Category Archives PSA

Listen to Your Heart

Sometimes you blink and life simply runs away from you. That seems to be how I feel since turning 40. When I think there may be time to settle and focus, something else happens. Influenza hit our house several weeks ago. My poor teen was so very sick. He shared with me and I figured it out while I was at the cardiologist with my mother. That was the day that so much changed and at warp speed.

Heart Health for Women

Just after TechyDad and I were married, my mother got really sick. All we know is that she had a virus. After not getting better for a long time, her friend was able to convince her to go to the doctor. Mom was admitted to the hospital soon after and told that she had heart failure. What she thought was asthma was not. To make a long story short, the virus she had attacked her heart. There was damage and she had to start seeing a cardiologist to assess it. Over time, the doctor was able to see some of her heart get better, but her aortic valve never did completely recover. For all of these years, we knew that that valve would eventually have to be replaced.

During this time, my mother has never been the same. Things got even more serious almost two years ago when she had a heart attack at a restaurant while celebrating her birthday and retirement. Several days later, they went in to find the cause, fixed it, and we were told that she probably would need that valve replaced in the next two years.

At mom’s appointment three weeks ago, she finally told her doctor she had enough. Exhaustion and trouble breathing had her scared of another heart attack. The doctor listened and told her she needed an updated cardiac catheterization. This procedure was done several days later. The news was not good. Mom’s valve was much worse than the echocardiograms had shown less than six months before. While they said she could go home, surgery would be needed shortly. They did something to help open the valve up to make breathing easier until surgery could be done.

Mom is having open heart surgery on Thursday.

Wrapping my brain around this is hard. While we knew this day would come for over 15 years, so much has happened in such a short amount of time. Thank goodness she listened to her body because it has to be done along with a triple bypass.

Please take a moment and know the signs of cardiac distress, especially in women. Do NOT assume things are asthma if they don’t get better with medication. Breathlessness is a sign of heart problems. Also get your blood pressure checked and know what your cholesterol levels and blood sugar are. High blood pressure and diabetes are not a friend to your blood vessels.

The next few weeks and months are going to be a challenge for my mother. However, we all know that seeing mom with energy and able to breathe will be worth it. My eye on the prize will be having Nana sit next to me at moving up day at the middle school in June. We will celebrate another birthday with her and then get ready for her oldest grandson to head to high school.

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Kids Are Our Future

Kids Are Our FutureNumb. That is pretty much how I would describe the day after Election Day 2016 in our house. After less than two hours of sleep, my boys woke up and came into our bedroom. First, my 13 year old son wanted to know if Hillary had won. When I told NHL to sit down because we needed to talk, he knew something was wrong. I explained the events of the evening from the time he went to bed until three in the morning when the president-elect came on stage. The look of horror on his face was real. When I saw that, I instantly felt tears in my eyes.

Thanks to NHL’s age and topic of his Bar Mitzvah Dvar Torah (read it here on TechyDad’s post), he knows history. He recognized similarities of a man from the past and the one that will soon become our president. I left him with words to be extra kind to the kids in school. To remember that this is going to be especially hard for many of the students in classes with him because of their race, religion, and where they come from. You see, NHL’s school is beautifully diverse. A large number of children are new to the United States. At the end of the day, he reported that there were tears at school. I can’t even imagine.

Now back to my youngest. I had shielded him from a lot this election cycle. He is only nine and doesn’t need to grow up too quickly. What I didn’t realize was he was painfully aware. When TechyDad and I told him the news he started to cry. Nine year old JSL could not pick up his head because he was crying and afraid. When we asked him why he was crying, it broke my heart. He worried about his friends, many who are new to this county. He asked about the wall and whether they would be kicked out.

I sat there and was numb, but tried to perk him up for school. I reminded him to be a great friend and try to make people smile if they were upset. That night JSL did not sleep well. It took me several days to figure it out. Apparently a buddy of his that is Muslim had been out since Election Day. My poor child thought he had already fled from what may happen in our country.

So why am I writing all of this?

I need to get it off my chest and I must do more to help others. Like my son wrote in his speech, if we don’t help others there will be nobody left to help us when the time comes.

The fear in my mind and heart is real.

  • I worry about family and friends that are not white. While I am Jewish, I am a white woman. I know that if I am walking down a street wearing regular clothing, I do not attract as much attention. My boys are white and I have had to talk to them about being the eyes and ears for their friends in case injustice happens in front of them. I want my boys to speak out and help a friend if they are wrongly accused of something. They must stand up if a friend is being bullied for any reason. It makes me sick and sad that friends have to worry about their children simply walking down the street because of the color of their skin.

  • Hate crimes have never gone away, let’s set that fact straight. They have been all too real for many living in the United States, but they are increasing and being more blatant for the public to see first hand. Silence from the President-elect on this topic is deafening and says a lot.

  • Religious freedom is being threatened. An entire religion is being attacked by the President-elect and many of his followers. Why? Simply because they share it with extremist groups. Friends I know have been threatened and told to leave the country, though they are United States citizens like me. The only difference? Their skin color and religion. Peaceful people now live in fear and are trying to keep their families safe. No, the election did not cause this. It has always been happening. The difference we have someone that is instigating it and not telling others to stop.

  • Deporting innocent refugees that came to our beautiful country to escape horrors is not the answer. This is not the American way and it never should be. We need to embrace those that come here and help them to get back onto their feet. My community is special because of all of the different people living in it. This is what we need to keep in the United States, not stop it and send people back.

  • Marrying a person you love should make no difference to anyone else so long as you are in love. I have family and friends that are LGBTQ. Some are married and others are not. They all should have the same rights that I have as a married person in this country. They should not have to live in fear of being hurt holding hands with their spouse while in public. Oh and if you are wondering, you can’t wish it away with therapy like a certain vice president-elect may think.

  • Most people know it is never acceptable to make fun of someone with a disability or special need. This could be physical, neurological, mental, or something else. Every human being is different and we need to stand up for them. They have right and should not be harassed. In addition to this, they should not have to worry about medical care. If we don’t watch it, they may be stripped away from people because of preexisting condition status.

  • While I do not have daughters, I am concerned for the future of women in our country. How can they feel safe? The President-elect of our country has stated that as a celebrity it gave him rights to touch women in places that are not acceptable. Hands off my kitty and anyone else’s! While we are at it, I don’t want any man or politician telling me what rights I have for my uterus and any care I need for it. No, I did not vote with my vagina, but I sure as hell want my rights to remain without someone putting their religious beliefs ahead of mine. Separation of church and state is here for a reason.

  • Seeing Swastikas in the news sends chills down my spine. Anti-Semitism is alive and thriving. Horrid groups are showing the country that they have been lurking and are ready to be seen again. Crickets from politicians on support from their group and the hate that they spew is a real kick in the gut. My oldest son sees similarities with the past. My youngest is still learning about the Holocaust and history of Germany and WWII. Neither of my kids have seen it first hand. I wish I could say the same. I still remember my synagogue being set on fire when I was slightly older than NHL. Swastikas were all over the walls and we knew it was an arson fire based on hate. As I am typing this, a known anti-Semite has been selected as a chief policy adviser for the new administration. I am going to be sick. I see history flashing before my eyes. I feel like I have entered the Twilight Zone. I used to have nightmares about being in the Holocaust like my ancestors. Now, I have to worry about this and more for my family and countless others that are not acceptable to the incoming administration.

So I am writing this as a starting point. I am looking for local, state, and national groups to work with and make a difference. I want to be actively involved and show my children what must be done. Below are some posts that I have gathered by different friends in the blogosphere. If you have more links to add, please let me know in the comments below and I will edit and add to this post.

Together we can and will make a difference. We have to because ALL of our kids are our future.

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Vote Today and Always

The day is finally here. Election Day 2016 has arrived for those of us in the United Stated. We are unable to vote early in New York State, so it is the time I can go to the polls and let my voice be heard.

 Vote Today

For what seems like forever, we have been listening to constant chatter and more about this big presidential election. I think this is probably why I was burned out and over it before the day arrived. Most years I have a plan for when I will go to vote. This time around I didn’t. Then, my nine year old son begged me to take him with me. He wanted to go and witness a presidential election.

This is the same child that sat on my bed working on homework last night. He was distracted by the television commercials. He kept hearing things that he didn’t understand and asking me questions. It was my own fault for leaving the television on, but I explained about political ads and how hateful they can be. I shared that rather than explain why you or your candidate is right for the job, they shame the other person for things they claim they have done in the past or will do in the future. It’s a lot for anyone to understand, no less a child in elementary school that does not recall another big election in his life. Let’s be real, there has never been an election quite like this one in anyone’s life.

We are lucky being in New York State because most of the political ads are for local races. The ones we watch are not even for races that we are able to vote in. There are occasional ones for the presidential candidates, but usually at odd hours. One of the best things for our family was getting away before Halloween. We were able to escape from most the nasty end of this presidential campaign. Sure my smartphone buzzed with news updates, but I was able to ignore them. Of course, our get away for a conference and vacation was Florida. This key state in the presidential election was swarming with ads. If we put the television on for a moment, hate oozed across the screen in one ad after another. If this wasn’t enough, sky writers were out for some candidates as well.

All I can say is I am done. I can exhale because I did my civic duty and voted. I may be conflicted with some circles that I filled in on my ballot, but I am going to live with my choices.

My son reminded me of what this election is about. It’s about keeping the United States a democracy. One day, I want to watch him go into a polling place to let his voice be heard. I want both of my boys to be excited to have the right to vote once they turn 18. Yes, I was that geek that was more excited to turn 18 and vote than 21 to drink. It was finally my turn to be an adult and have some say in those that we elect.

While my heart may not have been into voting this year, I know the feeling of pride in being American and having the freedom to vote. Tomorrow I hope that half of this country will get up and move forward no matter what the outcome of this election is. I know it will be hard to swallow for either side, but we must work together. If we continue to divide this country more I fear what the future will be for our children and generations to come.

Please take a moment today to get out and vote if you have not done so already. Oh and please get a sticker. Apparently we never have them here and I feel cheated!

It's Me

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Do Not Blame the Victim of a Bully

Bullying continues to be an undeniable problem in this country. Not only are adults dealing with it, we often have to help our own children through their own bullying ordeals. It truly can be a vicious cycle for many of us.

October is National Bullying Prevention month. This means that more attention is focused on this critical issue. We hear stories of kids of all ages being harassed in a myriad of ways. Why are they doing this? For many, it’s all about having power over another person.

What I would like to remind you this October is the following:

Never blame the victim of a bully

Yes, you read that right. As hard as it may be to believe, the victims of bullies may be blamed or shamed if they speak up. As if it isn’t hard enough to get the courage to say something, imagine another person pointing fingers at you for being intimidated and harassed by another individual. Like you had some kind of control of this matter.

Now, imagine what this would do to your self esteem. The person you trusted enough to talk to has turned the fault of the bullying on YOU.


This is not acceptable and must stop. There is never a reason why the person being bullied should feel as if they did something wrong. They are vulnerable enough and should have support. The victim needs other to stand by their side so they feel comfortable enough to use their voice to stop the vicious cycle.

It doesn’t matter how you define bullying or harassment. The fact is that when another person is being touched, bothered, verbally abused, or feel like they are not safe – something is wrong. Nobody should have to suck it up and deal. The reality is that the victim also has rights.

Both of my children have been bullied. It’s something we have had to deal with many times over the years. I am thankful that NHL and JSL have both been comfortable enough to tell us when this has happened. In addition to this, New York State has the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) that grants rights to students that are bullied in school. This paragraph alone is extremely powerful:

New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.

This is a great start, but a lot needs to be done in schools and throughout our society.

How do you help others when you see or know they are being bullied? If you have been the person bullied, what do you wish others had done to help you?

It's Me

Some of my previous posts about bullying:

Bullying posts by TechyDad: My Bullied History

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Opt-Out and Refuse Tests in 2016

Three years ago, there were rumblings about the New York State Grade 3-8 ELA and Math exams. As the parent of a fourth grader at the time, I listened to my son come home from school with hyper focus and worry about the tests. TechyDad and I did a lot of research and at almost the last minute, we made a BIG decision. Yes, we refused the NYS tests for our oldest son.

Public School Parent Advocacy

I have written about this topic numerous times over the last few years. As a teacher, I knew that these posts and my advocacy within the community could mean never teaching again. While it hurts to think of never being in a classroom again, my boys and their peers across NYS and the United States need people to speak out. We need to get the word out about the drastic changes in our schools. A generation of kids are being used to test educational practices thought up by people who do not have a background in teaching or child development. I can see drastic changes in the scope of learning between my seventh grader and third grader.

Being naïve, I thought that I would never be here refusing the 2016 tests for both of my kids. My heart was hopeful that by the time my youngest hit these tests that something would change. Much to my horror, little if anything has really changed. This is a fact that those with kids in schools know. Do not be fooled by the new Commissioner of Education in NYS, MaryEllen Elia, or the puppet master general, Governor Cuomo. The Common Core Task Force in NYS is a farce put together to pretend to listen and pacify angry parents.

Why to Refuse Tests in 2016

Pearson was fired by NYSED over the summer of 2015, but their test will be given this spring to those that do not refuse. In an attempt to quiet parents, Commissioner Elia has put no time limit on these developmentally inappropriate tests. Now kids can sit and feel like failures for an unlimited amount of time while they work on tests that many with advanced graduate degrees can not complete or make sense of.

Last year, approximately 250,000 kids across New York refused to take the grade 3-8 tests. Those in the advocacy networks are hopeful that half a million will refuse in 2016. The stakes are higher for many schools under the trapped Receivership System. If all refused these faulty tests the data could not be used against teachers and schools that are struggling with the reality of poverty and so much more.

So when will we opt back into the tests? Thanks to NYSAPE, this sums up most of my views pretty nicely.

When we will Opt In

I urge you to take the time and ask questions. Do not simply sit back and accept tests just because they are given. This is not about tests that or too hard and kids not being up to a challenge. This is about so much more and our children are the ones that will have to pay the ultimate price.

It's Me

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