Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Ready to go Back to School

    When Matt was young, the month of August was always bittersweet for me.  It felt like every positive was balanced with a negative. I cannot believe that Matt started first grade more than twenty years ago.  It seems like only yesterday that we were all excited about the first day of school.   I wanted to make the morning routine easy on us, and so  I'll share a couple of my best tips.
    It's fun to shop for back to school stuff, but it means that summer is going to end soon.  Sadly, it's getting dark at 8 o'clock now, but the cooler nights  gives us some great sleeping weather.  School will be starting soon, and that means it's important  to come up with the right schedule to accommodate each busy day.   
   Getting everyone out of the house in the morning  can be a nightmare, and so I'd like to offer two simple solutions.  This week, start the practice runs for the new school year.   Have the kids set their alarms for a school day.  Tell them they cannot spend the last week of summer sleeping late, they need to enjoy the last week of summer.  Spend the morning organizing their rooms, then get out and enjoy the day.  After a few days of getting up early, let's hope the kids will want to call it a night earlier.  Have them go to their rooms at their new bedtime, even if they read or listen to music for an hour before lights out.  
   Work on a reasonable estimate of how much time each will need in the morning, then write the schedule out and put on the refrigerator.  I was finally grateful that my son was wide awake from the minute he opened his eyes in the morning, and we could get up and out in 30 minutes if we tried.  We allowed 45 minutes for our morning routine, and I divided it in three segments.  At 7am, Matt had fifteen minutes to get up and dressed (uniforms made this easy) . The next fifteen minutes was allowed for breakfast, which was finished by 7:30 (I worked with moms who said their kids fell asleep in their cereal bowls).   He then had fifteen minutes to wash his face, brush his teeth, comb his hair, and fill the backpack with lunch and homework.  The goal was to be in the car, and on the way to the bus stop by 7:45am.  At any time, we could look at the clock, and know if we were going to be on time.  I only had to point to  the schedule on the fridge, and we knew if we were running late.  This saved a lot of discussions, and stopped a lot of  morning battles.  I also added an incentive.  As a reward, Matt could pick out his snacks for school lunch, if he was ready on time.  I always packed fruit, which I was told was not cool.  
   The idea is to take the drama out of mornings, so be realistic about the time you will need.  Factor in a few minutes for unexpected delays.....after all, spills happen.....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.......


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Celebration of Life

   A good friend of mine used to always say "Today is a gift, and that's why we call it the 'present."   I get up everyday and give thanks, then decide to enjoy my day.  Since tomorrow is still a mystery, today might be as good as it gets.
  One of my step-sisters died suddenly a few weeks ago.  Marianne was a young and vibrant 58yr old, and it has hit all of us very hard.   By the time our folks married, and their families blended,  we were all  married with kids of our own. They share seven children, and we all all very close in age.  We were closest with Mare and her four daughters,  because we all live in New Hampshire, and we got to see them the most.   The girls were teenagers when we met them more than twenty years ago, and now they are grown with children.  They did a fantastic job with the memorial service, and it truly was a celebration of life.  There were several photo collages, as well as some of Marianne's own artwork at the calling hours.  The memorial service  had poems and stories, and the church was full of friends and family.  I don't know how my folks got through it, because they never expected to survive one of their kids.  They were comforted by the fact that all six of us attended with our spouses, and four generations were there to support them.
    Marianne's youngest daughter read a beautiful poem, which put into words what many were feeling, and I'll share a verse. I could not find the author's name.
   "If tears could build a stairway, and thoughts a memory lane, I'd walk right up to heaven, and bring you home again.  No farewell words were spoken, no time to say good-bye, you were gone before I knew it, and only God know's why."   
    Death does help us keep things in perspective.  I want my family to feel the love that I have in my heart for all of them.  I refuse to squander  today, because I'm consumed with what may go wrong tomorrow.  I vow to make healthy choices, and to count my blessings.  I need to take a look at my bucket list, and get serious about the important  items.  I'll try not to worry so much about the small stuff, and try to make the most of my opportunities.......have a good week everyone...and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on......


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic Closing Ceremony

    I just finished watching the closing ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics.  I learned that 204 countries participated in the games,  85 nations earned at least one medal, and that 7 countries won a medal for the very first time.  The United States won the most gold medals with 46, and the most overall with 104.  We can be extremely proud of all the Olympians who competed with such courage.  I wish I could have seen everything, but I was thrilled with the swimming, gymnastics, track and field, volleyball and basketball.
     The music from the closing was wonderful, and I enjoyed watching the athletes sing along with the performers.  So much  of the popular music we all grew up on, came from England.  Everyone seemed to know the words to the songs, and I loved watching the world sing together!
      As the Olympic flames died out, we were reminded that each petal was engraved with the name of one country,  which will be able to take that petal home.  I thought that was fantastic!
      I heard someone comment that the Brits put on a "Jolly Good Show", and I would say that sums it up quite well!  Many of the athletes hope to compete in the 2016 games, which will be held in Brazil.  It would be a dream come true, and I wish everyone well.......and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on.......

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It takes a Village

   I hope everyone likes the Blog's new look!!  I need to give a huge THANK YOU to  Taunia for the makeover.   It's great to have a friend with the talent and energy to perform such a face-lift!  It reminds me of the song verse "I get by with a little help from my friends."  I'm reminded of all the people in my life who have taken the time to help me through the years.  Family, friends, teachers, colleagues, and co-workers all have a  big influence as we grow and develop into adulthood and beyond.  I'm lucky to have had so many positive relationships in my life.  I never thought I had all the answers, and so I welcomed guidance and direction.
   As I watch the second week of these Olympic games, I wonder how many hundreds of people worked together to help each Olympian get the chance to compete at this level.  I marvel at the time and energy required to train and excel.  It must be a dream come true for all of the athletes, and those who helped make it a reality.  I hear the emotional interviews after winning a medal, and I find myself tearing up as well.
    The United States is doing great, and I'm proud to be an American.  I tip my hat to to the USA team, and their circle of friends.  Best of luck in the week ahead.  I hope you get the chance to make history, and enjoy every minute of it !....and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on......