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So Do I

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

So Do I

My book, Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels, is intended to be funny, because let’s face it, sometimes kids are funny little creatures. They squiggle and giggle and see the world so differently than their moms and dads that it spreads smiles, even when things aren’t going the way we’d like them to.

But, sometimes, being a parent isn’t funny. For some, it’s downright sad. Being the mom of four bright and beautiful daughters has been a bittersweet experience for me, one that I’d never exchange for anything in the whole wide world. But, it’s not always enough.

Our oldest, Samantha (Sam as she likes to be called), got married last fall. Now, that was bittersweet. We love her and her husband, Sean, and admittedly are extremely happy for her and for the opportunity to open our arms to a son in our family. But, he’s not our first son.

For Mother’s Day, the four bright and beautiful girls gave me the most thoughtful gift they’ve ever given me. Dandelions and pretty rainbows are great, but they didn’t hold an emotional candle to the bracelet they had put so much thought and consideration into. Inside the velvet box sat a delicate silver bracelet, glimmering with clear crystal gems woven along its beautiful chain. Hanging from it sat one lone charm—a prayer box through which peeked one gleaming blue gem behind the outline of an angel.

The gift was spectacular, but the words meant more. “Mom, I will need something borrowed and something blue for my wedding day. It would mean a lot to me if you would share this bracelet with me on that day.”

I cried. Yes, I did. Although I try to be strong and keep it all in, there are simply times when it cannot be done. This was one of them. We didn’t say it, but we knew what the bracelet represented—it meant more than something borrowed and something blue. It represented the brother who would be the only one of her siblings who wouldn’t be there to watch her get married.

Sam’s always felt his loss more than the others. She was the only other child we had at the time. There are photos of her holding him and kissing him—mementos of a budding relationship that never bloomed. Throughout the years, she’s shared that with me.

“Mom, I still wish I had a brother. I’ve missed that in my life.”

So do I. Oh, so do I.

“Mom, he would have been 21 today. I wish I could have celebrated that day with him.”

So do I. You don’t know how much.

“Mom, I wonder what Matthew would look like now. I bet he’d be big and tall like Dad.”

So do I.

I’ve often wondered what our little boy would look like today. He was a handsome infant, perfect in every way, with his father’s face and a head full of dark hair. I’ve followed the milestones he would have followed in his life without him. I never told anybody before, but I even went outside and watched the kindergarten bus pick up the children on what would have been his first day of school. I waved when it went by, tears spilling from my eyes, wishing I was crying because he was on that bus, not because he wasn’t.

But, I can’t wish him back, although I want to so very much. I can’t take away that awful morning when our son didn’t wake up. So, I transfer my dreams to four bright and beautiful girls, knowing my life is full, but yet empty. I don’t talk about it anymore, but one bracelet changed all of that.

“All four of us would like to wear this on our wedding day. We think it’s the perfect way to remember our brother.”

So do I.

“Mom, I’m glad you like it, but I really wish that we didn’t have a reason to give it to you.”

So do I. Oh, so do I.

Note:  In memory of her son, Matthew McKenna, all proceeds in April from Patti McKenna’s book, Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels, a humorous look at the realities of parenthood based on Patti’s experience raising four daughters, will go toward SIDS research. To order, visit the Bookstore at www.UrbanEdgePublishing.com or you can order at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Caution-Children-Should-Warning-Labels/dp/0981532691/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234889371&sr=1-5 .

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Today, I Diet

Posted on May 3, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Today, Tuesday, May 3rd, I begin my diet – the one that I should have begun on this date last year.

Why today? Well, maybe because I saw a picture of myself yesterday. You know, those photographs you don’t want to be in, those photos that make you say, OMG, what in the hell happened?!! I could kid myself and say the camera adds 10 pounds, but the truth is, I’ve added that much and more since I started working at home, just a few feet from every woman’s nightmare – the kitchen.

Is it good to tell people that you’re conquering the battle of the bulge? I’m not sure, but since it’s been a while since I really tackled a weight problem, I figured some accountability would be helpful. You know, the voices of friends and foe, screaming STOP! Are you really going to put that in your mouth? How much have you eaten today? A spice drop, really?

Lisa Lewis says Being Fat Sucks! I agree. So I’m dusting off her book (available at Amazon.com)  and working on the first thing that needs improvement, my mindset. There will be no official diet plan to follow, just sensible eating. Yes, there is an orange and carrots in the fridge. I might want to throw some other colors in the mix for variety.

While I sincerely appreciate any well-deserved jabs about my food intake, I do have to quell any tendency to prod me to workout. Not that I don’t need to, but I already have a drill seargeant who’s doing a impressive job getting on my butt about that. My youngest, Emily. I’ll let her take the reins on that one.

So, it’s time for me to walk the walk, instead of talking the talk. It’s time to diet. Anybody in?

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Sweet 17

Posted on March 2, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

 

Left to right: Brent and Meridith, Emily and Landon

Seventeen years ago, our fourth daughter entered our family, and since that day, we’ve never been the same.

When Emily was born:

1.  Meridith received a younger sister who is taller than her, and a best friend for life.

2.  Her father received an athlete, one who can play softball, volleyball, and let’s not forget the sport that she’s best at:  Basketball. Her jump shot is pretty darn sweet, if I do say so myself.

3.  Seventeen years ago, Heather got a sister who resembled her! And one who borrows her jeans!

4.  Sam got a baby sister, the oldest and the youngest have now formed a sisterly bond that is cute to watch. Plus, Sam now has someone she can “big sister stalk.”

5.  I got a daughter who many say looks a lot like I did when I was young, but she’s much thinner, far prettier, and way more athletic than I could ever be.

6.  Our family got a special person – someone who has provided us with 17 years of laughter, the kind a comedian cannot can or imitate. It’s spontaneous and unintentional, and might I add, hilarious!

7.  The world got a girl who is studious, funny, athletic, and as you can see, she can also be very much a girly girl when she wants to be.

Happy Birthday to my baby, Emily! Thank you for the joy you’ve brought into our family. And thank you for never stopping talking ‘like that’!

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From a Lullaby to Goodbye

Posted on February 6, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

From a Lullaby to Goodbye

Long overdue and a long time in the making, From a Lullaby to Goodbye is the first book of its kind to offer comfort and support for grieving parents from people who truly do understand. With contributions by more than two dozen parents, siblings, grandparents and caregivers, this ebook contains chapters describing the experience of child loss through our own personal experiences, in the hopes that grieving parents will find someone they can relate to – someone who truly does understand what they’re going through.

Many of the authors in From a Lullaby to Goodbye have also shared their websites, blogs, and even email addresses so that readers can contact them during one of the loneliest times of their lives. These parents lost their child before and after birth, from SIDS, cancers, terminal illnesses, birth defects, heart disease, and accidents. They are survivors who know that coping can be devestating, and that having someone who can relate to can mean the difference between having a warm, comforting hug and loneliness.

We understand. We, too, have been from a lullaby to goodbye.

Purchase the ebook at www.lullabytogoodbye.com or www.lullabytogoodbye.wordpress.com for $9.00.  All payments are made securely through Paypal.com.

If you have any questions, comments, or difficulty accessing your copy, please contact Patti McKenna directly at PcMcKenna6@aol.com.

Thank you, and I sincerely hope that through our words, we can open up the discussion about child loss. It’s not a taboo subject to those of us who have experienced the greatest loss imaginable. Our children did and always will matter. We know that you child does, too.

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The Today Show, Teens and Facebook

Posted on January 5, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

How Much Information is Too Much Information?

Today, my daughter, Meridith, and I join in with The Today Show as we discuss teenagers and Facebook usage. Just how much information is too much information, and when is it in appropriate to share on Facebook?

Meridith was a source for Teen Vogue (February issue) in an article by Whitney Joiner discussing teens and social media. Of course, we all know that it is inappropriate for teens to bare their bods online – some of them haven’t gotten the memo yet, though. But when is it inappropriate to share news? Has texting and posting online substituted for real communication and interaction with this generation?

NBC’s Today Show is running a segment on the subject, and they interviewed Meridith and me. Tune into the show – the segment is scheduled to air at 7:38 a.m. CST – 8:38 EST (subject to change) or catch it when you can at http://today.msnbc.msn.com/. Then join in the discussion here and let us know how often you check your teen’s FB page and potential issues you’ve noticed with teen online communications.  Post your comments and let’s have a constructive, interactive conversation – I’ll be here and encourage everyone to respond and post your thoughts!

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From a Lullaby to Goodbye

Posted on October 27, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

October is SIDS Awareness Month, but as a SIDS mom, I like to think of it as child death awareness month. After all, SIDS is a blanket diagnosis, used when they cannot pinpoint an actual cause of death. Those of us who have lost a child, whether before birth, at birth, or after birth, know the lifelong effect it has on our lives, our families, our hearts, and our faith.

We know what it’s like to wish that it didn’t happen, to want to make it go away, to wish away the memories, and to hang onto those memories so tightly for fear that one of them might never come back.

We know what it’s like to want to talk about our child and our tragedy. We also know what it’s like to know that sometimes other people wish we wouldn’t. 

We become selfish. We also become selfless, reaching out to others and wanting to help them through their own personal tragedy. We become worriers at the same time that we throw our grief to God, and trust that He will get us through.

We become members of the The Club, the club that nobody else knows about, talks about, or ever wants to be invited to join.

From a Lullaby to Goodbye tells our stories. This upcoming book reveals the struggles, the hope, the faith, and the strength of those who have lost a child. Through their stories, the co-authors selflessly open up their souls in the hopes that their experience can help newly grieving families who have joined The Club.

The ebook will be released in November, and the print version is expected around the turn of the year. Another year gone by, another milestone for all of us, and another opportunity to open our hearts to those who need it most–those who now know what it’s like to go from a lullaby to goodbye.

Increasing awareness is one way we want our child’s memories to stay alive. We encourage you to support your local and national organizations that conduct research to prevent child loss. We encourage you to reach out to others in need, and we hope that you’ll listen as we share our children with you. After all, as co-author Katy McKenna said in her chapter, we have now become the keeper of their memories.

You can help us bring this book to print by pre-ordering a copy today. At the reduced price of $10, you will receive both the ebook and the print version.

Simply email me at PcMcKenna6@aol.com, with your name, preferred email address, and your mailing address. Many amazing parents are working to raise awareness and funds, so that someday, somehow, others will not have to know what it feels like to go from a lullaby to goodbye.

If you are interested in sponsoring the book, you will receive free copies for your contribution, credit in the book and on our website, as well as links and a brief bio of your company or organization. Any donations are accepted and will be fully acknowledged! Simply email me to find out how you can help put this book in the hands of every hospital social worker and bereaving parent. You can make a real difference. Thank you!

Patti McKenna

PcMcKenna6@aol.com

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Stop Bullying! I was Bullied – I Know What It’s Like

Posted on October 26, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

I’ve taught my four daughters to befriend the underdog. Be nice to the person who is left out. Say something nice to somone who doesn’t have a friend, is alone, or looks sad.

Why?

Because I know how much it means to have someone be nice to you.  The words you say, even if you don’t think they’re much, could be the only nice thing a person will experience today, this week, or even this month.

How do I know? Why is this so important to me?

Because I was bullied.

I didn’t have a lot of friends in grade school – I had a couple friends who lived near me, but few others. You see, I was fat. Therefore, I was the target of bullying. It wasn’t just teasing, and I do know the difference. Calling me “Fatty Patty” on a daily basis was teasing (cruel as it was), but there was more.

When I was in the fifth grade, a group of girls walked through the classroom, looking at the girls’ legs. We were required to wear dresses back then, and the girls were going around pushing everyone’s thighs down against the seats of their chairs – in an attempt to see who had the fattest thighs. They got to me, and I raised my thighs up. They knew better, and since I was the target of their research study, they came around both sides of me and pushed my thighs down hard against the seat, then announcing with squeals and screams that I had the fattest legs in the fifth grade. I remember it so well; the pain and humiliation isn’t just seared into my memory, but it has become a part of who I am today and the way I parent my daughters.

This group consisted mostly of four girls, but occasionally, the group grew, tacking onto and wanting in on the let’s make fun of Patty game. It was a daily thing – they taunted and shy, quiet me took it, became embarrassed and tried not to cry in front of anyone. As a result, I became a hermit, staying home, not going anywhere where kids at school might be. I became a bookworm, turning to an internal world inside books that was happier than mine.

One day, on the bus ride home from school, one of the girls sitting in the seat in front of me turned around and grabbed my hand (yes, she was one of the four). Then another girl sitting next to her also grabbed my hand, holding it steady so one of them could repeatedly stab the top of my hand with a sewing needle. I fought back the tears and the screams – you see, if I’d told or brought attention to it, the taunting and the ridicule would only intensify. I knew better.

But I did go home and tell my mom, showing her the blood on my hand. My mom went to the school and talked to the teacher, who said, “Patty needs to get a backbone. They pick on her because they can and they know she won’t do anything.”

Typical response from someone who believes that it is the fault of the child being bullied – not the bullier! That is exactly why bullying is tolerated – we tend to blame those who are weakest or most timid, both for what they do and what they do not do. We blame them because they’re quiet, they’re spinless, they’re different, they’re not as popular, they’re fat. It’s an unkind world out there for children who do not fit the mold, whatever that mold may be.

Bullies aren’t only boys. Girls are particularly good at bullying other girls. Somehow, by bullying someone else and pointing out the things they don’t like about other people, they believe they look better.

These same girls wrote me fake ‘love letters’ from boys, saying they wanted to go out with me. They found delight in making me feel even worse because I was fat and didnt’ attract attention from the opposite sex. Then they’d act like my friend, all excited – “Are you going to go out with him?” Then, they’d walk away giggling about their escapade leaving me embarrassed and humiliated and very sad, while they relished in making me the butt of their jokes.

It wasn’t until high school, when I starved myself to lose weight, that they chose to move on. Maybe they grew up. Maybe I got boring and they needed fresh blood. Maybe they weren’t getting the reaction they wanted. Maybe I grew a backbone and didn’t let them see that they were upsetting me.

Bullying is painful. It leaves lasting emotions and scars. So, when my kids say something about another kid being made fun of, or never having any friends, I make them promise me that they’ll say hi to them, ask them if they were able to figure out that algebra problem, or even, hey, do you want to sit here…to some kids, those things aren’t a big deal. To kids who are bullied, they could be a lifesaver.

Kids can be cruel – very, very cruel. Teachers don’t always know what is going on (how many kids get bullied when their parents or teachers are around? Usually, not many.)

Ask your kids questions. Talk to teachers. Talk to the bully’s parents, and yes, if you have to, talk to the bully. The bully is the bad guy–not your kid–so, why is your kid the one crying? Those tears will be felt for years.

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Mucinex DM Side Effects!

Posted on October 5, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

My husband came down with what I call the crud last Monday–a cold, which quickly turned into a bad cough, leaving him short of breath and weak. After trying several over-the-counter drugs, I bought Mucinex DM 12-Hour Extended Release tablets. They seemed to help – the drainage – and thus, the coughing – were much better.

So, when the beginning signs of the crud hit me, I thought I’d get a jump start on it and took one Mucinex DM tablet, hoping that it would prevent me from getting as sick as he was. But the opposite happened – I became even sicker. Within four hours, I was hit with a wave of diarrhea that was sudden and immediate. After spending an entire night tossing, turning, jittery, and going back and forth to the bathroom, I finally slept for an hour – only to be awakened by a bout of nausea that had me flying right back to the bathroom, which is where I should have had my pillow. After several episodes of violent dry heaves, I went back to sleep.

When I woke up, I had severe pain in my jaw on both sides and it felt like every bone in my face had a terrible toothache. I was dizzy and disoriented. At one point, I even thought it was snowing outside (it was over 70 degrees that day). I checked the side effects on the box:  There were none. There is a warning that it is not to be taken with certain drugs, but that wasn’t an issue- I didn’t have any other drugs, not even a Tylenol, in my system.

So, I went online, and Googled: Mucinex DM 12 Hour Extended Release Side Effects. Wow! One site reported 170 adverse reports, 66 hospitalizations, 2 deaths – but 0 FDA Safety Alerts for Mucinex! The comments were all indicative of the way I felt – inability to focus/concentrate, jittery and nervous, disoriented, lethargic, and all the while I could feel my heart beating fast and hard against my chest. Some said the sensation was similar to being on acid, but I wouldn’t know. I do know that I felt drugged.

I only took the one tablet, and never took another one. I never will again. It took more than 30 hours for that one pill to leave my system. As soon as it did, my nasal congestion returned, along with my cough, but I can deal with that and prefer it to misery that I went through for a few days.

Why doesn’t an over-the-counter pill that is leaving so many users with such adverse side effects list them on their packaging? Shouldn’t all potential users by aware of the potential dangers or side effects of this drug? When I searched a few other sites, I found others who had similar side effects – but the majority of the ‘official’ sites only listed ‘dry mouth, thirst’ etc. Very minor reactions.

I’ll admit Mucinex DM does help the cough and the nasal drainage; however, for me, its benefits don’t outweigh its side effects. Yes, I might have had a hypersensitivity to the drug, or maybe yet, an allergic reaction. But the company fails to shed light on that possibility, as well – leaving people with the impression that Mucinex DM is harmless and any side effects are minor and insignificant.

I wonder how successful their sales would be if they exposed the adverse side effects of their medication?

To view patient comments claiming side effects to Mucinex, go to: http://www.patientsville.com/medication/mucinex_side_effects.htm#reports

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WHY GOD MADE MOMS…HILARIOUS!

Posted on September 3, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I got this email from my sister-in-law. Thanks, Carol! It’s questions about moms posed to kids in the second grade. Their responses are so cute! I added what I think my kids would say if asked the same questions…

WHY GOD MADE MOMS   

       
All answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions :

Why did God make mothers?

1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

What I think my kids would say: So somebody would be there to answer the question, “What’s for dinner?”

How did God make mothers?

1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

My Kids:  He cast a spell. Sometimes, it doesn’t work well, though. Thus, Patti.

What ingredients are mothers made of ?  

1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

My Kids:  God made mothers out of love and goodness. He just was running short of supplies when he made my mom.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

1. We’re related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

My Kids: Because she’s the only one we can blame when anything at all goes wrong. 

What kind of little girl was your mom?

1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

My Kids:  (This one was easy for me to guess)  I’m pretty sure she was never a kid, never little, and I know she was never fun.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?  

1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

My Kids (especially Emily): A heckuva lot more than she did.

Why did your mom marry your dad?

1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

My Kids – again, especially Emily, who just asked this question last night. We really can’t figure out a reason!

Who’s the boss at your house?

1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

My Kids: Depends on who you ask…we all think we are the boss. Therein lies the problem.

What’s the difference between moms & dads?

1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend’s.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

My Kids: Dads say jump. Moms ask how high.

What does your mom do in her spare time?

1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

My Kids:  Nothing that we want her to. Mostly, she sits around and writes embarrassing stuff about us.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?  

 1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I’d diet, maybe blue.

My Kids:  A recall.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?  

1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d GET rid of that.
2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

My Kids:  We only get to pick one thing?  That’s not fair! It’s not fair! Well we hate the fact that she can pick out the one dress that’s perfect for us when it’s on the hanger…really, she takes all the fun out of dress shopping. (And we hate to admit that she’s right.)

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Costumes for Kids: Mom, I Wanna Be a Lego!

Posted on August 31, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Five Siblings, Five Costumes

Aren’t these guys cuter than the Brady Bunch? They are five siblings -last Halloween, they were all LEGOS! How much more adorable and creative can you get?

The Halloween costumes are a piece of cake to make. All it takes is cardboard boxes and styrofoam food containers, a hot glue gun, and paint.

The tykes all chose their favorite color – what’s even more amazing is that no two are alike! They had their sixth child in December, now they have three girls and three boys. I’m afraid they just might be running out of colors!

Another great and easy idea is to use plain boxes, paint them white and put dice marks on them – a three year old has 3 dots, a four year old has 4, etc.

Easy, picturesque, and cute as a button.

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