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

From doghouse to the dining room

Inside or Outside pets?

I grew up in a home where animals were kept outside. You know the “place for everything and everything in its place” mentality. It didn’t mean we loved our pets any less. Mom grew up milking her favorite cow, Manzanita (little apple) every morning and delivered the milk in her wagon to save up for a Kodak Brownie Camera. Dad didn’t have pets growing up, as he worked so much in my grandpa’s grocery store he hardly had time to go to school, much less take care of a pet. We grew up with dogs that stayed outside and a sweet fluffy cat I played with, in the backyard.

The only dog I knew that was allowed to roam on the linoleum floors in the kitchen was my grandmother’s Chihuahua, Romeo. Truthfully whether he was inside or out, depended on whether the slap screen to her backdoor was ajar or not. I can still hear her holler in her strong Spanish accent “RRRRRomeo come!!”

When I was in grade school my dear dog Dusty was a loyal companion, and definitely an “outdoor” dog. Dad and I made her a doghouse with a pitched roof and my oldest sister wrote “Dusty” above the door in fancy letters. She slept in the garage when it was cold, and hollowed out a den for her puppies under our woodpile when she delivered her eight puppies. She ate ALL leftovers except iceberg lettuce and fetched sticks along the ditch behind our home.

Come on in Fido!

So when exactly did we let the dogs IN? The animal and human bond has been studied by the University of Oxford and shows the actual domestication of animals is still a mystery. In fact, 12,000 years ago dogs and cats were buried with humans, so perhaps the idea of “man’s best friend” has been around longer than we think.

After college, various roommates had inside dogs and I loved the joyful greetings after work and the snuggles at night. When Dusty died at 17 years old – the outdoors were good to her, I adopted a sweet lab/chow mix, named her Misty and kept her inside unless she was playing, pooping or we were running.

Set the table, Lola!

I began thinking about how domestic is too domestic when I saw my dog, Lola, lying on the dining room table. As a Border Collie or Australian Shepard (jury is still out), she is constantly looking for sheep, kids, other dogs, and food. So in her defense, being a little higher up gives her the proverbial “bird’s eye” view of what’s on deck.

Not surprisingly, when I mention her love of high, flat surfaces to people, most are mortified that she’s allowed to bunk on the dining room table (we do clean it before serving dinner, really). Others think it’s “SO cute”, yet a little concerning. I suppose it’s our new normal. One dog takes the floor and watches for intruders or a runaway Cheerio while the other pulls up a chair and uses the table as a tree stand.

I adore our dogs and couldn’t imagine not having a tail-wagging recklessly in our home. Inside or outside, they are family. Then again, I’m the one scrubbing a dining room table every day — but it’s worth it.

So my question to you is: Is your dog in charge? When you answer, could you keep it down? Lola just fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

We’re outside playing…

When we were looking for homes in the Atlanta area, we were stunned by the beauty and size of the homes. In our hunt, my ideal neighborhood had sidewalks for running/walking, a local Catholic Church (plus a Trader Joe’s) and ample space for our kids to play.

We finally settled on a lovely home so spacious it could easily fit our quaint Falls Church, VA townhome inside. The bonus was the large walkout backyard (uh-oh no basement for teenagers) and a garage to store lots of stuff we continually talk about donating or selling.

Our first few weeks in suburbia the temperature reached record highs up to 108 degrees. It was awful.

Once it cooled off (99 degrees), we stepped outside to play and were surrounded by empty yards and quiet streets. (!)

Where the **beep** were all the kids we saw in the real estate brochure? (No, there wasn’t really a brochure, but still!)

Naturally, not much deters our family from going outside, so we stayed and played. Every day a little more, eventually connecting with our neighbors. Turns out Hotlanta is a thing. And for most people, the 108-degree temperature was their kryptonite, understandably so.

In my research of outdoor play and it’s unending benefits, I happened upon the 1,000 Hours Outside Challenge, a brilliant idea that involves tracking the time our kids spend outside. “The entire point of 1000 Hours Outside is to attempt to match nature time with screen time. If kids can consume media through screens 1200 hours a year on average then the time is there and at least some of it can and should be shifted towards a more productive and healthy outcome.”

I love this idea and the mission of 1,000 Hours Outside. As an advocate for all things play, I implore families to step outside together in the rain, wind, snow, and sunshine and celebrate the fleeting time we have together.

One more note: if you move to Hotlanta, come in the spring.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Gandhi and MLK – real heroes of peace

This week we observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, marking the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.

According to the King Institute at Stanford University, Gandhi’s passion for non-violence directly influenced Martin Luther King, Junior. MLK argued that the Gandhian philosophy was “the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”

Both men were selfless, kind, and generous. They embraced others and fought injustice.

Imagine if today’s world viewed life through the prism of these two heroes. The result would indeed be an array of peace, non-violence, and justice.

Today I thought I’d share two simple and remarkable quotes by both extraordinary men:

I spotted this quote in a church in upstate New York and the sentiment and truth are indelible and worthy of sharing.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. 

-Mahatma Gandhi

Martin Luther King Jr. on Gandhi:

“Christ showed us the way, and Gandhi in India showed it could work.

Live your lives with strength, mercy, and kindness.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

failure

You know when you get that slight tickle in the back of your throat and you’re certain it’s the precursor to a long sinus/cold/allergy situation? I get that same feeling when a stressful week for the kids is on the horizon, except there’s no tickle, it’s more like the sharp, piercing pain from stepping on stray legos. 

There’s a good chance every week is taxing and cumbersome when you’re a teenager these days, so I make it a routine to cross my fingers and pray for success…or failure…both foster growth, one just has more tears. 

I rejuvenated this post: Paper airplanes taught my kids to fail from a few years ago on how my kids mastered failure.

Paper airplanes taught my kids to fail

The folding. The flying. The fixing.

After each failed flight I taught them to tweak it. Adjust it. Change it.

To try again.

They used paper clips, tape, rubber bands, light paper, heavy paper, newspaper, tissue paper.

The INTENTION was to make the plane fly.

If it didn’t work, they made another plane.

They learned there’s no guarantee for success.

Sure it was small. But they tested, they measured.

They learned what each fold was for and why they made it.

No score was being kept.

They learned what uncertainty and failure felt like and danced with it.

They were invested in finding the flight.

They learned the worst that could happen was it wouldn’t work.

They still tweaked and fixed.

They learned when you care enough you will fail and fail and fail again.

It’s their airplane. Their flight. Their crash. Their landing. 

But they were curious and hungry.

Let them fold. Let them fail.

Let them create. 

After all…the creative mind who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.

Here’s a great article for more information on how to succeed by failing:

How to Help Kids Learn to Fail

Only through trial and error can children become resilient adults

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

regret

It was the day I was working inside a 4th-grade classroom when the lead teacher was talking about emotions that I thought about the word regret. “It can be one of the most difficult emotions to experience,” she said. The nine-year-olds shared what they saw as regrets in their lives, so far. “I wish I would have talked to my grandfather more before he died,” said one wide-eyed boy. “I regret forgetting my dollar for ice cream day at lunch,” said another.

R-E-G-R-E-T. Six simple letters strung together to make up one of the trickiest feelings to well, FEEL. Some of our top regrets typically pertain to education, career, love, parenting, finance, health, spirituality and hobbies or lack thereof.

But alas, there are ways to avoid the sinking feeling clinging to regret.

  1.  Don’t story top. Listen first. Take the time to really hear the people you’re with and if the moment presents itself, take your turn. Many times when we think we’re listening, we’re really sifting through of our matching files poising ourselves to jump in and add to the conversation.
  2. Let your kids problem-solve. When the wrestling match is taking place on the living room floor or the study guide is left at home, give them time to come up with a solution before jumping in with yours. You’ll regret solving it for them.
  3. Avoid the green-eyed-monster. Stan and Jan Berenstain said it best in another of their lesson packed books, The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster 
    Sister tried really hard to be happy for Brother as he opened his gifts “…besides, she wasn’t interested in aluminum bats…anyway.” Comparing sparks regret. Don’t fall for it. Your car is good enough, your home is good enough and you are too. Celebrate you and yours.
  4. Take time for each other. This one is time-sensitive. So do it now.

The bottom line, feel good about your choices. I know some days we pour our buckets full of things we PRAY we’ll have the chutzpah to risk. It’s the other days when we hope all of our regrets are sitting in a bucket with a hole in it, dear Liza.

Here are some great thoughts by Brené Brown on regret that are worth sharing:

I’ve found regret to be one of the most powerful emotional reminders that change and growth are necessary. In fact, I’ve come to believe that regret is a kind of package deal: A function of empathy, it’s a call to courage and a path toward wisdom.

Like all emotions, regret can be used constructively or destructively, but the wholesale dismissal of regret is wrongheaded and dangerous. “No regrets” doesn’t mean living with courage, it means living without reflection.

To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life. I’m not suggesting that we have to live with regret, but I do think it’s important to allow ourselves to experience and feel it.

One of the truest things I’ve ever heard about regret came from George Saunders’s 2013 commencement address at Syracuse University. He said, “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”

 

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

One word to stop using now!

I’ve been thinking about the word SHOULD and all the undone tasks that follow that word. I SHOULD figure out a blogging schedule, I SHOULD learn more about growing my audience, I SHOULD work on my husband’s blog: Keeping Kids in Motion.

I SHOULD write a blog about the word SHOULD.

WAIT! I DID ALREADY. I’m reposting it here:

Ever wake up, glance at the clock, and say, “I SHOULD have gotten up earlier”? Only to follow it with I SHOULD have gone to the gym, prepped dinner, called my parents, run with the dogs, played with the kids, or checked the pockets for that pen before I tossed everything in the wash.

The “S” word is verifiably toxic, yet to avert our gaze away from what our lives would look like if we accomplished all of the SHOULDS is nearly impossible. Haven’t you marveled at the early birds who amble into work chatting about their early morning run, seamless commute, or the dinner menu they prepared for the month? Oh, and if you need the template, it’s on their blog.

When our minds harp on these unaccomplished actions, we sadly allow the only NOW we have to circle the drain.

Here are three ways to shake the SHOULD NARRATIVE:

  1. BE YOURSELF:  Change the lens through which you see yourself, and celebrate who you are and where you are today.

  2. ACCEPT AND ALLOW:  Your reality may be vacant of the plans you slated for your self-years ago, but by clutching onto the people we love, our SHOULD HAVE world dissipates. Some say, “Let go, Let God” it’s worth a shot.

  3. SET YOUR INTENTIONS: Our deepest hopes are shaped by our intentions. Step out of the noise, serve others, and find your passion, and share it!

As I finish this post I think about how I SHOULD have gone to bed earlier, cleaned the toilets, emptied the dishwasher, and bathed the dogs, but this time I’m going to “Let go and let God.”

P.S.:  Dear God, the bowls go in the cupboard on the left.

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

My mom file is still uploading

The recessed lights in our kitchen have been struggling to turn on…probably a short. I’m not sure why, but Youtube will know. One day when they were slowly brightening the room one by one, our daughter yelled, “Come on lights, upload!” She’s so gentle with her words.

The word “upload” lingered in my mind and I thought about all the new words we use and are now recognized by Webster.

Uploading is transferring information from one device to another.

In a sense, all of us are constantly uploading information each day. In my world, the transfer of information comes mainly from other parents. Parenting Connections may happen while standing in the line at Kroeger or sitting on a cold hard bleacher at a swim meet. Where ever it is, there’s always something to garner from a conversation.

In the last 24 hours, here are some of the words that have uploaded into my mom file:

Who: Mom at a swim meet when talking about her daughter starting a new job after school.

Quote: “I just need her to have a good experience.”

Lesson: In all things, we just want our children to amass their positive moments.

Who: Dad introducing himself to me at a high school event.

Quote: “I’m his mom and dad.”

Lesson: Let’s face it, single parents are superheroes.

Who: Grandfather in a waiting room talking to me about his grandchildren:

Quote: “I really think if my son stopped nagging his kids constantly about their phones, they’d eventually put them down.”

Lesson: Parenting has evolved over the years, but grandparents still know more.

In the blog, What keeps you buoyant? here’s what I said about parent sharing:

Somedays I need a virtual stepping stool. Words. Someone else’s message to grant me the strength to push through the discussions about dicey teenage days, judgy attitudes (sometimes mine) or the pain we all feel and hide deep inside. 

Upload YOUR stories!

Incidental bonus lesson of the day:

Put lotion on your hands AFTER you open the bathroom door.

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

How do I use hashtags when blogging?

So I did a little research on “#” hashtags today. The main job of these four little lines # is not just the starting point for a tic-tac-toe game or the number/pound sign…

The hashtag # is just that, a tag to help a reader locate messages, blogs or tweets within a specific category.

Think of your journey through Publix Grocery Store. The cereal sign dangling at the end of the aisle leads you right to your Honey Nut Cheerios. The snacks and water sign ushers you over to the row full of pretzels and eight new types of soda water that forced yummy La Croix to the bottom row. It’s all set up to lead you to what you love.

Hashtags do the same thing. This user-generated system helps readers easily find messages with a specific theme or content, and serves as the ideal scaffolding to build your #tribe.

I must admit, by the time I finish my blog, I peek at the corner of the screen and see the Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 8.36.06 PM.png button lingering in the corner and desperately want to click it.

BUT…in WordPress.com not .org (still researching the difference between the two, I’m such a rookie) there’s a little section on the side that looks like this:Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 8.43.51 PM.png

and prior to clicking PUBLISH, the “Tags” section should be filled with hashtags that connect with what you are writing. Lately, I’ve been making up my own which is fun, but evidently, after my hashtag study, there’s a system.

Here’s what I learned, so far:

  1. Your hashtag should make sense. If it’s not an organic fit, it won’t reach your people and isn’t that the goal?
  2. Invoke curiosity. We’re all creators in this space and when our interest is piqued, intellect and happiness follow.
  3. Make it simple and memorable. 
  4. Do your homework. When connecting with your community find out what hashtags are already out there.

The bottom line, I’m still learning and growing as a #blogger and #writer. But I’m confident that #practice will help me #succeed. As #exhausting #blogging can be, I hope to build a little #tribe that enjoys #runonmom.com and sharing #ourstories. 

One more lesson:

5. DONT’ OVER HASHTAG!

Obviously, I’m still learning and my knowledge will evolve as I grow as a blogger. For now, in the words of Dorie, I’ll “just keep swimming”. 

Need more information? Here are some resources:

According to The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2020, “Hashtags are essentially Instagram’s sorting process. With around 95 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it’s difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in seeing it.”

In this link, The 500 Best Instagram Hashtags For Bloggers, lyricalhost.com generously gives lists of the best hashtags for your specific audience. “Where possible, hashtags are grouped in batches of thirty related ones so you can just copy and paste them, but of course you’re welcome to mix and match them too.”

 

 

 

Posted in siblings

Are 24 photos enough?

While on the phone with Apple Support yesterday, I went through my photo library trying to clean up the duplicates, blurry shots and long movie clips I accidentally took when I thought I was taking a photo.

I thought back to the point and shoot days when we had rolls of film with 24 photos. Only 24 opportunities to take a great shot.

On the other hand, we also had 24 chances to put our finger over the lens or forget to use a flash. The film had to be loaded correctly as to not expose it, and after the 24 pictures were taken, the film was placed in a little cylinder and dropped off at the photo store.

Then…we waited.

Film development used to take a few days and sometimes even a week until you saw your 24 treasures. When you got the call letting you know they were ready (this is when we actually picked up the phone to see who was calling) you took your perforated return ticket ripped off from the film envelope, picked up your pictures, sorted, tossed and placed the good ones in an album or shoebox to save.

Then times changed. Without even asking.

This is the typical photo protocol:

  1. take as many as possible
  2. look at them quickly
  3. plant them in a cloud

Maybe there are some people with great systems for sorting and organizing, but it’s not me…yet.

I have FODP – Fear of Deleting Photos.

When I’m clicking through the pictures of my kids when they were young, I’m transported right back to that point and time. Like the moment our kids all jumped in the pool for the first time together and couldn’t stop giggling with pride. Or the moment Zavier was covered with red Georgia clay after stealing a base, then found my eyes and waved, click!

After a long phone call, the Apple support guy seemed to wish we were back in the point and shoot days also. Yes, the magic number 24 seems to make sense now. It’s simple, once you take your 24 pictures, it’s time to set the camera down and enjoy the moment. I’m going to give it a try.

 

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

The moment you realize you’re on your daughter’s group text…

As I sifted through my email today, unsubscribing from Groupon, Domino’s Pizza and DSW for the 37th time, I heard a ping on my phone. I glanced down and saw I was added to a group chat.

Let’s see…is it a bunch of moms from the PTA meeting last night? Uh oh, what did I volunteer for? Maybe it’s the 8th-grade dance committee.

Clearly, my choices are limited and telling.

Wait…the top of the text said APUSH…where have I heard that…APUSH…APUSH…APUSH.

Oh! AP United States History. That’s right, teenagers are “SO TIRED” they’ve given all their classes nicknames. APUSH, AP Psych, AP Calc, AP Bio, LIT.

Clever.

Suddenly, “APUSH me OVER A CLIFF!” with a smiley emoji lit up the screen.

Now that’s funny, I thought. Oh good, it’s a fun group.

Maybe I signed up for updates for Cora’s history class?

After a few minutes, I realized I didn’t recognize anyone on the list UNTIL I saw Cora’s name float across the screen.

Uh Oh. It turns out I was inadvertently added to the APUSH study group text. What happened was this, back in middle school, when Cora was “the only one in the ENTIRE world” without a phone, her friends used my phone number to call her. So she was listed as: “Cora’s Mom” which of course was my phone number.

Cora told me as she was laughing about this with her friends at school, another long-time friend who used to call me “Cora’s Mom” said, “don’t delete that number, she’s a good resource!”

I love being “Cora’s Mom”.

About 30 seconds later I received a message:

You have been removed from the group. 

Well I guess I was APUSHED out…good thing, that class is WAY too much work.