SOLC 31 of 31: Making Time for Family

After multiple e-mails, texts and doodle calendar polls, we did it! We found a time for our cousins and their kiddos to come to our house yesterday. It isn’t easy. Living across two states, kiddos ranging from 4-19 and so many schedules to juggle, it isn’t easy to find a common time to get together. But, we did it.

And no matter how difficult it is to find the time, we are always glad we did. I set up an early easter egg scavenger hunt for the littles (and the bigs helped them read the clues), we made sugar cookie dough that the kids helped cut into spring shapes and then later decorated and we played games.

I didn’t stress about cooking, (I didn’t have time), I just got food ribs and chicken and mac and cheese from Costco and you know what? It was good and it was good enough! Others brought appetizers and desserts and we just enjoyed each other’s company.

We’ll be together again in a few months for my son’s Bar Mitzvah, but this kind of time together is different – informal, stress-free and just plain fun. So glad we made time for cousins.

SOLC 30 of 31: En Grade!

It’s always funny how life comes full circle. Today, I will take my daughter for a foil fencing lesson. She has begun private foil lessons after finishing her first season with the High School Team.

I was a foil fencer in High School and College. I was shy and not so confident off the strip and more aggressive on the strip. I became Captain of both HS and College teams, not because I was the best fencer, but because I was a good teammate and cheerleader.

Before joining the High School team this year, my daughter hadn’t been on many teams. She didn’t see herself as an athlete. I convinced her to try out for the team (it helped that one of her best friends was also doing it). I told her, “If you make it, great. If not, at least you tried out.” She made it. She loved being part of the team – even if as a JV team member she didn’t get to have a lot of her own bouts. After the season she decided she’d like to get better so that next year she has more confidence.

So today, we head to the fencing studio where she’ll continue with 1:1 foil lessons that she started about a month ago. It’s fun to see her confidence grow and to share these deja vue moments with her! Can’t wait to see her on the fencing strip next season!

SOLC 29 of 31: “Sticking” With It

Next week my husband’s new brick and mortar store, FindTape, will open at its first location. This is a milestone for sure. 15 years after creating, on online retail site for adhesives, he will be expanding his business from “clicks to bricks.”

This last year has been exciting to watch as the store location has been found, designs and logos been created, the store layout been decided and now, the shelves are being stocked.

This week he’s been spending a lot of time there with the employees training them and getting them ready to open. Every day he comes home with a story about a few folks who are curious about this store and what it offers. That’s a good sign. Foot traffic and interest are always welcome.

15 years ago when we had just welcomed our first child and he told me that he was quitting his day job to go full time with the online company I thought, “You are quitting your job to sell tape online?” But he knew what he was doing and he stuck with it. Here’s to the “tape-cutting” next week!

SOLC 28 of 31: Houdini Puppy

Entering the house after a long day out, I see my puppy on the stairs. He’s content and happy. Out of the corner of my eye I see my big dog lumber off the couch and come greet me.

I call out, “Hello?” “Anyone home?” Silence. Again, “Anyone home?” Silence.

If no one is home, why is the puppy out?

Scanning over to the carpet, an unpleasant scent greets me. A pile of poop. Ugh.

If, no one is home, the puppy should be in the crate. The puppy broke out of his crate, again.

Oh, my Houdini puppy!

SOLC 27 of 31: Goldilocks and the Baseball Uniform

Baseball season is just around the corner and as such, last night we attended the parent meeting to meet the coaches and get the uniforms. My son, now 12, has been playing since he was 4. He is now in the oldest division of our Rec Baseball League.

Last night after the teams were called and we all made our way into the Middle School Cafeteria to get the uniforms, it struck me that this was baseball’s version of the Goldilocks story. Each table boxes of shirts that coaches held out to their players – “Is this shirt too big? Is this shirt too small? Just right? Great! It’s yours.” My son is one of the smaller players on the team and the coach wanted to give him a Youth Large instead of the Adult Small, but my son said, “No… that’s way too small for me.” (It wasn’t…but nonetheless a too-small-too-big-just-right-moment.

Next, on to the pants table where the pants were all laid out by size. The oldest players in the league are 12-15 year olds, so while most of the pants should be youth sizes, the older boys certainly need adult sizes. The largest sizes laid out on the table were YXL. However, they were TINY! So as all of the members of his team came over to find pants, each family went directly to the YXL pile only to discover these were “way too small!” The volunteers behind the table dug deep into the boxes looking and hoping for some bigger sizes. They found an Adult XL and Adult Medium. Tossing them across the table, one player grabbed them, held them up to his body and said, “No way! These are way TOO BIG!” One of the moms and I jumped in too, gently unpacking garbage bags worth of YXL pants, hoping for some adult sizes that might fit our boys “just right.”

And, she found it. Pulling out 3 pairs of pants that looked bigger (an older style that while still YXL was longer in the leg), we held them up to our boys, they declared them “just right.”

Now, let’s play ball boys!

SOLC 26 of 31: Rays of Promise

Sunny days bring rays of promise
that warm our faces and our spirits

Sunny days bring rays of promise
that allow us to dream of a better today
and a better tomorrow

Sunny days peppered with cloud-filled skies
that peek-a-book rays of promise
offer opportunities to breathe in
and soak up optimism

Sunny days after rainy skies 
push possibility
into view 

Sunny days bring rays of promise
that feed our soul
warm our bodies
and energize our mindset.

SOLC 25 of 31: Plannin’, Shoppin’, Writin’ Everyday

Luke Bryan has a hit song on the radio called, “Huntin’, Fishin’, Lovin’ Everyday.” My days are more like “Plannin’, Shoppin’ and Writin’ Everyday.”

On this Monday morning as I think about the week the rolls out in front of me, I already anticipate a few “shoppin'” trips. Tonight I already made a late trip to the grocery store (after puppy class) to get the items I need for a breakfast that I’m hosting for colleagues tomorrow morning. This follows the late night trip to the grocery store last night (after tennis) to get ingredients for last night’s dinner.

Which brings me to “plannin'”. See, if I were more planned, I might not be making so many shoppin’ trips, but who has time to plan? Planning takes time, which I’m short on right now. But I think today sometime I’ll need to make a shoppin’ list to plan what to buy for tomorrow. I also need to start planning for the dinner I’m hosting on Saturday evening (after a morning conference) – another list, another shoppin’ trip.

And then there’s the “writin'” everyday. It’s all consuming. Whether for this blog (for enjoyment), for work (for mandate) or for graduate school (for the learning? degree? connections?) or for my leadership blog (for passion) – I am truly engaging in all kinds of formal and informal writing EVERY DAY. For better or worse, I am dipping my toe into multiple genres at one time: research, analysis, reflection, evaluation, interviews, surveys, life stories and life lessons.

And so, this week will bring Shoppin’, Plannin’ and Writing’ everyday. Here we go!

SOLC 24 of 31: Exploring New Neighborhoods

This year, while staying one weekend a month in Philadelphia for my grad school program, I’ve had the chance to stay in a few different Airbnbs with friends. While the program puts us up in a hotel, staying in the Airbnbs has given us the opportunity to explore new neighborhoods, try new restaurants and relax/do work in a space that is much bigger and brighter than the average hotel room.

Exploring these new neighborhoods has given us an insight into the quirks of Philadelphia’s different areas: University Town, Fishtown, South Philly, Naval Square. Staying in an Airbnb feels different than staying in a hotel for the weekend – you feel more part of the community and less of a visitor.

Before this experience, I had never stayed at an Airbnb before. I truly didn’t understand how it would work. But I’ve been impressed with the quality of the options of houses and the accomodations for the same or lower fees than the hotel.

So, branch out the next time you have a chance to explore a new city and try an Airbnb. You’ll find yourself feeling more immersed in the neighborhood and culture and loving the opportunity to fully explore the city as a native.

SOLC 23 of 31: Small Town Hero

Tonight, one of our town’s own, wrestles for the Heavyweight NCAA Championships. This is nothing short of amazing considering that this year our HS Wrestling Team was 2-11 or something like that.

Watching his story (and being the mom of a wrestler in town) has made me even more of a wrestling fan. Also, he wrestles for PSU (my husband’s alma mater), so that’s another bonus! Our hometown hero started in the local rec wrestling program in 1st grade and didn’t win a lot. In fact, he didn’t really start winning until he made it to the state championships in High School.

My son too, started wrestling in 1st grade in our rec program. He didn’t win a lot at first but just ended his first season with the middle school team and ended with an 11-10 record (tied for the most wins on the team this season). I don’t know what his wrestling future holds (and likely it won’t be wrestling for an NCAA champship for a BIG10 team) but I love to watch this hometown hero’s story.

Over winter break this hometown hero came back to meet with the rec, MS and HS wrestling teams to talk to them. He took time out of his training schedule to talk to these kids. He took pictures, signed autographs and truly was an inspiration to these teams. His story is one of grit and perseverance and passion. Win or lose in the finals tonight, he’s certainly an inspiration and has turned this mom into even more of a fan!

Post-script: Anthony won! NCAA National Championship HWT class!

SOLC 22 of 31: Staying the Course with Virtual Support Groups

I participate in a few “virtual” support groups on Facebook and I would consider Two Writing Teachers another space like that. In this group there is so much positivity, collective shared vision and willingness to support one another that you can’t help but want to participate and meet your goal.

I’m also part of a online group for parents of dyslexic children This groups helps to answer all kinds of questions member to member – people share resources, ask questions, seek advice and empathize with one another. It’s a place to be heard, to find solutions and to find support.

A third group I’m currently part of is a group for those following the Keto Diet. This is new to me for the past month and while I’m still figuring out how to eat this way, I appreciate those who post pictures of their success stories, recipes that work and honest reflections on days that didn’t go so well. It helps keep it real and is helping me try to stay the course.

In all cases, I also believe that the anonymity of the virtual spaces may allow folks to be more vulnerable, honest and authentic. Sometimes this works the other way too, where folks can be not nice, but I haven’t found that to be the rule, rather the exception.

There is comfort in knowing that there are others out there going through, doing or trying something new like you. These virtual support groups do help you stay the course. What are some ways that you find support to stay the course in your life?

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