Mother’s Day (A Day After, Anyway..) -M

Mother’s Day is different than it used to be. I guess it always is. When we’re little, it’s exciting to make special things for mom, our own creations- cards, art, jewelry, breakfast, and, as a teen, apologies. Then it becomes our turn to be spoiled by the beautiful, simple pleasures of extra snuggles, breakfast made by tiny, messy hands, and maybe one less turn wiping bums that day. (Thanks, Dads!) I used to look forward to Mother’s Day for the special handmade cards and gifts that were coming my way, and of course I still do, but there’s something missing.

 

Handprint Art by Joshua

This was my third Mother’s Day without my sweet boy. The first, I tried not to cry all day, but did anyway. And I refused to take calls except from my mom (but not on her first attempt.) Last year, my husband and little one made breakfast, but I don’t remember much else. This year, I avoided social media, and forgot to call my mom until after her bedtime. I received lots of loving messages from friends and family and put off reading a beautifully honest piece about mothering that a dear friend dedicated to me until this morning. But my day was mostly good. Yummy brunch made by my husband and little one, followed by hours of bracelet making with my girls. Maybe it helped that we were working on bracelets to honor Joshy, or maybe it’s that my hands were busy, my girls were chatty, and I couldn’t focus on the hole in the beads with tears in my eyes, but I definitely cried less.

Sending love to all the awesome moms out there, with a little extra for the moms who will never be whole.

M❤️

Autism & Asperger’s on Disney’s Girl Meets World

If I had my way, my family would only watch 2 hours of TV per week. We watch more than that, but we’re picky about the shows, especially for our 6 year old. Even on the channels we’ve always trusted, some of the shows are full of sass and even border on bullying sometimes. One show consistently gets it right, though, so we watch religiously as a family.

Girl Meets World, the sequel to Boy Meets World, features the real life,  grown-up Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence as the supportive and down-to-earth parents of an adorably quirky adolescent daughter, Riley. The show spotlights issues and topics that kids and families face in daily life- divorced or absent parents, materialism, fitting in, honesty, friendship, responsibility and growing up in general. The most recent episode, which aired on September 11, tackled a topic that most shows would shy away from- Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome- in an authentic way and succeeded in sending the best message possible.

GirlMeetsWorldCastPhoto

One of Riley’s three best friends, Farkle (the son of Stuart Minkus, in case you watched BMW!) is a lovable genius. He’s also a bit socially awkward and outspoken and sometimes misses social cues. In my new favorite episode, Farkle goes through a series of tests after his genius confirmation and is nervous about a possible Asperger’s diagnosis. While Farkle, the guidance counselor, and teacher (Cory Matthew, of course!) offer information about Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), at no point does anyone send the message that there is something wrong with someone with either diagnosis. Ultimately, it’s revealed that another character (Isadora Smackle) does have Asperger’s and the friends realize the label doesn’t matter as much as they thought it would.

While any diagnosis can be worrisome for a parent or child, and nobody can deny the challenges faced by children and adults with ASD, it’s refreshing and necessary to realize that “normal” doesn’t need to be the goal. Although we have lots of sensory issues in my family, I’m not the mother of an autistic child. I just know how I want my children treated and how I want them to treat others. When even the most well-known Autism advocacy organization seems to be getting it wrong, it’s really nice to see a family TV show get it right!

To quote Riley Matthews, “Who wants to be normal?”

Nobody raise their hand.


 

MSTK bio picMelissa Kaye is a Boston-based green living expert, writer, radio personality, food safety advocate, mom, and wife. She is currently working her way through grief and learning how to live without her would-be 10 year old son, Joshua, who died July 7, 2014 of E. Coli. With her husband and two daughters, she has founded Joshua Kaye Foundation, which will honor what was important to Josh- community, fairness and animal welfare. 

Connect with Melissa at mommybusiness.net or on Twitter @mstkaye and @mommybiz7. 

Why We’re Suing Whole Foods and Rain Crow Ranch

My husband, Andrew Kaye, wrote the following this afternoon, after reading that Rain Crow Ranch had been forced to suspend operations. I couldn’t have put my thoughts together better than this.

This is the ranch whose product infected our son, Joshua, with the E. coli that killed him after he ate it and also sickened multiple children.

This is the ranch who had a different recall a week before we bought the ground beef that made Joshua sick.

This is the ranch run by an owner who openly preaches that you can not get E. coli from grass-fed beef.

This is the ranch which Whole Foods lent money to in order to buy/convert the processing plant that was just shut down, the processing plant which has had a long “contentious relationship” with Federal Safety Inspection Services.

This is the ranch whose products Whole Foods relies upon to supply their Northeast region with grass-fed beef.

This is the ranch whose products Whole Foods has never removed from their stores.

This is the ranch whose products Whole Foods continues to tout as meeting the highest standards for quality and safety.

Sadly, this is is the ranch who will be back up and running again before you know it and sadly, Whole Foods will, in all likelihood, keep on selling their beef while touting their bogus feel-good family farm story.

Because it is about money. If it were about safety or quality or, to quote Whole Foods oft-repeated and incredibly insulting term, “an abundance of caution”, they’d cut ties.

So, for anyone that may question for a moment why my wife and I are suing Whole Foods and Rain Crow, it is to hit them in the only place that matters to them, the wallet. To make the cost of doing business the wrong way costlier than doing it the right way.

Until then, when they sicken or, God forbid, kill the next kid, may the lot of them face criminal charges.

♥️One of my photos of Andy with Joshua ♥️

♥️One of my favorite photos of Andy with Joshua ♥️

Review: Enjoy Life Muffin Mix

Enjoy Life sent us a beautiful package with lots of their mixes to try out. It was so exciting to open the box and see all of the yummy options, along with a fancy new oven mitt, pizza cutter, spatula and wooden spoon. Such great packaging and presentation. Enjoy Life knows what they’re doing!

Such great packaging and so many goodies!

Such great packaging and so many goodies!

We have lots of food allergies in our families. Jenn’s kids are allergic to mango, peanuts, tree nuts, pistachio, cashew, and sesame.

At my house, we’ve got Little A with gluten, oats, soy, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, all legumes, cinnamon, sesame and sunflower seed. We keep things very simple and cook & bake with as few ingredients as possible. I’m allergic to clams, gluten, and dairy, and my husband, Andy, is lobster, egg, banana. The great news is that even Andy can have these mixes. ALL OF THEM!! It’s so hard to find safe mixes that don’t include egg, but Enjoy Life has solved that problem! Every box is free of the top 8 allergens. The only ingredients you need to add are: water and the oil of your choice! (I use Kirkland brand organic olive oil from Costco.)

This sweet new wooden spoon is perfect to use with my favorite mixing bowl!

This sweet new wooden spoon is perfect to use with my favorite mixing bowl!

It was rainy and chilly in Boston today, so I spent the afternoon baking! I started with some muffins. I’m sure they would have been good just plain, but I added blueberries and a crumb topping, because Andy likes berries!

Fresh Maine Wild Blueberries- YUM!

Fresh Maine Wild Blueberries- YUM!

The muffins came out great! The flavor and feel is as good as my from-scratch muffins. To make them even more perfect, I would add 1/2-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract next time. And chocolate chips. I love blueberries, but Enjoy Life chocolate chips are my weakness!!!!!

I ate two immediately after taking this photo!

I ate two immediately after taking this photo!

 

A couple of notes:

If you’re going to add blueberries, be sure to toss them in a little gluten-free flour first. This will help them hang out in the muffin without sinking to the bottom.

They’re yummy warm, with a little butter (or Earth Balance soy-free spread) but I think the taste and texture are best after they cool for a bit.

Mmmmmm... warm with butter!

Mmmmmm… warm with butter!

 

My recipe for crumb topping:

3 Tablespoons butter, or butter substitute, very cold and chopped into little pieces

1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 Cup gluten-free flour

 

Mix with a fork or your fingers until it is blended and crumbly.

Sprinkle on top of muffins, bake, and enjoy!

*As mentioned above, the mixes were sent to us by Enjoy Life, so that Jenn & I could try them and write an honest review. As always, opinions on MommyBusiness.net are our own. You know we always tell truth! -M

Without the Birthday Boy…

Ten years ago, at this moment, I was in labor. I was 4 hours and 35 minutes away from bringing my beautiful son into this world. I was rocking permanent dents into the carpet of my bedroom with every contraction.. trying to stay quiet in my new rocking chair so my family could rest, elated that my baby boy would soon be snuggling in my arms. No matter how many crazy worries went through my head, I never imagined I would be here tonight without my son.

Josh would be SO happy to be celebrating double digits. And we would be happy to do anything he wanted for his birthday. The January before he died, we started the tradition of decorating the dining room with birthday streamers and a banner and balloons and really going all out in the simple ways that make a kid feel special. I could tell he was a tiny bit jealous of his little sister that day, and I was so looking forward to spoiling him in that same way for his birthday 6 1/2 months later. We never got the chance. We spent the days leading up to his 9th birthday trying to wrap our heads around the fact that our son would not be there to celebrate. Our little boy was dead. Forever 8 years old.

We spent his last few days making promises to him- ways we would celebrate his birthday and spoil him when he woke up. Not “if.” We would help him build the treehouse of his dreams. We would even call Pete from Treehouse Masters if he wanted. I would let him skip the next year of school if he wanted, and just spend time doing everything he had ever wanted to do. We meant every word.

On August 3, 2015 at 5:35 AM, Joshua Quentin Kaye will be 10 years old, but he won’t be here to celebrate, to hug, to spoil. I will do my best to hug and love and spoil whoever I am with- all day. I hope you will do the same. #ThisIsForJosh

Josh at NEWC fence JKF Stamp

 

 

 

 

Marking A Year…

We lost Joshy just 27 days before his 9th birthday. Those were the some of the saddest days of the saddest year of our lives, but so much love was shown to us. Losing a child forces lessons on parents, siblings, and friends. We realize that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. The little moments with our children matter more than anything. And telling someone you love them shouldn’t wait!

As we mark our first whole year without him, we’d like these next few weeks to be filled with love. Tomorrow, 7/7 through Josh’s birthday, 8/3, we’d love it if you’d join us in spreading joy and love by sharing how you stay present in the moment, share your love, or spread kindness, using the hashtag #ThisIsForJosh on social media.

Joshy Tying Little A's Shoe

Joshy Tying Little A’s Shoe ❤️

Almost a Year…

It’s June already. Soon enough, I’ll be marking the one year anniversary of the day he got sick. The day we went to the ER. The day he was transferred to ICU. The day he coded. The day we learned he would never come home with us again. The day we left the hospital without our boy.

Joshua Quentin Kaye was born on August 3, 2005. 10 days after his due date, after only 8 hours of labor. It was the perfect-story labor; a little funny and completely sweet. After several years of infertility, with a big sister begging for a little brother, it’s possible there had never been a baby born who was more wanted and planned for than him. He weighed in at 8 pounds 3 ounces, which was a shock, because he was so skinny- and then they stretched him out. He measured 22 1/2 inches long. He was an adorable string bean. I remember being stunned when he lifted his head off of my husband’s shoulder to look around the room as Andy carried him to me. He was perfect. Much lighter than I had expected- blonde hair and blue eyes?!- but gorgeous. His big sister was so happy, proud, in love. She beamed with joy as she held him. And our family was perfect.

Our boy was engaging and funny from the very beginning. His eyes like gorgeous pools, reflecting love back at everyone who saw him. He loved to meet people, but was happiest at home with his family- especially his doting sister.

Baby Josh, before his eyes turned green.

Baby Josh, before his eyes turned green.

He did everything early. He stacked a set of wooden blocks when he was 5 months old. He pulled himself to standing at 6 months and was climbing stairs a few weeks later. We had to be ready for anything! And he loved to laugh!

When Josh became a big brother at 3 1/2, he was concerned and a little jealous. But, he spent his mornings building giant towers for his “Baby A” and playing songs for her on his harmonica.

We moved to a new house a few months later and when we got new furniture for the living room, our sweet boy mourned the couch he had found comfort on- while nursing, snuggling, napping, and playing- for days and weeks. He was passionate, loyal, sentimental, and connected strongly to things he cared about. Even couches.

When Josh was 5, doctors discovered a Chiari malformation. Basically, his skull was a little to snug for his brain and they needed to perform a major surgery, cutting through all the muscles and bone at the base of his skull, to alleviate pressure on his brain stem and spinal cord. He sat himself up in bed 4 hours after his surgery and was walking around the hospital the next morning. The Chief of Neurosurgery was astonished. This child knew no limits. He didn’t know how to let things hold him back.

Joshua’s friends were happy to have him back at school. He was the planner of games, the peacemaker among arguing friends. And, as his friends have told us over the last 11 months, the boy who stuck up for his friends, stopped others from teasing, listened to what mattered and showed love- always.

He was not perfect at home. He pushed and he argued and he refused to do homework on anyone’s timeline but his own. He got mad when his big sis needed quiet time do focus on school work and wasn’t always kind to his little sister when she wanted his attention. But he made us laugh. He did the cutest little tushy shake you could ever imagine and he would sing along to whatever songs he and his sisters had on repeat with his sweet, sincere voice.

Our silly boy!

Our silly boy!

He was an animal and nature lover. I think a wild lion would have laid down and rolled over for a tummy rub if Josh asked him to. He would spend hours with his friends or little sister, looking for cool bugs or standing still so a dragonfly or butterfly could land on him. He loved to go for long walks and just be out in nature.

When Josh was 6 1/2, he heard about mass dolphin strandings on the Cape and he asked if we could go and help. It was winter and the beach where the dolphins needed help was 2 hours away. He insisted that we find a way to help, so we called IFAW to find out what they needed most and then planned a fundraiser. Joshy spent hours cutting out pictures of dolphins and making a poster to bring to school. He told all of his friends and teachers and raised over $1000 for IFAW. He was so proud when he received a thank you note from, then president of IFAW, Fred O’Regan.

Joshua loved to build. He used to get so frustrated when I said no to buying actual bricks and mortar so he could “build stuff” in the back yard. He settled for Minecraft and hand-drawing plans for furniture, buildings and tree-houses. When I told him about Habitat for Humanity one night, he couldn’t fall asleep. The thought that he might be able to help build a real house for someone who needed one was too exciting!

He never felt like he was too young to do anything, but he was definitely too young to die.

Joshy squishy face JKF stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day- After Losing My Son

I’m sitting here trying not to fall apart. Friends and family members have been sending sweet messages since last night. It has been a busy week, with dress rehearsal and Little A’s dance recital, so I kept my mind on those things as much as possible. I cried my way through her recital. So happy and filled with love watching her dance. And her friends- and Joshy’s friends. And so incredibly sad that he was not there to see. He loved music and dance and really enjoyed the recitals.

My mother-in-law came to stay with us this weekend to be here for A’s recital. I made her change her plans so she would leave today. I don’t want to be with anyone today.

My mother called this morning. I let her go to voicemail. She just called again, so I answered and regretted it instantly. “Happy Mother’s Day” she said, trying extra hard to sound cheerful. “Thanks. I’m not really doing Mother’s Day.” She paused and replied with “Well, you could at least say Happy Mother’s Day to your own mother” in a voice that I know was trying to cheer me up and shake me out of my misery. I think she thinks I am sitting alone in a dark room, ignoring my other children. “You still have two girls…” she started, but I told her I didn’t feel like talking. I can tell she feels badly. And maybe I even hurt her feelings, but I can’t help it.  Little A immediately said “Why don’t you feel like talking to your mom? Is it because you’re missing Joshy?” Jesus, this kid gets it. She does not miss a thing- ever.

Joshua Laying on Grass JQK

Today is my tenth Mother’s Day as Joshua’s mother and he is not here to make me a beautiful card, do the silly dances he was famous for, or fight with his sisters, forcing me to say “Guys, it’s Mother’s Day- try to get along for me.”

I have lived 10 months and 3 days without my boy. Rarely has a moment passed that I haven’t been actively thinking of him. When I watch the girls together, I think “oh, how sweet” and half a second later “Joshy should be there, pulling pranks or reading stories.”

Life after the death of your child is unbearable at times. I could end this post with a positive It Will Get Better message, but I’m not feeling that way right now and I know there are lots of other moms missing their babies today. I’m thinking of you. I’m crying today and trying to smile a few times for my husband and my girls, but mostly- I’m missing my boy.

Why Aren’t These Vocal Smoke Alarms For Sale?!

Somehow, this video of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s investigation of smoke alarms from 2004 has made a resurgence today on Facebook. It is alarming (no pun intended!) and extremely moving. It caused me to spend over an hour searching online to find a product.

In case you didn’t click the link above, or can’t watch it right now, the video shows Hank Phillippi Ryan meeting with families of fire fighters and filming nighttime testing of their smoke alarms, with frightening results. None of the children wake to the sound of the beeping alarm. OH MY GOD- they sleep right through!!! In the second half of the video, they test a (then) new kind of alarm- a vocal alarm that allows the parents to record their own voice- calmly but urgently calling their children to wake up and evacuate the home. ALL of the kids wake up and all but the child in his crib leave their rooms! By this time, I feel a bit shaky- quite emotional. seriously- I WANT THIS ALARM!!! Like, now. I’ll pay $100 and I want 2. Immediately.

Poking around online, I see that they are not currently for sale. I read several papers, including this very official study from 2006, that demonstrates the same outcome. In fact, the median time to awaken was 20 seconds in the voice alarm group compared with 3 minutes in the tone alarm group!!

WHERE THE HELL CAN I GET ONE?!

This Dateline video from 2013 features a doctor/researcher from a children’s hospital who also points to the child’s name and parent’s voice as important factors in waking the child quickly. The alarms we have in our home do have voice, but it is not my voice or my husband’s, and they certainly don’t call our the names of my children. Where is the study that shows my kids will wake up to this strange voice quicker than the beeping alarm?

I did find lots of old comments from people saying things like “well, wouldn’t the parents wake up and run to the kids anyway?” so, maybe there wasn’t enough interest in the personalized alarms until now. After seeing the videos, I’m guessing everyone I know will want one if it means their kids will wake up and get out in the event of a fire. Would you want one?

photo credit: Push and hold to test weekly via photopin (license)

How to Not Build a Closet (Or, as Babble Titled it, Do We Unconsciously Pressure Our Kids to Grow Up Straight?)

I’m honored to be published again on Babble.com. This is an important topic and I’m anxious to hear about your thoughts and experiences, so please read, share and post in the comments!

❤M