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A Victorian Holiday

2 Dec

I started working with the Northwest Autism Foundation as a Program Director a few months ago. It’s an incredible organization with great people focusing on autism prevention, treatment and research. I decided to reach out to past donors as a combination end of year appeal and to get people to reserve tables for our Autism Gala in April. I wanted to send them a holiday remembrance that was handmade, thoughtful and heartfelt.

I knew I had found the perfect project when I stumbled upon Victoria’s Art Visions blog. She made a project with Victorian photos and angel wings on blank puzzle pieces that was truly inspirational.

This craft has many steps, but are totall worth the time and effort. You will need:


Large blank puzzle pieces

Decorative napkins

Old photographs (2″ head shots)

Small squares of cardboard

Sheet music for wings

Various holiday scrapbook stickers.

ModPodge and Elmer’s Glue


Ornament hooks

This project is pretty straight forward. ModPodge is used to decoupage the puzzle pieces with decorative napkins. Holes were drilled. Wings are cut out from sheet music (I have a digital cutter, but there are ready-made alternatives) Photos were sourced from Pinterest .

The best part about this project is that it was simple enough that I could enlist help from my kids, including my daughter’s friends from Thomas Edison High School.


The results were pretty spectacular, and I can be proud to share this with our donors, and hope they know how much old-fashioned love went into these!



And, if you are in the giving spirit, why not check out the Northwest Autism’s Site:




Seasons Greetings!


All the Best

18 Oct

“Marion deserves MORE than the best. All the best, and then more of the best.”

Paul's Hands on map

Paul’s Hands on map

Those were among the last words that  Paul, my father-in-law, impressed upon me during his last few days of life. He had survived a long battle with dementia, only to be thwarted by a broken hip and his mind’s inability to comprehend that he was indeed lame. It was heart wrenching to experience.

Left in the wake was his confusion was his wife of over 70  years, Marion. Marion is so much more than more than a mother-in-law to me. She is my cohort  my confidant, my sounding board…. she is a second mother, and a dear friend. When Paul passed away a few weeks after his fall, our family was faced with a decision: Where should Marion go? She can’t possibly continue living in their home by herself?

I knew that the best answer was to move my mother-in-law into my home. It just made sense: my career as a social media consultant and community builder makes it possible for me to work from home, and therefore be available to help out my mother-in-law as she goes through her day. As an aside, I was already familiar with the day to day responsibilities of the basic needs of my in-laws, as I’d been helping with their day to day care full time for a year already.

So, it made perfect sense to move Marion in with us. We could love her up family style, and she would benefit from our exuberant and family oriented lifestyle. The biggest hurdle was our pets. Marion gave birth to 7 children during her lifetime, and as a result, she had no  room in her life for pets.  The thought of her living with my over-friendly cats and nervous (large) labradoodle kept me up several nights. Finally, I decided that we would just all have to get along, and accept the challenges along the way.

Long story short: Marion moved in. and guess what? From the night she moved in, she had the best sleep she’d had in years! My husband over-planted our deck with cascading mounds of flowers, and we placed her special recliner at just the perfect spot in our family room so that she could take in the splendor of our territorial view and the amazing summer flowers. We spent our afternoons in the warm sun with big band music in the background, and drank out of her best crystal every afternoon while toasting to each other and spoiling our dinner by eating luscious fattening hors d’oeuvres. Some nights, Marion choose to only eat ice cream for dinner, and who were we to deny her 92 years of experience? She called our home “The first layer of Heaven” and we knew we had succeeded in providing her with the loving environment and care that we had promised to Paul.

The rest of the story is still too painful to remember and soon to tell, but I can tell you that there is nothing like the feeling that comes from knowing that you’ve given your loved ones better than the best.



17 Jan

Life just has a way, doesn’t it? Zips on by and we just keep rolling along. My latest challenges include my oldest boy moving home, a brief hospital stay for a suspected  appendicitis that turned into an oophorectomy for me (my ovary did it’s interpretation of Swan Lake) and caring for my 92 year old in-laws on a daily basis.

Moms just have a way of caring for the world, don’t we? I can’t complain though. So lucky to still have my in-laws around in their 90s. Lucky to have a boy who actually wants to move home in his mid 20s.  Almost 40% of caregivers are caring for under-age children…I’m in that camp. It’s not without it’s daily challenges, and there are days I want to tear my hair out, but I remind myself that taking care of your elders really is a privileged  I so enjoy my talks with my very with-it mother-in-law, and I find it especially amusing to watch her absorb new media. Last November, we did a FaceTime call with my son while he was in Denmark. You’d have thought she was watching the man on the moon for the first time.

mom on iPhone



A Room With a View

25 May

So, last week was one that brought me to my knees. My daughter needed open-heart surgery and I was the powerless mommy with no choice but to throw it up to my faith in God and my daughter’s surgeons and medical staff.

So what’s a social media mommy to do? I tweeted about it all, of course. Starting with checking into the hospital on foursquare. Then posting daily updates and photos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google +. It was one small way for me to inform friends and family of my daughter’s progress, while giving myself a brief escape from reality. I was sure to include the hospital’s Twitter handle on each tweet. And they obviously paid attention.

When we were moved from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, we were moved to a corner room. Not just a corner room, but the corner room with the best view. View to the helipad and city view kinda view. I of course tweeted, Facebooked and Google+’d my joy. This was originally dismissed as coincidence, but appreciated nonetheless.

But as night fell on the floor, I found out that there was a downfall to having the corner unit. It happens to be across the hall from a staff bathroom. The staff bathroom next to the window with the best view. The coveted staff bathroom that everyone evidently wanted to use. and use it they did. Several times an hour. It was around midnight when I realized that it must be the loudest flush in the history of toilets that flush. Of course, this was tweeted, RT’d and…. all around 4am.

Another thing happened around 4am that night. I realized that I had slept through my daughter’s medication dosing. And, while I was fairly certain that her pain medication had been given, I couldn’t be sure. In the old days, I needed only to look outside her room at her chart to see when and what her last dose was. But, in this new digital world, all medical files are kept securely online, and even I don’t have access to my daughter’s medical records. I didn’t even have a record of who her night nurse was, because she hadn’t written it on the white board after the “Your Nurse is…”   This is still troubling to me. there should be a phone app or a place online I can sign into to find out when my daughter’s medications were given and by whom. Why is it I can find out the exact status of my Domino’s Pizza online, but I cannot find out who my daughter’s nurse is or when her last pain medication was administered?

The next morning I was visited by the charge nurse who asked me if everything was okay. I initially said, “yes” and then she said “I heard you didn’t sleep well last night….” from there I realized that they were reading every tweet, whether they were tagged in it or not. It lead to a very healthy dialog about a parent’s role in their child’s stay in a hospital, HIPPA rules, and how this very new wing of a children’s hospital might better communicate with families. She offered to move me to a new room away from the staff bathroom, and I said that really wasn’t necessary, as we appreciated the extra room and moving us to another room would only put me in between two patient rooms. It should be noted that not a single staff member used that particular restroom for the remainder of my stay. Don’t tell me there is no real power behind Klout….

I’d love to team up with an app builder and make an application that would act as a medical advocate for a patient, or the patient’s caregiver…. anyone wanna join me?

Parental Guidance Suggested

8 May

As a mom, there are many things I am equipped to handle. I can handle almost any kind of owies, I can kiss things to make them better, I can scrub up after a myriad of messes, and I can even handle teenage outbursts of many sizes and shapes. But when my youngest daughter looked at me with tears in her eyes and said;

” Who will be waiting for me when I get to heaven?  How will Grandma in heaven know me if  I’ve never met her?”

My youngest needs open heart surgery, and the date was set for mid June. After several nights of her waking up crying and asking questions of her mortality, I decided to call in the pros. This was outside my level of expertise, and I knew it.

I contacted her pediatrician, who prescribed a mild sedative for sleeping, as well as  the Child Life therapists over at Randall Children’s Hospital, where her open-heart surgery was scheduled to occur. Then I called her cardiologist and let them know that my daughter was having severe anxiety about the pending surgery, and asked if it was possible to move the date of the surgery up a few weeks.

The receptionist at first was reticent to pass this information along, telling me that she was sure there was a reason behind the doctor’s timeline for the surgery. I made it very clear to her that I was the one who chose the last week of school, and now I wanted Dr. King to know that I’d like to reschedule it for his earliest convenience, if that was possible. I was firm, yet polite in stating my wishes.

And it paid off. The child life counselor gave my daughter an all out tour of their new children’s hospital, including some great play therapy, where she could pretend to give her doll an IV and did a play acting surgery exercise, while explaining every step along the way. I dare say, my daughter left with a much lighter heart, and seems to be looking forward to her week at the hospital.

I was able to move up her surgery as well. Instead of waiting a month, we only have a week to go. Because I informed the surgeons of her anxiety, they were able to combine two surgical procedures originally scheduled to be spread out over 2 weeks into a one time back-to-back situation….so she will only need to check in and out of the hospital one time.

The lesson here for others is this: as a parent, it is up to you to advocate for your child. Before Caitlin was born, I was of the mindset that doctors knew best, and I followed their recommendations to the letter without question. By speaking up for Caitlin, I was able to let her doctors know about a situation they would not have any other way of knowing. This is the kind of knowledge that doctors need to know, and yet so many of us just go with the flow and don’t think feelings have any purpose in diagnosis and treatment.

It’s not the first time that I’ve been polite, yet firm, with my daughter’s doctors. I have fired pediatricians for not returning phone calls in a timely fashion, or for not speaking English clear enough for me to understand. I have switched specialists  when I had the feeling that Caitlin’s  first cardiologist was a just a little too tan for Oregon standards, meaning that he spent too much time golfing and vacationing vs. studying his craft. I want my specialists to be nutty professor anti-social types, thank you very much. Even when we were on the Kaiser Permanente insurance, I exercised my right to change physicians regularly. Every hospital has a patient’s rights advocate…. don’t be afraid to get to know them. And don’t be afraid to let your children’s doctors know about all aspects of your child’s health… including stresses. You are you child’s best advocate, and ultimately you are your child’s primary care AND specialist.

We just told Caitlin that her surgery is only a week away, and she smiled. She’s off the sleeping medication, and is excited to check in and start her adventure.

RIP, White Pages…

5 Apr

Ban the Phonebook

The New Restaurant Critic is You

30 Mar

Browse more infographics.


The Small Business Social Media Cheat Sheet

23 Mar


Above graphic, courtesy The Small Business Social Media Cheat Sheet.

The Internet is Big….Very Big

15 Mar

A Day in the Internet
Created by:

Follow Friday Revisited

9 Mar

When Twitter was in it’s “early adopter” stages, it was helpful to know who to follow and why. Follow Friday was a meme that grew like wildfire. The tweet that started it all was back in January of ’09:


And the rest, as they say, is history. People started to look forward to Friday as a way to show gratitude to followers and help others find great people. Most of the time there was at least some reason or purpose given to why you you should follow certain tweeps.

Then came Twitter lists, and now Follow Friday has become, in my opinion, a bloated string of unrelated names, usually exactly 135 +  characters long, and defined by superlatives like “fun” or “engaging”.

…..I’m sorry, but I’m not really that into Follow Friday as it has evolved.When  I see my name sandwiched in between @JoesAuto and @Oprah in the same exact order for 67 weeks, I’m not especially flattered. I am grateful, and I say thank you: But I know I”m on a list, and the only reason I’m being mentioned is because I’m on the list. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to make the list, and it beats the alternative. But as Twitter continues to evolve and improve, so can Follow Friday.

Take a look at your Follow Friday list…. is it a who’s who? When was the last time you truly collaborated or reached out to them in any sort of way? What makes that person stand out among all of your followers? Why should anyone want to follow this person? Really Why? Not in 140 characters….try to get it down to a phrase.

Today, I chose to highlight a woman, @NubianOR I met on Twitter a few months back. We are passionate about our cheese, and sustainability, and we struck up a great friendship. Last week she sent me a postcard. From South Africa. It touched me so that I tweeted:


This took me all of 30 seconds to put together, but it got my point across, and her reply says it all:


And that, my friends, is how Follow Friday goes to the next level. Now, if you want to knock it out of the park, then look no farther than @Leaderswest. Jim Dougherty, who has this great blog knocks my socks off with his friendship and level of engagement. He has made adorable videos, touching blog posts, and even a funny animated short, courtesy of Go Animate #FF @bethmcshane by jimdougherty

Like it? Create your own at It’s free and fun!