Category Archives: Family

A New Beginning…



Last night, we registered Frick for high school. I’m not sure how that happened! I mean, I’m pretty sure I gave birth to him yesterday. How is it that we are parents to a 14 year old?!?!?

While we are zoned for Marjory Stoneman Douglas, we made the decision last year to pursue other options. While MSD is an amazing school, we weren’t thrilled with set up for AP classes. For college acceptance, students are rated based on the high school they attend and what the kids there do, as far as grades and classes. The average AP load at MSD is very high and the workload for those classes is intense. Conversely, at private schools like Pine Crest and North Broward, students are only allowed to take one AP class a year. Our decision had nothing to do with the shooting. If anything, the sense of community that has been fostered since then would make us want to send him there.

We looked at the Florida Atlantic University program, which would have him attend school at FAU and graduate with an AA, possibly a BA if he was willing to give up his summers. We looked at a similar program at Broward College as well. We investigated the Pompano High magnet program, but that magnet didn’t interest him.

We went to a high school night at Westglades Middle School. I bumped into my friend who runs the magnet program at Northeast High School. The programs sounded really interesting, they offer dual enrollment instead of AP classes and have a Cambridge program. If Frick completes and passes their 7 classes and tests, he will graduate with a full Bright Futures scholarship. That makes no tuition or book payments for this Mama! So, under duress, we went to the open house at the school. Because, you know, Frick is 14 and what do his parents know about anything. He walked in a sullen teenager and walked out wanting to apply that night! (Perhaps Mom and Dad DO know what they’re talking about sometimes).

We applied, he got in to the Applied Science magnet and will also be doing the Latin magnet courses. And while he’s not interested in ever playing in band again, he is interested in playing baseball for the school.

We are fortunate to live in a school district that offers choices. There are so many magnet programs to help kids prepare for their futures and explore things they are interested in. In Broward, there are magnets for things such as medical (which my sister did and loved), aviation, international affairs and performing arts.




I started writing this post a year and a half ago and never finished. This is Maddie’s story…

I was one of the first people to know my sister was pregnant. I was overjoyed, even more so when I found out she was having a baby girl. Madison Victoria Pritikin. MVP. We shopped, had a baby shower, planned a trip to Disney for Thanksgiving and basked in the joy of a perfect pregnancy. Then everything went wrong.

This post is Maddie’s story, but my journey with her.

The plan was Maddie was to be a scheduled c-section on Labor Day. My family had a great plan for the day. Breakfast with friends, go to the hospital and meet our niece, then a day at the beach. That never happened. On the Friday before, Dori, my sister, wasn’t feeling Maddie moving around. Dori worked at a doctor’s office and had an ultrasound at work. They found a heartbeat, but no movement. They sent her to her midwife. The sonogram there showed the same thing, but also showed a spot on her brain. I got the call around 11:00 AM or so. I flew out of work and to the hospital. They were going to do the c-section at 5:00 PM, at 3:00 PM and ended up taking her around 1:30 PM. It took awhile, longer than it should. I went to the nurses station, where they wouldn’t meet my eyes. They told me Dori was still back there, they were stitching her up. I asked, “Is my sister OK?” The reply, ‘Yes, your SISTER is fine.” I knew not to ask about Maddie. The news wouldn’t be good and they wouldn’t tell me anyway.

The plan after delivery was that Matt, my BIL, would stay with Maddie and be with her in what I termed the “Baby Zoo”. It’s a room with a glass window so you can see the baby getting weighed, cleaned up, etc. Instead, Matt and Kathy, the midwife, came out to us without Maddie. She wasn’t breathing on her own and they weren’t sure exactly what was going on, only that she was very sick. Time stopped. This wasn’t the plan. This wasn’t supposed to be happening.


They finally brought Dori out into recovery. Matt stayed with Maddie. A sonogram of Maddie’s head showed a small bleed on her brain, about 4 mm. Around 6:00 PM, Joe DiMaggio sent an ambulance to pick Maddie up. Now, not being airlifted at this point meant one of two things – either she wasn’t that sick, or she was so sick that time really didn’t matter. The latter turned out to be true.


I stayed in Boca with Dori, after a brief trip home for supplies and Matt went with Maddie. Around midnight I was falling asleep when I heard Dori sobbing into the phone. Maddie’s pupils were fixed and dialated and they didn’t know how much time she had. They weren’t sure she was going to make it through the night. We needed to get to Hollywood. I went to the nurses station and they got us ready to go. (The nurses at Boca Regional Hospital were AMAZING!!!)  So I drove to Joe DiMaggio like Mario Andretti. When we got there, the doctor said things were not as dire as we were told, but they weren’t good either. So back to Boca we went.

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The next morning, I went to Joe D and Matt went back to Boca. That night marked my first night in the hospital for the week. There was nothing they could do for Maddie, and our family needed to make decisions on how to proceed. Luckily, everyone was on the same page. Living with no brain function wasn’t living. But there are things that needed to happen before we could let her go.

And here is where I picked up. Interesting how time changes perspectives and views. Here’s a Reader’s Digest version of the rest of the story.

The plan was to donate Maddie’s organs. They had to determine that there was NO brain activity. They did numerous brain scans, which showed blood flow. It was flowing the wrong way, but that still created a problem. The head of the ethics committee happened to be one of Maddie’s doctors, so after a meeting, we were able to let Maddie go. Her heart was donated to a baby in Arkansas who sadly didn’t survive. Some organs were donated for research.

Here is what I have learned…

  1. Donating the organs of an infant is heartbreaking and difficult, especially when you can’t find a match for them. It makes sense though, since most children aren’t born so sick and need older organs.
  2. The entire staff at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is made up of amazing and special people. They treat the whole family, not just the patient.
  3. Even in the face of tragedy, you can laugh. Maddie had her first and only girl’s night when my friends Sara and Jen came over to play Rummikub. Laughter is healing and necessary.
  4. Not everyone “gets it”. I had a co-worker tell me that this didn’t happen to me. Losing a baby in your family happens to everyone. Trust me.
  5. Everyone has a story better than yours and worse than yours. I had 4 miscarriages and they were early on. I have had friends and family lose babies at 5 months of gestation, have to make life or death decisions regarding their babies, have healthy babies, adopt babies they later realize are very sick, the list goes on and on. Appreciate your life and what’s in it.
  6. My kids are amazing. When all of this happened, we didn’t want them to see Maddie all hooked up to tubes. We brought them to the hospital to see Dori and they asked to see Maddie. A counselor at Joe D talked to them (see comment #2) and they spent time with their cousin. Children are amazingly resilient and loving.
  7. Death can bring healing. Family members who haven’t talked in years bridged the divide and became close once again. Things like this make you realize what’s important.
  8. My sister and BIL are two of the strongest people I know. Period.
  9. Our family as a whole is strong as a rock.
  10. Without Maddie, there would be no Gabby. Our niece, Gabrielle Hope Pritikin was born 11 months after Maddie died. She is such a happy, joyous little girl with a very special guardian angel looking out for her.

We often think of Maddie and miss her. But I think the mourning for her is the loss of what could have been, the possibilities, the hope. She never suffered and was surrounded by love during her short time here. You could feel her spirit in the room, and while the situation was tragic, there was rarely a pall of sadness in the room. It was almost as if she wouldn’t allow it. Nurses fought over being with her. I think they could feel her joy, too.


Today marks two years since Maddie came into our lives. It seems like yesterday and a million years ago, all at the same time. RIP our MVP. We love you, miss you and honor you.


The Summer Of Sara…Part One


Last year, after a VERY long school year, I declared my break The Summer of Sara. While this sounds egotistical on its face, it’s a take off on a Seinfeld episode, The Summer of George. However, as the saying goes, you plan, G-d laughs. The summer started out pretty good: I took a staycation with my best friend in July. Upon returning from this trip, Toby told me he had been laid off. The Summer Of Sara turned into the Summer of Shopping at Aldi and Clipping Extra Coupons. Toby and I got to spend time together, but it wasn’t exactly relaxing and rejuvenating. He ended up with the perfect job as Manager of PR, Social Media and Community Events at Truly Nolen. He TRULY couldn’t be happier. (See what I did there? 😉 )

Gabby, our niece, was born in July. I returned to work the following school year in a new position, as technology special teacher. Toby started his new job. Riley was a younger in a new multiage class. Bailey entered middle school as a 6th grader (why won’t they stop growing up?!?!?!) Life plodded along and was good.

The school year ended and summer began. This year, I wasn’t jinxing anything. I had some plans in the works, but was cautiously optimistic. What ensued was the most AMAZING summer ever, but what made it amazing were the connections that were created or strengthened.

Let’s start with June. Summer began with dental surgery. I’ll spare you the gory details but I HATE the dentist and this wasn’t exactly a promising start to my summer. Surprisingly, the surgery and recovery was much easier than I expected. I had a MUCH better dentist than I shared in the link, lol. Things were looking up.


Our first trip was to Orlando, where Toby had to work the Mascot Games. Perfect! Time together, time on my own, all in time for our anniversary.

Before we got to the games, we had to stop at Truly Nolen to pick up the tickets.


On the way there, traffic was a bit backed up. Turns out, the Presidential Motorcade was on its way to meet with the families of the Pulse tragedy. We didn’t get stuck in traffic and got to see the motorcade! #ThanksObama


This is most likely the closest I will ever to be to a sitting President #LameClaimToFame


For dinner that evening, we dined with the people the Mascot Games benefits. They were inspiring! New Hope for Kids, the charity the Mascot Games benefits, is similar to the Make a Wish Foundation.

Friday, I had the day to myself. One perk of being a teacher is free admission into Sea World. I love roller coasters and Mako was open! Score! Off to Sea World I went. There was a line to get back to Mako, but no worries, I had all day. Two hours later, the ride was still broken…


Being that it was starting to rain, I headed out of the park. Remember that dental surgery I mentioned? Well, that came with instructions for no exercise for a week. I found out why when I ran to the car to beat the rain. While my mouth was throbbing, I did mostly beat the rain and was still thrilled that I COULD run most of the way.

Making lemonade from lemons, I headed over to The Pointe Orlando for some shopping.


To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we went to dinner at Artist Point, reliving some of our Disney honeymoon.

From there we headed over to Winter Summerland Mini Golf. This is the BEST mini golf ANYWHERE. If you haven’t gone, GO!

Next stop, Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney. We had a beverage at The Boathouse. We have eaten there before and I HIGHLY recommend the filet sliders. And if you have a little extra cash you don’t know what to do with, you can drive a boat in the lake that’s also a car!!! #BucketList


On Saturday, Toby had to work, so my sister Dori came in with Gabby to take advantage of the hotel pool. This girlie loves the water just like her cousins. From there, we hit the mall and shopped til we dropped!

Saturday night we went to see Central Intelligence at AMC Disney Springs Fork and Screen. I thought the movie was great, but the The Rock could pretty much read the phone book and I’d watch it, lol.


After the movie, we went to Howl at the Moon to see our friend Ken play and met up with our friends Scott and Ellen. Us old folk actually went out for dessert after that too and we were out until after 1:00 AM!!!! That’s quite a feat these days, lol.


Sunday was Father’s Day and we headed back home to Frick and Frack.

And so began the REAL Summer of Sara. Stay tuned, more to come…

Hidden Jewel in Florida



Last week, I was fortunate to participate in the #LBTSHotelTour (Lauderdale By The Sea Hotel Tour), sponsored by Mugsy PR. While I have lived in Florida most of my life, I had no clue these gorgeous hotels existed! While at first glance, many aren’t much to look at from the outside, but they are all fully renovated inside. The rooms are comfortable and modern and each hotel has its own special charm.

We started the evening at the Driftwood Beach Club. We were greeted with snacks and champagne sponsored by Sea Watch. Our tour guide for the evening, Christine Ferris of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Food Tours and Pompano Beach Food Tours explained our evening was going to work. We were walking or riding on the Sun Trolley to 10 different hotels, each one a Silver Starfish Preferred Hotel.

At the Driftwood, you can enjoy a pool with the only diving board in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, beautiful rooms, shuffleboard, and the surf and sun of the beach.


Our next stop was High Noon Beach Resort. Our stop started with the owners telling us about the origins of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. This hotel has been here before there was a bridge at Commercial Blvd. and the owners were the first to drive over the bridge when it was built! The rooms have balconies in front where you can relax and enjoy the amazing view of the beach.

Next up, Tides Inn. When you enter the courtyard, you are greeted by Escalero Roja, The Red Staircase. This interesting piece of artwork is a sight to see. And you can enjoy it while you are on the ellipticals in the courtyard. Given all the good food around, these will come in handy! And working out with a view of the ocean can’t be beat! I wish I had a bit more time to work off the delicious chocolate covered strawberries from Jan’s Homemade Candies.


Have a fur baby you don’t want to leave behind? The Beachside Village Resort is the hotel for you! It’s the only hotel in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea where you can vacation with your pets. Are you a Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins or Celtics fan? The owners, originally from New England, host viewing parties for the games, as well as bus trips to the games when their teams are in town. Hotel guests are treated to a delicious BVR punch poolside, as well as first come, first serve cabanas.


Our next stop we were transported to the Southwest at the Blue Seas Courtyard. This hotel is appointed with eclectic Mexican and Southwestern artwork. The rooms are kitchy and interesting. The pool has a beautiful Mexican tile Art Gallery. I am partial to all the froggy artwork, as my children were both Froggy Friends when they were in school.


Ocean Reverie is known for his winding, mid-century staircase that lets guests make a grand entrance into the pool area. Old school art deco décor meets modern convenience with flat panel tvs and wireless internet in all the one bedroom apartments. Great place for a quick getaway or a longer stay with full kitchens.


Known for their orange pool furniture, the Sea Cliff Motel was a treat. Also a motel with one bedroom apartments, every room has a view of the pool or the ocean. Need to have a working vacation? Wifi is available throughout the property. Working isn’t so bad doing it poolside. And be sure to check out their herb garden!


This hotel is the one I’m hoping to stay at next summer. A bunch of friends from high school and I get together once a year for our own reunion. This year, the plan is a beach vacation. Sunny Shores’ four bedroom apartment will be perfect for this! The apartment sleeps 10 and has a huge private balcony. With another room or two, we will all be able to stay close to each other and save some money by utilizing the full kitchen to prepare meals.


The Sea Spray and Santa Barbara are sister hotels that share a pool. Once again, one bedroom apartments make for a comfortable stay. The Sea Spray is owned by Canadians Serge and Josie. Josie has vacationed here since she was three years old! Santa Barbara guests get to take home a stuffed teddy bear with a tag asking for a Trip Advisor review. What a great souvenir of your vacation!


Our final hotel stop was the Windjammer Resort. They are known for their webcam, so if you need a beach fix, check it out. When you arrive at the hotel, you are greeted by a beautiful mural painted by an employee of the hotel. The rooms are comfortable and stocked with a goodie basket for you to enjoy. There are two pools to relax by, as well as the beautiful beach.


We boarded the Sun Trolley one last time and headed to Coast Boutique. This shop has a little bit of everything, art work, jewelry, soaps and lotions, sculptures, photographs all by local artists. On Wednesdays, they host a wine and cheese event with live music and a featured artist. For our event, Aruba’s Beach Café provided margaritas and sandwiches.


On our tour, we had our very own paparazzi with A Wedding For You photographing us. Christopher’s Garden of Love Florist provided gorgeous arrangements for the participating hotels.

Florida has so many wonderful beaches and hidden jewels. Those of us in South Florida are lucky to have this in our backyard. So if you’re looking for a staycation or a getaway from the cold, you can’t go wrong with Lauderdale-by-the-Sea!