Five Facts About Old Glory

The flags flying at the Vietnam War Memorial

The flags flying at the Vietnam War Memorial

In honor of Flag Day, and in keeping with my year of growth and learning, I decided to research and learn more about Old Glory. Here’s what I found:

  1. Let’s talk Betsy Ross. I grew up in suburban Philadelphia and took many school field
    Image via

    Image via

    trips to the Betsy Ross House, often referred to as the birthplace of the American flag.  But, was Betsy Ross really the first person to sew the Stars and Stripes? There is no direct evidence to support this legendary story, originally told by her grandson, William Canby, in 1870. Historians have debated the accuracy of this history for years. Some say another person, Francis Hopkinson, deserves credit for the design based on entries in the journals of the Continental Congress. So, what do you think? Is the story of Betsy Ross sewing the first U.S. flag factual history or family legend?

  2. According to Fox News Magazine, the current design of the U.S. flag was designed by a high school student! I love this story.  Robert G. Heft completed the design as part of a high school project anticipating Alaska and Hawaii becoming states. His teacher gave him a B-, but later changed it to an A when President Eisenhower selected Heft’s design over 1500 other entries. How cool is that??!!
  3. Everyone knows the original flag had 13 stripes and 13 stars. Most know that, as states 15_starswere added, stars were added. But, did you know that when states 14 and 15, Vermont and Kentucky respectively, were added to the Union, stripes were added to the flag too? Strange, huh? By 1818, the flag reverted to 13 stripes representing 13 original colonies.
  4. Over the years, the star patterns have varied widely as new states were added. Mental Floss has some great images of flags over the years. I like this one.
    Image Via Mental Floss

    Image Via Mental Floss

    If you want to see them all, check out this page for a timeline of flags through the years.  Which is your favorite design?

  5. The Pledge of Allegiance, authored by Francis Bellamy in 1892, was intended by the author to be used by citizens of any country to show allegiance to their flag. As published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892, it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It was altered several times before it finally became the Pledge of Allegiance we know today in 1954.

There you have it folks – a little trivia about the U.S. flag, affectionately known as Old Glory or Stars and Stripes.   I am proud to be an American, and prouder to know a little bit more the flag that inspires awe and stirs emotion every time I see it waving in the wind. Happy Flag Day!


Lessons From a First-Timer

I started running back in December.  Frankly, it started with a burning desire to reclaim my body from years of child-bearing, child-rearing and neglect.  I never thought I would actually enjoy it. Somewhere along the way, something changed.  Running has become less about wanting to change my body and more about the feeling of strength and power that I have after a run. I love that I feel healthier, more invigorated and less-stressed with each step.  More importantly, I love knowing that I am teaching my children valuable life lessons about physical fitness, working towards a goal and perseverance.


On Sunday, I ran in my first-ever 5K – the Graffiti Run in Camden/Philadelphia. I finished in 27:28 and immediately began to wonder if the course was really 5K because that is way faster than I ever do on the treadmill. All you runners out there – is that normal? Regardless, I felt great after the run and thought I’d share my tips for others who are about to embark on their “first-time” too.

Pick Up Your Runner’s Packet Before Race Day: I got the emails from the Graffiti Run organizers telling me to go to packet pick-up on Saturday to avoid long lines on the race day. I even gave serious thought to going since the location they selected was only 15-20 minutes away. But, the time frame didn’t quite work with our Saturday activities. We spent the afternoon at the zoo and I was so tired when we got home. I was definitely way too tired to extricate myself from the couch at 5 PM and go get my stuff before they closed at 6 PM. Big mistake. I ended up waiting in line for over an hour to get my bib and shirt. Is this how all races are?? I will now do whatever it takes to get my registration materials before race day. Lesson learned.

Don’t Be Afraid To Go It Alone: The original plan was to run this race with someone else. That plan changed on Saturday when my running buddy decided she wasn’t ready, despite my offer to walk with her when she needed it. This almost derailed me.  It would have been so easy to skip the race – I had the perfect excuse. But, I made the decision to go and I am glad I did! If my friend was with me, I would have stayed with her and walked and ran at her pace. I would not have pushed myself physically and mentally to see what I could do. I walked away with a time of 27:28 and I am proud of that. Running alone did that for me.  When you run a race with friends, do you stay together or do you run at your own pace and meet up after? What is the runner’s etiquette?  I definitely want to run with friends in the future and I’d love to hear how your strategies for running with friends!

Pick A Good Soundtrack: Music motivates me. If I am running on empty, I tell myself to just make it through one more or two more songs and I usually make it over the hump. I don’t actually have a static running play list that I listen to – I like to be surprised along the way. My recent go-to running soundtrack is the Blurred Lines Pandora Station. It offers up a great mix of upbeat songs that put a smile on my face and a pep in my step. On this particular race day, Bruno Mars Treasure carried me to the finish line – love that song! What are your favorite running songs?

You Can Do It: Simply said, put all your fears aside, make like Nike and just do it! If you are not able to run the whole course, there is no shame in walking. You will feel so accomplished and strong and powerful when you cross that finish line. I promise.


I Intend To Be Happy

It is Mother’s Day 2014. Today, I celebrate that I am blessed to awake to the choruses of my sweet girls calling “Mommy, Mommy” each morning. I celebrate that when one of those little girls gets a boo-boo, I am the person she calls for. I celebrate that, sometimes when my oldest does not get her way, she says that I am the “meanest mommy ever” because that means I am doing my job. I also celebrate that my youngest is not at the age where she says things like that yet. I celebrate the over-the-top, out-of-this-world days with my girls, when I feel like the three of us are in total sync; when we smile and laugh and you wouldn’t know that tears exist; when I raise my voice out of excitement rather than anger. I love those days. I also celebrate the days when we all need a do-over; the days when we wake up late and have to rush around in the morning; when my patience is exhausted by 8 AM; when a simple thing like what shoes or dress to wear leads to the most earth-shattering tantrum; when I use the television to be my sitter because mommy just needs a minute. I don’t love those days, but I do understand that they are a part of motherhood. I celebrate the good days and the bad, the smiles and the tears, the triumphs and defeats because I have the privilege of being their mom. And it is most definitely a privilege.


Being a mom is a huge part of my identity now. But, I am not only a mom. I am an athlete. I am a writer. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a lifelong learner. I am a do-gooder.  I am a professional. I am an avid reader. I am a volunteer. I am a woman and a wife.  Yet, as I look at this list, I realize that I have let so many of these parts of me languish. It is what we do as mothers, isn’t it? We focus on the babies who stole our hearts and their joy becomes our joy. Their hurt becomes our hurt. Their victories become our victories. We put aside our wants and needs to accommodate theirs. We forget to nourish our souls with the things that once held such an important place in our lives. This year I intend to make time for the things I love. I intend to rekindle my passion for writing with this blog. I intend to run several 5Ks. I intend to read more books and learn something new. I intend to volunteer and find ways to do more good in this wonderful world in which we live. And I intend to love my husband and my children, to be more present for them and to show them that by nourishing myself, I am nourishing our whole family. In short, I intend to be happy.

On Prejudices and Infertility

Day 27:  Today, I am thinking prejudice and discrimination after reading “My Life as a White Hispanic:  Prejudice Comes From All Sides.” Written by Kimberly Helminski Keller on her blog, Roadkill Goldfish, it is an incredibly thoughtful account of her life as a multiracial individual.  She is both Polish and Puerto Rican and has never fit neatly into either culture, yet both are important to her identity.  I will not attempt to tell her story – she tells it eloquently and I would only butcher it.  But I will ask you to go read it yourself.  As for me, I am white.  My husband is white.  My kids are white.  I have never known how it feels for myself or a family member to be a target of discrimination based on race or ethnicity.   And yet, I know how frequently individuals experience discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and age.   I believe, like Martin Luther King, Jr, that people should be judged, not on the color of their skin (or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation), but “by the content of their character.” I try to live my life by this creed and I hope that I am teaching my children to do the same.  I wrote recently about a time that my oldest daughter pointed at a girl on the playground and said, “Hey Mom!  Look!  Her skin is brown.”  It was really uncomfortable for a second, but then I realized that this represented an opportunity for me as mom.  This was a teachable moment.  I seized the moment and responded, “Yes Josie.  That’s what is beautiful about people.  We come in all different skin colors.  Isn’t that wonderful?  The world would be a really boring place if we all looked the same and spoke the same language and dressed the same, don’t you think?”  And she responded with a simple, “Yep,” and then ran off to play with the little girl.  How we respond as parents in the moments when race or ethnicity or any other “difference” is raised will help shape our children’s perspectives for years to come.   I’ll leave you with a quote from the song Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “I might not be the same but that’s not important; No freedom til we’re equal; Damn right I support it.”  It’s a powerful song, with a powerful anti-discrimination message.  And, for the record, yes, I support marriage equality too.



Belly of a woman in her 34th week of pregnancy.

Belly of a woman in her 34th week of pregnancy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 28: I am one of those women who really enjoyed being pregnant.  I embraced the changes in my body and focused on the miracle that was happening inside my belly.  It still astounds me that I grew 2 little human beings inside of me and that they are thriving, healthy children today.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  The human body is remarkable.  As I think about my pregnancies, I am so thankful that I was able to experience this miracle without incredible difficulty.  We were fortunate enough to get pregnant quickly once we set our minds to it and engaged the help of an ovulation detector.  Sure, we’d been trying for our first for some time, but we were just having fun trying.  When it came to the point that we were really trying,  it happened in the first month and actually caught us by surprise.  The second time around, it was a bit harder, which, again, caught us by surprise.  I incorrectly assumed since it happened so quickly the first time, it would be easy the second time too.  It took 9 months of trying to conceive our 2nd daughter.  After 3 months, I started charting my fertility which entailed taking my temperature with a special thermometer every morning before I moved out of bed and using ovulation prediction kits, among other things.  By 6 months I had visited my doctor and shared my charts which showed there might be an issue.  Then I had a chemical pregnancy.  Pregnant one day and bleeding the next.  After that, I started on a progesterone supplement after I ovulated and, finally, Lily was conceived.  It felt like forever to get to that day, but that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the experience of millions of other women.  According to the CDC, 10.9%, or 6.7 million women ages 15-44 have an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term.  That’s why, when I read IVF Made Me a Better Person at Teacher to Mum, I felt compelled to share it.  The infertility journey is a mystery to many of us, and an intense and often isolating journey for mother and father to be.  This post, written years after a successful IVF cycle, provides insight into the journey and hope for those in the midst of struggling with infertility.  To some, infertility is stigmatized.  It is not something to talk about.  It is a secretive process.  But I think the women and men who do anything within their power to have a child are courageous, inspiring and should be celebrated.   Let’s talk about this openly.  Let’s make it easier and more affordable for couples who desperately want to be parents to achieve pregnancy.  Let’s give these couples a chance to love a child.  Visit Resolve, The National Infertility Association to learn more about how to support the Family Act.  Introduced in May, The Family Act of 2013, (S 881/HR 1851) will help thousands of people access medical treatment for infertility that otherwise would be out of reach for them due to lack of insurance coverage. RESOLVE supports this bill and needs your help getting this bill passed and made into a law.  You can quickly send a message to your Senators and Congressmen from this page.

The Wise Words of Five Women…Six if You Count Me

Today is a good day.  I showered for the third day in a row, no small feat when you are at home with 2 young children and can’t shower at night since the sound of the shower wakes up the baby.   And, I have caught up to the present day in the Do Good Reading Challenge.   Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed a great day.

Day 22: “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.”  This quote by Napoleon Hill came to mind when I read 12 Days To Make Every Day Count  written by Diane Lang on her blog Creating Balance and Finding Happiness.  Number 7 on her list reads, “Every problems/issue or negative situation is a learnable, teachable moment. Always ask yourself: what can I learn from this  situation?”  I love this because it reframes the idea of a “problem” and gives you the chance to turn it into an opportunity.  When I was a manager in the nonprofit world, I would often tell my staff to come to me with solutions not problems.  It was something that a former boss of mine had instilled in me and I always felt empowered by it.  This is not to say that we wouldn’t discuss the problems and solutions, but I wanted my team to feel empowered to create change.  There is nothing like that feeling of knowing that you have solved a problem and made a significant contribution to your company, household, neighborhood or community group.  So, friends, next time you face a bump in the road, be creative and find the opportunity in it.

Bubble Bath 3

Bubble Bath 3 (Photo credit: MacGeekGrl)

Day 23:  On my journey through the Blogosphere today I met a woman who is on a mission to make positive changes in her life and be the person she wants to be.  Her blog The Journey of a Baby Giraffe is focused on the 100 in 2013 challenge that she has embarked on create change in her life in one year’s time.   I love this idea of creating a list of goals and working towards it over the course of year.  What makes this list unique is that it is a compilation of goals from the very simple (#83 – Take a bubble bath) to the very complex (#3 – Get into Grad School).  It is quite insightful of the author to recognize that the “little things” are just as important as the “big things” and deserve a place on the list too.   On a side note, I love finding other Philadelphia area bloggers and this happens to be one of them.  Yet another reason to follow her progress!

Day 24:  I feel validated about my inability to keep up with my daily reading and posting for the Do Good Summer Reading Challenge.   It’s one of the perils of summer time with children, according to JustMomMatters.   Her latest post, Summertime: When Inconsistency Is Inevitable, really rang true with me.  She writes honestly about how difficult it is to complete any writing projects when her three boys are at home and longing to hang with her.  Sure, she has started many drafts, but most have yet to be finished.  And that is okay.  She is doing what is truly important at this point in her life – being a mother to her boys who want her to play with them.  There will come a time in our lives when our kids will not want us to be near them, let alone talk to them.  So, we need to seize the moment and have fun with them when we can.  And this is why I am not upset that I am once again behind in my writing.  I have been doing important things, like painting with my girls, splashing in pools, having tea parties and playing house.Image via

Day 25:  How do you teach compassion to your kids?  That is the opening line of today’s blog discovery, All Day Mom.  The title of Carissa’s post, Teaching Kids Compassion: Family Does, caught my eye when browsing the parenting blogs because I am always looking for ideas on how to inspire empathy in my children.  Carissa’s grandmom recently had an electrical fire in her house and unfortunately her insurance does not cover cleaning or replacing her goods.  So the family has come together to help her grandmother recover from this crisis, because, as Carissa says, Family Does.  It’s true.  Family should take care of family.    In this case, Carissa went over to help clean out her grandmom’s house and her kids tagged along out of necessity.  It was not in the plan for them to help, but they jumped into action despite her encouragement to stand aside.  It was then that she had an “AHA” moment and realized that they could handle some of the tasks ahead and that this was compassion in action.  Her kids saw the state of their great grandmom’s house and wanted, no, needed to help.  Her point is that we do not need to shelter our kids from tragedy or crisis.  Within reason, we can involve them in helping in the recovery and nurture their inner-compassion. What do you think?

Day 26: Today, I found She Loves Mystery So Much She Became One and she made me laugh.  Thanks to her for that.  “Silence is golden. Unless you have kids. Then it is suspicious.”  This is something that every single parent on the planet can appreciate.  I can’t count the number of times that I have said, “It’s too quiet in here” and then leapt up to see what the girls were doing.   This was just the kind of post I needed to read on a Friday night, after a day that I spent wishing for silence so I could catch up on my blog.  Had my wish been granted, I probably would have paid for it big time.  Let’s face it, kids who are up to no good are quiet.  Quiet like ninjas.   They are so focused on their transgressions they can’t even be bother to make noise to disguise their naughtiness as normal play.  There was a time when our family was visiting with The Hubs’ best friend’s family who has a daughter about Josie’s age.  The two of them disappeared for a while and finally one of us adults observed that they were being much too quiet.  Oh boy.  The Hubs and his bestie went off to search for the missing girls and found them in the master bedroom huddled together painting each others nails. And their arms. And the floor. And let’s not forget the walls.  Yes, silence is golden until you have children.  What trouble have your children gotten into when you realized it was too quiet?

I found Lily standing on the kitchen table when things were too quiet.  She sat as soon as she saw me so this is the best evidence I've got.

I found Lily standing on the kitchen table when things were too quiet. She sat as soon as she saw me so this is the best evidence I’ve got.

Despite the fact that I am having trouble posting on a daily basis as I’d hoped, this Do Good Summer Reading Challenge has been awesome.  You should join in.  Let’s help each other find awesome blogs.

Three Weeks. Twenty-One Blogs.

The giant Liberty Bell replica at Citizens Ban...

The giant Liberty Bell replica at Citizens Bank Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 19: I am watching the 11 o’clock news broadcast, specifically the sports segment.  The Phillies have played 3 games in between yesterday and today and all three games went to extra innings, some kind of history.  Simultaneously, I searched the WordPress Reader for Top Stories and happened upon The 700 Level, a Philadelphia sports blog.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This is not my typical subject matter, but that is what this reading challenge is all about.  My husband is a die-hard Phillies Phan. Yes, I spelled that incorrectly on purpose.  He loves this team and they drive him crazy.  And then he drives me crazy.  Don’t get me wrong, the Phillies are my team, but my day is not ruined if they lose.  The truth is, I love to see the Phillies win, but I cannot be bothered to sit and watch every game on TV, much to The Hubs’ chagrin. If we could see every game in person and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the ballpark, I’d be so into the Phillies I might permanently tattoo their logo on my body. But, with two young girls who permanently have “ants in their pants,” going to a Phillies game is not in our immediate future.  So, the smell and taste of Dollar Dog Days will have to wait.  The sound of the crack of the bat against the ball and the subsequent roar of the crowd will have to wait.  The beauty of the stadium – the vibrant green field, the neon-lighted Liberty Bell, the city skyline in the distance – will have to wait.  But, in the meantime, I can keep up on my Philly sports news via The 700 Level, a good second option.  What is “your” team?  Tell me how being a Fan impacts your life!


Day 20: Have you ever had a moment of panic when you couldn’t find your child?  It happened to me in Target one day about a year ago when Josie playfully ran off and I lost sight of her.  My heart pounded, my eyes filled with tears, my voice cracked as I called out for her to come back to me.  Thankfully, within 30 seconds she was in my arms and I hugged her tight, delaying the lecture for a moment to savor her.   I cannot imagine what 5 minutes must feel like, but Stacey at EarthChicKnits knows that feeling and she is using her blog to help spread awareness about an unknown peril that beach goers face.  Have you heard of sandhole collapses?  If not, you need to grab a box of tissues and read Stacey’s post.  Or this current article about another instance of the sand swallowing a child.  Her post resonated with me since my family is about to embark on a shore vacation and because my brother’s family vacations regularly in the stretch of beach where her tale of horror and wonder unfurled. If there is ever a chance to ensure a higher level of safety and security for my children, I will take it.  In this case, I took it and now I am passing it on.

Kids take turns jumping in the air and into a ...

Kids take turns jumping in the air and into a big hole which might have been the moat of a sand castle on Cayucos State Beach. (Photo credit: mikebaird)

Day 21:  Today, I stumbled upon a post titled: This Ain’t No Oprah’s Book Club.  Reading the post I was instantly reminded of the feeling of connectivity that I feel when amongst other smart and sassy women who have come together to discuss a book, and probably a lot of off-topic subject matter too.   I found a really wonderful book club when we moved to Connecticut and it became the source of our social life.  A small group of women began to socialize outside of of book club and then we invited the husbands to join.  Soon, we all became mothers  were able to have “mommy and me” lunches and play dates as our children got older.  Without the book club, I would never have met some of my closest friends, with whom I remain close despite the distance that now lies between us.  This is the beauty of book clubs.  Sure, they encourage thoughtful reading, discussion and exploration of books you may not have chosen for yourself.  But they also give birth to new friendships and create a sense of belonging and community among the members.  This is such a gift, particularly in adulthood when there are not well-defined paths to new friendships and particularly when, as I did, you move to a new place and know not a soul.  Do you belong to a book club?  What role does it play in your life?

Want to join the challenge?  Grab the image and start reading!  It’s that simple and never to late to get started.


Recovering From Procrastinitis…One Day at a Time

Have you heard of the Procrastinitis epidemic that is spreading like wildfire this summer?  Have you succumbed to it yet?   I was sure this Do Good Reading Challenge was going to ward off the Procrastinitis bug, and yet here I sit like a sack of potatoes on the couch trying to find a reason to put off my reading until tomorrow.  Alas, I am out of excuses. I am no longer traveling with a 1 and 3 year old by myself as I did Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  I have succeeded in trying to find the elusive last minute Jersey shore rental in OCNJ.  I’ve made a bunch of meal reservations for our Disney trip in October.  There are other adults available to help entertain Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I suppose I could go take a shower and that would be totally legitimate.  It has been 2, maybe 3 days, since I last showered.  But, the truth is that I really love writing and just the act of sitting down and typing out this intro has rejuvenated me.  I want to read others’ blogs and be inspired by them. So, Days 16-21 of the Reading Challenge will all be read on Day 21 – not exactly in the rules, but hey!  Rules were made to be broken, right?

Day 15: “Patience tells a toddler: You don’t have to be more than you are right now.”  Profound words, right?  I am a mom in the throes of the “terribles,” what I affectionately call the ages of one to four (and maybe beyond, but I haven’t made it there yet!)  Yes, any mom to a toddler has come to the realization that the “terrible twos” really begins around 18 months and lasts, well, I haven’t found the end yet and my oldest will be 4 in September.  There are some days I wake up with the patience of a thousand mothers and there are days that I can’t even muster enough patience to deal with the first tantrum of the day.  But, I read the line above in the post My Favorite Parenting Strategy at Science of Mom and immediately I felt a little bit of peace in my soul.  This is the kind of mantra I need to hold in my back pocket for those really hard days.  Alice, the author of Science of Mom, goes on to write that when faced with challenging situations, “staying calm is enough.”  I’ll leave you with another wise thought by Alice and encourage you to put these in your back pocket, and then have a glass of wine to unwind!

It’s tempting to try to fix the little challenges of every stage, but so much of childhood we really can’t control.”

tantrum #500

tantrum #500 (Photo credit: demandaj)

Day 16:  How to Ruin a Toddler’s Day.    Wait, there is a guide to ruining my toddler’s day? Because I thought all I had to do was put her right shoe on before her left and it would pretty much result in the worst tantrum ever.   And I guess that is what the mom behind this blog is trying to get at.  It is really easy to ruin a toddler’s day.  Smile at the wrong time.  Give her the green cup instead of the purple one.  Use the Dora shampoo instead of the monkey shampoo.  Horror of Horrors!  I happened upon a post on this blog that is titled Motherhood, Bullying and “Being Pretty.”  The post reads like an internal dialogue that every mother of daughters has at some point in her life.  We want to encourage our daughters to be more than pretty, to value intelligence, creativity and individuality.  There are points that I agree with and others that I don’t necessarily embrace, but the single most important thing I read in this post is that we, as parents, must strive to establish and maintain an open relationship with our children, to encourage communication, to teach them to be their own moral compass and to understand that not everyone is taught the same values.  Being a parent is tough, particularly in this age of bullying, but there are tools and strategies to make our jobs easier.  We just need to be diligent and seek them out.

Day 17:  I am in the midst of playing a game of catch-up on the Reading Challenge.  It is Sunday night, Day 21 and I am currently writing about Day 17.  It is frustrating not having time to focus on this blog, which I really do enjoy.  But, life gets in the way sometimes and that is why I was drawn to this post by Madi at Let The Words Escape.  Her time is crunched and her blog has been hard to maintain.  Life is getting in the way for her too, and, strangely, that made me feel better about my current predicament.  And then I clicked on this link that she described as a gorgeous depiction of the brain and it made me smile.  You see, Josie always talks about how her brain is a Rainbow Brain and this image helps me understand just a little bit. So, I will continue to push forward and get this project back on track.  Life may get in the way, but it will not sideline me indefinitely.

English: shocked expression on a girl’s face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 18:  Parenting is so many things – exhilarating, joyful, frustrating, inspiring, maddening and, yes, often funny.  That is why I was so drawn to today’s discovery, Parenting is Funny.  Every parent has a funny story that is circulated over and over again at family gatherings.  This blog is an outlet for those “Do you remember the time when?” and “I can’t believe my kid said that” moments.   The mama behind the blog shares her moments that are better to laugh than scream about and invites her readers to contribute their moments too.  So, in the spirit of sharing, here is my Parenting Is Funny Moment:  I took my girls to the playground just like any other day a couple months back.  Josie was all over the playground, bouncing here and there and everywhere.  At one point, she slowed down and her sister and I caught up to her.  She turned to me and said loudly, “Mom.  Look.  That girl is brown.”  I gulped.  Turned red. And then I responded, “Yes, honey, people come in all different colors.  Isn’t that wonderful?  At the time, I was mortified, though now I just recognize that she was making an observation about her surrounding.   It’s these kind of moments you laugh about later, but, in the moment, you need to be fast on your feet and get through the moment.  Tricia, Mom of 2 Girls

On Life, Adolescence, Coffee and Goodbyes

I’ve completed 2 weeks of the Do Good Summer Reading Challenge.  I’ve discovered fourteen wonderful blogs and have been inspired to write on topics that I never would have had reason to before.   I am growing my network and contributing to the truly vibrant blogging community here on Worpress and beyond.  Interested in joining?  It’s never too late.  Click the image on the right to find out how!

Day 11:  I took the holiday off, but discovered this gem on Friday and think it will stick with me for a lifetime.  Clare at Grace and Poise shared with her readers 40 Little Instructions on Life and they are so valuable they needed to be shared.  Clare’s list is simple, yet inspiring.  I frequently talk to my girls about using manners, being kind and the such, and this list is yet another tool in my box for teaching my girls how to live happy, fulfilled lives.  Some of my favorites include:

“Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them. Leave everything a little better than you found it.”

“Think big thoughts but relish simple pleasures.”

“Don’t expect life to be fair”

If you want to read the whole list, you’ll have to visit Grace and Poise!

Day 12:  On today’s hop around the blog-o-sphere, I visited The Waiting.  Emily has one of the coolest “About” pages I’ve seen and her writing draws you in.  Her most current post is part of a Blog Hop called “Remember The Time When We Did The Things.”  As I understand it, the blog hop will have a different theme each Thursday and audience participation is encouraged.  I happened upon the week about summer vacation.  So, in the spirit of participation, I must share some embarrassing stories from summer vacations of yore.  My family loves to tell the story of the time that I galloped down a hillside somewhere in California to pee on the side of the road.  The details are fuzzy.  We were in a van (I think) and on a road trip to Lake Tahoe (I think) and I had to pee like I’d never had to pee before or since.  I was maybe 11 or so and there was not a bathroom in sight.  Despite my pleading, nobody wanted to stop until I started crying (I think).  When the powers that be finally decided to stop the van, I “galloped like a gazelle” (straight from the mouth of my cousin) down the hillside, much to the delight and entertainment of everyone in the van, and relieved myself, hopefully out of the view of my parents, uncle, brother and cousins.  Ahhh, the fond memories I have of summer road trips.   What are your “classic” summer memories?

Zebra Garden
Day 13: Can a cup of coffee create positive change in the world? Sharman at 365 Cups of Kindness is on a mission to find out and I think she is onto something.   Her idea, to buy a random person a cup of coffee every day for a year, came to her shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  As a school principal, she was deeply affected by the shooting.  When shopping the next day for a gift for her church’s toy drive, she was appalled by the rudeness and hostility shown by the other shoppers and began to wonder if anyone practiced kindness and compassion anymore.   When finished shopping she and her husband stopped at Starbucks, and spontaneously she gave the cashier $20 to pay for coffees for those behind her and the idea for her blog was born.  Now, she has purchased 157 cups of coffee for others and, though each one is special, she writes that Cup 157 may be her favorite.  This particular cup led to a conversation with a man who was truly grateful and whose story is quite inspiring.  Won’t you join me in spreading her kindness further?  Next time you are in line for coffee, think about buying one for the person behind you.  A small kindness goes a long way!

Cup of coffee

Cup of coffee (Photo credit: Etenil)

Day 14: I was incredibly close with my Granny and she passed suddenly one night 10 years ago.  She was not sick.  There was no warning.  I have debated in my mind a 1000 times whether it would have been better for her to go as she did, suddenly, or to have had an illness that forewarned us of her impending death.   On selfish days, I wish that she had been ill and that I could have told her how much I loved her, how important our relationship was to me, that she would always hold a piece of my heart, that I was so sad she would never meet my husband or children, that life without her in it scared me.  But, on my more rational days, I know that she passed in the way that caused her the least amount of suffering.  I would not have wanted her to suffer.  My memories of my Granny’s death were brought to the surface when I read The First Goodbye at Living Life to the Fullest From the End Stage.  Mike has terminal brain cancer and is sharing his thoughts and experiences through his blog.  This particular one is on a topic that is so difficult – saying goodbye to your child.  He writes that no parent should have to say the words “I know we will probably not see each other again” to their child and goes on to tell the story of how he had to say goodbye to his eldest daughter who lives away from home.  This post is full of raw emotion and you should definitely grab a tissue before reading it.  

On Golf, Homelessness and Forever Homes

I am quite behind on my Do Good Summer Reading Challenge posts.  I could offer up an excuse about my kids being sick or my computer crashing, but in reality, I was simply enjoying my time with my family.   On Wednesday, my mom and I saw Once on Broadway.  Seeing a live performance is always fun, but this was made much more special because we know the little girl who played Ivanka. Thursday, we relaxed and played as a family.  Friday we jumped waves and floated on a lazy river at a water park.  The long holiday weekend culminated with fireworks on the Delaware River tonight.  It has been busy and this blog has been neglected, but I am going to make up for it in the next couple days.  Here’s a start:


Day 8: You may not know that I enjoy golfing.  My husband trained me to be his golf partner and it is one of our favorite things to do together.  I was out on the golf course when I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with Josie and I am pretty sure it was the best golf I ever played.  We don’t get to play nearly enough, but I envision us getting back to it now that we are done making babies.   So, today, when I encountered Now On The First Tee via the WordPress Reader, I was intrigued.  And then I read the post 5 months… which led me to the very first post This is Why.  What I found was a young man, passionate about the sport of golf who is dealing with the loss of his father.  This young man is following his dream of playing on the professional circuit and doing it not only for himself, but also for his father.  I am rooting for him.

Day 9:  Wow!  Talk about an inspiration!  The blogger I discovered today actually found me in two ways.  He followed my blog and he was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Miss Happy Spirits.  To be honest, I am not really sure what took me so long to make my way over there.  Dennis Cardiff’s blog, Gotta Find A Home, is a tremendous example of how one person can make a difference.  By connecting with those who live on the street and sharing their stories via his blog, he humanizes them and calls attention to the plight of homeless individuals everywhere.   Through his blog, I am inspired to seek out ways to address homelessness in my region.  Project HOME is a well-known agency that provides an array of services to the Philadelphia homeless population.  According to their website, on any given day, it is estimated that there are 4,000 homeless people in the city.   Further, in 2005, the City’s Office of Emergency Shelter and Services served 14,986 homeless people through its emergency shelter system. Of this number, 9,468 were adults without children, 2,011 were heads of households, and 3,507 were children.  It is mind boggling to me that 3,500 children experienced homelessness in one year.   Project HOME is on my list of charities that need my help, be it financial or a gift of my time by volunteering.  If you are in the Philadelphia area and are interested in volunteering, Project HOME has an extensive list of opportunities.  At the very least, next time you encounter a homeless individual, be kind.  In the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

English: A homeless man in New York with the A...

English: A homeless man in New York with the American flag in the background. Français : Un homme sans domicile fixe à New York. Un drapeau des États-Unis est visible en arrière plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 10:  Today,  I walked down memory lane with Tric at My thoughts on a page. She wrote a beautiful post, The tales a house could tell, about revisiting her childhood home, the home in which her parents still live.  It is at once emotional, humorous and thought-provoking and I immediately felt a connection to it.   You see, my family (The Hubs and The Girls) moved in with my mom in August 2012, into the home in which I was raised from birth.  My husband and I are sleeping in the bedroom I inhabited from birth through high school graduation.  It no longer has the orange shag carpets of my nursery decor, or the mauve walls and pink carpet of my tween and teen years, thankfully.  But it does hold loads of memories, though many of them have faded and I am somewhat surprised by how many details I cannot remember.  I suppose that happens with time, but now I wish I had been better at keeping a journal or scrapbook of those years.  Now, I am making new memories in this “forever home” with my family by my side.  Where I used to see my brother’s room, I now see the girls’ room, the room in which Lily first climbed out of her crib and earned her toddler bed.   When I look outside, I see the driveway where Josie learned to ride her bike and the sidewalk where Lily got her first scraped knee.    Our time here is special.  It is full of memories and milestones and I know how lucky I am to be able to return to this home of my youth.  I hope someday to settle in a house that my children will be proud to visit as adults with their families, a home that will always be their “forever home.”

Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good.

A few weeks ago I visited Linvilla Orchards, a kind of wonderland in the world of farm markets.  In addition to fresh, homegrown produce, fresh baked goods and locally produced products, they have an array of family activities that keep the children happy while visiting the farm.  My girls loved the train ride, petting zoo and playground and were totally tuckered out by the time we left.  While buying our goodies on our way out, my eyes were drawn to the Buy Fresh, Buy Local signage that was hanging all around the market.


I’ve been thinking a lot about the Buy Local movement lately and this was just the push I needed to look into it further.  You see, though I have heard a variety of campaigns that push consumers to Buy Local, I never really paid attention to the reasons behind the campaigns.  Instinctively, it just seems “right” to buy from small, local businesses, but how do these campaigns compel you to do so?

The Buy Fresh Buy Local program’s goal is to make it easier for consumers to find, choose, and appreciate great local foods while supporting the farmers and lands that produce them.  If a store, restaurant or market features a Buy Fresh Buy Local® sign or label, the consumer can be certain that the business has committed to feature local foods and support local producers.  This is one of many programs across the nation that encourage consumers to purchase locally grown and produced foods.  Consumers who patronize local farm markets or restaurants that utilize local foods are directly supporting the local agriculture community.  Further, consumers who buy local produce are reducing their carbon footprint because locally grown fruits and vegetables require far less transportation than those shipped in from great distances.  So, get out there and buy some local produce.   I prefer farm markets or CSAs, but you can also shop the “Buy Local” section of your grocery store and support the movement too.

Shop Small

Shop Small (Photo credit: afagen)

The Buy Local movement stretches well beyond agriculture though and encompasses small business in general.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday. Conceived by American Express in 2010, it is a “shopping holiday” on the equivalent of Black Friday for big box retailers and Cyber Monday for e-commerce retailers.   Small Business Saturday’s purpose is to drive consumers to local business in an effort to help stimulate the local economy.  Small Business Saturday has morphed into a Shop Small movement that encourages local shopping all year round (though I am sure there will still be a push for that Saturday after Thanksgiving.)   This makes sense.  After all, these businesses need to pay their employees and keep the lights on throughout the year, not just during the shopping season.

Still, I wanted some cold hard facts about why this is an important movement to get behind.  Here is what I found on ELocal.

– Throughout the United States, only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, which is very low compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. (2009)

– A study in Austin, Texas found that $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 worth of local economic activity, and $100 at the chain store Borders brought back only $13.

– National chains often bring loss of employment. The opening of a Wal-Mart reduces retail employment by an average of 150 jobs in the county of its location.

– If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy.

These numbers are pretty compelling.  Small businesses create local jobs.  Small businesses return more money to the local economy than larger chain retailers.  Small businesses are more likely to be active members of the community, supporting local causes and participating in local events.  And, in patronizing small businesses, you are supporting your neighbors who work there or the family that owns it.  Shop Small.  Buy Local. Do Good.   Now that is a campaign I can get behind.

How does small business fit into your life?  Do you work for one?  Shop at one?  Tell me about it!