Saturday, November 19, 2016


On the IPod "Lost Boy" by: Ruth B

I'm a strong believer in all things spiritual. I believe in signs and I really do believe that when someone dies there is a part of them that stays in this world. 

Sometimes, when you look back closely at the time just before someone dies you can see that there are rarely coincidences. 

About 3 weeks ago, Levi started to ask me, out of the blue, to go and visit my dad at the cemetery. In all honesty, it caught me off-guard. I talk about my dad all of the time, but we had never discussed the fact that he was at the cemetery or the fact that visiting was even an option...It has always been a private space for me so I kind of just blew off the conversation.  But in usual Levi fashion, the conversation just kept creeping up. This past Sunday, I just couldn't ignore it anymore. We had somehow ended up at Sunday school 20 minutes early and just as I was about to turn in I heard a little voice say, "Mommy, I really want to go to visit your daddy today... Like now!" And just like that, I had run out of excuses.  I parked in my usual spot, took a deep breath and introduced my two oldest sons to my dad. In a way, I have never felt like he doesn't know them because I feel him around me all of the time but in that moment introductions just felt right. Levi asked me lots of scientific questions about what happens when someone's body dies as if he somehow knew that the spirit was no longer there. I showed them how as Jews we leave rocks on the headstones instead of flowers. And then we subsequently left rocks and said hello to all of the other family members there.  Later on, on the car ride home, Levi told me that he thought that when you die it is just darkness. I asked him why he thought that and told him that is not what I believe... I told him that I believe that when your body dies your soul goes to a place like Neverland,  where you are always young and free like Peter Pan. To be honest, he looked at me like I was crazy but I stuck to my story and I always will. Because something greater than me guided us to the cemetery that day... 

See, the last two and a half weeks I have watched my uncle die. At first, I had no idea he was dying...It was supposed to just be a surgery to remove a tiny bit of cancer... In my head, the surgery was supposed to be the easy part... The hard part would be next in the form of chemo, radiation, maybe some other form of treatment. That was the Cancer I was prepared for... The Cancer I know is one that f@&king sucks but it at least lets you show up for the fight.  This cancer didn't even give my uncle a chance. But, it did give me a chance, a sort of gift. In the last week I have been given some amazing opportunities...I have been able to help guide my older cousins down this unbelievably hard path. I have sat beside my uncle who was halfway here and halfway there and was able to feel closer to my dad than I have in years. I have been able to break the silence for everyone with the presence of three little boys and I hope that I have been able to remind my aunt that we all have her back.  Being a member of a club that no one wants to be in doesn't come with many perks... But over the last 9 years I have learned that there are little gifts all around us, this is a gift that was given to me that I have passed on again and again and today I will pass it on once more...

When my dad died a wise old sage told me that when you lose someone close you gain a lump. At first the lump is in your throat making it hard to swallow or even breathe. You will question it and hate it and just want it to go away. And the lump will forever change you. But over time the lump moves... sometimes it's in your heart...sometimes in your hand and eventually it finds a home at the bottom of your foot. You will always feel it there and although impossible to believe right now, you will start to feel nervous when you don't feel it enough anymore. But then low and behold, it will resurface somewhere you least expected it to be.  On special days... Birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries the lump moves... sometimes it moves to your elbow but other times it moves all the way up to your throat...after some time it will settle back in your foot... Believe it or not in a way you will come to love the lump... 

Tonight the lump is in our throats, making it hard to breathe. So we will try to focus on the little gifts...the little signs that are all around us and we will take a breath...

xoxo chef a

Monday, June 20, 2016

Who is in the water??

On the iPod, "Photograph" by Ed Sheeran

I've been writing this blog in my head for the last 24 hours or so. It's one I truly never thought I'd have to write, but the funny thing about parenting is that no matter how prepared you think you are nothing can ever prepare you completely.

As most of you know I have two boys, Levi who is 5 and Luca who is 2 1/2. I also happen to be 8 months pregnant with another boy coming in 7 weeks. Nobody could prepare me for how different my boys would be... Levi is my constant worrier. He is and has always been very cautious and concerned. He doesn't like to get hurt and carries many fears. He is sweet, calm and gentle most of the time. Luca couldn't be more different. He is fearless and has always been a risk taker. He has never met a stranger and will try anything at least twice or until he hurts himself and then he still might try again! With his amazing, outgoing, delicious personality comes sometimes scary, reckless behavior that scares the crap out of me as his mother. 

In the big picture their different personalities don't even matter, the story I'm telling you today could happen to any one of our kids no matter how prepared we are or they are. Last night was an eye opening experience for me and I hope it makes you open your eyes a little more also. 

Father's Day was going pretty well yesterday. We spent the morning at my Aunt and Uncle's having brunch and swimming and then the boys both rested afterwards giving this pregnant mommy some much needed down time before we loaded back up to go to my Sister in law's for more swimming and dinner. 

Both of my boys have had survival swimming lessons in summers past and they were set to start their refresher lessons today, the monday after Father's Day. I had been noticing that Luca was taking more risks in the pool in the last week and jumping in before letting an adult know so I had decided that before we started the lessons again he would have to wear a puddle jumper in the pool unless we were in just one on one.

Anyways, when I got to my inlaws I told everyone up front that he had been jumping in and made sure everyone knew that he would need to wear the puddle jumper for safety. I will start out by saying there were 10 of us at the pool. 6 adults, 2 teenagers and the two little boys. At this point in the story I will only be referring to the other adults as adults. I won't be labeling them or even giving their genders because it could have been any of us in each location and the last thing I want to do is assign blame... We all went home last night knowing that it was in some part our "fault" or our "mistake" even though in truth it was an accident.  

So late in the afternoon Luca got out of the pool with one adult and went to the patio table to have a snack. Shortly there after Levi and I went inside to get changed. At this point there was one adult and one teenager in the pool and three adults sitting at the patio table with Luca. The other adult and teen were inside the house with us. As I was getting levi dressed the adult that was in the pool came into the house to change leaving the teen in the pool and luca and 3 adults at the table. As levi stood up after getting dressed he looked out the window and screamed the most terrifying thing he has ever said, "Luca is at the bottom of the pool he is drowning!" My heart sank... We ran as fast as we could outside to find the lone teenager in the pool saving Luca's life. She had heard the splash and thought it was levi but when nobody returned to the surface she swam to help. At this point the adults at the table still had no idea what had happened... 

We are not sure how long Luca was under the water what felt like hours was probably less than a minute. When we got him out he coughed up a bunch of water and was clearly distressed but quickly gained his composure. And in usual Luca fashion was more concerned with where his goggles went than being scared of what had just happened. We watched him all night long for any other signs of breathing trouble, but he seemed fine. If the teenager hadn't been there....or if Levi had not seen Luca at the bottom...I could be telling you an entirely different story today. I still can barely discuss it without getting physically ill. We later discovered that when Luca got out for the snack the adult had taken off the life vest so that he would be more comfortable. And when he was finished eating he just got up from the table and jumped into the water. The adults were talking and never noticed. It didn't matter that there were more adults than kids at the pool yesterday or that we had put him into the life vest while we were swimming... He still ended up at the bottom of the pool in seconds. 

Here are the lessons we learned from yesterday...

When we are at the pool there has to be strong communication about who is watching each child.

If adults are sitting at a table outside their chairs need to be facing the pool at all times and really there should be an adult in the pool if kids have access to said pool. 

Looking back we should have not introduced the puddle jumper again because it gave us both too much security. I relaxed too much thinking he had it on and he also felt so secure in it that when he jumped in he expected it to catch him. 

And in future years the boys will take their refresher course before the swimming season begins. 

We are so lucky. At least two other families in America were not as lucky yesterday and those are just the stories that made the news. I'm going to guess that their day started out much like ours did. We thought we were prepared... We thought that we were protecting them... But at the end of the day mistakes were made, accidents happened and not everyone is able to give you a happily ever after today.  

Please, please I'm begging you...establish pool rules before swimming EVERY day! Assign buddies so that everyone knows their role and continue communicating with each other throughout the day as plans change. When any person, child or adult, goes inside they should notify everyone else so that every body is accounted for at all times. Lock the gates around your pool. Kids are crafty they can almost always find a way least make it as difficult as possible. And lastly hug your kids, realize that everyday is not guaranteed. And none of us are immune to tragedy we are just lucky that today is not our tragic day! 

Just some scary facts from the YMCA's website.



  • Cross a room for a towel (10 sec), a child in a bathtub can be submerged.
  • Answer the phone (2 min), a child can lose consciousness.
  • Sign for a package at the front door (4-6 min), a child submerged in a tub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage. 
  • Most childhood drowning victims were seen just 5 minutes prior to hitting the water.


  • Inches of water in a bathtub.
  • A bucket of water.
  • Standing water on top of a pool or spa cover.
  • Any amount of water that covers the mouth & nose. 


  • Most children do not yell for help.
  • Non-swimmers or exhausted swimmers are unable to call for help.
  • Drowning victims may be struggling under the water. 


  • Near drowning is survival after submersion in fluid.
  • For each child that drowns, it is estimated that 4 children are hospitalized for near-drowning
  • Nationwide, 2700 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional drowning-related incidents
  • As many as 20% of near drowning survivors suffer severe permanent neurological disability.
  • Nearly all who require CPR die or are left with severe brain injury. 


  • Home Pools/Spas/Ponds
  • Inside Homes
  • Natural Bodies of Water
  • Boating & Personal Water Crafts"
xoxo chef a

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

If I knew then what I know now...

On the IPod, "Lay Me Down" by Sam Smith

If I knew then what I know now...

8 years ago tonight I heard my dad's voice for the last time. I spent most of the entire next day talking to him but He never woke up and then he died that night.  He was sick for a long time and I'd have to admit, I spent a lot of that time worried about how long we would have with him. I worried about missing every little moment with him that I think in some ways i didn't enjoy those moments. I worried that he would miss everything important in my life... My wedding, my children, the good decisions and of course the bad ones too. If I had known then what I know now I would have worried less... He did miss all of those things and so much more. The worrying took up precious moments then that honestly I wish I could have back. 

I have written multiple blogs about that day, last years being the most personal. But what I haven't written much about is what I would have done differently... And how I will use the experience of losing him to teach my own children to stay in the moment... because none of it is guaranteed.

I will not say that these last 8 years have been all sugar and roses, they have been challenging. There has been extreme happiness but also sadness and hurt. I thought eight years ago that I would miss him most at the high moments... The weddings, celebrations and babies. I never would have guessed that I actually would miss him more at the darker times, the times when he wasn't there to help me back up or to just sit next to me and hold my hand.  The funny thing is that I miss him in the most everyday moments. I miss him when Luca picks up a picture of him and says "pop pop?"  I miss him when there is family drama that I'm sure he would have something to say about. I miss him when my mom has a test or a doctors appointment or even when she is invited to a party that I'm sure would be more fun for her to be at if he was here.

But I live... I miss him but I choose to live. 

My advise to all of you, who are reading this, is to live. Whether you are lucky enough to feel complete with the ones around you or you are one of us who is always missing someone, choose to live.  Don't let the worry of every possibility ruin the moment that is in front of you. The next time you are at a family dinner and the shit (family drama) hits the fan, I want you to just laugh. Laugh because you are there in that moment... There could be such a worse scenario. And when you are sitting across from your toddler who thinks that eating actually means throwing their food on the floor, I want you to firmly tell them no and then turn around and be thankful that they are just being a pretty normal toddler because it could be so much worse... It would be awesome if we could all stop worrying so much about when these little people we are raising will meet the next milestone and if they are where they should be academically and socially and instead just be happy that we made it through the day in one piece. 

Maybe it's a pipe dream to think that we could just live a little more and worry less, but if I knew then what I know now I would have chosen to live in those moments. 

Miss you daddy...forever and always.