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In the Spirit of Excelsior!

I am a big believer in personal excellence. I preach it to my kids every day. It means doing our daily best and striving to be our best person at all times. Taking time to work hard and strive to reach the heights that we were all created to reach. It doesn’t necessarily mean straight A’s in school or tallied wins on our sports teams. It is much deeper than that.

I wasn’t very familiar with the latin term excelsior until Friday night. Excelsior is a Latin adjective meaning “higher” or “loftier”, with a poetic meaning of “ever upward”. The speaker at Keith’s High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony used the word over and over until it felt familiar. Excelsior embodies the motto of Keith’s alma mater at Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. After listening to the President’s inspiring words, I only wish I would’ve been a part of that community!

at RIIS

How great that our kids and all of Keith’s nieces and nephews could be there to share these honors!

We spent last week in Keith’s hometown, with all of his family, to attend two different Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for him. The first one being the Rhode Island Interscholastic Hall of Fame followed a couple days later by his high school Hall of Fame presentation. Keith’s high school principal and athletic director both came up to me to reminisce how Keith was always so kind and courteous and that they were always impressed with his character at 17 years old.

Absolutely my husband has admirable hockey accolades, but the thing that has always impressed me from the day I met him is his gentle, humble character. I watched Keith always greet and hold conversations with the cleaning crew and behind the scenes staff at the United Center after his games with the Blackhawks. The guys who parked his car at the arenas and cleaned up his locker stall were his friends. He would even give rides to the homeless guy waiting for him after practice.

Yes, Keith played in more than 1,000 games in his 17 year NHL career. Before that he was a standout defenseman at his high school and the University of Maine, as well as an Olympian. But, how awesome that when people spoke of him this week, they spoke of who he was as a person and how that impressed them more. I know it made me proud and made me want to continue to do my best to instill the spirit of excelsior in our children. This is what will truly sustain them in life and set them apart like their father.

Commit to excellence and you will bring excellence to the world around you. Congratulations to Keith and all who were inducted into these Hall of Fames alongside him!

Carney Family

All of the Carney crew together to celebrate Keith’s induction into the RIIL Hall of Fame!

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All aboard for National Train Day!

 

Planes, TRAINS and automobiles. I’m definitely on my share of planes and for sure in my automobile, but on a train? Never, until last week. Today is National Train Day. Local Amtrak and other train related venues are hosting special events all across the country today, May 10.

Unknown_1I can’t really say that I sought out my train ride last week as my first means of travel from Charleston, SC to Raleigh, NC. But, I admit I really enjoyed myself. As a busy Mom of four, riding alone on Amtrak felt about as equal to a day at the spa minus the massage. Quiet time away to read, think, write and even rest my eyes for a bit. Another bonus is that I could plug my laptop in right next to me and surf the internet  with free wifi along the entire route. All as someone whisks me through the Carolinas and I didn’t have to pay attention to anything going on around me except for when it’s approached my stop.

When I realized that there are no direct flights from Charleston to Raleigh, I needed to come up with another plan to get to see my family there. I was not going to fly to New York to come back down to the Carolinas. So, I thought there must be a train I can take and got on amtrak.com to find out for just $66 I could be there in 6 hours. Sold.

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I never think of taking a train for my travel, except when I’m in Europe. It just never occurs to me and realistically it probably isn’t convenient most of the time from Arizona. Normally when I travel, I am in a hurry to get to where I’m going quickly, by plane. But, I can’t tell you the last time that I had an empty seat next to me on a flight like on my train ride. And I certainly can’t charge my electronics and get free wifi when I’m in the air. On Amtrak there are no seatbelt signs, no stressful security lines and I was free to move about my quiet car as I needed to at all times. I am thankful that I chose Amtrak for my travel. I relished it’s simplicity and will definitely do this again.

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Relaxing during my short layover in Wilson, NC

Check out your local Amtrak for a special event near you. Also, up to two children 2-12 may accompany each adult at half the regular adult rail fare normally.

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One way to intentionally get outdoors!

I’m a sucker for any National Awareness Day or cause. As a big believer in intentionality, these Days simply bring attention to something to be mindful of. I like the thought of people everywhere banding together to do something positive across the nation. Last month we celebrated Earth Day, Giving Day and Donate Life Day.

May is Bike Month

 

May is National Bike Month and today specifically National Ride Your Bike to School Day! I excitedly mentioned to the kids that today was going to be National Ride Your Bike to School Day. I pictured us up early, having a healthy breakfast and then riding the boys a couple of miles to the middle school on a beautiful Arizona morning.

Instead, the boys looked at me blankly with a “Really? Do we have to?” OK maybe it sounded cuter than the reality would be. They do have trouble getting up at 6:15 to get everything done and head out the door to the bus stop at 7ish. I do make them wear helmets when they ride, so I guess that wouldn’t be good for the hairdo either. Our school district isn’t actually honoring the day, so I guess I’ll let them off the hook.

Daughter Morgan on the other hand was really into the idea, most likely because she walks across the street every day anyway. Riding her bike would be an easy novelty, so looks like she’ll represent.

Bike and Roll Chicago

We actually just rented bikes in downtown Chicago right after Easter. The kids were so excited to ride along the waterfront paths of Lake Michigan, but bummed that they couldn’t actually pedal down Michigan Avenue!

Millineum Park bike rentals

Bike and Roll rentals is located at the northern tip of Millennium Park. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to ride through the Park, so you are limited to head east to the lake paths. This really is easy and way less stressful than having to navigate city traffic for sure. Just being on a bike brings a sense of freedom to children no matter where you are!

Riding Along Lake Michigan

Riding Bikes in Chicago

In honor of National Bike Month, maybe we can be more intentional in dusting the cobwebs off the spokes, pumping up the tires and heading out when it really is a good time for us! I know we’re going to get a lot of bike time when we head off on this camping adventure for sure.

Are any of you celebrating National Bike to School Day today?

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Just Me on A Monday

I’m wide awake. Ugh. It’s 4 a.m. Arizona time on a Monday. The problem is I have just spent the past week on the east coast so my west coast self is obviously feeling the three hour time difference. Time to steep one of those tea bags that I snagged from the hotel I guess and get writing.

This weekend I found my people. Strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful fellow writer Moms. I found them in Atlanta at a blogger convention of all places. I wasn’t really sure why I was led to book this Mom 2.0 Summit conference across the country but I’m so glad I did. I mean I only just started this blog a few months ago. Who am I to be there?

Most of the amazing women I was surrounded by are blogging veterans and have been storytelling online for many years while I have a handful of posts to my name thus far. I definitely don’t have the accolades or the followers that my new girlfriends there do yet, but I know I was exactly where I was supposed to be this weekend. I am now even in the tweeting world. Whoa.

Iris Awards

With a few of my new blogging and brand rep friends
at Mom 2.0 Summit!

I am still feeling the blisters on the bottoms of my feet and the scratchiness in my throat from the hours of dancing and singing completely sober at the Whirlpool sponsored after party of the Iris Awards at the Buckhead Theater Saturday night. It was a beautiful room full of dressed up Mamas (and a few blogger Dads) just letting loose, being themselves and enjoying life. The weekend felt magical and I’m still coming down from the inspiration from it all!

Starting this blog has been a long time coming. I’ve talked with a big blogger friend turned editor of OC Family Magazine Suzanne Broughton for years about getting started. But, the timing has never been right to jump in and honestly I was too overwhelmed with where to begin. Heading off on this family journey around the US absolutely called for a blog. And as much as I’m excited to journal our road trip, I’m more excited to just let you into Me and all of my complexities and simplicities through my new online space.

I have always been a writer per say. I communicated with my mother growing up by writing her notes if there was something conflictive I had to say. The written word has always just been my comfort. Back in the day, I wrote for a few newspapers and magazines in Indiana and did editing as well. I didn’t end up achieving the journalism degree I had set out for though, as I landed myself in the world of modeling.

Following through with going to this convention was really out of my comfort zone. As much as I wanted to do it, I was fighting my feelings of inadequacy and the unknown. It’s not easy for me to put myself out there like that as I didn’t know one person to cling to. But, I’ve also lived enough to know that courage can take you a lot of places that fear cannot. So off I went.

Through the powers of social media, I connected myself with an awesome group of girls on my same flight from Raleigh, NC to Atlanta. They have all been friends for awhile but took me under their wing right away. I couldn’t be more grateful. I soon felt confident that divine intervention had placed me once again exactly where I was meant to be. I had found my people and I couldn’t be happier.

I haven’t written on here in awhile, because honestly there just hasn’t been a lot of trip stuff to tell you about. Things are starting to feel stressful the closer we get to departure day, I do know that. But, after going to Mom 2.0 Summit I decided this blog is going to be exactly what it’s domain states.. Amy Carney and all of my complexities and simplicities. I get to ride my bike to next year’s Mom 2.0. How exciting is that!

Happy Monday friends! Make it a great week!

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He did it.

He did it. Long overdue in my wifely opinion, but it’s done. It’s out there and now what?

Keith told the Chicago Blackhawks yesterday that he needed a year leave to take this RV trip around the USA with our family. Yikes. We don’t know what this means for his future with the team or our future in general. But, he made a very bold move for our family and you’ve got to respect his commitment to making this trip happen.

It is definitely not easy to say farewell to a job like his. The Blackhawks are an amazing organization to be a part of and our whole family loves Chicago. Keith and I met in the Windy City when he was playing for the team, so Chicago is near and dear to us.

Keith’s job sounds very “sexy” too but, it is a job that has put him on a plane almost every weekend for 7 months the past three hockey seasons. His role as Player Development Coach/Scout has him seeing many young defenseman in college or juniors in Canada. These are guys that are already drafted by the Blackhawks, but not yet signed. It is Keith’s job to go evaluate these players and help Chicago make the decision on who they should sign and who they should release. It has been fun for Keith working in his field for sure. He sees guys every weekend that he has played with or known during his lifetime in hockey.

But, weekends are busy around here. With the kids in competitive travel sports, we are either flying or driving around Arizona to games and tournaments each and every weekend. Keith’s job has left me scrambling to set up carpools and ways to just make it through most of them. He has missed a lot. It’s part of life but it’s part of the reason he wants to take a break from it too. These kids are growing up and it’s going fast.

I am proud of him for making this bold move for himself and our family. None of us knows what this means for us longterm or his future with the Blackhawks for now. They will discuss it and let him know. Does it mean that he will have to look for a whole new job when we get home or will they let him come back after? Will it mean that a move is in our future in order for him to take a different position in the Chicago organization? Who knows? We can’t dwell on what’s to come, but only the fact that we are all sacrificing and committing to each other to make this dream a reality. To be continued…

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Arizona Gives Day!

Tomorrow, April 9, is Arizona Gives Day! It’s a good reminder for us to look at what exactly are we giving to those around us. It’s a day to go online and connect with causes you care about and make a tax-deductible donation. The donation stays local and helps nonprofits provide much needed services and support for people in the state of Arizona.

Serving others is at the heart of our family through the giving of our time, talents and treasures. Maybe we help the less fortunate or maybe we just help a neighbor or friend.  It is extremely important that our children experience the regular gift of helping out and serving those around us on a regular basis without receiving anything in return.

IMG_4093St. Vincent dePaul is a recipient of all of our 3 T’s! We have volunteered as a family at St. Vincent dePaul’s family dining room for a couple of years now. Every third Wednesday of each month, we put everything aside to drive downtown to work a few hours together. It is a special place for all involved and it’s one of the few places that let children as young as nine get in on the action!

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Our kids have worked the bathroom, served on the salad bar line and have waited tables taking orders and delivering the meals to the families there. But, their favorite thing to do is work in the amazing Dream Center for the kids. Here they assist with art projects, help with homework and play games with the children. It is such a special place and we are proud to be a part of it!

I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that serving others is about acquiring hours for a local school group that they are a part of. I want it to be a part of who they are and what our family just does.

Evaluate where your family is putting their time, talents and treasures! To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked. Luke 12:48

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Intentionally Simplifying….

I love this time of year. Our Arizona weather is just perfect; the kids competitive sports are over (or should be, ahem… soccer…. that’s for another post) and my husband’s hockey job is coming to an end after yet another season. Our evenings and weekends tend to be more relaxed making time for bike rides around the neighborhood, board games and the occasional little league baseball game and practice. We all welcome this simpler pace.

Simplifying is one of the main reasons we are pushing pause on our normal existence. People either think we’re out of our minds for wanting to do this cross country RV trip as a family or others say they are envious and would love to do it. Many tell me stories of how they traveled around the US every summer hitting different spots with their families growing up. Family travel builds connections. It says to each member you are important and worth investing in.

I’m aware that what we’re about to do is not feasible for most people financially or time wise. I am fully aware of the blessings we have been bestowed in order to pull this off. I don’t take any of that for granted. I thank the Lord every single day.

But, if we’re being honest… how many people would really do this trip if they could? One friend called it very courageous and that’s stuck with me. I think she’s right. What we’re about to do definitely takes courage on many levels.

Right now, I relish my Mondays because after hectic weekends alone with the kids, my house and time is quiet once everyone is off to school. I can actually think straight. I know a lot of us, whether we stay home with the kids or not, relish that time when the kids go off to school and we’re alone with ourselves. There’s not going to be a lot of quiet time in 43 feet of living space with 6 people up in it for close to a year. Whoa. There will be a lot of prayers going up for patience I’m sure.

Let’s look at it this way. What if you found out you only had a week left to live, or a month or even a year? Would you be so worried about sending the kids off to school every day? Would you still race around to all the sports practices, games and lessons? Or would you drop it all and do what you’ve always wanted to do with them, whatever that may be for you?

See this is how I look at this trip. Do I really want to be home (road) schooling per say? Not exactly. Like I said, selfishly I enjoy those quiet hours of each day that are mine and that the kids are actually being taught by licensed individuals. But, I will have many quiet hours ahead of me. With four kids born within 18 months, our home is going to get quiet fast.

Parenting in the day to day can feel monotonous. Take time to think about the heart of your family and what you want your kids to take away when they grow up and move to the next phase of life. Think about simplifying your family routine. I say stop the madness even just for a little while. Push pause. I don’t think you will regret it.

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An End to an Era – Goodbye My Black Suburban

I woke up with a pit in my stomach this morning. Only two months left to get everything in order for this big trip. Keith left today and will be driving our new rig back from Florida with our dear friend Craig. Why am I not excited? I mean, I have spent the past few days giddy buying new plasticware, hiking gear and whatnots for the trip.

back of suburban2

A typical Suburban Saturday……….Loaded with hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball gear!

Yesterday I said farewell to my everyday companion for the past 12 years. My trusty black Chevy Suburban. We had to trade it in to get a new towable car, I guess the term is a dinghy. I haven’t even seen the new guy yet. He’s still at the dealer being detailed. I’m told it’s a Buick something or other. Our new (to us) dear dinghy. Good luck holding up to our beloved Suburban of days gone by. You have a tough act to follow Mr. Buick.

Our Suburban had definitely seen it’s days. Food was smashed into every crevice of the thing and remnants of melted crayon could be seen all over too. Scratches and dents marked the entire outside. The tan leather seats were turning grey and the smell was getting harder to mask with Bounty sheets under the seats. I even got so tired of having to drive it during the school days, that I bought myself my own little fiat as an escape.

That SUV was a part of the family though. Too reliable to discard. It took every beating we gave it and kept coming back for more. That suburban housed 4 carseats for years. Not to mention the many strollers to hockey bags. But, it’s gone. And I know he had to go in the name of new adventure, but I’m missing him today.mom and boys carseats

Thanks for the memories. You were swell ‘ol Black Suburban of mine. You will be missed but not forgotten. I will probably need a new version of you when we get back to the mundane. The hockey bags will be calling for you again….

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It Pays to Recycle in California!

 

Recycling picIt’s tradition. Recycling bottles and cans in California for cash. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve done ever since the kids have been old enough to understand about making money and helping the environment at the same time. Kids of this generation need ways to make a little hard earned cash themselves. It’s important to find opportunities like this for them to earn their own vacation money. It’s not easy at their ages to find ways to do this.

It pays to recycle

Whenever we know we have an upcoming trip over to our Dana Point house, we start saving our bottles in Arizona. We load up the car top carrier and whatever we can fit around our luggage in the back of the Suburban and off we go to Cali. Life lessons take a little crazy effort people…

 

car top carrierunloading bottles

Yes, the kids get a little dirty doing this and the older they get, the less they are into it. They used to go down Laguna Beach picking up bottles all day long because every nickel counted to them. Now they take what we’ve saved in Arizona and are happy with that! This RePlanet is really close to our house behind our Ralphs Grocery Store, so it’s nice and convenient.

full recycle center shotsorting bottles

There are a couple ways to get your money. You can feed each container through one by one and make the amounts shown or you can fill the trash cans with bottles and you get paid by weight. It usually depends on how much we have and how busy it is. Today we did a little of both. You definitely make more by feeding them through, but it also takes a lot more time.

k and a feeding bottle CRV amounts

barrels of bottlesweigh in

Once you’re done, you will get receipts like this that you can turn into the grocery for your hard earned cash. Split between the four kids, it came to about $8 a kid. Not bad for a little time and effort. I know they will be happy spending that in the Laguna Beach candy shop later and we will be happy that we don’t have to hand over any money at the same time!

receiptscash money

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All For One and One For All!

This is what it’s all about to me.

Youth sports can be so out of control nowadays that sometimes we can forget what’s really going on here. Parents are yelling from the sidelines so focused on that win. It can get intense and then a moment like this happens to put it all in perspective.

A tournament championship tie where penalty kicks will determine the winner. Stressful? Absolutely. To look out on that field and see our team of girls holding on to each other in support and anticipation is priceless. There is no I in team. We are in this together.

Our dear goalie, who hasn’t been able to play in net this tournament due to a wrist injury, accepted the challenge of taking off her brace and getting in that goal for her team. They all wanted her there and she was brave enough to do it without a guarantee of a positive outcome.

Wins are fun. Wins can be really exciting. Who doesn’t like to win? But, sometimes it’s moments like these that give our kids opportunities that build real character and bond teammates together, even if they don’t walk away with the medal…..like today.

Isn’t this why we really have our kids in sports? To grow, build confidence, make strong and lasting friendships and to navigate the feelings of loss and victory.

I feel so blessed that our Stanley, affectionately named by her coach a few years back, is a part of such a “great” team. We win some, we lose some. Some days we look amazing and other days we’re stale. But, no matter the outcome I always feel fortunate to walk up and down that sunny sideline every weekend joking and laughing with everyone in their chairs. We spend a lot of time together! It’s a long season. I’m feeling it about right now with 7 months and many tournaments and games behind us.

Thank you, girls, for the reminder of what we are all really here for.

You should be proud. I know I am.