Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just What I Needed

When John and I were dating he made me a mix tape. Yes, I just gave away our ages. These time-stamped, musical gems don't exist anymore (sigh). Our cars don't even have a cassette players in them. I do, however have a good memory of what was included in that song selection. There was a song by The Cars called "Just What I Needed." The name of that song couldn't be more appropriate today....

I finished my 9 week, long-term substitute teaching job yesterday. It was challenging; it was exhausting; it touched my heart in ways I never considered it would. I covered for a special education teacher. Special education teaches students in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs. It's not a one-size fits all classroom. That's only part of what makes it a challenge. That's also only part of what made it soften my heart. I may gather more of my thoughts on this for another post. I'm not sure yet. Maybe it's still too fresh in my mind. 

For today what I know is I have missed my kids. I have not been as available to them as I like to be. For me, I'm not sure there is a greater challenge than being a mom AND working full-time. 

I've slacked off on cleaning. We didn't put up any Halloween decorations except a skeleton and orange light bulbs in the porch lights (yes, it's November and yes, they are still there). There were mornings of being late and many evenings when I was out of patience and energy. It. Was. Hard. 

But, then there was today. Today there was no school. Today the weather was beautiful. Today the leaves are at peak; and I find this crazy interesting because I was afraid I'd miss leaf peak because I'd be stuck inside at school. Guess what? I didn't miss it! 

Today we went to the zoo. 

Today the kids decided we should ride the Metro into DC. Sydney brought her iPod and took 1,000 pictures. We ate ice cream for lunch and rode the carousel. I bought them stuffed animals as suveniors. Elliot hugged his prairie dog and Syd squeezed her stuffed panda. On the trek home, the kids held my hands when we switched from the red line train to the blue line train...I didn't even ask them to. We weaved through the crowed platform and I could feel Syd's sweaty hand. She told me she was scared of the noise and that she was worried about thieves. She's not really a city kid, unlike her mother. I told her "country mouse" needs to get to the city more often and reassured her she was safe. 

I'm so grateful that God gives me challenges to grow me. I'm deeply grateful that my own kids missed me and needed today just as much as I did.  The days are long but the years are oh, so short.  

Today I was just a mom. Just a mom. It was just what I needed. 

Thank you for reading.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Long Live Summer

Hilton Head Island, August 2014
Today is my last Friday of summer vacation.  I accepted a long-term assignment at the kids' school for the first few weeks of summer.  It's an assignment in special education.  I suspect I'll be writing about my experience. How is it when we leave school on that coveted "last day" it seems the whole summer is before us, but all of a sudden I'm scrambling to get supplies together?  I'm quizzing the kids on their math facts while we are riding in the car doing back-to-school errands because I'm worried they've forgotten everything they worked so hard to learn.  Our library bag has been heavy this summer and Sydney has literally walked into many walls because her nose has been stuck in a book, but the math facts...oh the math facts.  Forgive me in advance, teachers.  If grades were awarded by how much time we spent swimming and laughing, my kids would get stellar grades. :)

Some of this summer's highlights have included swim team, more lost teeth, an extended visit from my niece, miles of runs and bike rides, a trip to Hilton Head Island, and sleeping in late.  It's been a rarity to see Miss Sydney before 9 a.m.  Even Elliot has been sawing logs until 8 o'clock!

I could be hard on myself for not doing "enough" of the math facts, crafting, or chores; but this morning I am instead reflecting on what's been good and fun and memorable.  If my kids can look back at this summer and say it was great then my work here is done.  I hope on that first writing assignment of "what did you do this summer?" that it's hard for them to choose just one thing.  I know for me it is.

So, here's to one of our last weekends of warm weather and sitting poolside.  Here's to humidity and Sydney Brown Berry (this kid gets her skin from my dad and she's soooo tan!).  Here's to delicious summer foods and underwater pool pictures.  Here's to family cartwheel contests and visits to Sweet Frog.  Long.  Live.  Summer.

Thanks for reading and best of luck transitioning back into the school year.  You can follow our adventures here on the blog or on Instagram.  I'm @mrsv_runsoncoffee.

Underwater photos are so much fun!

Biking Hilton Head

Into the ocean she goes
Elliot goofing around
Magnificent is being 7

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Breaking Up with Facebook

Dear Facebook, it's over....
I. Love. Summer. I love the weather, the relaxed schedule, the extra time at home. I love summer foods...fresh veggies, local berries, ice cream, grilling more often, and s'mores roasted over the fire pit. I love summer sunsets. I love going for long runs under the shade of trees and seeing the puffy white clouds and brilliant blue skies. I love the freckles that scatter across Elliot's face and nose. I especially love seeing my kids swim with their friends at the pool. Best of all? NO SCHOOL!!

I've enjoyed another year substitute teaching, but wow! It feels great to get a break. Speaking of breaks, that brings me to what this post is about. I'm breaking up with Facebook. 

I've found myself spending too much time plugged into Facebook. It can be fun to see how the people I'm connected to are spending their summer. Facebook is good for making quick plans or for me to reach a group easily. Lately though I'm feeling more of an overload of information after looking through my news feed. There are too many ads, too many suggestions for pages to "like."  Too much information.  It's time for me to cut the cord. 

Maybe I'll take Facebook back after the summer.  Maybe things will be different in a few months.  Maybe I'll change.  Perhaps that old adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder" applies to Facebook too.  For now though, I am serious about ending this relationship.  Facebook has a built-in guilt meter.  I felt a pang of guilt this morning when I deleted the app from my iPhone.  Facebook is like that second slice of cake.  You want to indulge, but later you regret it.  I'm treating this break up like ripping off a Band-Aid. One swift action and then the pain will quickly ease. Facebook was my fix.  The only way I can make this break up less painful is by going cold turkey.  

My teenage niece, Spenser, is visiting us from Ohio. She's been spending a chunk of her summer vacation with us in Virginia since she was 6. Spenser doesn't strike me as your "average teenager."  Her cell phone battery dies and not from too much usage. She doesn't even use Facebook at all (I realize too, it's not the "cool thing" for teens anyway), but I'm amazed, and inspired, by her ability to create and keep a social media boundary. I need a better boundary. 

Summer is short and fleeting. I wait all year for it to arrive. I want to savor it. I also want more of the peace I see Spenser have. I want to push myself to connect to my friends on a more authentic level. I imagine they will "like" seeing less of my posts in their news feeds too. 

So here's to summer. Forgive me in advance if I seem out of the loop because I will be.  

Thanks for reading!  Have a great summer.  You can email or call me.  And, I still Instagram because I love photos. :)  To find me on Instagram search mrsv_runsoncoffee. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

To you, Mom

Downtown with my mom 2012
 This post is for moms. This post is for my mom. 

My mom is Anne. She is 63 years young. My mom was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She's a preacher's daughter. She's in the middle of 5 kids. She's been a wife for almost 43 years. She is a hair stylist. She is a mom to 3 daughters and a grandma to 5 grandchildren. My mom is an artist, a writer, and great listener. She is a devoted friend. 

My mom stayed home with us when we grew up. I have memories of her making us forts out of blankets, cutting the crusts off my PB&J's, taking us to parks and loads of shopping trips. Like many moms, she sacrificed so much of herself for her children. She always made us a priority; so much so that I have a tendency to be somewhat self-centered (but this isn't about my shortcomings). :-)

I think she was tired a lot. She did it all.  I never even had chores. She ran our house and babysat a slew of kids at the same time. She never missed a single thing I was part of. She was a room mom, Campfire Girls leader, organized play dates and countless other social activities for me and my sisters.  She was always ready to give our hair the latest style and color--even if it was 10 PM and she was exhausted.  I don't even have many photos of us together because she was always taking the pictures (remember, pre-selfie days?!). When I was a senior in high school she chaperoned my class trip to Walden Pond in Massachusetts. It was the first time in my life I had her all to myself. I remember ordering Subway sandwiches for us to eat on the bus ride. I had to ask her what she wanted because I didn't even know what to order for her. To this day I am grateful for that trip. It was on that trip that I began to know her as a person--not just my mom. 
Having fun in Lake Cumberland

Over the years my mom and I have had our ups and downs--mostly ups, I think. But in all of it we are still so close. My mom was still the one I wanted near me when I became a mom. In those early days of motherhood when Elliot cried for 12 hours straight and maybe slept on and off another 10, I wanted my mom to tell me it was going to be OK. I looked to her for validation that I was doing something, anything, right. 

I can't begin to know how she did it all. She has always seemed to know the right thing to do, the right thing to say. To this day, I could ask her anything. I may not always want to hear what she has to say, but she's willing to listen and willing to share her experience, strength and hope with me. 

It's her dedication to me and to our family that's helped steer me toward being the kind of mom I strive to be. 

I hope on Mother's Day that she finds time to relax. I hope she finds moments to reflect on her own motherhood journey. I hope all moms do. We are all just trying to find our way, trying to do his mom thing the best we can. I think we need to encourage each other as women. We need to tell each other, as my mom has told me, "it's going to be OK. You're doing an amazing job."

Christmas 1978
One day we will be where I am today. I am grown and busy raising my own family. And one day my kids won't call as often as they want to. We might be separated by 500 miles, like I am with my mom. But with one call we will be connected.  When I get the chance to talk to my mom I am transported back to my younger years.  She's still my mom. 

On a day that celebrates mothers everywhere; I am a mom, but I am a daughter too. I will celebrate that. On Mother's Day I celebrate my mom and all that she is, and all that she will become. 

I love you Mom. 

“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ― Elizabeth Stone.

Thanks for reading. Happy Mother's Day. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Where Are You?

March 17, 2014: Virginia received yet another snow storm and then had yet another snow day.  The only thing living in our house that was overly excited by this was Thurman, our Golden Retriever.  Even our snow shovel is tired.  I saw a funny picture on Facebook today that had the Easter Bunny yelling for Santa to come get the snow.  It made me think...is this Jack Frost's joke to us because the retail industry is always rushing us on to the next holiday?  Of course I don't actually believe this, but it is comedic relief to the fact that a half a foot of snow fell in and around DC just one day after it was 70 degrees on the National Mall.  My kids have had 16 snow days this school year.  This has caused such commotion in the number of instructional hours that the school board voted last week to add an additional 25 minutes to each school day until the end of the school year.  The first day of the added time was to begin yesterday.  Yesterday was a snow day.  Is this funny to anyone else, or is it just me?  I have to find a way to laugh about this.  If I don't, I feel I will begin to develop a twitch and find myself living my own version of The Shining.  I half expect creepy twins to be waiting for me at the top of our stairs or decide it's a good idea to let Sydney and Elliot ride scooters in the house (I'd say Big Wheels, but we don't own them).

I have an extra amount of respect for those I know who live in climates where it is a long, cold winter.  To my friend in Minnesota, you are a hearty soul.  May you find your winter's thaw in yummy things like potato soup and warm blankets.  Growing up in the winters of Central Ohio I can remember the old window panes in my room forming small ice crystals on the inside on particularly cold nights.  I would scratch at the bits of frost and watch it melt down the cold panes.  I was fascinated by this.  I loved winter.  Sledding, hot chocolate, and the excitement of snow.  Now, as an adult, I have a countdown to the pool opening.  As of today, it's 67 days.  In 67 days I will yell "grab a towel and some flip flops" instead of working up a sweat stuffing Elliot into gloves and snow boots.  If for some reason it still hasn't warmed up, I will sit poolside with our infamous heat dish.  

So here's to an end to winter, to long summer days and warm evenings.  Bring on the fireflies, the cherry blossoms and the long OUTDOOR runs I have planned.  I can't wait to break up with the treadmill. 

Thanks for reading.

Thurman and his heat dish

St. Patrick's Day Snow Storm

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Happy 2014!  I'm excited about a new year. Now is the time for resolutions.  The word resolution is defined as: 1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination. 2. A resolving to do something.  As we all have heard many "resolutions" aren't kept.  Habits are hard to break and new ones can be even more challenging to begin.  

It's been over a year since I incorporated running into my regular routine.  When I began a year ago it took me over 11 minutes to run a mile.  It was difficult to run a full mile without taking a break to walk.  I had hip and knee pain and lots of soreness.  I kept going though.  At some point during this past year there was a shift.  There was a moment when running turned from something I dreaded into something I enjoy.  I don't always like it when I'm in the middle of it, but I always like it when I've finished.  I love the way I feel when I think I can't go any further and yet I do.  Just before Christmas I ran in a 5K race and finished in under 30 minutes.  I actually came in 2nd in my age group.  Who would've ever dreamed? Certainly not me!  I resolved to do what I didn't think possible.  I had a firm determination.  Running wasn't my "official" resolution of 2013.  I just wanted to try to keep going, try to improve.  
When I started running I was running from weight I didn't want to gain back (from the 50 pounds I'd lost, some was creeping back on).  I was also running from emotions that were too big for me to feel.  I was running from my own inner voice that tells me I can't do something. I guess that voice is a liar. :) 
A friend of mine chooses a word of the year and makes that her focus.  I love that idea; I love it more than a resolution.  Knowing she would be sharing her word got me thinking about doing this too.  After a bit of mediation and reflection I decided my word of 2014 is KINDNESS.  Kindness is a virtue, and represents a caring towards others.  Practicing kindness towards others has been shown to increase our own happiness...and who doesn't want to be happier?  I will use kindness in that way, but I am using it to go one step further.  I am "resolving" to be kinder to myself.  I will be using kindness to gauge my actions.  
I've been unkind to myself.  Overeating wasn't treating myself with kindness.  My negative self-talk isn't kind.  Saying yes, when I want to say no, isn't being kind to myself either.  I'm better than I was, but I'm not where I want to be.  I hope to use 2014 as a year to grow in kindness to others and myself.  
Being kind to myself means I can make mistakes and not ask "what were you thinking?"  Instead I can ask, "what was I learning?"  I have a lot to learn.  
I look back at photos of myself when I was overweight (there aren't many because I didn't want them taken).  I see someone who was not kind to herself.  I see someone who was hurting.  I compare that girl to who I am now.  I see progress.  I'll never be perfect, perfection isn't what my path is about.  But, I need to keep looking at those pictures to remind myself that I have grown.  It's an inside job that shows on the outside too. 

As I wrote above, habits are hard to break.  My focus on kindness is a new habit.  I've written about my own struggle with habits in a previous posts you can read by clicking here (Hard Habit to Break) and also another by clicking here (Defeating Chocolate Cake).

At my heaviest                    At my current weight
Giving the toast at my sister's wedding.  I went on to gain another 10 pounds!

What is your focus for 2014?  Where do you want to be by 2015?  Perhaps we can encourage each other.  
Thank you for reading.