Mental Health Monday – Back to School Edition


For many places all across the country (and the world) it is back to school season. Some started at the very tail end of August and some of us began right after Labor Day. There is so much going on at this time of year – end of summer holidays, school days, fall weather and traditions, the Jewish Holidays, and of course, Christmas is a mere fourteen and a half weeks away. I just mentioned to my husband that between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day there are only four weekends for shopping! I’m sure that did nothing for his mental health!

Parents, teachers, and kids all have something going on in their heads that is taking control of their senses, their insecurities, theirs plans. Some things are insurmountable; at least they seem to be. Sometimes all we need is a little support, and sometimes just from ourselves.

We all have our little go-to’s to get through the day, the month, the school year, and I would love for you to share them in the comments below for the rest of us. We are a community, and we move forward by helping each other in our own little (big) ways.

Here are a few of mine:

  1. Every day is a new day. Don’t let yesterday beat you up. Forget it and move forward.
  2. At some point you realize that the supply list is a suggestion. Somethings can be substituted, especially if your family can’t afford an item. Speak to your teacher or school social worker. They are there to help you and not embarrass your child.
  3. Give your kids some time to unwind when they get home in the afternoon. There is something to be said for milk and cookies or an apple after school, including for your too cool teenagers. No one is too cool for milk and cookies. During this unwinding time you can ask non threatening questions like how was your day and do you have any homework. Save the pop psychology for dinner time – did you make any new friends, how did this thing go that you were worried about? A simple how was your day works also.
  4. This one is a tough one especially in our family: try not to have dinner too late in the evening. There are days that we’re eating dinner at 9pm and it is kind of rough for everyone. If dinner is that late, how late is bedtime? When is homework? Is there any downtime for television/family time? Sometimes you have no choice on the timing, but keep in mind the needed downtime, not only for your kids, but also for you.
  5. Be present. Whatever you’re doing in your day, if you’re home when your kids get home, be sure that you’re there for them 100% when they walk in the door. It won’t be for long – they’ll grow tired of you faster than you’ll grow tired of them and they’ll disapear into their rooms – for homework, video games, phone calls/texting with friends. For those of you not home, and there are many parents who are at work when their kids get off the bus, leave them notes, have a snack prepared and in the fridge or on the counter, call them from work (or have them call you) to check in on their day. You will hear them roll their eyes through the phone, but they will still appreciate it. Trust me.
  6. Keep your expectations in line. Be flexible. Things will not always go as planned. Work around it.

And screaming into your pillow is always a good technique.

We will all get through this time together, and we will be better for it.

Busy, Busy Weekend


Beginning at the top, L-R: Our Common Home book cover, Wonder Woman Pop keychain, Wonder Woman cape hanging at the comic store, March for Truth art, Carnival, Pentecost, Gishwhes Tea Party art, green flower for my hair, Pride flag. (c)2017

Some weeks go by with nothing to do or that rare week that has one or two things every day just to keep the week moving along and easy to handle. Then there was this past week.
On Wednesday, I was invited to a Ramadan dinner, a community dinner to break the daily fast that Muslims globally follow. This dinner is one that the Islamic Center holds every year. It was wonderful, and I was glad to have gone. I’m already looking forward to next year.

On Thursday, I had a church  meeting but that was cancelled, so at the last minute, we decided to pick up my daughter’s friend and go to the evening showing of Wonder Woman. I’m not sure if Thursday counts as opening night or pre-openng night. The movie was amazing, and for a moment I considered going to see it again this weekend. Yes, it was that good. It was also a school night, but it’s Wonder Woman! We’ve been waiting a long time for this one.

On Friday, I started to read (for the second time) Our Common Home: Visual meditations of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ by Michael O’Neill McGrath, the catalyst being the Trump Administration’s short-sightedness on the welfare of our shared planet Earth. I am reading it slowly, and I am planning on using some of Brother Mickey‘s artwork as inspiration for my own tonight. Friday night was also the school’s rec night for my daughter. It was an introduction to the middle school rec nights that they have throughout the year. Then her friend slept over in anticipation of Saturday.

Saturday began with Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast – a day late and a donut short for National Donut Day, and then we were off to our local comic store to celebrate Wonder Woman Day. Free comics, tiaras, and bracelets, pins, and key chains! Fun, fun, fun. After that my son had a birthday party that turned into a sleepover. We brought him home for a shower and a change of clothes. He and my husband went to buy him a bicycle that he’s been promised before the sale ended.

In the meantime, we took the girls out to lunch, then to a local carnival. They dropped me off at church where I was reminded it was Pentecost, something I will reflect further on later in the week. The Holy Spirit is something that I have felt my whole life without knowing exactly what it was that was guiding me. While I was at church, the girls decided on another sleepover at the friend’s house. I went home and drew some art for the March for Truth that I attended virtually continuing with the Wonder Woman theme by using her lasso of truth.

My husband and I began to catch up on Sense 8, only to find out that it wasn’t renewed for a third season. I’ve already joined the online movement to try and bring it back. It is just so much and so wonderfully well done. I can’t help but feel attached to the sensates.

We are currently at our local coffee shop – Starbucks. I’m wearing a green flower in my hair ane a matching Gishwhes shirt for the International Gishwhes Tea Party taking place around the world at this exact moment.

It is also Pride month, and I spent much of last night drawing and coloring a pride flag, mostly for my own amusement, but also to share.

So much done, and this weekend isn’t even over yet. We still need to get the kids back from their respective sleepovers, watch two more episodes of Sense8, decide on dinner, and then prepare for the return of Fear the Walking Dead.

Tomorrow seems just as busy as I renew my driver’s license and get my glasses adjusted. I’ve been getting headaches and they’re barely a week old. I’m definitely seeing better, but I’m not sure constant headaches are worth the benefit. I also plan to get my international driving permit for our trip to Ireland.

I’m not sure if I have time to catch my breath.

While I do, what are some of the ways you cope with the busyness of your lives? If you comment with yours, I’ll include them in tomorrow’s post of some of my hints and tips to get through our days.


​I hadn’t anticipated being absent for so long. I had several writing assignments on my calendar, and then life and a small, but insistent case of writer’s block decided that I would not be present online. I’ve also been a little worn down from what’s been going on in Washington, DC. Some days it’s just too much. We all need a breather sometimes.

I had intended to catch up Thursday, but on Thursday night, in the middle of my daughterr’s spring concert for chorus, the power went out after a flickering of lights that she put off to the “ghost” at school. The thunder was actually very quiet so it was something of a surprise, but the lightning was fierce.They finished the concert sans microphones with the light of the audience’s cell phones.Technolody at its best. Continue reading

Instagramming Across May


When I first heard about Instagram, I thought, oh no, not another social media thingy. But once I began to use it, I really enjoyed it. Especially the way I can post directly from it to my Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Because those two latter ones are more anonymous than my FB, I do need to be careful not to post any identifying information or at least to be aware of it when I do.

In getting my new smartphone, I’ve discovered that its camera is better than my camera-camera and my Kindle camera and having 4G that actually works is the bonus, so I’ve been using it more lately. I also love the way the layout on multiple pictures looks. It lets me be creative and really use my imagination.

This May has been incredibly busy as you’ve read in the posts I’ve made and in the lack of posts I haven’t made. But I have managed to make Instagram posts because they are just so easy to upload.

I wanted to share them with you.

As a writer, I hate the saying, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Continue reading

A First Day of School Reflection


This morning at Mass, our priest spoke during his homily about the nativity of the Holy Mother, which is today. Would that be Marymas? One of the things that he mentioned is that in the today’s readings and Gospel, instead of talking much about Mary’s birth that we are commemorating today, it’s all about Jesus. It’s about how she’ll be bringing the Christ child, the Lord, Jesus into the earthly world that she, and we, live in.

That struck a chord with me as I sat down this morning to write about the first day of school. I thought I was going to write a few hundred words about my feelings on returning home to an empty house; the quiet, the little sounds in the basement of the furnace that I can hear so clearly now that the television is off and the summer screeching has stopped. I thought it would be lonely, but would still give me that renewal that I tend to get in the fall when everything starts up again.

It was supposed to be about me; my coping with what to do for the full days, getting re-organized, and catching up on the summertime neglected me.

Instead, like Mary’s birthday, it’s all about the kids.

And today’s that day. The first day of school in our neck of the woods has finally arrived. From what I’ve seen, we’re one of the last regions to return for the fall session. My nieces went back last week, my nephews the week before that. My Colorado friends even started in mid-August.

Here and now, though today’s our day.

Last week, my middle son went to middle school orientation; my oldest went to college orientation and attended his first day of classes.

My little girl got on the bus alone for the first time this morning, mere hours ago. No big brothers to lead the way; not that she needs any more independence. Yesterday’s argument was if your lip balm is colored it is still lipstick and you’re not allowed to wear it. Because; that’s why.

They’ve all had their moments when the toddler disappeared even if for only one day. It’s a long transition for everyone; two steps forward, one step back.

One day my baby is cuddling in bed and the next she’s painting her toenails. I don’t want to let her grow up. She screams like a banshee, in happy times and angry, but she’s barely above a whisper when my priest says hello to her.

My oldest seems to have crossed the threshold from confused to his family standing to a comfortable big brother. He’s asked for help and advice more times in the last two weeks than in the last two years. He’s reached that trusting place where we’re becoming friends; kind of. He’s eighteen, he drives his own car, he’s a firefighter, he’s in college. He runs errands and cooks dinner. He babysits, which means if he can’t hear them and they don’t blow up the house, it’s all good. He waggles his eyebrows and smirks when he’s trying not to laugh.

About a month ago, my husband tried to clean his room. My son got angry and yelled at him, “Don’t! Leave me alone!” He forgot to pause between ‘don’t’ and ‘leave’ and so it came out, “Don’t leave me alone!” I was in another room laughing and even child#1/adult#3 couldn’t help but laugh. He also forfeited a hug. Much like the one he gave us this morning as he left on his second day of college classes.

My middle guy loves Lego and Minecraft, Star Wars and Batman. He is the curator of my husband’s comic book collection and the comic shop clerks know who to talk to about delays or up and coming specials. He’s very organized and doesn’t like change. He needs timely warnings to prepare him for weekend adventures. Don’t ever tell him something will take five minutes if it will take six. He doesn’t mind waiting if he knows how long the wait will be; exactly how long the wait will be.

It’s taken almost eleven years for him to barely get used to the fact that we do not eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the weekends. Sometimes it’s barely one real meal. This used to take a change in our expressions and a visit to my lap for a hug and whispered explanation. If I want something done properly, however, he’s my man.

#3 is the girliest girl to ever girl. She loves pink and lace, tights and leggings, hats and fancy shoes. She polishes her nails and designs her clothes. She sings and dances, takes care of her babies, and does her hair about about ten times a day. She wants long locks like Rapunzel. She was enamored when I showed her a picture of Crystal Gayle. She works that messy ponytail so well that she puts Scarlett Johanssen and Kristen Stewart to shame. And her feet and hands are the dirtiest I’ve ever seen on anyone. She wears that lacy pink dress and climbs trees. She kicks off her flip-flops to go kick a soccer ball across the yard. She’s got the personality of an entire theatre troupe. She’s a special one.

They’re all special in their own ways and watching them grow into themselves is a double edged sword of privilege and pain.

They are more than my legacy; they are their own. Picking and choosing from their parents and grandparents, their friends and television friends.

They’re becoming.

As they watch their mom, me, in the last few years, converting to Catholicism, finding my way as a Christian and as a writer, adopting compassion, speaking out on all manner of things, and having fun at my “advanced age” I hope they see that their becoming never ends. It grows; it ebbs and flows, it continues and the path darkens and forks, but we are always changing, and whatever path we start on, there are many detours and many opportunities to change our path if the one we’re on doesn’t work out the first time.

The most important thing I hope I’ve taught them is that their lives are not etched in stone, but in sand. One swipe of their palm, one grabbing up of a stick or use of their finger and they are able to draw a new future. Tear the page and throw it in the fire. And most importantly, be you.

Who you may be, become you, my babies.

Monday’s Good for the Soul – Back to School


“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”

Deuteronomy 32:2