Category Archives: Parenting

The 100K Milestone

100,000 miles. I watched as my car’s odometer recently added the additional digit and flipped to reveal 100,000. It was hard for me to believe this day had arrived. It seemed like we drove my brand new car home from the dealership just yesterday. But, it wasn’t yesterday, it was five years ago.

It struck me how my concept of time with car ownership ran parallel to being a parent. I often hear myself say that I can’t believe my children are already 16 and 13 years old. Clearly, I have traveled many miles as a parent since the days they were born, but in my heart and in my sentimental memory, it feels like yesterday.

In my mind, I can instantly return to the moment we brought our son home. I remember sitting his sweet self, all cozy in his car seat, on the chair in our family room, and thinking of how excited I was to begin this new chapter of life. The concept of him being “grown” felt 100,000+ miles away. I felt the same when we brought our daughter home three years later.

Fast forward several years, and today a typical scenario in my home includes my son saying, “See ya, Mom” as he grabs the car keys to drive to his part time job or pick up his girlfriend to go out on a date, while my daughter asks if I will drop her off at the theater so she can meet her friends to see a movie. A big change in what feels like a short window of time.

I thought about all the miles my family has traveled in my car over the last five years. I reflected on the many trips we have made to and from school, ballgames, practices, ballet classes, cello and piano lessons, church, family and friend’s homes, performances, recitals, doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, drug store, and school programs. I remembered happy times of fun vacations and weekend trips. I remembered last minute trips to purchase poster board or other necessary items for school projects or school trips. I remembered these trips and countless others.

Each one of the 100,000 miles we have traveled in my car represents a small piece of family history experienced over the last five years. I am reminded of the saying, “it is the journey, not the destination that matters.” My car has arrived at many destinations over the last five years, but I found the special memories were in the journeys along the way. I look forward to all the future journeys my family will take in my car as it travels towards the next mileage milestone, and my children continue to grow towards adulthood. May we all embrace the journey of each mile we travel in life, because it does go by way too fast.

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Filed under children, Gratitude, Parenting, Something to think about

A Mother’s Unconditional Love… Even for Furry Children

I recently picked up our English Cream Golden Retriever after a spring break stay at the kennel. When I saw her, I immediately felt something wasn’t quite right. She seemed to be her sweet, lovable self, but my intuition told me something was off. Later that day, it was clear that she didn’t feel well and something was wrong. As the day wore on, her condition worsened. By the next morning I had been outside with her no less than ten times during the night, and cleaned up various areas inside our house. I was exhausted, having seen each hour on the clock pass, but more than that, I was worried about our furry child.

As I waited patiently for the vet’s office to open, I remember thinking that as moms (not to exclude dads, but I can only speak to what I know) we constantly think (some may say worry) about our children, and do what we need to do to take care of them. We push through what might seem hard or impossible, whether it is giving baths in the wee hours to help allay high fevers, or finding just the right words to convince the doctor’s office to squeeze in another patient early in a tight schedule. We don’t question, we just do it. We mother at all hours of the day and night, pushing aside our schedules and needs, just because that is what we do. Of course, we would prefer to get sleep or not have to cancel an important meeting, but our children take precedent.

I had liked dogs before Lexi came into our lives, but wouldn’t have called myself a huge animal lover. I grew up with dogs and all kinds of other pets (guinea pig, birds, cat, hamsters, fish, etc.), but never spent a lot of time caring for or loving on them. That all changed when we got Lexi.

After my all night experience with Lexi, I realize that a mother’s unconditional love can even extend to furry children. I did whatever I needed to do to take care of Lexi. After many tests, several medications, a special diet and some TLC, Lexi is thankfully back to her normal, sweet self. And yes, I even slept in a sleeping bag on the kitchen floor with her the night after she came home from her day-long visit at the vet. She needed to be cordoned off in a small area and have a close eye kept on her for the first 24 hours. No, I didn’t sleep well, but that didn’t matter. I did what I needed to do for our Lexi. That’s what moms do. 🙂

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Filed under animals, children, moms, Parenting

The Power of a Moment

It was the summer of 1974 and I had just completed the first grade. My mother, brother, sister and I had recently moved into an apartment sans my father. My parents had recently separated, and all had changed in my world. One afternoon while my younger brother and sister were off playing in other areas of our apartment, I was curled up reading a book in the living room. My mom invited me to join her beside the large, console stereo that sat behind our sofa. She was sitting in front of the open cabinet doors, flipping through a stack of albums. My mom loved music, and had a wide variety of albums by artists that reflected her varied taste. She invited me me to sit beside her and told me she had something special she wanted me to hear. Holding up the album cover so I could see it, she said, “This is one of my favorites, and I want to play you something on it.” I hadn’t remembered seeing this cover before. She carefully took the album from its white paper sleeve, secured it on the turntable, and flipped on the power switch. She placed the needle carefully on the correct track, then looked at me and said, “This is Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1. Listen. Music like this always tells a story. Close your eyes and see what story comes to your mind with each part. Just listen.”

As the music wafted through the air, I watched my mom lean her body back against the stereo cabinet, close her eyes and smile a soft smile. I sat still, listened to the music and reflected on her words from a six-year-old’s perspective. As I watched, it seemed as though the music had taken her away to a special, happy place where all was right and good. I liked that.

It was around that same time that I started taking piano lessons. A friend had given my mom some old piano music. Among the collection was a book of classical music for earlier/intermediate piano students. She opened that book to page 51 — Theme from Piano Concerto No 1 by Tchaikovsky, and told me that she would love it if I would learn how to play it.

That initial moment and the one that followed held great significance for me, although I wouldn’t recognize the significance until many years later. I grew up secretly loving classical music since it wasn’t “cool” for an adolescent or teenager to admit such a thing. After several years of taking piano lessons, I was finally ready to learn this special piece of music and honor my mom’s request. Unfortunately, not long after I really started learning it, I had to stop taking lessons due to unforeseen circumstances. I eventually learned this piece on my own, but it was never as polished as I would have liked or it should have been. Despite this being the case, each time I played it, my mom would look into the living room and smile that same soft smile at me. She never said anything, just smiled. I smiled back, knowing that we understood each other and the memories that understanding held.

Many years later, my daughter started taking piano lessons. This prompted me to think about taking lessons again. For my initial assessment, I played for my ever-patient and wonderful teacher, a rather crude rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1. I remember telling my mom this, and she seemed proud and happy that I had started taking lessons again, and would be playing this piece.

Fast forward to an afternoon in the early fall of this year. I looked through the mail and saw that our season tickets for the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks Concerts had arrived. I read through the season program, and noticed that the program for the November concert would feature Igor Kamenz, a brilliant and very accomplished pianist, performing, yes, you guessed it, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1. I could hardly wait for the concert date. The anticipation of hearing this piece performed live was equivalent to Christmas morning to me as a child.

As Mr. Kamenz approached the piano at center stage, I felt the emotion build within me. I sat mesmerized as his fingers danced across the piano keys and the orchestra joined him to beautifully perform this piece in full splendor. Tears formed in my eyes and my heart swelled with the memory of the many times my mom looked in on me as I  played the much simpler version of this piece, but especially with the memory of that initial moment when she invited me to listen to this piece for the first time. Just the two of us, sitting on the floor by the console stereo when I watched her take in the music, and she invited me to do the same. It was a powerful memory. A powerful moment.

You never know when something as small as inviting someone to listen to music will make an impact. I invite you to remain open to all the seemingly insignificant moments in our life, especially with our children. You never know when a moment will really matter and make a true difference that will last a lifetime.

I don’t think my mom ever realized the power of that moment we shared, but I know I do and always will.

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Filed under Gratitude, Making a difference, Parenting, Something to think about

Taking Control at a Young Age

My daughter has had migraine headaches since she was very young.  While she wasn’t able to be formally diagnosed until she was five years old, her pediatric neurologist agreed that she has had them at least since she was a toddler.  He has taught me a lot about migraines in children, and helped me understand that they manifest and “look” different in children.  I remember many times when she was as young as two years of age watching her hold her head, crying.  The best remedy for the headache was for her to “sleep it off,” preferably in a quiet, dark room.  When her headaches got to this point, she wouldn’t eat or drink anything, so taking medicine to help alleviate the headaches wasn’t a possibility.

Fast forward to her at eleven, and she still deals with migraines on a regular basis.  Over the years we have identified her triggers and tried many strategies to cope with them.  Currently, she is  trying biofeedback.  One suggestion the biofeedback therapist (as well as other people over the last few years, including her neurologist) made was to consider eliminating gluten from her diet.  Her daughter had migraines when she was younger, and this dietary change seemed to make a difference for her.  I asked my daughter what she thought of this suggestion on our way home, and she said, “Oh, I couldn’t do that!  I love my gluten.  I can’t give it up.”  She was familiar with what products did and didn’t have gluten as it has been a topic in our household over the years.  I dropped the subject.

A week or so later, my daughter came to me and said she had made a decision.  She told me she had decided to try a gluten-free diet for a month.  I was surprised and happy with her announcement.  I told her that I supported her decision, and would help her in any way I could.  I also told her I was willing to join in her effort so she wouldn’t feel like the “odd person out” in our family.  I doubted the guys in our house would totally give up their gluten.  🙂

Today marks a month of my daughter and me being gluten-free.  I have to admit that at times this decision has been hard, but overall it hasn’t been that big of a deal.  My daughter has spent time reading about the benefits of being gluten-free, and thought hard about options of what she can eat on a daily basis, especially what to prepare for her school lunches.  Many restaurants offer gluten-free menus, so dining out hasn’t been that much of a challenge.  We have both sought out ways to create some of our family favorites like cookies and waffles with gluten-free flour.  I even made scones the other morning that, I believe, were even better than the ones we have made for years.

Another positive change is my daughter’s awareness of the food she is eating.  She now brings two lunch boxes to school as she is packing more fresh vegetables and fruit, all things that take up more space.  We have made a variety of protein smoothies for her breakfast (I haven’t quite convinced her to add anything green to them yet) and have found great options for snacks.  Overall, she has adapted well to this new way of eating, and doesn’t have a desire to go back to eating gluten right now.  And the best news is that she has only had three migraines in the last month — welcomed improvement!  I am definitely proud that she is taking control of her health and making decisions that are good for her.  I look forward to her recognizing even greater results in the coming months.

Special Announcement:

I am very excited to announce that my picture book, FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, is now available as an ebook!  It is available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks now, and will be available on Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo formats in the near future.   Please check it out and feel free to share the news with your friends.  Thank you!    http://ow.ly/th1ym

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Filed under Making a difference, Parenting

Having a Dream and Making a Difference

I have shared another version of this story in the past, but it is worth repeating…

I remember the day like yesterday– January 16, 1995.  I had just woken up and was preparing for my day while my husband of a few months still slept, or so I thought.  I was in the kitchen when I heard a booming voice from our bedroom say, “I have a dream!”  I looked toward the bedroom and wondered if my husband was talking in his sleep.  I waited for a second, and hearing nothing more, I went back to what I was doing.  A minute later, I heard the voice again, “I have a dream that one day…”  He definitely had my attention and he wasn’t talking in his sleep.  I walked into our bedroom and saw him sitting in bed, holding a book by Martin Luther King, Jr.  open to his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  When my husband saw me walk into our bedroom, he cleared his throat and started reciting the speech from the beginning, in as much character as he could muster.  He read the entire speech as I stood there watching.  After he finished, he closed the book, then looked up at me and said, “It’s Martin Luther King Day you know?  He has always been one of my heroes.  I read his speech to you in honor of him, what he stood for, and all that he did.”

Wow.  My husband definitely caught me off guard, which he likes to do.  At first I didn’t know what to think.  Now, after eighteen more years of powerful renditions of the “I Have a Dream” speech, I too have come to understand and respect even more all that Martin Luther King did to make a difference in our country.

A few years ago my husband and I were in Washington, DC, and we took the time to visit the Lincoln Memorial.  After reading the Gettysburg address inscribed in the walls of the memorial, we stood in the exact spot where Dr. King gave his renowned speech.  It was powerful to be at the memorial of one of my favorite presidents, but add to that the opportunity to imagine what it might have been like for Dr. King to look out over a sea of people covering the mall, listening to his poignant words…well, it was amazing.  I thought again about how much this man accomplished during his life, and what a difference he made.

I think one of the things that impresses me the most about Dr. King is the fact that he believed strongly that one person could make a difference, and he was willing to devote his life to standing up for what he believed was right.  As parents, I believe we can all make an effort to encourage our children to stand up for what they believe is right.  I am concerned that many young people don’t have much drive and passion about things that really matter.  I know there are many youth to whom this characterization doesn’t fit, but overall there is clearly room for our youth to improve.  It is important to have passion.  To have conviction.  To be willing to make a stand.  To make a difference.  It is our responsibility to share stories of the great leaders like Dr. King, so our children can understand what standing up to make a difference looks like in our history.

Today is a perfect day to start the conversation with our children about living a life that models the good things that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for, and all he and other leaders before him and since did to make a difference in this world.  Maybe our children will be inspired and carry that into their future, and their children’s future.  Now, that would be a great thing.

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When You Know Better, You Do Better

I recently had Mohs surgery to remove yet another basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.  This one resulted in 8 stitches on the left side of my nose.  The vain side of me is pretty upset that I now have a one-inch scar on the most prominent part of my face.  The tiny, red spot appeared only a month or so before my annual skin exam, so that was the plus side.  Since it was caught early, the size of the area removed is much smaller than it would have been a year from now.

Unfortunately, I have had many of these skin cancers over the last 25 years.  I grew up at the beach, and with fair skin, blue eyes, and reddish brown hair, I was a magnet for sunburns.  I have had more than my fair share of them.  Sunscreen wasn’t really a known product when I was a child, only tanning oils.  I do remember my mom slathering a blob of zinc oxide on my nose as a young child on occasion, but only on occasion.  I have many memories of using lots of Noxema, and sometimes vinegar to help stop the pain from the inevitable sunburns I would get after a day at the beach.

After my first basal cell removal at age 20, I became more aware of protecting my skin.  Since then, I use sunscreen and wear hats when I am outside for  long periods of time.  It was hard for me having grown up in an area where people regularly compare arms side-by-side to see who has the better tan.  I have now lived in an area away from the beach for almost thirty years, so the pressure to have a tan is less than it was when I lived at the beach, but it still somewhat exists.  I have decided that having healthier skin is more important than having temporary “color” in the warmer months.  I know that the more I stay out of the sun, the fewer skin cancers I will have, and the lower my chances are of developing a melanoma, which can be life threatening.  I understand that another benefit of staying out of the sun is that I will (hopefully) have fewer wrinkles when I am older– not a bad thing at all!

When my skin cancers started surfacing, I went through a period of being upset that my parents didn’t do more to protect my skin.  I was mad that they let me spend long days at the beach without regard for my skin and the burns that would result.  It took me a while to realize that they honestly didn’t know any better.  Once I knew better about the hazards of sun exposure, I made better choices.  I now wear sunscreen every single day, and I wear hats when I am outside for a period of time.

This is a good lesson for everyone, young and old– when you know better, you do better.   Everyone makes mistakes.  I know I have made many mistakes as a parent, but I hope that when I know better, I do better.   I have tried to instill this lesson in my children since they were young, and hopefully they will do the same for their children.

Now I am going to put on my sunscreen, my hat, and enjoy the rest of this beautiful day.

What we are reading now:

Me:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My son (14):  Baseball Great by Tim Green (he has read this many times)

My daughter (11):  The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall– she just HAD to reread this series 🙂

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Really, Where Did the Time Go?

The new school year is in full swing.  My daughter is now a middle schooler and my son is a high schooler.  Both of them have entered their new realms with enthusiasm.  They were ready for new challenges and eager to move on to the next level of their education and social development.  Looking at them, I can’t believe they are already at this stage.  In my mind, I can instantly be transported back to their infancy, toddler years, or early elementary days.  Those days truly don’t seem that long ago.  Where did the time go?  Really, where did it go?

I have never been a parent that wished for either of my children to hurry along a particular stage of childhood, no matter how difficult it may have seemed at the time.  I have known many parents throughout the years to say how they couldn’t wait until their child got through the “terrible twos” or couldn’t wait until their child finally started school so they could have a life again.  I am sure that deep down these parents weren’t wishing this time away, but merely wanting to get through a challenging period and on to one that wasn’t as taxing from a parenting standpoint.

I remember when my son was a baby, many friends and acquaintances would tell me to treasure each day because the years go by so fast.  “In a blink of an eye, he will be going to college,” they would say.  Of course, at the time I could hardly imagine that happening.  I also felt a little annoyed each time I heard that, thinking these parents were exaggerating and had it wrong .  I was immersed in the world of diapers, no sleep, and adjusting to my new role as mom.  Now, as I begin the new phase of parenting a middle and high schooler,  I realize these parents are right.  I can see the time of being an empty nester right around the corner.

I know many friends and family members that have now joined the empty nester community.  Some have handled the transition well, and others have had a difficult time.  If parenting during the teenage years were particularly challenging, this time can be a welcomed change.  I have heard some people say that God made teenagers with all their challenging ways and ideas to help prepare parents for the time when they leave the nest.  Even though I am only in the early stages of the teenage years, I can see how that is true.

I admit, I cried like a baby when my son “graduated” from middle school.  He had been at his school for twelve years (he started as a toddler at a Montessori school), and it was hard to imagine him not being there any longer.  I can only imagine how hard it will be for me when he graduates from high school.  My children (and husband) already tease me about how much of a mess I will be when that day arrives.  So, bets are on that I will be in the camp of having a harder time when my “baby” leaves the nest.

Author Gretchen Rubin has a wonderful 2 minute video on her website (www.happiness-project.com) that captures the essence of my sentiments.  I really love her books  and all that she shares with the world.  Check out the video, but make sure you have a tissue or two in hand–  http://theyearsareshort.com.  After watching, I am sure you will definitely understand what I am feeling (if you didn’t already) and possibly shift your perspective and attitude towards parenting.  Hold on and cherish each moment.  It is such a short time.

I have two special announcements…

-Freckles, the main character in my books, now has a Facebook page!  I invite you to check it out– http://www.facebook.com/funwithfreckles.

Also, FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue will soon be available as an eBook!  I am so excited!  I will keep everyone posted!

What we are reading:

Me:  Five Lessons- The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan (hoping it will help!)

My son:  The Rush for Gold by John Feinstein

My daughter:  Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep by Liz Kessler

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