Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets

Cokie Roberts: a mom & legend

A few years ago, I was volunteering at 90.1 WABE, in Atlanta, during an NPR spring fundraiser. I glanced up from my seat and spotted Cokie Roberts leaving after an interview. Without hesitation, I quickly placed my phone on unavailable, pulled off my headset and dashed over to say hello.

She was absolutely lovely.

We spoke for a moment about Washington, DC, and the coincidence that we were both members of Blessed Sacrament Church off Chevy Chase Circle. In fact, Father D’Silva, a tender-hearted priest who married Justin and I also married her children.

As she picked up her bags to go, I asked an elderly gentleman who was exiting the building, to take our picture. His hand wiggled when he held my phone WAY out in front of him pointing it more toward the sky than at us, but somehow he managed to get a nice blurry photo.

I was elated. 

It’s been almost four months since Cokie Roberts died from breast cancer complications, but the legend of her spirit, her unwavering support of women and her passion for politics still grace the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Equally valued was her voice on being a mother and raising children.

In her book, We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters she says,

Caretaking–that’s the common thread that runs through these stories. No matter what else women are doing, we are also “mothering” –taking care of somebody or something, and, for the most part, doing it joyously. That’s what women have been doing from the beginning and, I believe, will continue to do. I think we’ve been doing it awfully well for a very long time.”

Cokie: a mom and a legend.

I keep her picture on the desktop of my computer to remind me what a true model of poise, integrity, and professionalism looks like.

It was an honor to meet such a stellar woman and as a mom and “writer” I value what she stood for and cherish that brief moment she took to chat with me.

IN THE WORDS OF COKIE ROBERTS:

A lot of women have come to understand that you can’t just show up and say I’m unhappy, you have to then go out and do something.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Once the teenage years hit, there’s no pause button

It wasn’t long ago when I could still pick up Zavier, our youngest. He’d nestle his head in the cozy crook of my neck and we’d sway back and forth savoring the moment.

Then one sunny day after picking him up from baseball practice, I looked into the rearview mirror and there it was…adolescence.

Oh, you’ll know it when you see it.

It looks a lot like the top of a teenager’s head. Yes, all I could see in that little rectangular reflection was a blue screen shining up at my son’s face and the curved top of a baseball cap.

Where was my little guy who would yell out the make and model of every car that passed and guessed how long it would take for every light to turn green? Why wasn’t he singing loudly or recounting his practice play by play?

He was changing by the minute. One second we’re holding hands coming from the bus stop talking about recess triumphs and the next he can’t wait to start weight lifting class and drive to high school with his brother and sister. Ugh.

Honestly, Zavier is a teenager who is quite independent. But he’s still just a kid. I mean, out of habit (and my keen sense of smell), I still have to remind him showering is not optional. And like a broken record, I futilely encourage flossing and turning clothes right side out. Luckily his love of play supersedes all. He still asks me to be his quarterback, play Yahtzee and read together…I’ll hold onto those moments as long as possible.

Yet time just ticks by without even asking. So as I file the snuggly moments away in my heart, I remind myself to make every minute count. Zavier and I may see nose to nose now, but I still get my hugs — that’s usually when I whisper…”time to shower”. 

Here’s a great blurb I found from The Center for Resilient Leadership. I love the way it describes adolescence:

Adolescence is a period of transformation, not unlike a chrysalis changing into a butterfly. If you have never seen this process, it can be painstakingly difficult to watch. The butterfly gradually breaks free of his cocoon, pulling and pushing, stretching and contracting for what seems like an eternity before he finally emerges. If a benevolent onlooker decides to help the process along, the butterfly will likely die, because it is only through the struggle of metamorphosis that he gains the strength to survive on his own.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets

7 things I’ve learned from blogging…so far

“Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain.” –Seth Godin

Thanks for reading my blog.

Here’s what I’m learning, day by day…

  1. Good writing is about telling the truth – fear of vulnerability is not allowed to even peek over the fence into my blogosphere.
  2. It’s not about me – there’s always another parent out there whose kid forgot their trumpet, homework, lunch, or science project and are sitting in carpool waiting for the line to move so they can go home and retrieve the forgotten item and deliver it…only to be looked at as “that mom”. I’m blogging for you because you’re NOT alone.
  3. Knowledge and research matter – my current expertise consists of parenting failures and follies. If I can help someone learn from my mistakes and experiences, I’ve succeeded.
  4. Passion is the key to writing – sharing stories about family, faith, and fitness brings me joy.
  5. Blog. Repeat. Blog. Repeat – Most people thrive on consistency. I like consistent change. In fact, I rearrange our furniture so often my family barely even notices anymore (less stubbed toes). 
  6. Time to get social – as a mom I feel like I’m constantly monitoring the phone usage of our teenagers. Therefore, setting up all the social networks to share my story seems hypocritical — yet so thrilling if more people read my blog and enjoy it. 🙂
  7. Patience and conscientiousness are critical ingredients for every blog – maybe for some, blogging comes easy. For me, the writing is the fun part, the peripheral (SEO, email lists, hosting, platforms, plug-ins…oh my!) is like trying to read without my glasses, blurry and overwhelming BUT if I squint and hold the words far away everything clears up. Sometimes I just need to refocus.

I love blogging and telling stories and I welcome any feedback to help runonmom.com make a difference in your world.

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Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Our furry friends need a little help too

When our son was four, he struggled with articulation. Luckily his creativity and problem-solving skills transcended his frustration.

Instead of struggling with the /tr/ sound in words like “fire truck” – he called it a “honk-honk”. He simply searched his brain for a synonym that was easier to say if the word involved a tricky blend of letters. In school, if the teacher requests a binder and dividers to keep classwork organized, he opts for a pocket portfolio instead because he knows what helps him succeed.

Screen Shot 2020-01-11 at 10.23.50 PM.pngLast week he decided to tackle the skill of riding his unicycle backward. Knowing he needed some assistance to start, he used our trashcan on wheels to help him balance as he rode.  Three days later he mastered the skill.

That’s just how he operates. He knows what doesn’t work for him but more importantly, he unearths what does.

So when he was training our unbelievably smart and nimble Border Collie/Australian Shepard, Lola, in the backyard today, he noticed our labrador/golden retriever, Sancha was eager to play (get treats) also.

He set up a course using a wooden box, formerly a “free library” Dexter and I built that looked more like a large manger for Jesus, so we turned it into a wood box/dog training tool. First, he taught Lola to jump onto it and receive a treat. She effortlessly lept up following Dexter’s commands after a few tries.

When it was Sancha’s turn, her arthritis kicked in and I could completely relate. Now when I run I’m constantly worried I’m going to trip and send my ankles into arthritic shock. But, like Sancha, I love the reward of the challenge.  

Dexter immediately noticed Sancha needed something to make the jump more accessible. So he pulled out his homemade bike ramp, placed it in front of the box and fashioned a doggy ramp for Sancha to help her up. After a matter of minutes, Sancha had the skill mastered.

Yet another accommodation to foster success.

I love that Dexter embraces the fact that everyone – even sweet Sancha – learns differently. I love that when he starts wading through the treacherous swamps of learning he doesn’t give up, and I love that he knows sometimes it’s best to forge your own path, even if you need a little ramp to hoist you up.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Goodbye Carpool Line…

When you’re a mom, job security is still a thing.

A few years ago, I worked in a Pre-K Special Needs Classroom with one of my favorite people in the world, Debbie. When daylight savings time came around, she teased that she was the ONLY one who knew how to accurately adjust the time on the classroom clock. “Job Security” she declared, hoisting herself on a chair to take down the clock.

So when my two oldest kids drove off to school in our “new to us” car, I saw a bit of my mom-job security circle the drain. No need to take them in early or pick them up after meetings. IMG_1115.jpegThe “always late” bus complaints will be a thing of the past. Here’s the bus today…guess they’re right.

Wait, should they be out there on their own? I’ve heard discussions both ways…there are those parents who are SO excited to have their kids drive themselves to school, practice and “to the store for milk”.

Not me.

Since the get-go, I’ve been the mom who lugged everyone everywhere…storytime, grocery store, soccer. Outings just made the day better. On our drives to elementary school, we built our stories. There’s the time I accidentally rolled over a rabbit and told the kids, “Yup, missed it!”

Sorry.

Or during morning prayers when we’d say, “Good morning sweet Jesus our Savior…” and our young Zavier would laugh and laugh thinking we were praying to him.

Even now that the kids are older, I relish our time in the car.

Fine.

I despise the arguing, poking, seat adjusting, music changing craziness that goes on, but the conversations can be pretty good, the singing mostly on key, and the stress level relatively low…since I’m at the helm.

Over the years, I’ve discovered change truly is our only constant and it’s up to me to loosen my hold and afford them the chance to share their experiences with each other.

Wow, those words really sound better than they feel.

Naturally, I worry as I stare at the bouncy faces I see on the Life 360 App zooming down roads, and I am crazy stressed about the late-to-work-speeders, moms-on-the-phone, and texting-teens circling them like sharks. But now it’s their responsibility to figure out the best time to leave in the morning. It’s their turn to find the most strategical place to park to avoid long carpool lines, and most certainly their turn to watch the gas gauge closely.

As I stand on the other side of the driver’s door in the morning, I give Cora the international “roll the window down” sign by moving my fist in small circles. I kiss her again on the forehead, reminding her to be careful and to let me know when they arrive. “If you need anything, just call.” They drive away and I feel anxious and proud like I’ve just handed them the keys to a Nissan and the world.

This is the cross-country course of parenthood. Full of roots to stumble on, downhills to relish and inclines to power through. I suppose if there were operating instructions for  kids they would say:

  • care and coddle when they are young,
  • provide a cozy, loving chrysalis as they grow, and
  • eventually, release them and let them fly — THE SPEED LIMIT!

So what if my job security was threatened this week? Thankfully being a mom has about 3 million other duties — ha, I’m suddenly reminded they are still just kids as I imagine them belly laughing as they blurt out, “You said duties!!”

I suppose the DMV can continue to issue permits and licenses to our teenagers but my kids know my “helicopter mom” license never expires, so I’ll be watching.

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

4 Things I learned today

Sometimes we have to peek in between the lines in our life stories and learn from even the smallest moments. Here are my four life lessons for today…

LESSON 1: It’s true, I really do have to put on my glasses so I can hear better.

LESSON 2: If your child wants to change a class, never underestimate the power of self-advocacy:

Day three of the new semester and for the 37th time our son reminded me how much he REALLY wants to switch classes from Family and Consumer Science – (the souped-up name for Home Economics) to PE. As you may have read in The lost art of writing, my sage advice to him was to write a letter (email in the case). So he crafted a note to his counselor stating his case, succinctly saying, PE would give him a break from having seven academic classes and the respite, “would let me reset and do better in school.”

Bam! Self-advocacy in action.

LESSON 3:  Turn off the stove before you go outside to pick up dog poop and/or play with the dogs:

After taking my son to school, I pictured myself sitting down, having a cup of tea and writing for a stint. Ha! Then reality hit when I opened the door and our dogs barked incessantly pleading to go play fetch. Honing my ability to multi-task, I grabbed a few empty Target bags (best for home-made pooper scooper bags) and threw tennis balls for about 35 minutes, while the dogs zoomed back and forth. After they were both somewhat tired, they darted inside and I smelled that burning scent that presents itself one too many times in my kitchen. Thinking it was the rice I overcooked last night, ugh…I realized I had left the kettle on for the tea and the water inside had evaporated leaving our vibrant red teapot a smoky charcoal black. Not my best morning.

LESSON 4: Buy an OXO BREW Anniversary Edition Uplift Tea Kettle, Brushed Stainless Steel or any OXO teapot!

Following my not so bright moment, I decided to call the OXO Company and ask them about their warranty policy on the OXO reddish-black teapots. I let them know the paint was chipping off the due to it being on for too long. After sending them a picture of the blackened teapot, they said we would receive a new one in 7-10 days. What a great company. It pays to ask about warranties.

I hope you learn something from even the smallest, fleeting moments of your day.

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

The lost art of writing

I recently watched an episode of Ellen with Henry Winkler as a guest. He’s a lovely man. Kind and soft-spoken. Simply said, he’s more Arthur than Fonzie in the “Arthur Fonzarelli” character he played on the TV show Happy Days. He’s the side of Fonzie on Happy Days who was sweet and bashful when he thanked “Mrs. C” for dinner, as she endearingly served him more mashed potatoes and called him Arthur. (For anyone born after the year 2000, Henry Winkler is “Barry” on Arrested Development).

What I learned in the quick interview with Henry Winkler is his love for writing fan mail. “I think if you see a performance like Sam Rockwell as Fosse [in ‘Fosse/Verdon’], you have to write a letter…if you see Patricia Arquette in ‘Escape From Dannemora’, you have to write a letter. I write fan letters.” Yes, he writes real-find a stamp and put the letter in the mailbox with the flag up- mail. And more importantly, he writes because he wants to let someone know he admires them. He’s just a good guy.

Back in the ’80s, I was a big fan of the TV show Silver Spoons, a time when goofy kids like me called Ricky Shroeder “The Ricker”. After unearthing the show’s coveted address in a

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Teen Beat magazine in our school library, I wrote my first piece of fan mail to Ricky. Months later, I received an autographed (stamped!) picture, which, when your 12, was life-changing. Unfortunately, if you google “The Ricker” today, as I just did you’ll realize he didn’t pan out to be an upstanding guy. Nonetheless, at the time, I wrote a letter.

I come from a generation of letter writers. Starting with my mom. Once, when I was about 11, the cashier at Sears was abrupt with my mom when she pulled out her coupons…so, mom asked the woman her name, went home and wrote a letter to Sears. When mom didn’t want to receive the ten donation envelopes every month from St. Anne’s Catholic Church, she put pen to paper and let them know she and my dad donate quarterly. If she enjoyed a restaurant? Letter. Strongly disagreed with the editorial in the Tribune? Letter. Even today, after reading an article in her Gluten-Free Magazine, she wrote a letter telling the editor about the gluten-free hosts she and her dear friend Toni make for their church so mom can receive communion every Sunday.

Writing a letter is most certainly a lost art. Receiving a letter (other than bills) is always a joy. Just yesterday I received a thank you note from our family friend Connie. She wrote the kindest note thanking us for our Christmas card and my detailed update on our family.

Connie just turned 87 and is faithful to the written word. She sends our kids birthday cards with crisp dollar bills inside and a handwritten message in cursive that throws their brains into shock. She’s a gem.

So whether you’re thanking someone for the Instapot you probably won’t use, wishing your parents a happy anniversary, or opining about an editorial in the newspaper, write a letter. If you don’t, not to worry, Henry Winkler and mom have their pens ready.

Thanks for reading, it means a lot to me. 🙂 

Need help getting started on your thank-you notes? Here’s a guide:  How to write a thank-you note in 5 easy steps.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

How to write a thank-you note in 5 easy steps

It’s easy to think of thank you note writing after the holidays as a chore, but it is truly training for a life-long skill. Sure you may start with thank yous to Grandma for lego sets and socks, but later, the same skills will be tapped after staying at someone’s home, following a college or job interview, or anytime someone goes out of their way to be kind.

Both my husband and I were taught to write thank-you notes. “Don’t even think of using GI Joe without thanking your Aunt first.” As a part of the letter-writing generation, we also taught our children this skill. We stressed to them that there is no technological way to replace the art of writing a thank you note. No text, no emoji, not even an email will suffice.

So, after a little research and a lot of experience, I’ve broken down the thank-you note writing process into 5 easy steps.

1. Send your thank-you note as soon as possible.

2. Tailor your greeting:

  • Dear Mrs. Maisel,
  • Hi Grandma and Grandpa!
  • Hello Sophie,

3. Express your gratitude for the gift/service (think about the time they took to shop or help):

  • Thank you so much for the ___________.
  • Thank you for your generosity.
  • I am grateful for your kindness.

4. Tell why you love the gift, how you’re going to use it or why you enjoyed the experience:

  • The earrings you sent are perfect. I wear them all the time and receive lots of compliments.
  • I’m going to save the money you sent for a bike I’m planning to buy.
  • Thank you for your hospitality. Staying in your cozy home, made our holidays special.

5. Say thank you again and choose your valediction (sign-off words)

  • Sincerely,
  • Kindest Regards,
  • Fondly,
  • Best Regards,
  • Respectfully,
  • Love,
  • Warmly,
  • Many Thanks,

It’s never too late to thank someone for thinking of you when you’re sick, sending you a hand-made scarf when it’s cold, or for giving you a shot at a job. The hardest part is starting. So run to the Dollar Store for a pack of thank you cards, find some stationery, or grab a 3×5 notecard and simply say thanks. 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

What did I GOOGLE today?

Googling is like a virtual mood ring for me. As the blue screen reflects off my dollar store reading glasses, about 14 tabs stare at me vying for their turn to be clicked.

Google and I started our morning paying bills…hi google, bank, please.

Then I realized I needed to update our car insurance…google Geico

and register our car…google DMV.

As I thought about our kids driving to school, my Google mood ring began to darken, so I thought I better ask Google: what is the best age for my daughter to drive to school…then I piggy-backed it with another query: safest cars for teens.

While reading about Subarus and driving contracts for teens, our computer became sluggish and rolled out its dizzying rainbow wheel for me to stare at for a while.

“All the Macs in the world and we get the lemon,” I thought. Of course, it couldn’t be struggling because of the thousands of photos and videos taking up real estate on our hard drive..or…could it?

Hi Google, me again: how do I get rid of duplicates in Iphoto…

I glanced down at my beeping phone to a message telling me our cloud is full and nothing will be backed up unless we upgrade. Upgrade a cloud? Stratus to Cumulus? What the…?

Dear Google, me again: What the heck is The Cloud? Also, what is the phone number for Mac support? Oh, and Google, while I’m on hold with Apple, please find a chili recipe for dinner and a quick workout before the kids get home.

And since I have you engaged Google, my virtual mood ring is nearly black and I’ll need a funny cat video to make all the stress go away for just a minute.

Wait…Google, did I pay the bills?

Googling moments are as exhausting as they are informative. 🙂