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

Watch him take the shot

Lenten Reflections #22

In fifth grade, I was unstoppable on the monkey bars. My favorite trick was the “cherry drop”. It was risky and exhilarating, and I did it close to a zillion times. Here’s how it works. Pull yourself up to the bar. Sit and balance on the top, point your hands straight out in front of you, fall backward, hook knees to bar, flip body over and land in front of the monkey bar. That’s a cherry drop.

Of course, the thought of doing it now scares the heck out of me, but the feeling of doing something like that when your nine…that stuff that sticks with you.

The best part was, I had someone to watch me land the flip. Someone who took time to be there. Someone who listened when I said, “Look!”

Today in backyards, schools, and playgrounds the words “Watch this!” bounce through the air carrying the excitement kids get when they have tried something so many times they HAVE TO have a witness to watch them succeed. At least one set of eyes to see their accomplishment.

I’m not saying respond to their every request to look, but…

what if…they finally drew the perfect rainbow, the colors are in order and they even found the wishy-washy indigo color?  Stop and take a minute to look at it.

what if…they want to tell you a story about the baseball game when they finally hit the ball off the tee and ran like crazy to first base. Stop and listen.

what if…they found a rock on the playground and it’s the perfect shape of a heart and they HAVE to show you. Stop and admire their find.

It’s about not getting steamrolled by the day-to-day craziness of life and simply watching your child play. Even though our kids are a little older, there are still insane bike jumps to watch, swim dives to marvel, and trick shots I’m summoned to watch.

If I’m not paying attention, inevitably I turn my head and see my son’s eyes peering at me through the window waiting. Luckily, if I miss it there is always an instant replay, either spoken or delivered in slow motion. Much like in most sports these days, the replay counts for inattentive parents.

Maybe it’s a three-point shot or a monkey bar miracle but some kid somewhere is pining for their moment to be seen.

So right now. Just stop. Stop swiping and texting, streaming or tweeting, cooking or cleaning. Just stop and watch him take the shot. Watch the look on his face when he does it. Watch him keep trying when he doesn’t. Watch now because too soon he’ll stop asking.

Spiritual workout: Read the Beatitudes aloud. Digest the words and live them.

Workout: Happy Spring! Go for a walk today and if you have a pull-up bar, hang on it and stretch your body. Start with a 10-second hang and then work your way up to one minute.

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

What keeps you buoyant?

Lenten Blog #21

I’ve always had a step stool in my kitchen. It gives me the extra inches I need to reach the platters I love and the waffle iron tucked way back in the top cabinet. If the stool is missing I use the “throw my leg onto the countertop” method push up with my knee and kneel to reach whatever is needed. It’s just a boost, a lift, some leverage to help me reach higher.

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. 

So I find a quote, a podcast, an NPR story…maybe a TED talk, a song, a book or a prayer (lots of prayers) to bring me buoyancy. Keep me afloat when I feel I’m circling the drain. Ground me when I’m griping and not grateful.

So I will share some of the gems I’ve found in some of my posts. Here is one by Brené Brown who is a rock star researcher-storyteller who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.

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May you all own your stories and enjoy every minute writing and sharing them with those you love.

Spiritual Workout: Find your quiet place and pray for peace. Emotional and Mental.

Workout: For goodness sake, try Pilates! Now that’s peaceful.

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

Little Leaguers lean on each other “Come on kid!”

Lenten Blog #20

Throwback Thursday…Originally posted on March 29, 2018

In honor of Opening Day(s) everywhere…I am reposting a blog I wrote last year during baseball season and Lent.

All the stars were aligned for a baseball game tonight. The weather was ideal, the parking lot was nearly empty and unriddled with invented parking spaces, parents had their multi-cup-holding chairs set up, and the kids were spirited and ready.

While standing behind the backstop, I spoke to an elderly woman who said, “Oh, that must be your son.” Perhaps she heard me shout things like, “wait for your pitch, good cut,” you get the idea. Or maybe it was because I had a camera pointed directly at him. “Yes, it is” I responded. “My grandson is next to bat” she continued. We chatted further about how fortunate she feels to be able to watch the games and see her grandson. I added how I love hanging out near the dugout where I can hear conversations boys have about pitchers, snacks, and “lit” pro players. She said she wondered if the kids enjoyed the games as much as we did.

While we sat, we could hear one player in the dugout bellowing out textbook baseball chatter, “COME ON KID, you’ve got this, you’re going to do great kid, wait for your pitch kid.” The encouragement was nonstop and straight from the heart. The same player hollered inspirational words from center field to my son as he pitched. Slowly all the boys began chanting, and it was as if the players were virtually boosting each other on their shoulders with positive baseball jargon. As the game went on, there were errors, strikeouts, base hits, doubles, and fly balls. But with each play, the sentiment remained positive, and I couldn’t help but think the credit should go to the cheering player whose curly-hair hoisted his cap high on his head, much like his enthusiasm.

At the bottom of the last inning, I walked over to say goodbye to the sweet grandmother I met earlier. As a base hit brought our team ahead by three points, she admitted, “I can’t believe I get butterflies like the boys.” “Me too.” I agreed, telling her my heart rate zooms when the excitement builds for anything my kids do. Before she rolled her wheelchair away, she smiled and said, “You know, we’re both good moms.” “Thank you,” I replied, touched I had my own cheerleader. After all, moms need to raise each other up as well.

Honestly, the best part of baseball is watching the boys put their thoughts aside, play ball, endure each run and out, and lean on each other for support. Personally, I wish the curly-headed player would yell out to me each morning, “Come on kid, we can do this life thing kid, we got this kid!!”

Dig Deep: Especially when you get to the point of mental fatigue, keep your thoughts positive and do a steady state exercise (walk, run, swim, etc.) for at least 20 minutes.

Lenten Challenge: Model optimism with your families. Pray for positive words to lead you in conversation.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, siblings

PAPER AIRPLANES TAUGHT MY KIDS TO FAIL

Lenten Reflections #19

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 crash. Their landing. 

But they were curious and hungry.

Let them fold. Let them fail.

Let them create. 

After all…

The person who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.

 

Spiritual Workout: Pray for the families of the Parkland students.

Workout: Over spring break, pack your tennis shoes and always, ALWAYS walk when you travel. You’ll see the beauty of cities from a new perspective.

 

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

A running partner to remember

LENTEN BLOG #18

For about ten years, I was faithful to one running partner.

Misty, a Labrador/Chow mix arrived on my Washington, DC doorstep one snowy day in the middle of February. I took her to the veterinarian, placed signs around the neighborhood and called the local Humane Society to find out if anyone had lost a black puppy about 4 months old. After receiving no response, Misty had found her home. As she grew, we covered many miles as best friends and running partners.

Over the years, we ran through Rock Creek Park, circled numerous neighborhoods, and maneuvered the National Mall and DC’s bustling 16th street. We dodged bikes, crossed busy streets and waved at fellow runners.

It was our time. My time to exhale from the day. Misty’s time to listen. Running has a way of adjusting the focus of life’s lens, making the world seem more crisp, more profound, more accessible.

Some days Misty would squeeze sprints in as she dashed after squirrels or chipmunks.  She ran with a purpose and always pushed me (or pulled me) to keep up. Although her sniffing breaks broke our stride, Misty and I were never aiming to set our PR together.

We just ran, because running brings a healthy void. A place where our mental oversized baggage (which never fits in the overhead bin) somehow becomes lighter with each step.

When I was expecting our daughter, I was initially hesitant to run with such precious cargo, but after reading about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, I knew running would continue to be a priority in my life. So for six months, our baby, Misty and I enjoyed running together. As my energy waned and stomach grew, our runs turned to walks. 

Then I became a mom. A mom to a beautiful, loving baby.  When she smiled her eyes twinkled, nose wrinkled and chin dimpled. “She’s going to be a runner,” I thought. She’d have a good laugh at that today. 

I continued to run. Misty and I ran on Saturdays when she would stop to sniff a mystery spot or sprint towards a squirrel. My daughter and I ran at home, kind of. I ran on the treadmill while she rested in her crib or sat in her bouncy chair.  She watched her musical mobile, which I managed to keep going, by jumping off the treadmill every 4 minutes or so to rewind it.

I said it was a long time ago.

Since then, my husband slows his pace and joins me for a run and at least one of our boys runs the traditional Thanksgiving 5K or 10K with me. Our sweet dogs have found their “inner Misty” as I call it and they pull me along on runs as well. My daughter, now a strong swimmer, makes amazing signs, cheers us on, and laughs way too hard when I ask her to run with me. 

Misty has been gone for years now and I miss her dearly. But I’ve never stopped running and pray I’ll always have the drive, strength, knees and sweet Misty memories to help me RUN ON.

Spiritual Workout: Pray for those who can’t run or walk and count your blessings.

Workout: Find a friend or dog to walk or run with. It’s cathartic. 

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

Go ahead, roll the window down…

LENTEN BLOG #17

It’s amazing what you see when you look up from your blue screen…

Our children’s sporting events have taken us to baseball fields, swimming facilities, cross country courses, soccer fields and mountain bike trails all over the state. As we drive, I frequently remind the kids to take in their surroundings, identify landmarks, and appreciate the landscape. Really, all I do is holler, “Look out the window!”

The other day as I drove my son to his baseball game, we chatted about the rise and fall of our NCAA brackets, whether we had packed enough Goldfish Crackers, and his latest science test.

I pointed out a sprawling patch of daffodils dripping gold over the side of the highway, a splintered billboard with faded lettering, and a well-preserved one-room schoolhouse which stood with solidity and character smack in the middle of a cemetery. “Yep,” he said, as I pointed out each one, “I saw it last time we drove here.” He continued, “Yeah when we passed the school house I wondered why it was in the middle of a cemetery.” We made a chicken and the egg reference and continued to the field.

I was happy he saw the world in real time rather than through a screen.

On our family road trips in the ’70s and ’80s, I sat in the off-kilter center seat of our big white station wagon. The middle spot between Mom and Dad which even with just a lap belt felt safe because of my seatmates. I was in charge of the little tiny Kleenex box on the dashboard and securing the trash bag on the lighter.

As we traveled from New Mexico to Arizona, Las Vegas, Disneyland, the Grand Canyon or wherever we could, we’d sing, and play car games. Trips were always peppered with bickering as expected with four girls, so in pinch, mom or dad would hit the On the fly parenting button and come up with contests. My favorite was, “The first person to see a deer will get an ice cream cone!” 

As we peered out our windows, searching for the deer, we were treated with scenes of bison, prairie dogs, elk, and antelope. Our vision focused more on the topography and less on the confines of the station wagon, even though we had the roomy way, way back. Ultimately, we all got ice cream.

As they say, technology is a blessing and a curse. (“they” might be my mom)

Today it’s tricky to teach children to yank out the headphones and lift their gaze. Perhaps we peered out of our car windows more growing up because we didn’t have anything to look down to.

Bottom line: our lives are going to zoom by whether we’re ready or not, so while you can roll the window down, let the wind hit you in the face and soak up your surroundings.

Spiritual Workout: 5-minute meditation. Clear your mind. Just 5 minutes.

Workout of the Day:

On your next drive, find a new trail to hike, walk or run.

 

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

Heaven can wait

After a recent move from Washington, DC and church shopping for a good year, we finally settled on St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. It was cozy, diverse and close to home.

Following a Saturday evening mass, we discussed the homily with the kids on the drive home. It was a mediocre effort to summon thoughts from our children and see if anything other then the weekly pew fight was absorbed.

The sermon was very straightforward, essentially about going to heaven, practicing repentance and doing the right thing. At one point, Father Michael asked the congregation to raise their hands if they wanted to go to heaven.

I looked down one side of the pew and saw our eldest daughter and son with their waving hands straight up in the air, then glanced at our 5-year-old, Zavier whose tiny digits were tucked away under his legs, eyes staring at me shaking his head adamantly.

His brother and sister, in their loud church whispers, glared at him and with disappointed voices uttered, “ZAVIER! You HAVE to raise your hand!” He readjusted his hands under his legs, sat up straight and stared up at the altar.

On the drive home, more curious than concerned, I asked the question again with the long drawn out vowel sounds kids love. “Sooooo, WHOOOO wants to go to heaven?” Dexter who is 7 and Cora, 8 both entrenched in Catechism hollered, “I do”, with zeal in their voices.

Zavier again shook his head, and in his outside voice said, “NOPE, I DON’T want to go to heaven.”  With her well-trained third grade “you’re such a dummy” tone, Cora yelled, “YOU DON’T?!”  

Zavier took a look around the van at all of us and finally announced, “No. I don’t want to go to heaven, ’cause I just don’t want to move AGAIN!”

That said, we all breathed a sigh of relief, gave our compassionate “we get it” nods and drove home. Logical thinking for a little guy. I mean, we all love the thought of eternal happiness but moving really is exhausting.

Mind and body workout – Meditate for 5 minutes. Pray for those who have moved to heaven, may they know how profoundly they are missed. 

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

Lead like Lola – 8 tips from a Border Collie

My plan was to walk our dogs this morning…

but Lola, our fluffy, tailless Border Collie, yanked me and Sancha unadjustednonraw_thumb_13be2(lab/golden mix) through the neighborhood instead. Her tugging seemed to say, “Come on! We’re missing all the good stuff!” So just like obedient sheep, we followed along as she plowed through the world nose up, eyes straight ahead, one ear forward the other pointing at me like a periscope.

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Poor Lola. I feel the life of a suburban Border Collie is mentally more labor intensive than a farm dog. There are no sheep or livestock to organize, no big fields to hunt and explore, and barely one unamused squirrel in our backyard.

Basically, Lola is left to plan her whole day like the rest of us. Dog breeders will swear you have to exercise them at least 37 times a day or they wiUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_14760.jpgll get bored and expend their energy otherwise. Oh, it’s true, I feel guilty as heck when I come home to a scene from The Killing Fields with stuffed animals strewn about and plastic noses and eyes carefully dislodged from their stuffed owners.

But Lola, much like our kids, came without assembly and upkeep instructions. She was rescued from inside a screened porch somewhere in North Georgia, surrounded by her own poop and no food or water. In retrospect, we often wonder if Lola was a little bummed when driven away from all that land. For all we know, she could have built the porch herself and was just drawing up the bathroom plans. She’s THAT smart.

Bottom line. I hope our children channel their inner Lola in life.

Lola is a worker and a leader.

Give her a washcloth and she’ll wipe the face of Facebook clean again. Pass her a laptop and she’ll have a business reorganized and gleaming with success. Lola would be a blur on the corporate ladder as she escalated to the top while others envied her drive, agility, and vertical leap. She efficiently pees on all the spots necessary to find her way through life.

Border Collies like Lola, are smart and driven – a good breed. She has just the right amount of affection with a smidge of jealousy woven in her fluffy coat.

If Lola had her own flock, here’s how she would lead.

LOLA’S TOP 8 LEADERSHIP TIPS:

06b8f435e795c7fa3b961188b728cdb4--border-collie-humor-collie-dog.jpg1. Leave your mark:

Pee several times throughout your life and all over the place. Just always remember where you’re food is and eat fast.

2. Take a stand:

Showing you believe in something is like pooping, do it when and where you need to…holding it in will just lead to bad feelings (especially if you ate a sock).

3. Listen and observe:

Always be ready to change directions. Lead your herd wisely.

4. Keep your paws clean:

Be honest and wipe your feet even if you have plans to go out again.

5. Wag your tail:

Exude positivity and wag like mad, even if you only have a stub of a tail.

6. Use your speed and strength:

No matter the setting, be the hardest worker in the room.

7. Beware of shiny objects:

Don’t let your sheep go astray, stay focused and on point.

8. REST on top of tables (or whatever works for you):

Stop and look at life from other perspectives. Truly, things are clearer from above – said, God and Lola.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13c93.jpg

Lola is a sweet girl. She and Sancha make every day better. But in a pinch, if you need a CEO, look for the Lola’s of the world. If you’re in need of a social worker-type, Sancha is your gal. She’s your lifer, she’ll stay with the company and be faithful for years. On walks, she pees for a long time in one place ONLY…much like the small town plumber in a Hallmark movie that is happy living in the same place for life.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_12b88.jpg

Like people, every dog is different. But unlike some people, dogs love unconditionally, are forgiving, and ever-loyal. Let’s learn from them.

As Anne Lamott said, “Having a good dog is the closest some of us are ever going to come to knowing the direct love of a mother or God.”

Let them lead you home like Lola, comfort you like Sancha and always “stick” together.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11f63.jpg

 

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

Take care of each other

HAPPY EASTER! We made it. 40 days of sacrifice, humility, fasting, almsgiving, and because it’s 2018, blogging. Many thanks for reading. Stay tuned for my weekly posts starting next Sunday. IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING. Please subscribe.

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

TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER

Our children are very close in age. When they were little, if one cried, I’d ask the other two to check on them, assuming they were not the cause of the bawling. “Always check on your brother or sister” I would tell them, “we have to take care of each other.” The same would happen on playgrounds, the backyard, or friend’s homes. When crying started, it was my cue to say, “Go check on them” and off they’d go. Please know, blood and bumps were always tended to, and I did not just sit on the sidelines watching my kids raise one another, my goal was to make sure they had each other’s backs. Forever.

As the kids grow up, they play, squabble, tolerate individual traits, and mostly really like and even love each other. In the last few years, there were a few experiences demonstrating the kids quick response to their siblings, and even my needs.

BMX Mom: A few years back, during one of our school breaks, we continued our “Staycation” tradition. A fancy word for stay home, find our own fun, and save money. Towards that end, I had each of our children pick something to do each day. We would all participate with little complaining, and it WOULD be fun. So on BMX day, we packed our two bikes, my daughter threw in her book, and we headed to the park. We had the whole place to ourselves. I assumed the staycationer’s hadn’t discovered this little gem. So as my boys flew up and down the hills, I sat with my daughter and we read. Finally, seeing how much fun the boys were having, I had one of those “it looks so easy, I can TOTALLY do it” moments God should really delete from our brains before they happen, and asked my eldest son if I could use his bike and go around the loop. “Sure, just use my helmet too” was his response. So I passed my phone to my daughter, and asked her to snap a few pictures of my attempt at being a cool mom. I strapped in, started down the first hill and as I climbed up the next bump, sure I had enough speed to reach the top, I completely fell backwards. The bike landed on top of me with a bit of metal digging into the back of my knee. Immediately my son dashed over, lifted the bike off of me, ran to the car for the First Aid Kit, and began picking out bandages. Meanwhile, my youngest kept zooming around the track as if in a race, and my daughter filmed my entire fall and rescue.

“Take care of each other” BOTTOM LINE: one of us was in need and help was there without panic, just response. Plus, if we need evidence of the fall, it’s all on video :). Four stitches later at the Urgent Care, I was all patched up and ready for the next, less adventurous trip to Barnes and Noble.

FIGHT CLUB: For years, we were the parents who never let our kids go down the block to the park alone, then one day, my husband and I told the kids “come home in 15 minutes.” They looked at us like we were bluffing and as we kept walking, one of their friends asked, “Where are they going? They’re really leaving?” After that day, as long as the boys had their watches on and knew when to come home, they could play for a stint at the park without us. One day the boys came home upset, apparently one of them got into a fight and they were agitated. After talking through it, they calmed down, and moved on. Meanwhile, our daughter was livid about the fighting and vowed to ensure it would not happen again. She decided to start a (pretend – I think) “Fight Club” where members were on-call to help out with these situations and ensure peace was coveted, and no one bothered her brothers.

“Take care of each other” BOTTOM LINE: Our gal is always ready to defend her brothers and make sure they are safe, even if she is starting her own Navy Seal type Club for teenage girls, who are strong swimmers and play the cello. 

WHEN IN DOUBT DO THE HEIMLICH: Just yesterday, the boys went down to the park, one with a basketball, the other with a bike, ramp, and probably a sling shot. About 5 minutes into their play, we received a phone call. Our youngest called to let us know “something” happened to his brother. We both sprinted out the door to the park (side note to runners: I don’t know why, but for some reason, I thought FOR SURE I would be faster than my husband in an emergency situation, apparently I was wrong. Again, it’s not about me.) Upon arrival, he was seated on a bench, seemingly okay. Apparently he  was jumping off the ramp, when he fell backwards and landed on his back. His brother didn’t see it, just heard the moan and responded.While he iced his back, my husband and our youngest played basketball in the back. During their game, he said, “You know I gave him the Heimlich.” My husband, thinking he missed the key word in the sentence said, “You what?” “I gave him the Heimlich. He was having trouble breathing and he wouldn’t speak, so I went behind him and gave him the Heimlich. Twice.” My husband praised him for reacting and responding to the needs of his brother, and reviewed the Heimlich with him. After icing the back, all was well and he survived the 2-hour Holy Saturday Mass.

“Take care of each other” BOTTOM LINE: In a scary situation our son knew reacting and responding was the right thing to do. He was there for his brother. 

I’ll leave you with the same petition I impart to our children as they board the bus I wave to wildly every morning, say your prayers, take care of each other, and be kind. Yes, to everyone.

Dig Deep: Sign up for a CPR and First Aid class, take your kids as well. It’s a great staycation idea!

Lenten Challenge: You did it. Make 40 days 80, then more. Say your Rosaries.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ MY RAW, RECOLLECTIONS, MISSPELLINGS AND ALL.

We made it. 40 days of sacrifice, humility, fasting, almsgiving, and because it’s 2018, blogging. Many thanks for reading. Stay tuned for my weekly posts starting next Sunday. Please subscribe.

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