Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mom in Transition - Intro

For the past few years, I have been searching for someone. She’s about 5’6”, blonde hair, hazel eyes. She pops in and out of my life, showing herself every once in a while but always just out of reach. I know she's here somewhere, she just needs some encouragement to come out and show herself. Who am I looking for? Myself. Have you seen me?

Oh, not the woman who’s been around for the past 23+ years – mom, wife, chauffeur, PTO member, Church volunteer, homework helper, shoulder to cry on. No, she’s great but she’s not who I’m searching for.

I’m looking for that other woman. The one who loves to read and write; whose friends swore she’d be an anchor on the local news station; who couldn’t imagine getting old. The one who is turning 48 in a few days but swears she was just 25 a few months ago.

Truthfully, I’m not sure I even know her. She’s been buried under some wonderful titles (see above) but I think it’s about time I find out more about her.

I’ve had an incredible life so far doing exactly what I always thought I’d do – be a mom to some pretty great kids. And now, those great kids are grown up and I’m finding myself in a bit of a dilemma. I’ve got to find myself again.  I’ve got to figure out who Kathleen Marie Welsh Kopp will be for the next stage of her life.

I’ve been so busy being a mom and wife, and reacting to life, I’ve let life determine who I am rather than the other way around.

Well no more! I declare it’s my turn. I’ve already started my journey and I invite you to join me. Who are you looking for? That girl who always wanted to be a worldwide traveler? That woman who thought she’d be a great actress? That young lady who always wanted to write a book? That young man who thought he could be his own boss? That boy who thought he’d be a professional athlete?

Well guess what? It’s your turn too. Let’s do this together. Let’s look at each area of our lives and discover who we want to be from now on.

Over the next month, I’m going to examine and explore every area of my life – from the food I eat to the people I socialize with to the clothes I wear. I’m going to look at my past so I can figure out my future. 

Who’s with me?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Change can be a good thing, right?

I remember my first day of grade school.

We lived very close to school – I could hear the bell ring from our back yard – so I walked to school that September morning so long ago, holding my mother’s hand tightly. Even back then I didn’t like change. I wished desperately I was staying home with my mom, helping her hang laundry and clean up the breakfast dishes. (After 20 years of having a little one under foot, my mother wished I would walk a little faster, I’m sure!)

My teacher was Sr. Charles Marie and, even at five years of age, I had heard horror stories about her. And she didn’t disappoint. There she stood, tall (for a five year old) and imposing in her black habit and veil covering her hair. When she took my hand from my mother’s, I couldn’t help but notice her hands were not nearly as warm or comforting. With tears in my eyes, I watched my mom’s back as she walked home without me.

We were lined up and told to be quiet, which I’m sure was unnecessary, at least for me, as I hadn’t said a word since I saw my mother leave. We marched by two’s into the school and so began for me 16 years of Catholic school education.

(By the way, Sr. Charles more than lived up to her reputation. Her number one rule:  no erasing – even though we wrote in pencil and were in first grade!  The punishment? The page was ripped out and all work had to be done over again – neatly and cleanly.  One infamous event even necessitated a phone call to the principal from my mother - unheard of in our family as we were repeatedly told the teacher was always right! Our class was kept after school until 5:00 because no one admitted to throwing out a tuna fish sandwich at lunch. Not only was my mother incensed that first graders had to stay so late, but she couldn’t imagine why I was being held for detention when I didn’t even stay for lunch and therefore couldn’t have been the culprit!)

I made it through Sr. Charles and first grade, and seven more grades, before moving on to the local high school in ninth grade.

I remember my first day of high school.

Again, let me remind you that I was the youngest of six children and my mother was an old hand at saving money any way she could. Her theory when buying uniforms (and clothes in general) was the bigger it was, the longer it would last you. That’s why I started my high school career wearing an XL uniform (never mind that I was five feet tall and weighed 95 pounds soaking wet).

Not only was the uniform big but it was also hot. The high school did have a summer uniform but my mom was not going to waste good money on a uniform that I would only wear a handful of times. (She finally relented in my Sophomore year when the sweat stains in my long-sleeve blouses became too much to get out.)

I made it through 12 years of uniforms and hot classrooms and, to my delight, was given a full scholarship to a local college to study English/communications.

I remember my first day of college.

I was commuting and so would be home every day, but our orientation required everyone stay overnight for one night. One night! So, reminiscent of my first day of first grade, I walked to school with my mother and cried when she left! Some things never change. (Have I mentioned I don’t like change?)

What do all these first days have in common? They demonstrate that, despite my intense dislike of change, and the many challenges I faced during these first days, I not only completed 16 years of school, but I excelled as well.  Change isn’t all bad then, is it?

Over the past few weeks, I have sent my son off to his first job, my daughter off to her first year of college and my youngest off to her first day of high school. That’s a lot of firsts, and a lot of change. I have cried with them, consoled them and commiserated with them.

But I remind them, and myself, that change is necessary and change can be good. So here’s to all the firsts and changes we are all experiencing these days. May we appreciate them – good and bad – and learn and grow from them.

 If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. (Gail Sheehy).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stop and smell the sunflowers

Despite what my mother told me (every summer for years), summer is NOT over when Fourth of July gets here. (Although it often feels like it!) But summer does seem to fly by, despite my best efforts to slow it down.

If my calculations are correct (and keep in mind I was an English major in college for a reason), summer is about half way over. As depressing as that thought is, I am taking it as a wake up call.

It's time to stop and smell the roses, or sunflowers, as the case may be!

Have you taken advantage of all that summer has to offer?

Have you:

-Visited your local Farmer's Market?
-Taken a bike ride?
-Watched the sunset?
-Watched the sunrise?
-Swam in a pool? Lake? Ocean?
-Built a sandcastle?
-Bought lemonade from a neighborhood stand?
-Ridden a roller coaster?
-Read a good, trashy book?
-Slept in?
-Stayed up late?
-Roasted marshmallows?
-Visited a fair or carnival?
-Lost track of the days?
-Put away your make-up?
-Baked a pie?
-Visited a pick-your-own farm?
-Run through a sprinkler?
-Camped out?
-Gone barefoot for the day?
-Caught fireflies (and then let them go, of course :)
-Had ice cream for dinner?
-Created a sidewalk chalk masterpiece?
-Turned off the tv, phone, and computer for the day? The afternoon?
-Gone to a drive-in movie theater?
-Attended a baseball game?
-Made a wish on a star?
-Gone fishing?
-Packed a picnic?
-Gone cloud watching?
-Washed your car?
-Played mini-golf?
-Played on the swings?
-Had a barbecue?
-Gone to the zoo?
-Flagged down the ice cream truck?
-Gone to the park?
-Attended an outdoor concert?
-Eaten a s'more?

You haven't?

Well, what are you waiting for? It's the last week of July people! Time is a wastin'!

So get out there and enjoy summer and all its glory!

You're welcome!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Letting it go

Welcome July! (I’m not sure how you got here so quickly, but I’m happy to see you!)

I feel like my summer is officially beginning, despite the fact that my kids have been out of school for over two weeks and we’ve been down the shore (for those not from the Southeastern Pennsylvania  area, that means at the beach) since mid-June!

Summer is my favorite season (although fall is a very close second) and I use the time to not only work on my tan and soak up some Vitamin D, but also to set some goals and cross things off my bucket list.

And this summer is no different. The number one thing I’ve done so far is adopt a song for the summer ~ Let it Go, from the movie Frozen. (Ironic that my summer song is from a movie about the cold, but that’s another post for another day!)

I’ve decided to use this summer to “let go” of my controlling ways. I’m going to (try and) release the need to manage everything in my path. If I can’t do it in the summer, when the living is supposed to be easy, then when can I?

This “Let it go” attitude was tested this past weekend, when we decided to host a mini-reunion for a group of friends with whom my husband grew up. I bought the food and cleaned the house, but let him control the agenda for the day. And every time I tried to take over and suggest a few things, I stopped and started humming “Let it go” until the urge passed. (Confession: by the end of the day, we were all sick of that song!)
But, and here’s the “aha moment,” the day went off perfectly and I (eventually) relaxed and enjoyed myself.
I have a feeling I will be sick of this song in a few weeks, since my family is determined to test my resolve this summer. I am spending these next few weeks at the beach with my youngest daughter while my husband commutes on the weekends and my two older children come and go as their work schedules allows. Yes, it is nice that they are of at that age but for a control freak, this means I am never sure who will be sleeping where, who will be having friends down, and when they will be coming/going. But I’m taking a deep breath and, yes, you guessed it, letting it go. 
So, if you happen to pass a woman in the grocery store humming that catchy Disney tune rather loudly, feel free to stop and say hello. I’ll try and keep it down, but no guarantees!

Happy July everyone!

*Rabbit Rabbit *

Friday, June 13, 2014

50 Reasons Why I Love JWK

50 Reasons Why I Love My Husband

1. His sense of humor.
2. His kindness.
3. His blue eyes.
4. His devotion to his children.
5. His unwillingness to grow up completely.
6. His support of my writing.
7. His willingness to put up with my lack of cooking expertise.
8. His work ethic.
9. His help with the children when they were younger.
10. His ability to always make me smile.
11. His love of the beach.
12. His uncanny ability to always get a good parking spot.
13. His strong arms.
14. His smile.
15. His laugh.
16. His willingness to walk the dogs in the rain/snow.
17. He always put his family first.
18. He tries to understand his girls, despite growing up without sisters.
19. He puts up with my crazy ideas.
20. His ability to stay calm when I’m freaking out.
21. His love of sports.
22. His willingness to kill bugs and spiders.
23. His strong lawn-cutting skills!
24. He values my job as a mother and wife.
25. He encourages and guides our children.
26. His kindness toward others.
27. He’s a great leader.
28. His sentimentality.
29. His ability to make others laugh.
30. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.
31. His intuition when it comes to knowing people/situations.
32. His gentlemanly ways.
33. His willingness to have the TV on every night before we go to bed because I can’t sleep without it.
34. His willingness to stay awake at night and talk me down when I’m on the edge.
35. His fantastic grilling abilities.
36. His great breakfasts.
37. He fills up my car with gas when it’s low – without me asking!
38. His hugs.
39. His patience.
40. His fantastic back rubs.
41. His honesty.
42. His willingness to pick up the kids at night when I’m already in bed.
43. His voice.
44. His ability (and willingness) to find the answer to any random question that may come up.
45. His loyalty.
46. His pride for his children
47. His willingness to help others.
48. His memory for faces.
49. He sticks to his principals.
50. The fact that he loves me!

Happy 50th Birthday Jeff!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Remembering the firsts

I remember all your firsts:

The first time I saw your face, scrunched up and crying when the nurse handed you to me.

The first time your big brother held you, his four-year-old arms cradling you carefully as he asked “Where is she going to sleep?”

Your first sleep over, when at age four, you told me you were old enough to walk to the door by yourself, and that I shouldn’t worry or miss you because, after all, it was only one night, and I had a picture of you I could stare at.

The first time I dropped you off at preschool, your school bag bigger than you and your smile bigger than your face, waving to me as you ran into the classroom.

The first time you were hurt by a friend, your big green eyes filled with tears as you asked me why someone would not include you in a play date.

The first time you got angry at me, those same green eyes wide and blazing, questioning my decision and my words.

Your first days of kindergarten, middle school and high school, your smile still big but those eyes tinged with worry, and even doubt.

And now, instead of remembering your firsts, I am counting down your lasts:

Your last full day of high school (Where did the past 12 years go?)

Your last high school exam (Yes, you do still need to study for it!)

Your last day as a high school student (Remember this day, you will relive it over and over again for years!)

Your last summer before college (The best days of your life!)

High school graduation is such a momentous occasion in one’s life. It’s a stepping stone to adulthood. 

Friends you swore you’d never loose touch with will slowly disappear, replaced by new friends and only seen at reunions and homecoming games.

Summers will no longer be spent lounging by the pool and hanging out at the mall. Instead, there will be summer classes to attend, internships to be scored and the world to be explored.

These really are the best days of your life. Enjoy them. Don’t rush through them. Stop and take the time to appreciate home. Oh, not necessarily the physical building (although your room is rather comfortable) but the places you have existed in and taken for granted these past 18 years.

I remember someone describing home as the place that is close to the heart of the owner. Yes, close to the heart of the owner. That is the place I want you to enjoy – anyone or anyplace that is close to your heart.

Congratulations my soon-to-be high school graduate. As I watch you walk down that aisle at graduation, I will have another first to remember:

Your first steps into adulthood (I’m so proud of you!)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Goodbye May

It’s the last day of May! For those lost in a fog of baseball games, graduations, dances, lacrosse games, showers, proms, softball games, recitals and spring cleaning, you’re welcome for the calendar update! Or is that just my schedule?

Anyway, it’s the last day of May, and I can’t decide if I’m happy about that, or sad.

On the one hand, I can cross off at least 3 major events that have been hanging over my head and stressing me out. (Three down, four to go!) I feel like I can start to breathe again.

On the other hand, May has come and gone and I’ve missed the opportunity to sit back and appreciate nature coming to life again after that long, cold, brutal winter.  It’s a joy to see color again after so many months of gray.

Looking back, I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime in these past 31 days. I’ve celebrated my son’s college graduation; sent my daughter off to her Senior Prom; helped organize a Post Prom party for 350 kids; opened our summer house for the season; celebrated my son’s 23rd birthday; prepped my daughter for her visit to the high school (which she will be attending next year); wrapped up two volunteer jobs; and started the very difficult discussion with my father about downsizing/moving him from our family home (a home he’s lived in for 56 years). Talk about your highs and lows.

But I feel like that’s what May is – a time of change, a time of awakening. Closing the doors on some things while anticipating new opportunities and beginnings.

If only I could slow down a bit and appreciate it.

But life marches on. There are more graduations to attend, dances to go to and recitals to prepare for. And then… summer!

Just a few weeks of craziness left and then we can calm our nerves while we appreciate the longer days. We can relax our shoulders and stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh air of summer.

Goodbye May 2014. You will be remembered for your good times and bad, your highs and lows, your sunshine and rain.

Welcome June – be kind and feel free to dawdle. I’m in no hurry to see you move on.

Rabbit Rabbit