28 May 2010

Knitting our Love Nest

Does anyone else feel guilty when they read marriage advice suggesting couples spend time together away from the kids?

Walter and I are not good about taking date nights.
We don't have family close by available so we can regularly get away for a weekend and taking an extended amount of time away together is unheard of. These factors made our week long getaway to San Diego such a treat!

On our way to the airport, we wondered what the week would be like and agreed it would test the progress of our love nest.

The leaders of our previous small group became empty nesters during our years in the group. We loved their insistence on calling their empty nest a love nest. Ok, a little cheesy I admit, but we love them and love the intentionality they put into their marriage to end up with a love nest now that their girls are grown.

Before we got to the airport, I explained the knitting project I hoped to make much progress on during the week. Walter and I discussed how our trip represented some concentrated efforts towards knitting together that love nest we hope to have in what seems like a lifetime from now when the kids are on their own.

Now that we're back home into crazy schedules of packing and getting ready for our move, the progress on my knitting project has slowed way down. But I hope the momentum from those long airplane rides and hours at the beach while Walter attended his seminars will keep me going to finish Amelie's little dress.

And I hope the stitches Walter and I made of laying on the beach, exploring tide pools, and enjoying wonderful restaurants will prove to be beautiful strands in the love nest we are working on together.

18 May 2010

School of Failure

Graduates from the College of Business strode with confidence into the giant Assembly Hall. While they kept their faces forward we, the audience, leaned back in our individual movie theater style chairs without even noticing the perfect temperature in the building.

The next day, excitement radiated throughout the Gym as graduate candidates from the College of Education poured in wildly scanning the crowd for family members and chattering to friends walking next to them. We, the audience, wriggled on the bleachers while fanning ourselves with the commencement program.

The Business Dean repeatedly reminded the graduates to remain loyal to the University and to demonstrate their appreciation to the school through financial donations. He specifically laid a challenge to be the first to donate enough money so the new LEED platinum Business building could bear their name.

The Education speakers spoke of passion and caring to the point of tears for the lives they would soon be molding without a single mention of the green stuff that so motivates in the business world.

As a graduate from a Business/Economics program I feel free to make these comparisons because I too was instilled with a drive for success in the business world. And although I'm out of the loop for now, I still feel a drive towards success in the fast paced business world.

But while I sat through a cumulative 6 hours of graduation ceremonies this weekend, I thought about the underlying challenge given through both Colleges. And that is to not fear failure because failure means a risk was taken. Even though risks taken may fail, simply the attempt is better than settling with mediocrity.
This is such obvious advice at a graduation ceremony yet I think I had forgotten to embrace the school of failure in my parenting world.

It would be so much easier to skip the talks with Asher about how to handle his money because I know he probably won't pay attention anyway. I'd rather not practice animal sounds with Amelie because she never performs on command anyway. And it would be much faster to simply buy chocolate chip cookies because my oven always seems to burn them anyway (seriously! I'm about to prove I can make a good cookie when we move and I get a new oven).

Such ordinary and mundane tasks might hardly seem like celebrating either a success or failure, but ultimately the way I do these daily tasks will reveal a success or a fail when I watch the way my kids enter the world.
So all you parents out there, be encouraged in whatever average thing you're doing today to embrace even the simplest risk and enter the redeeming school of failure.

And to my brother Sam in your business world, and sister Becky in your education world, Congratulations and I hope you will continue to take those risks of success or failure.

13 May 2010

Waves and kisses

We have this new family tradition. When Walter or I leave for the evening, the other parent and two kids run out to the front of the house. There we sit on the steps and wave like mad and blow kisses at the departing parent.

I'm more often the parent leaving, and I love this ritual. Talk about leaving on a high note! With three family members so enthusiastically sending me out in to the world I feel ready to enter whatever errand or meeting I'm headed towards.

Thanks to the insights of a wise experienced mom friend, Asher and I have our own departure ritual on preschool mornings. I buckle Amelie in her car seat, come around to the other side of the Jeep to buckle Asher in and then we get to pray over his day. I ask if he has anything special to pray about. Usually he doesn't, but that never stops me from thinking of issues from the prior school day that he may have forgotten about. We say our "backdoor prayer," and I am reminded that God goes with Asher into whatever he will face that day.

Saying goodbye, even for a couple of hours, isn't fun and until recently I've preferred to avoid that moment of acknowledging that someone is leaving.

But with our new rituals, I've come to enjoy the dreaded act of parting ways. Those special moments right before leaving make me even more excited to come back home to people so enthusiastic about my presence.

I'm never too rushed for my waves and kisses!

10 May 2010

Crazy bunny

We watched a bunny hop all around our yard yesterday. Asher chased it to the fence, then towards the garage and around to the patio. As they ran in a circle, the bunny passed several escape routes that I had seen bunnies take in the past. It missed the chance to dart under the fence. It didn't slip around the garage into the alley. And didn't even head under the pine tree to escape through branches a little boy couldn't fit through.

Instead this bunny relied on its swiftness and ability to dodge around in a crazy pattern that even brought it dangerously close to me on the patio.

I couldn't figure out what this seemingly insane bunny was doing and why it didn't just run out of the yard. Until Walter suggested she was a mommy bunny.

Then it made complete sense. Not that she was acting insanely - although I can testify for moments of insanity as a mother, but that she risked anything to protect her babies.

She risked getting caught by a four year old and endured the chase which could have ended if she just made the turns she used to take.

And I can relate to her. Being a mother changes the game entirely. What used to be no brainer choices for comfort have changed into no brainer choices that regularly lead to discomfort.

I take those risks that I would have avoided at all costs five years ago. And avoid some risks like the plague because of a new perspective.

Whoever is watching my choices today, don't mistake me for a crazy bunny not making wise choices, but as a mom who sometimes makes crazy choices because they are made with two little people in mind.

04 May 2010

Potty box

This might seem like a digression from my usual posts, but thinking about Asher and the potty box has made me chuckle so many times in the past day that I had to share.

Last summer, freshly potty-trained Asher discovered new highlights at many of the parks we played at here in town. Nope, he didn't squeal with delight over the swings, or race to the top of the slide or scamper up the climbing wall - ok to be fair he did do those things sometimes - but he became infatuated with those intriguing tall skinny brightly colored boxes set off to the side.

Yes, I'm talking about the port-a-potty!

At one particular park, he begged and begged us to let him go into the "potty box" every time we visited. Not knowing if he really had to "go" or not, we erred on the safe side and took him into those plastic breeding grounds for germs. Of course, he didn't listen to our warnings not to touch ANYTHING as he dropped things on the floor and climbed up on the seat to reach the urinal - ew ew ew!!

I had forgotten about that fascination until yesterday at the park. There was a new potty box sitting right by the parking lot and suddenly my son with a bladder of iron had to "go" every 5 minutes. Being a sympathetic mom, I thought he had drank too much water and couldn't help himself so I let him go. But by the fourth time rushing to the potty box within 20 minutes, I became concerned and followed him in. It was then that I recognized his delight over stepping inside the warm glowing room to squeeze out just a few more drops.

That was his last visit to the potty box for the day!
And possibly for the summer.