Parenting through eyes of the past.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:12-04:00 June 30th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mental health, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, school, single parents, teenager, teenagers, teens|

When I first became a mom, I had lots of ideas about the kind of parent I would be. Organic food was just taking hold, and I was going to make my baby food from scratch! Nothing processed. That was my goal at least. What ended up happening was a combination of prepared and homemade food, and my kid is now 6 feet tall, so I think it was a good mix. Hey, at least I tried!

I was also going to be the kind of mom who didn’t resort to “the magic box” of screens to babysit my kid while I was eating bon-bon’s on the couch! That was my goal at least. Until at two months old, I noticed something wasn’t right with my baby and he couldn’t quite turn his head to the left. An MRI and diagnosis later (torticollis), the only thing that helped exercise my son’s neck and essentially repair this condition, was that darn magic box. My kid is now on his way to a very respected pre-college program, so I think it wasn’t too damaging. Hey, at least I tried!

My 17-year-old and I are heading out on a 6 hour drive to the pre-college I just mentioned. I can’t help but remember when I went to pre-college, ahem, just a few years ago, ahem. It was the summer before senior year in high school, and I wanted, no, I needed to get out of my house, and fortunately for me, Syracuse University still had a couple spots left for their summer program. Next thing I know, I’m on a plane with a duffle bag and my sheer will. The summer at SU changed the trajectory of my life, for all intents and purposes. It was a great summer, and I met some really incredible people and ended up going to, and graduating from Syracuse University. Go Orange!! I can’t help but wonder how my son’s experience this summer at Carnegie Mellon, will shape his future. I am beyond excited for him, and I can’t help but relive the feeling of walking around a college campus for the first time on my own, and how freeing it felt. Then of course, I imagine my son enjoying that same feeling and my eyes fill with tears. My baby is growing up, and the internal wrestling I’m experiencing between the recognition of how much time has passed for me, and how much more time my children have in front of them, is like a steel-cage match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant! I’m already exhausted and we haven’t even left yet.

I’m going to be the kind of mom that helps my son unpack his bags and makes sure his clothes are put away. I’ll be the kind of mom that takes care of renting the fridge for the room while giving the speech about cleanliness and not attracting bugs. I’ll be the kind of mom that buys the school sweatshirt because I am damn proud of my son. I’ll also be the kind of mom who won’t cry until she’s well out of sight of her boy.  Hey, I’ll at least try.

my baby

My wide-eyed baby boy!

Stay well.

Happy Father’s Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13-04:00 June 18th, 2017|Life, Uncategorized|

It’s quiet in my house today, because the kids are with their Dad, at his house. I sent a text wishing a Happy Father’s Day and promptly asked how the little one was doing because he was diagnosed with strep throat yesterday. “Thanks and all good”, was the reply. I’m grateful that even though we are divorced, my children have a Dad who is involved and present and affectionate, and firm with just the right amount of scary. Then I started thinking about my father, who I didn’t see after the age of 11 and he died when I was 13. I miss him, I guess, but I don’t really remember much. I was young, my folks were divorced, and I didn’t spend that much time with him overall. I think I miss the idea of him. Sad. I like to think I inherited his sense of humor and his ability to tell a joke, and he could always captivate with his story-telling abilities. Maybe I got some of that too, but clearly I didn’t inherit any humility. (See? A joke!) I have one wallet-sized photo of my Dad, that’s it. It sits on a shelf next to an ashtray from a family restaurant that bore my last name (a recent gift from a friend, found at a flea market!)

Memories on a mantel.

Memories on a mantel.

It’s interesting because there are people around who still remember my Dad’s restaurant. A dear friend and I have retold the story several times, of the moment her mom realized that my Dad, was Dan Stampler, from The Steak Joint. She held herself and started to tear up at remembering how her late brother loved the restaurant and went for dinner almost weekly. My friend’s mom later introduced me to another couple, well in to their 70’s, who shared with me that their first date was at my father’s place. “How lovely,” I told them, fighting the melancholy at not having known my Dad when he was in his prime. I’m grateful that even though I have limited memories of my father, that there are many whose memories are punctuated by his presence. Oh, and I do love a good steak!

I’m also grateful that for the last 20 years, my stepdad acted much like a father to me. I used to tell him that he yelled at me just like a father would, he would smile, and then yell “No!”  He’s gone now too, and that makes me sad, but thankful for the many memories I have, and that every day his contributions to society punctuate someone else’s memories. And then of course, there’s my mom, who had to be father and mother for most of my childhood. I am grateful for that and her, as well. So I sit in my quiet house, grateful, a bit melancholy, but still able to giggle as I remember a joke my dad used to tell about a “Foo-Foo bird worth a miiiillllion dollars!” If you’re lucky, I’ll tell it to you one day.

So, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there, and the Moms who act like father’s sometimes, too!

Stay well.

Didn’t get Dad a gift yet? You can always get him a Totem!! Click on any of the four Totems to your left and order one today!

Dog Day Afternoon…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13-04:00 June 6th, 2017|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, family, pets, totems|

I’m a dog lover. I mean, I really like most animals, but when it comes to domestic creatures that can fit in an NYC apartment, it’s dogs and/or cats for me. My current living situation includes my three boys, one four-legged boy, and me! There’s a lot going on for sure, and I’m gratefully everyone’s “mommy”. Today, I’m wearing my doggy-mama hat, because my sweet boy of almost 7 years has something funky growing in his mouth and he needs to have it removed and biopsied. While they’re in there, they’ll clean his teeth, and also remove a small, but benign, growth from his eyelid. The pooch will be in the cone of shame for a couple weeks, I’m not looking forward to that, because I know just how annoyed he will be!

My four-legged baby!

As I was bringing my boy to the vet this morning, he was being classically difficult, as somehow he knew we weren’t heading to get him a cheeseburger. The vet’s office is only a couple blocks away, but it took quite a while to coax him there, and a few giggles from passersby, who watched him just lay down mid-sidewalk refusing to move. We finally made it and I barely held it together, even though I know it’s all pretty routine. I choked back the tears when I kissed him goodbye and told him I would see him in a couple hours. Yes, he understands me. Duh!

Then I started thinking about the anxiety he must be feeling because he doesn’t have a clue of what’s going to happen to him, and he watched me walk out the door. Then I started thinking about the anxiety that I am feeling, because I know exactly what’s going to happen to him. Then I started to think about how we all handle anxiety differently and there is no right or wrong way, but it might be helpful to know how best you handle your anxiety. For example, are you the type that needs every detail, down to the last possible outcome, so that you can get through a situation with ease? Or are you the type that just likes to dive in head first and not spend too much time considering all the outcomes? Think about that the next time you’re  faced with a potentially overwhelming situation, and see how you handle your anxiety. I’m definitely a combination of those two types and know that it depends on the situation for me.

Either way, I will have my Bulldog Totem close to me all day as I wait to hear from the vet about my doggy! Having my Totem (and even just writing this for you) reminds me to take deep breaths, which help me stay calm.

Bulldog 3

No matter how you take your anxiety, straight up or on the rocks with a twist, you can have a Totem, too! Visit our shop at and pick one out today!

Stay well.