Summer is Over…..A New Year Begins

It is hard enough that the pool is now closed, but pumpkins and Halloween candy out at the grocery stores?  That is just crazy!  It is sad to see summer go, especially if you live somewhere with only half the year with nice weather.  Well, whether we like it or not, back-to-school is here!

Here are some things I enjoyed most about this summer:

1.  Traveling with My Husband – Sometimes it’s nice to get away and be a “couple” again once in a while.

 

 

 

2.  Meeting Up with Old Friends – We were lucky enough to meet our old friends from IL, AZ & CA, and I also reconnected with a sorority sister I had not seen in 15 years!  It was so great to see everyone this summer!

 

 

3.  The Pool – Joining the local pool was great!  We got to see our friends often.  You never needed to make a playdate, because someone would be there to play with  the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Town Events – We live in a town with many events to attend.  We enjoyed almost all of them this year!  We did the strolls on Main Street, the Summer Concert series, and Arts Festivals.  It was a wonderful summer of events.  Love our town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Hanging out with “The Girls” – It was fun to just go out with the girls to dance and have fun.  I had not done that in a while, and we were able to get out more than once this summer.  Loved it!

Things that are coming this fall:

1.  School is in session!  I have a 2nd grader and a preschooler.  I will see how the schedules work out.  I am now a part-time working mom (which is a change), so I need to find a balance.  I LOVE my new job, but this is the last year with my preschooler too!

2.  I have learned to say NO a little this year.  No major PTG positions or New Neighbor’s Club positions.  I will still be active in my clubs, but not in charge.  I  have to say,  learning to say NO was quite an accomplishment for me.  It was hard.

3.  Things I am doing: Brownie Leader for my daughter’s troop, participating in two book club, running my new site MamaLuvsBooks, and writing for AMKB, GalTime Providence, and of course working for my new job as a freelance writer, photographer, and videographer for Patch.

It’s going to be a busy school year!!!  Good luck to all you SAHMs and Working Moms out there!  I know both are tough (and now I am doing a little of both)!  What are your challenges this year?  Doing anything new?

 

Kristin Wheeler

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce

It’s the end of the summer and you are bbq’d out.  You’ve fired up that grill more times the past 2 months than you do all year round.  Wait! There is one more recipe you must try!  This one is light, fresh and vibrant.  The herbs in this recipe’s chimichurri sauce -mint, basil, and parsley- add tang to any grilled dish.  Add this delicious sauce to shrimp and you have a fabulous meal to share with family and friends.

Ingredients: Serves 8-10

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds large shrimp, peeled, tail left on if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • chimichurri sauce
  • grilled peppers and tomatoes (1 lb cherry tomatoes, 8-10 orange/red peppers)

Chimichurri sauce:

    • 1/3 cup chopped basil
    • 1/4 cup chives
    • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
    • 2 TB chopped dill
    • 2 TB chopped mint
    • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil.
    • salt pepper to taste.

Grilled Peppers and Tomatoes:

  • 1 TB Kosher salt
  • 10-20 Summer tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes

Directions:

For Sauce:

  1. Mix together all ingredients in food processor until well combined.  Do not over mix (don’t let it become a paste).

For Grilled Peppers and Tomatoes: These can be made 1-3 days ahead of time.

  1. Boil a pot of water and add kosher salt. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Boil summer peppers (1 to 2 per skewer) until tender, 1 to 33 minutes. Drain. Thread onto skewers with cherry tomatoes (about 3 per skewer).
  2. Grill over high heat until charred and tomatoes just begin to burst, 6 to 8 minutes, turning often.

For Shrimp Skewers:

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Heat grill to high.
  2. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Thread onto skewers. Grill over high heat, turning once, until curled and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Brush and serve with chimichurri and grilled peppers and tomatoes.

Enjoy!

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Preparing for Hurricane Irene

I think by now everyone is fully aware a hurricane is coming right up the Eastern Seaboard.  The 95 corridor could be in some trouble.  Things are still unclear as to what the impact will be with power outages predicted, flooding, damage to houses and roads, and issues with oil refineries.  As a precaution, I prepared tonight the best I could.

First of all, my family had plans to see our friends from Peoria, IL that we had not seen in three years!  Our kids are the same ages and same genders.  Our families just seem to line up perfectly.  We had been excited for the past few weeks to meet up with them in Long Island where they are vacationing.  We ended up being very lucky that we had booked the Long Island ferry out of New London, CT on Friday instead of on Saturday or Sunday.  We were JUST able to make our trip in to meet with them.  It was a great day of catching up, and we almost forgot about the looming storm.  Then reality hit once again as the streets of the small quaint town of Greenport, Long Island began to become more vacant, and t-shirts saying “Hurricane Irene Go Away” were hanging in the windows.  We tried to take the kids to the Maritime Museum, but no such luck.  It was closed for Hurricane Irene.  We also learned parking bans and possibly evacuations were taking place just hours after we were planning on leaving.  Luckily, we were able to get our ferry ride back to RI with moderate tides in time to plan for ourselves here in Rhode Island.  Ferry schedules are already being cancelled for this weekend.

So, home and preparing…….  I found Stop-N-Shop to be out of water completely, and I got the last decent loaf of bread.  I also went to Shell to fill up just to find signs on the pumps saying “OUT OF GAS!”  I guess people were here getting ready as we were having fun in Long Island.  We are prepared enough though.  We have food, water, and hopefully I can dig up a flashlight or two.  Two good things to remember: Fill up your tub with water (you can use it for the toilet for flushing if need be and cleaning things), and turn your refrigerator up to the highest level to help keep food longer when the power goes out.

Be safe everyone!  Prepare!  Evacuate if need be!  Take things seriously.

 

Kristin Wheeler

(VIDEO) Nothing Beats the Comfort of a Life-long Friend

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq8ZWWLkT3c

(Video) Teaching Toddlers How to Swim

My daughter has gotten to the point where she loves the water; it took several days of taking her to the pool and getting her wet before she would actually jump in, but, now, she’s a pro!  Does anyone have any ideas on how to actually teach her how to swim, beyond having her take lessons?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rMeGnP3fFg

 

Why You Should Never Let a Friend Stay With You

As many of you know, I’m leaving the beautiful state of Rhode Island.  Actually, I’ve already left.  Maybe it’s for good, maybe not.  I only know that four years ago, I never would have guessed I’d even visit Little Rhody, much less live there.  But, my friend and former News Director in Cleveland asked me to come…and so I did.  As with almost any new project I take on, or job I start, I was looking forward to all the possibilities… the new station, the new people, the rich Providence history, the ocean.  It would be a lie though if I didn’t tell you that it was also with a bit of trepidation. What if I didn’t make new friends?  What if the people were snotty? I have moved SO. MANY. TIMES. Every time I say the same thing to my husband.  I’ll never make friends like my old friends. And I don’t.  I make different friends.

You know how they say your heart just opens up to allow yourself to love ALL your children as much as you loved the first?  THAT’S how I feel about my friends, but I digress.  I lived in Rhode Island for a solid year…a very lonely year before it happened.  My husband worked out of state and I felt isolated.  Admittedly, I worked a tough schedule to go out and socialize (anchoring evenings), and I’m not really a bar girl, but I finally decided to pull on my big girl panties and stop feeling sorry for myself and go out and make some darn friends.  It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen and these women are amazing.

Heart Ball at Newport Mansions

Leaving for the Heart Ball

Newport Mansions

How could you not feel like a princess here?

My last week in Rhode Island has been one of my best yet.  Maybe it had something to do with my last minute invite to the exclusive  Heart Ball set at one of the majestic Newport mansions.  I should note, when I told my pals I couldn’t possibly go because all my formal attire was packed up, they said they’d find something for me to wear.  And they did.

Great gift baskets

Or maybe it was the fabulous luncheon the aMomKnowsBest contributors held for me the day before, where they put together a much appreciated gift basket for my big road trip.  Notice the gas gift card, wine, and scented lotion.  Let’s face it, when you are piling in the car with your husband, dog, and toddler, for a road trip that includes logging thousands of miles– with no real destination in sight–  gas money, wine, and smelling good are all necessities.  Did I mention how I have the best contributors and friends EVER?  While I didn’t get to connect with everyone in my final week in RI, I did get to spend some quality time with a few close friends.

girls having fun

Now, when I say I got to spend quality time with my friends…I really mean quality time. We had to be out of our house last week, so my friend Elizabeth invited us to stay with her family.  For those of you keeping track, that’s four adults, five kids and two dogs in ONE house.

I cannot explain how grateful I am to Elizabeth’s family and how much we enjoyed our time there. She may never invite us back (watch this short clip to see why) but knowing the kind of friend Elizabeth is, I think she will.

 

 

How Social Media Makes Saying Goodbye a Little Easier

As I’ve moved around quite a bit in the past few years, moving from Virginia to Oklahoma to California to Illinois to finally Rhode Island, I’ve had to say goodbye many times to good friends.  Unfortunately, it never seems to get any easier.  This time I happen not to be the one moving, but our good friend and owner of amomknowsbest.com, Allison Alexander, is the one moving.  It’s very sad to see a friend moving away, but at least as technology has progressed over the past few years it is easier to keep in touch.  I would always say, “Let’s keep in touch!  We’ll write each other and call,” but everyone knows that is easier said than done (unfortunately).  Moms are busy, both working and raising kids, and day to day life in the new place becomes all consuming.  You make new friends, you move on, but you do always hold in your heart the friends you had in other places.  Now technology is giving us the chance to keep up with friends easier!

(Part of the AMKB Contributor Crew with Allison, Owner of AMKB)

The greatest thing now is the expansion of social media.  I created a Facebook profile in 2006, and have connected with many friends and family through that outlet ever since.  It’s such an easy way to keep in touch and see what friends are doing.  I have been able to connect (and even reconnect) with friends from all the States I’ve lived in.  It makes it so you can actually say, “Let’s keep in touch!” and truly mean it.  Our group at amomknowsbest.com will use social media (Facebook and Twitter) and other technology available to keep in touch with Allison on a very frequent basis.  I’m sure we will be Skyping her in at meetings!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Friends I keep in touch with from Illinois through Facebook!)

Technology is always advancing and bringing us new great ways to communicate.  My parents, even in their 60’s and 70’s, are using tools to commute with us!  We just spoke to them from their Alaskan Cruise, via my father’s iPad 2 to my MacBook Pro, using Facetime (the Mac version of Skype).  It’s just really amazing how much technology has advanced even in the past 10 years.  One of our AMKB contributors, Joanna Stepka, was able to view her child’s crib on her phone from the restaurant we were eating (see her article).  Now that’s some great technology!   I guess we’ll see what they think of next!

(Skyping with my kids while my parents were babysitting them)

 

Allison Alexander, we will miss you here in Rhode Island, but we know you will be just a mouse-click or Skype call away!

*  How do you use technology to keep in touch with friends?

 

 

Kristin Wheeler

When Someone You Love Dies

My brother and I sandwiching two dear friends

Last year the unimaginable happened. I lost my youngest brother to a massive heart attack at the age of 49. Up until then I had felt secure in the natural order of things: the older ones go first and the younger ones get old. Our dad had died four years earlier, and while we wished we had had him longer, he’d lived a good long life of 84 years. We’ve attended several funerals for that age group over these last few years, and although they were sad occasions, we still felt sanguine about it; we even expected it.

The day my brother John died was a Sunday in late January. He had just texted his girlfriend that he loved her for the first time on his early morning ride home to his house from hers. He had planned to join us at our place for dinner that night to introduce his new love to his 15 year-old-daughter. This was a big day and he was excited. I’m sure he thought the heartburn was just a nit. After he mentioned it to his daughter on the way to her soccer game that morning he’d probably written it off as something he’d eaten. It wasn’t. He was having a small heart attack that led up to the one that took his life hours later. He never made it back to that soccer field. Hindsight is torture.

It’s the worst kind of shock and loss when someone you love, at the top of his game and happy, drops dead. My husband and I were bereft. After calling my immediate family and John’s girlfriend with the awful news, the urge to band together was strong, and we asked all the local family to come to our house that night. We knew that things needed to be done, decided, and organized. Three of my kids were at a good friend’s house, and so I called her to tell her that I needed to leave them a while longer and why. She likely started telling our other friends because by the time we arrived home, there was food being dropped off – lots and lots of food. It kept up like that for days. I personally couldn’t eat much, finding wine to be my temporary panacea, but the food was heated and consumed by others, and I was so grateful for that.

I felt a little insane during that initial period. I couldn’t write the date, for instance, because that would mean we had left behind the time when I could save John. In a plea to God I offered up a limb in exchange for my brother’s return to the living. My husband was concerned about me, but I was desperate to reverse this horrible event. Sleep was a welcome respite, but it was just a temporary escape from reality because the morning brought with it the waking nightmare one feels when death has visited. One day, in particular, I awoke late and came running downstairs to tell my husband I had forgotten to get our preschooler to school, when he met me to say that my good friend had come to get our son earlier. A deep sense of relief set in…my friends had my back. I knew then I could let myself grieve, and they would help me get through it.

This April a friend’s husband succumbed to his battle with pancreatic cancer at 43 years old. He fought it hard, but this disease is a formidable foe. Only a very few survive it. They have four young children, as do I, and that’s a lot of people to take care of when you can barely put one foot in front of the other. A plan was put into place using the Doodle website: each night someone would bring dinner, help bed the children, and be with our friend through the evening. So far, two months of weekday visits have been filled in, and our friend has expressed how much this helps her.

A new day

a new day

It’s clear to me now that those of us over 40 are going to go to more and more funerals. What is also clear is the ever-increasing need for community and support through these losses. If you haven’t experienced someone’s death yet yourself, I’m sorry to say that it’s coming, and that you will need help through it. If you know someone in the throes of grief, then by all means reach out, bring food, send a card, make a phone call, arrange a lunch date. Don’t be shy; the grieving person can always refuse your overture, but you must still make one. The gaping hole of loss can never be filled, but the more love one feels the more hope they have. So reach out, tell them how sorry you are, hug them, and one day they’ll do the same for you. It’s the natural order of things.

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The Pick Up Artist: A girl looking for girlfriends

Photo by Bob Packert

I rushed into my husbands’ arms when he came home from work, planted a kiss, and announced,  “Honey! I picked up a woman at the zoo today!”  Now, I know what you are thinking, but please don’t judge me, it was a moment of desperation.  You see, we had moved to a new state a couple of months before, neither of us knowing a soul.  We enjoyed exploring on the weekends together, but during the week, while he went to work, and engaged with other adults, I was keeping company with our 4 year old, 2 year old and 3 month old.  The most sophisticated conversations I had in a typical day contained words like boo boo and sippy cup.  As you might imagine by the time my husband walked through that door in the evening, I tackled him with pent up conversation, plans to go out, or threw the screaming, kids at him, and hid.  I knew that these were not the greatest receptions from long days of work.  I also knew what I needed.  Girlfriends.

It had been much easier to make friends in school, at work, or in playgroup, but as an adult with none of the outlets listed available, I found myself at a loss.  That day I had been at the Zoo with aforementioned children, and noticed a woman at the Terrapin tank.  She was pretty, and fashionably dressed, but what attracted me to her, were the two children by her side.  They looked to be similar ages to my two oldest, so I made my move.  I walked away from my children, and sidled up the Terrapin tank (not unlike a bar, sans hair flip), then called them over.   “Look, it’s a Diamondback turtle!” I exclaimed, sounding a bit too loud and excited, but sure enough, my children rushed over, and the other kids looked up at me.  Their mother now noticed me too.  I took my opportunity, and struck up conversation.  It turned out we only lived a few streets apart, and as our kids began to chatter about the turtles, we exchanged numbers to set up a play date. I was elated! I had a friend!

Years later, I have friends here whom I cherish, and feel like I’ve always known, but I think back to how I got to this point, and remember that void . The process seemed not terribly unlike dating, Searching out another soul looking to connect.  Wanting, no, hoping, to be attractive, and interesting enough for them to want to see you again. There have been good play dates and bad.  Women along the way who were charming, but turned out to be just like those charismatic bad boys who had once seemed so alluring.  Hurtful, and untrue. There were women who I met already with a close-knit group, not looking to add friends to their lives. There were also pleasant surprises, finding the most genuine, funny and caring friend I could wish for in someone who had flown under my radar.    I joined all the playgroups, book clubs, and parent teacher groups I could, and through it all friends with common interests filtered through and filled my life in a way that only good girlfriends can.    Now if my husband is pounced on when he gets home from a long day at work, it is more likely a joyous child, than a disgruntled wife.  A more welcome reception indeed .

 

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Memorable Moments of Mom 2.0 (Part 1)

NOLA Ritz

NOLA Ritz, locale for Mom 2.0

 Life is about memorable moments. Creating them. Savoring them. Replicating them.  (It never hurts to try.) As Mom 2.0 approached, and the talk on twitter, facebook, and email peaked leading up to the 3 day conference,  my excitement increased. I knew I would learn a massive amount of information. The ingenuity, creativity, dedication, and passion of women like Kimberly Blaine, Jyl Pattee, Emily McKhann, Andrea Wishom, Liz Gumbinner, Beth Lemanach is knock your socks off inspiring. I honestly don’t know how you guys do it. While I only dropped named a few names, truth is—every single person I met during Mom 2.0 moved me in some way. I left every conversation thirsty for additional knowledge, empowered, and excited to do more. Faster. Better. Smarter. I wondered how on earth I was going to manage it all, plus a full time career as a TV Anchor.  The content at Mom 2.0 is top notch. I was often torn as to which breakout session to attend. The New Style: Bloggers, Brands and the Post Review & Giveaway Era or Video, Multimedia and Monetization: How Video Can Realistically Raise your Visibility and Credibility??   Creating and Building Influence or Personal Brand Building: Real-time Coaching and Brainstorming on Building Your Personal Brand and Where it Can Intersect with Big Brands??  Ultimately, I discovered it was the people BEHIND the message, more than the message itself that stayed with me…and THAT’S what making memorable moments is all about. The bonds you create with people. The lasting friendships, and partnerships. Conferences allow brands, bloggers, and PR folks to see the REAL you, not the person hiding behind the computer screen. On several of the headers on my site I have three words that I was happy to hear often throughout Mom 2.0. Authentic. Engaging. Approachable. More Mom 2.0 posts are to come, but if someone were to ask me to describe the people and discussions at the conference, I would describe them quite simply with the words we live by at  A Mom Knows Best.   Authentic. Engaging. Approachable.

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