Monday, September 14, 2015

Help Homeless Kids Have A Great Halloween!

Hi everyone! 

My 12 year old daughter is doing a really great Girl Scout Silver Award project. She's been working for months on a Halloween party for the children at the Katherine K Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax, VA. The kids will be able to "shop" for costumes for Halloween and she hopes to have enough left over to create a permanent dress-up/creative play area at the shelter. She did some research and found that creative play helps all kids develop and grow, but can be especially helpful for kids who have experienced trauma. 

If you have any gently used costumes you would like to donate, please consider sending them to this awesome project. 

If you live locally (around DC or Northern Virginia) and would like to volunteer at the event, that would AWESOME! Here's the sign-up genius to learn more:

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Eulogy for My Grandmother

My grandmother passed away this afternoon. The last few months of her life she was very ill and sadly, her family and dear friend were in conflict around her, as sometimes grief and fear do not bring out the very best in people. I will not dwell on that. Her family loved her and now in her absence, we continue to love each other. 

She had a long life, spent entirely in Trenton, NJ, which (if you know Trenton) is an accomplishment in itself. She saw the world change so much in her 90 years and showed me that having fun and doing things your own way are not the providence of the young. She loved the Yankees and especially Derek Jeter. She was an amateur trash talker (Yankees fan, so obviously). She travelled, she gambled a lot, and won more than a normal person should. 

She would occasionally say things that were both inappropriate and hilarious (for example, anything that was a big mess she would refer to as a "Polish picnic"). She introduced me to really good Italian food, and taught me to cook the things that will bring me home for the rest of my life, no matter where I am.  

She conditionally baptized me as a Catholic against my parents' wishes and didn't really care that it bothered them. She was there for me as a little kid when I really, really needed her. I knew her well, but also not all, as her life was mystery to me (like the time she handed me a red formal dress and said: "Oh, I wore this to President Johnson's Inaugural Ball - take it."). 

She appreciated being comfortable and the value of home. She always insisted on having the best she could get. For some reason, she thought I was the best. As her favorite grandchild, she saw only the best in me (even when I did not deserve it) and the strength of her love allowed me to see her and know her at her very best. 

I will miss her, and always be grateful for her, and am so glad she is no longer suffering. I pray that she rests in peace and that for her sake, there is both casino gambling and major league baseball in heaven.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2015

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

No Time to Talk? 6 Easy Ideas for When to Talk with Kids

This post is sponsored by as part of their #talkearly campaign.

School is starting and I’m about to freak out. My kids are heading into 7th, 5th, and 1st grade, which means I’m smack in the part of their lives where everything whizzes by so fast it makes my head spin. Once our school schedule clicks into place, we’re running from thing to thing and we can go days without slowing down long enough to have a conversation.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Staying in My Own Lane

Last week I had to bribe my son to swim backstroke. He hates it and as a result, he'd refused to do it since the beginning of this year’s swim season. With the prospect of money on the table, he was willing to give it one last try. 

Watching him race, I could see how much he'd improved, but he was still dead last in his heat. Though he finished strong, he got out of the pool hanging his head. He'd taken 14 seconds off his backstroke, which is remarkable, but in that moment all he cared about was the fact that he'd come in last. Had he been in a different heat that night, he might've won or come in third. In either of those cases, he would've felt pride in the accomplishment of getting so much better. Yet there he was, humiliated, hating a moment that should've been cause for celebration.

How did we get here? How did we land in this spot where (to quote the immortal sage Ricky Bobby) “If you’re not first, you’re last”?  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

10 Things I Learned from Actually Doing a Swim Practice

From Memorial Day until late July of every year, my family is consumed with summer swim team, also known as the Water Cult. For the past couple of years, the swim coaches have offered a "Masters Swim" for parents, many of whom are former swimmers themselves. The emails have been inviting us parents to join in for years. I have always deleted them.

This year, however, I have succumbed to the positive peer pressure of my friends, who are participating because they care about "fitness" and "health". I feel that my presence has downgraded the entire experience for everyone and that the practices should now be referred to as "Masters" with intentionally sarcastic air quotes. I mean, the only skills I've mastered are the world's slowest backstroke and how to be consistently ten minutes late to practice.

But it's been a fascinating learning experience that has made me appreciate what my kids go through every day and also how truly great the sport is. So here are 10 things I learned from actually doing a swim team practice:



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