Parenting

by: Greg | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Stuff We Love

 

Our friend, Alice, took our girls on a Cupcake Tour of New York, visiting the most scrumptious bakeries in lower Manhattan. While each shop is made up of culinary artists that offer uniquely special creations, there’s only 1 best. With that said, here’s our..

 

Top 5 List of NYC bakeriesCrumbs

#5 Crumbs Bake Shop starts off our list. Crumbs bakes more than 50 delicious varieties of cupcakes daily, including the gourmet chocolate cupcake. It’s hard to believe they started only 10 years ago on NYCs Upper Westside.

amorino

#4 Yes, it was a cupcake tour, but the finest Italian gelato at Amorino couldn’t be overlooked. When you try it you’ll understand it’s inclusion on our list!

Gelato

 

Magnolia Bakery

#3 No sugary tour would be complete without a trip to the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC for a red velvet cupcake! Magnolia has been cherished for its classic American baked goods, vintage decor & warm, inviting atmosphere.

 

[Continue to find our Favorite Bakery in New York City]

 

by: Greg | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Stuff We Love

 

Our friend, Alice, took our girls on a Cupcake Tour of New York, visiting the most scrumptious bakeries in lower Manhattan. While each shop is made up of culinary artists that offer uniquely special creations, there’s only 1 best. With that said, here’s our..

 

Top 5 List of NYC bakeriesCrumbs

#5 Crumbs Bake Shop starts off our list. Crumbs bakes more than 50 delicious varieties of cupcakes daily, including the gourmet chocolate cupcake. It’s hard to believe they started only 10 years ago on NYCs Upper Westside.

amorino

#4 Yes, it was a cupcake tour, but the finest Italian gelato at Amorino couldn’t be overlooked. When you try it you’ll understand it’s inclusion on our list!

Gelato

 

Magnolia Bakery

#3 No sugary tour would be complete without a trip to the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC for a red velvet cupcake! Magnolia has been cherished for its classic American baked goods, vintage decor & warm, inviting atmosphere.

Baked By Melissa #2 The runner-up goes to Baked by Melissa. New Yorkers (especially my girls) love Melissa Bushell’s cupcakes! Especially the signature tie-dye cupcake, inspired from her love of the care-free rock ‘n roll culture of the 60’s & 70’s.

Molly's Cupcakes#1 And our hands down winner in the best NYC Bakery is.. Molly’s Cupcakes! While there, you can (and should!) create your very own cupcake. Pick a cake flavor, choose a frosting & then dress it up with tasty toppings.

Molly's

Comments overheard at Molly’s: “Yummy!”, “Can we live here?” and “This is amazing!!!”

Molly’s was the team favorite due to their red velvet cake and their vanilla cake with butter cream..extra sprinkles.

“Do they have swings in the store” you ask?

Of course they do!

Much thanks for a wonderful day Aunt Alice! Aside from “a daughter’s” decision to wear ill fitting footwear, the day was a complete success. The girls arrived home with full bellies & smiles.

Cupcake Walk

 

 

And wouldn’t you know it?! Richard Cohen’s Sugar Love: A Not-So Sweet Story aired yesterday on the Diane Rehm Show! Just teeing up the balance for you 🙂

~Greg

 

And if you have a bakery you’d like to add to our list, PLEASE let us know!

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Kids, Parenting

EHnBlue

Happy Birthday to my (newly) 10 year old! There are no more children with single digits in my home [sigh].

But while there’s a lot I miss about her younger years, there’s so much I have to look forward to on the road ahead.

 

Thank you for your inspiration and for being the incredible person that you are! Enjoy 10!

Panic Disorder

When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.

Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.

I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack. 

This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.

Subway by Paul Cooper

 

Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.

Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”

The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.

After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.Panic Bttn

 

Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.

(continue with this post..)

Panic Disorder

When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.

Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.

I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack.

This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.

Subway by Paul Cooper

 

Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.

Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”

The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.

After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.Panic Bttn

 

Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.

 

Thanks for talking with me Barbara. Since panic disorder seems to creep up out of nowhere to affect people, do you feel that it’s genetic, a learned behavior or what?

Personally, I feel I was somewhat predisposed to my condition. My parents were very overprotective. I didn’t label them as “phobic” but they had their tendencies. Thinking about it now, my mother & a few of my aunts never liked to drive. There doesn’t need to be a family history of socially induced disorder for a person to be afflicted with the illness, but I have undoubtedly seen a pattern within many of my clients.

So talking about it with one’s family is important?

Yes, but people are quite resistant to talk about it..embarrassed, which strengthens the fear as well. A person that’s susceptible to panic should really attempt to talk with parents, uncles and aunts to see if they’ve had similar feelings. There’s usually a common thread. See what they remember, even if they’ve never labeled it as panic disorder. Especially since there are so many undiagnosed conditions that people, not simply, live with.

I guess it’s nice to have company too..

Sure, it’s comforting when feelings can be validated. People that experience episodes of panic often think that they’re going crazy or are told by others that it’s all in their head, so “Get over it”. That’s why it’s so helpful to find a supportive group that share similar experiences. It’s really difficult to face this alone.

Panic2

Where do you think all of this stems from? As you said earlier, it seems to come out of nowhere.

While no one knows for certain, most of the time there’s a connection with a very difficult situation or traumatic event that happens to that person. That negative experience seems to trigger “something” which the mind has a tough time processing.

The 1st time a person experiences severe panic in a particular situation, it translates into extreme fear. The problem is when the person runs from what they THINK is causing this fear (i.e. public speaking, bridges, etc.) & the brain begins to believe, “I felt better because I got away from what I was afraid of.” So naturally they begin to stay away from that which they’re afraid of..strengthening the monster they’re running from. It’s a snowball effect. And just as nobody forgets their first sexual experience, the same is true with a person’s first panic..they NEVER forget it.

Are there any similarities among the people that you’ve helped with these issues?

To me, it seems like people that are more susceptible fall under the creative type. A lot of Type A personalities..control freaks but various professions: lawyers, quilt makers, doctors, artists. But ALL I’d say were high stress, worriers “what if’ing”. Worrying about the outcome before they’re even in the situation. And I’d say the majority of them are people pleasers.

Any common age?RollerCaoaster

40 seems like the magic number for some reason. Many have tendencies when they’re between their teens & late twenties, but they don’t seem to surface until they reach their late 30s. They most likely experience small episodes when they’re younger but they don’t know what’s happening. They have a difficult time labeling it or choose not to confront it via drugs or alcohol.

 

When someone is experiencing episodes of panic, what do you think is the best course of action to take.

  1. Exposure, exposure, exposure! 95% of psychiatrists don’t go out with their patients, but I feel it’s integral for them to overcome their condition.

  2. The overall goal is to know that the fear will not eat you up & you will get to the other side of the anxiety. I do this through small, manageable steps which demystify what it is that the person fears.

  3. Since most anxiety is anticipatory in nature (regarding some future experience), I try to get my clients to be mindful of the actual action that’s occurring NOW instead of obsessing about the fear alone.

 

Thanks Barbara for your time & expertise.

Anytime. I’m happy to know I can assist people to move forward with their lives!

 

If you’d like to get in touch with Barbara, send us your contact info & we can pass it along to her.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Kids, Parenting, Super Why!

Super Why Fan - Cole

Meet four year old Cole, undoubtedly one of Super Why‘s BIGGEST fans. When he was a year old, Cole was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

His Dad, Adam, recently told us:

“When Cole was introduced to Super Why at 6 months old, it had been the only TV show my wife would let him watch regularly because of the positive messages it brought across for our son..

Your show has made some tough times in our house more simple..The smile on his face when he hears the opening song come on or from hearing a character’s voice is priceless. If he’s not in a very good mood or crying, instantly his attitude & personality changes.

Cole - Super Why Fan

For that, I say THANK YOU”

Adam & his wife Jennifer would love for more of the public to understand that special needs children have so very much to offer. In fact, Cole has taken some time out of his day to do some modeling and he can be seen in the Toys R Us “Differently Abled” catalog.

Thank you Adam & Jennifer for your message and especially your pictures of Cole.

Enjoy the ride Cole & we expect to see big things from you!

 

“A quarter of U.S. households have a member with special needs. More than 8% of kids under 15 have a disability, and half of those are deemed severe” –Jeff Howe/CNN Money
 
 
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Conferences, My Projects, Parenting, PRESS

iQ: smartparentMany parents are concerned about the enormous media content their children are exposed to. And while the number of avenues that deliver these various messages is increasing, there are just as many contradicting opinions on all of this content.

How can a parent properly assess it all, so that their children can consume age appropriate material that’s conducive to their growth?

WQED launched iQ: smartparent in response to a research study made up of parents expressing a desire to build their confidence with educational, 21st century media & expand their capacity for co-learning with their digitally savvy children. Through a series of 6 hour-long broadcasts & numerous online resources, iQ: smartparent equips parents & caregivers with tools & resources to aid their understanding and use of digital media & technologies for learning.

Thursday, June 27th, I will be hosting iQ: smartparent Tune In, Tune Out” in the Fred Rogers’ Studios.

Do your children believe everything they see on TV? How does your child learn to separate fiction from reality? This episode will empower families with skills & techniques which will assist in evaluating media while identifying ways that it can positively impact their lives.

iQ smartParent guests

I will be speaking with Board Certified Family Physician, Deborah Gilboa MD (@AskDocG), educational psychologist & children’s TV producer Alice Wilder (@alicewilder), Emmy®-award winning music producer, Emmai Alaquiva (@Emmai_Alaquiva) and behavioral scientist at the RAND Corp., Steven Martino.

If you are interested in attending the “Tune In, Tune Out” live taping in Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday, June 27, 2013 from 6:30-8 PM (EDT) please visit iQsmartparent4’s eventbrite page. iQ smartparent’s “Tune In, Tune Out” episode premieres: August 29, 8:00pmCommon Sense Media

iQ: smartparent is brought to you by WQED Multimedia with generous support from an anonymous donor & expertise from Common Sense Media.

“We are thrilled to welcome Angela Santomero to the iQ: smartparent series. She offers the sensitivity, advice, and media savvy to help any parent make great decisions about how 21 century media impacts a child. As a parent and TV creator she lives it every day.”

-Jennifer Stancil – WQED Executive Director of Educational Partnerships

WQED

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting

WinnerVal

In last week’s post (Autism & Unexpected Joy) we spoke with Priscilla Gilman, author of the acclaimed memoir The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy. As mentioned, Priscilla offered an Angela’s Clues reader a signed copy of Gilman’s text, a beautiful exploration of our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves.

Well, our randomly selected winner is, Bonbon Break‘s own, Val Vucich Curtis!

The Anti-Romantic Child

We sincerely appreciate your time Priscilla Gilman sharing with us. Congratulations Val & much thanks to everyone who spread the word about this inspiring memoir of positivity in the face of the unexpected.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting

The Anti-Romantic Child

1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (CDC). When a mother’s expecting her first child, how are her expectations & hopes affected when she learns that such statistics will rapidly affect her new life?

I recently spoke with Priscilla Gilman, author of the acclaimed memoir The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy (Harper), a beautiful exploration of our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves, & the ways in which experiences may lead us to re-imagine them. Gilman reveals her journey through crisis to joy, illuminating the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected.

I truly appreciate her time speaking with us. Priscilla also has agreed to give one of our readers a FREE signed copy of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy. Further details will be at the end of this post.

 

Tell us about becoming a mom. How did it change you?

Oh, in so many ways!! Becoming a mother, especially a mother of 2 children with special needs (autism & dyslexia), has made me a much more patient, accepting, & compassionate person. It’s made me less fearful, judgmental, & less concerned about others’ opinions of me. I’m much less perfectionistic & much more open to experience. Having children has humbled me, surprised me, upset every expectation I had for the way my life was going to turn out, & allowed me to bloom into the person I was meant to be: a writer, a teacher, & an advocate for children, for literature and the arts..& for all people who don’t fit easily into boxes and are a little “different”.

Was there a specific experience that inspired you to write?

My book evolved organically out of talks I gave to parents, daycare providers, & teachers beginning in 2003, about a year after we discovered that our older son, Benj, had a rare disorder called hyperlexia. A few years later, I shared all these talks with my dear friend from Yale graduate school who was now a literary agent, and with her encouragement & guidance, I combined them into one cohesive article, which she submitted to numerous magazines and newspapers in 2007. When everyone passed on the article, my agent friend suggested that the material might be a book instead!

What were some of the challenges you encountered while writing the book?

Priscilla Gilman

1 big challenge was that the subject of my book was continually changing, growing, evolving, & that the story was ongoing! The other challenge was telling the truth while being kind, in particular when writing about the disintegration of my first marriage.

What have you learned since writing the book & talking to your readers?

What I thought was a very private & personal story has a universal resonance. There are so many gorgeous souls & good people in this world. That sharing, commiserating, empathizing, & connecting rather than withholding, judging, competing, & distancing are what make our lives meaningful & valuable.

I know you have reached a lot of moms with your story. What are some gratifying responses you’ve received?

Here’s an amazing letter I got about a month ago:

“I have to say that if it weren’t for your book, your beautiful writing attached to all of the personal experience I never would have made it through that 1st year. I have gone back & read the book about 10 times now. It is a book that changed my life forever…it was through reading your book that led me to take Jackson to a Developmental Pediatrician & Psychiatrist. If I would have just listened to our pediatrician & early intervention therapist who knows where he (or I) would be!

I can’t thank you enough for this book…I feel as though it could be our family you are writing about. Jackson has made me a better mother, daughter, wife and friend. I actually do stop and “smell the roses” because of Jackson. He has shown me that beautiful things reveal themselves when you take your time and have to wait patiently for them. I had to wait 3 years for him to address me as “mommy” & it was like the most beautiful symphony I had ever heard. I still love hearing his voice call me mommy.

Thank you Priscilla for your wonderful gift, you & Benj will always be like those beloved characters we never forget from our most favorite books.”

(continue..)

I know that you and I share a love of Fred Rogers. Can you talk about why he means so much to you?

Fred Rogers was not only a calm, caring, wise, steady presence in innumerable children’s lives; he was also a wildly inventive, funny & magical being. There’s a scene in my book that describes the overwhelming sense of grief I experienced when I learned of Mr Rogers’ death. I write: “As children, my sister & I had adored the gentle, compassionate Mr. Rogers & the whimsical imaginative world he created. Watching him again with Benj, I’d newly appreciated how ahead of his time he was in his emphasis on emotional intelligence & his respect for the uniqueness of each individual child.” He exemplified everything I think is most important in approaching, teaching, and working with children.

I also recently did an interview with the Fred Rogers Company about their new DVD to help children with autism & their caregivers. If I had to pick the greatest influence on me as far as being an advocate for children goes, it would unquestionably be Mr. Rogers.

Who else inspires you?

My children inspire me immeasurably, every single day. My new husband (I got remarried in Feb ’12) inspires me with his dedication to teaching music to young children in a diverse, urban public school. Those who’ve taught or been therapists for my children inspire me with their ingenuity, compassion, patience, & commitment to making young children’s lives richer and more fulfilling. Growing up in the 70s & 80s, my greatest heroes and inspirations included John Lennon, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, Fred Rogers, and Jim Henson. The late, great Levon Helm, whom I got to know personally during the last years of his life, for his extraordinary musicianship, his grit and grace, his exuberance and humility. I think what ties all of these figures together are joy, generosity of spirit, commitment to helping and uplifting others, open-heartedness, and authenticity.

AntiRomaticChild

What one piece of advice would you give every new parent?

I always warn my friends about to have babies that the 1st weeks are incredibly difficult & grueling and advise them not to become disheartened or blame themselves if they are not instantly in love with parenting. Beyond that, my best advice for all parents is to make every effort to see & understand. Embrace & cherish the child they actually have, in all his or her intricate complexity & uniqueness. Find the strengths in your child, because every child has them, & use those strengths to help in areas of challenge. Love your children fiercely & advocate for them tirelessly. Teach them how to love fiercely & advocate for themselves.

What are some of your family’s favorite books, movies, and television shows?

I’ve got two boys, 14 & 10, and now a 10 year old stepdaughter, so finding things that please everyone, including the adults, is a bit of a challenge!
Here are some that have worked especially well!

Books:

  • The Wizard of Oz series
  • The Paddington Bear series
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • The Westing Game
  • Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
  • The Dollhouse
  • Little Plum

Movies:

  • The Black Stallion
  • The Muppet Movie
  • West Side Story
  • Fly Away Home
  • Oklahoma
  • Meet me in St. Louis
  • To Catch a Thief

Television Shows:

  • American Ninja Warrior (even my stepdaughter!)
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew shows from the 1970’s (with my childhood crush Sean Cassidy)
  • Sesame Street
  • Electric Company
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
  • The Brady Bunch

We would like to give away a FREE signed copy of Priscilla Gilman‘s book,The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joyto an Angela’s Clues’ Facebook Fan!

To enter this giveaway simply (1) LIKE my Facebook page and (2) SHARE Priscilla Gilman’s post (via Facebook) with a friend! Winner will be chosen at random, on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at noon.

 

The Anti-Romantic Child was excerpted in Newsweek and featured on the cover of its international edition, The Anti-Romantic Child is an NPR Books Must-Read list, Slate’s Book of the Week, and selected as one of the Best Books by both WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show & The Chicago Tribune. It was also awarded the Mom’s Choice Gold Award, honoring the best in family-friendly media & literature.

Priscilla Gilman received her B.A. summa cum laude & with Exceptional Distinction in English and her Ph.D. in English & American literature from Yale University. She was an English professor at both Yale & Vassar before leaving academia in 2006. With the publication of The Anti-Romantic Child in 2011, Gilman became a full-time author, speaker, & innovative teacher. She now writes regularly about autism, special needs children, parenting, education, & literature for The Daily Beast, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, MORE magazine, & Huff Post Parents. She blogs at www.priscillagilman.com & maintains a very active Facebook page. The NY Times published her op-ed, “Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown,” which was the #1 most emailed article on the NY Times site for the following day & has been extensively disseminated via social media. 

Priscilla lives in New York City with her family.

 

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting

The Anti-Romantic Child

1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (CDC). When a mother’s expecting her first child, how are her expectations & hopes affected when she learns that such statistics will rapidly affect her new life?

I recently spoke with Priscilla Gilman, author of the acclaimed memoir The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy (Harper), a beautiful exploration of our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves, & the ways in which experiences may lead us to re-imagine them. Gilman reveals her journey through crisis to joy, illuminating the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected. 

I truly appreciate her time speaking with us. Priscilla also has agreed to give one of our readers a FREE signed copy of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy. Further details will be at the conclusion of this post.

 

Tell us about becoming a mom. How did it change you?

Oh, in so many ways!! Becoming a mother, especially a mother of 2 children with special needs (autism & dyslexia), has made me a much more patient, accepting, & compassionate person. It’s made me less fearful, judgmental, & less concerned about others’ opinions of me. I’m much less perfectionistic & much more open to experience. Having children has humbled me, surprised me, upset every expectation I had for the way my life was going to turn out, & allowed me to bloom into the person I was meant to be: a writer, a teacher, & an advocate for children, for literature and the arts..& for all people who don’t fit easily into boxes and are a little “different”.

Was there a specific experience that inspired you to write?

My book evolved organically out of talks I gave to parents, daycare providers, & teachers beginning in 2003, about a year after we discovered that our older son, Benj, had a rare disorder called hyperlexia. A few years later, I shared all these talks with my dear friend from Yale graduate school who was now a literary agent, and with her encouragement & guidance, I combined them into one cohesive article, which she submitted to numerous magazines and newspapers in 2007. When everyone passed on the article, my agent friend suggested that the material might be a book instead!

What were some of the challenges you encountered while writing the book?

Priscilla Gilman

1 big challenge was that the subject of my book was continually changing, growing, evolving, & that the story was ongoing! The other challenge was telling the truth while being kind, in particular when writing about the disintegration of my first marriage.

What have you learned since writing the book & talking to your readers?

What I thought was a very private & personal story has a universal resonance. There are so many gorgeous souls & good people in this world. That sharing, commiserating, empathizing, & connecting rather than withholding, judging, competing, & distancing are what make our lives meaningful & valuable.

I know you have reached a lot of moms with your story. What are some gratifying responses you’ve received?

Here’s an amazing letter I got about a month ago:

“I have to say that if it weren’t for your book, your beautiful writing attached to all of the personal experience I never would have made it through that 1st year. I have gone back & read the book about 10 times now. It is a book that changed my life forever…it was through reading your book that led me to take Jackson to a Developmental Pediatrician & Psychiatrist. If I would have just listened to our pediatrician & early intervention therapist who knows where he (or I) would be!

I can’t thank you enough for this book…I feel as though it could be our family you are writing about. Jackson has made me a better mother, daughter, wife and friend. I actually do stop and “smell the roses” because of Jackson. He has shown me that beautiful things reveal themselves when you take your time and have to wait patiently for them. I had to wait 3 years for him to address me as “mommy” & it was like the most beautiful symphony I had ever heard. I still love hearing his voice call me mommy.

Thank you Priscilla for your wonderful gift, you & Benj will always be like those beloved characters we never forget from our most favorite books.”

I know that you and I share a love of Fred Rogers. Can you talk about why he means so much to you?

Fred Rogers was not only a calm, caring, wise, steady presence in innumerable children’s lives; he was also a wildly inventive, funny & magical being. There’s a scene in my book that describes the overwhelming sense of grief I experienced when I learned of Mr Rogers’ death. I write: “As children, my sister & I had adored the gentle, compassionate Mr. Rogers & the whimsical imaginative world he created. Watching him again with Benj, I’d newly appreciated how ahead of his time he was in his emphasis on emotional intelligence & his respect for the uniqueness of each individual child.” He exemplified everything I think is most important in approaching, teaching, and working with children.

I also recently did an interview with the Fred Rogers Company about their new DVD to help children with autism & their caregivers. If I had to pick the greatest influence on me as far as being an advocate for children goes, it would unquestionably be Mr. Rogers.

(continue..)