A Gold Medal

By: Sue Anganes

Archery

Every mom has a naturally skewed view of their children. In a mom’s  eye, their child is the best athlete on the field, the sweetest sounding musician in the school orchestra, or the smartest kid in the nursery school. It’s natural for a mom to feel this way. It’s built into our psyche—a way to keep us bonded to our children. They are number one in our eyes, the Gold Medalists in our lives; and it shouldn’t be any other way. I can remember visiting with friends when I had my first newborn daughter. The wife also had a newborn, a son, almost the exact same age. I had the irrational thought in my mind of wondering why the other parents didn’t think my baby was better. Really? I can’t imagine that I wondered that back then, but it did make me think later in life just how much we attach and bond with our own children. 

 

In the Olympics of Life, we wish for our children to succeed. Moms do just about anything to ensure that everything and every opportunity that could propel our kids to success is placed before them. Our standard is Gold and we push them along in sports, education, and the arts, hoping for excellence while cheering them along. 

 

What happens, however, when our Gold Medalist becomes disqualified? They jump the starting gun,  fall off the balance beam, or don’t place in the finals of life. Our direction and hopes for our kids are often shattered. But life never goes how we plan it. No matter what we do, things and situations change, often in the blink of an eye. It has been so important for me to learn to be open to change in every part of my life. I have slowly, and sometimes painfully, learned how to accept change and move forward from whatever place or situation I find myself in at that phase in life. 

 

After my two youngest sons were diagnosed with their neurometabolic disease, I couldn’t figure out how to move forward. I was lost and in a rut of depression and confusion. What did the future hold for them, and how were we going to even make it to the “future”? It took a long time to realize that we didn’t have to stay in the Olympics of Life event that we started in! If we couldn’t go for gold in one event, move on to another! They are not competing in the Olympics of Life event that I envisioned that they would be competing in, but they are competing. They are competing in a different event; racing forward with their talents, intellect, and abilities, and reaching for that gold medal. I see the race they are running—it’s right there before them—and I will be so excited to see them standing on the podium, one day in the future, with their gold medals around their necks. 


Pokemon Go Means Family Go Out Together

 

NidoKing

Becoming a gym leader with his Nidoking fulfilled all my husband’s childhood fantasies

I’ll admit it, my family has become a bit obsessed with the newest fad, Pokemon Go.

My husband and I both grew up at the height of the Pokemon craze and have passed that love on to our kids. When Netflix got the original Pokemon a few months ago, we swapped out our kids normal cartoons for those until they were as hooked as we were.

As you might expect, we were thrilled when Pokemon Go launched last month.

We knew that we would be playing and I knew my four and six year old would try to steal my phone in order to play. What I didn’t expect is how much exercise we’d be getting and how much fun we’d all have playing together.

Going on PokeWalk

Getting ready to go for a Poke Walk with the kids. First stop the Poke Stop across the street

Pokemon Go makes you walk around to catch Pokemon, hatch eggs and get other necessary items. So my kids now beg me to go on poke walks when before it was difficult to get them to want to leave the house during the summer. My husband makes plans to go on walks with the family when he gets home from work, when before he just wanted to relax and destress. And spending this time with my family has kept me active and more scheduled which helps me keep my manic-depression better regulated. It’s amazing how close this game has made us as a family. We talk more, we spend more time together and we’re healthier.

All because of little monsters you catch on your phone

 

But don’t worry you won’t hear about my family walking off a cliff for them anytime soon.


Captured Moments

By: Sue Anganes

Sometimes, I get writer’s block. I know I need to write a blog post, but why does my mind go blank? So many things have happened, yet nothing comes to mind that would even be the least bit entertaining to anyone else.

Maybe that’s the case with most of us as moms—everyday events happen and usually there’s no big, special event that demarks one day specifically from another. We are fortunate in this era of time to be able to capture glimpses of these days through digital media, and look back and realize that the sum of these uneventful days adds up to a thing of beauty. In this post, I’m going to share just a few glimpses into my family’s day to day events, some that that will be precious to me in years to come, and some that have already become sweet memories. I hope, we are all able to take note of and hold dear to the “uneventful” while it is happening right before our very eyes.

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Silly Guy was my son’s favorite stuffed animal. Now, my son is a young man.

 

 

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This was a wedding rehearsal fashion faux pas with my daughter. Unknowingly, we both wore the same dress and pretty much the same shoes. How could we not laugh!

 

 

 

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Sharing an ice cream sandwich with my grandson…this age does not last long! I am going to cherish every moment.

 

 

 

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I enjoy having lunch with my youngest two sons. Before I know it, they will be off on their own just like their older brothers. I love spending time with them while I can.

 

 

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I was always hiking with my kids when they were younger. Here, my oldest daughter was carrying my youngest son. Now, she is the mom to my three grandchildren!

 

 

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Here are my husband and sons trudging uphill to our appointments at the National Institute of Health. We really didn’t comprehend at the time that the weeks we spent at the NIH were a turning point in our boys’ lives.

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This year we enjoyed the magnificent sunset just before the Fourth of July fireworks began. This picture will help me keep the memory of that day vivid in my mind.

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Last week my sons were standing on the top of Cathedral Dome. This is something eventful because both sons have a metabolic disease which makes it hard for them to walk. We drove up to the top of the ledge by car and they walked to the edge. It was not wheelchair accessible obviously so they walked on their own.

What will tomorrow bring? No one knows. This year we still made it to the top.

 

 


Angelversary: A Celebration of Life

By: Jacqueline Koutsoufis

image2Here I am, sitting here waiting for the self pity and self wallowing, for the flooding of sadness and depression to come flowing in. 

Watching everyone posting on Facebook that their child has reached double digits knowing that this is the big mark for a child where they start getting excited that they are close to being a teen. You see they reach being a tween.

For the past nine years, I have set a tradition of allowing myself to sit and wallow on this day. I would go and pick out a little trinket, something to place on my son’s stone. 

We would go to the cemetery as a family, place our gift, and my husband and I would hold each other and cry… 

We have tried to have a cake or cupcake at the cemetery to make it a bit more uplifting, not only for my children but to make it more bearable for myself and husband. 

I play the statement over and over in my head it will get easier as time goes on. It will hurt less. Every year around this time, the words play over and over in my head. And I say to myself and those who said it, “When is it going to get easier when is the pain going to stop. When?!”

I realized this year, I have been going about this the wrong way. I was mourning! Mourning every year, reliving my pain over and over, not allowing myself to heal. 

I felt awful! Not only physically, but emotionally. 

So this year, when my son would have reached his double digits, we are celebrating. Going all out not only for him, but our other children’s birthdays fall right around his birthday—angelversary. So on his birthday, where he would have been 10, we will celebrate his two sisters and his brother. All my summer babies are being celebrated together. 

Celebrating the life I once carried. Celebrating his beautiful soul. Celebrating how much we have grown and changed as a family and couple. Celebrating and letting go of all the anger and sadness. image1

Happy birthday my beautiful angel, until I see you again.  

Joseph 8/7/06 RIP

Madelyn 7/16/07

Emily 7/22/04

Anthony 8/15/05


Enjoy All the Tired, Messy, Blessed Moments

By: Danielle McFadden

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I don’t know about you, but bedtime in my house is a PRODUCTION. Zoe is almost three years old and has never been a great sleeper… I’ll take partial blame for that. When she was a baby, I never wanted to put her down. I relished the moments when she fell asleep on me. I also think that some babies and toddlers (much like adults) are just bad sleepers. She was never a good at napping and almost always wakes up in the middle of the night.

My little guy (Landry, 5 months), however, is already sleeping better than his big sis. I’ll take partial credit for that. I definitely put him down more than I put Zoe down. <Gasp!> I even put him down awake at night to go to sleep.

(Notice that I took blame for bad sleeping habits and credit for good ones…)

Okay… I really am going somewhere this story…

The other night, I was putting both kids to bed. Landry went down like an angel. I then read Zoe three books, talked about the day (a requirement in her routine) and scratched her back under her shirt (as requested). Just as she was about to fall asleep, she started playing with her stuffed animals and telling me that she was not going to fall asleep and that she was going downstairs. This was a good 45 minutes into the whole production.

I immediately thought, how many hours of my life in the past three years have I spent just laying with Zoe trying to get her to fall asleep? No wonder why my house isn’t as neat as I’d like it, dishes are in the sink, emails are unanswered… Then, something happened. I flipped my way of thinking. I laid there, in the moment, and thought about how twenty years from now, I will look back and wish I had an hour every day to cuddle with my little girl, to watch her play with her stuffed animals, sing made up songs and request that I scratch her back.

Sometimes, we are so caught up in the moment. We are tired. We are stressed. We are pulled in so many different directions… Working Mom, cook, housekeeper… all while holding on to a piece of our old selves.

From now on, I am going to try to be deliberate in my thinking. I am going to enjoy each tired, messy and incredibly blessed moment being a Mom to two amazing little beings.


A Day in the Life

By: Sue Anganes

 

June flew by. My dad got bitten by a tick and spent seventeen days in the hospital. My mom had been sick and needed some help getting back and forth to the hospital to visit my dad, and also to her own medical appointments. My second son got married, and with that came all the details and scrambling before the wedding day.

Finally, it’s July, and things are back to normal.IMG_9713

Sunday after church, I put on my raggedy clothes and started painting a second coat of paint on my family room ceiling. The house was already torn apart with my newly married son’s boxed up belongings in queue, ready to head out the door and on to a new life. My husband was replacing bathroom light fixtures, and there were boxes of half used paper goods from Friday night’s baby shower for a friend clogging my kitchen table. My grandkids were expected to come over for me to babysit while their mom had something she needed to do sans kids, and a neighbor arrived with a new tool that he and my husband had a long (interesting to them) conversation over.

Facebook messages pinged me. My oldest son and his wife wanted to come over to visit and say goodbye before he left the following week to hike in Siberia. Yes, Siberia. (The mom in me is hoping he comes back in one piece, but that’s a subject for a future blog post).

“Sure, come on over. Nothing’s going on,” I said.

I finished my painting, and my husband finished his bathroom projects. I consolidated the piles of “stuff’ and did a quick vacuum of the past (month’s?) dust. Looking into the fridge, I realized that I could not offer anyone anything to eat except a half eaten carton of plain yogurt and a half jar of mild salsa. This called for my super powers of making a meal out of nothing. All moms do this at least a few times a year. I always find that I need to do this at least once a week.

Searching the back of my freezer, I retrieved a small package of hamburger. This would be key to my meal’s success. I browned that with an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. I added two cans of diced tomatoes. I also scrounged up a bag of frozen tortellini. I added a couple more cans of water and a half can of leftover tomato paste that was hiding in my fridge. I threw in six small, somewhat shriveled summer squash, and voila! Soup for the masses! I cut up a couple of deli rolls and dinner was served.

The most hilarious part about all this is that everyone raved about the soup. To me it looked watery and bland, but it was enjoyed by nine people! Maybe the joy around our table did not come from the soup, as much as it came from the time we had to spend together as a family. It’s always nice to have things back to normal.


Easy Crafting: Art Station

Craft Idea

Hint: You can buy sticker pads for $1.99 at Party City – they come with          hundreds of stickers and they carry all the popular characters!

By: Danielle McFadden

 

Life with a toddler and an infant can be very hectic at times, so I’m always looking for ways to entertain Zoe (and keep her still for more than a minute).

Recently, we’ve started setting up “art stations” by covering the kitchen table with white paper (you can buy a roll for $3.99 at the Christmas Tree Shop) and giving her plenty of stickers and crayons so she can ‘create’ freely!

I highly recommend it if you have a toddler!

 

 


Less Than 24 Hours In… The Dreaded Words of Summer

By: Michaelene Koskela

It was 8 am: the first official day of summer vacation that consists of 55 weekdays and 11 weekends.

Filled with anticipation for the summer ahead, my hand cradles a favorite mug, legs extended comfortably, breathing in the morning sounds from our back porch. My coffee tepid but palatable, content with the thrill of not having to rush, my thoughts skim a list of items I hope to experience with our future 1st grader, who at last check was sound asleep and hopefully will stay sleeping well into the next hour. Periodically, the peace was interrupted with the rustle of squirrels dashing through leaves or a persistent blue jay getting the few remaining morsels from the feeder. Dare it be mentioned my eyes may have rested for a few moments as the sun cast its rays through the oak tree canopy.

My perfect moment was interrupted with the whir of the sliding glass door opening, a tousled haired, puffy eyed, p.j. clad, juice-stained-lip child dragging a blanket appears. The voice does not match the appearance.

“MOM, I AM BORED!”

The sweet 6-year-old continues in song of her boredom. She has been awake merely 10 minutes at best guess and yet already the most dreaded words have been uttered. What to do in these instances? Here are my summer go to fun things that keep the words from appearing, wears the children out so they sleep past 9 am and does not cost huge amounts of money. In many cases, our fun is FREE!!

IMG_20160629_0933331) Local parks and playgrounds – Class parents exchanged emails and phone numbers. We take turns scheduling to meet weekly at designated parks; pack a picnic lunch, balls, kites and bubbles. The parents visit and the children spend time being kids. FREE

2) Local animal shelters – many offer daytime hours and events thru the summer with crafts and teaching children how to care and appreciate the animals. Children tend to have age requirements and parents attend with the children. FREE

3) In town day camps – contact your town or city they usually have published calendars of events and camps to register and sign up for during specific weeks. Those with large families or groups may receive discounts. Fees are based off of the supplies for each program but are reasonable. At these events, you drop your child off and pick up at designated times. $

4) Craft Stores – When visiting the big box craft stores, check out the bulletin board or visit the store online. Most offer craft summer fun classes that you attend with your child one day a week. The event is FREE the supplies for the class are donated by a sponsor.

5) Pottery or Art Schools – A day camp and class schedule for a reasonable fee- these cover the cost of supplies, and some include a snack. These are drop off and age specific; however, if you have younger children, you can paint a project with them. $$

6) Bike ride – multiple towns and cities have bike trails, rail trails or bicycle friendly paths. Put some air in those sleepy tires, load up the car, call a few friends, pack a lunch and meet for a ride. Most are virtually empty during the week. FREE

7) High school tracks – Meet at the track, bring your stroller and your running shoes. Many schools do not have events scheduled during the day and the tracks are open for you to get your run on. FREE

8) Use your YMCA membership – Get your workout in! Some Y’s group exercise classes move outside in the summer months. With your membership, you have up to 2 hours of FREE childcare. My daughter loves her time playing with her Y friends. The first week of every month, you can try the Y FREE. Contact your local Y to learn more. $$

9) Beach – plan a day trip to a state beach or park. Some of the best family beaches have adjourning parks and bath houses. Investigate in local town beaches. The fees are reasonable, and if you find you attend often, a State pass maybe beneficial. $$

10) Get outside – pack a snack, find a trail, hike a mountain. Many towns have published trail maps and hiking available. FREE

11) Baseball – find your local team; attend a day game or early evening. Farm teams or summer college leagues are affordable and often have activities specific for children. My daughter loves meeting the mascots,too. $

12) Pool/Tennis – We are fortunate to live in a community that offers these perks to its residents. Often we invite friends to visit and play. FREE

 

These are some of our weekly fun activities that we can manage and make memories.

Happy Summer!