About Swami Mommi
I started Swami Mommi, with my husband’s help, as a way to share my joy in writing and my experience as a developmental therapist, musician and most importantly, a mom. Years later, I am so happy to have the Swami Mommi community to share the journey of motherhood with, as we try to master (Swami means “master”) the job of parenting. My goal is to share tips I learned along the way, creative family activities, mom hacks, and easy solutions that bring rewarding results for your family.
My Early Years
I grew up in the Rust Belt of America. My grandma actually lived across the street from the biggest steel mill in the world, operated by United States Steel. My family was tough, coming from Eastern Europe, and working to simply make ends meet. Their work ethic has been handed down through the generations, and once my father learned that education could move mountains in his own life, he passed that gem on to me as well. Not a day would go by where I would not hear about studying hard and making progress.
During World War II, my Grandma Helen left her abusive husband, moved back to her home across from the steel mill, and went to work. She was an authentic Rosie the Riveter. She was strong and skilled, but often taught me years later how to create books and board games and sew. After the war, she was a Singer Sewing Machine teacher, and raised two boys as a single mom. She passed her zest for life and courageous spirit on to me, and it’s what drives me everyday to make a impact on my family, my community, and with Swami Mommi, as far as the internet will take the message.
My School-girl Life
I started early, every morning and ended late each night. I studied at a local Catholic school, I went to church every weekend, learned how to play the piano from the church organist, and took gymnastics at the YMCA. Studying, practicing piano, and exercise took up most of my time, with local friends making shacks in the woods in the summer and going ice skating in the winter. Regular stresses of childhood where there too, but the insight I gained from all of them have come in useful in navigating the complex and often stress job of parenting today.
While I was learning, my parents worked to make sure I was keeping up good grades. My father would sit with me each night to learn math and piano. He also built our house from the ground up, and then went on to build us a summer home in the nearby Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. What an amazing testament he was to what we can do if we just put out mind and effort towards something important.
I started at Carnegie Mellon University as a young and eager high-school freshman, in the Pre-Conservatory Piano and voice program. I studied with piano greats from Russia and the world over, performed in piano recitals and concert choirs. After high school, I studied health science, of which I hold a bachelors degree, and gained a masters degree in occupational therapy, so I could combine my love of the the arts with meaning work to assist children in trauma and rehabilitation. By the end of my studies, I had come full circle. The arts, music, teaching and healing were my work.
I additionally have certifications in very practical things that make learning fun. I am certified in Music Together, a program that teaches children music in an organic way from the early years, withing the family. I am also Handwriting Without Tears, certified, because no child should be crying when learning to write. I trained with Ron Davis in Burlingame, California to remediate Dyslexia, specifically reading and writing difficulty, as well as helping kids increase their focus. I am also a Wilbarger Sensory Diet certified therapist, which allows me to design sensory plans and feeding protocols for kids with sensory and feeding difficulties. Finally, I am Therapeutic Listening Certified to bring music and therapy together when teaching.
My broad education makes my work really fun. I am very blessed.
My Life Today
These days, I am an eco-mama on top of everything else. After recovering from severe health struggles, I have learned that attending to nature and taking time to choose natural foods and routines is smart. Natural living has helped me, my husband, and my children who were born in 2008 and 1015,
I have provided nutritional coaching for parents and children in healthy eating, special diets, and allergen sensitivity within my Sensory Processing practice. I am good at getting kids to eat healthy food, even when diets are limited or food aversions prevail.
I created Sensory Soothers, a program to calm kids. A child centered program to decrease the effects of stress through sensory play, allowing for calmer, happier and more focused kids.
I also the developer of The Star Program: Helping Children Shine, a program designed to help kids and their families understand attentional issues and to actively assist in attentional improvement. Yes, it can really be done! Attention can be improved naturally with training and practice.
Finally, her multi-media company Sun Kids Multi-Media, provide resources for kids and families, in a variety of fun and engaging medium. Melissa has created children’s books for a variety of age groups that provide lessons and ideas to show children they can be healthy, empowered and cherished. Sun Kids Multi-Media also creates music CD’s and videos, as well as calming CDs for kids. Her current project, “Home Grown” is a musical compilation that encourages families to engage with food in a healthy and fun ways.
You can also visit my private practice website for more information on local therapy if you live in Pittsburgh here.
Most occupational therapists (O.T.), after obtaining a masters or doctorate degree, work to help children and adults attain a satisfying quality of life, essentially giving each person dignity by helping them do what they love at work, home, in the community and in the world at large.
For kids, this means that occupational therapists work to help kids do what their peers are doing: playing, learning, being social, eating, self care, and emotional regulation tasks. For parents, occupational therapists provide information and strategies, create plans of action, and allow parents to feel encouraged and motivated for change.
Here at Swami Mommi, you will find strategies to help your kids be Happy Kids. You will find new ideas on how kids can have great attention skills, suggestions on fun sensory activities your kids will love, and feeding Guide strategies for raising happy eaters!!!
But we’re not just talking about good ideas and good food.
We are feeding children’s mind, body and spirit!
If you live in Pittsburgh, and want to have your child seen by one of local therapists, please visit Sun Kids Occupational Therapy Pittsburgh here.