Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brooke Healey needs help!

From the

New Providence Community Comes Together for 4-Year-Old Brooke Healey

Michael M. Shapiro
Saturday, January 26, 2013 • 11:55am

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Four-year-old Brooke Healey, daughter of New Providence High School graduates Steve and Stefanie Healey, and granddaughter of Al Elefante, founder of Elefante Music & School for the Performing Arts in New Providence, needs our help.

Brooke has been diagnosed with a brain tumor called a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG). This has been confirmed with a CT scan as well as an MR scan by 6 different neuro oncologists and 7 different pediatric neuro surgeons. The DIPG itself has a 98% fatality rate. The DIPG is in the pons sack, which is located at the brain stem and controls all vital organs and even consciousness. In every attempt to operate and remove all or part of the tumor, there has been 0% that have survived the surgery. While radiation will help alleviate Brooke’s discomfort on a short-term basis, survival past 12 to 14 months is uncommon.

On Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, Dr. Mark M. Souweidane at Cornell Medical Center performed a biopsy on the tumor, a dangerous procedure under any circumstance, to determine the grade of the tumor. In a journal on Caring Bridge that the family is updating regarding Brooke’s ordeal, Steve Healy wrote, “It was a tough enough decision to go ahead with the surgery against the advice of many doctors and with the advice of doctors we had the most faith in. But to carry out the decision was pure torture. Not knowing if my baby would ever walk again or have some other kind of ailment or even worse because of our decision to move forward was the most gut wrenching experience I have fathomed in my life.”

After the biopsy on Friday, Steve Healey wrote, “If we want a miracle, one would certainly be this diagnosis from this biopsy come back as something other than a high grade Glioma. I hope their (sic) is not a lull in the prayers and support over the next few days. That would truly be a miracle. If that is not possible, our next miracle request would be that we beat this thing head on. We have some plans in place to start a path of treatment whatever the outcome. It would be a MUCH easier road if it were not a high grade Glioma.”

He continued, “Anyway, we have a long road ahead and need you guys to continue to rally behind us. We should have results in the next 3-4 days.”

“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for all your support and prayers. It really helps......but keep it coming!” Steve concluded.

Friends of the Healeys have formed a fundraising committee to help defray medical expenses as well as help support the family financially while both parents tend to Brooke’s care. A March 16th fundraising event is being planned at the Grand Summit Hotel.

A fund has also been set up for Brooke through The Heartworks Organization. 100% of the donations will go directly to the family.

Visit to make your donation online. Please be sure to put in the note section Brooke Healey. To mail a check, email

Publisher's Note: The Healeys and the Elefantes are some of the most generous and kind families we have encountered in our lives. They consistently give back to the New Providence community and never ask anything in return. They are salt of the earth people and represent the very best of New Providence, our hometown. In true Pioneer spirit, please join us in helping Brooke and the Healey and Elefante families in any way you can. Our thoughts and prayers, both in our household as well as the entire family of, are with them. - Mike and Lauryn Shapiro, New Providence, NJ

Friday, January 25, 2013

Summer Camp Fair

SO many people have asked me what E's doing for the summer. It is like ten degrees out and the buzz is all about camp and what to do with the kids. Most of us don't have the luxury of just being leisurely over the summer break from school and when you're a parent, I don't know if the word "leisurely" exists until they're tweens or older and can entertain themselves. Yes, there is fun to be had in unstructured time but I know my kid in particular is super active AND thrives on structure. Not that it matters- I work. He has to go somewhere. So he is going to day camp and bet your ass I was figuring that out in September/October because there are more asses than seats in terms of camp. Last year, the GRJC camp was sold out in a day? Two days? I think the Rabbi's kids got shut out.

Where there used to be camps in Bergen County, now are housing developments and golf courses. But kid-activity places are also getting creative and figuring out how to capitalize on the amount of kids that need something structured and positive to do for the summer. There are some interesting options out there. Besides going to camp, I remember just getting up, getting on my bike and being gone for hours. People don't allow their kids to just roam around playing manhunt these days.

Thankfully Shops at Riverside is making the camp search a bit easier. I saw this on FB just a few minutes ago:

What are your kids doing this Summer!? Join us tomorrow at the Shops at Riverside from noon - 3pm and meet Camp Directors from Maine to Costa Rica!

Get door prizes, FREE giveaways from camps,
FREE Snacks, FREE DVDs of camps, FREE brochures, and
Jobs available!! Bring the Family!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Tie" one on!

I just thought this was the cutest thing- I got this in my email today.

For more info:

Glen Rock Jewish Center | 682 Harristown Road | Glen Rock | NJ | 07452
Tel: (201) 652-6624

Monday, January 21, 2013


Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day. It's also President Obama's second inauguration day. I don't really care what anyone thinks of either one of those guys. For me, I'm just going to consider it an inspiration day. Inspiration in a lot of ways. Inspiration to have goals, reach for them, and achieve those goals. Inspiration not to sweat the small stuff. I'm not a "small stuff" kind of person actually- small stuff in the way that I don't really let minutiae bog me down. I'm not really detail oriented in a general sense and I'm not a perfectionist. For me, not getting caught in the vortex of the small stuff means just not letting myself get heated over stuff that isn't that important in my bigger picture. It means not holding a grudge or even just taking a moment to think, "do I really care about this?" before flying off the handle. It doesn't mean you don't have a right to be upset because you ordered boots in plum and when they came in they were more hot pink than plum. Or that you can't be annoyed because your cleaning person fell on your lampshade, tried to repair it with medical tape and just thought you wouldn't notice (true story just told to me by a customer ten minutes ago). Everyone's problems are their own and they're bigger because they're their own. There are always going to be children starving in third world countries, an AIDS epidemic, and homelessness in our own country. We all are still allowed to have small(er) problems and feel whatever we feel about them.

This is more, maybe, a little reminder to myself and others that we can or should be able to just take a moment to try to find some silver linings. I guess this thought may have subconsciously started after seeing Silver Linings Playbook on Saturday night. Now I'm all about baby steps and silver linings, and finding a little inspiration in places you wouldn't ordinarily see it.

I was watching American Idol from last week on my dvr this morning while I was on the treadmill. I kept hearing young girls, over and over, saying, "Mariah Carey inspired me" or some version of that. I thought it was interesting because I can't say I've ever been particularly inspired by anyone. I don't sing so it wouldn't be a singer. The only "physical challenge" I ever face is fat so I don't identify with those who are physically challenged in more serious ways. I FEEL for them, I cry with them when I read or see their stories, but I'm not sure I'm "inspired". I just sort of do my thing- whatever strikes me, whenever. If I was in some sort of competition and a win was based on the answer to the question, "Who would you consider to be your inspiration?", I'd be standing there, cotton-mouthed, with no answer. Until recently.

I've written about my friend Jocelyn who has Stage 4 cancer. I never understood exactly what the stages were, I just knew that the the lower the number, the "better" it is for the patient. She never actually SAID the stage, at least to me, to my knowledge, until maybe a few months ago. And I was taken aback. Because she LOOKS so good. I mean, yeah, her hair fell out, but if you saw her- she just doesn't look like what I've seen or what you can imagine.

She was even feeling ok...whatever ok feels like with cancer, up until a little more recently when radiation took more of a toll. She was having a shitty few weeks lately. And she still does her stuff. I've had family members with cancer. I've known people with cancer. I just have not actually SEEN someone FIGHT the way she's been doing. Obviously a lot of people have dealt with cancer and have family and friends who are survivors. So maybe it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to other people. But I see her pretty much on a weekly basis, often more than once a week.  All I see is someone working really hard to kick ass. I saw her yesterday and I just...felt her strength.

She had a bad two days prior but we had a birthday invite for the boys yesterday. I was texting with her Saturday and jokingly told her to try to get her ass in gear to be there Sunday because I had stuff to tell her. Not important stuff, but just silly stuff I thought she'd want to know about. She could've just let her husband, Eric, take their son to the party, said fuck it and stayed home. She didn't. She showed up. It may seem like a small thing, but it was just indicative of her whole demeanor through this. She takes her son to school in the morning when she can. She picks him up. She just powers through. She doesn't have to- there are tons of people who have been offering to help them do stuff. And she does let them if she's not feeling it, but for the most part, she really just puts on her game face and gets moving. We went to eat after the party. She has no appetite and I'm fairly certain her bed was looking way more attractive to her than sitting in a pizza place. But she stuck it out, with no appetite, ate her white pizza, and pushed through because she has to eat and she wants to do normal stuff like it's a normal day and cancer isn't keeping her from what she would do if she was fine.

For me, the inspiring thing isn't that she goes or does, it's the attitude she does it with. She doesn't mope around or sit around crying. There are just some people in life you encounter where everything is "heavy". They have a heavy air about them where you just feel bogged down in sad just being in the orbit of their energy. Not Jocelyn. She shows up with a smile and a wave, in her knit cap or a baseball hat, and stands there chatting and gossiping until she finally says, "You know, it's really fucking cold out here when you have no hair. We need to move this along.". And you have to laugh. With her. Because while she definitely means she's had enough, she still has the smile on her face. Her smile reminds me that there is nothing really that bad that you can't muster up at least a little laughter, even if you're facing a shitstorm.

Look, she could be home crying in her soup every day. She'd be justified and that would be fine too. I'm sure there are so many more people that know her better than I do. She's not a rampant over-sharer like I am. I'm sure I'm not privy to her deepest feelings and fears. She could sit and cry to me- I'm sure she knows I can take it and would want to be there for her no matter what she was feeling. I just believe her positive attitude is totally genuine. I can say, that for as much as I see her for small snippets of time- two hours at a birthday party, a few hours for the boys to play, or a leisurely lunch with a mutual friend, she's still smiling, she's still joking around and she's THERE. Physically AND mentally. We joke and goof, gossip and laugh, and we make plans. Plans for the boys, plans for the future, plans for when she's healthy.

I'd like to think I'd be that strong. I'd want to be. I think it's one of those things that you just couldn't know unless it was your problem to face. I thought it was interesting- she lost her hair, then it grew back, and because of the recent radiation, she lost it again. I know so many people who lost their hair from cancer and I never saw them without a wig. Not that there is anything wrong with that. For one, maybe wearing one is empowering. Maybe they wanted to live as normal as possible. I don't know. I just love that Jocelyn just doesn't make it a thing. Hair, no hair- she's out and about. Obviously she'd rather have her hair but she's just who she is even if people are whispering that she must be the one with cancer. She could probably avoid that if she wore a wig, but she isn't fazed by it either. She looked hot with her short Sinead O'Connor look when it was really growing in and she looks beautiful bald as a baby's ass too. But the interesting part is that I know it bothered her- I'd say "sad" was an appropriate word, probably for the vanity of it, to lose the hair again, but she was more PISSED. Like, she was literally angry. It's moments like those when I feel her strength. Someone else may have just cried at home, refusing to leave the house, wrapped up in the vanity of it. I mean, no one wants her to have to feel anger, but for some reason, I feel like that's all part of her fight. The fight inside her. Sort of like a FUCK YOU cancer- fine, take my hair. I'll go out, bald, it'll be cold, and it'll be annoying, but I WILL WIN. And I swear- I truly believe her.

So today, on a day many people feel is or should be filled with inspiration, she is my inspiration. Keep on doing your thing Joce.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Workout for Mom & Baby

Danielle Phillips, the owner of my local Stroller Strides franchise asked me to write something about my experience in Stroller Strides for her so I figured I'd post it here too for my own readers. I know a lot of women who are pregnant or just having babies and being that it's the beginning of the new year, it's the perfect time to talk about exercise. It can seem like a daunting task as a new mom- getting back into shape. I know for me, my own body felt alien to me after having a baby. I felt gross and I didn't even know where to begin because I was never a gym rat before.

I never liked exercise. It was a necessary evil. But even in the times I was "more" into it, I still wasn't really INTO it. It was more that at those times I was being exercise consistent, I was only worried about the numbers on the scale. I hated going to the gym. I could never keep track of my locker lock, I didn't really know what I was doing even when taught, and it was just such a huge chunk of my time. If I wanted to be involved in working out at the gym, I wouldn't really have time for much else.

I have had a treadmill in whatever home I was in for years. Sometimes it was a clothes hanger and sometimes I was on it every day. But I'd be watching the time the entire duration of my "walk" and I'd NEED to have something on tv that could hold my attention. Even then, I'd still only go as fast as I could still clearly hear the tv. So that would be at an incline of around three, and going about 3.6 mph- TOPS.

I walked on the treadmill while I was pregnant. I also walked around my town at night with my local friend Megan. That was it. After I gave birth, it was winter so I only really walked around the mall. By spring I was ready to do something more. I hated my post-baby body. Everything seemed...moved around. I joined a "stroller exercise" class but I think it only met once a week for six weeks and it really didn't do much for me. The teacher talked more than she taught anything and once a week was not enough to make a dent in my fat reduction.

I saw an ad somewhere for the grand opening of Stroller Strides that was going to be held at Riverside Square Mall. I thought I might as well check it out because it was also like big party. I'd been spending all my time in the malls anyway so I figured if it wasn't good I'd just walk around there. There were tons of moms there! I couldn't believe how many people showed up. It was a whole social thing AND a great workout. I signed up that day.

I can't express how Stroller Strides changed my life. I bought an unlimited monthly membership and started coming as many days as I could get there. At first it was only offered 3x a week so I did those. Then Danielle, the instructor, added Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Garden State Plaza so I started going to those sessions too. After a few months I was looking the best I ever had. I had SO much trouble losing all the pregnancy weight in the six months prior to joining Stroller Strides. I couldn't get into a groove & I had no one to exercise with on a consistent basis. With this class, I was able to meet new moms where even if my core group of mom friends weren't there, I still always had people to talk to and walk around with after class. I felt like I was getting out, accomplishing something good, and showing my son that taking care of my body is important. He was with me on this whole journey. He even learned all the Top 40 dance music we heard in class.

I was desperate to stay in this class as long as I could. I knew other moms who were starting to let their kids out of the stroller to walk around. Not me! My son didn't even know that was an option because I wanted to be able to stay in the class with him staying put in the stroller. He liked it and I found an exercise regimen that was disciplined, fun, and actually giving me the results I was looking for in a program. It helped keep me motivated with my food too. I was eating better because I didn't want all my hard work in class to be for nothing.

Stroller Strides was my morning "home" until my son hit a little over two and a half years old. He was going to school three days a week and he just didn't want to sit in the stroller anymore. All my friends had sort of moved on or were having second babies and not ready to come back to class. It was just my time to move on too. I actually didn't even have a formal "last class" because I never really accepted that my time was over. I thought I'd make it back for a class here and there- maybe change over to a passbook class arrangement where I wasn't paying monthly anymore but on a pass basis. It never happened. I went back to work, my child was in school, and I had no baby to take in a stroller. When that happens, you know it's time to go to the next level.

I'll always be thankful for my time in Stroller Strides. It helped me make mom friends and kept both my son and I social, motivated, and active. We had a lot of laughs while we did a lot of reps. I learned how to use resistance bands, I tried some Zumba moves, and most of all, I learned that if you have fifteen minutes, you can turn anywhere into a fitness area. I got a point to start from and a way to achieve fitness goals without feeling like I didn't know what to do and without getting bored. It's something I'd highly recommend to any new mom looking to get back in shape and have some adult social interaction at the same time.

Link to Bergen Stroller Strides info:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rebuild Chadwick Beach

I have friends involved with this event and sounds like a great one:
The Chadwick Beach Restoration Commitee Proudly Presents the First Annual Bring Back the Beach Bash for the benefit of Chadwick Beach and Chadwick Beach Island.


Join us for an evening of fun, friendship, and fundraising for our beautiful home away from home.
The evening will feature a Premium Open Bar, Dinner, Dancing, A Live Band, An Incredible Silent Auction, Raffles and More...

All proceeds to benefit the Chadwick Beach Restoration Fund.

Tickets are $95pp /$180 per couple.

There are a limited number of tickets so please do not delay your purchase.

Tickets Here:

Information regarding overnight accomodations will be made available shortly.

We cannot wait to see you there !


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

So it's 2013. I don't know how that happened. I think I may be stuck somewhere around 2010. Time just seems to fly by before I can even catch my breath. I think because Christmas and New Years were during the week it made it seem shorter. E was home but I went to work so B could be home with him for a few days. B needed the time away from the store and I like being there.

We had made plans for New Years with the Nissenbaums. I was hoping Jocelyn would feel up to it because I just wanted to be able to toast to having a better 2013 than 2012. Not that 2012 could've been much worse for them but I just wanted to be able to hang out, have some laughs, let the boys play and have a low-key night in. It was actually the first year B and I left the house on NYE since we met in 2004. We're hoping the change of how we normally do things would be the start of positive change for the new year ahead.

At around 5:30p we headed out to the Nissenbaum's house armed with many party snacks like pigs in blankets and mini tartlets. The boys were thrilled to be together to ring in the new year and we were happy to be with our friends Jocelyn & Eric. We made it till about 9:30p when the boys started to get wild. I was also fine with driving home BEFORE the change of year, thinking less drunk people would be on the road vs after midnight. Not that any of us parents would've made it till then anyway. When we got home we all got in our bed(s). B was sleeping in minutes. He woke up around 12:02am. He said, "I made it!" then immediately started snoring again. I was up late as usual online but not having had one drink- either of us, it was SO nice to wake up sans hangover in the morning.

That was it. It was simple but awesome, low-key NYE, spent with good friends. We wish them all the love, health and general best in 2013 and hope that was the first of many years spent together for a special occasion.

I don't miss drunken foolish NYE's at all. Truth be told, I never liked NYE. It was always a last minute attempt to find something cool to do. It almost never lived up to my wants or expectations. I'd gotten grounded New Years Day when I was a teenager for things that happened the night before. I've ended up at boring parties with people I didn't know. I've paid too much money to stand in a bar with people I didn't know or didn't like. I've thrown up from too much drink, I've had splitting headaches from too much sweet drink (Malibu & Asti Spumanti respectively). Even though I used to get to sleep later before I was married and had a child, I'll take 8am sober over 10a nauseous and hugging the bowl in Heller's apartment. Or my apartment. Or in some random apartment. I do have fond memories of the theme parties B and I had over the years but I also was happy not to have to deal with the clean-up from those gems. I will give a shout out to Picken, Stein and the Yearings who are some of the best people we've had the pleasure of spending NYE with.

I hope everyone had a happy, fun, and safe NYE and hope this is a great year, with good health, lots of laughs, and prosperity for all!