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, 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 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. 

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, 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.