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 www.someecards.com

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.

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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.

 

Rounding Out the Week…

Day 5:  Today I entered the world of Kristen Hansen Brakeman and encountered a hysterical tirade about Vitamin Water, specifically a radio spot that featured a non-celebrity swimsuit model as a spokeswoman for the product.  You should read her post to get a taste of her spirited sense of humor and truly brilliant ideas for behind-the-scenes footage of Vitamin Water.  As I read, I thought about all the times in my life that I have gotten irrationally mad about something that I should have just let roll off my back.  The biggest offender in my life is drivers who use the shoulder to avoid sitting in a line of traffic.  I know I should just ignore them and hope that there is a police officer ahead to nab their law-breaking tushies.  But, my blood boils.  I grip the wheel until my knuckles are white.  I start to yell at the drivers, you know, because they can hear me, right?  And then, I am that person who blocks their path by driving half on the shoulder and half in my lane, all the while claiming victory, as my grip loosens on the wheel, my blood returns to its normal 98.6 degrees and I start to hum a happy tune again.

Day 6:  It’s Yoonanimous!  This reading challenge is so fun because I am just hitting gold at every turn.  Today, I visited Yoonanimous and read the most recent post about marital traps.  The author, Yoona Park, describes “marital traps” as situations she tries to avoid because of how much tension they create between she and her husband.  I think that anyone in a committed relationship can relate to this, so she had me at hello.  As I read on she related humorous stories about H&M t-shirts and her husband’s grill and how he gets very territorial about it.   And then I read her piece about the bike rack for the car.  I cannot count how many “nice” family days have started out with an obscene amount of F Bombs targeted mostly at my bike lovingly referred to by The Hubs as B****.  He and the B**** bike have wrestled each other countless times to simply be strapped to the car so that we can embark on a family ride.  I’ve learned to avoid the loading of the bikes process at all costs.  It’s best to load the kids in the car, lock the doors and turn up the music to drown out his verbal assault on the bike rack and B**** bike.  If am so stupid as to open my mouth to try to help, I will become the target and that is just ill-advised if we want to continue on to our family outing.  I also must steer clear of The Hubs when he is assembling children’s toys or furniture purchased from Ikea for the same reason.  What are your marital traps?

Day 7:  To round out the first week of the summer reading challenge, I decided to search the WordPress Reader for blogs with the tag “kindness.”  Once again, I was exhilarated with what I’ve stumbled upon.  Harula at wordsthatserve has embarked on a journey of doing at least one good deed a day for an entire year, and is documenting her acts on her blog.  Even better, she is documenting the kindnesses that she has received too.  I love this so much because often the focus is on doing good for others, but we sometimes forget to recognize how much goodness we have received!  Since she was inspired by another blogger to take the journey, you get a twofer today.   Harula’s inspiration is Rosie Amber who started her journey in April after reading A Year of Doing Good by Judith O’Reilly, a book that will be added to my Kindle library later today.  I always find it uplifting to read about how others are living a do-gooder life and these two ladies certainly are.  What is the last good deed that you have done?  When were you last on the receiving end of a good deed?

With the first week of the Do Good Read More Summer Reading Challenge down, I am raising a glass to this challenge and inviting all of you to jump on board for the ride.  I’m feeling inspired and invigorated in ways that I haven’t since launching my blog. Moreover, I am connecting with other bloggers and offering what little I have to give – my words in the form of comments on their blogs and mine about their posts.  I hope that my small acts of commenting and sharing links have helped build their community of readers, I know it has mine.  After all, this challenge, boiled down simply, is to do small acts of kindness daily  with the knowledge that small acts often produce a much greater return than expected.  So, are you ready to be challenged?  It is never too late to start!

final sum read chall

Riding in Cars With Kids, Hoagies and Fanny Packs

final sum read chall

 

I’ve come to realize that there is absolutely no way that I will be able to post everyday about my Reading Challenge discoveries.  Life gets in the the way of that – and I do not mean that to sound negative.  Yesterday, I spent a lovely day with my girls visiting one of our favorite indoor play areas and then took them bowling in the afternoon.  I am so lucky to be able to take the day and live it with my children.  So, I will post as frequently as life allows about my Reading Challenge finds and I will enjoy my children,  except maybe when one or both of them is engaged in a meltdown of epic proportions.  Then, I will just tolerate them.

Enhanced Kid Car Photo

Enhanced Kid Car Photo (Photo credit: clappstar)

Day 3:  Today, I followed the recommendation of the WordPress Reader and discovered some truly inspired writing.      I clicked on the link to Free Little Words and landed on a post about car trips with loud children.  YES!  I can relate to this.  My little darlings each have a healthy set of lungs and they love to use them in unison, in the car and especially when mommy has a headache.  Or so it seems anyway.  Keladelaide at Free Little Words vividly describes different types of car rides with young children that any parent who drives can relate to and makes you see the humor in them.   She writes about love in all its forms.  The love between mother and sons, brothers, lovers, friends and anywhere that love exists.  On the origins of the title, she writes, “The name of my blog came to be from those three little words we all wish to hear whether it be from a parent, child, lover or partner. ’Free’ was substituted for ‘three’ because they don’t cost anything to say and my little guy, then 2, could not say three properly-it came out as free.”

 

Dodgy Wawa Hoagie! (Hi-Res).

Dodgy Wawa Hoagie! (Hi-Res). (Photo credit: stev.ie)

Day 4:  I can hardly believe it, but I discovered a blog post today that contained the word “hoagie” in the title.  Do you know what a hoagie is?  If not, you must go read this wonderful post on an incredibly fascinating topic at The Misfortune of Knowing.  It is all about American dialects and how people in different regions identify the same item by different terms.  I personally was excited by the word “hoagie” because, as this map demonstrates, it is highly unique to the greater Philadelphia area.  Dialects, here and abroad, have always been of interest to me.   I remember, when working at a camp in college, I had a bunch of coworkers from the UK and we had a hell of a laugh over the phrase Fanny Pack.  You see, counselors had to carry bright red Fanny Packs to hold camper medicines.  While Fanny Packs are highly unfashionable to the point of being comical here in the US, my new friends from the UK could not hear the phrase without smirking and elbowing each other.  You see, to them “fanny” was slang for a certain part of the female anatomy.  We had quite a few laughs that summer learning their vocabulary: fags (aka cigarettes), snogging (aka making out), and  having a kip (taking a nap), among others that are perhaps better not mentioned.

 

Interested in joining the reading challenge, discovering new blogs, encouraging fellow writers and expanding your blog’s exposure?  Here’s how!

 

Reading Challenge Starts Monday!

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th – August 18th. Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas.
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit. Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links.

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably. Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

via Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge.

Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge

‘Tis the season of summer reading lists….do you have yours ready yet?  I am an avid reader and am looking forward to reading some books that have been buzzed about: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld have made the list, all books I discovered on this excellent summer reading list.   But, I have decided to go on a entirely new reading adventure this summer and you are invited!  My blog’s purpose is to inspire adults and children to improve their own lives by doing good, being kind and making a difference in the lives of others. The Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge provides each of us with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our fellow bloggers, and, in the process, improve readership and exposure on our blogs too.   Will you join me on the challenge?

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th  –  August 18th.   Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas. 
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit.  Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links. 

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably.  Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

Are you ready for the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading ChallengeJoin today and then share this invitation with your network!

 

**Note: This challenge is clearly targeted towards bloggers, but you don’t have to be a blogger to participate.  Simply read a new blog and comment on it each day and you, too, will be making a difference in the lives of bloggers!**

Back to My Roots…

I posted the following response to a question posed by a fellow University of Pennsylvania Urban Studies Alumnus on Linked In and felt compelled to share it here too.  The question was: “What is the biggest issue affecting our cities today? And what can we as Urban Studies Alums do about it?”    My response: Education.   And so today, you get a glimpse into my past and what I believe the future of education in our urban centers must look like to create and sustain positive change.

“In response to Kevin (who responded with a post about the socio-economic divide): Fresh out of college I worked for a non-profit that, among other things, sponsored the Ambassadors Program which brought high school students from inner-city Philadelphia together with students from suburban Philadelphia to work together on social impact projects.  The Ambassador Program commenced with a weekend retreat and the students met on a monthly basis to work towards their goal, often communicating more frequently in order to achieve their objectives.  The impact projects were impressive, but I think the greatest impact of the Ambassadors Program was that it created a mutual understanding between students from very different socio-economic backgrounds.  The students found they had much in common despite the obvious differences.  I commend you for engaging in coaching with a non-profit and providing young girls with a positive experience and opportunity to find common ground with others who are different from them.

As for the original question, I firmly believe that education continues to be a thorn in the side of urban centers.   There have been some tremendous innovations in recent years, with charters flourishing and out-of-school-time programs available in abundance.  While I am excited by some of the innovations, urban schools are still faced with students who enter school a major deficit when compared to students in wealthier suburban districts.  The missing piece is Mandatory Preschool starting at age 3 and available to every single child in an under-performing school district.

I am now a mother to a 3 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old.  While I have always believed a solid foundation was important for success in school, it is now abundantly clear to me that preschool should be a part of mandated schooling.  I am lucky enough to be home with my girls and spend a good deal of time reading to them and encouraging learning through our daily adventures.  But, not every parent has the time, knowledge or ability to do this for their children, particularly in urban centers where parents can be overworked and undereducated.

For starters, we can all support President Obama’s Preschool For All initiative.  But, I also think we need to support and promote nonprofits who are working to provide access to high quality preschool education in urban centers.  We must provide young children with a solid foundation and free up urban schools to teach on-level, rather than try to play catch-up with children who are woefully under-prepared for school.  This is a path to leveling the playing field and it is a path that should be a priority over the next decade in the United States. MjAxMy00ZTU4MDVmYTI1ZDAyMmZi