Paw Prints on My Heart

I’ve never known romantic love. I’ve never felt that deep connection or pull propelling me towards a man.. yet. I’m not a mom and have never experienced what it might be like to mother a child.. yet. One feeling I do know, quite fondly for that matter, is the love between a dog and it’s owner. Since days before turning 14-years-old, I’ve been able to proudly identify myself as a dog owner, or “dog Mom,” more appropriately. I’ve known what it is like to care for another being so profoundly. To be sitting at school or work, wondering what he’s doing, thinking or feeling and if it’s he’s okay. I’ve known what it is like to worry for countless hours as he was rushed into emergency exploratory surgery after a grave, life-threatening surgical error on part of a veterinarian. I’ve known what it is like for my entire family to gather together during this moments as we anxious and nervously awaited word from the veterinarians regarding his status.

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Throughout my entire adolescence and adult life, Oliver, my 15-year-old Bichon Frise has taught me more than most people probably could. He’s taught and shown me the meaning of resilience and strength, even when he’s in pain. He’s stayed by me because he knew I needed him and still do. He’s been my one constant in my life – my only consistent co-worker, sitting beside me through the pain, the happiness, the turmoil, the challenging moments, only separated for brief periods of time throughout the course of his life.

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He fills the house with energy and light, even when he’s fast asleep in his bed, I can still feel his presence, clearly coloring my life and being my constant companion. When I reflect on his life and all the moments we’ve shared together, I only smile, as I remember him as a puppy, laying on the grass with me as a young teen, as we helped put together a swinging outdoor chair in our former house. He’s been through more than many dogs probably have their lifetime and yet, he epitomizes strength and courage. He looks to me with his eyes filled with emotion, almost telling me he is holding on, still filled with much life inside of him. How I hope he knows each and everyday, I’ll always fight for him, always stand up for him, because he’s always done so for me, looking to me for guidance and direction. Him and I have never given up on each other, holding on through love and courage.

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I’ve come to know through Oliver that often times, the best cure and treatment for most anything is love and companionship – two remedies that are never too costly for anyone, because they are priceless. The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is Oliver, it is because of him, I know I’m capable of loving another.

Dogs Feel

 

Reach for Hand, Lend a Paw

Today is National Love Your Pet Day and I find it particularly fitting in that in a mere two weeks, I’ll be celebrating 15 years of pet ownership, or more specifically, when Oliver, my bichon frise, joined my family. Ever since the early years of my childhood, I’ve been a fan of dogs, enthralled with their pleasant, spunky nature, their ability to comfort, inspire a smile and simply maintain a calming and joyful presence.

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Several weeks prior to my 14th birthday, my mom announced she found an ad in the newspaper for bichon frise puppies, just having been born. Once the phone call was made, my mom, sister and I ventured to the short distance to the woman’s home whose dog had recently birthed several bichon puppies. The puppies fit in the palms of our hands, their white fur just starting to take on their signature curl. Too small to leave their mother, we waited several weeks until we ventured back to choose our new family member.

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From the moment I spotted him, I knew he was the one. The smallest of the bunch, he was a bit timid, but inquisitive, and I knew, there was something special about him. At first, my family questioned why I was so set on him when his other siblings happily frolicked about. For me, though, perhaps there was something about Oliver that resonated so deeply within me. From that moment on, I knew it was him; my co-pilot, my friend, my companion, the one constant in my life, who would be there through it all, always waiting for me at the end of the day.

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So today, a day when we commemorate the love our pets, I’d like to share a montage of photos I’ve accumulated through the years, showcasing Oliver in his happiest moments, adding joy and light to my life and my family, showering us with love and care. He is truly loved and that love has persisted through his 15 years and will always continue. Here’s to you, Oliver, thank you for being you, thank you for your love, your presence and your guidance. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of resilience and strength and that sometimes, love is the best medicine we could ever give.

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Believe It When you Feel “It”

Good Morning from an east coast with an apparent winter storm fast approaching! Given the weather reports, it sounds like my fellow east coast neighbors (and possibly elsewhere within the U.S.) will be snowed in this impending weekend. Not the biggest fan of snow or inclement weather in general, I’m hoping it will end up being more on the milder side, versus the opposite. That being said, it’s been a rather tumultuous week, to say the least.

When it comes to my car, one that I purchased from a three-year-lease last year, I’m always checking to ensure it is working properly. Bringing it in regularly for service appointments, checks and constant self-monitoring is always key and something I do on a consistent basis. For the past couple weeks, when starting my car, I began to notice something didn’t seem or “feel” right. It wasn’t a feeling I could easily describe and had difficulty placing it into words and explaining it to my family. Given I don’t drive a significant amount, when I was outside of my car, I pushed aside my worries and concerns over it and let it slide, believing it was probably just my irrational fears getting the best of me.

All the same, when it came time for me to drive my car, the fears and worries would re-generate and I would ruminate about potential problems with my car, anticipating the worst. Still, it failed to convince me to bring to the mechanic or auto center and I tried my best to privately silence the thoughts in my mind. Then yesterday, it all changed without much warning and the choice was no longer mine.

Monday morning the call I was hoping for came in: an invitation for a second interview for a career opportunity. I was surprised, excited and nervous. The interview was to happen yesterday, at 10:15am. Since the opportunity is only about 10 minutes from home, it was something I could easily manage, despite the short notice. I readied myself for the interview, making it out to my car to briefly warm up it (or so I intended to) around 9:45am and pushed the start button in my car (note: my car is a push start). The engine churned and churned and then… nothing. Nothing at all. I sat in my frigid car, with the temperature registering barely in the teens, wondering what I had done to deserve this outcome. Of all the times, I was home, with nothing to do, or no plans for the day, my car was always fine and yet, when something of a rare occurrence, a job opportunity of this magnitude surfaces, my car decides to fail. It was easy for me to begin the blame game (thinking I should have followed through on my concerns, I shouldn’t have let it go, I should have told someone), but I couldn’t have really known when I really think about it. Sometimes, these things happen without warning and they are beyond our control. As a 2012 vehicle, the end of this month signals it’s fourth year. I try to rationalize and reason with myself, that the battery was reaching it’s retirement, as they often last about 4-5 years, I’m told.

The best I could do, was focus on what needed to be done (i.e. getting to the interview on time, or within a reasonable timeframe and then working on dealing with my car issues afterwards), though it was challenging and all near impossible to silence the concerns and upset circulating within my mind. I had little time to fret about my car; I needed to quickly mobilize and plan for the impending ten minutes I had left to spare before the interview was set to commence.

Life sometimes gives us blessings in little ways, for whatever reason. With every unfortunate event, there is always a silver lining, hidden somewhere, no matter how small or minuscule it can seem. Yesterday, I was afforded a blessing: my sister, my best friend, my confidante, coming to my rescue. With a call and quick explanation, within minutes, she arrived. Words can never truly begin to express the feelings surfacing within my heart and mind as I spotted her SUV making it’s way down my street into the parking lot, quickly stopping in back of my car; she was here and somehow, through the ways life has ways of somehow working, we made it to my interview at 10:15 on the dot, without a moment to spare and when I found myself inside of the building, seated in a chair listening to the interviewer, I could all but pinch myself, wondering how it was all possible and how it is evidence that truly every second can bring change, either positive or negative. Life constantly catches me off-guard and though it may often feel or seem monotonous, it has its moments that truly make me question everything I’ve ever believed.

My family and I (specifically my sister and I) have an often unspoken relationship and what I mean by that is we can easily understand each other with or without spoken words. All it takes is a facial expression, a gesture, or really anything, to trigger a question, an action or a decision. Instead of wallowing in the “why me” attitude and feeling sorry for myself, I chose to operate under the belief of gratefulness. How grateful I was for my sister, coming to my aide. Sometimes things happen to us that are unfortunate, but we are NOT what happens to us; we can make the choice to see the bright side, no matter how dim it may seem at the time. Yesterday, I worked through not only the sadness and regret in not investigating my initial concerns about my car, the fact that it happened to me right before an interview and trying to not reason that it was an “omen” of some sort, and also the guilt of tearing my sister away from her day, wreaking havoc on her morning and overall day.

Help Quote

Instead, I chose to focus on my intention, as I so often to. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve spoken fairly frequently on here, in previous posts, about my concept of intention and strong belief in it. When I start to doubt myself, my decisions and actions, I choose to focus on my intention. I ask myself, when the self-defeating thoughts start to mount: what is my intention? Was my intention to do no harm? Was my intention to help others, including myself? In this instance, was my intention to solely travel to my interview as quickly and calmly as possible on my own? YES. The fact of the matter was and is, my intention was to travel to the interview independently, as I did the first time. Sometimes though, life throws obstacles our way that causes us to have to ask for help. In this instance, help was the equivalent of one of the most important people in my life arriving in her trusty SUV, with minutes to spare and today, I’m looking back on yesterday, thankful to have gotten through it and grateful for the incredible family in my life who make each day all the more worthwhile.

Though words can never truly express it, I hope my family knows how truly grateful and fortunate I am for them, each and every day.

Intuition Quote

 

Chains of Love

Good morning! I hope your first week of May has been off to a good start, thus far. The one aspect I’ve been thrilled about is the outside temperature. It is incredibly refreshing and invigorating to be able to walk outside again, sans a winter coat and gloves and be able to simply delight in the warm air and fresh breeze. In a way, as odd as it may sound, it makes me feel like there is a warm blanket, right out of the dryer wrapped around me!

Since it’s been on my mind, on my birthday evening, my mom and I went to my sister and brother in-law’s house for cake and gifts and for a chance for us all to be together. The gifts they gave me were not only beautiful, but incredibly thoughtful and filled with the most heart and care I’ve ever received. They were not only gifts that look nice, but serve a function and purpose. About two weeks ago, along with my 3.5 year old iPhone 4 becoming obsolete, that very day, the wallet I’ve been “borrowing,” from my sister for about 3.5 years as well, ended up becoming nearly unusable, after snaps somehow managed to break apart. Needless to say, I was upset and steps away from running to a store to purchase a new one out of fear my credit cards, driver’s license, etc, would fall out, as a result. My mom, however, advised me to “wait,” and so I did. What I was provided with on my birthday, was a beautiful black wallet, able to hold not only all of my cards, license, etc, but also my checkbook, which makes toting it around much easier. Along with the wallet was a beautiful handbag, also serving a purpose as my current one has not been holding up all that well due to significant use and general wear and tear. An array of shirts from Express also made its way into the gift bag, uniquely designed with bright and friendly colors; all of which I cannot wait to proudly wear!

My most favorite gift, however, by far is the gift given to me by my 8-month old niece. Yesterday, it officially arrived in the mail and today, as I look at it, I cannot help but smile and feel an outpouring of love and comfort. I took a photo of it, so I could publicly share it, because the quote on it and imprinting truly speaks for itself:

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If you look closely, you can see the quote, “Only an Aunt can give hugs like a Mother, keep secrets like a sister and share love like a Friend.” On the other portion of the keychain is my title: Aunt Melissa. There is another charm on the keychain that says Aunt and also some beads and pearls. When my sister placed it in my hand yesterday, I could instantly feel tears beginning to well up in my eyes and as she connected it to my keys, I felt such a sense of contentment. Though, it didn’t really fully hit me until I drove home later that afternoon. Living close to each other, the drive home is merely minutes, but when I pulled into the parking lot of my development and parked my car, I gathered up my keys and began to walk to the mailbox and as I looked down at the keychain in my hands, it was surreal to me. Reading the keychain again and seeing “Aunt Melissa,” emblazoned on there, was finally the “reminder” I was looking for. Merely hours before being gifted with the keychain, I had been discussing with my mom how I thought I should buy a piece of jewelry or something I could wear and see each day that would be an inspirational reminder to me of my significance or contribution to the world, or at least a reminder of some kind that encourages me when I feel down, self-conscious and unworthy. Little did I know, within hours, there would be a keychain serving as that constant reminder, now, each day. Looking at the quote and my title on the keychain is a sign to me of how I am something to someone. I am an Aunt, I am someone who can share in moments with my niece, with my family, with a friend, with a future significant other. No matter how down about myself I might feel at times, I can instantly look at the keychain and feel love and companionship. It is a tangible proof of my role, of how I always have a piece of my family beside me and a reminder of how I am loved.

Friday of a Different Color

Happy Holiday week to you! Wherever you are, I hope this morning finds you well, safe and out of the inclement weather. I’m told that by Thanksgiving, the weather around here should be pretty clear, with the exception of frigid temperatures! As long as we’re clear of rain, I’ll be content. Since I’ve been young, I’ve always looked forward to the day after Thanksgiving, affectionately referred to as, “Black Friday.” When I was a child, I was unsure as to what “Black Friday,” actually entailed, wondering if the “black” meant it was something to be mourned or sad about. However, as I grew older and began to notice “Black Friday” appearing in ads, stores, and people referring to it with excitement and anticipation, it became my understanding that it was something to be celebrated, or at least, enjoyed in some way. 

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For me, it’s not even about the shopping (well, okay, maybe a little, but not as much as it used to be, since finances are tight) Rather, it is about spending time with my sister and mom, taking to the stores as though we are on a mission, hoping to maneuver our way through the crowds while enjoying lots of laughs and jokes. Perusing around the stores can be stressful at times, especially if there are people who enter the stores already feeling frustrated and defeated, but for me, it’s amusing just to watch the excitement ensuing, the people taking their time to inspect clothing and other items, hoping to select the ideal gift for their loved ones.

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There are several preceding Black Friday instances I look to with a fondness and a smile. Sometimes, I can’t help but laugh when I think of a few in particular and I’m sure my sister, Hope, would agree with me on this. From standing outside in frigid temperatures to receive the miniscule “diamond” ring a local jewelry store distributed to the first several customers, to seeing Target with a line wrapping around the store, the things we see and experience on Black Friday are in a class of its own. However, I look to this year with a heavy heart, sadness and regret. For the first time, as I’m sure many of you are aware, a significant number of stores will be opening on Thanksgiving Day, causing many sales/promotions at 6-7am on Black Friday to be a thing of the past.

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My sister, Hope and I in the very jewelry store that Black Friday, in 2009! It makes me smile to see this photo.

The other night, my mom and I were discussing this, as she made very valid points I wholeheartedly agree with. She stated, Thanksgiving Day was always the holiday where people barely thought of shopping. Shopping and retail was reserved for the following day. It was even nice to not have the chance shop in a store on Thanksgiving. It was almost as though people were forced to reflect, or at least focus on other important things in their lives. Sure, online shopping would be an option, but it might not be something that would keep retail employees from being with their families during a holiday to celebrate family, friends and togetherness. It makes me sad when I think of Black Friday becoming a thing of the past, because I do have fond memories attached to it. Again, to me, it’s not about the shopping, but more so the thrill of the experience and being with my sister and mom, as we explore, navigate the stores, and spend time enjoying each others’ company.

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To those of you who might be working on Thanksgiving, I thank you for dedicating your time, support and presence to customers and to the economy. For me, Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, will be the shopping day I partake in, a tradition as it always has been, in true “Black” form.

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Classroom Confidential: Childhood School Memories!

Good morning and Happy Friday, to you! I hope the rest of your week was a pleasant one and that you’ll be having a fun/relaxing weekend! I don’t know about you, but lately, when I’ve been walking into stores, in particular Target, Kohl’s, and most recently, Office Max, I’ve been distracted by the “Back to School” signs and sales. No longer though, does my stomach start to ache with fear and worry, in that, school is not in the cards for me (hopefully graduate school someday, but that’s another story). Rather, when I see the back to school signs, now memories and thoughts of the past come flooding back, so I thought to myself, what better than to take a step back and reminisce as a post about things (i.e. foods, books, stores, etc) I associate with school from my past? Perhaps you’ll be able to relate, or if you can’t, maybe it will remind of you of your own experiences! Before we get to that, let’s chat about breakfast this morning:

1 container Yoplait Blended Greek Strawberry Raspberry Yogurt: (This is the newest variety of Yoplait Greek yogurt which just hit shelves about two weeks ago. Oh, goodness, I had such high hopes for this yogurt, right down to the container, which is colorful and eye-catching. However, upon first tasting this particular flavor, which was unique in itself, as it is two flavors not typically found mixed together as a yogurt flavor, I realized it was not going to be one my favorites. Still, I’m glad I tried it, because if not, I would be left wondering and contemplating whether or not it was good. Needless to say, I will not be purchasing it again, as I found it to be oddly sweet, too much of a raspberry flavor, and overall, not at all pleasing to my taste buds. On a positive note, the consistency was decent though and while thick, still easily combined with cereal.)

1 cup Giant-brand Puffed Rice Cereal: (Tasted fine today, but I was a bit annoyed with the yogurt, so I probably would have preferred a more flavorful cereal today.)

1 cup Special K Red Berries Cereal: (A good cereal choice today, with abundant strawberry pieces! They sure were generous in this particular box!)

1 Banana (Yay! This banana was probably the star of the morning, as the flavor was optimal! P.S. Stay tuned for a very exciting and fun post regarding bananas… it might just involve a GIVEAWAY!)

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Now, back to today’s musing! So, as I mentioned above, this time of year has me reflecting back on school experiences, back to school shopping I completed in the past, in addition to specific books and foods I associate with school from childhood and my teenage years. Typically, towards the middle of August, I would create an in-depth list of what needed to purchased, from school supplies, clothing, etc, and then I would create labels which I would type up and tape onto all of my folders, notebooks, binders. Needless to say, I was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to school. It became a tradition for my dad and I to head to either Staples or Office Max, with my list in hand, scurrying around the store, grabbing excessive amounts of pens, mechanical pencils, glue sticks, and anything else that just so happened to catch my eye. A significant amount of money later, we headed home and quickly, I would spread all of my purchases on the kitchen table and sit there for hours, instructing my dad on how he could help the process go by quicker, handing him hole punchers, scissors, and whatever else I thought might be handy. Though at times it could be stressful trying to prepare for the new school year, it gave me a means to bond with my dad and allow myself time to physically and mentally prepare for what the year might bring.

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Another favorite aspect of my mine when it came to the back to school season, was back to school CLOTHES/ACCESSORIES shopping! In both my middle and high school years, back to school clothes/accessories shopping became an exciting tradition for my friends and I, as we spent hours scouring the stores and using it as an excuse to wander the mall, gossiping, giggling and enjoying each others’ company, probably more so than actually making any purchases.

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Here are some of my favorite childhood school memories I’d like to share with you:

Books:

  • The Arthur Series: Remember him? To me, he was the friendly aardvark I came to be quite fond of, with his sister D.W., and other friends. I remember when I was in elementary school, a teacher once told my class that the author of the Arthur series would always find a way to put his two sons in there. I always found it to be interesting and would look for them in the books. Sure enough, they were always there!

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  • The Berenstain Bears: Ahh, what a wonderful series! Fun fact: the authors of this book series are actually from the very same county as me and a town about 25 minutes away! Always a fun book series to read, because there were underlying life lessons in all of them.

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  • Little Bear: Some of you might not recall Little Bear, but he is one of my favorites. In later years, they actually had a television series, based directly off of some of the themed books. One of my favorite episodes/books involves, Little Bear, a toad, and “hot applesauce!” Another favorite is Little Bear’s birthday, which teaches a lesson about friendship.

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  • Corduroy series: This beloved book series always seemed to be checked out of the library and whenever I would finally get my hands on it, I loved it. Corduroy the bear, always seemed like such a lovable character to me.

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Foods:

  • Kid’s Kitchen: Created by the brand Hormel, it was one of my favorite foods to bring for lunch. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it was a small container, which could be heated that way, or taken out and heated in a bowl, etc. My mom would typically place it in a thermos for me to enjoy as lunch. I would look forward to it all morning until the afternoon, when it was finally time to eat! As a child, I was never really a big sandwich eater (with the exception of grilled cheese, of course!)

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  • Chef Boyardee Mac ‘ N Cheese: I think I may have enjoyed Chef Boyardee even more so than Kid’s Kitchen, but probably because I had it less often, in that it was typically more expensive than the Kid’s Kitchen counterpart).

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  • Cream of Wheat with a Pat of Butter: As a very young child, my mom would always make this for me and serve it with a pat of butter mixed it. It was warm and comforting and the addition of butter enhanced the savory flavor. I know it’s the tagline of Campbell’s Soup that claims of “warming the heart,” but in my opinion, it was Cream of Wheat that warmed mine!

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  • Eggo Frozen Waffles topped with butter: Oh goodness, I recall kindergarten through first grade, the only time my sister, Hope and I were in the same school, when we would both eat frozen waffles spread with butter. Thinking about it still churns my stomach – I was never quite fond of the waffles with butter, meal. When eating waffles, pancakes or french toast, syrup is typically what I turn to.

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  • Einstein Brothers Bagels & Cream Cheese: Specifically when I was in high school, after spending a long day in classes and at various after school activities, I would arrive home ravenous. My mom always made sure to supply me with my favorite Einstein Bros Bagel, topped with their cream cheese. It became somewhat of a tradition, because other store-brought bagels, such as Thomas’ just wasn’t the same. There’s something about bagels from restaurants which evokes an allure unlike grocery-store bought bagels.

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  • Denny’s: Most of my fond memories of Denny’s are tagged to my kindergarten years. I would attend the morning session and on Wednesdays, when my dad was off from work, he would drive me and I’d be desperate for the morning to end, because it meant he, my mom and I would be visiting Denny’s for lunch, as it was the day they served my favorite soup – Cream of Broccoli. Happily, I’d sit there in the booth, slurping my soup, my mouth watering while dreaming of the dessert I would soon share with my dad: cherry cheesecake.

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I could probably continue on with all of my memories in relation to school, but for now, I’ll leave you with this brief sampling!

QUESTION: So, tell me, what reminds you of your school years? Did you enjoy back-to-school shopping?

Family Redefined: Meet “THE FOSTERS”

Good Thursday Morning, to you! Almost the weekend, any exciting plans on your part? Is it just me, or does this week seem to have gone by relatively quickly? Of course, I could be imagining things! Anyhow, as I mentioned yesterday, over the past month and half (almost two, at this point), I’ve become particularly taken and enthralled with the new ABC Family TV series, “The Fosters.” It is one of the most intelligent, honest and real television programs I’ve seen in awhile, plus the acting in my opinion, is top-knotch. However, before I delve into my perspective on the show, I’d like to share with you my breakfast picks this AM; it’s one I am particularly excited to share with you!

Breakfast (Thursday, July 25, 2013):

1 container Yoplait Light White Chocolate Strawberry (Initially, when I purchased this flavor of yogurt, I was excited because of the name of the yogurt flavor, but didn’t really expect it to taste as it sounded. Well, I’m proud to report after consuming it, it definitely held true to it’s flavor name! I couldn’t believe how much it actually tasted like white chocolate mixed with strawberry! The flavor wasn’t overpowering, but it was satisfying and creamy. I highly recommend it, if you haven’t tried it yet.)

1 cup Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter/Chocolate Puffins (NEW FLAVOR! Yes, this flavor has been on the market for about a year or so, or maybe slightly more, but never have I purchased it, until a couple weeks ago! Today, I tried it for the first time and was pleased! The chocolate Puffins taste reminiscent of a dark chocolate and combines well with the peanut butter Puffins scattered throughout. It’s a satisfying balance of both flavors and one I thoroughly enjoyed, mixed with the yogurt. It can be challenging to find this flavor of Puffins in the grocery store, but if you have difficulty, I encourage you, don’t give up! I was able to find these on the shelves at Wegmans, but if you don’t have a Wegmans by you, keep looking, I think you’ll find it!)

1 cup Special K Red Berries (This morning, I polished off the box and it didn’t quite fill the cup, so I topped it off with a little Special K Multigrain Flakes; Special K love all around!)

1 Banana (It seems I’m having a good week with the bananas. Today, I maintained my good banana fortune, as this one followed suit and was ideally sweet and flavorful!)

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Back to today’s musing: ABC Family’s “The Fosters.” Before I share with you my perspective and take on the program, I figured I would fill you in on some of the overall basics (i.e. air time, network, cast/crew, etc), so that you are familiar with what and who I’ll be discussing, if you aren’t already familiar:

Premiere Date: Monday, June 3, 2013

TV Network: ABC Family

Date and Time: Mondays at 9pm, EST

Created By: Jennifer Lopez and Simon Fields as Co-Executive Producers; Lopez’s Production Company – Nuyorican Productions; Peter Paige and Brad Bredeweg as Co-Creators and Writers.

Main Characters (there are several recurring supporting characters which I have not listed below):

  • Callie Jacob (Maia Mitchell): Older sister to Jude Jacob, newest addition to the Foster family with Jude.
  • Mariana Foster (Cierra Ramirez): Formerly of ABC Family’s, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,sister to Jesus Foster.
  • Jesus Foster (Jake T. Austin): Brother to Mariana Foster.
  • Brandon Foster (David Lambert): Son of divorced couple Stef Foster and Mike Foster.
  • Stef Foster (Teri Polo): Formerly of the “Meet the Parents” fame (Ben Stiller’s wife); Police Officer; biological mother of Brandon, ex-wife of Mike Foster, romantic partner to Lena Adams, foster/adoptive mother to Jesus, Mariana, Callie and Jude.
  • Lena Adams (Sherri Saum): Charter school principal; Foster/adoptive parent of Jesus, Mariana, Callie, Jude and Brandon; romantic partner to Stef Foster.
  • Mike Foster (Danny Nucci): A Police Officer, Stef’s ex-husband, biological father of Brandon Foster.

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To start, “The Fosters” can be described as a controversial television program replacing the also controversial, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” a staple on the ABC Family network for a number of years, airing Mondays at 9pm EST (season finale – August 5). The new TV series features a lesbian couple, together for 10 years (i.e. Lena Adams, Charter School Principal and Stef Foster, a Police Officer who works alongside her ex-husband, whom she had a teenage son with). The show offers a sense of realism and a genuine quality, which I feel many people today, can relate to, on certain levels. The topics are often raw and exposed; issues are confronted and addressed, many of which typically are not, especially on a television network such as ABC Family. However, through the years, first with “Greek,” then with “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and now, with “The Fosters,” the ABC Family Network is without question or contemplation holding true to its tagline – “A new kind of family.

When I think about it, “The Fosters,” is truly an accurate depiction of what a modern family might actually be, today. It depicting an alternative to what one might label as a “traditional family,” with two parents – a mother (female) and a father (male) and children. This television program raises the bar and proudly depicts two women as long-term romantic partners, establishing a family and lifestyle, with children, both biological (for Stef) and adopted (or fostered) for both. The mothers, Lena and Stef, are affectionate and loving not only with each other, but their children, as they frequently maintain open lines of communication and hold conversations with each child/teenager, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may initially be. The topics on the program are as controversial and unique as the composition of the family, but to me, all of the above is quite refreshing and eye-opening to see. It’s not always easy or desired to see a “traditional” family on-screen, as all around us the world is consistently changing, evolving and adapting. Family is no longer a word, phrase or relationship prompting one to conjure an image solely of a male/female partners and their children. Rather, family is now a figurative term, or at least to me it is. A family can be a group of friends, or partners, no matter their gender. To me, what defines a family are the connections they establish and whether they feel they can trust, rely on, and support one another.

This television program exposes and airs out the issues and topics other shows and television networks appear fearful of discussing and airing. They are issues that often might cause people to turn away or turn a blind eye, out of discomfort or fear. However, “The Fosters,” is truly raising the bar and in turn, making people talk. It poses questions and reveals truths that are far beyond what other television programs have done in the past. If you’re not familiar with the program, or have never seen an episode, you might be wondering what types of “issues” or situations,” I am referring to. These issues include: rape, homosexuality, illegal immigration, racism, and a host of others. They are not “tip-toed” around, rather they are discussed in their plain, shear form; there are no “band-aids” placed over these instances or words.

Of course, “The Fosters,may not be for everyone; this is a truth I’ve come to realize. It is truly a show of “the changing times,” to say the least and plainly put. Some show situations/topics are heavy, emotionally-charged and can be difficult or uncomfortable to watch, or perhaps for some individuals they simply don’t want to have watch what they might have personally experienced. In my opinion, television can often be used as a form of escapism, a chance for people to indulge in lives and experiences dissimilar from theirs, or a chance for them to watch something on-screen which they know is completely unrealistic. If that is the type of television one might be searching for, then naturally, this may not be the television program for them and that’s okay.  In saying this, I felt it was important for me to at least comment on my thoughts on “The Fosters,” in that I often resort to television both for escapism and for my mind to be stimulated, or at least to have generated thoughts within my mind. Looking at “The Fosters,” it is evident that television as we know it is changing. Sometime soon, all I am speaking of may appear fairly commonplace. Perhaps the “traditional family,image we conjure will no longer be so traditional after all. The new traditional may be that which is truly anyone (gender-irrelevant, blood-related, adopted, foster-parented or not).

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For me, personally, I have to applaud executive producer Jennifer Lopez and the team at ABC Family for having the bravery, courage and moxie to air and write a show as intelligent and honest as, “The Fosters.” It is a breath of fresh air and quite honestly, about time someone and something has stepped forward to televise a program such as this.

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QUESTION: Have you ever watched “The Fosters?” What is your personal definition of “family?”