Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Fireflies in a Baby Food Jar (and other summer time memories...) 2023 update

Fireflies in a Baby Food Jar
and other summer time memories...
(originally published August 1, 2019)
by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Summer time as a child felt like the release of a long breath after diving into the deep end of a pool. It was inhaling deeply upon coming back to the surface and looking up to the sun. There was this feeling of being released from winter's wrath, school days, and the pressures of homework when you'd rather play.  Summer time was magic, and felt like it would never end.  Sometimes I have a need to remember those moments, and  realize my children deserve these stress free times too.  Here are some of the things I loved as a child...

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1. The sound of morning, unhurried, as you slowly awaken and realize there is no need to get ready for school.

2. Dressing in shorts, t-shirts, and sandals instead of the school uniform: blue plaid jumper over a crisp, white, peter pan collar blouse, and a red criss-cross tie that felt like it was choking you.

3.  Filling the red, Kool-Aid canteen (ordered by mail) with water and riding all over the neighborhood on a banana seat bike with the weird handlebars. 

4. Swim lessons at the local school where you challenged yourself to see how far you could make it across the pool to earn your certificate.  

5. Going to the park where you could play forever on the swings and slides while your dad played basketball with whomever was on the court at the time. 

6.  Collecting aluminum cans so they could  be recycled for a little extra spending money.  One summer, we filled garbage bags with beer cans collected from the local park after ball games. The entire garage smelled like stale beer, but my parents still let us do it. It was a great day when we loaded up those bags and took them to the recycling center.
 7. Walking to the 7-11 for slurpees (icee drinks) with my siblings. That money from those recycled beer cans had to be spent!

8.  Weekly trips to the library where we loaded up on books. There was never a shortage of adventures and imagination thanks to reading all summer!

9.  Late nights (at least to us) where we played outside until the  street lights came on. Collecting lightening bugs in baby food jars helped us learn about science, nature, and that lightening bugs really do need to be freed before going to bed. They are not, in fact, a night light. But as a kid, you wished you could take them to your room and watch them until you fell asleep.

10.  Falling asleep to the sound of crickets and a fan whirring near an open window (because we didn't have air conditioning) after a bath and clean jammies. That feeling of contentment was priceless, only we didn't realize it at the time.

Life isn't perfect. There are moments when you wonder how your family ever got through things as a child. Then as an adult you have those same concerns about making it through those tough times. That is when it helps to remember the pleasant, peaceful, childhood memories of summer time freedom, carefree days, and the nightly fireflies in a baby jar kind of moments.

Copyright 2019 World of Writer Mom
Isabella S.Rodriguez, Photo credit

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Wishing all of you a week of adventures,
solutions to your challenges,
answers to your prayers, and
"Fireflies in a Baby Food Jar" Summer Memories!

Kindest Wishes,


~ Mary

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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Skateboarding through life's challenges

 This article originally appeared on

Monkey Bars, Mud Pies, & Movement
by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

My children were born with practically no fear for their personal safety.  When my daughter was born the hospital gifted her with those plastic ankle and wrist name tags.  She quickly found a way to get her mother into trouble by houdini-ing her way out of those suckers.  The nurse said, "Ms. Rodriguez she has to keep those on."  No shit.  I don't know how she managed to sneak out of those things, but she did.  Safety.  She had no concern for it from day one.  Her brothers followed suit and showed similar lack of concern for all things programmed to send shock waves of worry through their mother. 

It doesn't matter how many times I remind them or encourage them to consider the consequences of their actions.  Truth be told, we are fortunate that our trips to the Emergency Room have been minimal when I review the schematics of their motor planning fiascos.  We have had accidental corneal abrasions due to sibling rough housing...right before school one morning.  There have been monkey bar mishaps that resulted in x-rays, slings, and soft casts. Let's not forget the run ins with wall corners and curbs that have left long lasting souvenirs on foreheads; also some so close to the corners of tiny eyes that you cringe at the memory.  Yup.  That's my bunch.  

I have to admit that my children don't exactly have it easy with me as their mother.  I like to give explanations regarding why something shouldn't be attempted or why certain protocols must be employed based on a specific situation.  It's summer time, so let's take the pool as one example.  I do not want them jumping near the edges or the steps.  Why?  Because I visualize head injuries, concussions, and a life time of dealing with short term memory loss.  Don't even get me started on the potential for spinal cord injuries and near drownings. 

When you have worked with children and adults who have experienced these types of tragedies, it does something to your attention to detail.  Your concerns are heightened and those concerns naturally get filtered down to your own family.  Sorry kids, but mommy's worked with individuals who have survived some horrific situations.  Deal with that, my darlings, and hopefully you will be more aware even when I am no longer there to remind you.  (Also, alcohol and water should never be mixed.  Being alert while swimming or near others who are swimming is one of those absolutes...no room for mistakes on this one.)

It's a constant struggle for me to allow activities that have some risk attached.  I have allowed them to go zip lining.  They are excellent swimmers and know my safety rules for the pool. We all had a blast riding go carts in Mexico.  My children all know how to ride a bicycle and roller skate. (Not at the same time. Thankfully they haven't suggested that yet.)  We have gone on long road trips together and gotten so lost in the state of Texas that I was relieved when a trooper pulled me over.  He took pity on me and helped me find my way back to a main highway.  (Hey...don't laugh unless you've tried to drive through those country roads that go on F-O-R-E-V-E-R) So we are no strangers to adventure.  

So this past weekend when my 8 year old son asked me to take him to a skate park, I totally believe he felt capable of handling that challenge.  We had tried the skate park a few months ago, and it resulted in a sprained ankle.  At this point I'm an expert at wrapping sprains, having experienced quite a few of my own.  But I did not want to take any chances.  My son had dismantled his bike helmet and deconstructed the elbow and knee pads a while back, and I was in no position to repurchase those items fearing they would encounter the same demise.  So we agreed on a park where the sidewalks were fairly smooth and a decent sized basketball court would provide a level space for him to practice his tricks.  That was my compromise.  

I had nightmares about the time he first tried to skateboard 2 years ago.  He fell and bumped his mouth.  A bloody mouth and two loose front teeth (way too soon...not even close to Christmas time)  sent us to the ER close to our home.  Keep in mind that he did not injure his head and only had minor scrapes on his knees.  The first thing every medical person said was, "Was he wearing a helmet?"  Um...helmets are good and I do agree they offer protection.  In this case, it made no difference.  The helmet did not protect the mouth.  In my son's case, the helmet actually inhibited his field of vision and interfered with how his body felt on the skateboard. 

As much as we want to protect our children from serious injuries, at some point they are going to experience what it's like to get hurt.  So we instruct, encourage, and remind to the best of our abilities.  And if, heaven forbid, that day comes when they get hurt, we need to be strong enough to help them through that as well.  I jokingly have told my children we need to invent a bubble wrap suit.  But the reality is we cannot avoid all the variables that factor into our day.  So be careful, but have fun too.  Hopefully you'll skateboard through life's challenges with minimal damage.  

By the way, we made it through the weekend sans injuries!  We had perfect weather for the park and even picked up a few items for an impromptu picnic.  As I watched my children zipping down the sidewalk on their skateboards, I was reminded of my own attempts to ride my brother's skateboard down the driveway when I was a kid.  Skinned knees and elbows healed.  My sense of needing adventure....still there.  I wish the same for my children...a never ending desire for adventures. (Not the skinned knees and elbows.)

Hope your week is filled with manageable challenges!

Copyright 2022 M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Taking Care of Yourself Series - Part I


Water - The benefits of soaking in peace

By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

This article sponsored by: EMPAVA Appliances

We are often sucked into a never-ending vortex of busyness that leaves little to no time for rest and healing.  We push through pain.  We ignore symptoms.  We disregard the schedule that begs for us to make that appointment to figure out where things went sideways.  We put our personal need for rest and recovery on hold, often waiting like someone hoping for human contact when we make a phone call to resolve a customer service concern.  The consequences of neglecting our personal wellness includes decreased physical, mental, and emotional health. Take a moment to stop and consider how this is impacting your quality of life.

No matter how long you try to reject the increasing symptoms, you inevitably have a reckoning day.  Perhaps your body rebels to the point you end up with a debilitating illness.  Maybe you require a trip to the emergency room to treat "sudden" onset of fever and pain.  Your body will be required to confront its lack of self care. Humans are not created to endure on-going, chronic conditions, without some type of consequences.  Your need to work past the point of pain to meet financial and family responsibilities will catch up with you. Guess what?  You are now facing the collateral damage of habitually "working through" the cues your body has been screaming.  Take a deep breath.  It's time to reconcile the pain and develop a plan to heal.

Strategies for overcoming pain and exhaustion:

1. Dedicate a time to schedule those appointments you have been avoiding.  It needs to happen!  Invest the time and resources necessary to become healthier and create a plan of care with your medical provider.  

2. Find out what resources are offered by your employer and work with Occupational Health, Employee Assistance Programs, and your supervisor to ensure you have a team on your side.  A healthy employee who is supported will be worth a company's investment.  A supported employee is one who will be a loyal team member who can assist others going through hard times too.  Any employer unwilling to see this benefit creates unhealthy situations, and will result in staff retention challenges. 

3. Document your journey toward a healthier self.  Work with your medical team to ensure follow up and compliance with the plan of care.  Press your "reset" button and visualize a healthier self.

4.  Think about ways to enhance your living situation and environment.  Identify what makes your body feel healthy.  How can you incorporate Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) into your wellness plan?  

5.  List ways your can "reward" your body for completion of wellness goals.  For example:  Where do you feel at peace?  What does peace look like for you?  Write down some strategies that will support this reward.

Real life application of strategies:

One of my favorite strategies includes water.  My "peaceful environment" includes visualizing the ocean, a beach cottage, and my favorite items to include in the beach cottage.  To simulate this at home, I consider how to create my own oasis.  Special lighting, a scented candle, soft textured towels, aromatherapy, moisturizing lotion, and a bathtub for soaking are perfect ways to provide self-care.  Soaking in peace gives your body time to regulate, relax, and heal.  (Disclaimer: Make sure your check with your medical provider regarding any contraindications that would prevent you from using this technique.)

Invest in yourself and encourage your family to do the same.  Our children learn the most through our example.  Teach them how to be compassionate toward others, but also teach them to be compassionate toward themselves.  Let's remove the guilt that often results in ignoring the symptoms of burn-out, physical pain, and emotional neglect.  

Wishing you good health, happiness, balance, and peace.

Thanks for taking time to read this blog.
You are appreciated!


                        Copyright 2022 WorldofWriterMom.org                       


Wishing all of you many adventures,
solutions to your challenges,
answers to your prayers,
& resources to help you survive
all of your collaborative projects!
(And... a good dose of ranting to release the stress once in a while)
Kindest Wishes,
~ Mary


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