An Inspirational Lunch with Debbie Phelps

Written by Role Mommy contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum
Recently I was fortunate enough to attend an intimate blogger lunch with my new hero, Debbie Phelps. During the past week I read her memoir, A Mother For All Seasons. Reading the book, I felt like she was sitting next to me, telling me her life story. I was blown away by this single mother who worked as a teacher and now as a principal, all while raising three elite swimmers. She has two daughters and a son whom you may have heard of… record-setting gold-medal winner Michael Phelps. As hard as it was, she drove those kids to swim practice and swim meets and supported them 100%. So much of her life was dedicated to her children’s dreams.
I wanted to know her secret, how did/does she do it? Her advice was simple, take things slow and enjoy life. How often do we say we should do that and then forget? Not anymore. I am determined to channel my inner Debbie Phelps and have more patience with my kids, help out in my community more and support my families’ dreams. My daughter, age eight, recently had a piano recital where she chose to play a difficult song and even though there were only about 50 people in the audience, I was a nervous wreck! I held my breath while she was up there at the grand piano and felt like I was going to throw up. How in the world does Ms. Phelps sit at the OLYMPICS and watch her son swim in front of billions of people, competing for gold?! It’s amazing.
Listening to her speak with such enthusiasm and a huge smile on her face was truly inspiring. As if all that wasn’t enough, Ms. Phelps also serves on the Century Council and is an Ambassador for Ask, Listen, Learn, which encourages kids to “Say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking.”
Ask, Listen, Learn has an important message: kids and alcohol don’t mix. As unbelievable as it may seem, the average age of a person’s first alcoholic drink is eleven! It is never too early to talk to your “tween” about alcohol and Ask, Listen, Learn can help. According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study, nearly one third of 8th graders report they have tried alcohol once in their lifetime and 15% report they have been drunk. That is a pretty scary statistic. Through fun games for the kids to sound advice for parents and educators, Ask, Listen, Learn is a wonderful resource.
We as parents need to be good role models by drinking responsibly and not supplying underage children with alcohol!
I feel lucky to have met Ms. Phelps, her daughter Hilary as well as members of the Century Council. Even though my children are still young, this information will be very helpful in the years to come. I admire Ms. Phelps for taking time out of her busy schedule (getting ready for her trip to London!) to bring attention to this important cause.
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Bubbe’s Book Reviews

Summer is here and that can only mean one thing. It’s time to start diving into some great books. Thanks to my mom, I’ve got a treasure trove to choose from and trust me when I tell you, my mother knows her books – she’s even in two book clubs – one in Florida and one in Southampton so she singlehandedly has her finger on the pulse of what’s hot among women this summer (in addition to Fifty Shades of Grey of course).
Check out some of my moms favorite picks:

The House of Tyneford by Natasha Solomons is both a love story and an historical account of the time period preceding World War II. The story begins in the spring of 1938 in Vienna, where it is no longer safe to be a Jew. Elise Landau is a 19 year old Jewish young lady living a life filled with elegant parties, champagne, and affluence. However, she is forced to leave her family and become a parlour maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay and life changes for her when Kit, the son of the master of Tyneford house comes home. It is a love story that is beautifully written filled with incredible descriptions of Tyneford that at times, have you feeling that you are actually at the house with Elise.
The DoveKeepers by Alice Hoffman is another book that I strongly recommend. Once again this novel is historical fiction. Based on the historical setting of Masada when in 70 CE(common era) 900 Jews held out for months against the Roman armies. According to the historian Josephus – two women and five children survived. The story is told by four women who have you mesmerized by their stories and their ability to survive in a setting filled with terror famine and unbelieveable conditions. The author did an incredible amount of research and the story is just outstanding.
Molokai by Alan Brennert is historical fiction that is an outstanding read. The story is set in Hawaii more than a century ago and it is a deeply moving novel. Rachel Kalama is diagnosed with leprosy at the age of 7. Her parents take her to a local hospital and from there she is sent to Kalaupapa – which was an actual colony for lepers on Molokai. The novel follows her life from age 7 to old age. Her resilience and will to live under incredibly difficult conditions is unbelievable. This novel will have you crying and smiling, but what will really tear at your heart is the fact that this was an actual place where individuals diagnosed with leprosy lived their lives without their families.