School’s Out: Week 1 — Hot Stuff

Issa, Riff and I sprinted through Week 1 of summer break. It was a streak of hot, warped-speed fun, which included …

pancake mornings, swim suit afternoons, and scorching-hot evenings that called for grilling out whenever possible. After-hours indulgences include ice-cold Bell’s Oberon long-necks, Hard Luck Candy Rootbeer Flavored Vodka on the rocks, Cherry ICEEs and Rock of Ages.

Issa and Slim. Photo Credit: kateschannel

critter camp at Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center. Issa continued her exploration of reptiles, amphibians, insects and plant life during this four-day camp. Each day from 10:30 – 2:30 pm she joined other nature-lovers for hands-on instruction and fun. Plus, she got to see her adopted, pet ball python, Slim. In February, we donated funds to the nature center to help them care for Slim. In exchange, Issa visits him on a weekly basis to help with the provision of that care. Slim is very charming and loves for Issa to hold him.

weekend birthday bashes for my niece and nephew gave Issa and Riff two days of play with their cousins, introduced Riff to Jackson 5 magic, and gave me quality time with a very creative, over-the-top mistress of celebrations — my sister. Sisters do rule. Mine made her children a beach-themed birthday cake, which included a palm tree made out of rice krispy treats. She also woke me up at 5:15 am Sunday to ensure I made that 5k at Comerica Park in Detroit. Blaring Blink 182 as I zoomed along M-14 to meet up for a carpool with a long-time, college friend helped, too.

Just beachy! My sister is an artist in the kitchen, garden or wherever inspiration takes her. She made the palm tree out of rice krispy treats. Photo Credit: kateschannel

running with 2012 Heart of Detroit for Kids on the Go (KOTG) with the best coaches. Two avid runners — my cousin Joe Duris and my long-time, college friend, Lisa Brady — signed up to run the 5k at this event. There was something special about all these good people running for good people; down a quiet, traffic-free Woodward to the riverfront.

My A-Team. L to R: Joe Duris (my cousin), Lisa Brady (long-time college friend) and I envision the finish behind home plate at Comerica Park. Photo Credit: Kristy Schena, Kids on the Go

a home plate finish at Comerica Park. I came in at 35 minutes, 24 seconds and placed 12th out of 28 in my age group. Sweaty, running attire did nothing to stop my growing addiction to running; and to racing. In fact, Lisa, has helped me set my next goal: my first 10k at the Flirt with Dirt next June. My motivation to train more consistently and with greater conviction starts after the July 4 holiday week.

Comerica Park
Comerica Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

training on how to change shirts — without showing boobs — when one is without the privacy of a restroom. Lisa and I had decided on a post-race breakfast at Leo’s Coney Island in Plymouth, Mich. To save fellow diners from breathing our BO, we ditched sweaty race shirts for fresh ones prior to entering.

This week I need to do laundry and scrub toilets. But, there are only 12 weeks left. That means the priorities are painting, fishing at the subdivision retention pond, swim lessons, and taking time to make new recipes for dinner.

Related previous posts …

See It: Rock of Ages

Back Health Issues

Get Moving! Forward is a Pace

About Slim

Life Replays: Those Sailing Scenes on the Great Lakes

Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
My love is rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Just like I told you before, yeah before

Alex Van Halen, Edward Van Halen, Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth

Some songs trigger replays or even fantasies. Van Halen‘s Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love is one that places me on any number of Michigan’s infamous beaches; playing in the sand and surf while drinking Bell’s Oberon on a hot, sunny, beautiful, summer day.

With the approach of summer and vacation from school I thought it appropriate to announce a temporary departure from my College Life Replay Mini-Series. Instead, I will share glimpses at summertime childhood memories.

My Dad is a Sailor

Sailing the Georgian Bay at 10 months. kateschannel

Before marriage and children, my dad purchased Veliero, a 32-foot Galaxy. He raced and cruised Veliero from Bayview Yacht Club until 2009 when he sold it at age 80. His love for spending breezy, sunny afternoons sailing the waters of the Great Lakes took hold of me before I learned to walk and talk. I was only 10 months old when he secured me to stern in my baby walker for a sailing trip to the Georgian Bay.

As my sister and I matured, my dad took us on countless day trips as well as some lengthy cruises to escape the summer heat and humidity. He only expected minimal help from us. So, we learned the benefits of being pampered passengers rather than expert crew. Our job was to feel the splash from the waves while riding on the bow, take a snooze while sunbathing, read a book, eat all the snacks, or to entertain guests who had been invited to join us. When I look back through my collection of childhood memories, those sailing scenes on the Great Lakes rank at the top. Here are some of my faves.

Getting hosed in the buff in Grand Traverse Bay. My mom, dad, sister and I were into week one of a three-week cruise of Lake Huron and upper Lake Michigan during the summer of 1978. On this given day we had just dropped anchor off the Grand Traverse shoreline near Charlevoix and we were going to have some play time on the beach. I was eight, my sister was five. While getting our dingy ready to row ashore, my dad says mom is preparing a big surprise for us. My sister and I exchange glances; and then start trying to guess the surprise. Screw going to the beach. We want the big surprise. That’s all we can think about.

We should have known better. First, our Dad likes the beach. But, not when it’s crowded with other children. He prefers quiet walks on the beach at sunrise or sunset while looking for Petosky stones. Second, my dad’s preferences for spending quality time with his daughters included teaching us how to row the dingy around a peaceful inlet or looking for fudge shops while we were in port.

After spending a half-hour at the beach with us, my dad gives into our eagerness and rows us both back to the boat. There my mom ambushes us on the stern. She orders us to strip. Then, douses us with a few buckets  of ice-cold lake water and soap while my dad uses a couple towels to give us cover from eyes of fellow boaters.

David Lee Roth centerfold in Tiger Beat magazine. My sister and I were settling in for the night. It had been another fun-filled day on our three-week cruise during the summer of 1978. She was thumbing through her Tiger Beat magazine — our intro to tabloid celebrities — checking out John Schneider (Bo Duke), Scott Baio, Ralph Macchio, Ricky Shroder and some of the guys from Menudo. Whatever I was reading seemed to dull as I watched her flip the pages. Finally, she let me have a turn. There, in the centerfold  was David Lee Roth; all blond and hairy in a hot pink, rainbow-striped body suit. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.

Using the head during a severe thunderstorm on Lake Huron. Going to bathroom while battling rough waters requires above-average balance. On this particular day, our time at sea started calmly but with overcast skies. No big deal. But, soon enough, we were in the midst of a heavy downpour along with thunder, lightening and strong winds. No port was in sight. My mom had just cautioned us not to touch any metal when duty called. The mast went right through the head. Usually, this provided extra balance support. But, grabbing onto to it would have been like a death sentence. Somehow, I managed. It’s interesting. When you’re 8, 9 or 10 there is little fear about anything. I knew all would be okay. Dad was at the helm; and he was a very competent sailor.

Drip castle mania in Lexington. When in port, my sister and I spent many afternoons on the beaches building drip castles. To make these one must have the utmost patience, some sense of design, imagination, focus, and the ability defend against creetons seeking to destroy.

One overcast afternoon we found ourselves in Lexington, which is north of Port Huron. We ended up at the beach and began creating. Three boys entered our domain. Their interest appeared to be friendly and non-threatening. We splashed in the lake with them for some time; and then showed them how to create drip castles. What transpired was a masterpiece. Too bad I don’t have pictures.

Then, in minutes, the three turned into monsters. They and some other beach creatures combined forces of evil, picked up their big hairy feet, and ran full-force into our beautiful, carefully-constructed drip city. Our great hall of justice, imperial palace and spa were smashed to oblivion. Drip city streets lay in ruin. Needless to say. My sister and I were pissed. After some choice words and gestures, we told these fools to scram or else. They scrammed.

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.

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.

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.

About Slim

Did I mention we adopted a ball python for my daughter Issa in February? Her latest obsession is snakes. So, for her 9th birthday, we (my husband and I) made a donation to the Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township for the care and feeding of their resident ball python — Slim — for one year. The donation enables Issa participate in caring for Slim when she visits the nature center, which we try to do weekly.

Issa and Slim get some cuddle time.

On Sunday, Issa and I attended an Easter Egg Hunt event at the nature center. At the event, Issa met the Easter Bunny, hunted for eggs, met some live bunnies, and spent some time cuddling her new friend, Slim. I admire Issa’s continued interest in the sciences as well as her commitment to learning all she can about each subject that strikes her fancy. Her interest gives me a second chance to learn what I missed during my school-age years.

Being Irish and the First Day of Spring

When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter You can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy, All the world seems bright and gay. And when Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, they steal your heart away.

— Irish Song Lyrics and Music Midi
Brought to you by The Information about Ireland Site

Happy first day of spring. My daffodils have all opened for a spectacular display of color at my front entry. It is rare for my early spring flowers to open in March. But, Southeastern Michigan has been kissed with several consecutive days of blue skies, sunshine and summer-like temps.

My Grandma with Issa in 2003
My late grandma with Issa in 2003

This weekend my family and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. My husband doesn’t really get into all of the hoopla. But, my children and I do. My late grandparents on my mom’s side are both Irish. In fact, Issa and I just studied my grandma’s ancestry for a presentation she gave at school, today. We learned my grandma’s great grandparents migrated to the United States and to Oceola Township, Mich., in 1849. This time period would have been toward the end of the Great Potato famine. While we are confident my Grandpa’s Irish heritage, his ancestry is a little more complicated to trace.

My mom, legion of aunts, and late grandparents

My mom and legion of aunts/uncles never miss celebrating Ireland’s national holiday on March 17. Each March they all migrate to Melbourne, FL where my Aunt Gerry and Uncle Jim treat everyone to a spectacular corned beef meal, spirits, March Madnesson every TV and sing-along sessions. Due to scheduling conflicts I have not attended since 2004 when Issa was just a year-old.

My sister, me, and Issa (one year) on March 17, 2004.

While the spectacular blue skies and summer-like temps in Michigan had my crew hankering for grilled steaks, I treated them to a corned beef feast, which included my infamous Nutella cookies with green M&Ms. I didn’t hear any complaints. But, I did drink a couple Smithwicks while the corned beef roasted.

Related previous post …

Nine Irish Kids and the Power Codes (kateschannel.wordpress.com)

 

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.