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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

kanuga

Last week I was in the midst of preparing my eleven-year-old daughter to travel three states away to attend camp with her entire sixth grade class. With my son in college and my daughter going away for the first time (other than sleepovers with friends), I wondered how I would pass the hours until her return.  I haven’t had that many free nights to myself since before her birth!  I challenged myself to not waste those nights, but to actually do something with my time.

Fast forward one week, and my daughter is back – safe, sound, and sleeping in this morning since she just got back around midnight last night.  She had so much fun on the trip, and arrived home full of stories and very happy to see her mama and her cats!

As for me, I had a slow start on my “empty nest adventures”. Work deadlines forced me to spend my first night at the office until way past quitting time.  By the time I got home, I was wiped out and turned into a couch potato watching old episodes of Criminal Minds.  But all was not lost.  On Day 2, I accepted a challenge my sister had thrown at me a few weeks ago.  I started the “Couch to 5K” challenge!  Shocking, I know, because exercise is very foreign to me. But I committed to doing it, and I have to say it’s actually been fun.

There are many programs available that offer to take slugs like me and get us off said couch and participating 5K walk/runs within a matter of weeks.  The one we are using is an app for our phones, and is so easy to do!  I enjoyed the first couple of nights so much, I have already roped a couple of co-workers into starting the workout program too.

As often happens, the thought of doing something can be worse than actually doing it.  It was hard for me to imagine I could ever actually run a 5K, so I had a “what’s the use?” attitude and kept putting off joining my sister in this program.  But after hearing her talk about her progress for several weeks, I was finally ready to say “I can do this!”.  I have a long way to go before I can actually pin a number to my t-shirt and cross a finish line. But I’m having fun taking it one day at a time.

race bib

What is something you have been putting off?  I challenge you to just jump in with both feet and go for it!  Good luck, and remember to have fun.

finish line

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mountainsNext week will find me in unfamiliar territory.  Am I taking on a new hobby? Planning a trip to a first time destination? Signing up for ballroom dancing?  Nope…none of those.  I am going to have one week without any children at home.  My oldest is in college, of course, as you already know.  But my youngest will be going on a class trip to camp several states away, in a little corner of paradise in the mountains.  She is excited, yet nervous at the same time.  She’s never been away from home for that many days at one time. And she will not be allowed to take her iPhone (a terrifying thought for her!).  But mostly she is excited.

Her mom (that would be me!), on the other hand, hates the thought of her being that far out of reach for so long.  She and I are nearly inseparable, and I’ll miss her so much.  And yet….it has occurred to me that for the first time in eleven years I will have a week’s worth of evenings all to myself.  I’m just now beginning to consider how to fill up my time.  The mind boggles at the possibilities!

It goes without saying that I’ll spend part of that time working on my next manuscript.  And I will probably hang out with Kate Patrick, my closest sidekick, at least a couple of nights.  I’ll have a chance to read new books that have been on my wish list.  And I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time thinking, “I wonder what she’s doing right now.”  But I am challenging myself to do something out of the box, something unexpected.  I have no idea yet what that will be, but I’m open to suggestions.

She will be full of stories to tell when she gets back home.  Hopefully I’ll have a few to share with her, too!

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A little over nine years ago, on May 30, 2003, Disney released an animated movie called Nemo.  It was a Pixar Studio production, so you know already that it was awesome!  And, as all big budget animated films seem to do, it had some great star power behind the voices.  Albert Brooks was so perfect as the overprotective, slightly neurotic clownfish father.  Ellen DeGeneres was a total surprise – and hilariously funny – as the voice of the sidekick with short term memory issues.  The list goes on and on:  Willem DaFoe (who makes even a mangled up tropical fish sound sexy!); Allison Janney; Brad Garrett; Vicky Lewis; and, of course, John Ratzenberger (can’t have a Pixar film without his vocal talents, right?).

When this movie was first released, I took my 5th grade son to see it.  It was the tale of a single parent father (a clownfish), trying to raise his only child.  Due to tragedy that took the lives of his wife and approximately 399 other children, Nemo is all that Marlin has left in this world.  And he holds on for dear life.  So tightly, in fact, that he winds up driving Nemo away.  But as with all the great family movies, by the end Marlin has learned that he has to ease up a little, and allow Nemo to actually live his life.  Sure there are risks, but it’s so rewarding too!  Nemo, by the end, discovers that his dad isn’t such a total nerd afterall.  And what they both knew all along is that they love each other dearly.

The vivid colors were incredible.  The way the animation captured the movement of water was breathtaking.   Seeing water move across fins and gills made you sit in awe at the talent of the animators.  And the dialogue was guaranteed to make the audience – both young and old – laugh.

Fast foward several years, and it’s September 14, 2012.  Guess what.  Disney has just re-released Nemo, but this time in glorious 3-D.  And last night I was in a theater seat, watching it and enjoying it every bit as much as the first time.  Only beside me was my 4th grade daughter, while my son was four hours away in Tuscaloosa.

Watching it this time around was a very different experience.  Yes, there was still awe for the top-notch animation.  As always, I laughed out loud at the funny dialogue.  But I had a different perspective this time, which changed the experience for me.

I still have a child under my care who is young enough that I tend to be overprotective at times (okay – I admit it, a lot!).  But I also have one who is almost 20 years old, and he’s basically out on his own now.  I can’t know what he’s doing every moment of the day.  And I have to trust that, as I raised him, I gave him enough opportunities to live his life, make a few mistakes along the way, and then hopefully learn from them so he gets it right the next time he’s faced with a difficult choice.

Then, as if by magic, as I sat holding my daughter’s hand, my cell phone vibrated.  I pulled it out of my pocket and looked at it only to discover a text from my son.  It was short and sweet:  i luv u mom.

It was a perfect moment, and I began to cry.  Ahh, the joys of motherhood!!!

 

 

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For my family, tonight is officially the last night of summer.

Tomorrow, my daughter starts her last year of lower school (I can’t believe next year she’ll have to wear a blazer and be a middle grader!!) and my son heads to Tuscaloosa for another year at Bama.  I am so sad that tonight we can’t continue our ritual of staying up late to watch movie marathons, or reading, or just listening to my son play his guitar and sing.  The nights of staying up till 2:00 a.m. are over for a while, and they will be missed.  Seems the past few months have been so busy that it was often only in the still hours of the night that the family managed to come together and bond.  And we had a blast doing it.  Never mind the fact I left the two younger ones in their beds each morning, where they would crash until noon while I reported to work dutifully by 7:30 each day (okay – I confess, I did drag in 10-15 minutes late sometimes!).

But this is also a time for excitement as they begin another year of school.  My daughter had a rough go of it last year.  But she was finally diagnosed with a vision problem when the school year was almost over and now she is doing much better with corrective lenses. I am excited to think how much easier this year should be for her now that she has glasses which will help her focus better on what is written on the page in front of her.  Instead of feeling “stupid” as she did last year (her word, not mine!), I hope she feels like the sky is the limit as she soaks up all that knowledge!

My son will start his second year of college and hopefully secure a spot in an internship program that he’s been eyeing.  But let’s be honest, he has to get past college football season first!  He is thrilled that he managed to procure tickets to all the home games.  Roll Tide Roll!

As for me, it’s time to evaluate how the year has progressed and decide where I want to be by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around.  The diet I started at the beginning of the year has gone no where (totally NOT the diet’s fault…the blame is all mine! LOL).  Maybe I’ll start a new one.  My pal told me about one called The Caveman Diet.  I am curious and need to google it.  Never heard of it before, but with a name like that, it’s gotta be intense, right?  I’m also still at the deadend job where I’ve been for more than a decade.  I seriously need to decide if I’m going to keep trying to weather the storm there or jump ship and go elsewhere.  (as my dad would say, either piss or get off the pot!)  As for the writing career, I am loving every minute of it, but have yet to pen my own work that becomes the next 50 Shades of Grey or The Marriage Bargain. So I’m still dreaming, and still writing.  But also still forced to work a full-time job in the Corporate world in order to pay the bills!   🙂

Sounds like the future is full of possibilities, and it will be fun to see where it takes us.  For those of you who may be heading off to college yourselves, good luck to you!  Make the most of the coming year.  For the rest of us who are watching our little ones load up the backpack, I hope they enjoy school and have fun learning.  For the rest of you, make the most of every day and always look to what lies ahead!  Aim high, but know when to set your sights on a new target too.

Here’s to the future!  And come next Memorial Day, you better believe me and my two precious kids will be sitting up till 2:00 a.m., watching movies.  Bring it on!

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I’ve been enjoying a vacation this week.  My kids and I made a getaway to the Gulf Coast near the Florida/Alabama border.  Despite many of the days bringing bad thunderstorms, it has still been a wonderful week. And finally, yesterday and today brought bright skies and plenty of opportunity to soak up some sun!  The kids brought their own bikes down so they can take in the fresh air and exercise at the same time.  And we’ve gone swimming every day that weather allowed.  Of course, we’ve been very mindful to use sunscreen too!  Fitness and health go hand in hand.

For the most part, we’ve eschewed the television in favor of good, old-fashioned reading.  We brought paperbacks, as well as our nooks.  And even though we have watched a few DVD’s here and there, we haven’t watched the first television episode.  That’s quite a feat for our family!  However, that all changes today.  It’s time for the Olympics, and to make them even better, this year they’re hosted by London.  Oh, how I wish I could be there!

Earlier in the week, my dear friend, Kate Patrick, was here too.  We were afforded the rare opportunity to work on our current WIP’s, seated side by side on our laptops.  She surprised me by telling me she’s hosting a book giveaway of my latest book, No Regrets.      To be in the running, all you have to do is stop by her blog and either “like” the post or leave a comment about it.  She’ll draw a winner on Sunday afternoon, so you still have plenty of time to get in on it!

Her blogsite is katepatrick.wordpress.com.  Good luck!

Image

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Happy Easter.  While some people think of today only in terms of bunnies, baskets and brightly colored eggs, others remember its religious significance and reflect on the resurrection of Christ after the crucifixion.  After death, he was made new again in a sense.  Even though it marked the of the end of his time on earth (after his assencion shortly thereafter), in a much broader sense it was actually a new beginning for Christianity.

Cross on Pensacola Beach

Today, I am considering the areas of my own life that need a new beginning.  Between my regular day job and my writing career, things have gotten a bit out of control lately for me.  I think it is time I reprioritize my life and bring the focus back onto what is most important.  I’m going to challenge myself today to do just that.

And speaking of focus, today marks a new beginning for my youngest child.  Yesterday she was diagnosed with a vision impairment.  It is not simply a matter of having bad eyesight and needing glasses.  (more…)

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My cousin is expecting her first baby any day.  Her due date is tomorrow.  This is a woman who wasn’t afraid to wait for Mr. Perfect to come along.  She knew what she wanted, knew what was right for her, and refused to settle for anything less. Guys came and went.  Some even proposed.  But she never waivered, and until it was right – and the man was right – she never took that walk down the aisle.  When she finally did, it was one of the most memorable weddings (and SPECTACULAR receptions!!!) I’ve ever attended.

So she is now in her mid-30’s and about to embrace motherhood – something she’s dreamed of for years. The entire extended family is so excited for her, and we’re all anxiously awaiting the call to say “G F” (the family will know what those initials stand for!) is finally here!

Now, I know that there is no comparison between creating life, and “birthing” a new novel.  But there are definitely some similarities.

First, it’s a long process.  As with pregnancies, manuscripts are given deadlines.  And, sometimes those “due dates” come and go and still we’re waiting.  Just like a baby waiting to be born, manuscripts seem to take on a life of their own, and will only be written in their own good time.  But have patience and eventually you will have that final product to deliver to your editor…even if it is a little late.

As an expectant mom, you have to take care of yourself and make decisions based on what is best for your growing baby.  You have to deny yourself things for the greater good of the baby.  As an author, you have to discipline yourself to ensure you can put the right amount of time into your craft.  You can’t just write willy-nilly, a few minutes here and a few minutes there and then expect a cohesive plotline.  Instead, you must plan ahead and schedule time to write.  Even if it’s just an hour a day, if you are disciplined enough to do that every single day, you will surprise yourself at how many words you can come up with over the course of a month.

Mothers will lovingly correct and discipline their children, because they know the child will become a better person for it. And as a general rule, our influence over our kids is strongest while they still live at home with us…once they’re grown and on their own, they listen to their own inner voice moreso than ours.  As we write and then edit our manuscripts, authors have to change whole passages of text, often chopping away favorite passages because they don’t contribute anything meaningful to the story, or – heaven forbid! – they drag it down.  It is our responsibility to make the story the best it can be prior to sending it out to the world as a publication.  Because our ability to change and mold the story is only in place until the publisher releases it…then the words are set in stone.

Finally, the anticipation of a new baby is unmatched.  It can reach an almost feverish pitch as the days tick by and eagerness swells. Then finally, at long last, that little bundle of joy is in your arms and you forget all the sacrifices and discomfort that it took to get her in this world.   It’s the same with a book release.  Once the last edits are made, and you finally see your cover, those final days of waiting until the book’s release are so nail-biting!  But once you see your title on Bookstrand,  Amazon, Nook or any of the other distributors, you forget the long hours and nerve-wracking moments when you had writer’s block and were pulling your hair out until inspiration struck again and you finally completed that 70,000 word manuscript!  It’s all worth it, and you’re so proud of “your baby”.

So to all the expectant parents out there, congratulations and best wishes.  There is no love like the love you feel for your child.  And for all the authors out there – whether you’re a seasoned veteran with a hundred titles to your name, or a newly signed author about to experience the thrill of publication for the first time – I say congratulations to you too.  Be proud of what you created, and I hope your creativity never ends!

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