Running Scared

5491796838_9e91366626Today was Patriots’ Day in Boston, a day marked by its predictability and routineness. A day that begins April break for many Boston school children; the heralding of spring; a home game for the Red Sox, sometimes a win; and always the running of the Boston Marathon. In fact some people know today first as Marathon Monday, and second for the holiday commemorating the Battle of Concord and Lexington, fought in 1775, marking the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Today things changed.

I’m thankful that I took my kids away for April Break. Away from usually safe, predictable, routine Patriots’ Day down to our Nation’s Capital, where just about anything can happen. Yet here I sit, feeling safe and unthreatened while I watch news reports of fellow Bostonians feeling shaken and upset.

Two bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon today and at least three people are confirmed dead so far. More

40: Shades of Gray

shades of grayWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

No, really. What do you want to BE?

Because, let’s face it, whatever you’ve been doing in your twenties and thirties, probably isn’t what you still want to be doing in your forties and beyond. (If it is, congratulations, you can stop reading now because you are way ahead of the pack).

I know this is true because in the past few years I’ve been watching friends and acquaintances around me turn 40 and each time, within months of their birthdays, many of them have initiated one type of major life change or another. Some of them have changed careers; some have started families; some have ended marriages; and some have finally worked on turning their dreams into realities.

Forty is reality.

It’s time to take charge of life rather than allowing life to take charge of us. Out with what society expects of us; out with what we’ve been groomed to do or be our whole lives…what is it YOU want to be?

More

Couples Counseling

coupleLast year, I wrote about investing in your marriage in a post called Marriage Takes Work. It’s been a popular read and has generated a number of comments but that’s not why I wrote it.

I wrote it because I grew up surrounded by divorce and because my husband and I reside at almost opposite ends of the Myers-Briggs personality spectrum—I’m a sound ENFJ and he’s an ISTJ. If you’re curious about yourself, you can take a quick test here, (thanks Marisa Hopkins for the link).

DH and I entered into marriage knowing it would require our constant care. So last spring we enlisted the help of a clinical social worker and started Couples Counseling.

People have funny misconceptions about the term “counseling;” it often seems to connote that one is seeking counseling for something that is in trouble. In our case, we’re not in trouble, we just want to make sure we don’t lose our way. We’re not asking for help but rather seeking “guidance.”

Guidance to help us better manage the way we communicate with one another, guidance to bring up topics we didn’t know have the potential to evolve into challenges later, and guidance to prepare us for future hurdles that we may encounter along the way. More

Wearing 4T

Starting today, my son and I have something in common, we’re both a 4T; it’s just that his is a clothing size and mine, an age.

Today has been looming on the horizon for a good long while now. In fact, in many regards, this celebration began when I turned 38, so unexpected and wonderful was that birthday surprise. Scorpios love basking in the sun, so being celebrated and the attention that comes with birthdays suits us well. In fact, ask most Scorpios and they’ll confirm that we tend toward recognizing the entire birthmonth, not just the day.

Scorpio pride aside, I’m downright lucky that I married the man I did—a man, who speaks his love through action—because so far this month has been one prolonged celebration. From the gathering of friends, family traveling to be together, and the general broadcast over social media, I have no hope (nor desire) to hide my age and, quite honestly, I’m rather perplexed by the notion of people who do.

I’m a staunch believer that age and wisdom go hand-in-hand. More

Lois Lowry and Becoming a Writer

Kyla and Heather get Lois Lowry to sign a copy of The Giver

A little over a year ago, DH made a new friend. It wasn’t a friend for him,it was a friend for me. Her name was Heather Kelly.

DH met her on our daughters’ kindergarten playground. Luckily, in the way children either  become fast friends or sworn enemies, our daughters were instant pals: my exuberant, over-the-top, Type A with Heather’s quiet, shy but equally headstrong Cowgirl. It took the moms a bit longer but resulted in a friendship with far greater symbiosis.

Heather has been the jumper cables for my childrens book writing aspirations and I’ve helped hone her athletic pursuits. It’s a very positive and supportive friendship, the type that enhances ones well-being rather than detracts from it in the way that friends you just share vices with do.

The pursuits we share (sports and children’s literature) make us better people. Neither of us depends on the other for inspiration nor survival—like the symbiosis between plant and animal found in lichen—rather, we are motivated toward our mutualistic pursuits just by spending time together and encouraging each other.

Which is why it strikes me as particularly ironic that one of the galvanizing pieces of our friendship is founded on a dystopia, conjured in the mind of Lois Lowry. More

Seeing the World

DH and I once hoped to raise our kids abroad. A few years ago, when DH’s career focus shifted from overseas to California and Texas, that hope dimmed. Such is life, plans change and opportunities arise at mysterious intervals.

So, we have planted our roots in our cozy, New England suburb and begun to blossom. But by doing so, we realize that if we aren’t providing our kids with an international address, then raising them with international outlooks means finding other ways for them to see the world instead.

When life puts up road blocks, come up with alternative routes. More

Mommy Burnout

Yesterday I let my three-year-old sit on the potty for 45-minutes, having an epic meltdown, waiting for someone to help him wipe. That someone was not going to be me. I’m out of the bottom wiping business.

Did I feel like a bad mother? yes. Did it fry my nerves to listen to his wails? yes. Will I repeat the situation all over again when it happens next? yes.

In just three week’s time he will head off to preschool where no one will be allowed to wipe his bottom. He’s got to do it on his own. But it wasn’t just this motivator that spurned me on, it’s that I’m in Week Eight of the American school system’s ten-week long, summer holiday. I’m toast. More

In Memoriam

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re probably familiar with my least favorite, family pet, Butterscotch.

What started off as enthusiasm for a cute and unique, (non-mouse) first-pet for our daughter, quickly evolved into a loathing disdain for a too-fast-too-hold, quick-nipping-nightmare of a rodent.

The divide widened when my daughter—whose only chance to bond with her pet was by sitting in a dry bathtub together while he darted around seeking an escape root—lost interest in the weekly cleaning of his cage and then abandoned feeding him daily rations all together. Guess who got saddled with hamster duty?

DH and I selected this pet for two reasons: 1. because our daughter desperately wanted two mice and this was as close as we could come to a mouse without the tail and infestation issues; and 2.  life expectancy for Robo dwarf hamsters is 1-3 years. More

Writing Requires Discipline

In addition to my sporadic writing on this blog, I also write (and edit and work) on another blog. It’s a fascinating blog, which mainly focuses on travel and parenting issues around the world. Even though I’m on the site several times a week, editing other writer’s posts, I only get to publish my own articles about once every 6-8 weeks.

Since I have a post running on that blog next week, I sat down to write. I chose the topic: children and discipline. As I got into the article, writing about how important discipline and enforcing rules is in our house, it occurred to me that I’m not very good at practicing what I preach and I started to wonder why that was.

It’s times like these where I really wish I had taken more psychology classes in college or understood more about what makes people tick. More

Teaching Philanthropy

My oldest child turns six today. She’s a terrific kid. Perhaps one of her best attributes is that she’s not at all materialistic. I suspect this is because the only television she’s ever watched is commercial-free PBS so partly she doesn’t even know what’s out there to want.

Whatever the reason, out of all of the presents she’s received over the past five years—dolls, doll houses, Play Mobil figurines and sets, craft kits, puzzles, games—the toy she plays with most, in fact, almost every day, is a set of 10 colorful nesting blocks.

She does all sorts of things with them. They have deep social bonds and alternating pecking orders, depending on their size and number. And while it’s a marvel to observe her playing with them, it’s also discouraging to think of all the toys and things that don’t interest her.

Several weeks ago, I began thinking about and planning for her 6th birthday. People started asking me what she wanted and it occurred to me that I really didn’t know. In fact, it’s entirely possible that she really didn’t know what she wanted herself.

Then the idea dawned on me that maybe this year, instead of birthday gifts, people could help my daughter support a cause. But what cause? More

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