Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

The road less traveled…COVID-19 lessons learned from Milan

Lenten Reflections #20

As we all navigate the rocky Coronavirus road we’ve been forced upon, there are lessons to be learned.

Every day it feels as if the tunnel we are living in narrows and we are destined to endure in our homes just a little longer. And why wouldn’t we when we know it’s the right thing to do?

Yet I for one am guilty of going out to buy Cheerios, arugula and duct tape. Clearly, not necessities but they are items that bring a semblance of normalcy to our day.

I think about my parents in New Mexico who long for their Sunday mornings at church, routine visits to the doctor’s office, and jaunts to the grocery store. My sisters have them in lockdown. At 84, Dad loves outings and is pining to go to Home Depot. Meanwhile, my oldest sister has plotted to break a chair so Dad has something to fix…a project to keep him at home. Thank goodness for a big back yard. It affords them walks and fresh air.

There are benefits to being home. Badminton games played in the backyard, quiet times when everyone appears to be working, and extra time to call family. Then there are those times when I wish the kids would socially distance themselves from one another to limit the arguing…and the times when we are forced to work through the disagreements…because we only have each other and we better get along.

There is one thing I keep reminding myself and any of my children who will listen…we’re not in this alone. Kids everywhere are missing sports, time with friends, even lunch in the cafeteria. Yes. We’re all in this together.

Following the reading of this article by Jenna Pallio, a native New Yorker, living in Milan, I knew I had to share it. We can all learn from her experience…so far.

Here’s the article:

My Family Has Been Quarantined In Italy For Four Weeks

I know my kids better than I ever have.

I look into their eyes more and they look into mine. We have more inside jokes in these last weeks than we’ve had in months.

Stay safe. Get fresh air. Love your family.

Pray for others.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Why all kids need their thing…




Today at work, I walked with a first grader to the classroom. The tousled-hair blonde with sweet, aqua eyes looked down at his untied sneakers and uttered, “I still don’t know how to tie my shoes…I mean, I just don’t have time, you know (dramatic pause) now that I play baseball.” He caught my eye to make sure I fully grasped the play ball part. I gave him an understanding, “I KNOOOW, you’ve got a lot to do!” response and he gave me the kid nod that said, “finally, someone gets it.”

Clearly, he was a busy guy. Way too busy to mess with shoe strings and all that tying. Baseball was his priority now and talking about it made him beam. He wanted to share who he was and by letting me know he was a baseball player, he was pleased with himself and satisfied I heard it from him first.

We all need our thing. Something that drives us. Something that makes us jump out of bed and start the day with a spark. Does it define who we are? Maybe. It certainly tells more of our story. And kids? Kids really need their “thing”. Kids need to get out and experience. Whether in an organized sport or class or just playing with friends on the playground. They need opportunities for socializing and developing who they are and what they love.

Growing up for me in the sports world, it was soccer or soccer. As the fourth of four girls, you just follow the pack and my sister who is closest in age to me was a soccer player, therefore, so was I. We had two practices a week, ate dinner together and always went to each other’s games toting sliced oranges and water wearing our reversible uniforms.

Nowadays, there are so many choices for kids. From soccer to fencing, mountain biking to curling. Practices for us end as late as 9:00 pm. Some nights, dinners are eaten at different times, homework sits on the back burner simmering patiently and Justin and I feel like we are constantly driving somewhere.

Thank God. Thank God they found something they care about and enjoy.

Naturally, over the years our kids have dabbled in a lot to find out what makes them tick. In the process, we’ve had: acoustic guitars, bass guitars, ukeleles, soccer cleats, keyboards, lacrosse goals, baking tools, chorus, piano music, gymnastics, basketball high tops, hockey pucks, baseball gloves, frisbee golf goals, shuttlecocks, tennis rackets, catcher’s gear, football helmets, swim goggles, orienteering shoes, toe shoes, tap shoes, ballet shoes, running shoes, metal cleats, turf cleats, unicycles, mountain bikes, skateboards, Ripsticks, bows, arrows, quivers, fishing rods, dart boards, ping pong balls,  and more I may have forgotten.

I certainly am not complaining. I am so grateful they have WANTED to try so many things and happy we’ve been able to afford them the chance. They’ve settled on (but are not limited to) swimming, baseball and mountain biking (and now tennis!) plus cello, saxophone, and trumpet…a well-rounded crew.

So let them try. Let them fail. Let them know they have to give it more than a week. Tell them to power through the whole season because there is a team or group depending on them and life is about teamwork and persevering.

I know we’re busy, but as I say, it’s a good busy. It’s a time where we can relish in our children’s successes, see them win, lose, fall, get up and be there just in case they need us or a Bandaid.

My first-grade friend who is simply too busy to bother with tying shoes figured out what makes him happy as all kids should.

Spiritual Workout: Go to confession –

Confession flashback! Remember when we would state all of our sins and at the end, were taught to say, “I am sorry for all my sins and those I MAY have forgotten? Was that a confession loophole?

Workout: play with your kids today, they will LOVE it.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

FOUND: time

Lenten Reflections #18

So lately I’ve had more time.

Weird time. Like the rest of you. 

A time that isn’t earmarked.

No rush to work. No practices after school.

Schedules are null.

Time is undefined.

So many days we ache for more hours in the day to do the I shoulds.

I should walk more, play with the kids more, cook, read…

Under any other circumstance, this would be the ideal block of time to do more.

But people are out of work, school, sports…even food.

So we fill our time with patience, prayer, almsgiving.

This too shall pass. 

I pray.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Stay strong. Stay healthy. Stay home.

Lenten Reflection #16 – Please forgive me missing a day…I’m catching up!

In today’s world as we work, play, read, write, cook, and exist from home. I now feel like I’m truly understanding how my parents grew up.

My grandma on my mom’s side was a teacher and a hairdresser and my grandpa a rancher. On my dad’s side, grandpa was a store owner and grandma taught school as well. My parents grew up with daily outdoor work, and deliberate, simple living. Love of thy neighbor was doctrine, sharing with their neighbor was expected and counting their blessings was what one did.

Today’s world harkens back to the days of simplicity, yet is tarnished with an unrelenting pandemic.

While we wait out this tumultuous time, let’s reflect on a line from an author whose books my daughter and I (more her) pored over. The Little House on the Prarie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder walked us through the life and times of the first family of frontier fiction. Here’s what she said about the home…

Home is the nicest word there is.

Stay strong.

Pray often.

Love more.

Stay home.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

“Live simply so others may simply live”

Lenten Reflections #15

After witnessing the barren shelves at the grocery store and the scramble for paper products, I was reminded of the words of Gandhi and how he and Pope Francis share an unpretentious, humble approach to life…

At the beginning of Lent, Pope Francis referred to these 40 days as a desert and acknowledged that it is not easy to make space for silence in one’s heart, but invited everyone to imagine themselves in the desert, surrounded by a great silence, with “no noises, apart from the wind and our breath.”

Pointing again to the image of the desert, Pope Francis said it recalls what is essential, and how often in life people become surrounded by many useless things.

“We chase a thousand things that seem necessary and in reality are not. How good it would be for us to get rid of so many superfluous realities, to rediscover what matters, to find the faces of those around us!” he urged.

He also said fasting is a way of seeking a simpler life by giving up superfluous, vain things. But, he warned, it is not about “slimming down.”

“In the desert one finds intimacy with God, the love of the Lord,” he stated. “The road that leads us from death to life opens up in the desert. We enter the desert with Jesus, we will go out savoring Easter…”

So have courage each day to live simply, unplug and listen to those around you.

We need each other.

Together we have hope.


Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Dr. Oz’s Coronavirus Survival Protocol

Lenten Reflections:  Day #14

Amid the worry and tumultuous battle for toilet paper, professionals like Dr. Oz are the honest, calm and savvy voices we need to hear. Here is a little gem he developed called Dr. Oz’s Coronavirus Survival Protocol. This is the ultimate guide to the smart strategies you can use to protect yourself and your family today! Wash your hands and take care.Image result for dr oz protocol coronavirus

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Wait. When did 55 become the new senior citizen age?!

Lenten Reflections #12

I was wading through my email today and received a random email titled “Top Senior Discounts in 2019” that piqued my interest…for my parents. I was just about to press delete but remembered I come from a long line of bargain hunting, frugal family members, so I opened the email with the sole intention of letting my parents know where they could find a deal.

After clicking…the list of discounts went from teeth whiteners and walk-in bathtubs to cheap cruises (wonder why) and a free donut at Dunkin Donuts, the list went on and on. Then I saw the restaurant heading and even though my parents don’t eat out often due to dietary restrictions, I thought I’d take a peek…and there it was:

10% off for ages 55+.

Wait. What?!?


That’s just mean.

No, I’m not 55 or even that close to it, BUT who has ever thought about being a senior citizen at 55?

Nonetheless, there they were…all those discounts. So tomorrow I’ll call Mom and Dad and give them the scoop.

In return, they’ll give me the pan comment, “Well, we can’t take it with us.” Which of course means they can’t take their money up to heaven, because, well, it’s heaven and the discounts are endless.

They’re the best. Smart, good, honest, loving parents who respect hard work and always appreciate good discounts and respect reputable businesses.

Well, at least when I’m 55, we can go shopping together and enjoy all the bargains!

Thanks for reading and remember to go for a walk, pray for others and WASH YOUR HANDS.


Here are some of the restaurants they listed, just don’t forget your AARP card:

Back Yard Burgers has a 10% senior discount for your order at participating locations, reasonably certain the age is 55 and over…

Burger King has a 10% discount for ages 60+, and additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks. As of Oct. 2015, though, Burger King may be like Denny’s, i.e., some stores give discounts and some don’t.

Chili’s is 10% off for ages 55+.

Denny’s gives 10% off for age 55+. They will make it 20% off if you are an AARP member. As of 2014, each franchise owner was making his/her own decisions regarding this, so your results may vary.

Dunkin’ Donuts does 10% off for ages 55+. Or a free donut (doughnut) when buying coffee.

IHOP is 10% off for ages 55+.

Jack in the Box has a 20% beverage discount for seniors age 55 and over. Though again, as of August 2013, the Jack-in-the-box discount may not be a sure thing.

KFC will give you a free small drink with a meal if you are 55+, although again, it’s reported some KFC’s will and some won’t.

Long John Silver’s has various discounts for 55+. It depends on location, so your results may vary.

McDonald’s has discounts on coffee and soft drinks for the 55+ crowd.

Outback Steakhouse has a 15% senior discount, age demarcation unknown.

Roy Rogers Restaurants gives a 10% discount for seniors, age demarcation unknown.

Sonic gives a choice of free beverage or 10% off for folks 60 and older.

Subway is 10% off for ages 60+; though at least occasionally, a store owner will deny the discount, either because they are uninformed or because of individual franchise policy.

Taco Bell is 10% off, apparently up from the former 5%; plus free beverages. Age requirement is 65 and over. Discount may be franchisee specific.

Wendy’s is 10% off for ages 55+, though at least one Wendy’s in Topeka, Kansas gave a free drink in place of the 10% discount. Not known if this is the new policy or a franchisee-specific incident.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Six-year-old chatter

Lenten Reflections: Day #11

I’m teaching a first-grade class while their regular teacher is on maternity leave. When I was considering taking the job, the teacher told me about 37,000 times, “there are 26 kids, it’s a lot.” I thought about 26. Heck, 26 letters in the alphabet and I can rattle that off in seconds. 26 is just two more than two dozen eggs, simple math. 26 is even less than the shortest month of the year.

Turns out 26 little six-year-old lives come with 26 powerful voices, 26 passionate opinions, and at least 26 different stories they HAVE TO share RIGHT NOW!

In that spirit, I will include as many lessons, questions, comments or statements shared by these kiddos.

After all, we should all hear about life from a child’s perspective.


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

“Best Lent Ever”

Lenten Reflection #10

The last three years I’ve watched many of the “Best Lent Ever” episodes by Mathew Kelly, a Catholic Guru.

Here’s a snippet from his first reflection this Lenten Season:

In our journey with God, there are many different seasons. There are some times in our lives when we’re hungry to pray, we’re hungry to learn, we’re hungry to be with God. There are other times in our lives when we’re not. There are times in our lives where certain types of spirituality engages us, and there are other times in our lives where those very same things that brought us great enthusiasm and great passion leave us dry and desolate. And so it’s important to recognize the seasons in our spirituality.

What are your spiritual seasons?

May they be fruitful and plentiful.