The Lost Week

Map Credit: Mapquest/www.portaustinarea.com

I confess to being stuck in scenes from a three-day, mini-vacation my family and I took during the Memorial Day Weekend holiday. It all began …

Saturday, May 26

The beautiful shoreline of Lake Huron beckoned. My family and I loaded the car and escaped Shelby Township. Our destination: Port Austin.

Buddy, a happy companion. Photo credit: kateschannel

Located at the tip of Michigan’s thumb, Port Austin is one of my favorite destinations. It is quick two-hour drive, offers a number of scenic overnight accommodations, and interests for everyone — including our dog, Buddy. Plus, is holds a bit of nostalgia. Throughout childhood, my dad treated my sister, mom and I to multi-week sailing cruises on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on his 32-foot Galaxy. A common port-of-call was Port Austin. There we would rest up from a day on the lake, eat Blue Moon ice cream, play on the beach, and run into friends from our neighborhood in Rochester, Mich.

Taking the edge off at The Bank 1884 in Port Austin. Photo Credit: kateschannel

Upon arrival on Saturday afternoon, we treated ourselves to a late lunch at The Bank 1884, which is a registered Michigan and national historic site.

When I woke …

Sunday, May 27

Despite stormy weather for a majority of this day, I was lucky to capture a number of early-morning shots while walking this peaceful beach town with Buddy.

Vacant, silent streets soon to be filled with escapees like myself. Photo credit: kateschannel

Most were still slumbering away in their motel rooms and cottages when Buddy and I set out. But, there were a few souls about.

An early beach morning with the goslings. Photo credit: kateschannel

I just couldn’t resist. After bringing Buddy back to our kitchenette for a snooze, I needed more. So, I took my steaming cup of hot coffee goodness and meandered along the shore. There, some geese and their goslings enjoyed a morning absent of people. Small-town streets remained vacant, but expectant of many future footprints, motorcycles, bikes and cars.

Later on that morning …

Stormy waters churn. Photo credit: kateschannel

Frothy, violent, majestic water churned as the clock ticked toward noon. Hours prior the peaceful, glass-like waters beckoned. So, suddenly it turns. A brilliant display of Mother Nature and what she decides to unleash on Michiganders — like us 3 hoping to frolic on the sand of the state’s 3,224 miles of shoreline.

Sunday evening …

As storms moved on, suburban escapees — like myself — took time to play and to take in the views.

Issa, Riff, Buddy and Tracy at play Sunday evening. Photo credit: kateschannel

Monday, May 28

We lucked out. Sunshine and 90-degree temperatures greeted us this morning. So, we spent the morning building sandcastles and hunting for freshwater mollusk shells.

Freshwater mollusk shell. Photo credit: Wikipedia

So, this is where my mind has been this week. Issa and Riff are done with school for the summer in just nine days. So, this brief getaway served as a preview for hot fun in the months ahead.

A Summer Preview: Coming to My Backyard in 13 Days

Buddy is the king.

Last night, we set the mood. Structured schedules were tossed to the recycle bin. Issa, Riff, Buddy (our Pekingese) and I played in the backyard until our tummies rumbled for burgers, fries and lemonade. Dinner wasn’t served until 7-something.

Riff is my music man. He sings and dances to just about anything.

School is out for a couple extra days to enable families to celebrate Memorial Day properly. But, it is also a preview for parents and caregivers of what is coming to our backyards, parks, beaches, malls, amusement parks, etc., etc, in a mere 13 days.

Issa was too busy to be photographed this afternoon. She was busy prepping and plotting  our garden. Our next-door neighbors were deciding on their veggie plant choices as well. Both of us are giving pumpkins ago.

Before I leave you for a weekend of lazy beach living, I wanted to direct you to some sites that might help with crafting some refreshing and/or savory treats for your long weekend  fiestas. These bloggers always leave my mouth watering. Some day, I’m going in my kitchen to try and replicate what they make so easy. In the meantime, why don’t you get an apron on and get busy?

Afternoon Popcorn Snack – her watermelon and fresh basil margarita, hill country salsa  and DJ’s spicy grilled red dirt chicken all have me drooling while I type.

Rantings of an Amateur Chef – check out his recipes for shrimp and tomato summer salad, grilled pork tenderloin, and grilled stuffed jalapenos)

Vivek’s Eipcurean Adventures – I need to spend more time at this guy’s site. Don’t you agree? My kids don’t complain about my grilled cheese sandwiches. But, this guy has me beat. His Mozzarella en Carozza has me making a list for my next trip to my local Italian grocer, Vince and Joe’s.

A Muse in My Kitchen – Her pictures say it all.

This Italian Family -I probably don’t need to admit this. Italian food is my absolute favorite. Could it be something to do with my DNA? Who knows? Her meatball bubble biscuits and little lasagnas look like ideal, kid-friendly finger foods. I also want to try the zesty steak salad.

Here’s to battles won to keep us free; and here’s to staying free.

A great beverage to consider on this glorious weekend of family, friends, relaxation and fun is Bell’s Oberon. The label on the bottle says it all: with the color and scent of a summer afternoon.

15 Days ‘Til The End

I can’t help it. The countdown is on. It is bittersweet. At the conclusion of each school year I go through this same process. The excitement in my chest builds. I become caught up in the whirlwind of end-of-school activities. Plus, I eagerly anticipate having extra time with my two angels. There will be more time to go the zoo, local farms, beach, nature centers, parks, etc., etc.

Then, reality hits. There are only 15 more days left ’til those 2.5 hours of precious “me” time disappears. My children do not sleep in. They take after their dad; and wake when the sunshine does. My saving vices are an ample supply of caffeine, exercise, and the countdown ’til the start of school in September.

 

16 Days ‘Til Summer Vacation

This weekend served up a preview of what awaits when summer vacation begins in 16 days. My children and I were treated to 80-degree-plus days, outdoor fun, and a firework display from some overzealous neighbors.

Unlike last summer, I am expecting this one to be busy. In addition to swim lessons, vacations, and a mega family reunion bash, both children will see a tutor once a week. Plus, we’re going to make visits to see my sister in Ann Arbor, take some nature center classes, visit the zoo, watch the stars, and go camping.

What are your plans for maintaining summertime sanity? Mine include running some 5ks, scheduling regular outs with girlfriends and my hubby, and keeping the fridge stocked with adult beverages for late-night breaks on the back patio.

My “A” Team: At the Helm With Mom

Remember my post, Good People Find Good People? I just can’t stop reflecting on these words. Maybe it has something to do with how blessed I am to be surrounded with family, friends, neighbors, teachers, therapists, medical experts, and creative forces who love, nurture, help, care, and inspire. Collectively, I call them my “A” Team. All contribute — or have contributed — significantly to the person I am and strive to be.

My mom and dad with Issa at her First Holy Communion.

The person at the helm of my “A” Team is without a doubt my mother. I believe anyone who truly knows her would define her as a loyal, helpful, outspoken, classy, friendly,  organized, willful, persistent, caring, selfless, generous lady who demonstrates — through action and words — love for her faith, family, friends, Irish heritage, football, the Detroit Tigers, travel, playing cards, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, Cheez-Itz and ice cream.

My mom’s helpful, organized and outspoken nature are the three traits I admire most. She helps so many in need — me, my children, my sister, my niece and nephew, her older sister, my dad, my husband, friends, and neighbors — no matter what — with great sacrifice to herself at times. I cannot name one other person who is a more willing, committed helper than my mom. Organization is a trait brought to the US from her Duris and Gehringer family members who migrated from various counties of Ireland nearly a century ago. I have not met a Duris or Gehringer who has not been recognized for attention to detail, hard work or willingness to question. Finally, I consider my mom to be very brave due to her willingness to speak up — even when she knows the words needed might anger or hurt. Her points are often valid and worth considering.

Related posts …

In Honor of All Mothers

7 at 12:25: Things to Know About Me and New Kreativ Blogs I Love

Being Irish and the First Day of Spring

In Honor of All Mothers

Summer 2011 – Looks peaceful doesn’t it? What you can’t hear is the whining.                                                         Photo credit: kateschannel

I a mom. The job description is immense and forever changing. Rewards are plenty, but often come from sweat, tears and blood of being a warrior on one of the fiercest battlefronts ever in my history.

There is a part of me that wants to stay in all these glorious moments forever. But, it goes without saying. My children grow, mature and change. Once I figure out how to maneuver around one  set of challenges; another rears its daunting head. Nothing in life is constant. It continues whether I want to trek on or stay stuck in the mud.

The days of successful homework sessions, play dates, sports activities and dance classes make all those chaotic scenes seem like someone else’s challenges. Those are times I take steps with confidence and ease.

Then there are plenty of those moments — sometimes occurring with alarming frequency each day — when appropriate solutions are not at the ready. Sometimes these situations take some time and thought to work through.

A more distant view from fellow parents, teachers and therapists can bring objectivity to the picture. Ideas from other sources sometimes offer what I need to bring back peace and harmony to my home.

Second-guessing is not uncommon. But, whether I stay at home, work outside the home, own a business, travel, or advocate for others no one else walks in my shoes but me. I trust in myself to know what is best for me, my family and my situation.

That’s not to say views from beloved family and friends do not have merit or value. What they suggest is intended only to help. I consider myself fortunate and blessed to have such a caring circle of support at every turn.

The following are blogs I read written by moms who enable me to see how much in common we all have with each other.

The Laughing Mom

Life From the Trenches

afternoon popcorn snack

Dances with Chaos

Going Dutch

Leanne Shirtliffe — Ironic Mom

Mama’s Empty Nest

Teachers & Twits

Happy Mothers Day to all out there who call themselves, mom.

Thanking My Lucky School Stars

Riff’s teacher uses a star system to help students in her class learn accountability for their behavior at school. He is five (5) and is in a special education preschool classroom due to global development delays. Since January, his teacher and I have been collaborating on how to minimize some of Riff’s problem behaviors. This collaboration was prompted from work Riff and I have been doing with a behavior therapist at Beaumont’s Center for Human Development in Berkley, Mich.

Last night, Riff’s older sister, Issa, stepped in with her own helpful idea: playing school. She took it upon herself to take a look at Riff’s daily behavior chart, which tracks his progress through the five segments of his day: table time, circle time, snack time, book time and free choice.

Don’t get me wrong. I assess his daily behavior charts as well; and keep in touch with Riff’s teacher on an almost daily basis. But, sometimes, I believe Riff relates better to his big sister. Instead of being the drill sergeant I can be, she pretended to be Riff’s teacher for the evening. I believed Riff viewed this after-school lesson as fun; not work. Hopefully, fun with sister translates into a five-star day today.

Related previous posts …

Defiance Test (kateschannel.wordpress.com)

The Journey Continues (kateschannel.wordpress.com)

A Mom’s Spirited Journey (kateschannel.wordpress.com)

Life on Friday: A Snarl Unleashed (kateschannel.wordpress.com)

My Thursday Morning Post and a Question Regarding Ageism

The Thursday morning post I promised with an updated blogroll is still in draft form. I’m not usually an advocate of excuses. But, I feel you deserve a reason for why it’s late.

So, here’s my excuse. Yesterday, I started making a list of all the amazing blogs I read; and the list is pretty long. To ensure I list every blog I follow and love, I am giving myself a pass on missing this deadline. Neither qauality nor quantity can be sacrificed here. You will see an updated blogroll along with a Thursday post before midnight Detroit time.

Also, here’s a funny to take the edge off your morning, afternoon, evening or night. After dropping off cookies for staff appreciation week at Issa’s school, I was sprinting back to my car. My thoughts were on making it to the post office and then home to walk my dog, Buddy. Another parent/grandparent comes driving into the parking. The man does a double-take upon seeing me, gets out of his car and asks me if I am a student. My daughter Issa is in second grade. Her school includes grades K-6.

Here’s my question. Would you take this question as a complement? At first, I was a bit miffed. But, then the positive side of my brain started to think that question through. I am short; I barely reach 5′ 2″. Then, the more I thought; the more I smiled. Not that I have any fear of ageism. I appreciate the wisdom gained as I knock another year. But, I didn’t feel it was such a bad thing to still be seen as youthful.

Here’s the kicker to this funny. My son, Riff, asks everyone, multiple times each day how old they are. I have been answering 25 each time he asks me. All he can do is giggle his infectious giggle and say, “No, mom. You’re 40.”

Here are some articles I found that relate well with this post. One new blog I’ve been following, which you can expect to see on my updated blogroll is 400 Days ‘Til 40. She definitely has a great outlook on life and about ageism.

Missing you by LaTisha Gaylor

Missing you.

A Season of Beauty, Growth and Meaning

Simple things delight. An example would be drinking a steaming cup of coffee mixed with just the right amount of half-and-half and sugar. When combined with some quiet minutes to write a blog post or journal entry that simple joy is made even grander. Add the bonus of watching the brilliant sun dazzle against a clear, blue morning sky; and grander morphs into a forward-thinking mindset about what the rest of the day will bring. Possibilities are infinite; nothing is untouchable.

One week ago, I struggled to overcome my first sinus infection. Today, I am nearly recovered and am able to keep pace with my spirited family, which includes my daughter, Issa (9) and my son, Riff (5). Until this illness, I was able to perform daily tasks independently — without outside aid. The sinus infection taught me it’s okay to ask for — or even demand — help when it’s physically impossible. My body was telling me what it needed to function at its best. I listened. The result: acknowledgement that help is available. One just needs to ask for it; and one needs to be clear about what is needed.

Spring arrived early near the “D”. My daffodils bloomed nearly one month ago and treated me to a brilliant display of cheery yellow until last week. Along with the arrival of so many natural wonders this season, my daughter, Issa, is making her First Communion in three weeks. Since January, we have been studying and preparing for this significant milestone. This opportunity to watch and guide Issa in her spiritual development was a journey rich with reflection, self-exploration and discovery. I am proud of her willingness to learn more about God, Jesus and living as a disciple.

On Thursday I will have my blogroll updated to give you easier access to all the wonderful writers and thinkers I have the pleasure of reading. Their wisdom and willingness to share their perspective with myself and others is a true gift.

Have a great Tuesday wherever you are.