Dolphin Therapy

The main reason we chose Mexico for our trip was for the dolphin therapy. My friend Betsy already had a dolphin trip planned for her family and somehow it fell into place for us to go at the same time. Our vacations were separate, but our stays overlapped, so that we shared our second day at the dolphin center with them. It was perfection to share such a special experience with such a dear friend! Betsy’s son is 18 and profoundly affected by autism. Her husband is an MD who specializes in overall wellness and also autism. They do good work.

This is us on the first day, getting acquainted with the dolphins. The woman with us is Macy Jozsef, Director of  The Dolphin Experience, Living from the Heart Dolphin Therapy. She is awesome. Riley took to her and trusted her immediately. We’d walk down the streets of Cozumel with Riley holding her hand, leaning all over her. It’s an energy thing. Riley responds to love.

Riley was excited to see and interact with the dolphins, but still quite tentative in the water. She absolutely did not want to swim in the deeper section and was content to stand on the shallow landing. This dolphin’s name is Amizcle (Uh-MEEZ-Clay). He is huge. About 600 lbs. He eats 75 pounds of fish per day.  Riley said many times throughout our time with him that he reminded her of her service dog Jingle. Again, it’s about energy and both animals are sweet, playful, helpful (and she liked that they both have pink on their noses).

We had three sessions our first day. In between sessions we were allowed to go to a tiny private beach on the Dolphinaris property. It was there Riley found her own bouyancy for the first time in her life. She had a breakthrough earlier this year, and was finally able to put her face in the water but had not yet gotten the buoyancy concept in her body. We kept the life jackets on, and I carried her out onto the soft waves. She straddled my waist, like a much littler kid, and we bounced and floated, and twirled. Looking up into the blue sky, I couldn’t help thinking, “This is what I wanted for you when you were tiny.” We missed this developmental stage. Her nervous system was so very jangled at the time. She had always been so anxiety filled in the water, she was not light or bouyant at all. She was certain she would sink, and she would have, all contracted like that.

In and out of the water all day. She played in the sand. Laughed and played with Seth. Ate PB & J. More dolphins. Back in the water, holding my hand she finally, truly, got the feel of floating. She was sitting back, relaxing, bobbing along in her life jacket. Holding my hand, but basically doing it herself.

During dolphin therapy, there is a lot of time to socialize with the dolphins, interspersed with moments of receiving sonar. Hear, Amizcle is offering sonar directly to Riley’s head. Sonar is similar to an ultrasound. If you’ve ever had ultrasound used on a sore muscle, it’s kind of like that. It immediately relaxes the body. Sonar would be for a minute or two, and then more playing and fun. Todd and I tried it and both of us felt like wet noodles coming out of the water. It puts you in a total zen state. Beuno cool.

Our next session with the dolphins, we all swam out to the middle of the pool, with Riley clinging to mine and Macy’s hands. We were proud of her for stepping off the landing and coming into the deeper water. I held the back of her life jacket to stabalize her as the dolphins swam past so she could reach out and pet them with one hand.

The third session, we did the same, only this time, she deliberately let go of my hand. There was Riley, floating in 13 foot deep water, reaching out and petting humongous dolphins which slowly kept weaving their way around us.

And then…she surprised us all by agreeing to do this:

Seth did it first and his bravery surely inspired his sister. Todd and I both took a couple of dolphin rides too. They are so strong! Their bodies are pure muscle, and they go super fast, although Riley’s went a bit slower with her, thank goodness. It was a smaller female dolphin that she rode. The dolphin trainers were very intuitive and respectful about what the kids needed. They didn’t push, but at the moment they felt there might be receptivity, Riley was on that dolphin before she could even think about it. And she was so proud!

Seth recieved many sonar session too. We hoped it might help his PANDAS and at the very least, anything that relaxes the body is going to have a positive effect. They even did some sessions together, head to head or feet to feet.

This next photo is one of my very favorite photos from the trip. I just love the tiny boy juxtaposed against the enormous dolphin. Such a gentle majestic, beautiful creature Amizcle is. And any time I can see Seth without his hat, I love it.

Here is HT, getting a smooch from a sweet girl dolphin.

Here I am, loving my good, good kids.

Macy joined us for dinner a couple of times. Her story is interesting. She survived breast cancer decades ago, and felt a strong pull toward dolphins as part of her healing process. She continues to use meditation fueled with dolphin imagary to maintain her vibrant health. This was particularly poignant to me since my friend Clarissa, who made the trip possible, died of the very same disease.

Is there anything more beautiful to a parent than the sight of your children sleeping peacefully? Especially with sun kissed cheeks? I think not. Dream, dream, little ones. Dream of dolphins and floating, and blue water and sky.

Tomorrow, we hit Cancun.


We got back from Mexico the day before Thanksgiving. The trip was a gift from my dear friend Clarissa who died last year after a long illness. She was always the most generous person. I miss her. We brought her picture with us and put it in a prominent place at every hotel. On our trip, we celebrated her life.

One of the places we stayed had a rooftop pool, and at night we would go up there and look at the stars, and wave our hands and say, “Thank you Clarissa!”

We spent a couple of nights in Playa del Carmen. It is a relatively new island town, and it is very relaxed. Gorgeous beaches you can walk for miles on.

And when we got tired, we rested.

No phone. No internet. No distractions.

From Playa del Carmen we went to Cozumel for the main draw of our trip. Dolphin therapy. We stayed at a very old, no frills, but very clean and charming hotel. It was on the second floor, right over the main tourist strip. It was nice because we could people watch but not be down in the thick of it which could be quite the sensory experience during the busier times. We also had a gorgeous view of the water.

Hola! Coffee shop right below. Score!

Culture shock. No helicopter parents in Mexico!

Look closer…mom on back. Baby in hand. No big deal. That’s how families get around there.

Next post more about the dolphins. Happy weekend everyone.


I’m going to unplug for a couple of weeks. I’m not going to blog, read blogs, Facebook or Twitter. I am not going to write. I might not even check e-mail. I am going to connect with my inner wisdom and my family and some good friends.

I’ll write when I get some much needed wind back in my sails.

I’ll leave you with this video from Maya Angelou(thanks KS). Happy Thanksgiving. I appreciate all of you who check in here.

Lovingly yours,


Thank you, insurance lady

Braces are expensive.

We all know this.

Yesterday, the unexpected happened. Our medical insurance company called. HT had submitted a claim, and they were supposed to cover a teensy portion of Riley’s braces. He expected to hear them say they had somehow figured out a way not to cover it, but it turns out, the woman on the other end, told him about a loophole, and if he filed the claim differently, he’d be able to recuperate a substantial chunk back, rather than the teensy.

I repeat. Someone from our medical insurance company called to help us, and save us a bunch of money.

I know, right?

The braces miracles just keep on coming! Riley’s got some good mo-jo going on.


As the day goes on I am getting more and more angry about the whole Penn State “it’s okay to prey on little boys and rape them and cover it up” thing. Because you know what? Those boys matter. Those boys are just as important as my children. They are just as important as yours.

The jackasses who rioted last night? Each one of them represents why children who are sexually abused are almost always too ashamed or fearful to tell anyone.

Those rioters? Those jackass kids? They only add to Penn State’s heaping pile of shame.



My Reasons to Feel Good Today

1) Todd looked handsome heading to work today in his blue shirt and blue tie.

2) A kitchen contractor came today to do an estimate on putting in a dishwasher, and offered a suggestion on doing it that might save us a ton of money. Or should I say, made it a possibility because we were not going to spend a ton of money.

3) The leaves are breathtaking in Cleveland right now. Especially the red ones.

4) The teen on our street who was in a terrible bike accident over the summer made an incredible recovery from her head injury.

5) Tutors come to our house to teach Riley, and Riley loves them.

6) Appt. tomorrow with a specialist to help Seth and it’s covered by our insurance.

7) I made squash curry soup with fresh organic ingredients from our food co-op, and I’m drinking it like coffee today.

8) My awareness that I will benefit from every bit of contrast I experience, (if I allow myself to) even if I don’t like it in the moment.

9) Riley’s observation of an adult the other day, and noting said adult “seemed pretty full of himself.”  In a bad way. First time she’s ever made such an observation. She’s developing discernment.

10) Ladybugs in November.

Got any reasons of your own you’d like to share? I’d love to see them in the comments.


I’m going on a date tonight with Hot Toddy. It’s been a rare thing for us over the past eleven years, though hopefully it will become a more regular occasion ’cause a friend and I are experimenting with a monthly child care swap for date nights. To celebrate, I am posting some fun snapshots. Frankly, I could use a little more fun. I’ve been a bit Yellow Wallpaper lately (though I realize I am the only one with the key to the door).

So far, my funk doesn’t appear to be affecting the children.

This next one isn’t recent, but IMHO you can never get enough of HT in the Hannah Montana wig. It’s like, sacred.

Todd: I notice there are no pictures of you on this post.

Me: Get your own blog Blondie, and you can post whatever you want. 

Did you know Chihuahuas are made of rubber? True story.

Tanya has to hide in a drawer to get any peace. And even then, it’s no use…. (I know how she feels). Seth is very, very, very, VERY, needy these days. The PANDAS thing. Clingy Mc Clingerson. 24/7.  Still getting to the bottom of it. We WILL get to the bottom of it.

At least I can entertain myself with his very elastic cheeks.

I love the boy. I do.

But I really need this date.

Lovingly yours,


The Great Pumpkin had a good run. Well played, Seth O’Neil

When the kids were little they had all kinds of dietary restrictions and candy was a big no. Wanting them to still have the joy of trick-or-treating, we made up a story (thank you Charles Schultz) about The Great Pumpkin, a benevolent character, who loved kids so much, and cared about their health so much, that children had the option of leaving their candy out for him on Halloween night and he would replace it with toys.

They loved it until last year, when Riley took me aside and said, “Mom, I don’t want to believe in The Great Pumpkin anymore. My friends look at me funny when I mention it.”

It was a poignant moment. She was growing up. She noticed friends looking at her funny and decided on her own what to believe. I hugged her and explained the ruse. How we wanted her and Seth to have all the joy of Halloween and not feel deprived. She understood. She agreed to let Seth believe as long as he would.

So I wasn’t sure about Seth this year. He’s nine. Did he still believe? Had his sister spilled the beans? There was no mention of The Great Pumpkin leading up to Halloween, no mention at all on the day. I was suspicious. And then I forgot with the business of getting them dressed up and out the door. I also forgot to buy toys to replace the candy if Seth did still believe. I figured there was about a 2% chance he was still in on it. They went out trick-or-treating and had a ball with their neighborhood friends.

After tucking them in last night, I suddenly remembered, and went into Riley’s room and whispered, “Riley, does Seth still believe in The Great Pumpkin?” She’d be the one who knew.

She rolled over, looked and me and said, “Yes, I think so. I think he does.”


I went into Seth’s room and said casually, “Seth, do you want me to leave your candy out tonight?”

He said, “Why?”

A long silence filled the air. I felt like he knew, but he was gonna make me say it anyway.

“For The Great Pumpkin,” I muttered.

He paused a moment, weighing his response. I could almost hear his thoughts telepathically.

If I say yes, I get a toy. 

If I say no, she’s not going to let me eat all that candy anyway.

“Um…okay,” he finally responded.

On the 2% chance he still believed, guess who was running to Target at twenty minutes to ten last night like a bat out of hell?

So, this morning, they came downstairs, candy was gone. Toys were there. One for Riley. One for Seth. Riley sucked her in breath and said, “THANKS MOM!”

Seth played cool as a cucumber, but the jig was definitely up.

“That Great Pumpkin, sure must be nice!” I said.

He smirked.

“That Great Pumpkin must really, really love you guys to care so much about your health!”

Big old grin on my boy’s face.

“And I bet she’s beautiful,” I added wistfully.

Seth turned and looked directly at me and smiled.

He knew. 100%.

And that’s the end of that.