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

Are parental decisions laced with selfishness?

Our kids didn’t attend pre-school. There. I said it.

We did, however, visit one in Virginia back in 2006.

It was off of Columbia Pike, a big commuter thoroughfare in Falls Church. The fancy, stone building looked more like Hogwarts than a preschool. SUV’s and minivans loaded with all the latest screens and cushy car seats lined the parking lot. Once inside, children’s Picasso-inspired artwork lined the walls and kid-sized water fountains dotted the hallways. Outside each doorway stood joyful, young pre-school teachers greeting students and when we visited the classrooms, they were filled with building blocks, endless art supplies, and dress-up costumes so kids could pretend to be whatever they could imagine.

After the tour, we figured we had to do it. We couldn’t possibly deprive our children of the chance to play and learn with kids in this amazing setting.

Or could we?

Back then, the thought of packing up my three pumpkins in the car, driving in rush hour traffic, unloading all three, leaving one and turning around for pick up in a few hours sounded as fun as running barefoot over a lego laden floor.

Simply exhausting. For me.

But as parents, don’t we sometimes lace our decisions with a little selfishness?

For instance, the other day I bought ‘cheezy’ pretzels “for the kids”…but I secretly love them and could eat the entire bag. Another time I signed all of the kids up for year-round swim tryouts slyly knowing my daughter would be the only one who MIGHT want to join the team. Deep down, I knew there was no way she would have put one toe in the water unless her brothers were suffering alongside her. Now she’s on her way to the High School State Swim Meet. Yet another decision made for the good of the group. (Ha!)

Turned out before we had the chance to try the stone-covered kid sanctuary, we moved to Georgia and much like DC and Virginia, most kids attended preschool.

Not us. We were new in the suburbs and stuck together…at home, the library, book stores, museums and lots of parks. We kept our kids home until kindergarten so they could “bond” i.e: fight, cry, laugh, play, nap, sing, learn, grow, read and just be together. Was it always easy? Heck no. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Plus, I could barely find my way to the grocery store much less a preschool.

In retrospect, best decision ever. For ALL OF US.

 

 

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, 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.

On faith and fitness:

Go for the walk or run, then call someone you love.

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, 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 “Down by the Bay” 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.