Archive for November, 2011

Thoughtful and Thankful at Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Today’s gift: 

This New York Times piece confirms why my decision to blog 365 days in a row about my daily “gifts” and gratitude here at My So-Called Sensory Life changed my life in one year’s time.  Thank you J and M and B.

I am very thankful and blessed.

Providence Journal feature!

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Today’s gift:  a feature about my writing and blogging!  The story from The Providence Journal is cut/pasted below.
Cheers to writer Pamela Reinsel Cotter!

Why can’t mom enjoy a drink or two?
by Pamela Reinsel Cotter

My parents had a mixed marriage when it came to drinking. My mom, the daughter and sister of alcoholics, never touched the stuff. She lectured her children long and hard on the evils of alcohol.    My father, a German-Irish American who spent years in the Army perfecting his bar-side elbow, had no problem with it. He even let me sip out of his beer bottle when Mom wasn’t looking.    That was completely un-ladylike to Mom. And she wasn’t the only one who had an issue with drinking –– especially when it came to women.    In our society, says Gina Barreca, editor of “Make Mine a Double: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink,” there’s often a double standard when it comes to the alcohol consumption of the genders.    “When I came up with the idea for the book, I was thinking — as I mention in the introduction — of the ways women apologize when we pour one for ourselves (but never when we pour for somebody else, unless we’re apologizing for doing it too late or offering too little),” Barreca says.    So, Barreca gathered writers “I knew who could speak to women’s experience with wit and honesty, whether they wrote about choosing to drink or choosing not to drink,” for the 28 essays in this entertaining, thought-provoking book, including Jamestown resident Laura Rossi Totten. In the book, Totten’s essay is called, “Mom’s Club: The New Happy Hour.” She writes about carefree twentysomethings who have no compunction about going out for cocktails with the girls, but once they become mothers, there’s really no going back. Instead, many other groups –– book clubs, crafting meetings, etc., — often become excuses for girls’ nights out. I could relate. I have a friend who owns a T-shirt — depicting a glass of wine — that says, “More book club, please.” Mothers ourselves, we may not go to the bar anymore, but we do find ways to socialize with our drinks.    So, after reading “Make Mine a Double” I set up a meeting with Totten, for a drink, of course. We hit it off immediately, talking about everything from parenting to why there’s a men’s tradition in literature tied to drinking (think Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,”) but none for women. (My joke: Louisa May Alcott didn’t have “Little Women” running around with Mojitos.)    Totten, a public relations professional who’s worked in book publishing but has not yet been an author, was a student of Barreca’s at the University of Connecticut in the 1990s. Two years ago, she by chance ran into her old professor, just as the idea for “Make Mine a Double” was germinating in the comedienne’s head.    “I had two weeks to write it,” Totten says of her essay, “but I had ideas about being a mother, especially a young mother, and all the rules that go with that.”    “I’m sort of a soft feminist,” Totten says. “But the implications with women and drinking are so far off the mark,” she felt compelled to write about it along with the other contributors Barreca gathered for the book.    “No one thinks twice when a dad says he’s going to grab a few beers with the guys,” Totten says, but when a mother says she’s going out with her friends, it raises a few eyebrows. “Are you a bad mom?” is one of the first thoughts, she notes.    We talked about the “party girl” stereotype, and how badly that hurts women who drink in moderation. These are women who just want to have some fun and let go with her buddies because they face so many challenges in their multi-faceted lives.    “Why do we have to squash that part of ourselves?” when we become mothers, Totten asks. Do we have to rely on what she calls “socially acceptable alibis” for women to gather and put a few back?    I sure hope not. Yes, I believe in healthy living. But after a long bike ride on a warm summer day there’s nothing like a cold bottle of light beer.    On a Saturday night with friends, I have to say I’d rather imbibe the 65 calories in a one-ounce shot of Jack Daniel’s on the rocks than eat say, a 68-calorie English muffin.    Only one ounce of “hooch”? Scratch that — make mine a double. (401) 277-7155    Totten’s professional website is , and her blog is . Barreca can be reached at

Laura Rossi Totten of Jamestown contributed to a new book and women and drinking.

Holiday Post – Circle of Moms

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Circle of Moms invited me to post about our holiday traditions and to link to one of my favorite holiday posts.  It’s an honor to share our family traditions on Circle of Moms as well as this blog post from last December (scroll down please).

Our family loves Christmas. Having a son with Special Needs makes me appreciate the little moments most of all. I’m so thankful for my family. We have several special and fun family holiday traditions that I’d like to share:

1. A favorite: Making Christmas cookies in a warm kitchen with Christmas music blasting and dancing and silly Santa hats. Everyone gets covered in flour and food coloring and sprinkles. The kids make crazy cookies. We all eat too many warm cookies right out of the oven! This tradition started when I was a young girl and we continue it in my home.

2. Writing Dear Santa letters. My twins are still small and so they write letters to Santa by themselves. Santa replies with a personal hand-written note from The North Pole and our local paper prints the children’s letters.
3. We sing Christmas carols and songs starting the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day! In the car, making dinner, at bedtime. Never enough Rudolph for us!
4. We watch traditional Christmas shows like Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown and all decorate the tree together with a fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate.
5. On Christmas Eve, we track Santa and like other families leave cookies and milk and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. We all wear Santa Hats on Christmas morning!

Happy Holidays! Thank you for asking me to post about our family.  Here is one of my favorite holiday posts–

Baby Love

Today’s gift is a Christmas miracle:  M held Baby M on his lap for a children’s group photo!

Many earlier MSCSL blog posts shared details about M’s sensory processing disorder and in particular his auditory processing and sensitivity. I also shared his fear of babies — their crying, their unpredictability, their otherness.  M always avoids babies.  And if he can’t, he stays far away from them often plugging his ears or burying himself into the nearest grown-up.

At holiday gatherings, M is usually left out of family photos — in part because he can’t take the proximity to the littlest family members.  I suffer silently during these photo shoots and tell myself it isn’t that big of a deal if he’s not in some silly photo.  But of course I feel bad — bad that we try to force him to do it and then that we always abandon the picture taking in a sweaty mess.

Today, my folks wanted a grandchildren photo in front of the Christmas tree.  I braced myself — all the girls and the baby and M and J only. No grown-ups.  In most families, this ritual is an after-thought — a quick interruption in the socializing or playing or drinking.  I decided to calmly offer the opportunity to M and then leave the choice up to him.

I walked into the living room as the children trickled in and I sat on the couch to watch the scene play out.

M entered the room tall and calm and sat right in the middle of the tree-child madness!  Stealthily, I pulled out my camera ready to snap away as my Dad readied his.  Then, like swarming paparazzi, flashes flashed, cameras clicked, children were rearranged and what to my wondering eyes should appear in my view finder but Baby M sitting on my M’s lap!  A 5 month old baby on his lap with no adults around, holding her perfectly. No fear, no stress, no hitting or hurting or fleeing.  I dared to stare and saw the miracle unfold before me:  both were all smiles with the same sparkle in their eyes and love in their embrace.

I felt so much joy and love and pride and so did everyone — especially M.

Joy to the World Baby!

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