Monday, October 5, 2015

A Mighty Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the recent Might Mug give-away courtesy of Robin Kramer Writes.  We have a winner!  CONGRATULATIONS to Hali Jiang. A $30 gift card to order your own Mighty Mug is on its way!

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ushering in October

While eating breakfast this morning before the rest of my family woke, I heard an intense rushing, swooping, and pulsating sound from outside.  I lowered my spoon in my cereal bowl and moved toward our sliding glass door.

The sound's origin finally dawned on me as I lifted my gaze upward.  It was birds.  Thousands of birds were flying over our house, streaming ahead in synchronization.

Spellbound by the sight, I watched and wondered when the last birds would pass in this mighty swoop.  For over a minute, they came and came and came -- darting, rushing, filling they sky, and reminding me of Alfred Hitchcock or The Lord of the Rings scene when swarms of birds spied on the fellowship from their aerial view.

Somehow it seemed as if the birds were ushering in the month of October, and with it, the first real taste of fall.  As I walked across campus throughout the day, notably crisp air invited me to bury my hands deeply into my pockets and turn up my collar against the chill.

Welcome, October.  You've officially swooped into our lives.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

It's Mighty. It's a Mug. It's a Give-Away.

During my five-year tenure as a blogger, I've received a steady stream of requests from companies asking me to review their product on my website.  I've never felt enticed by these offers -- until now.  Earlier this month, the nice folks from Mighty Mug offered me a free mug (and a free mug for one of you, dear readers!) in exchange for an honest review.

Since I incidentally had been on the hunt for a water bottle, the offer's timing seemed fortuitous.  You'd like a review?  Well, I'd like a mug.  This looks like the start of a beautiful friendship.

Already favorably inclined, my intrigue rose when I watched the Mighty Mug video.  A mug that won't fall over?  Where has this product been my whole life? 

I've been using my mug for two weeks now, and I'm highly pleased.  It's attractive and BPA-free.  It seals tightly and is dishwasher safe, which is a major selling point for me.

You might be wondering if it actually works.  Can you actually try to knock a Mighty Mug over without knocking it over?  Well, if you aggressively karate chop it with upward torque (as I demonstrated in front of one of my classes), you might discover, like I did, that you're mightier than a Mighty Mug.  However, run of the mill bumps and taps are no match for the Mighty Mug; it'll hold its ground admirably.

Essentially, I like my Mighty Mug so much that I gave it a high five, and true to form, it wobbled and stayed put like a good Mighty Mug should.

So, whether you're a coffee aficionado, tea sipper, or just a person who likes the idea of klutz-proof hydration, today is your day.  Enter here for a chance to win a $30 Mighty Mug gift card to order your mug of choice courtesy of Robin Kramer Writes!  The contest will be open until the end of the day on Tuesday, September 29, 2015.

Be Mighty, my friends, and good luck!  I'll announce the winner next week.

This contest is now closed.  Congratulations to our winner: Hali Jiang!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I've been there, too. Oh, I've been there.

On Saturday morning I took my daughter to her gymnastics practice at the local YMCA.  Since she's a kid who primarily moves through the house by flinging herself over furniture, the prospect of having a legitimate tumbling opportunity thrilled her so much that she counted down the days during the weeks leading up to her first practice.

Let me tell you, the girl was ready to roll.  (And cartwheel.  And flip.)  As we left the gym after her initial practice, she showed me the participation stamp her instructor had marked on her hand and offered an excited play-by-play of every apparatus she had used, even though I had watched the whole time.

So, the next week when it was time for practice, I was caught off guard when she declared that she wouldn't do gymnastics, dug in her heels, and refused to get out of the car.

I could tell you that I handled the outburst gracefully, demonstrating an admirable blend of patience and savviness that deftly showcased the wisdom I've gleaned from ten years of parenting, but that would be a lie.  By the time we entered the gym, fellow YMCA patrons, both parents and children alike, were staring at our spectacle, awkwardly observing an unexpected showdown between my daughter, who had morphed, Hulk-like, from a pleasant seven-year-old into an unmovable object, and myself, who symbiotically escalated into an unstoppable force who spat out mono-syllabic utterances like: You. WILL. Go. To. Your. Class. NOW.

Periodically, when I noticed a mother warily eyeing me while using her cell phone (checking the local Child and Youth Services, I was certain), I tried a different angle.  See? This. Is. FUN.  Those kids out there? They're having FUN.

In other words, the exact opposite of what we were having at the moment.

Twenty-four long minutes later, my daughter joined her group, took her turn on the uneven parallel bars, turned toward me, and said -- of all things -- I love gymnastics, Mom!

You don't say.

I would have smiled, but I was still too occupied being ticked.  Besides, I had carved out a nice little corner of the floor so I could isolate myself from the other parents sitting respectably on the benches.  Scowling a bit longer from my corner somehow felt right.

I made eye contact with no one as we exited the gym.  Although my daughter was happily chattering about her passes across the balance beam and demonstrating childlike amnesia of all earlier drama, I still was agitated from its sting.

Right then, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a woman offer a sympathetic smile.  "I just wanted to let you know that I've been there, too," she said.  "Oh, I've been there."  As she momentarily commiserated over painful drop-offs, strong wills, and limited patience, she patted my shoulder again.  "I was praying for you the whole time."

Oh, dear fellow YMCA gymnastics mother, your prayers were well appreciated.  In fact, they likely reached heaven right when I was hoping that the scuffed gym floor would swallow me whole.

It's a gift to others when we acknowledge, without a trace of judgement, that we've been there.  Carry on, we say.  We freely admit that we've been there, too, and despite ourselves, we've lived to parent another day.  So will you.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

The Time That Is Given Us

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”   (Gandalf the Grey)

I've heard the adage "less is more" many times over the years.  For the first time in my life, though, I'm starting to live it out intentionally.  It's been a delicate process of pruning obligations and redefining priorities. 

I said no to an interesting opportunity to teach a new one-credit seminar, knowing that my schedule would already be amply full with the four classes I had been assigned to teach.  I didn't suggest other activities when my daughters opted to take the fall season off from soccer.  I'm guarding my afternoons, which were opened for the first time in ten years when my youngest went to school last week, and avoiding the temptation to fill the time with more.   (After all, once my students start submitting essays and giving speeches, those hours will fill quickly enough.)

Oddly enough, it requires discipline to pursue less.  I'm being more careful with my yes's, knowing that each comes with a cost of time or resources.  I'm learning to be honest with my no's, understanding that I'm inevitably going to disappoint some people, and given this, I probably should be discerning about who I choose to disappoint.

I pray in alignment with Psalm 90: "Teach us to number our days so we might gain a heart of wisdom."  My days on this earth are finite, and I want to spend this one wonderful life pursuing God's heart and plans instead of growing numb and weary from frenetically racing after my own pursuits.

We've all been given time.  All we have to do is decide what to do with it.

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