credibility here. Children will reflect our thoughts and emotions, they are sponges that way. If we get all worked up, guess what will happen to our kids? Ding ding ding!!! They will get worked up too. That’s not to say that we should tell them the tests don’t matter and we don’t care how they do and they should just try their best, but we should talk about how they are feeling going in to the tests and help them manage those feelings. I have three kids and they are all different. My oldest, who has been through the testing many times at this point, shows no pressure from the testing even though he may experience it internally. My middle, who struggles with anxiety, can absolutely work himself in to a panic. The only thing I can do is help him with the panic, and if I’m panicked as well, I am useless to him. My little one hasn’t started testing yet, but I am fully prepared for what he has to throw at me. Bottom line, with the understanding that not all kids are the same, if we, as parents, are having difficulty handling our emotions, then so will our children. Period. Even if you are freaking out over the high stakes of testing, keep it to yourself! Don’t let your kids in on that pressure. Ok, I know there are a bunch of you now glaring at the screen because you think that kids should be able to see their parents under stress and see their parents coping with that stress. I don’t disagree, but there are moments when it’s appropriate and helpful, and others when it will just feed the feelings your kids are working hard to understand. Grab a Totem and hug your child, that’s the best teachable moment there is.

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem yet, what are you waiting for?! Click on the left and get one today. Oh, and stop glaring at me, I’m doing the best I can!!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR (GODDESS) WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:17+00:00 April 9th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

There are certain events in life that we get true enjoyment from that others may not understand. It could be the thrill of riding a roller coaster (no thanks,) it could be speaking in front of large groups of people (sure, why not), it could be putting ketchup on your scrambled eggs (we won’t be dining together,) or it could be chanting (Om Namah Sivaya) Oh my! Did I say chanting? Did you immediately conjure up an image of a bunch of bald headed monks in peach colored robes singing the same notes over and over like a drone? Of course you did, because if you haven’t experienced chanting as Kirtan, you wouldn’t know how beautiful, transcendent, and spiritually awakening, chanting can be. The rhyming technique we use in the Totem Tamers guide book is very similar to the concept of a mantra in that repeating words or phrases can be very calming and healing. I know, you want to call the men to come and take me away, but trust me, Kirtan’s are awesome, especially when the person leading the Kirtan is awesome. For me, that person is WARRIOR GODDESS, Suzin Green, whom I was introduced to by my mom (thanks mom!), and have been a devoted follower ever since. When Suzin sings, it’s as if the world stops and all you can do is float in the space between her call and your response. Look, Kirtan isn’t for everybody, but don’t judge if you’ve never been to one. Suzin has a new album out and it’s spectacular. This isn’t just a plug for the album, The Mantra Project Vol 1 Daughter of the Mountain, it’s also a resounding tribute to someone who works hard at bringing stillness to the masses. And it ain’t easy, but a few listens to Mangalam and you will find yourself freeing up without effort.

Om Sri Totem Kali!

Om Sri Totem Kali!

If you’ve never witnessed or participated in a Kirtan, I can’t recommend it enough, it is moving beyond words, even if you don’t sing. Just being in the room is transformative. It’s not about singing your heart out, it’s about singing your heart open. Thank you Suzin, for being a WARRIOR in my life and helping me recognize my inner WARRIOR, and I can only hope you do the same for many others.

Stay well.

Happy National Equal Pay Day!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:17+00:00 April 8th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

It’s totally ok if you didn’t know that today was National Equal Pay Day, because today is the first day of its kind, ever. President Barack Obama just proclaimed it to be so! As of today, women make only 77 cents to the dollar that every man makes, which is why equal pay has taken a front seat in a lot of upcoming political elections. To combat this discrepancy in pay, the President is creating legislation that will protect people from consequences in the workplace for discussing how much they make. Another opportunity for people to start conversations and to ultimately help everyone, as more and more women are becoming the primary breadwinners in households with young children. This definitely is a serious topic but I can’t seem to stop thinking about the candy bar, Pay Day! In honor of National Equal Pay Day, I believe we should all go out and purchase said candy bar, and split it with someone nearby! Or four someones….

National Equal Pay Day!

National Equal Pay Day!

The Totems have done their part, now won’t you?

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem to share your PayDay with, look left and choose one today!

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:17+00:00 April 7th, 2014|Life|

Definitely ready for Springtime!

Tangerine Totems!

Tangerine Totems!

Are you ready for Spring? Take your Totem around town and send us some pictures of your Totems enjoying the new season! If you don’t have a Totem, look to your left and choose one today!!

Stay well.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:17+00:00 April 2nd, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

This is the first time (and probably only time) in the short history of WARRIOR WEDNESDAY, that we will honor an online dating site. Truthfully, we wouldn’t normally honor an online dating site, but really just because online dating sucks. I know, trust me! But in the land of suckiness, there is a beacon of light in the form of OkCupid! Other than being one of the better dating sites, if not the best online dating site, OkCupid apparently also has a conscience!

Fire your arrows, Cupid!

Fire your arrows, Cupid!

Firefox is an internet browser that many people use, and many people use it to troll profiles on OkC, but the message above is what they were faced with when trying to access the Cupid page. Now, you could still access the site through a link at the bottom of the message, but the mere fact that OkCupid is making an example of someone so narrow-minded and short-sighted, is worthy of praise! So troll with confidence all you OkC users, knowing that a WARRIOR has your back!

Stay well.

Feel free to troll the profiles on the left for the Totem of your dreams, we do not judge which animal Totem strikes your fancy!

How I met your Totem!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:17+00:00 April 1st, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

For the most part, I think I’m a darn good parent. My kids are so far so good, even as children of divorce (shhhh, it’s true, it is possible!) Of course, their respective therapists will hopefully do a fine job of untwisting them when they get older, so there’s that for them to look forward to. If I had to answer the difficult question of ways I could improve my parenting, I would definitely answer that I wish I had more of a chance to spend alone time with each of my three kids, and that sometimes when I yell “Because I said so,” that I wouldn’t cringe in horror while they could still see me and therefore discredit me. And I guess, maybe, but just maybe, I would try to censor a bit more of their exposure to mature themes. Anyone who has children of varying ages will agree that the youngest is most likely witnessing scenes that your oldest would never have witnessed at the same age. For example, my oldest didn’t have a clue what a Power Ranger was until he was 6 years old and in school. My youngest, Power Ranger for Halloween at age 2. Ooops! Another such example would be the watching of an extremely popular sitcom called “How I Met Your Mother.” Yes, this is what we watch on Netflix during family dinner. I know! Totally inappropriate is what you’re probably thinking, and you are absolutely right! So in an effort to make that abundantly clear, at least once in every episode we watch, if not several times, when any character says something sexually explicit that makes me cringe in horror, I yell at the top of my lungs “Inappropriate!” Sort of like when you’re on the golf course and you slice a shot that you know is going to take someone’s head off, so you holler “Fore!” It absolves you of any responsibility. The truth is, the kids don’t understand much of the innuendo thankfully, and the only line I have ever heard them repeat, is the one about “dropping a deuce.” Yeah, I live with three boys folks, pay attention! When the opportunity came up to get a Totem in to the hands of one of the stars of the show, I did what I had to do. I begged and pleaded until my new BFF made it happen (Thank you so much EB)! Totem Tamers is thrilled to say that Josh Radnor has met his Totem! I chose Bulldog for him. Just because. The show had their final episode last night, and we are still a couple seasons behind, but as a family united, we will learn just how he met their mother. So don’t ruin it for me!!!

How I met your Totem!

How I met your Totem!

If you have stopped judging me, great, if not, that’s ok too, everyone needs someone to make them feel better about themselves. While you’re standing on your parenting pedestal however, take a moment to glance at the Totems to your left, I am sure you could use one, and I know your kids definitely do! 😉

Stay well.