Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let's go fly a kite!

Can we fly a kite today?  It's too windy, we have too many trees, there isn't enough wind, it's time for lunch, maybe later ...

Can I help you cook Mommy?  It's too messy, it's too hot, we're in a hurry, maybe later ...

Can we go on a bike ride?  Luke can't ride in the burley yet, it's too hot, it's time for lunch, it's raining, let's wait until Daddy gets home, maybe later ...

Can I go sledding?  It's summer!

These are a few of the questions I get almost every day (yes, even the sledding one!), and the responses I find myself saying time and again.

The problem is, I want to say yes, but life seems to get in the way.  As a child, all I remember is playing the days away and exploring the world with my sister.  We were oblivious to the adult world of responsibility and obligation. What a different perspective I have now as a parent.  I worry that I will transfer my stresses, fears, and anxieties on my children, when all I want is for them to have a childhood full of carefree days. 

When else will they experience that feeling?  Life just seems to get more complicated with each passing year. 

I am doing my best to say yes more often to my children.  It's true that we have too many trees to fly a kite at our house, and it is also true that Luke's body isn't quite strong enough to ride in the burley, but that just means we have to get creative  :)

Saying yes means more messes to clean up, and more projects to plan, but it also brings more joy to my children and myself.  So it's worth it.  Even as the laundry piles up and the dishes take over the kitchen, it's worth it.  After all, what do we want our children to remember about their childhoods?  They won't remember the messes, the laundry or the dishes.  They are going to remember the joy and laughter that comes from quality time spent with people who love them.   At least that's what I'm banking on!

Project day on the porch

Now, I'm not kidding myself.  I still say no.  Sometimes you just have to, but I'm thinking through the questions before I go on autopilot with my "no" answer.

A couple of weeks ago we had a wonderful family reunion with my Mom's side of the family.  On a last minute whim, I grabbed the kite as we left the house, knowing that if the wind was right and the sun was shining, I might be able to make my 5-year-old daughter a very happy girl ...  What a lucky guess!  After saying no day after day after day, I was FINALLY able to say yes!!  That evening before bed she told me that "This was the best day ever!"  

Very serious about getting that kite to fly!

My nephew Gabriel flying the kite.  Pure joy!

Yup, it was worth it.

Colin is quite the 2-year-old.  Stubborn, cute, ornery, sweet, cuddly, focused and passionate.  He's my boy in the middle, sensitive and rough all in one.  I'm trying to get some extra time with him with the hope that he won't get that left out feeling you always hear about from middle children.  I'm sure I can't eliminate it completely, but I'm trying my best.  That's about all we can do isn't it?  Try, try again.

After crashing the bike into the bushes

Colin has decided that he likes to cook with Mommy. 

Worth it again!

I spend a lot of time with Luke.  I think more than I did with my other children at 5 months (although it's hard to remember!).  Sometimes we are doing his physical therapy.  Other times we are just talking to each other, or he is riding around the house with me in the Moby wrap.  I already know my time with him has been worth it.  He is a strong, interested, active, talkative baby who has the lovely combination of being content and determined at the same time.  I enjoy every moment I spend with him and have loved to watch him grow and learn so much in only 5 months.

Spend the time. 

Say yes whenever you can. 

It will be worth it.

This is one of my favorite excerpts from a book, and one that I think of often.
From: "Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?"
By: Walter Wangerin Jr.

Let the children laugh and be glad.

O my dear, they haven't long before the world assaults them.  Allow them genuine laughter now.  Laugh with them, till tears run down your faces - till a memory of pure delight and precious relationship is established within them, indestructible, personal, and forever.

Soon enough they'll meet faces unreasonably enraged.  Soon enough they'll be accused of things they did not do.  Soon enough they will suffer guilt at the hands of powerful people who can't accept their own guilt and who must dump it, therefore, on the weak.  In  that day the children must be strengthened by self-confidence so they can resist the criticism of fools.  But self-confidence begins in the experience of childhood.

So give your children ... - give them golden days, their own pure days, in which they are so clearly and dearly beloved that they believe in love and in their own particular worth when love shall seem in short supply hereafter.  Give them laughter.

Observe each child with individual attention to learn what triggers the guileless laugh in each.  Is it a story?  A game?  Certain family traditions? Excursions?  Elaborate fantasies?  Simple winks?  What?

Do that thing.

Because the laughter that is so easy in childhood must echo its encouragement a long, long time.  A lifetime.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

You are being watched.

You are being trusted.

You are passing down traditions.

You are sharing your life.

You are taking the time.

You are our support.

You are there when we need you.

You are loved.

Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

one day at a time

Every home has it's advantages and disadvantages.  If you live in town, you have to deal with neighbors who can see right into your living room, but you can walk to the post office.  If you live in the country, you have to drive everywhere, but you can walk outside in your pajamas.  I love living in the country.  The birds, the silence (on occasion), the stars, and of course the space.  I love that I can open my windows and turn the music up.  I love that my kids can be dirty and messy, and I can drag them in the house while still wearing my pajamas at noon  :)    **My apologies to the one family that lives near us and has to put up with these things!

I would; however, love to walk out my front door and over to a friend's house without driving.  I would love to sit on my front porch and watch life pass by, while I drink a lemonade and watch my well-groomed children play quietly on the porch with me ...  yeah I know. 

That would never happen ...
We have been loving life in the country this summer.  We have an oriole nest we are watching, 3 swings with more in the plans, and a garden that is still in the process.  We also have weeds up the wazoo and more projects than I can count.  Oh well ... one day at a time  :)

I think a house becomes a home when you discover something unique about where you live.  We didn't know where the toads lived last year.  We didn't know which trees would be the best to spread a picnic blanket under.  We didn't know where the best spot to roll down the hill was.  I'm sure we will uncover many more special things about our home in years to come, but we have made a couple of fun discoveries in the past few weeks.

Our yard has many beautiful oak trees, and lots of stumps as well.  Colin figured out that toads have taken up residence in several of these stumps.  Since the discovery, my older two children have had afternoons of nothing but chasing, feeding (so they tell me), catching and watching toads.

The second discovery has been a fun one to share with people who visit our home.  While Gwen and I were swinging a couple of weeks ago, all of a sudden she said, "Mom, look!  There's a heart on that tree!"  Thinking she was seeing something through the eyes of a 4-year-old, I told her she would have to show me when we were done swinging.  Then I actually looked where she was pointing, and saw this ...

Gwen has a knack for finding hearts.  She brings me rocks shaped like hearts, makes hearts out of leaves and flowers, loves to draw hearts, and makes hearts with her hands all the time.  So, it was fitting that she discovered this tree. 

Gwenyth Kay on her 5th birthday
I love that our children see things that we are oblivious to.  Slowing down.  Noticing.  Taking time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. 

My husband asked me when I started this blog why I titled it "one day at a time."  He thought it sounded daunting and negative and wasn't sure it was the right title for our family.  I understood his thoughts, but as I move forward, I feel like it is exactly right.  Sometimes we love our life, one day at a time.  Other times we deal with our life, one day at a time.  The message it sends to me is to appreciate each day and live in the moment, no matter if it is a "loving" moment or a "dealing" moment. 

We may not always be perfectly content where we are, but we can move forward with the knowledge that life isn't defined by our level of contentment.  It's defined more by how we react in times of difficulty and stress.  I do not define myself as a parent of a baby with Down syndrome.  I define myself as a parent of three amazing children who each bring joy and challenges to my life.

Worrying today does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of it's strength." -JRR Tolkien