My archives might be a little outdated especially the older blogs. My links above are all new and current.

I have only positive things to say about Permission to Mother, an autobiographical account of a thoughtful mother and clinician who courageously writes from her heart, soul, brain, and personal experience; who is open to change in her views and opinions and is not guided by the safety of rules of any group or the status quo; she is guided by love and openness to the experiences life brings her and her family. Her process benefits her and those around her and those who read her words. And to add to that, the writing style and story telling ability here make it a very enjoyable read speckled with both the humor and seriousness of life. ~Laura Keegan RN FNP, author of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy

Readers enjoy your feedback and Reviews (82!) on amazon. Kindle Version Available!

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Well, How did the Bar Mitzvah go?

The ceremony was last Saturday. If the weather was as gorgeous last week as it was today, no one would have ever gone home. :) You could have helped us eat all those sandwiches. We are grateful for the kind of Februaries we have here in South Florida.

The boys are full of pride. That's what counts!

This has been very meaningful for Scott. Scott wants David to have a Bar Mitzvah just like his: At home, small and intimate. I take Scott's opinion as a high level of satisfaction.

William has pride too, but in different ways. He's glad he had a party and sleep-over with friends and good food. The meaning for him will sink in over time. Unexpectedly, he went to a Bar Mitzvah today. Now if you asked me, who would have been in synagogue first (after the Bar Mitzvah) from my sons, I would have never picked William. Scott has actually asked to go to a service as a man, but William had the fortunate opportunity to go with his buddy and I think his pride and connection is apparent.

John is happy because we didn't run out of food (runing out of food was the one thing that would have embaressed him) and everything from the party-end went smooth. He felt like we  handled the amount of people without a crisis and even thinks that at  next party we could handle more. ( A NEXT PARTY... that's really great that he is is so inspired!)
I am happy because I fulfilled my responsibility in rekindling the Jewish spirit in my home, teaching Judaism  faithfully to my children, and providing the boys with this opportunity.

Our adult guests said they felt uplifted by the ceremony. In fact, one guest, called me this morning, after a week, to tell me how uplifted she felt all week, she felt inspired to reference the songs and prayers in her Bible.  How special she felt to be included in an important event in our sons lives. I got similar feedback nearly everyday from our guests this week.

William said the teens had fun.

So, I am very satisfied with how things went.

I thought I got a break from studying. However David is even so excited that he asked to start studying his Hebrew letters that night on He has opened up his student center almost every evening.

I was a little worried that after the celebration there would be a let down that there was nothing else to look forward too. Like TV and movies build up Birthdays and Holidays. There was no build up. You don't see Bar Mitzvahs on TV much and the boys had only been to one or two Bar Mitzvahs previously.

In planning we asked the boys what they wanted. They chose the prayers and music. They had input into the food choices. They made the guest list. Not to be sappy, but if we invited you, we really missed you. Really, really missed you.

Almost a "mynion"

We chose to have a small personalized event. I had never planned a party. Ever. Not even little birthday parties. I wanted this to be about the boys and people in their lives and not overwhelm them with crowds and places to be all weekend or what me and John wanted. The just wanted to hang out with friends and have a sleep over. That they got.


Just as a reminder over two years ago, Scott couldn't read English and now he reads Hebrew, too. It is amazing, how far he has come!

David passes out candy to be thrown at W & S by our guests. Symbolic of wishing them a sweet life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Parents Bar Mitzvah Speech

Dad remembers when you boys both fit in his pocket. I remember a slightly different version. You didn’t want to leave my arms. [The boys would die if I said BREASTFEEDING.] Amazingly time passes quickly. Although, you have been men in my eyes for some time now, today is symbolic of me letting go and letting you officially become men as you are called to the Torah.

Our guests asked ahead of time if the ceremony is usually at a Temple. Yes, a Bar Mitzvah Ceremony is traditionally held at a Synagogue during regular Saturday service when a boy turns thirteen. With our family being an eclectic spiritual mix, the boy’s learning style, and my need to be unique, we decided to do it this way. Plus we wanted to open our new home to you.

In Judaism, the rule is, is if the mother is Jewish, the children are Jewish. With each passing generation, like many modern Jewish families, my family seemed to be getting away from the traditions that make us Jewish. With so much separation from customs, ironically, my biggest inspiration to rekindle the tradition is from you, my family and friends, who I observed, were faithful to your spirituality. Before we started our formal study of Judaism we actually attended congregation and camps with many of you. I was health-fully jealous that many of you had well-grounded spiritual homes. Although today we represent different denominations, every one, here today has influenced and inspired the boys to reach this mile stone.

With my desire to raise the boys in Judaism and our family’s unique needs, our last year of intense study, we found our Cantor Debbi, whom we are most appreciative for her flexible teaching style and accommodation to our needs. She has been driving to us monthly from S. Florida, calling us weekly, and available by e-mail. Looking back, I hardly remember the reasons we started private study as learning styles and interfaith family hardly matter with her special way.

My original priority in their training was to teach the boys to love Judaism as we rekindled the tradition in our family. When William and Scott were 7, like David, they didn’t know what a Bar Mitzvah is. I actually had not attended many myself. David is excited to plan his own. How our thinking has changed! William, I don’t care if your ”religious” or not. I want you to have a kind heart and a love for humanity. There are many ways to express your goodness. Scott, we love your depth of understanding on complex Torah-based concepts. I am proud of you both for learning your Hebrew and Torah portions. We are proud of you for the example you set through your karate and activity with Max. We are even proud of simple abilities like standing before a mixed audience to speak. Dad and I are proud of the sacrifice of time you have put into your preparation for this special day.

As you now have a foundation to be good men, Dad and I let go of your youth and pray for G-d to work on your heart as men and may He continue to guide you.

Scott's Dear G-d Letter

Dear G-d,

Thank you for allowing me to become a Bar Mitzvah today. To me becoming a Bar Mitzvah means becoming a man in G-d’s eyes. This day is important to me because I want to become a Man in G-d’s eyes and I am ready to become accountable for my Jewish responsibilities and to make this world a better place through the mitzvah’s I perform.

I would like to thank a few people for helping me get to this place today. I want to thank my mom for her persistence to follow through on her desire to raise me to get a Jewish education. I would like to thank my Cantor Debbi for being available to our family, for her accommodation and flexibility. I would like to thank my Grandma Irma, who sets an example of praying for us all the time, and my Grandma Maxine for taking me to the Jewish stores to get ready. I want thank my dad for writing the BIG check and letting me have the celebration here at the house. I want to thank the rest of my family and friends for being here today and along the way.

I want to make this world a better place. I pray that I am able to go to college and have a good job. I pray to be happy and healthy and one day I want a family of my own. I pray that my actions and model may be an example to others.

I pray for the world. I pray for Israel. I pray that the country has a credible government. I pray for the safety of the people living in Israel. I pray that the Armed Forces come home safe. I pray for no terrorism and for the American economy to get better.
Those are big goals. Through my small actions, my mitzvahs, me and my dog, Max who is now a therapy dog, I want to continue bringing smiles to other people who aren’t as fortunate to have good health.

As a first degree black belt in karate I want to continue setting a good example to the other students, like David, to resolve conflicts without violence and to set an example for them to stay off the street. I want to set an example to them to train and be healthy. Although our karate park clean-up days are a small project, all good deeds start small.

Thank you G-d for allowing me to reach this special day.

Scott Coquelet

William's Dear G-D Letter

Dear G-D,

Today I become a Bar Mitzvah. A bar mitzvah signifies that I am not a childish boy anymore. I am a man in G-D’s eyes. That mean I am held accountable for being a good man. I am not very religious, but for me, today means that for now on I have to set a good example. Actually I am a good example to the little kids and my peers, but now I am responsible for having the initiative and drive (oh DRIVE, does that mean I can drive a car). It also means less goofing off and just getting my work done. I might sound like a hypocrite, because I get side tracked easy, but it is harder then what I thought to be focused. Religious or not, the world will punish you, if you are not responsible. The Torah can guide us.

My parents are fortunate to have good health, good jobs, and three strong and smart boys, ESPECIALLY me. I thank my parents for their priorities and core values. My mom kind of forced me to study Judaisim, but at least I got to be home-shuled to prepare for this day today.

I THANK my mom who just keeps nagging me to get my work done, even karate and class work when I’d rather be playing. I thank my dad because I am created in his image and I am just like him.

I THANK my Grandma’s who encourage me and says stuff like, “You can do it!”

I THANK Debbi, my Cantor, who drove a long ways to us and always says my worK is “Fabulous!”

I THANK my family and friends who can celebrate with me today.

I pray that I can be a good person and in the meantime, prepare for a good job.

For the world, I hope in a day soon to come that there will be Peace, and no terrorism in Israel. It must be scary living in Israel with bombings and threats so common.

World peace might be hard to come by, but Peace in the world begins with me. Studying Torah is what I can do. In Judaism and as part of my Bar Mitzvah training we do a volunteer activity for repairing the world. In Hebrew “mitzvah” means a good deed in G-d’s eyes. I may have not put in a huge amount of volunteer hours yet, but my Bar Mitzvah project is providing a foundation for on-going life-long contributions. It doesn’t just end today. Really, it just starts today with my own accountability. Mitzvah can be big or small. They all add up. Through my community organizations I do my part to help the world.

1. I volunteered in a haunted garden on Halloween a few times to scare the heck out of people. This lets kids of all ages have a happy and fun time.
2. With Police Athletic league (a group to keep youths from doing crime) and my karate group, I have been to pick up litter off the road and parks. This helps the park look good, helps community spirit, and reduces global warming. It also helps remind me to keep the river out back looking good. IIn karate, we have an annual tournament that raises money for Saint Jude’s Childrens Hospital. I’ve helped supervise the little kids in the community parades.

3. Very important in today’s world, I set an example for the little kids about peaceful conflict resolution through my karate training. We always try to resolve conflict civilly before fighting. PAL’s is affiliated with D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistant Education). By participating in all these PAL’s activities it makes me a good example about keeping dopey kids off the street.

I pray for my continued ability to do well in my local activities, my scholastic activities and continue learning the wisdom from the Torah.

William Coquelet


William: The Torah is divided into 55 portions. In each Hebrew Calender year if we read a portion of the Torah each week we will have read the complete Torah in one year. Our Torah portion, Tetzaveh, meaning High Priest, is taken from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 27. Exodus is the 2nd book of The Five Books of Moses, and specifically teaches us about the Jews' exodus from Egypt.

Scott: The Torah is very vague in most places and it leaves for our own interpretation, and that's why we think many people are leery of accepting the guidance of the Torah. Our portion is not an exciting part like Creation, or Cain murdering Abel, or the parting of the seas. Tetzaveh is very specific about the details of what a High Priest should wear. This portion gives mundane details about his apron, breast plate, stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, the tunic, head piece, and the sash he must wear while preforming the very important mission of lighting the oil lamps in the new Tabernacle. Everyone else is just in regular clothes.

William: What I learned from my Torah portion is how symbolic our clothes may be for specific purposes. For example in karate we wear different patches to denote our school, and gees and different colored belts to denote our rank. Even black belts with different amount of stripes sets an order. When I am in uniform I represent my karate school. I wear my karate gee at karate, I don't wear it at the gym or air soft.

Scott: Likewise my tzitzit, tallit, and kippah are an important uniform for Jewish men. It helps me to be good when I am wearing it. By looking down at these strings and knots it reminds me of G-d and keeps me accountable especially now that I am a man in G-d's eyes. My mom says, when she sees me in a kippah and tzitzit, it reminds her of her responsibility to Judaism, like preparing me to be called to Torah today, so my attire, helps remind her of G-d's presence, the commandments, and G-d's love for us.

William: What do we learn from all this? What does the right clothes for the right purpose have to do with anything else in life? Well, the uniforms, which are clothes designated for a specific purpose, are symbolic for taking what you've got, using it in the right way, for the right reason. G-d does not expect you to be perfect, but you do need to do your best effort with what you got. My brother and I are fortunate to be surrounded by loved ones, have good health, and we have parents that meet our needs. My brother and I are smart enough to know that these are blessings we are given. Now as Bar Mitzvah's we are responsible for what our Torah portion teaches us: to be aware of the spiritual and ethical consequences of our actions.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Big Day

Tomorrow is my boys big day! The will become Bar Mitzvahs. I have scheduled some of their speeches and stories to be published on my blog tomorrow along with photos of some of the preparation, so check back...

I have used my facebook page to post updates about things not long enough to post on a blog these past two weeks and feel free to add me. My facebook name is Denise Punger Coquelet.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fitness Videos: Bench Pressing

Now it's William's turn to make a video for PE. He takes fitness on-line through virtual school. How come I did all the hard work for this video?? This is MY debut on Youtube. He recorded John and I going through our workout this evening and he discussed safety. His sense of humor is so dry I find it entertaining. I'm sure, he'll get all his points on this assignment. John benched 205. I benched 135. Please don't make fun of me as you see this side of me. :) 

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