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FAMILIES MATTER | Cooney and Jones



We all know that all kids are NOT created equal…Some excel in sports others academically and some are artists.  In my own family the evidence is clear that their interests,  the way they learn and what they have a passion about differs dramatically. For those of you that have a child that wants to be in or part of the music industry the Grammy Foundation is an amazing organization that offers amazing opportunities.

My son will attend one of the three camps that they hold each summer and I have to admit this is a chance of a lifetime for a child to learn what the music business is all about!  This is not your typical camp for musicians but one that brings together all the players necessary to develop a music career.

The Grammy Foundation has many legs…from helping schools to rewarding those schools of excellence.  They also offer music and not just in any form but to teach kids about the industry.  They create opportunities for high school students to work with music professionals to get real-world experience and advice about how to have a career in music. Some of the kids that they focus on includes any kind of music career – audio engineer, concert promoter, electronic music producer, manager, musician, music journalist, singer, songwriter basically any music career.  They also focus on schools and students who are doing really amazing things with music. They work very hard to make a difference in people’s lives through music and I can tell you they are succeeding!

After finding this incrediablel organization and seeing how professional they are I was thrilled to be able to interview Kristen Madsen.  Kristin is the Senior VP of the Foundation and Music Cares.  She is just one of the many reasons this organization is so successful.  My experience with Kristin and the entire staff at the Grammy Foundation has been terrific.

Listen to my interview with Kristin Madsen the Senior Vice President of the Grammy Foundation and Music Cares.  Click here: Kristin Madsen


On New Year’s Eve 1997, Katy Hutchison’s husband, Bob, was beaten to death while checking on a party being thrown by his neighbor’s son. In this small town in  British Columbia, a wall of silence immediately grew.  No one was talking about how this happened or better yet…who did it.  It was almost five  years before Ryan Aldridge admitted to being responsible for Bob’s death. Ryan was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.

For Katy her story is just beginning…Little did she know that the man that killed her husband didn’t look or seem like a monster but a regular young guy. Ryan made a terrible decision that night and while she knows that, Katy has chosen to forgive him.  She and Ryan have spent years speaking to children all over on the dangers of drinking and  drugs.

This is a story of courage and forgiveness. 

Katy has written a book, Walking after Midnight and Lifetime Television based a movie on it, The Bond of Silence.


To hear the interview please click here: Katy Hutchinson



On December 21st, 11 years ago my sister, Jill took her own life.  I have never forgotten the moment I found out or the feeling of sheer horror that she was no longer with us.  To say you go through stages of shock and grief is an understatement.  I will never forget my sister,  how she died or how it changed the dynamics of our family forever…but with each passing day I deal with it a little bit better.

I share this very personal and painful story for many reasons…for the family members out there that grieve a loved one lost to suicide and for those out there that think life is so hopeless that they can no longer go on. There are too many victims…

This week I had the opportunity to interview the Executive Director of  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Please take the time to hear our conversation, CLICK HERE


From a horrifying tragedy, Alicia has not only found her voice but now speaks to protect and warn children and parents about internet predators.

Her life changed on New Years Day 10 years ago.  A man she thought was her friend spent months {grooming} her.  When she stepped outside to meet him she soon realized he was a 38 year old Monster. He kidnapped, sexually abused, tortured and was about to kill her that day until the FBI luckily found her alive.  Her story is one of caution and hope for us all that use the Internet.  I encourage you to take the time to listen to Alicia and her mother, Mary describe this horrific event that changed their lives forever.  Please share it with your children as a cautionary story they need to know.

Alicia and her mother, Mary are working very hard on To provide the funding to rescue all children from the hands of sadistic sexually exploiting Internet predators. To raise awareness and end predatory crimes against children.

To hear the interview, Click here:  Alicia Kozakiewicz


An innocent child, two weeks before her abduction

I encourage you to visit her facebook page and see all that she is trying to accomplish with Alicia’s Law.

Click on the following for more helpful information:

Alicia Project

Not one more child { Alicia Kozakiewicz and Elizabeth Smart team up to help children}


Internet Safety

Enough is enough


When Jason first called me he introduced himself as Victim #1.  During our first conversation I immediately knew that I had to do this interview. His story had to be told!

Jason was molested from the ages of 12- 17 years old by a man that was considered a {pillar of the community}.  Jason has spent thousands of hours trying to put his life back and now the perpetrator is about to come up for parole.  He and the other victims have created a website, 30 is 30 and are speaking out about what happened to them in hopes that the man that plead guilty for molesting these young men will be kept behind bars and complete his FULL sentence.

This interview is a bit longer than others, but I ask that you take the time to hear his story.  You will never forget it!

To hear the interview please click here: Jason, Victim #1


SPF 100! Wow, now that should give me some coverage. Nope, not necessarily. Sun Protection Factor labeling is confusing and misleading. Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Cory Hartman brings clarity and tells us what sunscreen work best for the allergy prone skin.

To hear the interview please click here: Dr. Corey Hartman


No one has to put up with the bully in the school anymore! These days of heightened awareness to the subject of bullying have reduced the number of incidents in our schools but there is still work to be done. Bonnie Lorino, a 22 year veteran of counseling in public schools tells us the signs of the bully-ee and the bully-er.

To listen to the interview on Bullying click here: Bonnie Lorino


Stranger Danger
has been the buzz term for a while now, however if you ask Sally Berenzweig she will tell you that this is definitely not the way we should be teaching our children to be safe.

Cheri Benjoseph, LCSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and Sally Berenzweig, MEd, MA are Child Safety Experts, authors of two children’s books, Including My Body is Special and Belongs to Me! and founders of the 501c3 nonprofit KidSafe Foundation dedicated to keeping Kids Safe through Prevention Education Programs they created to prevent sexual abuse, bullying, internet safety issues & abduction.  Listen how they discuss grooming, what to look out for and how to keep our kids safe.

To hear the interview, please click here: Sally Berenzweig


Is your teen driving safely or are they totally distracted by texting?  Texting behind the wheel has become a national crisis…Dr. Dale Wisely discusses our teens, and how to get them driving with their eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.

If you would like to hear this inter view, click here:  Dr. Dale Wisely



Why is a teen texting me in the middle of the school day?

I get a text in the middle of the school day from my 15 year old daughter’s friend, which immediately gets my attention and raises some level of concern: She simply states “a boy in her class is sniffing white out”. Yes reader, you read correctly, sniffing white out and in class to boot. This alarmed her enough to reach out to me. She texted me that she was angry at the boy for doing it. Next text was that she was worried he was going to hurt himself, she knew that it was attention seeking behavior – which could have a tragic consequence, and she was amazed how teachers are so unaware of what is going on right under their noses. I asked her if she would speak to him directly and she said no.

The ultimate issue once again always comes down to reporting. She does not want to be considered a snitch. The main reason why kids don’t seek our help when it comes to issues of safety, bullying, drug use, abuse, drunk driving, etc. But she also understands that if this kid was “stupid” enough (her words) to be doing this in front of everyone in class than what is he doing behind closed doors?

To report or not to report, that is the question

This brought up many issues for both of us. Now that she has let me know – reported (this is not tattling), I am literally left holding the bag. Do I contact the parent? Does this girl assertively confront the boy? Do we inform the school? I spoke with her and her mom and explained that if it was her having done the sniffing and someone else’s parent became aware than her mom would want them to tell her. They could possibly be saving her life. She suggested I write a blog about teens, communication and sniffing/huffing.

Do you know anyone who has dealt with huffing and their children?

Thoughts race back to my friend Sandy. Her beautiful high school daughter died in the “safety” of her bedroom after huffing computer cleaner. Sandy was distraught and in despair. She had no idea about her daughter’s use nor was familiar with this type of “high” that so many teenagers today are dying of.

We don’t read about it in the paper, and many parents are fearful that if we tell them about the concept of huffing and the dangers we might be giving kids suggestions and “putting the idea in their heads.” But think of it along the lines of smoking prevention. Kids today are inundated with antismoking campaigns and antidrug campaigns as young as Kindergarten. It is not unusual for sniffing abuse to start as early as 10 or even as young as 7 years of age. Once again it falls to parents to be educated, informed and then to have the many conversations we need to have with our children. There is no 100% guarantee that we can protect our children from these dangers, the choices are theirs. But we as parents need to be confident that we are doing whatever is in our power to raise thinking, aware, confident kids who understand the consequences of the choices they make, positive and negative, every day.

Information ALL parents NEED to KNOW

So parents – here is some basic info about huffing and sniffing from an article from the Sacramento County Sheriff: “Inhalant abuse can kill. And if it doesn’t kill you, it can leave you with severe brain damage or severe respiratory problems. There’s no fooling around — even a first-time user can end up dead after “sniffing” or “huffing” inhalants.

Everyday products like glue, paint, lighter fluid, fingernail polish, permanent markers, Whiteout®, deodorants, and anything in an aerosol can are sniffed to get a rapid and dangerous high. While this type of substance abuse may seem harmless because the products are not legally classified as drugs, they are deadly chemicals and poisons. An inhalant “high” may give the feeling of well-being and reduce inhibitions, much like the effects of alcohol and other sedatives. Higher doses produce laughter and giddiness, feelings of floating, time and space distortions, and hallucinations. But the reality is inhalant abuse has serious short- and long-term side effects.

What Are Some Signs of Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant abusers may show all or some of these symptoms:

- unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
- slurred or slowed speech
- a general drunken appearance
- paint or other products on the face or fingers
- red or runny eyes or nose
- spots or sores around the mouth
- nausea and/or loss of appetite.”

So have I solved my dilemma about reaching out to the parent’s of the kid sniffing white out?

Writing this blog has been a helpful process. Perhaps this way we can raise many parents’ awareness. What would you do as a parent of a teen? Parents, KidSafe is all about communication – so don’t be afraid to open the conversation – we can promise you that your children know about this issue – do your research and give them the facts. Scare them if you have to. This is a real danger, common items in everyone’s home. I am going to sit my daughter, her friends and my 11 year old son down and educate them even more fully about huffing and the dangers. I am also going to send this blog to the parents of this child and offer some resources to get help. Then the ball is in their court – and hopefully they will catch it.

For more info about huffing: http://www.sacsheriff.com/crime_prevention/documents/substance_abuse_08.cfm

Sally Berenzweig, MEd, MA and Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW


has taken on a new definition.  There are people out there getting too close to your children. You just might be surprised who it is …

Cheri Benjoseph, LCSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and Sally Berenzweig, MEd, MA are Child Safety Experts, authors of two children’s books, Including My Body is Special and Belongs to Me! and founders of the 501c3 nonprofit KidSafe Foundation dedicated to keeping Kids Safe through Prevention Education Programs they created to prevent sexual abuse, bullying, internet safety issues & abduction.  Listen how they discuss grooming, what to look out for and how to keep our kids safe.

To hear the interview, please click here: Cheri Benjoseph


Andrea Pokorny is living proof that when your {luck} with jobs and money change a reality check sets in very quickly!  She and her family had their lives turned upside down in one day….They went from a salary of over $125 thousand a year to $25 thousand.  Two children at home and one on the way,  life changed quickly and major cut backs happened.  Andrea has taken her lessons that she has learned along the way and has created Mainstreammom.com  She now is able to have a home business and still be a {mom}.

Listen to some of her sound advice. Andrea Pokorny


You may have heard of the critically acclaimed documentary, Race to Nowhere; a close-up look at the pressures on today’s students and the race to college admissions.  Master Life Coach Dana Frost takes some of the pressure off with her advice on how to keep your cool in our hyper competitive world of higher education.

Click here for more…Dana Frost


Master Life Coach Dana Frost has made a career of counseling her clients on being the best they can be and reaching their full potential through  all the ups and downs of life.  Now Dana faces her own personal challenge with an uncertain diagnosis and an unexpected illness. See how Dana copes in her world of uncertainty.

Click here for more….Dana Frost


We need a contract to buy a home, you need contract to be employed, why not a contract to undergo one of the most dangerous acts you perform almost every day?

Dr. Dale Wisely, a clinical psychologist and an expert in the area of teen driving says every parent should have a written contract with their teenager before they hit the road.

Wisely says driving is a serious matter. We lose more teens in motor vehicle accidents than any other cause.
The contract is a set of rules and guidelines for driving.  Rules like no driving and drinking, limit the number of passengers in the teens car and no texting while driving. The consequences for breaking the rules result in the teenager being grounded from driving alone. Wisely, warns that you should not completely ground the child from driving altogether. They need the practice with the parent while they are grounded to keep their driving skills sharp.

Wisely understands the inconvenience of taking your teen off the road if they break the contract, however, learning valuable lessons of the rules of the road could be the difference between life and death for your teenager.

{To listen to the interview with Dr. Wisley, click here}


Is there an expiration date on having a conversation with your teenage daughter? What I mean is…..if you have a conversation that lasts more than 20 minutes does it go sour, like milk?  I am finding that my 15 year old and I can carry on a conversation for 4 minutes and 23 seconds without going “sour“.  It goes like this….

Mom:  ”hey how was dance?”

Daughter:   ”it was good”

Mom: “great, who taught today?”

Daughter:   ”who-de-who….I love him, he’s an amazing teacher”  (i say who-de-who when I don’t want to use someones name)

Mom:  ”well that’s nice….so what do you have planned for the rest of the day?”

Daughter: “I don’t know mom, do I have to have a plan, do I have to have a schedule?”

Mom:  ”Not necessarily, it’s summer and you need some down time, BUT if you want me to drive you somewhere you will need a plan”

Daughter: “Well just forget it, I will get a ride”

Mom: ” A ride where? I thought you didn’t have a plan?”

Daughter: “Mooooooommmmmm!”


Ok so that was about 30 seconds….not even four minutes but you get the point. I sometimes think I am the only mother on the planet that cannot communicate with my teenage daughter. But I know this can’t be true. I do, however, have a dear friend whose daughters idea of rebelling is to raise her eyebrow….I should say, slightly raise her eyebrow. Now I love this child. I will probably be voting for this child for president one day. She is smart, beautiful and kind.  Such a nice girl. Since this is my closest friend I forever question myself on my parenting skills. Why does her daughter raise her eyebrow and my daughter raise her voice?  Don’t get me wrong. I consider my teenage daughter smart, beautiful and kind too.  She has a huge heart and is loyal to her friends and family. She just thinks I am the dumbest person on the planet at the moment. I know, it’s a phase. She is number two child in my litter of four so I have learned from her older brother.  She loves me! She loves me ! She loves me! I think sometimes we need to keep saying that over and over again to remind ourselves that our teenagers do love us. Some are just in the all consuming, center of the universe, me, me, me, take me to my friends house mode.  So when I think I am the only mother on the planet that cannot communicate with my teenage daughter I remind myself this can’t be true…We are all drinking from the same milk carton to some extent.


I like to say….ride the wave during the teenage years. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down and sometimes you feel like you are going to drown. Hang in there, they will turn 20 someday!



School is OUT!

As parents, we love it and we hate it when school is out. Just like we love it and hate it when school starts back. As a mom of a rising 6th, 7th, sophomore and senior in high school I can relate to your mixed emotions. Just when we think the driving will slow down a bit in the summer, we are spending more time than ever in the car. I am still driving to dance, the pool, the mall or the movies. The only difference in the summer for me, there is no SET schedule, I am just driving all day. I don’t really mind it too much though. My friend told me one time ….it is just the “driving” years. That sums it up pretty good.  I think I would rather be driving them somewhere than hounding them to get out of bed or off the computer….so driving it is. For those days that you can’t get them off the computer I found some tips from goodtoknow.com. Offer your kid a compromise–for every half hour you spend on the computer with social network or gaming, you can spend the next half hour on an educational site playing educational games.

Good to Know suggest the following sites:
Horrible Histories: teaches history
Math Lines: Teaches math skills
Double Trouble Fun: Teaches co-ordination
Avengers Bunker Busters: Teaches trajectories, speed and distance
Spongebob Squarepants’ Deep Sea Surgeons: Teaches hand-eye coordination

As we all know, summer boredom does set in for some kids who arent scheduled every second of the summer. Some days can be long and hot.
Families.com posted ten summer boredom tips that may help.

1. Play in the water–get the hose running, a sprinkler and throw in a sponge and soap and you may get your car washed (or your child washed if they are a bit slack about showers in the summer)
2. Visit the zoo–you are never too old. Even your teenager…yes your teenager!
3. do some art- get a bucket of sidewalk chalk or finger pain and head outside.
4. Go to a dollar movie
5. Go to the dollar store
6. Pack a picnic
7. Decorate your bike
8. Go to a skate park- even if they don’t skateboard they are fun to watch
9.  Make popsicles
10. Sleep outside

While these may not fill your summer full of activity they may give you some ideas to pass a few hours and ward off the summer blues.  When I start to get exasperated with summer I try to remember homework!  Now that is the best attitude adjustment of all!

Happy Summer!



We wake up refreshed, wash our face and begin the morning routine. I wake up my children who all greet me with a “Good Morning Mother, how was your sleep?” I kindly reply, “Restful, wonderful…and you?” “I slept great mom.” Then the children promptly dress and come to breakfast. We sit down to a healthy breakfast of wheat toast, egg whites and fresh fruit. We discuss the day ahead and how we can all be productive for the day that lies ahead. Ahhh!

Then the alarm goes off and I wake up!!!

Our morning actually goes something like this……”GET UP,” for the 3rd time I yell up the stairs. Not a peep. One of my four kids is a morning person. The rest are simply impossible in the morning. Everyone eats on the run and we try not to communicate too much since most are still half asleep. I take my kids to school in shifts based on who is dressed and ready to run out the door. Thankfully the schools are only a mile away so the route is quick. What am I doing wrong? Or better yet, do I do anything right when it comes to our morning routine? According to the research I have done the answer is NO, I do nothing right as a parent in the mornings. So here is what I am told I should be doing…..

-plan better the night before, papers signed, checks to school written, outfits chosen–check off those little things that slow you down

-wake up earlier (so simple but so true)

-if your child is over the age of 10 get them an alarm and let them wake up on their own

-let natural light in the room

-offer a healthy, hearty breakfast even if they aren’t hungry

-manage expectations the night before “if you don’t get up on time, you will have to walk to school or call a cab!” The cab will be expensive and use up all your allowance so you may want to get up on time.

-if mom is happy, we are all happy! Be pleasant, even if you are in a bad mood yourself, fake it! It’s better to start the day with a smile than a frown.

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