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.

Twilight Hum

Two busy bodies finally lay in peaceful slumber. Another day of learning, playing with friends and testing boundaries has concluded.

A view from my back patio brings clarity and wonder. Those dusky blues and purples introduce an infinity beyond my comprehension.

In the distance is the hum of busy people still riding among the hustle of life. Like twilight it transitions to primitive beats from frogs, crickets, birds, bats and other nighttime creatures.

The Carolans Irish Cream in my coffee tops off my start toward the end. Darkness and stillness of night is eminent. It is time to turn off structured thought and let dreams take over for a spell.

 

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.

Nine Ways I Diffuse Stress

It must be that time of year. School is out in 46 days. The social calendar for May, June and beyond is filling quickly. There is little time to accomplish all those “to-d0s”; and just when I cross one off the list another quickly takes its place. So, this morning, I was thinking about ways I could rid myself of all the stress threatening to turn me into a snarly witch.

Here’s what works for me. What about you? Maybe you have some strategies I could try.

1. Clean house/household chores/yard work. For some reason any of these work wonders to diffuse volatile emotions. In addition to gaining a clean home and beautiful landscaping, the sense of accomplishment helps flush out all that unproductive negativity.

2. Hair therapy. Sometimes 30 minutes in the chair with my hair stylist at the helm is all I need. It also helps that she often has a hot, foo-foo, cup of coffee at the ready as well as a pretty impressive list of books she recommends reading.

3. Walk the dog or myself. Add the benefit of warm temps., sunshine and my favorite MP3 selections; and this is my surefire way of coping with challenging tasks.

4. Music. When I run errands or take self-imposed timeouts, I crank up my favorite tunes. My selections depend upon many variables such as the weather, time of year, and mood.

5. Cardio exercise. Nothing removes stress from my pores like an outdoor run at a local park, interval training with Bob Harper DVDs, or striving to beat my best elliptical times.

6. Shoe therapy. I tried this Sunday at DSW after my two angels broke world-records for five days of off-the-charts meltdowns. This maneuver earned me a couple pairs of sandals and a pair of boots for next fall/winter. Ooh la la!

7. Writing. When I write out my feelings, I am much more able to communicate with loved ones about issues that need resolution. Taking this step enables me to think before I speak, which saves me from saying words I will regret in the future.

8. Date nights with my girlfriends. There is nothing like spending a couple hours with girlfriends who are experiencing similar situations with their own partners, children, families, etc. These nights out offer a chance to feel less alone and to obtain suggestions for how to better manage challenges we all face.

9. Laughter. Looking at challenging, stressful situations with a sense of humor makes all the difference. If nothing else, life makes for some great storytelling.

Related previous posts  at kateschannel …

Seven Silent Monsters

Life on Friday: A Snarl Unleashed

Defiance Test

 

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)

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.

Where Were You Yesterday?

On Friday, I dropped in for a brief visit with those characters from the first 50k I wrote in November. Only, I didn’t leave. I lingered for the entire day. Then, I figured, what the heck? I might as well stay for the weekend and clean things up a little.

What started as some simple spring cleaning turned into a major remodeling project. So, that’s where I have been since Friday. Oh well. It’s all good. In the end, I am hopeful I will have a second draft I am happy with.

Yesterday, I managed to escape and return to the real world. I’m pretty sure it’s not the respite I was looking for. But, I think my characters needed some private time. So, here’s a look at where I went …

I dropped Issa off at school just as the last bell rang. She refused to dress and missed the bus… again!

Then, Riff and I went to the library. I let him go in his pajamas because we had been rushed to get Issa to school on time. We picked out some books for Issa to use with her reading tutor later that afternoon. Riff enjoyed playing with the toy train at the library. It operates with the push of a button and circles the the ceiling in the children’s section.

Back at home, I realized our dog, Buddy, accidentally got locked in our master bathroom. Please don’t call animal rescue on me. I put him in there to give him a peaceful place to be while Issa was having her meltdown. But, then I got caught up in the rush to ensure Issa made it to school. Upon rescuing Buddy from the bathroom, Riff and I gave him lots of attention; and then listened to music.

Riff usually takes the bus to school. But, he decided to copy his sister’s lead. Riff refused to dress and missed the bus. He was attempting to talk me into a hooky day. I wasn’t having it.

As I drove him, we experienced a delay due to a traffic jam. A funeral procession was trying to enter a cemetery. There were so many vehicles involved in the procession that it was causing traffic backups in both directions. What really struck me was the assistance a couple motorists gave the grieving family with directing traffic. It did not appear that these two guys were a part of the procession. They must have just seen the family needed help in this way and did what was required to ensure everyone’s the safety on the road.

Back at home I killed it on my elliptical. For the fun of it I tested myself. I ran 3.1 miles in less than 20 minutes. So, I think I have the bug for trying another 5k some time this spring or summer. Don’t you think it’s a good to test one’s ability on real terrain in the real world? I do.

When Issa returned from school, she got to work writing a letter to a boy she had a crush on at school. As she typed, she saw an old note from Riff’s teacher regarding behavior issues her little brother is experiencing at school. The teacher said Riff had been hissing (like a snake) when he refused to comply with her instructions.

Issa said, “I need to stop hissing like a snake at you when I’m at home, mom. Riff is copying off of me.”

B-I-N-G-O!!!!

Big sister finally catches on to what I’ve been telling her for two months, now. So, I make her a deal.

“If you don’t hiss at me for the rest of the week, I’ll take you to the dollar store and buy you more plastic snakes,” I offered.

“Deal!” Issa agreed.

Just this morning, Issa hissed at me. She claims it was just play. But, she and I both know otherwise. So, we’ll see about that trip to the dollar store.

Anyway, back to yesterday’s chaos …

After Riff returned home from school, he and I took Issa to see her reading tutor; and then went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Want to know something? I forgot to buy bread. So, where do you think I need to go this afternoon? Ugh! You know I’ll end up buying more than that loaf of bread. I even had a list. The first item was what?

B-R-E-A-D!

Finally, after Issa’s reading session was complete, my Tuesday was nearing its finish. We dined on hot dogs, chicken, broccoli, fruit salad, and pizza; and watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Issa purchased a 3-D book about snakes from her school’s book fair. So, I read a few pages about these menacing, but fascinating creatures to her.

Once my two were sleeping soundly in their beds, I opted to watch one of the many movies I wanted to see, but didn’t, in 2011. So, with my third glass of Bellissima, a semi-sweet, red from Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township, I selected Moneyball.

I will share my thoughts about Moneyball in a future post before the end of the week. You will find it in new category — See It — I am developing. Similar to my Book It category for books I read and like; when I see a movie, television show or live theatrical/musical performance, I like, I’ll tell you about it.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday from where ever you may be.

Outta My Chair

The one constant I love about parenting is being on-the-go from the time I rise until my head hits the pillow at night or in the wee morning hours. Before children, life was not dull. I was on-the-go until I arrived at my office cubicle. Once there, I sat for hours — sometimes until late evening — managing event details, carrying out lead generation strategies, and crafting presentations to incite prospective blue chip companies to pick my employer as their information technology solution provider.

When Issa was born nine years ago, my uninterrupted, three-hour sessions in my writer’s chair disappeared. That’s not to say I don’t write or work on professional ambitions. It just means I adapt to their schedules and needs. A lifestyle with children prompted me to get outta my chair, which is a change I embrace every day.

While I can do without the added housework children bring into the picture, I love the spontaneity they bring to daily life. Not one day is the same as another.

While outta my chair today, I worked out, helped Riff finish a craft project for his afternoon preschool class, went to the store, donated blood, took Issa to a reading tutor, played chase with Riff, made meals, babysat a neighbor’s children, and read stories to my children,

On-the-fly writing works for me. I write in the moment of whatever I am living. It gives me the opportunity to relax my posting schedule a bit so that I can learn a thing or two about myself, others and life.

We Are Family

This weekend I spent two glorious days with my younger sister, Tina. She and I are only 18 months a part. Through childhood, we had many of the same circles of friends. We have always maintained a close relationship.

The occasion bringing us together was pretty delightful as well. A cousin and his wife are expecting their first baby in about four weeks. My sister and I attended the shower Saturday afternoon. We gushed over the expectant mother as well as all the stylish wardrobe her future daughter assembled in a mere three hours. Other cousins and aunts attended the shower, which meant visiting and catching up on everyone’s busy lives.

Another highlight on Saturday afternoon was a two-hour visit with an aunt we have not been especially close to. My sister and I gave her a ride to the shower. Upon returning to her home, we had this amazing conversation about the status of public education, voter apathy, banking, family relationships, employment, books and travel. I marveled at the broad range of subject matter while also appreciating my good fortune in developing a better connection.

My sister’s visit wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Shadbush-Burgess Nature Center. On Sunday, she went with Issa and I to meet our newest family member, Slim, who is a ball python. I adopted Slim for Issa’s ninth birthday. Slim continues to live at the nature center. Issa visits him weekly to observe his growth, to hold him and to help with giving him food and water. In addition to hanging out with slim, the three of us watched bearded dragons and bull frogs feast on their cricket lunches. Also, a very active tortoise roamed freely through the entire nature center.

I forgot to bring my camera to the shower and the nature center. Thankfully, Tina did a great job of capturing great shots from both events with hers. She will send me the photos soon; and then I will share them with you.