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

Cokie Roberts: a mom & legend

A few years ago, I was volunteering at 90.1 WABE, in Atlanta, during an NPR spring fundraiser. I glanced up from my seat and spotted Cokie Roberts leaving after an interview. Without hesitation, I quickly placed my phone on unavailable, pulled off my headset and dashed over to say hello.

She was absolutely lovely.

We spoke for a moment about Washington, DC, and the coincidence that we were both members of Blessed Sacrament Church off Chevy Chase Circle. In fact, Father D’Silva, a tender-hearted priest who married Justin and I also married her children.

As she picked up her bags to go, I asked an elderly gentleman who was exiting the building, to take our picture. His hand wiggled when he held my phone WAY out in front of him pointing it more toward the sky than at us, but somehow he managed to get a nice blurry photo.

I was elated. 

It’s been almost four months since Cokie Roberts died from breast cancer complications, but the legend of her spirit, her unwavering support of women and her passion for politics still grace the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Equally valued was her voice on being a mother and raising children.

In her book, We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters she says,

Caretaking–that’s the common thread that runs through these stories. No matter what else women are doing, we are also “mothering” –taking care of somebody or something, and, for the most part, doing it joyously. That’s what women have been doing from the beginning and, I believe, will continue to do. I think we’ve been doing it awfully well for a very long time.”

Cokie: a mom and a legend.

I keep her picture on the desktop of my computer to remind me what a true model of poise, integrity, and professionalism looks like.

It was an honor to meet such a stellar woman and as a mom and “writer” I value what she stood for and cherish that brief moment she took to chat with me.

IN THE WORDS OF COKIE ROBERTS:

A lot of women have come to understand that you can’t just show up and say I’m unhappy, you have to then go out and do something.

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

Once the teenage years hit, there’s no pause button

It wasn’t long ago when I could still pick up Zavier, our youngest. He’d nestle his head in the cozy crook of my neck and we’d sway back and forth savoring the moment.

Then one sunny day after picking him up from baseball practice, I looked into the rearview mirror and there it was…adolescence.

Oh, you’ll know it when you see it.

It looks a lot like the top of a teenager’s head. Yes, all I could see in that little rectangular reflection was a blue screen shining up at my son’s face and the curved top of a baseball cap.

Where was my little guy who would yell out the make and model of every car that passed and guessed how long it would take for every light to turn green? Why wasn’t he singing loudly or recounting his practice play by play?

He was changing by the minute. One second we’re holding hands coming from the bus stop talking about recess triumphs and the next he can’t wait to start weight lifting class and drive to high school with his brother and sister. Ugh.

Honestly, Zavier is a teenager who is quite independent. But he’s still just a kid. I mean, out of habit (and my keen sense of smell), I still have to remind him showering is not optional. And like a broken record, I futilely encourage flossing and turning clothes right side out. Luckily his love of play supersedes all. He still asks me to be his quarterback, play Yahtzee and read together…I’ll hold onto those moments as long as possible.

Yet time just ticks by without even asking. So as I file the snuggly moments away in my heart, I remind myself to make every minute count. Zavier and I may see nose to nose now, but I still get my hugs — that’s usually when I whisper…”time to shower”. 

Here’s a great blurb I found from The Center for Resilient Leadership. I love the way it describes adolescence:

Adolescence is a period of transformation, not unlike a chrysalis changing into a butterfly. If you have never seen this process, it can be painstakingly difficult to watch. The butterfly gradually breaks free of his cocoon, pulling and pushing, stretching and contracting for what seems like an eternity before he finally emerges. If a benevolent onlooker decides to help the process along, the butterfly will likely die, because it is only through the struggle of metamorphosis that he gains the strength to survive on his own.

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

 

 

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

What did I GOOGLE today?

Googling is like a virtual mood ring for me. As the blue screen reflects off my dollar store reading glasses, about 14 tabs stare at me vying for their turn to be clicked.

Google and I started our morning paying bills…hi google, bank, please.

Then I realized I needed to update our car insurance…google Geico

and register our car…google DMV.

As I thought about our kids driving to school, my Google mood ring began to darken, so I thought I better ask Google: what is the best age for my daughter to drive to school…then I piggy-backed it with another query: safest cars for teens.

While reading about Subarus and driving contracts for teens, our computer became sluggish and rolled out its dizzying rainbow wheel for me to stare at for a while.

“All the Macs in the world and we get the lemon,” I thought. Of course, it couldn’t be struggling because of the thousands of photos and videos taking up real estate on our hard drive..or…could it?

Hi Google, me again: how do I get rid of duplicates in Iphoto…

I glanced down at my beeping phone to a message telling me our cloud is full and nothing will be backed up unless we upgrade. Upgrade a cloud? Stratus to Cumulus? What the…?

Dear Google, me again: What the heck is The Cloud? Also, what is the phone number for Mac support? Oh, and Google, while I’m on hold with Apple, please find a chili recipe for dinner and a quick workout before the kids get home.

And since I have you engaged Google, my virtual mood ring is nearly black and I’ll need a funny cat video to make all the stress go away for just a minute.

Wait…Google, did I pay the bills?

Googling moments are as exhausting as they are informative. 🙂

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

Every 2020 moment counts

In college, I remember the first week of every term. A handful of syllabi for five or six classes clutched in my hand leafing through each to see when the final was scheduled, how much it was worth, and when I should start stressing about it. Tapping into some crafty self-talk, I told myself, “I can do anything for a semester”.

Somehow, back then, I knew I could get through the readings, homework, papers, and tests semester by semester. Anne Lamott tells a story of her brother tackling a last-minute report on birds when their father stepped in and told him to simply pick one bird and write about it, then move on to the next. Just go “Bird by Bird,” he said. So I also went bird by bird. Small steps eventually led to my Bachelor’s, a ton of real work experience, and later a Master’s Degree.

In our longer-than-most Christmas card, I wrote: “This year I feel our lives have been hitched to a race car skidding from school to work to practice and maybe home for dinner. The busy is as exhilarating as it is exhausting. In all the frenzy, even our traditions have been flipped on their backsides and altered to squeeze into schedules. But the moment we allow ourselves to log off digitally and mentally is when personal connections have a chance to resurface. So, in my attempt to keep the good stuff from rolling away with the tide, I bottled up some moments and stories to share.”

So friends, in this new decade and new year, let’s gather our moments, parse them out and share them. I’ll do my best to amass the virtuous with the vicious moments and share them here, bird by bird, moment by moment.

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, siblings

5 things to tell your kids now!

#34 Lenten Reflections

As my children age, they repeatedly tell me what I forget. Maybe it’s reminding, but their tone is more of a “Mamahhhhh!!! Don’t forgehhhht, I have to be at school earlyuhhhh” (teenagers dangle an uhhhh on the end of words for emphasis). I don’t mind the reminders, in fact, most of the time I’ve written things down on one of 3 calendars feeling quite organized yet forget to merge the three. So a nudge to remember what’s on deck for the week is welcome.

I’m grateful they can remind me about the logistical stuff, but with three teenagers jockeying school, sports, hormones, and I wish I knew what else — as their mother, I am responsible to help lessen the weight of their mental baggage. That’s on me to remember.

When their moods speak louder than the local tornado alarm, at that moment I smite my forehead and remember the 5 things I have to remind my kids. (Feel free to reword, otherwise, you may be met with the familiar eye rolls…but I believe some of it sinks in, gushy or not):

  1. You are each given gifts only you can share with the world.

  2. Listen to the little voice in your head when decisions seem impossible to tackle. It will tell you when to take the AP class and when to opt out of being the passenger in a car full of teenagers

  3. We are ALL born hard-wired for struggle, some days are going to be lousy but that’s normal.

  4. You are worthy of love.

  5. You are enough. You matter.

But just a little reminder to anyone reading this…sit for a minute and read #1-5 a few times. They apply to us too.

Spiritual Workout: It’s Palm Sunday…my favorite kinesthetic mass. What can you make with palms?

Workout: Enjoy a nice bike ride with a friend! If it rains, play a board game, take a break and do 30 push ups and 30 squats.