Monday, January 30, 2006

A Day in the Life

I confess to being exhausted. Up early on little sleep anyway, I preached two sermons for Laity Sunday at our church, and then immediately drove the hour-plus drive into New York City to accompany 40 kids with our Youth Symphony to Carnegie Hall for a concert by the Met Orchestra (under James Levine’s conducting. It was glorious.) Beat up from the long drive back on an empty stomach, I came home to a sick 16-year-old and a husband who think he caught part of same. So rather than slave over a Newsletter—or search my soul for a tidbit of widsom—I am including a note that recently came in from a reader. It speaks perfectly to what we moms face on a daily basis, and I thought you might enjoy it as much as I did. (And please keep those emails coming…you never know when I’ll really need to use your material, too! Enjoy!

“Awoke this morning and assumed my position as Head Chef at Chez Michelle. This morning’s fare consisted of brightly colored perfectly toasted wheat morsels topped with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar and served with latte. (AKA cold cereal and milk.)

Then, as Vice President of Human Resources, I negotiated with personnel concerning the proper dress code for the daily workplace.

Next, I was off to the store to fulfill my duties as Purchasing Agent for a number of clients, including the Herbeck Corporation, Georgianna United Methodist Church, and South Merritt Island Little League. (Note: the previous Purchasing Agent (shop-a-holic husband, Gary) has been demoted for his inability to understand the concept of budgeting, thus plunging the Herbeck Corporation into deficit spending.) After carefully managing the supply chain for my clients, I came home to begin domestic engineering.

Using my skills as House Veterinarian, I applied medication on canine ear infections.

I am currently planning the afternoon’s logistics in my capacity as Director of Transportation. Today’s travel demands include musical education, chess competition, art education and physical education.

As Sports Team Manager, I will be providing for the nutritional needs of the players this afternoon. (See supply chain management above.)

Immediately following the teams practice, I will assume the duties of Wardrobe Director. The youngest personnel will change into their pajamas for a “Bedtime Story Night” at school.

Upon arriving back at Herbeck Headquarters, I assume my Superintendent of Schools duties, preparing the older personnel for her classroom activities tomorrow.

Whew! No wonder I am tired. I think I’ll take an OSHA required break now.”

By Michelle Herbeck, Rocket Mom of 13 year old girl and 7 year-old boy

A Rocket Mom Society Note

We kicked off the Society with our first meeting Tuesday night: “G.A.T.: Getting your Act Together: Goal-Setting and Vision-Casting. Notes are posted on our web site: for your viewing. Note: the parenting resources on the site are for members only. Details on membership are also on the site. Please check out our calendar, too, for a year’s worth of events. You can join as a virtual member if you do not wish to attend monthly society meetings or if you are not interested in forming a chapter in your area.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's All About Process

The northeast corridor got clobbered by heavy snow and ice this week, leaving many parts of the New York City metropolitan area without power for several days. Our tiny town was no exception; most of Ridgefield was without electricity all day Wednesday. Extended empathy for victims of Katrina and last year’s Asian tsunami immediately bubbled to the forefront of my thoughts. And everyone in our family reflected with some sadness at the extent to which we rely on electricity and running water. No water, no coffee, no phone, no internet.

There went my plans for the day. Enjoying a morning shower (something I take for granted after a tough workout) was like hanging my hat upon a star, as was working on my web site (I’m in the middle of an internet remodeling project), returning phone calls and catching up on laundry. Visions of escaping to the nearest town for both a mall and a movie theater experience was looking better and better, until I re-examined my schedule and realized that there were certain responsibilities that I needed to keep, if in any way possible. Conference call (hmmm…could be done by cell phone I suppose, even though I’d have to at least idle my car in order to charge my phone battery and aren’t gas prices at an all-time high?); violin lessons (no excuse there as the music school did indeed have power); bill-paying (turns out you can do that by candlelight if you have to). And, like it or not, even the reds can get separated from the whites on the laundry room floor in the light of day.

So we grunted it out, the kids and I. While hubby was in sunny Florida for a three-day retreat (fate has had him out of town during most of our power outages), we made do as best we could in the absence of all imaginable resources and well as my knight in shining armor.

We were sailing along swimmingly (it’s quite amazing what a large hot cup of joe can do for downtrodden spirits, even if one has to drive across two town lines to get it) when just before I turned onto the main street leading to the music school, a tire on my van went completely flat. Nada. Down to the metal of the rim. It would only figure. Ernie out-of-town. Perfect time to be a sweated-stinky-bad-haired-cold-hungry-damsel-in-distress. Happens every time.

Having just finished my conference call, I was, mentally at least, still absorbed in its message: it’s all about process. The lesson was being applied to the business of professional writing and speaking, but now, with two tired and thirsty kids in the back seat and me with a completely immovable lop-sided van in a town other than my own, I kept reminding myself: “It’s aIl about process, Carolina. Take a deep breath and move through the process.”

Like becoming a writer or lecturer of stature, becoming a seasoned mother is all about process. As a writer with a single published article does not an expert make, nor does a mother with a single newborn babe. It takes years and years of trial and error, mistakes and victories, rejection and acceptance to finally “make it.”

It’s a process.

I recalled rather quickly one of my first flat-tire experiences. Even though I do not remember it as occurring on a day in which we also lost power (a rather strange mixture of circumstances indeed), it was nonetheless distressing. Waiting for rescue with small-children-strapped-helplessly-to-car-seats in tow, eventual repair was not comfortable even ten years ago. And I was nothing short of a bumbling flat-tire novice (or idiot, depending on whom you talk to.) Didn’t know the first thing about how to deal with the task at hand. Call AAA or call hubby? Get out of the car or stay put? Get someone to put on the spare of get towed to the nearest tire store? Laugh about it or burst into tears?

But having lived through a number of flat tires…and power outages, coffee withdrawals and bad hair days….I endured the process much better this time around (even though the no-power no-food no-coffee combination thing was not especially enjoyable nor entertaining). But I understood (kind of anyway) what to do. Call AAA from my cell phone (which I charged on my car’s battery while driving the thirty miles to violin lessons); let the kids walk the three blocks to their lessons (despite my fear of foul play along the way); phone hubby for sympathy (enduring him telling me that my plan was wrong and that I should opt for Plan B); and take a cat nap while enduring the wait (versus the whole bursting into tears routine.) And after the spare is put on, celebrate by driving to the nearest mall-with-a-Sears-auto-shop-attached for a new tire, dinner and quick shopping experience.

The process took more than five hours to complete. And it’s not that it was funner than it’s been in times past. I was still thirstier than usual, I still had leftover sweat clinging to my un-showered body, and I was still suffering from an excruciatingly bad hair day. It’s just that I’ve come further in the process. I’ve endured more emergencies. Faced bigger challenges. Fought bigger battles.

The process of motherhood is not about immediate results. Quick fixes. Flash-in-the-pan success. Motherhood requires embracing the challenges that come our way on a near-daily basis. Embracing difficulty. And pain. Suffering. And growing in the process. The act of going through the process has its own lessons. And its own rewards.

Growing up is not especially easy. (Look at any pre-pubescent boy if you need further evidence.) It involves introspection. Hard knocks. Falling flat on your face. But the process is inevitable, and you won’t be the kind of mom you want to become unless you go through it.

Embrace the process. However painful, endure the growing pains. While they keep coming years after you think they should well be over, embrace your role through them. No one ever told you it would be easy. No one ever told you it would take this long. But it’s not about easily measurable—or easily attainable— results. It’s mostly all about the process.

Blessings on your week.


A Rocket Mom Society Note

The first meeting will be held this week at the Mother Ship on Tuesday night, January 24th, from 7:30-9:00 PM. Email Carolina for directions: Please bring a friend, paper and (happy-colored ink) pen. Light refreshments will be served and a “G.A.T.” meeting discussing goal-setting and vision-casting—with specific strategies for both—will follow. Please see: to sign-up. You may also register at the first meeting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fresh Start

You almost can’t help yourself: cleaning up the house after the holidays practically forces you to take the broom and vacuum cleaner…not to mention the Windex, counter scrub and mildew repellent…roll up your sleeves and wipe up any and all messes throughout the house.

Having spent the good part of last week settling Nick into college 650 miles from home, I needed to attend to the business of taking down my Christmas decorations at the earliest possible moment this week. When I could find a whopping eight hours with nothing better to do (mail-bill-laundry-catch-up notwithstanding).

If it were up to me, the tree would stay up all year long. In fact, about ten years ago, I did just that: never took my stuff down. Kept it all up ‘til the next Christmas. I loved everything about it: it provided enormous savings of my personal time, it was quite beautiful to look at—all lit up at night—and it served as a near-constant reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas alive each and every day of the year.

And then I got a phone call one night from the driver of our local pharmacy, asking a most perplexed: “Mrs. Fernandez, I’m just calling because as I was making a delivery in your neighborhood, I happened to notice that you had a Christmas tree in your living room window. Just thought you’d like to know.”

(So was he calling to make sure that I knew I still had my tree up or did he want me to know that he knew that I still had my tree up? As if I couldn’t see for myself….)

Point is, although it was truly wonderful, it was a tad bit too eccentric to carry off year after year after year.

So I endure the ritual—as you undoubtedly do, too—of taking everything down a week or so after the holidays. I spent the good part of Sunday dismantling swags. Lovingly wrapping angel wings. Putting my Spode Christmas Tree china back into protective boxes. And now my house looks lighter. Emptier, to be sure. No twelve-foot tree in my entryway. No lights in the windows. No angels. Nor Saint Nicks. No greens. Nor scent of Votivo’s “Joie de Noel” candles wafting through my home….

But it is cleaner. New Year. Clean slate.

Wiping things clean provokes an energetic response to action. To tackling resolutions. Writing letters. Paying bills. Organizing calendars. Initiating social invitations. Sewing on loose buttons. Removing stains. Filling in photo albums. Organizing closets. Donating clothing to charities. Throwing away garbage. Discarding old medicines. Filing medical stuff. Alphabetizing CD’s. Re-grouping books. Polishing silver. Waxing the furniture. Reupholstering. Finishing paintings. Hooking new rugs. Tying new flies.

OK. Now I’m exhausted.

But they don’t call it “New Year” for nothin’. It’s a time to start anew. To wipe the slate clean of all of your baggage, garbage and overage. And get on with brand spankin’ new. Fresh. Vibrant. Clear. Clean.

Surely you’re ahead of me. Did this a couple weeks ago. But have or have not: now is the time to grab the New Year by the horns and tackle ideas and issues, projects and plans, and agendas and activities and find homes for them. Be they homes within your home or homes within your brain; homes on your kitchen calendar pages or homes within your children’s drawers. Grab hold of the energy and power which this New Year brings and move forward. With creativity and verve! Take a step. Any step. And begin!

Until next week,


A Nick Note

If you’d like to send something to Nick via the US Postal Service:

Nick Fernandez
PO Box 6031
Reynolda Station
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109

A Rocket Mom Society Note

Mark your calendars for our first meeting: Tuesday evening, January 24th, from 7:30-9:00 PM at the Mother Ship. Email Carolina for directions: Topic: G.A.T. (Getting your Act Together) re: creating a vision for your family, crafting mission and vision statements and individual and family goals. Be prepared for “Show and Tell.” We want to know how you’re doing this, too! Pre-sign-ups at: http:// Or feel free to do it at our first meeting.

You may also register as a purely virtual member. Or start a chapter of your own! Details: Or call or email me!

A Quick Note

If you live in Fairfield County, CT, tune in to Comcast’s Community Access Cable TV show “Moms Gone Mad” where Carolina will be interviewed on Wednesday at 10 AM. The interview will also be posted on the Rocket Mom Society site for members.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The New Year always starts off with its own set of issues. To-do lists left over from last year stare us in the face, and we resolve to check items off with rapidity just as soon as we find homes for new gifts, pack up Holiday decorations, and settle the kids back into school. Left with the blank canvas of a whole year at our artful mercies, we resolve to tackle things that had been put off in the frenzied moments of December. And so new diets get started, new exercise regimens take hold, and new promises get made for all of those things that we’ve been meaning to do.

As I sit in my hotel room typing this Newsletter, I reflect on the events of the past three days as we’ve been settling Nick into college life down here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina...and preparing ourselves for his healthy and happy release.

Releasing is tough stuff. It requires shedding of the old and welcoming in the new. Offering up the closely-held things of the past and ushering in the unknown mysteries of the future.

Nick has had fourteen months to think about his future at Wake Forest University, where he has just officially enrolled as a freshman today. He’s had fourteen months of anticipation, excitement and wonder at the unknown which lies just before him. Of wondering how he’s going to mix classes with chemo. Or fraternizing with fatigue.

And his father and I have had that time to think about letting him go. Of leaving doctors and nurses—who have taken such excellent care of him these past fourteen months—and embracing new ones with the same love, trust and enthusiasm. Of learning new procedures, new hospitals and new tests. And in the process, navigating around a southern city—with southern grits and southern accents to boot. Of how he’ll handle maintenance chemo without us checking up on him around the clock.

We’ve thought about what it’ll feel like to drive back towards home. All 650 miles of it. About how it’ll feel to no longer hear Nick’s Doc Marten’s clomping down the stairs from his third floor bedroom into the hallway. Or how our family will feel with one less teen. Quieter. Emptier.

Releasing one’s child—like releasing old habits—does not come easily. But sometimes you just have to let go. You know the time has come and, hate it as you do, you have to see if those wings which you have worked so diligently to make strong, will hold that child up by himself.

A couple of dear friends of mine are releasing spouses at the start of the New Year. They’re giving up marriages for reasons as different and as personal as they are. It’s tough. It mixes things up. Turns worlds upside down. Touches children’s lives in ways they never thought they’d have to reconcile. Forces them to fly solo when they’d been used to flying in partnership.

Releasing also sometimes requires thinking about those things that we know we need to get rid of in our lives…as well as those things we know we must let go of over which we have little or no control. Releasing bad habits isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do. Perhaps you’ve resolved this year to eliminate baggage and clutter. Or stop smoking. Give up caffeine. Giving something up almost always leaves a void…as well as a nearly insatiable desire to fill up that space with something else. A different habit or activity. Or different people.

As you look out at the possibilities which this New Year holds for you and your family, first take some time to examine those things—or people—which need releasing. Maybe friendships need to be re-evaluated. Or family ties need to be strengthened—or bound more loosely. Perhaps you need to teach your child to be more independent. Or delicately encourage your aging mother to lean more heavily on your shoulders.

It’s always more refreshing to start anew if old baggage has been properly dealt with. The New Year will most assuredly get off to a better start if you wipe the slate clean before scribbling your long list of should’s and could’s.

So personal reflection is the order of the day. Examining your life and listening to that still voice deep inside you will help you release as needed. Or hold onto people and things that need holding onto.

I look forward to exploring the possibilities of the New Year with you. With enthusiasm and expectant optimism.

All blessings,


A Nick Note

With three days away from home—a long drive on Friday followed by moving rituals on Saturday and Sunday—things had been sailing along quite smoothly. On Monday morning, we went to his new hospital to simply meet his new docs and to turn in some paperwork to assure that everyone is on the same page, medically speaking. We quickly discovered, through a routine and quick finger-stick, that not only had his counts plummeted to zero since we left home, but that he needed a two-unit red-blood transfusion as well. I was horrified. We wound up spending eleven hours on Monday in the hospital, where he was admitted for the transfusion ordeal. Our trip back home has been postponed by a day, as we wanted to be here with him while he underwent the transfusion in a brand new place. Needless to say, this was not exactly the release we had imagined. His spirits are great, and we thankfully report that Tuesday morning found him filled with renewed energy. As he is severely neutropenic, he needs to be especially careful to avoid crowds and germs…all of this as he embarks on his college career.

You might guess that this has posed some restraints on my enthusiasm! I will not be releasing Nick with the good cheer for which I had hoped. (It’s a lot easier to write about releasing than it is to endure releasing.) As you keep Nick in your prayers, please keep me covered also. Releasing a healthy first-born to college sends many moms weeping; releasing a neutropenic first-born to college on chemo for leukemia is a lot for me to handle. It will send me to my knees as well as to reach out to any and all friends willing to keep Nick totally covered in prayer. This is tough stuff indeed….

But there are blessings deep inside the experience, and I’m starting to just now see some of them. Maybe that’ll be another Newsletter….

A Rocket Mom Society Note

The newly-forming Rocket Mom Society (RMS) will meet at the Mother Ship in two weeks. The exact launch date and time are TBA tomorrow. (My delayed trip has caused some confusion here; apologies please!)

For the first three months of the year we’ll hold “G.A.T.” meetings: “Getting your Act Together.” January G.A.T.: Developing a vision for your family and outlining family and individual goals; February G.A.T.: Home Organization for the stuff of your life; March G.A.T.: Organizing the papers of your life, including school, office and financials. If you live in or near Fairfield County, Connecticut or Westchester County, New York, and would like to be a part of this group, please check out details at: Click on “Rocket Mom Society.” Or email Carolina: