Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Call Grandma & Grandpa…with House Party or Zoom?!?

Lenten Reflections Day #31

My parents are 81 and 84 and they keep busy. So when the “shelter in place” rule hit, my sisters had to do a lot of parental redirecting.

I think at one point they hid the car keys, which isn’t a bad thing as Dad has Macular Degeneration. Simply put, this sight loss condition makes driving quite challenging for him–unless Mom sits in the passenger seat and “directs” him. It’s kind of like being in a new Subaru with the fancy bells and whistles that alert you when you’re too close to a car or a pedestrian. Instead, it’s just Mom yelling “Dad! Car!” in a used Honda.

In an effort to keep Mom and Dad home and bring all of us together virtually, we reviewed the options. We had heard of families using House Party to visit with their grandparents who “loved it!” Instead, we opted to start small and less bold by setting up a Google Hangouts call.

Inevitably, the sound didn’t work, Dad could “almost” see us and Mom lost interest about 6 minutes in. When we realized she had definitely moved onto her crossword puzzle, we told her we could try a different day, to which she quickly said, “No, let’s just get it over with now”.  One thing my parents can always do is make me laugh.

We’re still working on virtual calls with Mom and Dad, maybe a Zoom will be easier. In the meantime, Mom is sewing masks for doctors and nurses, reading and doing puzzles while Dad is spending a lot of time outside fixing and building things.

The picture above is a rare sighting. Dad painting. Not sure how this transpired, but it is just one example of how all of us are stepping out of our comfort zones and trying new things. Not always because we want to, but that’s where we are so why not embrace it or rather give it one of those weird elbow bumps.

I think I’ll stick to regular phone calls for now. I like it when Mom and I are chatting and she says, “Hold on a minute, I’ll go get Dad, he’s outside and I’m not on the ‘walk-around phone’, I’m attached to the wall.”

Behaviors may change, but deep down, Mom and Dad are going to stay who they are, picking up the phone when it rings, hanging laundry on the line and taking care of each other.

Try something new, be safe and take care.

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

The one thing all of us need right now…

There are typically two things lately all of us can count on – – laundry and being home…but one thing has changed for all of us.

Just a few weeks ago we could chat with friends when we picked our kids up from school, share stories in the teacher’s lounge, or comment on the bargain price of blueberries at Sprouts in the checkout line.

At sporting events for our kids, we’d tell each other about our teenager’s latest drama or success…and at church, we could discuss the “longer than usual” homily.

Right now, all of that interaction has come to a screeching halt. And whether we think we crave it or not, the truth is we all need…

SOMEONE TO LISTEN.

So pick up the phone. Don’t text. Dial a number, call someone and ask how they are and REALLY, REALLY listen to the answer.

Word for 2013 - LISTEN UP! | Mother teresa quotes, Mother teresa ...

As we wade through the same gigantic dismal swamp every day, trying to squelch the worry and focus on the positive. The therapy we need right now (and down the road) is simply someone to listen, be there for someone.

Spiritual Workout:

Here’s what I’ve been trying at home…well, me and the dogs. 

More listening, less talking.

More wags, less barking.

More giving, less taking.

More compassion, less selfishness.

More sharing, less hoarding.

More patience, less haste.

As Mother Theresa said:

Workout: Remember to pace yourself as a parent and a runner. Life is like a marathon: relish the downhills, reset on the flat road and power fiercely up those inclines. The race is shorter than you think.

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

Are you sitting 90% more than usual? This will help…

As humans we are social animals therefore, we naturally miss our human connections, which can make us a little cranky…and once we’re cranky, we forget to move…and then we get crankier! So, like in the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…things go south quickly, and we can lose our focus. Together let’s stretch our bodies and stay positive.

WHY STRETCH? 

According to Harvard Health Medical School (they know):

“Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.”

Here are some stretches to give your body and mind strength and clarity.  

Stay in each position shown for 30 seconds (static). Focus on deep breathing and you’ll get some mental stress relief as well. I used The Daily Burn as a resource.

Hip Flexor Stretch: 
Here’s how:Think that hip pain is bursitis? Think again. - Harvard Health Standing up, mimic sitting with one leg crossed over the other, or use a chair as shown for support, so you have two right angles with your legs, one resting on the other.  Sit, hold it, and then switch.

 

Stretching Body Nuchal Rigidity Exercise Massage PNG, Clipart ...

Side Oblique Stretch: 
Lengthen the side of your body as you stretch.
Here’s how: Stand with feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. As you lift one arm overhead with your palm facing inward, reach and lean toward the opposite side of the arm raised. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch sides.

Downward Dog: 
This stretch isDownward Dog Clipart focused on hip and shoulder mobility while stretching your hamstrings, lats (mid-back muscles) and deltoids (shoulder muscles).
Here’s how: Begin in a plank position with shoulders directly over wrists. Push your hips up toward the ceiling so you form a triangle with your body. Keep your head between your arms and straighten your legs as much as possible. Reach your heels toward the ground and spread your fingers, so your bodyweight gets distributed evenly through the hands and feet.

Cat: 
Back pain? This pose will encourage blood flow and increase mobility in your spine.

Here’s how: Get on your hands and knees on a carpet or mat, with wrists in line with shoulders and knees in line with hips. Round your back, tuck your pelvis and look toward the floor, as you scoop your abs upward.

Cow: 
What is the opposite of caHow to Do Cat-Cow Pose in Yoga – YogaOutlet.comt pose? Cow pose, of course. This will stretch your abs and chest muscles.
Here’s how: Get on your hands and knees on an exercise mat, wrists under shoulders and knees in line with hips. Arch your back, look slightly upward and stick your chest out.

Child’s Pose: 
This stretch is an incredibly calming posture and works well for recovery, too. You’ll streBalasana, child, meditation, pose, yoga icontch the low back, lats, and shoulders.
Here’show: Get on all fours on an exercise mat. From your hands and knees, push your hips back until your bottom rests on your heels. (Knees are slightly wider than hips.) Keep your arms straight out in front of you and look at the floor, stretch!

 

Lying Hug Stretch:
Miss all those hugs you got prior to social distancing?

Does my Back Need Cracking? [Don't Screw it Up!]Here’s the remedy and the perfect way to relieve tension in your low back. Here’s how: Lie on your back on an exercise mat or carpet. Tuck your knees toward your chest and grab your calves, as you roll your head up to meet your knees.

Along with stretching remember to keep your immune system strong and eat plenty of immune-boosting foods!

Here are my top 10 favorites: 

Ginger

Citrus

Bell peppers

Garlic

Spinach

Yogurt

Almonds

Turmeric

Sunflower seeds

Green Tea

Take care of yourself and others 🙂

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

What challenged you today?

There’s nothing like seeing kids challenge themselves. Today the stakes were raised when our boys used the Badminton net as a hurdle. After a lot of persistence, laughs and falls, they raised the net and crushed it!Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 9.03.31 PM.pngScreen Shot 2020-03-28 at 9.05.34 PM.png

What challenged you today? Other than the obvious.

Runonmom.com workout of the day:

  1. Go for a walk…30 minutes.
  2. Take 5 deep breathes…inhale for 5 seconds through your nose and 5 seconds out of your mouth, 5 times.
  3. Call a friend.

Spiritual Workout: Celebrate Mass online.

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

This Mom gets it – embracing the new normal

I’ve spoken to numerous parents over the last few weeks about how they are managing their newfound profession of homeschooling.

Some are sitting smack in the middle of a see-saw with work and one end and homeschooling hanging off the other side, others are diving in structuring their school day one subject at a time and too many have little access to resources. They all say they are doing the best they can.

Amid all of the emails and phone calls, one mom’s profound message left me hoping all parents are able to relate to their new cadence with sanity and grace.

Here’s what she said:

“For a boy that needs his structure, he’s done well with the transition to home-based learning. We keep to a pretty good schedule-school starts here at 10am every day, and we try to be done with the bulk of the bookwork by noon. The afternoon is reserved for art, legos, creative play, reorganizing closets and cleaning, etc.

I certainly wouldn’t want to do this full time, but I think I can handle it through the rest of the school year if I had to (and honestly, that’s where I think this is heading).”

She goes onto say she and her husband both work from home…

“But we’re a flexible family, we understand that this craziness is temporary and that everyone has been thrust into the unknown. We’ll make it through. To be 100% honest, this has been a good thing for us. We are a family that is constantly on the go between soccer practices, basketball in the off-season, martial arts…so this forced stoppage is good. We’ve had homecooked dinners together every night, our house is the cleanest it’s ever been, and there have been tons of movies and old soccer games watched while snuggling up on the couch.

Who knows if we’ll ever get this time

together again.”

 

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

Boredom or Solace?

#24 Lenten Reflections

THROWBACK THURSDAY!

In a lot of the stories I’ve shared in this space, there is typically one common denominator. TIME. More of it. More for family, health, vacations, gardening, reading, playing games, walking dogs, organizing, donating…well…now it’s here.

In fact, tonight at dinner I heard everyone say grace in unison. Five voices. Together. I’m not sure if God caught the words as there is a constant sprint to the word Amen, but nonetheless, we were all in the same place at the same time. And we have been for the last 12 days. Happy, stressed, bored, rested, lonely, alone, crowded, worried…a multitude of feelings.

This newfound time harkened back to a post I wrote regarding the chasm that lives between two heightened feelings boredom and solace…

#24: 40 days of raw reflections during the Lenten Season

I often look around our home and see the jobs others don’t. The cobwebs housing a spider “that really is going to catch the mosquitos and flies that sneak in!” Or the towels that just never make it on the hooks, the windows that are riddled with dog nose kisses, and the baseboards I spitefully glare at while I secretly decide moving to a new home would be easier than cleaning them. It’s times like these when I know seemingly mundane jobs need to be done, and I just have to delve into the task. But why go it alone, when many hands make light work? It’s all about recruitment.

There is one specific word beckoning me to pass my children a mop and the bright blue toilet cleaner…or vinegar for those who steer away from toxicity.

Bored.

Said alone, it’s just one syllable that doesn’t amount to much, but when you accompany it with:

“I-I-I-I-I-I’M” (said in a whiny tone held approximately 3 seconds or more) and then BOOOORRRRED! It takes on a completely new meaning.

Where exactly does “bored” sit on life’s balance beam? Is it fighting for space next to lackadaisical and uncreative, or is it teetering on the edge with solace and quiet? It’s really our call.

Nowadays at the onset of boredom, we plop ourselves in front of a screen and detach ourselves from the emotion altogether. This escape from the now builds an emotional chain link fence in front of solace and deprives us of confronting the quiet. The act of being alone and the feelings that accompany it can be uncomfortable at first for some, or always for others.

We clamor to fill the boredom void, much like the panic and announcement of “awkward silence” when quiet wiggles its way into a conversation. Why not embrace the quiet, focus on our breathing, meditate, or pray? Life so rarely gives us the gift of calm. So when it does, much like not waking the baby or poking the bear, don’t disturb the solace. Embrace it.

Dig Deep: Meditate in a quiet space.

Lenten Challenge: Pray for the sick.

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

From Spanish Flu to COVID-19 – we’ve been here before…

#24 Lenten Reflections

We constantly hear we are living in unprecedented times, navigating a road less traveled, however…

About 100 years ago, the Spanish Influenza is said to have rooted in an army camp in Kansas. The first wave passed through the United States and went seemingly unnoticed. As soldiers traveled around the world, the infection spread rapidly. The virus did not stop in the trenches, in fact, influenza became more aggressive. As the virus evolved and returned from Europe to the United States, it continued to infect communities all over the United States and did not discriminate.

Sound familiar?

In an interview on Hidden Brain with NPR’s Shankar VedantamHistorian Nancy Bristow weighs in on the Spanish Flu and how its history has been cloaked under the guise of World War I.

“To remember the flu would be to admit to the lack of control that people had had over their own health. It would be to admit that the United States was not necessarily all-powerful, but was like everywhere else in the world: subject as victims to something beyond their control,” she says.

In the time of the Spanish Flu, some cities listened to the guidelines, others lost patience and slipped away from the inconvenient restrictions. Listen here to the full interview.


Another telling story comes from Kara N. Goldman, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She compares the Spanish flu with COVID-19. Her story The white scarf on the door: a life-saving lesson from the 1918 Spanish flu is compelling.

She begins, “In 1918, a white scarf tied to the door of my grandmother’s family’s apartment on the North Side of Chicago alerted the community to a virus residing within. My grandmother, then age 3, was one of 500 million people worldwide — one-third of the planet’s population — who was infected with what came to be known as the Spanish influenza. It killed an estimated 50 million people.”


For eight years, I worked in the public health sector. My mission was focused on caring for Hispanic communities throughout the United States and ensuring they had access to health care and immunizations.

People need to heed the instructions of public health experts.

The final death or diagnosis caused by COVID-19 isn’t penciled in on a calendar, nor is it going away anytime soon. Like the Spanish Flu, COVID-19 will go through waves, and like the ocean, they will just keep coming. No pause. No warning. No mercy. So listen to the experts, keep your Easter bonnet in the closet and be patient. The dominoes that have tumbled have yet to finish their fall.

 

 

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

Being home: from homework to hunger

Lenten Reflections #23

They are home.

Elementary school kids are home with their parents learning to tie their shoes, tell time, count money. Tweens are spared from what can be tumultuous middle school moments, and high school students are navigating Chemistry labs, Rhetorical Analysis, and document-based questions (DBQ’s). All at home.

DIFFERENCES

I called to check in on my students and their families today.

The gamut ran from,

“We’re doing well. He just finished working on sequencing and now I’m teaching him how to tell time from an analog clock.”

TO

“I haven’t heard from my social worker, I don’t know how I’m going to feed my two children, my parents are quarantined and I have to have surgery on Thursday.”

My gosh. Just when I started to grumble about making dinner, I thought of the families who have nothing…NOTHING to bring to the table.

Note: I was able to contact our administrators and they connected the family with MUST Ministry who would help provide meals for the family.

This was true testimony that while some grapple with studying, some are trying to survive. As parents we simply want our kids to be happy, learn and sidestep struggle. We want to do our best…and make them their best selves.

LET THEM LEARN HOW TO LEARN…

Just today, I felt like a rock star when I was able to help my youngest son with his 8th-grade Algebra, yet completely useless when my daughter was working on her Physics lab. One child asks for help, another tackles the work until every eraser in our home is worn.

My son who is a Sophomore incorporates breaks into his studies. Every 30 minutes or so he rides his bike, walks the dogs or works on projects in the garage. His brother shoots baskets outside or plays fetch with the dogs. A stark difference from a 6-minute transition between one-hour and 45-minute classes.

My daughter stays the course, she should wear a t-shirt with Einstein’s words: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

They each know how they learn best. They have to know.

As they made their lunches today I asked them to pray for those who are hungry or sick or lonely…and Seniors everywhere who are longing for the proper graduation they deserve, but may have to sacrifice for the betterment of all.

The majority of kids truly miss school. They long for their friends, the guarantee of meals, the routine. 

After prayers tonight I reminded them to count their blessings.

As we all should.

Be smart. Be kind.

 

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

A worldwide crisis: how are you handling it? Your kids are watching.

Lenten Reflections #22

Now more than ever. We’re home. Everything we say, do and react to is being watched. By our kids.

We’re not only working from home, but now we are also homeschooling, prepping meals, and parsing out necessities, as to not run out of what we need.

We’re calling family, checking in on friends, discovering Zoom.

We’re trying REALLY hard not to go to the grocery store, yet dash in, hold our breath (maybe just me) and grab a gallon of milk.

We’re anxious, scared, and unsure.

As we set up our offices on kitchen counters and stumble over saxophones in our closet which is now a makeshift practice studio, we can still be positive, we can still be hopeful.

More importantly, we can be honest and patient and vigilant. Because our kids are watching, and learning from us.

Homeschooling is not just about knowing the correct password to log into a website loaded with lessons and videos. Oh no. It’s game on. They are learning from us. Our kids are watching and they are looking for hope and joy and normalcy. 

The blessing is we are doing this together. Building memories and waiting calmly until it is TRULY safe to move forward.

Until then, stay home, stay safe, and stay strong.

 

 

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

Time for church! In the living room…

Lenten Reflection #21

This morning at 10:00 we all gathered in the living room for “mass”.

Our dear Irish priest live-streamed (or whatever the past tense of live-stream is) mass for the parishioners at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Since we’ve been dipping our toes into the homeschool pool, I thought we were definitely ready for mass at home. The increased cushion in the seats and pillows as kneelers was a welcome change, but what stayed the same was the kid chatter and nagging.

There was constant shushing coming from our daughter, and at one point our youngest was doing push-ups as we were praying for the sick. In retrospect, the one thing we should have banned was holding hands during the Our Father. Not only for social distancing purposes but why…WHY! do our kids have to try and crush each other’s hands while ironically praying God will deliver them from evil?! Every Sunday. 

I remember when the kids were little and we practiced going to church during the week aiming to be the model family on Sundays. It didn’t work. But they were comfortable in church, perhaps a little too relaxed?

When we first moved to Georgia I thought I’d walk the kids to Lowe’s…it was less than a mile away and we loved walking. So as we were checking out, an older couple initiated a conversation with the classic “you’ve got your hand’s full” line as they stared at me pushing a double stroller with our youngest strapped on my back like I was backpacking through Europe.

We chatted for a moment, and as we turned to leave, they candidly asked: “Does your family have a church-home?”

Wait. A what?

Oh! I broke it down in my head contextually and said, “Yes, we’re Catholic.” That’s all I had. Yup, Catholic. They invited us to their church and I said thanks and began the longer than anticipated journey home.

My take away from our at-home-mass was the fact that our kids are just as comfortable at church as they are at home. I’m going to call that a win. Sure they poke at each other, always have the church giggles, and get antsy once their 45-minute internal alarm goes off, but they are there. We are there. Together.

Yes. We found our “church-home”…at home and church.