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The High School Service Project

23 Mar

My daughter Abigail is a senior in high school and had to do a mandatory service project that involved researching a societal issue. Abigail and her partner chose to do their project on foster care, and the shortage of foster parents.

One of the requirements of the project is to have a written piece published and to try to garner some feedback from the public on the subject. So, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a comment at the bottom with your thoughts on foster care. Thank you.

Foster Care

by Abigail Zableny

Imagine being 17 years old and moving into your 30th foster home. This is the life that real children here in Rochester have to face. There are thousands of children that are put into foster care because their parents are not equipped to take care of them. These children are often unsafe at home, abused, or neglected. If they are not properly loved and cared for as a decent family would treat them, then once they age out at around 18 years old they have to live independently without any basic skills or a family to fall back on when life throws obstacles their way. It is our job as a community to seek out these children that need our help and guide them towards bright futures that any child deserves.

As a senior at Our Lady of Mercy High School for Young Women I have found one of our own community members, gym teacher Stephanie Barbero, who took on the generous experience of opening up her home to a foster child.  Upon interviewing Stephanie, she explained the process and somewhat strenuous tasks that she and her family had to experience. A 17 year old girl approached Stephanie and asked to be a part of her family. This request was one Stephanie could not refuse. Before bringing the young woman into her home, she held a meeting with her family to inform them on what was going to happen. She described the situation as being “in it to win it” with her entire family. The Barbero family was able to accept another member into their lives and thankfully not worry about finances being strained. However, mental and emotional life was a different story. Some of Stephanie’s children were the same age as their foster child so they had to learn to share with one another which is sometimes difficult for 17 year old girls to do.

Despite the emotional toll of taking in a child with a rough background and opening up her entire life to her, Stephanie states that she would do it all over again if she was presented with the opportunity. In the future however, Stephanie would be apprehensive in how she handles another foster child. She reports that her family actually gave the foster child too much which was hard for her to deal with since she had moved around so much. She wasn’t used to having her own bedroom or other personal items and the Barberos provided her with everything she could ever need as if she was one of their own children. This ended up being too hard for her which leads Stephanie to the conclusion that next time she would ease a foster child into this new life of loving care so that they feel more comfortable with having their own personal items for possibly the very first time in their life.

Stephanie’s final thoughts on the issue of foster care touched on what are called the Core Values of Mercy, which are held by our school Our Lady of Mercy. These are basic attitudes and behaviors that when fulfilled, live out a spirited life of Mercy. Two key values that relate to foster care are hospitality and compassionate service. Regarding hospitality Stephanie states, “You need to just open up your entire world to this one person”. She agrees that you must have compassion to open up and attend to whatever their needs are and try to understand their past but accept them and treat them like a human being no matter what struggles they have gone through.

Stephanie Barbero proves the point that being a foster parent is not an easy task, however it is definitely a rewarding one. From the very moment that 17 year old girl walked into the Barbero home, many lives were changed forever. Stephanie now knows what it is like to give to a young child that needs guidance and love but hasn’t received it until almost adulthood. Any child in foster care deserves to be treated with these qualities especially since that has been a vital missing part of their lives. The Barberos are just a normal Rochester family that did an extraordinary thing for someone else that they didn’t even know. As a community, we must be more accepting towards these children that so desperately just want to be reunited with their parents or just be with a family that will love them unconditionally. If we see someone struggling and we have the resources to help and provide for them, why not help them?

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The Only Country Club Member on Food Stamps

31 Jan

Hey! If you haven’t been following along at home, I have a podcast now! Yes, yes I do. And I just posted my 7th Episode entitled The Only Country Club Member on Food Stamps, the Story of Madge. Click below and have a listen! Funny, inspiring, a little sad, a little sex, and of course a lot of booze! Pretty entertaining stuff!

madgepodlogonew_01-1

Ep 7 The Only Country Club Member on Food Stamps, the Story of Madge

Thanks for listening and don’t forget to follow me while you’re there! Oh and share with your friends! xoxo

You’d See The Business End of My Gun Rights if You Used the Term “Your Dead Kid” About My Child

29 May

Joe the Plumber (whom is neither a licensed plumber or actually named Joe) is an absolute piece of shit and everything that is wrong with America today… in my opinion.

Joe The Plumber: ‘Your Dead Kids Don’t Trump My Constitutional Rights’ To Have Guns

 

 

I have no designs on taking away anyone’s “rights” but “Joe the Plumber” is a selfish opportunistic nobody who cares nothing about his fellow man. We need to stop this “Because they’re mine” mentality. Meaning, anytime I’ve tried to have a logical rational conversation with a gun person and I ask “Why do you want/need your guns?” the answer is “Because they’re mine!” is usually the answer. Funny, that’s the same answer my son gave me when he was 3 years old when I asked why he wanted to carry around a used paper towel I had just wiped his face with. Or when my daughter was two at her birthday party and didn’t want to give out pieces of her cake, “It’s mine!”.

tommydilfight1

(This is what came up when I Googled “Mine!”)

Yes, a lot of gun owners feel they have the right to protect themselves and that’s why the 2nd Amendment was created, but a lot of others just use the whole “it’s my right” thing. It’s not gun laws, it’s the machismo gun culture and the growing trend of people not being able to cope because we’ve become a culture of entitlement (“because they’re mine!, it’s my right!”) and the minute things don’t go their way in life they want retribution… and it starts with you. Stop enabling our kids to feel entitled.

Did you see this kid Elliot Rodgers’ video that he made before he went on his killing spree? (I don’t want to post it and give him any more public exposure) To me, that video did not show a mentally ill young man, but an angry entitled selfish little douchebag with a Napoleon Complex. I stress, in my opinion. That is not mental illness that’s an anger management problem. There’s a difference. Issues that can be worked out in therapy are different from actual mental defects. I know, I have a mental defect. I take meds or else my brain would play an endless loop of some thought, like a skipping record, or spliced reel to reel tape loop. The meds thump the floor to make the record stop skipping and move along with the song in my brain.

However, I’m not a doctor, I didn’t know the kid, nor did I examine him.

The best thing that ever happened to me while raising kids was to be poor. It forced me to teach them, you can’t have everything. Not that I wouldn’t be that way if I were rich either, I don’t believe in entitlement, I believe in earning things. However, there are certain poor people that are angry because they feel slighted because they still feel entitled but ain’t gettin’ it. So being poor doesn’t exactly negate the entitlement problem.

I also teach my kids that there are things bigger than themselves in this world. There is a thing called “The greater good”. Just because it suits you doesn’t mean it will be best for all. Just like it’s your right to smoke a cigarette, but there are little kids around and your smoke can effect them adversely, they have little lungs that can be damaged easier. You still think it’s not selfish or a good idea to exercise your “right”? And believe me, I don’t want to take away anyone’s cigarettes, I believe people should have a right to smoke, drink, do whatever they want as long as they aren’t killing other people with either.

Here’s a question… say you own guns. You have a child who has mental issues. Obviously a disturbed child, a fragile child. You still think it’s your “God damn right” to keep your guns at the ready? If someone said, I advise you to lock them up far away or get rid of them or you might have another Sandy Hook/Columbine/UCSB/VA Tech/CO Theater – (take your pick)? Let’s forget gun laws, no one wants to take your sacred guns, I’m asking an ethical/moral question. Ask yourself that question. What would you do? I think this country would be a lot better if people weren’t so selfish and macho.

Just my 2 cents.

Don’t Tell Me How to Mother on Mother’s Day!

8 May

To all you Mothers…

Happy Mother’s Day!

This will be my first Mother’s Day without my Mom, she died 6 months ago. I miss her everyday. She was a phenomenal, feisty, loving little Irish lady. I’m not even thinking about me being a Mom this year and if my kids will do anything, I’m just missing my Mom. The first one’s always the hardest.

Me and mom

Me and my Mother celebrating her 80th birthday almost 8 years ago. I made the crown.

 

 

But for all the other Mother’s out there, I say… it’s your day, celebrate how you want. I remember reading a post last year where a guy, yes a guy was blasting all women (or one specific woman, I can’t remember) who wanted to spend Mother’s Day away from their children and have time for themselves. He was literally vehemently berating Mothers for taking time for themselves and saying they were horrible Mothers and human beings. For one, who the hell are you to tell anybody how to do anything? Secondly, you’re a guy, don’t tell Mother’s what to do, you worry about Father’s Day. Keep your testosterone-fueled mouth in check.

Here’s the thing, my experience as a Mother and with my Mother, when kids are young, Mom’s are with them all the time. All. The. Damn. Time. Often we become martyrs. We need to let Moms know you don’t have to be a martyr. We always honored my Mother in the morning, gave cards and presents, had breakfast or brunch, then we had orders from my Father to leave my Mother the hell alone the rest of the day. Same when I was married and my kids just kind of continued the tradition even without their Father around to tell them to leave me the hell alone.

I mean I don’t order them to leave me alone, they’re just kind of like “Mom, it’s your day, do what you want, have peace and quiet, whatever.” Now that doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids, I don’t run out of town for the weekend it just means they know I work hard for them and want me to have time to myself. And it usually is just taking 2 hours to go to the grocery store unencumbered. However, I’m sure when my kids are out of the house that I’ll want to spend the day with them. It will be the reverse. They won’t be around all the time, I’ll make that day about paying homage to me and wear my tiara. 🙂 As I did to my Mom when I became an adult. Except my Mom didn’t wear a tiara, she was still wearing a crown of thorns, could never really get passed that martyr stage. lol I take that back, probably by her 70s and 80s, she was like “I am not doin’ a DAYUM thing today, you people cook or order out”. See, in the picture above she did wear a nice crown. Lord I loved that woman.

However, if there are young Moms that want to be with their kids, knock yourself out. It’s your day. But don’t you dare chastise a woman for wanting some time alone, because we need it sometimes and it’s well-deserved. Most Moms work really hard and we are the nurturers and usually the first one the kids go to for anything – hungry, tired, hurt, sick, bleeding, sad, bored, happy. There were times I literally had 3 kids hanging off me at once as I was trying to cook… or just go to the bathroom.

Do you tell people how to spend their birthday? “You must have cake and see loved ones, especially your Mother  who gave birth to you on that day!” Aw hell no, you can spend it locked in the bathroom, in a bar, at work, in a car wash… it’s your damn business. You can even choose to ignore it if you like. Sadly there are estranged children and Mothers that don’t speak and they choose to ignore Mother’s Day. But again, that’s their business. Yes, it makes me sad, but who am I to judge?

So enjoy the day, however… but first a brief lesson – Mother’s Day in some form or another has been celebrated all over the world for centuries. Since we learned in my last blog, May is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s month, some places decided to honor all Mothers. Other cultures had their reasons for honoring Mom too. In the U.S. Anna Jarvis of West Virginia was the one to lobby for making it a national holiday in 1908 because she had already started honoring her own Mother when she passed in 1905. So there you have it. We have Anna to thank. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Does Joy Only Originate From Our Loins?

3 Oct

I wish I was romantic.  Not necessarily in relationships but in life.  Ya’ know like those in love with life people?  Would I feel better if I did?

Ya’ know what I mean, it’s like people who post stuff like this on Facebook:

The_love_of_my_life

Or this

Jumping people

Or this

LoveLife

And then like all their friends leave all these comments under the picture… “Gorgeous!”  “Amen!”  “That’s how I feel!”  “Inspirational” “Love!”

Me?  My reaction?

IMG_20130219_160427

“Who gives a shit?”

*Crickets* Those pics mean absolutely nothing to me. I just keep scrolling down my feed lookin’ for dick jokes.  (not literally, it’s just a metaphor for “off color” jokes, dicks aren’t that entertaining to me, errr wait…)   While to some other people those pics inspire and warm their heart.  I just feel… nothing.

I never really thought about it before but… I wish they did elicit a response from me.  Maybe it’s my cynicism?  Well, I’m not really that cynical anymore, just I don’t know, I guess I lead more with my head than my heart.  Well I can be like warm and fuzzy.  I mean sometimes I do.  I think.   Like babies… babies make me stop dead in my tracks and grin from ear to ear.  I want to love them and hold them and pet them and call them George.  (5 bonus points to anyone who gets that)  That’s about the extent of my involuntary warm and fuzzies.  Well, also when my kids do something sweet or wonderful or makes me proud that’s a given, but that’s it.

I’m not a cold fish by any means but my heart just ain’t “swellin'” right now, if you know what I mean?  I think it has to do with what my life has been like for the past 20 some years.  I’ve either been destitute, struggling, alone, or in a chilly relationship.  I guess I haven’t had much time or need to “swell”.  I mean, I think I did, like when my kids were little.  I do remember being “joyful”, I guess that’s the word I’m looking for… being joyful.  I was joyful a handful of times when I stayed at home, my babies were little and cute and smart, and my ex wasn’t being a nasty drunk and we had money.  I think that was approximately 3 different days in a 22 year stretch.  Ok, maybe 6 times, I remember having an absolute euphoric feeling right after I gave birth to each of my 3 kids.  I’m still in love with my babies but it gets hard now that they are teens and can be in those “get the hell away from me Mom” moods.

And no offense to my current situation, but he knows we just have a very love/hate thing going on.  We’re both extremely sarcastic and neither of us is particularly happy with our lives or situation at the moment so, yea it’s no lovefest.  Never has been really, he, or we together just aren’t that way.  You know how some guys just aren’t mushy?  I can be mushy…?  But I think we have too much underlying animosity to be mushy.  I’d love to be mushy and romantic.

I know I was at one time, I had some old notes that my high school boyfriend and I had written back and forth.  I wore rose colored glasses at one point.  But does looking at the world romantically have everything to do with your relationships?  Does joy only form from our loins?  Maybe not, I’ve had sex that produced no joy.  Well, I do think relationships have a lot to do with it.   I mean my relationships in the past 25 years have either been with men who are sarcastic and emotionally unavailable or guys who just want to do me.  Ya’ know, no emotional involvement whatsoever, just a sexual tryst.   I’ve had a lot men wanting  the latter, maybe I should stop showing so much cleavage.  Hmmm.   You reap what you sow?  So, what’s to be joyful about?  I’d like to be cherished… is that still a thing?  Do people still do that?

I know it’s that old chestnut… start thinking a certain way and that’s what you’ll attract or whatever.  It’s the old chicken and egg thing… I need to start thinking joyful and romantic and that will bring that into my life?  I’d like to but I guess all I keep thinking is warm beer, stale chips, and unemotional men.   Maybe I should think champagne, caviar, and love?  Ugh, that’s too much like work.

So how do you get yourself to feel that way?  Any suggestions?  I was raised on a healthy diet of Irish negativity and  sarcasm, it’s kind of hard to break the cycle but I think I’d like to give it a go.  And please don’t steer me to that “The Secret” thing… I read that a while ago, it just didn’t click with me.  I tried to visualize and all that but I don’t know it just didn’t “change my life” like some people say.  I’m just not one to buy into schools of thought like The Secret or Tony Robbins or any other methods.  Maybe I’m just depressed and need more pills.  Jesus Christ, that’s all I need.

So… anybody else feel this way or is it just me?  Do any one of you feel joy when you look at those pics?  I’d love for you to tell me what it’s like…

“Miley, Joe Francis Wants to Know if He Can See Your Boobs”

27 Aug

Yea, for lack of anything better to write today (which is balogna, I have a lot, just not the time), I’m going to hop on the Miley Cyrus search engine train.  Yes, hopefully I’ll show up in a search and all will come flocking to my blog!  Pfffft.

Anyway, my two cents…

I was her once.  Well, not that I was a child star trying to make my mark in the grownup world… I mean I was her age once.  The age where you are caught between child and adult.    I think every woman has gone through this, some to different degrees of course.   I get it, I get it, you’ve had to be so squeaky clean for years and being raised in the spotlight with a Dad with bad hair and all… it’s tough.

It happens… as girls we are taught to be good, polite, pretty,  smart, demure, and neatly dressed.   But at some point we get all “You can’t tell me what to do!  I’m an adult now, I can do anything I want!”  Add to that you start to get tingly sensations in your naughty bits that you never had before and you’re just dying for someone to touch your boobies.   But most likely you still live it home (whether in college or not), still have stuffed animals on your bed, and still enjoy a Disney movie when you are home alone.  Stuck between a kid and an adult place.

She speaks for every girl who got shit-faced, snot-hanging drunk in her first weekend at college and danced on the bar, showed her boobs, and did some grinding on the faculty adviser of that one fraternity house.   Except this chick did it in front of millions and will forever be on tape.   Of course regular college girl could have same problem if Joe Francis and “Girls Gone Wild” comes around taping.  “Go ahead start making out with your friend and show us your tit-tays”

Lucky for college girls of my day,  the only capturing of the night was done in memory and with time people forget.

I’m not saying what she did was bad or whatever… it was just dumb.  It was just a shock-value thing.  There was no artistic-value whatsoever – the singing was bad and she can’t dance.  And the part of having all big-bootied black backup dancers was in poor taste.  Like really poor racist-ish taste.  Who didn’t think that one through?

Girl just looked stupid.  Yes, yes it’s fun to play with a foam hand and pretend it’s a phallic symbol, we’ve all done it (what, you haven’t?)… but that’s your performance on national TV?   We call her performance “the shit you did in your dorm room with friends as you’re getting ready to go out.”  And that’s probably where it should stay.

But above all… put your mother fuckin’ tongue back in your mouth!  Ain’t nothin’ sexy ’bout that.  Every 2 seconds with the tongue!  You know who puts their tongue out like that all the time?   People I used to work with in an institution who were severely mentally disabled with Down’s Syndrome, that’s who.   Not to be un-PC, but ya’ ever hear the term “window licker”?  I rest my case.

I just watched the video again.  I wasn’t offended, I just feel really embarrassed for her.  It was just dumb.  No need to crucify or chastise her.  But if she wanted press… she achieved her goal.  High-five, Miley!

 

BTW, digital version of my book is only $.99 right now on Amazon.com!  Get yours today!

Sports Moms I’d Like to Take a Meat Cleaver To…

22 Aug

I am proud to announce that my 16 year old daughter just made the varsity soccer team at her high school.  And I might add, it is the same all girls Catholic high school that soccer superstar Abby Wambach played for!  A fine soccer tradition, indeed.  I’m so proud!

Which brings me to a subject my dear friend Wendi has suggested a few times but I’ve stayed away from because I fear I might explode while writing the blog.  The subject is…

Sports Moms

I’m pretty sure those of us at a certain age never had a parent present ever when we played sports.  I competed in gymnastics, swimming, track, and cheerleading from about the age of 6 thru high school, was a college cheerleader (don’t laugh) and attempted swimming for a month or two in college and decided it took much time away from fraternity parties.  But I digress, I did all those sports and really don’t ever remember my parents being at any of those events.  And that’s just how it was back then.

Oh wait, I do remember my Dad being at a few events because he was a swim and track official at times.  You know, the guy with the starting gun?  But ya’ know he wasn’t allowed to cheer for us or I think even acknowledge we were his children.  Hell, he even got paid. Great, my Dad got paid to watch my sport events.  *dejected face*

Now I’m a Sports Mom.  Over the past 16 years, my kids have participated in hockey, football, rugby, soccer, tennis, softball, track, cross country, volleyball, and lacrosse.

It’s all different now, there is such peer pressure (and I believe school pressure) for parents to attend every damn event their kid has, that you begin to get a label.  And the peer pressure has had some Moms create their own bad label.  Sports Moms in particular have very specific types.

But before I reveal the types of Sports Mom can I just make a public plea to DO AWAY WITH THE FUCKING MID-GAME AND POST-GAME SNACK!  We didn’t need it, they don’t!  I survived an entire swim meet without a snack in the middle.  My brothers survived basketball and football games without a snack in the middle.  Nor did we need a snack the second the game finished, we some how survived the ride home or the ride to the burger joint.   My kids are, thank the sweet nekkid baby Jesus, past the snack age.  But when I had three kids playing 3 sports a year and I had to pay attention to a God damn snack schedule?  I wanted to gut the team Mom like a fish.

So stop it.

Ok, Types of Sports Moms…

1.  The Pitbull.  Bitch, you crazy!  She acts like her kid is playing in the NHL, when it’s an age 8-9 year old house league game.  She’s hollerin’ and screamin’ and usually has no idea of the rules of the game.  Her: “Tripping?  That wasn’t tripping!  Terrible call, Ref!”  Me (on same team):  “Yea, actually it was tripping.   We deserve the penalty.”  Also 9 times out of 10 her kid is a God-awful player.

2.  The Nursemaid.  According to her, her kid has every ailment known to mankind.  Of course the kid has asthma and peanut allergies.  Then he gets on the field and falls down, she has to have the coach pull him out and check him for a concussion.  Then she’s got the kid thinking he has every ailment, when he doesn’t so he becomes really hesitant.  “Oh look out for Jimmy’s fallen arches!”.  Might as well just put your kid in bubble wrap, lady.

3.  Pep Squad Mom.   This Mom lives vicariously through her child and becomes obsessed with their activities.  She’s the one that has the stick figure stickers on the car that portray what the kid is into.  In addition she has a plethora of  “Titan Cheer – Ashley” and “Warrior Hockey – Dylan” emblem stickers on the back of the car.  If that weren’t bad enough, she takes it upon herself to place an order for “Monarch Soccer” three-quarter zip sweatshirts that I can’t afford but now am getting pressured to get from the kid because “everyone else on the team is ordering one”.  Fuck you, lady.

4.  The Invisible Mom.  Never shows up to anything.  Kid always needs a ride home.  Never volunteers.  Kid never has necessary paperwork or equipment.

5.  The Assistant Coach.  This parent is not really a coach but sits on the sideline the entire game, yelling instructions and giving her evaluation of every position, player, and play.   Lady, you mention one more time that my kid hangs back too much, I’m going to come over and punch you in the throat.  Until they put you on the bench with the kids… STFU!

6.  The Slacker Mom.  Unfortunately this is what I’ve become.  When I was due to bring snack, I usually had to run to the corner store during the game and buy a package of Rice Krispie Treats because I never remembered my snack time.  God forbid I like, cut up orange slices or made homemade whatevers… I’m a shitty mom, I know.  I used to have my folding chair in a bag right there on the sidelines, but now… I sit in the car half the time.  Fall and Spring are still cold in NY!  I’ve been watching kids play sports for 16 years now, I deserve a comfy seat.  Hey, I keep the window partially opened, so I can cheer on my kid a little!

7.  The Twat.   She only has a select few parents on the team she will talk to.  She is far superior to you.  She is usually dressed in tennis or golf attire or Vineyard Vines.  She is not paying all that much attention to what’s going on on the field or in the pool or on the rink… but she will make sure you all overhear what’s going on in her life.  “Well Ted and I just got back from the Cayman’s.  We needed to get back to take Anna to her horse show.  Then we are taking the kids to Europe.  But making sure we have enough time afterwards to take Hunter to ski school in Vermont for the winter.”  I always want to say, “Oh I just got back from the Dept. of Social Services re-certifying for foodstamps, oh it’s just lovely there this time of year!”  But now my kids keep telling me they are going to step in and say, “My Mom wrote a book, did you?”  I admire my feisty kids.

Did I miss any type of Mom?  I’m sure I did.  Add your favorite types in the comments below…

(also don’t forget to check out my new blog for DivorcedMoms.com right here)

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