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Friday, November 9, 2018

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A REMINDER...IT IS NOT OVER

This morning, as I scrolled through my camera roll on my cell phone to delete pictures I don’t want anymore, I came across this one (the graphic shown below, which I will continue to hold on to.)



It is a simulation picture of what happened on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This picture and those green dots (which represent fatalities,) reminds me how fragile our lives are. It should remind us all.  

I keep it to remind myself of just how close our daughter came to being a victim of this school shooting. I keep it and I analyze it and I am reminded of the horror she and her classmates had to live out that day at school, especially those in the 1200 building, which is where she was. Her classroom was 1251. It was a matter of sheer luck, timing, divine intervention, whatever you want to say, that the shooter didn’t turn around and shoot into the classroom she was in. This graphic reminds me of that, every time I see it.  That is why I keep it.  

Most people have moved on, especially those not affected and not in the Parkland/Coral Springs area, but it is not over, not by a long shot.  It is not over because these students, teachers and staff have to go to the scene of a crime, every day. Sure, they don't walk into the 1200 building, but they do have to go by it every morning and every afternoon.  They have to walk along the border fence of that building. The students have to attend classes where they once had classmates who are no longer there because they are now dead. 
They still have to close their eyes at night and see visions of dead bodies in the hallways, blood on the walls and hear the echoes of victims crying out in pain.  I cannot begin to fathom the pain of those sights and sounds. I can only sympathize with what my own daughter experienced, and even then I will never truly know the details of what she saw and experienced and truthfully, I am afraid to know. It is heartbreaking that innocent lives were taken away that day and teenagers have to endure their high school years with such painful memories.

Personally, it reminds me of the lapse of time when there was no communication with our daughter. It reminds me of how the last thing I heard from her at around 2:40p.m. was: "Mommy, there is a shooter in school. I'm okay, but I am terrified. I am hiding. I can hear someone crying because they got shot. Please call 911."  

That was it, then we didn't hear from her again for another 30 to 40 minutes.  Those were the absolute worst moments of my life, of my family's life. All I could think of was that she was close enough to hear gun shots and then all we got was silence.

It is a reminder that for these students, their families, their teachers, it is NOT OVER. Especially for those families who lost loved ones that day. We use the term “lost,” but the truth is, they were not lost, their lives were brutally TAKEN by a troubled teen, who had access to an assault rifle.


It is NOT OVER because it KEEPS HAPPENING!!!
 
There is nothing we can do to change what has already happened, but we sure as hell can do EVERYTHING in our power to make sure these tragedies don’t continue to happen in our schools! 

I have written of this tragic event before and I will continue to do so, to remind myself and others, that the repercussions of this incident boil over onto many aspects of life and our community. 

It reminds me that although we experienced the worst moments of our lives, we were blessed to welcome our daughter home safely, (forever, changed emotionally, but physically safe.)  Seventeen families were unable to do that on February 14th. They had their family member taken from them because of gun violence, lack of school safety and mental health problems.  ALL issues we must take on.

This November, during midterm elections, it is our duty to VOTE!! Vote for leaders who want to keep our kids and our streets safe. Vote for those who want to make sure assault rifles do not fall into the wrong hands. No one is coming for your guns. This is about safety. 

This is why we are part of Families vs. Assault Rifles PAC, to make a difference. Not to ban guns, not to go and take your weapons, but to re-classify assault rifles. FAMSVAR PAC is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation that severely restricts access to assault rifles.

Many people think it is too late, that there are too many assault weapons out there, however, we HAVE to start somewhere and do something! We each have the power to make a change or at least try.  Voting is a privilege that many have given their lives for.   We, as citizens of the United States of America, cannot take this privilege for granted.

Everyone aligns themselves with the cause that best interest them and I think that by working together and communicating, we can slowly but surely bring about change. 

So, let this serve as a reminder, that we must all do our part to make the world, the country and our schools a safer place for our children and grandchildren. 

PHOTO BY: MIAMOON PHOTOGRAPHY


Never Again. Never Forget. It's Not Over!


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

MOM KNOWS BEST: Traveling with Teenagers


Planning a family getaway is never easy, especially when you are traveling with a pre-teen and a teenager in one car and one hotel room!  That is why mom knows what is best! I recommend that you do your research on various hotels and plan exactly what you want to do each day and what meals you will have - will you be eating out each day? Will you be dining in?

Organization is the key!

As a hockey family, we travel often to hockey tournaments, especially in the South Florida area.  Not only do we travel for hockey, but we often travel to Orlando to meet our older kids because it is a midway point from where we live.

I know from experience that getting only one hotel room can be disastrous in terms of space, sleeping arrangements and privacy!  If you have the luxury of getting two rooms, one for you and one for your kids, that's great for you, but if you are a family traveling on a budget, like me, choosing the right place to stay is probably the most important aspect of a successful family trip, especially finding a place where you get plenty for your money.  The days of me reserving a simple hotel room are over!

During the course of our travels I have learned that one of the best ways to appease our teenager and to make the trip more bearable is to have our teen invite a friend, which equates to one more mouth to feed and to lodge, but if you choose the right place, it should be smooth sailing, especially at an "apartment hotel," where you can cook all of your meals.

This is why I LOVE choosing apartment-style hotels, like the one I found in Orlando, Florida by browsing on Trivago: Vista Cay Resort (by Casiola vacation homes) for our upcoming family get-a-way. It is so much better than getting a regular hotel room.  First of all, it has all the comforts of home.  They offer spacious condos or town homes. You can choose from 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms with a fully-equipped kitchen and washer and dryer inside, which makes it easier to keep the kids clothes clean, especially if you do the 3 to 5 day vacation trip, like my family usually does.

https://www.trivago.com/


Vista Cay is located right on Universal Blvd and is only 2 miles from Sea World and 4 miles from Universal Studios.

Usually, we don't even do the parks (like Disney.) My kids actually love Universal, so being close to that is perfect, in case we do decide to do the one day trip.  Just driving to Orlando and having fun at the hotel/apartment pool and amenities is enough of a privilege! I am lucky that my kids are not really obsessed with the Disney parks.  This is also another reason why the lodging I choose has to be great in all aspects.



After we are done with the hockey tournament for the day, the place to unwind and have fun for my kids is our "hotel," so wherever I choose has be well-worth it!

Vista Cay has an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a game room. My tween loves when there is a game room, wherever we stay. It just adds to the "fun factor." Vista Cay apartments are located in a gated residential area.  They also offer free WiFi, which is very convenient.


https://www.casiola.com/vista-cay-resort/

There are so many places to choose from when you  go on vacation, that making a decision is usually very personal for each family based upon their needs.  My family loves a spacious hotel, meaning there is plenty of privacy between the parents and the kids, they love a good pool area and if there are fun amenities, it is an even bigger plus.

I figured I would just list the amenities for you at Vista Cay, so you can see just why I chose this particular lodging.

Vista Cay Resort Amenities

  • HEATED resort style pool
  • Kiddie pool
  • Hot spa (holds 17 people)
  • Pool bar
  • Concierge desk
  • ATM machine
  • Elevators in all buildings
  • Business Center with computers, high speed internet & printing
  • Flexible meeting rooms
  • Fitness center 
  • Surrounding Lake Cay is a 2 mile walking trail
  • Children enclosed play area
  • Basketball court for family fun
  • Movie theater
  • Game room with pool tables and video and arcade games
  • BBQ pits
  • Gated residential access
  • Brand-new PUBLIX supermarket

When your hotel IS the "get-a-way", the resort you choose is important. As you may or may not know, teenagers can be moody, so it helps a lot to keep them happy and entertained, so they don't make your vacation difficult if they are bored, that is why having things like an indoor movie theater and a game room with pool tables and arcade games is a perfect choice for lodging! And in the case of Vista Cay, the security of being in a gated-residential area is also a nice touch.

Basically, I recommend finding a great place to stay like this one that offers plenty of amenities, has plenty of room in terms of bedrooms, kitchen and living area and a great pool!  Oh, and definitely try to plan your meals in the room (apartment) as much as possible, it will save you time and money at restaurants.

And if you can afford it, definitely try to bring a friend along for your teenager, that is if you are still lucky enough to convince them to go on a family vacation with you! 


Enjoy your vacation and remember to tell your family...Mom Knows Best! LOL!




Saturday, October 20, 2018

CONTENT IS KING


So in my continuous effort to try to make a living online, I lost sight of what's really important in a blog....CONTENT!!! I can't remember the last time I genuinely wrote about my life and my happenings as a mom, as a person.  The whole reason I started this blog was for me to vent and to share my daily struggles, triumphs, hustles and reality, in an effort to maybe help someone might be going through similar situations or simply wants to be entertained reading.

It is time for me to start sharing real life, real stories again as well as all the other stuff I post.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOUR SOUL HAPPY

If you are here reading this post, it might be because you too are looking for something that makes your soul happy, especially when it comes to business. We all have obligations to ourselves and to our families and we all have to earn a living, however, not everyone has the privilege of loving what they do for a living.  If you do, congrats, you are part of a lucky group of people!  If you do not love what you are doing for a living, or are simply looking for a fun way to earn income, you are in the right place.

I have been part of many MLM (multi-level marketing) companies in the past - health and wellness, beauty products, empowerment etc...and I am still part of a couple and will continue to be.  I am of the belief, that you don't have to only choose one company. If you love products from different companies, why not use them and make money promoting them, as long as of course, they are not in direct competition (ie: Avon vs. Mary Kay, for example.)  That would be counterproductive to your sales approach.

I have for years, enjoyed network marketing and was doing it from home. I had been a stay at home mom for the last five years, ever since I was diagnosed with a brain tumor (and subsequent brain surgery and recovery,) however, as we all know, life goes on and so do financial obligations, so I had to go out and get a "real" job. I loved being home for my kids and working on my blog, but I felt I had no choice but to help supplement my family's income and went back to the work force. I started in a field I had never been in before - hospitality but struggled to survive the daily grind, you know, things like: traffic, supervisors, limited lunch time, low-pay, lack of flexibility, reduced time with family...all things you have to deal with when you are out in the corporate world.  Don't get me wrong, it was a nice place with great people, but as they say, "the struggle was real."

While, I can say that hospitality is exciting and is quite a fast-paced environment and it never really gets boring, the hours and the pay are dismal - mainly, the hours.  I mean, I knew going in that the hours were crazy, but I just couldn't make it work in my home life. Not being around as much for my kids, missing their activities, their sporting events and not being able to be there to help them with homework, problems etc... It made me feel helpless. I know many people do it - working the late hours, weekends, coming home at midnight, preparing for 6a.m. shifts, low pay, but that is just not my "cup of tea!"  

Which brings me back to:  "Do what makes your soul happy!"  Life is too short to be miserable at work or at home. I know this first hand from my own personal journey with health issues. When you are working in something you don't like and you are just "surviving" day in and day out but then, you are faced with a possible death scenario, it totally changes your perspective on life completely!  Of course, it is not necessary to be so dramatic or to go through a life-changing event like I did.  It is important though, to try to understand what our mission in life is, to understand that we all have a purpose here on Earth and our goal is to find that purpose and to fulfill it! It is our obligation to learn and to grow as human beings and to find what makes us happy and along the way, help others as well.  We all have different talents, different likes and different missions. The key to success is to find the answer to those questions and pursue them.

I decided that I wanted to walk away from that "corporate job," and pursue what I have ALWAYS wanted, which is to continue in network marketing, work from home (online) and be there again for my kids, as they venture through their academic and social journey's.  It doesn't mean, in the future I might not go out and work again in corporate, if I find something I love, but the truth is, that I have decided to change my mindset and focus on the NOW. Focus on what it is that I want to make work ri ght now and go for it!  I think that when you are passionate about something, it overflows to your customers (clients) and they feel that energy and also get excited about the product or service you are offering.

While, I am not encouraging anyone to go out and quit their jobs or ignore their financial responsibilities, I am promoting that you follow what your passion is and do what makes your soul happy!

For the LONGEST time, I think one of my biggest obstacles of why I hadn't had success before was because I never really defined what it was that I wanted!  I mean I blogged for years and did some affiliate advertising but I could never figure out what I really wanted to do that would earn income.  That is what YOU need to decide - what is that you REALLY want to do?  




What do you love? What do you enjoy doing and what are you good at?  Do you love shopping? Do you love fashion? Do you love being online? Do you enjoy talking with people and networking?  Well, if you do, then this is going to be perfect for you!

For years, I had created my own designs on t-shirts via other online platforms and I posted on my own social media but it never really took off. I also LOVE being online. I love branding. I love network marketing and I love to be creative. And I especially love soulful style!  That is why when I came across J.Elizabeth Boutique, I fell in love with the concept.

J.Elizabeth Boutique is a multi-level marketing company that enables you to own a home-based business with little to no risk and unlimited potential. It is structured to allow you (the online boutique owner) to do your own marketing and sales. Plus, not only is the structure of the company amazing, their t-shirt designs are made of great quality and their motto of "Do More of What Makes Your Soul Happy" is my absolute favorite! 

I also came across another line on their main website that says, "We don't meet people by accident, they are meant to cross our paths for a reason."  I whole-hardheartedly believe in this!  I believe that we are all brought together to learn from each other, to learn what we want and don't want, whether in person or online - we are all connected! I believe we should all support one another, empower each other and make a positive difference in the world. If everyone practiced this, the world would definitely be a happier place!

So, to answer what you came looking for, in order to join to become an online boutique owner, it is very simple. You just pay a fee per month ($9.99) to have your own site/business page. You get to choose whatever name you want for your own boutique (pending its availability) and then it is tied together with the inventory of J.Elizabeth and boom - you are a boutique business owner! 

You also get amazing mentoring from your sponsor (which, for YOU, could be ME, if you decide to go this route.)  Oh, and you might see a section that says choose "J.Elizabeth Starter Kit" for $65 but for now - that is optional!  You do not have to choose that option. It is a welcome starter kit that brings J.Elizabeth logo shirts in a box.  


All you have to do is sign up where it says "COMPLETE ENROLLMENT," with your info and pay $9.99 fee to keep your website up and running on a monthly basis - that's it!  You have to be 18 years and older and have an active working credit card. It doesn't get any easier than that!  Plus you are going to love what you do, especially, when your friends and family start coming to you without you trying, asking to buy some of the cool t-shirts and accessories in stock!

One of my favorite parts of being an online boutique owner is the posting on all my social media platforms. Everyone loves cute and fun t-shirts and accessories, so you are promoting something people will love and want - especially when the quality is good!  All shirts from our boutique are D.T.G (Direct to Garment) print, which means it will last and not crack or fade.  Also all shirts are machine-washable.  Quality and Cute = perfect combination!

These trendy designs (and accessories) are already made for you. You don't have to do the designing or worry about inventory or overhead - it's all done for you! You just have to do the promoting and selling yourself.  Obviously, you can't just sign up and expect it to happen overnight by itself. Like any business, you have to work it!

What I can tell you is that, it is extremely rewarding to work at something I love and have the support anytime I need it.  My sponsor (Jess) is awesome!  Anytime, I had questions, she responded immediately and steered me in the right direction! There are tons of resources, especially via YouTube with informational and empowering videos.  J.Elizabeth is also working on re-vamping their website, that should be up and running in the next few weeks, for a better customer experience, so that is exciting!

Should you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them for you. You can email me at: Lissette@lissettero.com or visit my social media business pages on Facebook or Instagram at: SHIRTOLOGY U.S.A.

If you are ready and don't want to wait, you can sign up right here, right now!  START YOUR OWN ONLINE BOUTIQUE NOW

Before I let you go, all I ask is if you can comment below to let me know you were here and stop by when you are on social media and give #SHIRTOLOGYUSA a like!  Thank you!
  
Whatever you choose...make today amazing!! 



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A GUIDE TO CAR INSURANCE FOR TEEN & DRIVER SAFETY

Teen Driver Safety and Insurance

Your teen is likely to be itching to hit the road. Our guide to car insurance and driver safety can help you and your teen steer clear of driving dangers. 

Every teen dreams of the moment where they put their car keys in the ignition and hit the road by themselves for the first time. For parents, this moment can be filled with worry even if their teen has been practicing from the moment they first got their learner’s permit (https://www.dmv.com/learners-permit). It’s a moment when a parent can be filled with both pride and concern for their child. I can vividly remember watching my daughter back out of the driveway to hit the road by herself for the first time. I wanted to call and check up on her the minute she drove out of my view.

When your child is ready to spread their wings and drive, there’s really nobody that can stop them. Though, as parents, we can definitely get them to slow down and follow the speed limit at the very least. Here are some tips on how to promote safe driving from your teen and ensuring that they have the insurance they need before they hit the road. Hopefully, they help both you and your teen driver feel safer and more comfortable when they first set out on their journey as drivers.

Teaching Your Teen About Driving Safety

Ease Into Driving

The best way to make sure that your teenager is a safe driver when they get their license is to teach them about safe driving as soon as they get their learner’s permit (https://www.dmv.com/learners-permit). When I first began driving with my daughter, we started with supervised driving sessions that lasted about 20 minutes. As her confidence behind the wheel grew, we started driving longer and farther. I believe that easing her into driving helped her become a confident driver without putting too much pressure on her right off the bat.

After she gained more experienced on the road, we practiced driving in various conditions like at night or in the rain. While it was scary for us both, I think it would have been way scarier for her if she got caught in a storm and never practiced driving in those conditions. More often than not, you and your teen will feel more secure and confident if you practice driving in different conditions together.

Discuss the Risks of Driving

Although they’ve probably heard it a million times already (I know my daughter has), it’s important to remind your teenager that irresponsible and aggressive driving can be dangerous. Teens can sometimes underestimate the danger of bad driving habits like speeding and tailgating. They can also underestimate the value of a seat belt. The best way to beat bad habits is my squashing them before they even start.

One of the biggest and most common concerns nowadays is distracted driving. Our kids (and a lot of us) always have our phones at our fingertips, and while it has made the world more accessible, it has also made driving more dangerous. Driving a car is a huge responsibility that demands our undivided attention. Talk to your teen about the importance of putting the cell phone down and remaining focused while driving.

Even more dangerous than distracted driving, teenagers driving while impaired has become a national concern. Although it’s illegal, the reality is that a lot of teenagers are drinking and driving. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol compromises a driver’s judgement, coordination and reflexes. Combined with driving inexperience, drugs or alcohol can be deadly. It may be a difficult conversation, but it’s one you’ll both be glad you had.

Set a Good Example

As much as we like to tell our kids, “Do as I say, not as I do,” most learn better from example. This is true for driving habits too. That’s why it is so incredibly important that you always wear your seat belt, drive defensively and avoid distracted driving, especially when you’re in the car with a novice driver. When my daughter first got her learner’s permit, she started to really observe what I was doing while driving. I didn’t want to tell my daughter to see me using my phone after I just talked to her about distracted driving, so I quickly had to get my own bad driving habits in check.

Car Insurance for Your Teenager

When you’re teenager is ready for his or her very own driver’s license, it’s time to think about car insurance. Typically, adding a new driver to your existing auto insurance is cheaper than purchasing a new stand-alone policy. Depending on your circumstances, one option may be more viable than the other. Regardless of which option you choose, your teen must be insured before they can legally begin driving by themselves.

Once your teen is insured, make sure that they keep their insurance card in a safe and easy-to-reach place in their car. Usually, keeping your proof of insurance with your vehicle registration is a good idea. When my daughter got pulled over for the first time, she called me afterwards and thanked me for storing her registration and insurance neatly in her glove compartment. I think she might have fainted if the officer walked up to her window and she couldn’t find her paperwork. If they ever need to show proof of insurance and registration, your teen will be incredibly thankful (and possibly relieved) that they know where everything is.



Guest Post: DMV.com
Laura Arroyave 












Friday, July 20, 2018

NO MORE CLEAR BACKPACKS AT MSD

So my 15-year old daughter is away for the summer working out of state. She opted for this after the end of the year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She seems to really be enjoying herself and working hard,  though she rarely ever calls home. I know from what family members tell me and a few pictures I can see on social media and sporadic late night face-time calls.

Today, at 12:50pm, in the middle of the work day, she called my cell phone. Rare. My heart momentarily stopped. I couldn’t even say “hello” properly. I said, Hi, what happened?” “Nothing, she replied, (thankfully,) it's just I found out that we don’t have to use clear backpacks at school this year.” “Oh that’s great! I said. I am happy for you. What else? I asked. “That’s it, gotta go, bye, love you.” And with that she hung up. 

Whew! I thought to myself. My immediate instinct was to think something bad happened. Ever since Feb. 14, 2018, it is an underlying fear I have. That was the day she texted both her father and I (at 2:35p.m.) to tell us there was an active shooter in her school. That is the one text (or call) no parent EVER wants to receive!  That fateful day of Feb. 14th, she said she could hear someone crying and praying because they had been shot. She said she was in the 1200 building on the 3rd floor. She said she was hiding and that she was fine but that she was terrified. After that, we lost comunication with her for 30-40 minutes!

That was the most terrifying thirty to forty minutes of my life not knowing if my child was dead or alive. I know she was scared for own life as well.  That day was "hell" for everyone involved.

Fast-forward to the simple phone call today to share news with me. Sure it was an over-reaction on my part, I guess, but it just took me momentarily, to a dark place and thought.  Thankfully, it was good news.  It may seem like no big deal, but the news of that rule (no clear backpacks) being implemented made her day, enough to actually call me. I imagine it was a feeling of a sense of privacy returned. It is a small sense of normalcy returning. 

Who knows how each of these students will react as they return back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, when summer is over. after what was, a long and painful end to the school year.

My hope is that with some of the changes that have been implemented over the summer, such as no more clear pack backs, (pilot) metal detectors being installed (hopefully in the Fall 2018,) fire alarm tones being altered, higher fencing, and extra school resource officers (SRO's,) there will be some semblance of security and a feeling of getting back to “normal

Realistically, we all know things will never be the same for anyone of these students or anyone affected by the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas, but we have to find the silver lining wherever we can and keep moving forward to make things better, especially when it comes to gun violence awareness and safety in our schools!






APPRECIATING SUMMER

As Summer 2018 starts winding down, I am grateful to be able to spend days like this enjoying sunny South Florida. As a work at home mom with a side hustle, I have enjoyed that privilege for quite some time.

It has been 5 years since I left my last job in the "corporate world."  Honestly, I have not missed it one little bit! I have though, learned during this "time off," how to really appreciate my health, my days of leisure, my family and the privileges in my life, oh, and how to go after a "side hustle!"  It has also been five years since my brain surgery and I feel much more confident now. It was a very slow process of getting back to some sense of "normal" and having to deal with more migraines than before. However, I am now headed back to the "real" working-world again in August! New job, new industry, new goals!

Sometimes, life steers you in directions that you have to go in, to get you to where you ultimately want to be. So I am at the head of the wheel and setting my sail.

I will keep you posted on that new adventure but for now, I am blessed to spend my last days of summer and probably days off, in general, poolside chilling with my kid, surrounded by beautiful landscape.

"Those who are grateful have more blessings and fulfillment in life than those who are not...True gratitude is a quiet state of poise and inner calm where you're truly thankful, where you sense the divine order and wouldn't want anything to change." 




Friday, July 13, 2018

SHE SHOULD BE CELEBRATING HER 15th BIRTHDAY


I read a Facebook post today from, Jennifer Guttenberg, a grieving mother in my town and realized I have more in common with her than I could have ever imagined. We are both MSD (Marjory Stoneman Douglas) parents; we both have sons who play hockey, our husbands are both passionate and outspoken about what they believe is right and just, our extended families know each other, we both believe in common sense gun laws, but most of all, our daughters were both in the 1200 building on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.

My heart breaks for her as a mother, and as a parent, especially knowing full well that it could have been me writing that Facebook post below. It could have been our family suffering this devastating loss. 

After watching the "simulation" video of the mass murder that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School (that day, a day that was suppose to be about love,) I realized it was only a matter of luck, divine intervention or simply logistics, that our daughter survived the shooting.  I am eternally grateful for that and for her safety. Our family is truly blessed, yet I cannot help but feel an immense sadness, not only for all the victims' families but specifically with Jamie Guttenberg's family, especially today, as they endure Friday the 13th without their daughter - not just because it is Friday the 13th, but because it is July 13th, the birth day of Jaime, who should be celebrating her 15th birthday!  Like so many of the other families of the Parkland 17, it is another milestone or special occasion they are unable to celebrate with their loved one.

We share a lot in common our two families, living in the Coral Springs/Parkland, Florida area trying to give our kids the very best education and neighborhoods to live in.  We share the joy of having been blessed with amazing children, who have the privilege of growing up in one of the "safest cities in America." (The irony of that is painful.) Our daughters both light up a room when they smile, they were both in biology class together, they both have brothers that play hockey, they both had a bat mitzvah, which showed how much they are loved because they are both compassionate, and loving to their friends. Our families were and are unknowingly, intertwined now by the fervent passion to bring about gun safety reform and to make sure this kind of tragedy does not happen again.

It is difficult to write this and have to use the past tense, so I tried not to, but the reality is, she is no longer here and that in itself is heartbreaking. This article is not meant to ignore the fact that there were 16 other amazing people, who also lost their lives, but it is Jaime's loss in particular that has hit me the hardest. All 17 victims were wonderful souls, who lost their lives way before their time, in a tragic way, but it is Jaime that has struck a cord with me and I am not really sure why.  My daughter also knew some of the other students who were shot and killed and even shared a Math class with another female victim. 

I have only seen Jaime in pictures and videos. She was a beautiful young lady. That bright smile and her enthusiasm for what she loved to do, dance, was evident. It is knowing she was in class with my daughter and that it could have easily been my child.  It is the look of Jaime's eyes, that touched my heart because through that look, I could see a happy teenage girl, who loved life. They all did. None of the victims deserved this.  No family should ever have to endure this kind of suffering and especially the despair of losing a child, let a lone, while attending school!

I cannot fathom the heartbreak of the Guttenberg family and countless others,who have lost their loved ones to a senseless tragedy.  Senseless is redundant when speaking of a tragedy, I know, but it must be reiterated, so that you the reader can try to grasp how unnecessary and preventable this horrific tragedy was. (Most tragedies are, hence the term.) The sorrow of these families, their friends, their classmates, is gut-wrenching.  It is unimaginable to have to continuously go back to the scene of a crime, so to speak, as many of these students have to do. There were so many mistakes that day and the days leading up to it.  There are an infinite number of things that could have been done differently on the part of staff, administration, government, agencies, police and so many others, yet, we are left with one result - children who were MURDERED AT SCHOOL.  Talk about a senseless tragedy!  Imagine sending your child to school and they don't come back! That is unfathomable! 

We both sent our daughters to school on February 14th, telling them we loved them and assumed we would see them around 3 or 4p.m. that day, like every other school day. However, what transpired after 2:35p.m. on 2/14/18 changed so many lives. We all lost something that day. Some lost children, some lost sons, husbands, fathers, partners, friends, classmates. Some lost their innocence, a part of their childhood. Witnessing a murder and its aftermath, will do that to you.

In the same breath, we also gained new friends that day. We learned who are neighbors were and what their children's names and ages were. We learned what the true meaning of community was and is. We also learned where people stood (and stand) on certain issues. We, the parents, the students, the siblings, the relatives, the friends of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, were undoubtedly affected, some worse than others, and for that, we must make a promise to bring about change and to never forget, but most importantly, to never again allow this to happen!

Image: MiaMoon Photos


It is summer time now. My 15-year old daughter is away for the summer working as a counselor to little kids at the JCC in a different state.  Unlike the rest of her classmates and friends in the area, this is her first time being away from home for so long.  Yea, a real shocker, but this Cuban-American mother right here, never sent her kids away to summer camp, so this was a big deal for me, for her, for our family.  It is a big deal for many reasons. One, it a big deal because she actually was determined to take initiative to get hired by people who had never met her; two, her desire to get away from the area for a while; three, it is a big deal for us because it is literally the first time we do not have our daughter at home and that right there is what makes the difference for me.

It is not only that my daughter is not home. It is that I walk into her room, empty of her presence and don't see her stuff all over the floor and bed. You know, what a typical teenager's room looks like. I walk in and the stillness scares me. It takes me to February 14th and then, my mind pulls back to the here and now and I give thanks, knowing that she will be home soon.  Then my mind is jolted to those parents - the parents of the 17 victims and specifically to Jaime's parents.  This is when I feel the most empathy and compassion.  It is through the stillness and quiet surroundings of our daughter's room, that I imagine what could have happened, as unspeakable as that may be. I have to say it. I have to acknowledge it. It could have happened and it can happen to anyone again, unless we constructively work together to put a stop to it. We must stop the senseless gun violence that is so prevalent in our Country.

At first, all I could do was to imagine the immense void in the lives of these families but now as we approach the 5 month mark of this tragic event, I have immersed myself in a battle for social justice and gun reform safety. I have aligned myself with a group of people, mainly Parkland parents, who have formed a Families Against Assault Rifles Pac.  I do not want to take anyone's gun rights away, nor do they.  I simply want to advocate for gun reform and common sense gun laws, like universal background checks and banning bump stocks and high capacity magazines and so much more that makes sense.  We cannot think it is too late, or that there are too many weapons out there. We must try. We must make an effort to change the way things are right now because it is not working.  

The 17 lives that were lost, (actually taken) in Parkland on Feb. 14th and the countless victims of senseless gun violence in schools and around our nation, deserve that we do something in their memory.

So today, in memory of Jaime Guttenberg's birth date, Friday, July 13th, I invite you to do something positive, to get involved, to speak out about gun violence.  This is not political per se, it is about safety and common sense. It is about protecting the future of our children and grandchildren. It is about not letting innocent people die in vain.

Interestingly today, in an earlier conversation with my 11-year old son, while I was kvetching about something and just out-right complaining, which now in hindsight, I don't even remember what it was, but the point is that my youngest child is the one who put things in perspective for me when he said, "Well you should know that the purpose of life is to make other people happy and to enjoy your own life." I just looked at him and said, "You are absolutely right. Good point!"

Like my son reminded me, through his statement, we should strive every day to bring joy to others, whether through good deeds, or simple smiles and we should work even harder at enjoying our lives.  

It is with that thought, that I ask you to reflect upon the fact that Jaime, who should be celebrating her 15th birthday and the other 16 victims of Parkland, who should be celebrating their own milestones, are not here on Earth anymore to do so.

It is my belief that we are here on Earth to complete our life lessons and to learn from them. Sadly, sometimes, those lessons are cut short and we do not understand why. I also vehemently believe we have an opportunity each and every day, that we wake up, to make our mark in the world and make things right and by right I mean, make the world a better place through our words and actions, especially for those who can no longer do so.