Baby Steps Into the World of Business with FABULOUS Flip Flops!


It’s time to dispel the doom and gloom of the last couple of posts (and the last – and probably next – month of our lives) and think and act pro-actively! Here’s our offering for taking positive next steps, thanks to DD (Darling Daughter)! (What would I ever have done without her in my life, my gift from God?!)

DD’s first business: selling custom-designed flip flops. INTRODUCTORY PRICE: USD $3.00 plus shipping and handling, payable via PayPal. Send e-mail with specifications to theoriginalmaddie@gmail.com! Support a young entrepreneur and her community!

DD (Darling Daughter) has a dramatic flair and, now that she’s 10 and we’re having some financial difficulties, she has decided that it’s time for her to engage in commerce. Of course, she wanted to do the traditional lemonade stand. Unfortunately, as a Maddie fighting to grow my start up in a tough economy and an industry that keeps undercutting prices (translation and interpreting/language services) while still preserving some quality of life (read as “carving out time to chauffer DD to playdates, the library, etc. and actually have a conversation with her from time to time”), a lemonade stand is too labor and time-intensive for me!

So, thanks to the many compliments we have gotten on the flip flops she made for herself and for me, together, we have come up with a different plan: designing and making pretty flip flops!

So, having identified that there is a potential market, the first step in teaching my daughter about the nuts-and-bolts of business then was this question: “How much do we need to pay for the materials?”

We immediately got to work sourcing the flip flops to use as a base for her designs and found fantastic wholesalers with a high-quality product. We did the same for the water balloons she uses to make the flops pretty.

She added the cost of the two together and then I asked her the next logical question: “Is it enough to charge customers just for the cost of materials?” Her answer was initially yes, but, after some reflection, she realized that the time it took her to make them was not being compensated. So, we came to a very simple formula: materials cost + time = retail price.

Then, of course, the next big question: “How much money will you be able to keep after you pay your Maddie back for the materials?” A discussion on profit, and, more importantly, what to do with the profit, ensued. She decided she would save the money she got to keep in order to pay for dance classes (she is really talented and loves dance and her school is both good and not super-expensive, but dance is currently high on our budget chopping block) and for next year’s school E-Camp.

But, the old hippie-born-out-of-her-time in me couldn’t help but add, “And how about giving back to your community?” She decided (with my prodding) that she would keep half of her profits and donate the other half  to a local charity, Pantry of  Hope, a local food bank in our community. (Yes, I do firmly believe in a “market globally, act locally” type of ethical business…and I’m pretty sure – though my own business hasn’t proven it yet – that that’s the way to grow a solid business. And, yes, I’m pretty sure my activist days are over but I believe in handing the torch to the next generation.)

We’ve worked things a bit backwards, however: we have a product (the pretty flip flops) that she can make independently of me, sources for materials, a designer/assembler (DD herself). What we do NOT have is a name! Can any of you help us out? We have had to rule out FunFlopz/FunFlops, Neosquash (an expression she and her friend from school made up at school), and a few others because a quick Google search determined we would be infringing at the very least on first use and, at worst, trademarks, etc.

Please comment with your ideas for a business/website/product name; rate this post; and, of course, follow The Maddie Files! (Even better, please be our first guest blogger!)

What should DD name her flip flop design business/website? Please help!

Wishing all of you Peaceful Parenting!

The Original Maddie 🙂

PS DD is selling these FABULOUS, CUSTOM-DESIGNED flip flops for the low INTRODUCTORY price of USD $3.00 per pair (plus shipping/handling via US Mail), for our WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter friends!

If you’d like to order a pair of the FABULOUS flip-flops, and support a young entrepreneur and her community, please send an e-mail to theoriginalmaddie@gmail.com or to everymom99@gmail.com. Please write “Flip flop order” in the Subject line. Also include: your flip flop size, color preference, and any preference in balloon color(s)!

Payment accepted via PayPal.

An Open Invitation To Guest Blog


I would like to extend an open invitation to serve as guest blogger! If you have any thoughts, inspiration, personal philosophies, recipes, timesavers, advice, suggestions you would like to share with other single parents, I would love to post it on The Maddie Files!

If you would like to guest blog, please send an email to theoriginalmaddie or to everymom99. Write “Guest Blog” in the Subject line. Please include your real first and last names and a little bit about yourself that you wouldn’t mind my sharing. Tell me a little bit about what you would like to write about or simply attach your guest post (written in MS Word only, please) to your e-mail. (Please, though, remember that maddiefiles.wordpress.com is a G-rated blog and inflammatory or derogatory posts are definitely not tolerated.) Feel free to include a link (or two or three!) to your own blog(s) in your guest post!

Looking forward to hearing from all of you and wishing you all,

Peaceful Parenting!

The Original Maddie J

The Stigma of Homelessness


Homelessness carries with it a powerful social stigma. The myth is that life is full of choices, therefore, homeless people must have chosen to be in this condition. Homelessness, then, carries with it the sense among the general population that the adult(s) involved must be reckless and irresponsible people.

While that may be true for some people in this condition, the reality is that most people face homelessness owing to societal and economic factors beyond their control, such as job loss, wage/salary freeze or reduction, general rise in cost of living (in the US, at least, salaries have not increased apace with the cost of living over the last 30 years or so), lack of affordable housing. The reality is that any one of us could find him- or herself facing this condition, and probably sooner rather than later.

So, please, when you walk past a homeless person begging in the streets, do not judge. I’m not asking you to do what I do – share or give away your coffee, water, breakfast or lunch – but, please, have compassion, look him or her in the eye and greet him/her as you would any other human being, with a smile and a “G’day!” And, please, whatever you do, don’t tell him gruffly to “get a job!”

Sad thoughts for today, but I wish you all
Peaceful parenting
The Original Maddie

The Homeless Dilemma


Homelessness in any country is a disgrace, even in these tough economic times, but it is even more of a sin in what are termed “First World” countries, like the US. The statistics on homeless families in my state of Massachusetts alone are frightening: as of October 2008, there were 2,472 homeless families living in emergency shelters funded by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA, more commonly known simply as “welfare”); most of these families are headed by – you guessed it! – a single mother. In terms of individuals, 4,413 of the members of these homeless families are children or youths, and 2,379 of them are under six years of age.  (Horizons for Homeless Children, http://www.horizonsforhomelesschildren.org/Statistics_Massachusetts_Statistics.asp) According to a 2011 article in the Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2011/1213/Homeless-children-at-record-high-in-US.-Can-the-trend-be-reversed), approximately 1.6 million children, most of whom were under age 7,  in the US were (or still are) homeless.

So, what is being done to help? For certain, as mentioned above, my state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has a program called HomeBase, run through the Department of Transitional Assistance. Other states and the Federal government also offer help. However, I’ve recently discovered that the eligibility criteria are scandalous. Why scandalous? Well, for example, in order to be eligible for a homelessness prevention program – that is, monies to perhaps help pay for arrears in rent (something that is occurring all too frequently with the record job losses owing to the economic downturn) – families must first prove that they are being evicted, and have gone through the entire eviction process down to the 48-hour notice to vacate premises, and landlords must agree to stay the proceedings and keep the tenants. This is scandalous because, if the landlord does not agree then the tenant has an eviction for non-payment of rent on record; what other landlord on Earth would want to rent to such a tenant? What impact does that eviction for non-payment have on an individual’s credit record – something that now many potential employers are consulting to determine whether a job  candidate is responsible enough? Where is the prevention here?! Emergency shelters have been maxed out; so where do these families go? This leads to a vicious cycle of constant loss, a downward spiral…one in which an individual head of household loses his or her job (and economic stability), loses creditworthiness, loses the family’s shelter, becomes stigmatized as “irresponsible,” and loses the opportunity to regain full employment (and, therefore, to regain self-esteem, let alone his/her family’s ability to return to their previous position of stability). And the children? They, too, lose self-esteem, many lose their health and, perhaps most important for school-aged children, their friends.

This topic has always been important to me. (Indeed, if there are enough sales of my first (and, thus far, only) e-book for children, Bedtime Myths for Children of All Ages/Solar Stories, 20% of all profits will go to a local organization that helps homeless children in Massachusetts, Horizons for Homeless Children (referenced above).) But never in a million years would I have thought my daughter and I would be in danger of becoming homeless…and that is the position I find myself in today. Someone I met recently at the DTA office said to me, “I’ve always helped everybody. When I need help, because my house burned down last night, there is no one who can help.” I truly felt for him as he was in a worse position than even I find myself in…but I could relate; I’ve always been the first to volunteer, the first to lend a helping hand even if that meant putting my own needs last, and, now, when I actually need help, the doors are closed.

Next post: The stigma attached to homelessness, especially in the US

The Maddie Files Are on Facebook!


Hello all!

I’m proud to say that The Maddie Files finally have their own Facebook page! Would you pop over to the page and give us a “Like,” please? The address is: http://www.facebook.com/themaddiefiles.

And, please, don’t hesitate to tell your “Friends” about us; we’d love their “Likes,” too…and their friends’ “likes”…and their friends’ “likes”….and so on…and so on…and so on!

Wishing you all

Peaceful Parenting,

The Original Maddie!

PS Did I mention The Maddie Files are also on Twitter? @maddiefiles – feel free to follow! 😉

“Mummy? Can You Make Me a Little Brother?”


Hmmm. How do you explain to a three year old that in order to make a little brother you need a man around? Especially when you’re too tired from working full-time and being a full-time Maddie and trying to be a decent daughter yourself and a good friend to the few friends who are still in your hectic life to actually, I don’t know, date?

DD (Darling Daughter) sprung this question on me, as per usual, just when I thought she had finally fallen asleep and was slipping out of her bed to go wash dishes and correct homework. I went back to her in the dark, wrapped her in my arms, and very simply answered, “I’d love to ciccina, but, I can’t.” I didn’t expect it, but I should have…the inevitable “Why?”

So, I took a deep breath and tried to explain the facts of life matter-of-factly, succinctly, and sensitively. “Well, ciccina, I can’t because, as you know, my husband left before you were born. And I cannot make a baby alone. It takes two – a mommy and a daddy – to actually make a baby.  So, you see, I really can’t make you a baby brother.”

Silence for what seemed like hours, but was probably only thirty seconds. And, then, her considered response:

“O’kay, then; I’ll take a baby sister.”

Peaceful parenting,

The Original Maddie

Caring For A Chronically Ill Parent At Home


Mamma became seriously ill, seemingly overnight, one September Saturday, 2009. She seemed lethargic for a full day. Then again, she had been on some serious pain medication for many years, for the chronic pain of severe osteoporosis, with its debilitating bone deformations (she had severe kyphosis of the back). And she only weighed about 90 lbs., on a good day. I kept checking on her, feeling something was terribly amiss. She finally roused at about 10 p.m., got up, and agreed to go to the hospital. By 3 a.m., in the ER, she was back to her normal self, laughing and joking with my then-7 year old daughter. Indeed, she felt so good that she and my daughter were gently teasing me about my propensity to worry about them, to over-protect. My DD (Darling Daughter) and I left then, after the doctor on duty said that she seemed all right but that the hospital would keep her overnight for observation. At 6 a.m. the picture changed drastically: my mom was in multi-systems failure, on a ventilator, in intensive care. The doctors did not hold out much hope.

But, miraculously, she recovered after a tracheostomy and three weeks in ICU; she was sent to a local rehab hospital (Youville Hospital, Cambridge, MA, now Spaulding Rehab: www.spauldingrehab.org) where she recuperated in record time: in less than a month she had been de-cannulated and sent back home. We had a glorious Thanksgiving with my brothers, their wives, children, my cousin and her family, and good family friends; we were all truly grateful that the worst seemed to have passed. We had a normal Christmas, with Mamma coming to our house to sleep over on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We played DD’s “Game of Life,” a Santa gift, until 10 o’clock that night (DD won, in spite of not having gone to college, Mamma came in second place, and I lost…what else was new?!). Everything changed again, never to be the same, by mid-January 2010. She was not only cannulated again, she would never be able to live without a trach. She required the help of a ventilator by night and constant oxygen by day, just to be able to get up, wash up, have breakfast and perhaps a chat or two with family. In the hospital, she had also acquired a severe colonization of MRSA – a resistant staph infection – where? Where else but in her lungs, her weakest point. But both she and I felt she had some more time left on Earth, on this plane. So, we set about returning her to her own apartment; she had lost so much physically, ceded so much control of her life to her disease that she really needed to be in the environment she had created and controlled for so long. 

Bringing her home was not easy. We had chosen the specific rehab hospital – Spaulding in Cambridge (formerly Youville) – precisely because they were the only ones who didn’t think we were crazy to want to bring her home, with vent and other respiratory equipment. In fact, they set everything up through a home respiratory company (New England Home Therapies, which I highly recommend! http://www.nehtinc.com/) and Mamma’s insurance. My brothers and I became amateur respiratory therapists, checking the vent equipment nightly, “plugging” Mamma in every night, suctioning her regularly, and amateur RNs, performing wound care, trach care, checking Mamma’s vitals, counting and giving her meds. We received valuable help and training from her doctors, the vent company, the nursing agency that gave me (and my daughter) respite during the week by sending vent-certified overnight nurses who grew to love Mamma as much as we did, who became family, the visiting nurses who supplied physical and occupational therapy, the senior care agency who found us a transport chair and even a pulse oxymeter for home use, from friends and family.

There were times when I felt like pressed monkey meat in the middle of a sandwich, bouncing between Mamma’s needs and DD’s needs, with no real time for my own. But it was worth it.

Mamma lived at home for another nine months, infection free. It was a reduced life, and her illness took center stage, but she was mentally fully present. Those “extra” nine months were a gift.

This post is to give all those other Maddies (or not Maddies) out there heart and courage: if your ageing parent becomes ill and wants to stay home, fight for that right. Make all the phone calls you need, tell your sob story in intricate detail to absolutely anyone and everyone who will listen, and you will find the resources you need…they are out there.

That is what I did…and it did take a month of phone calls (almost eight hours a day of calling one agency, then another, being placed on hold, telling the entire story, over and over again). It also took looking at some negative case managers straight in the eye and telling them my “pie-in-the-sky” wish list for the services Mamma needed, and enduring their incredulous stares and comments of “You’ll never get any of that.” I did receive most of my “pie-in-the-sky” requests.

Persistence and faith pays! And, remember, if you don’t ask for it, you really will never get it! If you do ask, well, the worst anyone can say is, “We can’t do that.”

Peaceful parenting!

The Original Maddie!

An Open Invitation To Guest Blog


Hello to all my fellow “Maddies” (Mommy-and-Daddy-in-one)!

I would like to extend an open invitation to serve as guest blogger! If you have any thoughts, inspiration, personal philosophies, recipes, time-savers, advice, suggestions, etc. (following, of course, common rules of netiquette, “blogiquette,” common courtesy, no hating whatsoever, etc.) you would like to share with other single parents, I would love to post it – and a short bio of you and, of course, a backlink to your own blog(s) – on The Maddie Files!

If you would like to guest blog, please send an email to everymom99@gmail.com. Write “Guest Blog” in the Subject line. Please include your real first and last names and a little bit about yourself that you wouldn’t mind sharing publicly. Then, simply attach your guest post (written in MS Word only, please) to your e-mail. Feel free to include a link (or two or three!) to your own G-rated blog(s) or website in your guest post!

 Looking forward to hearing from all of you and wishing you all,

 Peaceful Parenting!

 The Original Maddie 🙂

Parenting and the Maddie


What Kind of Parent Are You?!

Compared to some parents, I am ultra-strict, ultra-conservative; a friend and colleague even called me a “Nap Nazi” when my DD (Darling Daughter) was a toddler. Compared to other parents, I am an ultra-permissive parent, allowing my DD to rule our roost. I don’t really see myself at either of these extremes, though I am the first to point out that we all parent our children along a fluctuating continuum of (parental) behaviours…I’ve even horrified myself when I heard words I had detested hearing in my childhood coming stridently – and perhaps not a little hysterically – out of my very own mouth: “Because I said so!”

But the parenting style issue is more complex for single parents, especially for those of us whose children do not know or visit their other parent. When do you discipline your child? For which behaviours? As Maddies, we have to be both the disciplinarian and the more lenient parent, the tough cop and the good cop in one; it’s a tough line to straddle but trying to fill two roles means we must.

Just for fun, here is a poll. Please vote for an answer and share, share, share! Results will be posted on July 2, along with an exploration of the three main styles of parenting: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative.

Wishing you all Peaceful Parenting,

The Original Maddie 🙂

 

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