Travelin’

winter windGloves – check; hand warmers – check; swim suit – check; sun screen – check; rain coat and umbrella – check; baseball “mom” t-shirt – check; team spirit wear – check; sweatshirt – check; sweats for under wind pants – check; Gatorade – check; travel snacks (something sweet, something salty) – check; stadium seats – check; cooler – check. Is the hotel one we get points at? It must be baseball season. We travel and we prepare for whatever season decides to show up. We could have a little bit of spring and a little bit of winter. Images of the parent/fans in the bleachers could easily be mistaken for football season with scarves, gloves and blankets.spring image 2 Late in the season the image is more like survivors in the desert. It must be baseball season.

The parents spend the first few games trying to remember each other’s name, memorizing the names and numbers of the players they don’t know and always encouraging all the players on and off the field. Sometimes it’s the encouraging words of another player’s parent the really helps lift spirits.

The coach does his best to get the team ready for the season inaugural tournament. He reminds everyone that none of the teams will have had a lot of field time practice. “Let’s have fun and learn something. We can have more fun if we get some hits. So, go be aggressive at the plate.”

While outsiders think we are crazy, those of us on the inside know that baseball season with our middle schooler’s travel team is all about the memories being made. There will be button-busting victories and there will be dirt-kicking defeats. One will be celebrated with food and fun at the hotel indoor pool and the other will be quickly forgotten with food and fun at the hotel indoor pool.

Traveling home is usually quiet. Everyone is tired in the best way. At home laundry is separated. The white baseball baseball equipmentpants are the key player in a laundry chemistry project including pre-treatment spray and Fels Naptha. After a 30 minute soak, the uniform is the first to get washed. The result will be somewhere between “like-new clean” and “ready to hit the field.”

 Yes, in a few days we will be back on the field ready to take on the next team and the new challenge. Batter up!

All the best,
KK

Snow!

Typically in Kentucky January and February are dreary, cloudy and cold months.  They are long and like walking through taffy to get to spring.  This year a winter polar blast has come to visit.  We are in the midst of very cold days and snow!  True to form, people are starting to grouse and wish this six-week visitor would pack its ice cycles and go home.

Beyond the initial mess these winter storms bring, the road crews have done well to get the streets cleared so being out and about lends an opportunity to experience the winter wonder land.  It’s amazing to see the sleeves of ice icy2coating each little limb and stem of the trees and shrubs.  I feel for our old pine tree with the burden of ice that pulls the branches downward from its 60 feet height.  But the sun is out today and is helping to melt away some of that load.  No doubt the strength of 20 plus years will sustain our wooden friend.  The sunshine is probably the great redeemer in this long winter visitor.  If you followed our dog around all day you would know the places in the house that the beams of light invade and remind us that warmth is available.

Yes, warmth is available and more is on its way.  In the next few weeks, whether Mr. Winter has departed or not, the early spring flowers will begin their reign and the seasonal tug-of-war will begin.  I like to think that right icynow beneath inches of snow and ice, my flowers are sleeping and building their strength.  Their time will come and when it does those beautiful and graceful buds will burst through whatever lays above.

Weather is wonderfully unpredictable.  But we can count on the seasons to change.  We can count on the snow and ice to melt and spring to arrive.  It will show up in all its color and glory.  Keep watching for it, but don’t miss the beauty that has beaten the winter doldrums.

All the best,

KK

Farewell 2013

It’s half past three in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve.  I’ve spent some time in the office taking care of a few things – organizing.  The January calendar is set up and ready for the appointments I have in the first two weeks.  The whiteboard has project priorities.  There is order to my work space.

On a personal note, the checkbook is balanced (yes, I do this at least once a month and recommend it for others).  The big home projects for the coming year have been discussed and prioritized.  To close 2013, I feel the completion of 365 full and rich days. Even those with tears and challenges brought something.

It was a good year personally and professionally.  I am so proud of my son and husband for their accomplishments and letting me be on their journey just as they have rooted me on during mine.

There were goals achieved and others still undone.  Will I recommit to the unfinished?  We will see.

I have grown personally in knowledge and wisdom.  Sometimes I feel my age and sometimes my life experience. One truth is that I will never stop learning.

As we turn the last page of the calendar, may we do so with all of the optimism a new year brings.  May we breathe in the freshness of 365 blank days and look forward to all of the activities and people who will fill them.  God bless you and carry you through each one of them.

All the best,

KK

The Closing

The calendar is waning.  Christmas is over.  Retailers are rushing us into the next holiday.  There is work to be done, but most meetings are cancelled.  The work pace is easy and there is opportunity to get organized and ready to go.  I spent some time today closing out a few files for 2013.calendar_1

It’s hard not to begin planning for 2014.  Over the last week it has been so wonderful to gear-down that I don’t want to go rushing into the New Year.  I’d like to ease into it, choose my goals wisely and roll from there.

Yes, I used the dirty word, “goals”.  We will talk about that later.  For now, let’s just spend some more time with family and play with our new things we got for Christmas.

All the best,

KK

Spaghetti Christmas

It was December 27th.  We took down the tree, cleaned up the needles and began to put away our gifts.  With all three of us at home we took advantage of the time to move some furniture around and complete some “honey-do” items.  One thing led to another and before I knew it our upstairs hallway looked like the bedrooms had puked up every extra piece of furniture.  To pick up, sort, throw away, and put away was like eating spaghetti.Spaghetti_spiral_splayed

Opening the closet to put something away opened another opportunity to organize and create space.  The best approach I’ve found is to “one touch” stuff.  Pick something up, find it a home and put it there – don’t go down rabbit trails of new projects, just make note of them and move on.   Just keep working it and eventually you’ll find the floor (or the top of your desk – this method works well at the office).

Give it a try and let me know.

All the best,

KK

Gifting

So it’s December 29th, time for true confessions.  How many of your gifts did you return or exchange?  Did any gift make it to the re-gift closet?  You know the obscure gift that you can’t return because there is no telling where it came from; probably a re-giftJ.

Let’s just establish that re-gifting is perfectly acceptable.  Why waste a perfectly good item just because it’s not useful to you?  You have to be careful though, to re-gift to the original giver of the gift can be disastrous!  Not to mention embarrassing for both.  Here are a few thoughts on re-gifting.  When you place the item in the re-gift closet put a post-it on it with who gave it to you and when.  Additionally, don’t break the seal or “factory” wrapping.  Before re-gifting, be sure to dust it off well and be sure there aren’t remnants of wrapping paper or a card stuck to it.gifts

I did not receive anything that needed returning or exchanging this year.  What is really great is that those who gave me gifts did so based on what they know and love about me.  This to me is the number one rule in choosing a gift – know your recipient.  There is as much excitement in choosing the perfect gift for someone as there is in receiving the perfect gift.  While I don’t mind when someone gives me ideas, it is also a blast to choose something that I know the recipient will love, but may not have thought to ask for it.

Many of us have everything we need.  When we have the opportunity to choose gifts for those we love, why not take a few minutes to really think about the other person.  What could you give them that they would enjoy and might not otherwise buy for themselves?  The gifts I received this year were all very thoughtful; obviously those giving me gifts thought about me and what I would like.

The art of gift giving is one that I think is fading to that which is easy – the gift card.  The gift card is good because you are thinking about the other person, but we have to be careful to not let this be our default.  Take some time.  Make your gift meaningful.

The art of packaging or wrapping gifts went down a slippery slope with the advent of the gift bag.  For some, the gift bag was their salvation and a relief in the pressure of giving a gift.  My mother makes wrapping a gift and the bow on top an art form.  She pulls the color-coordinated ribbon around the package and then ties a big pretty bow on top.  Then she spends a few more minutes making small adjustments to the bow to be sure it’s perfect.  No doubt a beautiful package shows the recipient that love and care was taken not only in choosing the gift but in preparing it for giving.

In full disclosure, I did purchase a couple of gift cards this year because I didn’t plan well and ran out of time.  This just gives me a head start on these two gifts for next year.

Happy gift-giving,

KK

Ho, Ho, Ho, Who do You Know?

st. nickI’ve been thinking about Santa Claus.  Recently, while talking with friends with younger children I learned a lot about what younger parents are doing and letting their children believe about Santa.  Before I weigh in on the jolly one, I’d like your thoughts on the matter.  What were you told as a child?  How is that the same or different than how you are raising your children?  Your thoughts please, then stay tuned.

All the best,

KK

6 Things I’m grateful for – One at a Time – Number 1

sqeasy vegetable soupThanksgiving Soup

I’ve been thinking a lot about what todays grateful item would be.  Reading over the previous five I am hopeful that much more of what I’m thankful for has been woven throughout.  I didn’t want today’s post to be the typical things like faith, family and friends.  You did read those things into the other posts, right?  If not, here they are; I am very thankful for my faith the holds me steady, my family that always stands firm with me, and my friends who encourage me and add so much to my life.

Today’s post is what I like to call Thanksgiving soup – a bunch of little things that are full of goodness and laughter that come together to give great flavor to my world.  It’s the simplest of things and people I encounter each day.  Times and encounters that can’t be plan, Fate brings them together.  We need to be paying attention to catch them.

This morning I got up to watch the Macy’s Day Parade – a Thanksgiving tradition of mine for many years.  Jay got up with me and we enjoyed a cup of hot tea, the Rockettes, and marching bands from all over the country.  About half way through, Cole got up and joined us.  There the three of us snuggled on the couch, laughing and playfully enjoying some fun.   It is these moments I have grown old enough and wise enough to cherish in my heart.  You can’t trade them.

I won’t bore you with the hundreds of other examples of the simple pleasures in life for which I am thankful.  But I will encourage you to slow down enough to enjoy a few for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving.

All the best,

KK

6 Things I’m grateful for – One at a Time – Number 2

Today I am thankful to be both a mother and a wife.  I have a teenage son who is becoming an outstanding young man.  Don’t get me wrong, we have our moments where I have to stop, take a deep breath and realize he will grow out of some of the typical teenage attitudes.  But for the most part it brings me great joy and great challenge to raise him.

There hasn’t been a stage of raising Cole that I have liked better than the other.  I loved cuddling and caring for him as an infant.  As a toddler and small child he was all smiles.  The worst part of my day was leaving him at daycare every morning, but the best part of my day was picking him up in the evening.  He was into super heroes for many years, so I never had to fear danger because Spiderman or Buzz Lightyear was never far away.  Elementary years were when things got a little challenging because his questions got bigger.  I realized I needed some wisdom to help him begin to enter the bigger boy world of friends, sports, and building character.   Every stage has been enlightening and has driven me to my knees more than once.  Next year we head into high school; I’ll keep you posted.

Believe it or not, I sometimes feel less equipped to be a good and Godly wife than I do a mother.  Five years ago I married a wonderfully Godly man who loves me and Cole with all of his heart.  There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for either of us.  Getting remarried in my forties, I found myself older and smarter about how to do marriage right.  First of all, I know Jay needs to know I respect him.  I appreciate all of his hard work to provide for us.  I love his personal convictions and character.  Secondly, we work together equally.  If I need Jay’s help, he is available and willing.  Just about every morning I ask him if there is something I can do for him.  He is a very independent sort and he may not ask me if there is something I can help with.  The other reason I am mindful to ask him is that I know it’s easy for me to get lost in my own to-do list and not consider others.  Cole teases us because he’s never heard us fight.  We don’t.  We love each other and work very hard to think of the other person first.  With both of us doing this, it really makes being a wife a joy.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when one of us has hurt the other’s feelings.  In those times a little communication goes a long way.  The hurt doesn’t stew, we talk about it and each of us is quick to apologize.

These two men make it very easy to serve them as mother and wife.  I am very thankful for the opportunity to do so every day of my life.

All the best,

KK

Tell Me A Story

ww2Evidently the older I get the more I appreciate the stories my elders tell of life long ago.  I am blessed to have loved ones with great longevity; so there are tales from World War II and even before that are fascinating to hear.  When my mother re-married (long after I was an adult), her new husband’s mother was still alive and close to 90 years old.  Visiting her in the nursing home often meant stories of her taking the train to Chicago to see a picture show.  Her father was in the early film business.  She told the stories in such a way that I could, feel the steam from the train breaks and picture a young girl all dressed up and riding.

War isn’t a pretty thing, but there is something fascinating about the soldiers and the attitude of the 30’s and 40’s.  I don’t know if life was simpler, every generation has their challenges.  But living was different.  My father doesn’t tell many stories of his time in the service (WW2), but he did tell me that when they came home, people respected the soldiers and their service to the country.  Are we too busy to appreciate this anymore?

My father grew up in the 1920’s in a town next to the Ohio river.  He shares stories of messing around the river all afternoon with his brother; taking the trolley downtown to see a baseball game for a nickel!  How fun!

My favorite shows to watch are set in other times.  Ok, so I know these are cleaned up “Hollywood style”, but there is an element of truth to them.

Tell me your story of days gone by, did you grow up during the depression or  during economic boom in the 50’s or the free thinking days of the 60’s or the 80’s when all women wanted was a corner office?

All the best,

KK