Tag Archives: Family

How Motherhood Changed Me …

Click through the image below to see my story on how motherhood has changed me … Told using Adobe Slate.
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Shells & Alice Walker

 

Yesterday afternoon we were wandering along the shoreline, playing in the surf and happening upon gorgeous shells that were strewn along the shore.  Gorgeous shells just cast about like little gems.  No matter how many times I visit this part of the Gulf Coast – Marco Island and Sanibel Island – I’m always amazed by the shells.  Amazed someone has not already scooped them all up and hauled them away.  Surprised that there are always more.   And thrilled by all of the beauty that you will just stumble upon.

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As I woke up this morning and reflected on our experiences yesterday, I was reminded of this poem I love – on what we love and value.   Its a perfectly timed reminder to be present and elevate and focus on what really matters.  Thanks, Ms. Walker.

 

We Alone Can Devalue Gold – by Alice Walker

We alone can devalue gold

by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.

Cream Scones: simple pleasures

I love Saturday mornings.  The weekend stretches out ahead of us with so much possibility, the pace is slow and most of the house is still asleep.  I make my way downstairs to make a pot of coffee and mix up some scones.  With the most basic of ingredients and about 15 or 20 minutes I have a warm, delicious batch.  The simplicity of cream scones appeals to me some now.  Basically just some flour, butter and cream.  I like to stir up a little powdered sugar and the juice of an orange for a super-simple glaze as the finishing touch.

With all of the hustle and bustle of the week, baking something sort of grounds me and slows me down.  Perfect for a Saturday morning.  Try it!

 

This recipe is from one of my favorite sources: America’s Test Kitchen.

Cream Scones

  • Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 3 T sugar, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 5 T butter, 1 cup cream

 

  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse it 3 times.
  2. Sprinkle chunks of the butter over the floor and pulse about 10 more times – will look a little like sand
  3. Pour into a bowl, add cream and stir together for about 30 seconds
  4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead about 5 times and shape into a disc.  Cut the circle into 8 wedges
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes – basically bake til golden on top.
  6. Totally optional – For a little glaze, just mix a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar and add a drizzle of juice (I squeezed a tangerine into the sugar this morning.)  Super simple glaze to drizzle over your warm scones.  So good!

 

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Sulley – Adoption Love

Our house is pretty head over heels over Sulley, the adorable dog that we adopted from K-9 Justice League this past winter.  We are just so grateful for this loving, sweet and gentle dog.  He fits our family like a glove.  Hard to see this frisky, happy dog now and recognize any shred of the neglect that was a part of his life before he was rescued. I’m glad his days are brighter now – ours are too!

Sharing a few pics from a recent romp in the yard with our oldest son and Sulley’s best buddy.   Please consider adopting instead of shopping.  There’s a dog out there whose life you can turn around if you do.

Love this shot. Best buddies
Love this shot. Best buddies
Sulley Valentine
Sulley Valentine
The presidential pose - Josh & Sulley are the best ticket!
The presidential pose – Josh & Sulley are the best ticket!

Joy in Ordinary Moments – Welcome Fall!

There’s a wonderful quote from Brene Brown that goes:

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As we shift from summer into fall, this seems fitting.  During summer months, we tend to seek out the extraordinary – great vacations, outdoor adventures, etc.  Back to school and fall bring us back into a routine and a cadence to our days and weeks. Perhaps more ‘ordinary’ moments – but full of opportunities for joy and love and gratitude.

  • sharpened pencils – because, I mean really, there are few ordinary things better the night before school starts 🙂
  • the gorgeous color of mums on our front porch
  • baking – giant, soft ginger cookies are our back to school tradition
  • pumpkin patches, bobbing for apples, corn mazes
  • the comfort of our routines – bedtimes, reading time, packing lunches
  • the changing color of the leaves
  • the cool breeze in the air
  • more family dinners around the table because our schedules are a little more normal

Each season we try to create a ‘bucket list’ – with a few of the things that we open to experience in the upcoming season.  And when it comes to fall, its an oldies-but-goodies list that rarely changes.

Every Kid Needs a Champion

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For the next 10 months we will entrust our kids to teachers.  The best ones will build trust, inspire, motivate, and make learning fun!  I hope everyone is blessed with one (or many) terrific teachers this school year.

Watched this terrific TED talk – highly recommend.  Human connection is so key to learning.  Kids have a relationship, then they have trust, then they learn best.

Every Kid Needs a Champion.  Check it out!

Summer Vacation – NOLA Satchmo Summerfest

There always seems to be a great festival or concert going on in New Orleans, and this trip was no exception – it was the weekend of the Satchmo Summerfest.  And the great musical traditions of Louis Armstrong live on in his hometown!  The event featured many different traditional jazz and brass bands playing on the grounds of the Old U.S. Mint just off the French Market.

We saw some great bands – my favorite was the Paulin Brothers Jazz Band.  I loved the stories they told about growing up in New Orleans in a musical family and how much jazz music was a part of their life.  Forgot to take a video – but here’s a YouTube clip of them:

Between performances, the NOLA Jitterbugs taught dance lessons, and encouraged the crowd to dance during the performances – which they did.  It was as much fun to watch the dancers as to hear the terrific music 🙂   Something about swing dancing just makes me smile – it seems so happy and so free.  There was a dad out there teaching his little girls to dance, couples of all ages sowing off their great dance moves, and some colorful characters too!

We were loving the great dance moves!

Fun afternoon in NOLA!

Summer Vacation – checking out NOLA White Linen Night

As family vacations go – places with great music, art, and food tend to be high on the list of destinations.  So New Orleans is a family favorite.  We are back in NOLA for summer vacation and timing couldn’t be better: both the Satchmo Summerfest and the Whitney White Linen Night art event are going on this week.  Add that to the great restaurant destinations and you have the makings of a terrific week.

Part 1: Whitney White Linen Night

Basically its a mega-art party that shuts down 4 blocks of Julia Street in the Warehouse District of NOLA the first Saturday in August each year.  Lucky for us we happened to be here to experience it!  Apparently to fight the blazing heat of summer in August, locals took to wearing light colors and breathable fabrics.  That tradition gave a theme to the annual art event – where art lovers come out decked out in their best summer whites to enjoy the scene and tour the galleries. There were several shows opening on White Linen night, plus live music and food from local restaurants.

We saw some great artwork and love that so many people came out for the event.  Realized in seeing other pictures that we missed some big exhibits – so definitely want to get back by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Art Center for some of the things we missed on White Linen Night.

And of course Nat and Josh had to squeeze in a photobomb – as I was trying to get a pic of one of my favorite sculptures of the night.

I fell in love with these metal sculptures
I fell in love with these metal sculptures

A few great links to check out the NOLA art scene:

Contemporary Art Center: Website Link

Julia Street Art Galleries: Gallery Web Link

Ogden Museum of Southern Art: Website

Making Robots! Int’l NodeBots Day at 757 Makerspace

It was another terrific Maker Saturday at 757 Makerspace!  For the second year in a row they celebrated International NoteBots Day by opening up the site for free to the public to tinker with building, driving and battling bots.  I just can’t say enough good things about the wonderful camaraderie and the culture of coaching and assisting that ran through the event.

There were plenty of Sumobot kits, decorations to give our bots some personality, and plenty of laptops to test out our creations.  Justin loved playing with the copter bots that run on JavaScript, and was learning then teaching some younger kids how to organize he commands to guide the copters.  We had built bots at Makerspace once before, but this was our first time battling bots.  Hilarious!  Once our bot was done Josh decided to ‘enhance’ it with some bumpers – colorful ones made of neon pipe cleaners!  It was great … until they fell off just as the bot was placed into the ring to begin.  We laughed SO hard!

Everyone was laughing, cheering, just having a great time.  Thanks to 757 Makerspace and their sponsors – Grow, Emerging Technology Advisors, 80/20 Consulting, Balderdash, CodeBetter.com, Designology – for organizing the event and making it free to the public so that more could participate and also check out the great community at our local makerspace.

Here are a few pics from the first half of the day that we attended.  Our family is a member of Makerspace – to check out some of the other great programs, check out a few other blog posts here: Recent Blog Posts at 757 Makerspace.  Highly recommend you check them out and visit.  Its a great community to learn, tinker and have fun with family!

Autism Awareness: Sensory Issues with Touch

April is Autism Awareness Month – so thought I would sprinkle a few slices of life throughout the month to give a little lens into a family with a child on the autism spectrum. There are so many different experiences – ours is just one, and much milder than many.

Our journey with autism has had plenty of Sensory Integration issues – basically challenges with sensory processing that can take many forms. One of the big ones for Justin when he was younger was the sense of touch.

THEN: for years, our little guy could not stand the feeling of fabric on his limbs. He walked around with his pant legs rolled up and his sleeves push up above his elbows. May sound like a minor issue, but when your child is always uncomfortable its a problem.  And while thats easier to work around in the summer with shorts and t-shirts, what about those cold weather months where no sleeves and pant legs are just not an option?

NOW: Over time, we found fabrics that were less irritating (lots and lots of fleece), never had any clothes with tags, and gradually over a couple of years he could tolerate the pant legs and sleeves.  Now its a distant memory … though he still has a wardrobe that is about as close to pajamas as you can get (still lots of fleece, PJs when he gets home, etc.)

But between THEN and NOW was a couple years of occupational therapy and lots of patience, support and flexibility as we worked to keep him comfortable.

Here’s a link below if you want to know a little more about Sensory Processing issues.

Sensory Processing Disorder Explained

Justin’s Tae Kwon Do Journey

In fourth grade,  our youngest son, Justin, transitioned from Montessori to a mainstream, neighborhood elementary school.

Well, at Back to School Night that first month, World Champion TKD visited the school and invited kids to come try out the program.  Master Park was enthusiastic, full of energy and encouraging kids to come out and give it a try.

 

 

Justin was really interested – maybe a little to my surprise – so the next week we visited.  That was about 2 1/2 years ago … and next month he will test for his Black Belt.  What an accomplishment, and we are thrilled for him!   It will be a big month ahead getting ready to test, and as the milestone approaches I couldn’t help but reflect on all that this program has done for him.

At first I wasn’t sure if Justin would thrive in the TKD program, was hesitant about whether being on the autism spectrum would get in the way of it being fun and his making progress.  But, boy, was I mistaken.

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  • Physically – the TKD form, board-breaking techniques and kicking combinations developed his gross motor skills and his overall coordination.  And Justin brought a level of precision and crispness to his work in form that I would not have expected.  The normally loose and floppy little guy can turn on the intensity when practicing in front of his instructors, competing or testing.  It’s like there is an ‘ON’ switch that flips when he is trying to earn a stripe, and great to know that he can dig deep to find that extra focus and commitment when he needs it.
  • Emotionally – Justin really does not like to make mistakes, especially ones that are noticed publicly.  But with TKD, you are constantly in learning mode as you earn stripes within a belt, and progress from one belt to another.  That made it more ‘normal’ to realize that in the beginning, before we master something, we all make mistakes.  That its nothing to be ashamed of and just part of life and learning and growing.  He also learned about processing disappointment and bouncing back – especially when he thought he was ready to earn a stripe but he did not, and had to keep honing his practice to try another day.  Hard to see him disappointed, but so important that he learn to handle that disappointment and not give up.

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  • Socially – One of my favorite memories of Justin’s TKD studies is the first time an instructor entrusted him with a small group of students in his belt, and asked Justin to guide the other kids through their form practice.  He was BEAMING!  And rigorous.  While some might run the group through, then goof off or take a break, these kids did constant drills for about 15 minutes solid … he was focused and a little taskmaster!  Who knew?!   Master Park is very clear with all the students that he expects them to be students of great character – being respectful, diligent and kind.  Through parent report cards, he publicly shares the kids results with the class – praising those who are dong well, and challenging but also encouraging those who are not meeting those standards at home with their families.

22193_4030952666590_1841810661_nThen there’s the impact of setting a long term goal and working diligently until you attain it.  That’s something that I know will stay with him and help him feel that he can set other big goals and through commitment and hard work achieve them.  The confidence that comes with that is terrific and I am so glad that we visited the dojang way back in September 2011.

 

And like everything else in life, Justin would be ready for this big milestone without the support, encouragement and coaching of Master Park and all of his instructors.  We thank you SO much!!  Now for the final stretch to get ready for testing day next month.

 

I know that each child on the autism spectrum is unique in their abilities and their areas of challenge, and tae kwon do may not be right for many.  But in our case it has been a blessing and really helped with Justin’s development.  Our other son who is neuro-typical is also in the program and it has been great for him, too.  Just focused this post on his it has helped with the development of our youngest.

Get Up And Make! The Maker Movement

We got a peek into a great ‘maker’ community here in Hampton Roads today at 757 Makerspace, and I am SO excited!  It reminds me of the many years that I coached creative problem solving teams with Destination Imagination.  Artists, crafters, makers – learning and experimenting aLearning, imagining, creating, messy and imperfect – and FUN!   The idea that if you can imagine it, you can make it.  And have fun learning how and trying.

Check them out!

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757 Makerspace website

And if you are not in Hampton Roads, see if you can find a similar community center in your town.

Today we checked out a blacksmithing class.  About 25 kids and their parents braved 30 degree temps to try their hand at learning the basics of blacksmithing.  Metal, fire – what else do you need, right???

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And we are definitely lucky to have the guys and gals of 757 Makerspace who were fantastic with the kids and families.  A little teaching, some hands on practice, and some fun!  We are so excited to get back there next weekend for another class and see what other  things we can get into.

I think most of us love to try our hand at new things.  And exposing ourselves and our kids to the things we can do, create, make with our own hands and the help of others is a perfect antidote for too much screen time and standardized testing.  To get us all taking our ideas and trying them out, bringing them into reality.

Here’s a Parenting Idea for 2015:

FLIP THE SITUATION!  Instead of lamenting how much time kids spend in front of screens this year, plan an outing to do something hands on – whether that’s an outing in nature or a class where you can all create something with your hands and learn a new skill!  

Maybe find a way to create a little ‘maker box’ or ‘maker space’ of your own home for tinkering.  Try to get your school to get a ‘maker club’ going to get kids engaged with their minds and their hands.

And the same applies to all of us.  What kind of projects have we had in mind that we would love to see come to life?

Let’s find some new, fun and creative alternatives and get the creative juices flowing!