Mixing Life Up

The weather is like me. It cannot decide. For a day or two it turns on the sunshine, reveals blue skies and cranks up the heat. But, then, it waivers. Predictability is boring. A challenge is needed. Flurries tease. Wind swirls. The cooling mix brings focused resolve.

Runner shoes beckon motivation. Caffeine gives a warming boost. No more excuses. Self-discipline is the key. A friend nudges me to sign on for my first 5k race in 2013. It is time to bring it.

 

 

Life Springs Forward

Spring forward. Clocks are off. Sleepy heads stay snuggled. There are schedules to keep, things to remember, errands to run and work to do.

Kids arrive at school on time. Learning takes place. Teachers say it was an excellent day. A revamped workout gives me energy. Lunch out with a friend feeds my need for adult socialization.

Errands and work are complete. Sun peeks through the gloom. Gray prevails. Rain drops sprinkle the drive. Sprinkles become a downpour. Umbrellas, boots and quick feet are a must.

Stir-fry dinner makes husband smile. He loads up for seconds. It must pass the test. Children eat healthy. After-dinner treats are sweet. Homework is next on the agenda. That’s when trouble starts.

The couch is so inviting. A pillow offers respite. Tired eyes close. Clocks are off, again.   What’s the big deal? There are more days in the week. Performance is best when body and mind have a much-needed rest. Pajamas and a cozy bed are the ticket.

Quiet, sleeping little people is bliss. Preparation for tomorrow morning is complete. Downtime with a favorite television show and my latest read is next.

 

Valentine’s Day: The Gift of Time

Recently, I have fought winter snark. A prevalent symptom for this condition includes increased cynicism in the way I view things I read, hear and see. So, here I sit. It’s Valentine’s Day; the holiday when my heart is overflowing with the love I feel for family and friends. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and friends more than words could ever express. And, I do believe it’s important to express those feelings often.

My cynicism about this holiday is mostly directed at the push to give stuff. I love receiving candy, cards, trinkets and flowers as much as any other human. But, to me, the greatest expression of love or affection is the gift of time; quality time. If I had to choose, I would skip the candy, bottle of Barbera (maybe not), and jewelry in exchange for some extra hours of fun with my husband, children, parents, sister, extended family, and friends.

What about you?

Celebrating Birthdays: A Mother’s Memories

Memories from those first 24 hours of parenthood will never leave me. A little baby and miracle named Issa made her début 10 years ago. All those weeks during my pregnancy with her had been preparation. I made time for breakfast, remembered to take my vitamins and did my homework. Indulgences such as caffeine, alcohol, sushi and stylish shoes had to go. Frequent bathroom trips during the night trained me for late-night feedings and diaper changes. Shopping sprees were to buy splurges and necessities for Issa; not me.

Upon gazing into that little newborn face I knew becoming a mom was a blessing as well as challenge; a life-long challenge. But, still, I wondered. What she be at 5; 7; and 10? Would she like going to school? What would her likes and dislikes? Could I camouflage my Type A personality with the patience of a saint? Would I handle illnesses, injuries, upsets and academic hurdles like a warrior; or a wuss? Finally, would I be a worthy advocate, protector and friend?

At 5, I knew Issa was a miracle child with some challenges that would make some physical, academic and social activities difficult. But, I also knew her love for learning; and her determination to succeed would carry her. Issa loves going to school. She hates to miss a day. Her desire to learn was the key at 7 and still enables her success. She strives to do her best every day.

I still do not have answers to many of my parenting questions. There are days when I start feeling like the supermom, but then end up in the dunce corner. Parenthood is unpredictable. Likes and dislikes change. When Issa was five she loved elephants and sought all information she could obtain to learn more about these large, magnificent animals. But, then, her fascination with elephants morphed into affection for mice, then dinosaurs, then outer space and now snakes.

Each birthday I celebrate with Issa, I feel intense joy and love. I recall those first 24 hours of her life in vivid detail. God blessed me 10 years ago when Issa was born.

A Case of Winter Snark: Five-Step Recovery Program

For two weeks I have battled a case of winter snark. Despite an appearance of happiness, peace and goodwill my inner voice continues to have more snark as the winter days linger on. Last night, the snark would not shut up. I was trying to fall asleep. It kept listing one complaint after another. Finally, I demanded silence.

While I am not anywhere close to being snark-free, I stopped living in denial last night. I admitted to having winter snark and signed myself up for a self-imposed, five-step recovery program.

1. Listen to my favorite music when and wherever possible. Blink 182, Foo Fighters, Korn, Rob Zombie and  Journey are among the artists who help take me to happier places.

2. Girlfriend time puts winter snark in its place: out in the cold where it belongs. Without fuel, the snark does not have energy to thrive.

3. Exercise is my number-one defense against any kind of snark: winter, cleaning, marital, parenting, alcohol shortage, etc. Fitness is a natural outlet for all negativity to escape. Too bad this doesn’t work while I’m driving. Sign language isn’t enough.

4. Writing is my second line of defense. Again, it is another method I use to relieve stress. Once I write it, it’s no longer a burden. I may still need to resolve a problem. But, I no longer feel it clouding my thoughts. Somehow, I achieve clarity on the direction I should take.

5. Attack action item list, which is always growing. After crossing items off, I felt accomplishment, not dread from excuses for not “doing.”

Related post …

Seven Silent Monsters

Good post on journalism and social media.

digiphile

Remember back in 2011, when Googlelinked the Google Plus profiles of journalists to Google News, and folks like Emily Bell,  Erik Wemple, Amy Gahran, Megan Garber  and I had a cross-platform conversation about it? (OK, probably not.) I thought then that Google integrating Plus with journalism online was probably inevitable. Here we are in 2013, where Google’s “Author Rank” is now putting journalists’ faces into search results and linking to their Google+ profiles.

abh-search-results-ogp

If you focus on online marketing, journalism and SEO — and like it or not, if you publish on the Internet, you need to keep an eye on these areas — this is a noteworthy development. It’s worth taking the time to understand Author Rank, learn how it works, why it matters to SEO, and think about how it might apply to what you do online…

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What a Monday

Good evening friends. What a Monday this has been. Monday is usually the start of weekday crazy: re-stock fridge and pantry, school, meetings, homework, dance class and sometimes catechism.

Now that the house is silent and the kiddos are sleeping peacefully, I am satisfying my addition to Cheez-Itz and spicy rum Eggnog. Also, I keep thinking about an article I read this morning in the New York Times. The article discussed the vehement response News Journal reporters and editors are receiving due to a gun owner address list/map it published.

So, before I adjourn, I wanted to pick your brain. Was the News Journal simply reporting information its readers needed to know; or did it overstep its bounds? Also, is it ethical for the reporter, editors and publisher to become the story?

For easy reference, here is a link to the article.

After Pinpointing Gun Owners Journal News Is a Target

I was planning to share my opinion. But, I am more interested in reading your thoughts. Also, my eggnog needs a refresh and I have a date with my DVR.

Goodnight 🙂

Favorite Reads from 2012

In follow-up to the post I wrote yesterday, I wanted to note some of the titles and authors I enjoyed reading in 2012. Thanks to a blog network plentiful with self-published authors, ownership of a Kindle Fire and Goodreads.com I have truly broadened my literary world.

Two books I wanted to list, first, are from two fellow bloggers, Kate Policani and Maria Tatham. I believe reading these two authors finally gave me the nudge I needed to explore a more varied library of works.

The Lustre – Kate Policani

Queen and the Handyman – Maria Tatham

Of course, I do have my favorite authors. One is William Kent Krueger. His series featuring Cork O’Connor never disappoints. I read Vermillion Drift (#10) and Northwest Angle (#11), which means I have just two more in the series to catch up.

Two trilogies I could not break away from — even to sleep — were Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and Fifty Shades (E.L. James).

A surprising impulse read that went more quickly than expected was The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. The story synopsis intrigued me. So, I figured, why not?

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch’s is the first in a series of four novels set in Germany, 1660. This first story is what the synopsis promises: a fast-paced, historical thriller. I look forward to reading more thrillers involving the hangman and his family.

On a dreary weekend back in late September/early October, I took a break from socializing with friends and read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Belinda Roberts. It was a well-spent social respite.

Then, there is the series I cannot give a decisive opinion on, yet. I read A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice (Book One) by George RR Martin Thanksgiving week. While I liked the story, the level of detail used made the pace feel sluggish. Another observation was the bleak and icy cold of the wall mirrored what I saw looking out my own window during the time I was reading.

Finally, four additional 2012 favorites include…

The Book of Blood and Shadow – Robin Wasserman

The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel – Margot Livesey

The House of Tyneford – Natasha Solomons

Mariana – Susanna Kearsley

My Listening Months

Happy 2013! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and end-of-year celebrations. My crew is back to the structures of normalcy; or our family’s definition of normal. That normalcy is back to work, school, home work, and waiting for spring.

Another normalcy calling for some attention is blogging. While my brain and fingers collaborated to author a few posts here-and-there, I have strayed from blogging. During my free hours I have opted to read fictional stories from others rather writing. I call this hiatus from writing, my listening months. These months away compare to pauses I take while in the midst of live conversations with family or friends. Instead of talking, I seal my lips and listen.

The pause from writing enabled me to be a better study of writing and storytelling styles. I now have a better foundation for selecting authors and genres to spend free hours with. Further, I believe the authors who encourage me to miss sleep to read their stories also help me in the development of my own writing style.

 

This share focuses on major revelations about the quality of education in Utica Community School district. Both of my children attend elementary school in this district. For the most part, we have been mostly pleased with the teachers, curriculum and opportunities for enrichment. However, this post brings to light some disappointing news about the district’s priorities and how they could undermine academic futures for all UCS students. I’m sure parents in other districts throughout the country are experiencing the same challenges in determining whether public school boards and administrators are advocating in the best interest of students.

My apologies for not writing any original posts for so long. The upcoming holidays have inspired me to write for my children, which means less time for blogging. Take care!

Seattle Education

The Edu$hyster ring in Michigan

rick snyder1

Utica Community Schools, as the second largest district in Michigan, has always been a leader in education.  Students have always had a high rate of success.  In comparison to districts across the nation, Utica has always been financially healthy.  Utica has been a wealth of potential for multiple facets of education, art and culture and many of those programs have been decimated to cater to the special interest of profiteers and politicians.

Carol Klenow, who is the School Board President of Utica Community Schools, hired Christine Johns, a graduate of the unaccredited Broad School Academy, to serve as the Superintendent of Utica Community Schools. Klenow was also appointed by the Governor to be on the State Officers Compensation Commission which determines the compensation, benefits and expense accounts of the Governor’s Officers including all state officers and legislators. These officials and representatives are some of

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