Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Lost tooth, Last tooth: Part 1

40 Reflections #28:

40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Lost tooth

August of 2009, our daughter realized something was happening to her tooth. She was seven-years-old, and most days, our walk home from the bus included at least one story about a friend losing a tooth, and the sparkly tooth necklace they toted home. In various attempts to play with her loose tooth, she wiggled it with two fingers, moved on with the single finger jiggle, and then discovered her tongue could enlist her tooth to dance. As most kids under 10, she hoped her tooth would fall out at school where lost tooth recipients received a free trip to the nurse’s office, where the tooth holder necklaces were stashed in the bottom file drawer. Much to her dismay, later that day while playing with her brothers, the tooth fell out in the backyard lawn, was rescued, placed in a homemade tooth necklace, and later set gently under her pillow.

Fast forward eight years. Throughout this time, waiting for our daughter’s teeth to fall out was like watching paint dry. Truly there was no rush. Some things just need to happen naturally, right? That’s what we thought…until talk of “small jaws” were slipped into the description of our children’s mouths. Awe. Sounds cute. But then, much like a baton passed in the 400 relay, a little piece of paper from the dentist was handed to us encouraging orthodontia services. After googling ‘orthodontia’ my first thought was, “who even uses that word?” and second, I realized all the chatter about braces was true. These metal wonders cast a wide net. Everyone from ages 7-60 were donning colorful mouths, and pockets filled with teeny rubber bands, special floss, and disposable toothbrushes. All were welcome.

So without looking back (not sure why), we picked the best (aka – most economical) orthodontist we could find. A gem of a man who understood my matter-of-factness when I told him we did NOT want the multi-round plan. That’s when kids get braces right after they kick the diaper habit, give their mouths a break while they learn to walk, and then jump back into the metal molds by grade school. Perhaps a slight exaggeration. We settled on the standard package with a 5% discount when paid in full, and as many tiny containers of floss you can “acquire” upon exiting.

Now that we’ve paid our admission for the braces roller coaster, our trips to the orthodontist are more frequent than our Costco runs. Maybe it’s just me, but either kid’s teeth are growing in looking as haphazard as the megalithic monument Stone Henge, or impeccable, movie star teeth are now the norm. Have you seen anyone under 40? Great pearly whites.

Growing up in the 70’s, our family dentist, Dr. Johnston had a hardy laugh and reading glasses permanently perched on the tip of his nose as he peered into our small-jawed mouths (oh, genetics). While we waited, my sisters and I marked up the well-loved stack of Highlights while rave reviews of “no cavities!” was hollered boisterously from the back of the office. We’d happily head home, and mom would mark the calendar for six months when we’d see our jolly dentist again.

You see, back then, moms like mine possessed the orthodontist super power. This braces radar, or “BRADAR” was so powerful, with one glance at their children’s smile, they could determine whether they truly needed braces. 9/10 times, the answer was no. Sometimes, moms could transfer these stellar abilities to their children and let them decide whether they wanted braces or not. Brilliant. Was the word orthodontia mentioned? Never.

In today’s world, orthodontia is as common as watching youtube for a diy project, and so far, our small-jawed children are fairing well.

Stay tuned, for Part 2 of Lost Tooth, Last Tooth, I’ll take you for a ride on the braces train.

Dig Deep: Healthy lifestyles include exercise, nutrition, sleep, AND good oral health. After your run, remember to floss!

Lenten Challenge: Ensure the reflection you see in the mirror is what God wants you to be…embrace your gifts, even if your smile is slightly crooked.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Jesus and I fell

40 Reflections #27: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

I’ve run a lot of races in my day. I’ve also lost a lot of races. My running career started out like most kids with “race you to the end of the road” competitions. Of course we were always a little more motivated if a dog was chasing us. During grade school in New Mexico, I remember running one specific 100-yard dash on the last day of school. Dust was circling the air (grass was not part of our play scape), my feet felt like they were skimming the ground just enough to spring into flight with each stride. I thought for sure I had a chance to break the tape, or rather cross the line drawn with a stick, first.

Then, it happened. The moment your mind accelerates but fails to let your white Keds tennis shoes know you can win this thing. Naturally, your uninformed feet begin their tumble, knees hit the dirt, white shoes fade to earth tones, and you realize you’ve lost, again. But you’re ten, and who cares?

My kids are a little older than I was when my face met the dirt in the 100-yard dive/dash. I’ve noticed a lot has changed since I was younger. Kids are smarter, faster, and have tried everything (aka: well-rounded). For instance, a 4.0 GPA, while stellar in my day, is more commonplace, compared to the 4.6 prospective Valedictorians desire. Throw a 5k at today’s middle school runner and they’ll fly through it, hang their medal on their door knob as they walk in the door to practice their cello, polish up on their Mandarin, and finally wrap up their STEM project showing how to maximize the electrical output of a wind turbine.

For  better or worse, today’s child does so much more than I ever attempted. That’s why I love running. Everyone can do it, and truly everybody wins FOR doing it. From ½ marathons to 5k’s, I’ve learned I’m never going to win, but at the finish line I’m going to crush the senior citizen I’ve been trailing the last mile.

I loved the feeling I had at 10 when I thought I had a win. Was falling in my plan? No. Is it ever? Everybody stumbles. Even Jesus fell three times, got up, and stood strong. As we take risks in life, we discover what is worth falling for, in the hope we arise stronger and wiser. The key is to wipe the dust off your Keds, and toe the line drawn on the ground one more time.

Dig Deep: Sign up for a race. Knowing you have it scheduled will make it easier to train. Watch your step. 🙂

Lenten Challenge: Go to the Stations of the Cross next Friday. Remember, we all fall, even Jesus.

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Throwback Thursday: writing as a release

40 Reflections #26: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Since 2002, I have written a journal about our family musings. Primarily this endeavor was to chronicle the funny moments in childhood parents just can’t make up. Other days logging my thoughts gave me an outlet to vent my feelings somewhere other dumping them on my dear husband the instant he stepped in the door. Today, this journal serves as a virtual memory keeper for me as it seems busy days blend altogether like the brown Easter egg dipped in every color on the table.

Yesterday I was helping my daughter study for “AP Human Geography” referred to as “AP Human” amid high school students. To parents, I think the AP stands for “A Plethora” of reading about Human Geography, but apparently it’s something different. After studying, I asked my daughter for suggestions on blog topics. She proposed writing a “Throwback Thursday” post about something from their younger years. Perfect idea! Here it is.

Note: when I asked my daughter if I could use her name, she declined, one of my boys simply stated, “sure, I’ll be famous someday anyway.” My theory, if one says no, it’s no.

THROWBACK THURSDAY

On a cold day in December 2014, I jotted down a few words after a stressful day. The kids were 7, 8, and 9 at the time. Maybe you can relate to the events, or even the sentiment attached.

Overwhelmed

  • Our daughter said she “hates” school, ballet, and clothes. This was this morning on our drive to school.

  • Our middle son threatened to put tape over his brother’s mouth and made his little brother punch himself with his own hand.

  • Our youngest couldn’t think of any compound words!

  • One son is making random sounds that make me want to scream.

  • I bought our daughter tights for Chorus tomorrow night and our dog Lola took them outside, ran around with them and pierced holes in them like Swiss cheese.

  • The baby talk is out of hand.

  • (And the Mother of the year award goes to…) After frustrating words about homework were exchanged, I told our son I don’t care if he stays in fourth grade for the REST OF HIS LIFE, and he said, “Me either, then I’ll be the smartest in the class.”

  • I need to make cookies for school tomorrow as a special dessert for our daughter’s class on her birthday.

  • Our daughter told the boys she thinks Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is questionable and the elf is something you just buy.

A tough day for me, that’s all.

Ever have a day like this? Kids or no kids, 10 or 1, some days can wring out your spirit. I still have moments like these. The characters are the same, feelings are similar, only the topics have changed from ballet to bullies, reindeer to technology, and special desserts to stressful GPA’s. Gratefully, the pleasurable days outnumber the tricky, but more importantly all of my children passed the fourth grade.

Dig Deep: Take a rest day and journal. Sharing the written word is cathartic.

Lenten Challenge: Pick a Bible verse and share it with your children.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Don’t cancel your annual physical!

40 Reflections #25: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

For the last three months, I have rescheduled my physical exam.

Three times!

Here’s why:

  1. SNOW. In Georgia.

I actually made it to my first appointment. I maneuvered through the rare Georgia snow, and upon arrival, I was told the office had to close so the employees could drive home before the roads iced. I was able to have my blood drawn, only to find out the office was unable to send my blood to the lab for testing due to the aforementioned snow. I hastily rescheduled over the phone, taking the next date available.

  1. SCALES

Unfortunately, the next quick appointment I made was slated for immediately after the holiday season. I’d like to think I was less vain than this, but honestly, the thought of perching myself on a scale after my busiest cookie consuming month of the year, was nauseating. Those 5 seconds on the scale could crush a gal. Plus, everyone knows summer is optimal for the weigh in, less clothes, and slip off shoes. Of course there’s always a chance there’s a nice nurse who will shave off a few pounds for clothes.

  1. SUBSTITUTING

I substitute teach as often as I can while ensuring my presence at home is just enough for the kids to know I’m around. Much like the “potted plant theory”. This is when your kids get older and you’re their potted plant: close by so they know you’re there, but silent, non-invasive, and mobile.

Tomorrow is my appointment, no excuses. I’m ready to pee in a cup, kick my knee up when the hammer hits, talk about the vegetables I should eat, and try and to decipher the zillion acronyms like BMI, PAP, HPV…UGH.

Physical exams are critical to maintain optimal health, develop plans of prevention as needed, establish a family medical history, and build a positive rapport with your doctor. Sure standing on the scale and getting blood drawn are not my favorite hobbies, but luckily, taking care of my family and myself is. Please make a healthy lifestyle your priority.

Dig Deep: Plan your annual physical today! Hint: schedule for summer.

Lenten Challenge: While you wait at the doctor’s office, which you inevitably will, pray for the health of people in the room with you.

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

3 Free Stay-cation Ideas

40 Reflections #24: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Every time I prep the calendar for the month, my pen draws an arrow covering another week with the words fall, winter, or spring break. I love having the kids home, but there’s a different feel as they get older. A tub of tinker toys, play dough and coloring doesn’t have the same draw as when they were toddling around.

Rarely do we travel over these week-long respites. Instead we declare them “Stay-cations!” Nope, it’s not even a word, but, when said enthusiastically, you can alter the “mind-set” (over-used education word) of your kids and turn at least one out of the seven days into a mind-blowing experience. I guarantee the other six days will involve a fine balance of play, leisure, drama, and bickering…laced in love, of course.

Prior to each upcoming break, we hear all the dazzling destinations friends will be enjoying: cruises, beaches, Disney, even trips to Grandma’s lake house. Navigating away from comparison a few years ago, I researched local activities, and Google offered me 116 million ideas. However, dangling at the end of my new Google search, was the word “FREE” immediately eliminating about 100 million of our options. Not bad. I began my planning. Our theme? Free Fun! When I say fun, I mean it was fun, because it was free.

Three For Free:

  1. First off, we hitched onto a homeschool tour at an Anne Frank Museum located in a strip mall nestled nicely between a Best Buy and a Barbershop. Not completely encompassing the Amsterdam feel, yet fascinating, educational, and well, free.
  2. We also had a gift card day when we decided to use gift cards that had sat a few years because the establishments were outside of our 15 mile radius. One day we schlepped to Buckhead, visited a charming Catholic Church – we “happened” upon (during noon mass-smack in the middle-oops), and then scooted over to a fancy deli. With $10 on the gift card we were determined not to spend a penny more. So, we ordered a BLT, one sprite, and three straws. Bewildered, the cashier asked if we wanted anything else, “No sir, we’re fine”. Thinking we were living out of our car, he gave us a ‘you’re not from Buckhead’ look, which is simply a sad smirk accompanied by about three nods of the head. The kids were pleased with their BLT and the drink since they were hungry…not the ‘this is our only meal-hungry’ just the ‘we drove to Atlanta-hungry’. We loaded up in the car and headed home.                      Memorable Moment: The splitting of the sandwich took me back to our daughter’s kindergarten days when I directed her to bring home ANY candy she was given at school. One day she arrived with a Dum Dum lollipop which measured about a quarter inch circumference. We took the hammer to it, multiplying the sugary asset, and split it between our three amigos. What a wacky mom I am.
  3. We rounded out the week by visiting the Governor’s Mansion. We caught the tail end of free touring day and spent the bulk of our time visiting with the kind-hearted 1st Lady. She explained the history of the great room, the trading of tea, and kept our liberal family engaged.

Once we made our way out, we fled home and just relaxed, reflecting on the tribulations of The Frank Family, the pillars made from oak at the Governor’s Mansion, and of course, the delicious BLT. Maybe next break, which is coming right up, we’ll go crazy and head to Starbuck’s or if they’re lucky, go to the car wash (almost Disney).

Dig Deep: On a school break? Homeschooling? Take your kids outside. Find a track, playground, or some good dirt and just run, jump, and play.

Lenten Challenge: Add some Catholic tunes, or a calming podcast to your running playlist. Prayer and meditation is powerful.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Boys matter

40 Reflections #23: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Now more than ever, it is critical to teach our children their opinions matter. Shaping their views on today’s world will help them feel safe and secure, certain and sure. Knowing where they stand smooths the inevitable defensiveness life brings. Of course opinions have potential to shift and change, but what in life doesn’t spark controversy?

I watched the video “War on Boys” a few months ago and sent in a comment (posted below the video) as my response. As an advocate for recess and play, you’ll pinpoint the section of the video that sparked my interest.

Are there exceptions to this opinion? Absolutely! Will some of us agree enthusiastically? Yes! Will this frustrate some of us? I hope so.

Please share your opinion on the video. There are no wrong answers.

Here’s the comment I posted:

Spot on. Instead of celebrating the nuances of each child and focusing on their strengths, we over diagnose, over schedule, and over analyze our children. For my boys, when given the option to read or play outside, the latter is always chosen. Sure, they need to read and write more in school and at home, but the work is not presented in a way that piques their interest. The result for the boy: an apathetic attitude toward school. The answer for the teacher: take away recess. This is a disservice to everyone involved. Boys and girls need to climb trees, problem solve on the playground, and pretend to be superheroes in a game they made up themselves. Our brains need to be recharged by exercise and recess is one solution to keep boys focused. Let them stand while they work, benefit from project-based learning, and play outside. I never thought I’d say this, but after having two of my own, let those boys be boys!

Dig Deep: Run one mile today and time it. Rest about 10 minutes and run another mile. Did you beat your time?

Lenten Challenge: When you step out of bed, say a prayer of thanks for another good day.

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Blogging past the 50 yard line

40 Reflections #22: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

When I started blogging for the 40 days of Lent, I wasn’t sure I would have enough content to make it to number 20. I actually double numbered posts sometimes, not realizing where I was on the count. Miraculously, I made it.

Hitting the midpoint in anything, whether it’s the 12-hour drive home to see family, the halfway mark in the Snickers you love, or the moment you realize the bookmark is sitting smack in the middle of life’s novel, there’s an emotion attached.

This Middle Place, as described by the admired author, Kelly Corrigan, nudges our awareness of balancing on the pivot of life’s seesaw. The time when you glimpse into the world that will be, yet cling to your world that was.

Corrigan asserts:

“And that’s what this whole thing (The Middle Place) is about. Calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork—a marriage license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns—clearly indicates you’re an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you’re still somebody’s daughter.”

I certainly dash for the phone when the car makes an odd sound, I botch a sewing job, or when I just need to hear Mom and Dad tell me how they could really use some of our rain in New Mexico. I am endlessly delighted and grateful they are there to pick up the phone, set it on speaker, and sit my chatty voice on the kitchen table.

Pushing through my blogging hub

For me, openly sharing my thoughts in a public forum is weighty. Perhaps it is because I hear my mom’s voice telling me and my sisters, “Be careful what you write down…and always pay your debts.” The former is what I hear when blogging, the latter rings in my ears the rest of the day. Respecting Mom’s words, I take heed and trudge forward.

I thought about this vulnerability blogging presents at this morning’s baseball game.

I sat next to a mom whose son was called up to pitch. As he stepped onto the pitching mound, she turned to the parents in the stands and affirmed in her outside voice, “My son has only pitched ONCE IN HIS LIFE, so I don’t know what is going to happen!”  I assured her we would not judge her nor her son. Plus, now we knew he was hers, so we were bound to keep it positive. She continued as most parents would with, “Just have fun out there son, and smile!!!” Roughly translated: don’t get hurt, and please for the love of all that is holy, throw strikes/block all goals. (Thankfully, there’s an unheralded empathy for parents who watch their child stand in any goal, or dig their cleats into the rubber on a pitcher’s mound. Every parent knows to just cheer them on – the kids and the parents).

I must admit, when I started blogging, I kind of wanted my mom to also stand up and holler,

“My daughter has only blogged ONCE IN HER LIFE, so I don’t know what is going to happen!”

She didn’t. But she did, of course, remind me to “be careful about what I write”.

As my Lenten Blogging hits the midpoint, I realize I may not throw one strike in my 40 pitches, but I’ll keep pitching until I get it right. Heck, I’ll be happy if anyone shows up to the game.

Dig Deep: Run an “up and back” and contemplate the fact that midpoints are everywhere, on our runs, in our children’s geometry homework, even our week, where Wednesday sits on the fulcrum.

Lenten Challenge: Say the Joyful Mysteries of your Rosary today.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Pope Francis and Avocados

40 Reflections #21: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Chocolate, sugar, sweets, avocados, wine, meat, bread, you name it, I’ve given it up for Lent.

Stuck on avocados? Let me explain.

In elementary school, my mom would wrap a hearty slice of the savory fruit in a piece of foil. Rolling around in the bottom of my thrice (at least) used lunch bag was a clever salt shaker. When the shaker’s top push button was pressed, it would shower the yummy avocado with just enough of the white seasoning. I loved avocados so much in the 5th grade, I decided I should try to go without. Luckily, I still had my homemade tortilla with butter and green chili inside my lunch to tide me over. Thanks Mom!

This year, I am abstaining from a few culinary favorites, but was moved by Pope Francis’ worthy suggestions to opt for a lifestyle of goodness every day. An even better idea.

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Here they are:

  1. Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  2. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  3. Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  4. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  5. Fast from worries and trust in God.
  6. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  7. Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  8. Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
  9. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
  10. Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  11. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Our paramount Pope Francis. So kind. Always choosing the right words.

Incidentally, if you decided to give up the traditional goodies, here is a sweet treat to give you energy for your next workout.

Power Balls – A healthy snack for all!

1 Cup dates

1 Cup Peanut/Almond Butter/Sunbutter (or try the new hazelnut butter at Costco)

3 TB Cocoa

In food processor, blend dates first, add nut butter and cocoa.  Hold onto your food processor, it may shake a bit.

When well-blended, use a teaspoon and form into balls, roll in cocoa, refrigerate, and enjoy!

Dig Deep: Ask someone to run with you today, it may be the motivation they need to get moving.

Lenten Challenge: Choose one of Pope Francis’ suggestions and make it your intention for the day or week.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

What about the goldfish?

 

40 Reflections #20: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

The multitude of miles on the road of motherhood can be bumpy, yet always fulfilling.

As parents, we navigate from diapers to diaries — pacifiers to car keys. Personally, I’ve been blessed to be home with our children throughout their childhood.

A Stay-At-Home-Mom. A title I relish.

Sure, once they are all in college (God-willing), I’ll work until I’m 95, but right now, I’m home, and isn’t that worth the same as a large 401K?

(Please keep answers to yourselves).

Given the fact our Irish Triplets will be attending college (God-willing) back to back, I have decided to substitute teach (and work other part-time jobs) as much as possible to continue saving. So, I’ve been working nearly every day.

Today, I was offered a long-term, substitute position in the Pre-K Special Needs Room. Having worked in this room for years, I knew accepting the position was the right thing to do. Primarily, to serve the students, but also to support the teachers who work insanely hard in a room where each child’s mind resides on the spectrum.

Mulling over the new work schedule with our 15-year-old daughter, she sweetly stated,

“Well don’t forget about us!”

My heart stumbled on itself. Touched, I uttered, “Awe, you guys miss me when I’m working?”

“Sure.” My daughter assured me. “But, we have no food.”

“What?” I questioned.

REALLY, we have NO FOOD.” 

Visualizing the grocery inventory in my mind, I was certain we had plenty of food for them to make their breakfasts and lunches. So I probed further, “What do we need?”

“Well, you know, Goldfish and Cheez-Its!”

Ah-ha! That’s what they needed me for. I was the supplier of high-carb snack foods for their lunches! It all makes sense now. I asked her to add the items to the Costco list, and I would make my way there Monday.

Whether our children admit missing me or not, I will always supply them with lunch snacks (until I crack the code for those yummy crackers and make my own), drive them wherever they need to go (and take all of their friends), and listen to their stories even if it’s waaay past their bedtime.

Being a mom is indeed the ultimate job, for me.

Dig Deep: Make time for your workouts, even if you’re working. It’s not easy, and you’re going to want to skip it, but don’t!

Lenten Challenge: Remember our work is for serving others, THEN to pay the bills.