Monday, July 6, 2015

While They've Slept

I think of the times when I've watched my children while they've slept.  No matter what transpired during the day -- whether tears, or arguments with siblings, or the accidental branding of my favorite lounge chair's seat cushion with the end of a hot hairdryer -- I love to watch them sleep.

I don't think this is incidental, this love that wells up in a parent's heart regardless of a child's behavior or performance.  I think about one description of God's character, how he quiets us with his love, how he rejoices over us with singing.

If I, an imperfect human parent, watch over my children with love, how much more does God, my heavenly Father, lavish me with love?

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fourth of July Festivities

At some point in adulthood, I realized that I love the Fourth of July.  It encapsulates everything good about summer: cooking out on the grill, gathering with family and friends, playing bocce ball and corn hole, and catching fireflies as dusk settles. 

And did I mention the overwhelming emphasis on fire?  Fire pits!  Fireworks!  Lighting sparklers on fire!   Fire is a highlight of the day.  This suits me just fine considering that I'm as bad as a guy when it comes to pyrotechnics.

Yes, I love the Fourth of July, right down to my American flag drinking glasses that my parents picked up years ago at a gas station.

Essentially, I was in my element yesterday. After a long morning of rain, the weather cleared up so the kids (my daughters, niece, nephew, and neighbors) could play outside with my brother's new puppy.

Soon their collective attention turned to catching toads, which logically progressed to racing their toads across the corn hole table.  First toad to leap in the hole wins!  (To my knowledge, there was only one toad casualty.)

My youngest daughter discovered a nest of newly born bunnies,

and the kids explored the waterfall along the side of our yard.
Best yet, both sets of grandparents joined us to celebrate.

As we cleaned up after dinner and darkness fell, we scrambled to find the radio station that synchronizes with our town's firework display, just like we do every year, and then settled onto our blankets and lawn chairs to watch the night sky light up.

Oh yes, I love the Fourth of July.  Always will.
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

One Thing I've Never Regretted

After cleaning my closet last week, I invited a young woman from church to see if she'd like any of the clothes I was going to donate.  She tried on the outfits in my closet then stepped out to model them. 

The blue dress.  The striped dress.  The cobalt shirt.  Everything fit.  Everything looked great on her.  Seeing the clothes from a distance -- on her, not on me -- brought them to life again. 

As she turned in front of the mirror and checked her reflection from every angle, she exclaimed, "I love this!"  My inner dialogue kicked into overdrive.  Oh snap.  Hold on a minute; I think I love that dress again, too.

It had languished on a hanger for a year without me wearing it, and suddenly I'm nostalgic?  Seriously?

In the midst of my ill-timed inner turmoil, I did the one thing I knew to do.  I said, "Wait, you've got to try it on with the right shoesYou'll love it even more," before grabbing my peep-toe heels for her to slip on temporarily.  The completed outfit was a home run.

Later as she returned the shoes and neatly folded the pile of new-to-her clothes, I remembered something: I've regretted some choices I've made in life.  Generosity never has been one of them.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Cure for Anything

Typical to the season, these summer days already are a paradox in how they're passing both slowly and quickly.  Two days after school finished, we drove to the shore for our annual beach week with my husband's family.

There's so much crammed into the week away.  The kids plan epic water balloon fights with their cousins, we paddle board in the bay and boogie board in the ocean, we crab on the pier, we play Yahtzee on the back patio late at night, and we track ungodly amounts of sand into our vehicles and temporary house for the week.

I plow through a gorgeous stack of books, I eat more than necessary, and I enjoy every bite.  We collect clam shells in the surf, we use up multiple bottles of sunscreen, and we spend one night at Funland on the Rehoboth boardwalk where my children play skeeball and win remarkably unattractive stuffed animals that they instantly love and I instantly plot their disappearance.

My children, who pendulum between the extremes of being intensely wired and then overwhelmingly tired from such expenditure of physical and emotional energy, periodically have meltdowns about things they shouldn't have meltdowns about -- like me not capitulating to a request to feed them ice cream both before and after dinner. 

Consequently, I periodically have a meltdown about things that I shouldn't have meltdowns about, like my kids requesting that I feed them ice cream both before and after dinner.

This is all par for the course during a vacation, I remind myself.  A little saltwater -- whether sweat, tears, or the sea -- do manage to cure all the temporary woes.

Now we're back home acclimating to summer.  Joel returned to work, and given that I'm not teaching summer classes, I'm settling into a new (loose) routine where the girls bounce back and forth between our house and the neighbors' each day and piles of kids' flip flops get kicked off at the front door when they take a popsicle break.

And just like that, the days pass both slowly and quickly.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bored Kids? Beat Summer Boredom Before It Strikes.

Are you crying?  There's no crying in baseball.  (A League of Their Own)

It's official: summer vacation has begun!  At the onset of summer my children embrace their newfound freedom with a passion that borders insanity.  Based on summers past, though, I've learned that this euphoria lasts for roughly one week -- maybe two -- before we collectively fall apart like anchorless ships adrift in the vast expanse of endless unscheduled days.

The trick, I sense, is to insert enough routine to preserve sanity while still remaining at ease with the overarching looseness.  As a preemptive strike, I've channeled my inner Tom Hanks so I'm ready when my kids appear to be floundering and unable to figure out what to do with themselves: "Are you bored?  There's no boredom in summer!"

Let's remember this: If we parents refuse to supply a constant stream of entertainment when our kids show signs of boredom, we're doing them a huge service.  Boredom, when rightly channeled, forces kids to be creative, brainstorm activities besides staring into a screen, discover new things, and tap into the resources around them.

Essentially, summer is only as boring as they are.

I've even posted an Anti-Boredom reminder on our refrigerator, one that I originally saw posted on Facebook and then searched to discover its origins on Pinterest here.  BORED?

Be Creative.  Outside Play.  Read a Book.  Exercise.  Do Helpful Things.  These five tips are surprisingly good for parents and kids alike.

Bored?  Are you bored?  Come on, now.  There's no boredom in summer.

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