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

4 Things I learned today

Sometimes we have to peek in between the lines in our life stories and learn from even the smallest moments. Here are my four life lessons for today…

LESSON 1: It’s true, I really do have to put on my glasses so I can hear better.

LESSON 2: If your child wants to change a class, never underestimate the power of self-advocacy:

Day three of the new semester and for the 37th time our son reminded me how much he REALLY wants to switch classes from Family and Consumer Science – (the souped-up name for Home Economics) to PE. As you may have read in The lost art of writing, my sage advice to him was to write a letter (email in the case). So he crafted a note to his counselor stating his case, succinctly saying, PE would give him a break from having seven academic classes and the respite, “would let me reset and do better in school.”

Bam! Self-advocacy in action.

LESSON 3:  Turn off the stove before you go outside to pick up dog poop and/or play with the dogs:

After taking my son to school, I pictured myself sitting down, having a cup of tea and writing for a stint. Ha! Then reality hit when I opened the door and our dogs barked incessantly pleading to go play fetch. Honing my ability to multi-task, I grabbed a few empty Target bags (best for home-made pooper scooper bags) and threw tennis balls for about 35 minutes, while the dogs zoomed back and forth. After they were both somewhat tired, they darted inside and I smelled that burning scent that presents itself one too many times in my kitchen. Thinking it was the rice I overcooked last night, ugh…I realized I had left the kettle on for the tea and the water inside had evaporated leaving our vibrant red teapot a smoky charcoal black. Not my best morning.

LESSON 4: Buy an OXO BREW Anniversary Edition Uplift Tea Kettle, Brushed Stainless Steel or any OXO teapot!

Following my not so bright moment, I decided to call the OXO Company and ask them about their warranty policy on the OXO reddish-black teapots. I let them know the paint was chipping off the due to it being on for too long. After sending them a picture of the blackened teapot, they said we would receive a new one in 7-10 days. What a great company. It pays to ask about warranties.

I hope you learn something from even the smallest, fleeting moments of your day.

 

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

Holy Saturday…then and now…

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #40

As Holy Week wraps up, I’m reminded of how things change over the years. Growing up, Holy Week was a quiet time. Typically we would have Thursday and Friday off from school and prep the menu for Easter Sunday. Somewhat of a nod to Thanksgiving dinner, with a few dishes thrown in to mix it up. One vivid memory is my Aunt Eugenia’s salad.

Always toting items from her Amway inventory, she was the aunt who rode motorcycles, named her bird “Bonita” and played the accordion for Sunday mass. I’ve been told I have the same sharp slanted nose as her. She’d arrive carrying a big bowl and tongs from a Tupperware party. She had a knack for chopping everything in the salad so tiny, it was on the verge of being a really dry Gazpacho soup. It was like a game of I Spy with little bits of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and other minuscule items that even back then my keen 10-year-old eyesight couldn’t identify. The salad dressing was made in one of those glass containers where you drop the Italian seasoning in and shake it up with vegetable oil. Partially hydrogenated? Who cared.

The salad sat alongside ham, mashed potatoes, red chili (in lieu of gravy) and the other usual Thanksgiving/Easter suspects. Another dish that was a hit was mom’s pineapple salad. Made with cream cheese, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple and topped with shiny maraschino cherries, it was a dad favorite. Maybe because it was a dessert disguised (if only by the name) as a “salad” or maybe because it was a one-hit wonder, or rather a once a year wonder.

I’m always amazed when we stumble upon a gem of a recipe and it’s only made once a year. Perhaps that’s the formula. It always tastes good…but only once a year. Otherwise, it’s “overuse syndrome”.

Once, I was volunteering at NPR and a talk show host said she loved my shirt. Thrilled with my outfit choice, I told her my husband gave it to me. “Great taste!” she replied. And so it happened, I was immediately struck with “overuse syndrome”. I wore the heck out of that blouse. So much that one of my students at the time probed, “Is that your favorite shirt ‘cause you wear it ALL the time.” That could be the pineapple salad’s story. Better to pace the good stuff.

I digress…

On Holy Thursday as we loaded up the station wagon and headed to St. Anne’s, Dad would remind us that mass “would be a long one”. Typically, he would say one of the seven readings as a lector, and Mom would play the organ. I had a choice to either turn pages for Mom or try to sit still with my sisters for the two hours of feet washing and the Last Supper.

Under the cloudy Good Friday skies, we would attend services at 3:00 pm sharp every year. I still remember the cold, empty altar and solemn sentiment inside St. Anne’s Church.

Saturday we buckled in for another “long one” and I really loved that mass.

One Easter weekend, after Holy Saturday Mass, we went to visit my oldest sister at New Mexico State University. That was the year I gave up soda for Lent. I remember going out for pizza right after mass and getting the coldest most delicious Shirley Temple ever. It was served in one of those big red plastic cups it seemed all pizza joints use.

Over the years, my view of Lent became less soda and more sacrifice. In college, a friend of mine and I vowed to say a Rosary together every day. During the long drive to San Diego for spring break we prayed, after going out with friends we prayed and even before watching Shamoo jump through hoops, we prayed the Rosary.

Today, unless kids attend a school starting with the word “Saint” it’s likely they will be in school during Holy Week. Even Good Friday. Because times are different. Holy Week just seemed holier back then. Packed calendars are filled with games, practices, and activities with church fitting into the gaps when there are some. But it’s all priority-based.

Like anything else, age readjusts the lens on what matters. What we sacrifice, what we lack, what we share, what we just don’t need. For some, Lent might be about giving up chocolate or serving at a homeless shelter, maybe even blogging.

Blogging for 40 days isn’t a lark. Nor is parenting, or being a woman, a daughter or sister.

What we choose to do with our 40 days is up to us. Will it make a difference?

We pray it will. If I could pass God on a little Post-It about my blog I would say, “Please let my stories help others realize they are not alone in this flash in the pan life you’ve given us. Help me to offer them a little chuckle, a tiny connection, and a chunk of hope when it’s just too much.

Amen.

My humble thanks for reading.

MENTAL EMOTIONAL PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL WORKOUT: WALK. PRAY. REPEAT.

 

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

Beyond Bunnies: A profile

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #39

Are we Easter people living in a Good Friday world? Here’s a profile of a must-read article:

In an interview with NPR titled Beyond Bunnies: The Real Meaning Of Easter Season, Anne Lamott discusses this idea originally penned by author Barbara Johnson. “Well, it’s the most profound holiday in the Christian tradition,” Lamott says. “And I think two things really come to mind. One is something that the great writer Barbara Johnson said, which is that we are Easter people living in a Good Friday world. And I think that every year the world seems more of a Good Friday world. And it’s excruciating, whether it’s Japan, or Libya, or whether its your own best friends and their children who are sick, which is something that makes no sense when you think about a loving God.”

It makes me think Lent has a way of flagging what we overuse, underdo and ignore. It makes us stare sacrifice in the face and see who blinks first. 

The interview is profound and telling, reminding all of us we are here in this life for a quick minute. Ash Wednesday kicks us in the rear and reminds us we are indeed – ashes to ashes, dust to dust – it is up to us to grow far beyond ourselves, past our worries and merge onto the road of joy and mercy.

Spiritual Workout: Say these Holy Week prayers, inspired by Anne Lamott:

  • Help me to see my own darkness and quit pretending it doesn’t matter.

  • Help me to know how very loved I am, despite my own protests to the contrary.

  • And help me to understand that running the universe is not my job.

Workout: 25 Burpees, 25 push-ups, repeat

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

Sacrifice: yours, mine and God’s

40 Lenten Reflections #38: Throwback Thursday

Originally posted on Good Friday, March 2018

The photo above shows very patient fans at their brother’s baseball game…now that’s sacrifice.

Good Friday

With Opening Day for Baseball Season occurring all over the country and Good Friday Services on its heels, I thought about sacrifice. Yours, mine, and Jesus’s.

In that spirit, I asked our kids to think of a sacrifice they have made this past week.

  1. “Grades,” was the first response. “I did well on one test and sacrificed my grade on another.” My daughter also said that even though her swim meet was fun, she sacrificed study time.
  2. In baseball, our son said he sacrificed a fly ball for an RBI giving his team the lead in the game.
  3. Our middle guy said he has sacrificed mountain biking on the trails due to all the rain, which he added, is the right thing to do to keep up the trails.
  4. As parents, we sacrifice time, workouts, haircuts, and whatever it takes for our children. (I lied about workouts)
  5. As children (thank you sisters), we sacrifice our established lives, without qualms, to care for our aging parents. After all, they sacrificed more for us than we could ever imagine.

How many times in your life have you stepped away from an opportunity to allow someone else to enjoy a shot at glory? That’s sacrifice. When our boys sit through insanely long swim meets or dance recitals. That’s sacrifice. When our daughter reads the entire Babysitter Club Series through baseball, lacrosse, and soccer games in the scorching heat. That’s sacrifice. Forgoing sleep to finish this blog. That’s sacrifice. You, taking the time to read this. That’s sacrifice. (thank you)

Jesus dying on the cross, that is the Ultimate Sacrifice.

Dig Deep: Let your body rest today, fast if you can, and drink lots of water.

Lenten Challenge: Make a list of sacrifices you have made in the last week.

 

 

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

Fill your Rice Bowl

#36 Lenten Reflections

A little cardboard box sits on our countertop during Lent.

When we have extra change, we drop it in the box. Then on the due date, we match the amount inside as a family and return it to church. It’s a tradition. Another one. I love traditions.

This simple tool is for collecting Lenten alms—and comes with a Lenten calendar that guides families through the 40 days of Lent with activities, reflections, and stories. It is labled CRS Rice Bowl.

CRS stands for Catholic Relief Services  the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s organization. This handy piggy bank type tool encourages almsgiving to Catholic families during Lent. A curveball in the traditional “give up chocolate” mentality. It is accompanied by Lenten activities, prayers, and my favorite, recipes.

Now I’m not cool enough to call myself a foodie, but I ADORE food. The following recipe is vegetarian and uses clean, simple ingredients.

I hope you try it and love it! Click here for more recipes.

COCONUT DHAL – SRI LANKA

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 c red lentils
  • 2 T fair trade olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • Small handful dried or two fresh curry leaves
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 1 t hot curry powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 c water
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • Basmati rice
  • Cilantro

Rinse lentils. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Sauté shallot and garlic until brown. Add lentils, cinnamon, curry leaves, green chili, curry powder, salt, coconut milk, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are soft, adding more water as needed. Season with lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice and top with cilantro.

Spirtual Workout: Try and say one Rosary every day this week.

Workout: Walk and pray…for yourself for a change!

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other

Find space this Holy Week

#35 Lenten Reflections

Today for the first day of Holy Week, I tackled a fraction of the proverbial spring cleaning. A quick freshening.

A renewal.

No windows or baseboards. No upholstery or carpet shampooing. So what did I do?

I pushed, pulled and lifted. Found dog toys, ping pong balls, and the missing black glove with the phone friendly fingertips.

I rearranged. Found a new angle to watch The Braves. Nudged a chair closer to a sunny window. Picture tops were dusted and curtains washed. Windows opened to listen to  Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal as they flit amid the over-sized Leland Cypress holding way too many nests to think about trimming, even though they’re 5 years overdue.

Spring does that, it infuses the chutzpah to refresh, the courage to cradle change. To play Wiffle ball in the back yard and catch all fly balls before they disturb a nest. To lean into the season, each other and ourselves.

Let the spring season and this holy week help you find space. In your minds, your homes and most importantly, your hearts.

Holy Week Challenge: As a family, we are collecting 5 items every day of Holy Week to be donated after Lent. So five items per day. Join us.

Workout challenge: Run or walk and say a Rosary each day this week.

Pray for Notre Dame – a holy place lost at the start of a holy week.

 

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

You’re not the only one. Trust me…On Vulnerability Part 2

#33 – Raw reflections during the Lenten Season

It’s time to live unguarded. To fill life’s toolbox with courage, shame, vulnerability and lots of Band-Aids. Will we fall? Yes! Faceplant for sure. But we have to try, have to rise strong and know we can. 

“On Vulnerability” Part 2…here is March 2018’s updated version.

Here’s Part 1


When our children were younger, I would accompany them to birthday parties, playdates, practices, and other events and watch, wait, and chat with other parents.

I loved connecting, it was like I would imagine Eharmony for parents. A time to find your tribe of trusted moms and dads, then ever-so-carefully pick a few who relate to your cheeky humor, and pray your kids were in the next room bonding over a juice box.

As our kids aged, I noticed parents would leave these events, and return at the “pick up time”.  I always opted to stay, plopping down on the floor, cherishing my chats with the few other parents who would sit in their comfy cup holding canvas chairs (such a great invention). Sure, sometimes, I was the mom who brought a book/prop which other parents respectfully knew signified – whoever holds the book has just put themselves in a quiet, parental time out, essentially a “please do not disturb sign”.

The kids got a little older and there was another shift.  Either I grew more confident (or less patient waiting by myself) and would run while they practiced.  As long as I was within a mom’s stone’s throw between them, I felt I could reach them and perform CPR if needed.

Of course, I’m always happy to get in a run, but I missed the parent-share conversations…the dinner plans no one had or the way it’s impossible to leave Costco for under $100. A simple exchange between moms and dads that only the gap of time when our children are engaged with their friends allows.

Then one night, all three of our children had events simultaneously, and a tough moment ensued. Clearly, we had to pick our least favorite child, leave them at their designated practice and accompany the others.

Kidding. Our eldest was the default, and since some nights I was the lone mom hanging out for the two-hour stretch at swim practice anyway, I figured she’d be okay while I drove our son to baseball. As I drove away, of course thinking the worst, it was one of the few times I was grateful our daughter had a phone. Plus, at baseball, there were other helicopter parents like myself to share best practices, a clear bonus.

Our children’s activities, whether we realize it or not, give us a chance to pause and realize we’re not the only ones bouncing around blindly in this parenting pinball game.

While our kids solidify their friendships at a birthday party or discover team sports and aggression are not in their design, we are given the opportunity through conversation to share ourselves with other parents and be VULNERABLE. To open ourselves. To share.

I often feel the weight of parenting lighten as I walk with our children to the car after their practices. It’s a comfort to know I’m not alone. To know even the mom with the “coolest outfits” according to my daughter has quirky insecurities too. Sometimes we just need to know we are not the only parents out there who:

  • curses at Siri when she doesn’t listen
  • checks her children’s texts
  • never checks pockets before washing the laundry
  • considers cereal dinner
  • takes apart the washing machine, finds the penny bonking around, and ends up with extra screws when reassembling
  • panics about working after 15 years of staying home with the kids
  • hates texting
  • vacuums too much
  • never knows what’s for dinner
  • prays selfishly
  • stays up way too late because knowing everyone is safe and asleep brings calm to a crazy day
  • wipes the tears from our children’s eyes, and our own when their hearts are broken
  • prays our children will find their best friend
  • arrives late to pick up their child at school/practice/Bible Study
  • delivers their child’s forgotten homework to school
  • buys bras at Costco (one size fits most)
  • yells at our children and regrets it profoundly seconds after
  • colors the gray roots at home out of a box bought from the sale table at the supermarket
  • clings to their children –  as someone who is way too young dies in a car accident, from a health complication, or God forbid — inside their school.

Allowing ourselves to be transparent, and invest in relationships will only make us better parents. It takes pluck to be vulnerable, but there is courage in the imperfect, strength in sharing, and certainty in the uncertain.

Dig Deep:  Time your run, then challenge yourself to do the same run faster tomorrow.

Lenten Challenge:  “Give feet to your faith”. Feed the hungry, pray for the sick, and share your grace with everyone who crosses your path.

 

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

On Vulnerability…part 1

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #32

THROWBACK THURSDAY – This is a two-part post on vulnerability. I hate vulnerability because it exposes us, shows our imperfections, and breaks down the walls that keep us in our comfortable place and I love vulnerability because it reminds me to breathe through the tangled times, to say I love you first and to have the courage to tell our story.  

Part 1 (Originally posted March 2018):

Click for Part 2

“Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked.”  – Anne Lamott

I’ve always had a passion for writing. At nine, I filled the lines of my diary with trips to Disney and life-changing walks home from school. In middle and high school, I packed numerous pages with poems. During and after college, I chronicled my travels to placid beaches in Mexico and being witness to newborns in India gently held over the smoke of hot coals to promote circulation.  Additionally, 15 years ago, when the pink line on the little white stick silently announced motherhood was on deck in my life, I slid my mouse over the word “File”, clicked “New Document”, and 16 years later I pore over hundreds of records of family life — the wild and the wicked.

When the idea of blogging was planted in my head, I loved the thought, but as I typed my stories, the mere inclination of becoming transparent with the world (or my three followers- thanks mom, dad, and hubby), fear, and apprehension enveloped me. I asked myself and continue to ask: Why should I share my thoughts? What if I offend or hurt someone inadvertently? Who would want to hear what I have to say? Frankly, I can be a little snarky.  Uh oh, people will hate me!

Putting your self “out there” is scary. It’s unsettling. It’s a risk…and somehow, concurrently, it is transforming, cathartic, beautiful, and emancipating.

I will continue my thoughts on vulnerability in Part 2 because my son just announced: “It’s 11:11! Make a wish.”

So here’s mine:  to serve, share, and press PUBLISH with confidence.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” – Brené Brown in Rising Strong.


Dig Deep:  After your next run do a 25 rep challenge:  25 – squats, 25 – push-ups, 25 – sit-ups – REPEAT 3 TIMES!

LENTEN CHALLENGE:  Say one decade of the Rosary today.