Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An open letter to a bike thief.

Dear Punk person who stole our bike,

What you may have seen as an invitation to us was just an open gate.  Maybe we left it open in a moment of forgetfulness or maybe it was just naive to think we had to close it to keep people off of our property.  I wonder what you were thinking as you strode or drove down our driveway.  Did you notice the apple trees had been pruned?  Did you see the chalk drawings on the cement?  Did you notice the kids bikes also & considering loading them up in the back of the trike?  Were you hoping the neighbors dogs wouldn't bark? Were you surprised when the motion light came on illuminating the carport where our trike was parked?  Did you stumble on to it or did you know it was there?  I wonder what has happened in your life that  you are out in the middle of the night sneaking around people's backyards & taking things that don't belong to you.

What you didn't see were the memories we had in that trike.  The time my  70-year-old mom tried to ride it but it looked like it would tip over each second she was on it.  You didn't get to hear the laughter than ensued from that.  Nor did you hear the glee that my kids had every time they rode in the back & we were going downhill.  You didn't' see my husband painstakingly measure out & cut the back seat/trunk to specific specifications. You didn't see the glee he had when it worked! Nor did you see him sand it and paint it so that our kiddos wouldn't get slivers.  You didn't see my kids get their picture taken by it when my husband rode it with them to Bike-to-school-day.  You didn't see the blanket in the back or the fun we had with it.   You didn't see the Christmas my husband's mom gave it to his dad. You didn't see my husbands dad give it to him.  Fortunately for us those memories are for keeps.

You also missed out on seeing the fear in my kiddos eyes when we said it had been stolen at night while we were sleeping.  You didn't get to hear the millions of questions they asked all coming back to "why would someone do that?"  You didn't hear the panic in their voices as they asked if  you were coming back for their bikes.  You didn't stick around to see my husband striding down the street looking for you.  You didn't see the frustration in his eyes as he's hard a hard couple of days & this didn't help.  Nor did you see me snicker as I realized it had gotten a flat the other day & given how heavy that trike was I am glad it wasn't an easy getaway for you.

What you may not know is that I'm rooting for you.  I am hoping you'll have a change of heart.  That you'll know you don't have anything to prove & that you won't be one of the 85% of bike thieves in our county that strips bikes down for parts or tries to sell them elsewhere.  I am hoping that you'll bring it back that when I glance out the window I'll see it parked happily back in it's spot.  It isn't so much about the bike at all, but about how I want to my kids to know that a bad decision doesn't make a bad person.  I want them to grow up knowing that poor decisions can be made right again.  Maybe I'm being naive again but if hope is seen as naive then so be it.  Regardless we will get over this make no mistake about that.  It was after all just a bike.   You on the other hand I'm not so sure.  This may have been a first time for you or maybe it is a series of times that now has landed you on a path to bigger things.  What I wanted you to know was that it's never too late to turn around.  To trace back your steps & begin again.  That's why I'm rooting for you.

Sincerely,
The person you stole from last night.






Friday, February 20, 2015

Girls just wanna have fun.

What did I do last night?  Oh you know.  The typical mom thing.  Met up with some girlfriends & under the cloak of darkness went to the new playground in our town.  Complete with headlamps & all.  We went to try the new zip-line out.  For ourselves.  With no kids.  As I prepared to leave the house with my headlamp & beach towel (because let's face it I am a mom & the seat might be wet so we'd need a way to dry it off) my kids were protesting in the whole unfairness of it all as they readied themselves for bed.  My oldest couldn't figure out for the life of him why I needed to go to the park at all much less at nighttime?  It dawned on me that the poor kid doesn't even know that moms like to have fun too.  He has been just as perplexed with my annual trip to the roller rink.  I love roller skating but for some reason I  just go on my birthday.  Like for some reason since I am having a celebration it is allowable to enjoy myself.  For some reason I think roller skating isn't permissible for me any other time.  Anyone?  Maybe it isn't roller-skating or zipping at a kids playground for you maybe it's crafting or skiing or horse back riding.  Whatever it is why do we limit ourselves? Why do we hold back as moms content to create fun experiences for our kiddos or our families but when it comes to ourselves we hold back?  We dismiss.  We put-off.  Or maybe it's just me & you all have it figured out & are out having a ton of fun. If so, call me!

This morning after my kids had awoken I said "Aren't you going to ask me if I had fun?"  And instead they said "Was anything broken?"  They were much more worried about whether or not my friends & I had left their playground intact (we did) than they were about me having fun.  And I don't really fault them on that as I think we can all agree young kiddos do have a hard time seeing past themselves & they aren't used to seeing me have fun.  They are used to me running errands, taking care of things, going on walks, and reading & doing a few exercise videos here & there.  They don't see a lot of mom having fun just to have fun.  Sure I have foot races with them in the yard.  I roll down the grassy hills with them.  We have a ton of fun together...& I am not trying to take anything away from that or lessen it in anyways.  I am just saying maybe it's time to give ourselves permission as moms to have a little more fun?  Just because.  Because it's a good thing to model. Because it helps make you feel a little more alive.  Because fun can be thrilling & it can help us to dream & remember what we like to do apart from lovingly care for our families. It helps us to see ourselves more as an individual rather than just are role as mom . It helps our kids see that we are more than just a mom.  Being a mom is a big part of who we are & what we do.  But, isn't it okay for their to be a bit more?  Isn't it okay to take a few trips around the rink feeling the wind fly through our hair & enjoying the music just because?  Isn't it okay to holler in the night on the zip-line with your friends cheering because another friend went super fast?  I think it's more than okay.  I think it would help us to take ourselves less seriously.  And when I refer to "fun" I dont' mean take up a new insanely expensive hobby that requires certain clothing or equipment.  I mean lay on your back & notice the cloud shapes.  I mean go discover a new trail with your girlfriends.  Whatever it may be chances are that when you were a kiddo yourself you found it really fun.  Hula-hooping, bike rides, swimming, twirling in circles outside, we can still do these things.  (And I hear you friend who is sighing or rolling your eyes as you read this because the stage you are in with your baby or your toddler really doesn't allow for time away or time to yourself much less even going to the bathroom alone, but hear me when I say this is not forever.  There is a time just around the bend that although it may be hard to see it is coming & you will have free time again.  I promise.  Hang in there.)  For the rest of us there is  room in our full & busy lives to add them in.  They won't take away from anything & they might just make us better moms.

I'd love to hear what you do for fun or if you aren't doing it yet what would you like to do?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I am a good mom. And so are you.

Are their any other mama's who are just weary?  Weary of believing the lie that we are failing at this motherhood thing?  Believing that we are a bad mom?  Just because our every-day-real-life doesn't live up to the pinterest worthy lives we think we should be living?  Or maybe it's because your kiddo isn't in enough extracurricular activities or you yell too much or get frustrated too easily or don't care that their homework is late or you let your baby cry it out or they never cry it out.  You wear them or you don't. Too much screen time. Not enough play-on-the-floor-with-them-time. You co-sleep or you don't even know what co-sleeping is.   Whatever it may be we might laugh & shrug it off  yet we buy into it.  We whisper to ourselves in the quiet of our hearts"I am a bad mom."  We laugh with our girlfriends "I am such a bad mom!" Yet somewhere along the line we started believing it.  We started holding ourselves as a mama up to a mirror that someone else held & no longer was it enough that we were given these kiddos to do something no one else could do for them.  No longer did it matter that they were our hearts walking outside of our bodies.  No longer did it matter that we were trying our best.  What mattered & what reverberated around our heads & our hearts were that we were  failing.

The other night as I was making a birthday cake for my son & I use the term cake loosely for what constitutes as a birthday cake at my house is a pan of chocolate chip cookie bars topped with frosting.  Pin that.  No crumbs & no weird soggy leftovers. Even though my kiddos love it & even though I love it for the lack of pressure & the presence of ease I felt inadequate.  Making the cake at 9 pm was the last thing I wanted to be doing anyways.   (Parenthood was going to be on later so as you can see I didn't even have a choice about going to bed early.)  It suddenly occurred to me as I was memorized by the blenders going round & round that my "cake" as ordinary as it was did in fact not make me a bad mom.   I don't have the gift for making elaborate character themed cakes.  Does that make me a bad mom?  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  Pretty sure no kid ever looked back over their childhood thinking that only if their mom had made them a millennium falcon cake for their 7th birthday than then everything would have been better.  Actually I realized that I'm not even a bad mom when I use my outside voice or my kids don't make their beds.  What is a bad mom anyways?  And if you were a bad mom would you even care?

How dare we cheapen this experience as being a mom with feeling lousy & thinking we aren't doing a good enough job.  How dare we belittle ourselves by thinking that other people would do it better.  How dare we lessen ourselves even a moment longer by thinking that by not doing insignificant things perfectly that it is somehow reflected in the kind of mom we are or the kind of children we raise.  Isn't that when we beat ourselves up the most...in the insignificant?  Being tardy to school.  Birthday parties.  Acting out in public (not us our kiddos) whether or not the excel at a sport.

What if we stopped talking to ourselves in such a way?  What if we said aloud " I am a good mom!" in order to replace those lies with some truth?  Simple, right?  What if we whispered it to the inmost part of who we are?   If we said it over & over would we begin to believe it?  Would we be able to reach out more & encourage each other more if what we saw in ourselves we recognized in others? Wouldn't that be something?  Would we be able to laugh at our messes?  To realize that the messy kitchen is actually something that no one else on the planet cares about?  And if they do then that's their issue not ours,  What if we just gave ourselves the grace we so desperately want to be able to extend to others?  Would we stop trying to create an experience for our kiddos & instead live the life before us?  These kids we have are not commonplace.  How much time have we wasted focusing on what's gone wrong instead of rejoicing on what's gone right?  Anyone?  May not change the world but it just might change our lives & the lives of those who call us mom.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

intentional?

What are we the 6th day of the new year & already my "word" of the year is showing me up.  I decided a few years ago I was done setting myself up for failure so I would no longer do New Year's Resolutions.  They were so 90's to me.  I love hearing about other people's resolutions & rooting for them but as far as resolutions & I went we were just done.  Enter in a "word" of the year.  This seemed doable & there was less pressure & less disappointment if that one word didn't seep into every aspect of the new year.

It's gone fairly well the past few years.  Words have come & gone & admittedly I have even forgotten some years what my word was halfway through.  Other years I have been on top of it & kept a journal highlighting how the word was challenging me.  This year I chose the word "intentional."  I wanted to do everything with a purpose.  To not do more...to actually do less but that what I do to do with great intention.  I had hopes it would infiltrate many aspects of my life from my walk with God, to spending time playing with my kids & exercise.   Alas here we are on day 6 & yesterday I was too busy to eating an entire bag of Juanita's Tortilla chips to play with my four-year-old (but seriously have you tried those?!)  The other day I had a giveaway for a side business we have. Sounds awesome right?  Unless you consider the item that was up for giveaway we no longer had.  Who does this?  It had sold in June for goodness sakes.  Earlier today I asked people to follow my blog without ever having a "follow" option set-up.  Again, who does this?  I also poured the entire bag of triops into the tank instead of 1/2 like the directions clearly state & my eldest reminded me of just before I poured the entire bag in.  What are triops you say?  They are 200 million-year-old shrimp that eat each other & we get to watch.  My boys think it is the best Christmas present ever so thank you, cousins!

Aargh!  How difficult can it be to be intentional sometimes?  I think of how easily I can get frustrated with my kiddos by their lack of anything with intent & who am I to do that?  I clearly am not leading by example as I flit from one thing to the next.  Never really settling until one thing is finished.  I sometimes unload only part of the dishwasher at once.  I come back to do the rest later.  For real-life.  (a saying my 4-year-old has taught me by the way.)  I get laundry out.  It comes to rest in the basket in the living room or kitchen.  Sometime later I pass by it again & fold it.  Sometime later I will take it to the appropriate room.  At yet another time I will put said laundry away, maybe.  Is this just the life of a mom or that of a crazy person?!  How much more efficient & effortless life must be with a little intentionality sprinkled in there.  

The thing is maybe I will never do the laundry all in one sitting.  Maybe I will continue to do the dishes in multiple steps just so I can show the dishwasher it isn't the boss of me.  Is that the worse thing that can happen?  Certainly not, but would it be so bad to try something different?  To see if it frees up some more time for doing things I can get joy out of or to just spend with my people?  What if these people who do certain chores each day of the week & have charts & checklists what if they really have it going on?  What if in their being so intentional about what has to get done they are unlocking a sort of freedom that I'm not even aware is out there?  That is what is so great about new starts like having a "word" for the year.  Even though it's showing me I have a lot to learn on only the sixth day in it is also saying I have 358 more days to try again.  

Do you have a "word" for the year?  What's 2015 saying to you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

really?

The other day I said to my eldest, "Come on you & I are going for a walk."  You would have thought I had just suggested he maim himself in some way by the dramatic reaction he had.  Falling to the ground saying " A walk?!  A walk is the worst thing ever!"  Really?  Really?  If a walk is the worst thing my son had to deal with on that gorgeous December day then I'd say his life is pretty fantastic.

Fast forward to an hour later upon our return from said walk when he admits that it was actually pretty great.  Ha!  I thought with great satisfaction. You see!  If only you'd not be such a punk when something is put before you.  You know it typically is good for you & has your best interests at heart  So there.  Oh.  Crap.  Maybe it's just me but I am pretty sure I throw a mean fit to whenever Something catches me off guard or is out of my comfort zone. I may not be weeping & wailing (at least as far as you can tell) but I can stomp my foot with the best of them.

Isn't that the way we are?  We hear that still, small voice.  It asks us to initiate something with someone or to put ourselves out there.  But, we don't want to so we throw a tantrum in our own way by being busy or ignoring it until it is harder & harder to hear.  We throw ourselves into other projects or relationships without a backward glance.  We may be missing out on the very thing that is for our good & has our best interests at heart but not even know it.   Unless you all are much more mature then me & it's just me who does this.

Sometimes Most times what I hear myself say to my kids as I am parenting them is something that I myself need to hear.  Be Kind (as I say through gritted teeth)  Don't yell ( as I shout it down the hallway)  Be sure to share (as I check my creamer situation out carefully wondering if my husband "snuck" some.)

Encouraging my kids to be open to situations & what you can learn from them is no different.  That is something I need to be reminded of even as a middle-aged woman.  Yes, middle-age there is no sense in denying it any longer.  Baah!  Being middle-age is awesome!  There is so much freedom in it.  You wan't to wear your walking shoes with your jeans?  Do it!  Your feet will thank you.  You think to yourself, but that's a mom thing.  Newsflash you.are.a.mom.  No shame.   Same goes for mom jeans & mom cuts.  Which I don't  even know what a mom cut looks like or if that's even a real thing, but I recently heard a hair-dresser laugh saying no one had ever asked for a "mom cut" from her before.  Dude.  If you are a lady & you have kids & you have hair you have a mom-cut.  No way around it.

All that to say the next time my kiddo has an all-out-fit about something new or different I think I have to wonder if that is something he is learning from me.  Does he sense my foot being stomped every time there is something new afoot?  Does he notice that I drag my feet when a new opportunity is put before me?  Maybe.  Or maybe kids just come this way.  Either way it will do us all a lot of good to slow our responses & be encouraged that it may just turn out to be pretty great after-all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

wouldn't that be something.

I've spent the morning delivering Christmas presents to people I don't know.  I've peeked past a barely opened door into a dark & smelly apartment.  I've stood just beyond the produce section at Fred Meyer crying & hugging a young mom.  When  you are put in a position to really see people it can be a sobering thing; read as I have been sobbing all morning (which isn't helped by the fact that I'm hangry because I'm trying to be better about portions & snacking which basically just means I'm starving all-the-live-long-day but that's really besides the point.)  I realize how insignificant it is to get frustrated in the drop-off line at school just because the parent ignores the rules & gets out of their car to hug their kiddo one last time before they go  off to school.  When have I ever done that? Taken the time to give one last hug even at the cost of upsetting 100 other drivers behind them just because my kiddo may need it?  I am more of the slow & roll kind of mom.  Making sure my kiddo unbuckles & is ready to jump out the moment of approach.  The thing is I don't know the story of the mom who is getting out to give her kid a hug.  I've no idea what transpired at their house that morning anymore than I know why the mom in the dark apartment with downcast eyes is so sad.  It is so easy to talk the talk about everyone having a story, but to truly live like you believe that in every single interaction you have is another thing all-together.  What if?  What if we truly lived it?  What if our kids grew up knowing no different?  What if they knew you gave everyone you came into contact with grace because that's just how it's done?  What if they knew you just looked for a common thread with people because that is how connections are made. Sound a bit out of your comfort zone?  Mine too. But what if there's a chance that if we slow down & see those around us we may be surprised to learn they aren't so different than us after all? Wouldn't that be something.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas time is here again.

Christmas time is here again & for some that can mean life gets a whole lot harder.  We know, because the past few years has been trying for my husband & I.   We had started to dread that sure-to-come question "So, are you guys all ready for Christmas?"  While I know it always came from well-meaning people who were full of anticipation for the season it fell upon our ears as another reminder that we weren't going to be able to provide gifts for our kids.  Having been in lean financial times( for what seems like forever) Christmas gifts just weren't a reality for us.  We were more concerned about keeping the lights on & the heat going. When our kids were really young we didn't give it much thought.  We knew kids that age were more into empty boxes than the actual item inside so we just considered ourselves minimalists (read as that made us feel better) & chose to focus more on what the season meant & less on the stuff.

Fast forward to when they were a bit older & thanks to some truly AMAZING people.  Two different years two different groups of AMAZING there were gifts under the tree for our kiddos.  We were surrounded by such kind & generous & loving communities that loved on us & our kiddos & turned what could have been a really hard time into a time of joy & thanksgiving!  It was never about the stuff or the lack of stuff.  It was about the joy & anticipation & excitement that any parent wants to be able to provide for their kiddo.

This year marks the first year we are able to buy presents for our kiddos.  And we are excited! Unless you've never been able to you may not grasp the excitement but let me tell you it's on like donkey-kong! As we started thinking about Christmas & our kids & bringing them a bit of joy we naturally thought & talked about the prior years & how we were so loved on.  It got us to thinking how much more difficult this time of year must be for people who don't have a supportive community around them.  Maybe they don't have anyone to admit through a tear-stained face how hard it is.  Maybe they don't have anyone to let in & share how alls they really want is a matching pair of Christmas pjs for their kiddos.  Maybe they can't get over the pride of how hard it is to tell someone it's hard.  You live & breath it the last thing you want to do is to hear yourself talk about it. We knew we wanted to be able to do a bit for one other family, but realistically we also knew we couldn't do much more than that but maybe, just maybe, their were families like ours who wanted to do something for other families.  So with these families in mind....The ones who are working, but it's never enough.  The ones who are working & in school & raising their babies on their own.  The ones who lost jobs & are new in town & just don't have anyone.  With them in mind we launched our 1st Gift for Kids Program.  And as per usual I dived right in.  Spread the word with out really thinking it through & without having lined up people to help provide gifts to be sponsors or donors or what have you.  So then I panicked & thought this will never work & asked my friend (who knows how I dive in without thinking all.the.time.) to please pray because I had names of kids coming in who needed to be  matched with donors & whatifnoonecameforward I didn't want to ruin anyone's Christmas & I should have just kept my mouth shut & who do I think I am to help anybody anyways?! Sheesh.  She prayed. I prayed. Names came in & people wrote it saying they wanted to help & how could they help & could they please help.  Seriously.  It was beyond me.  The entire thing came together so effortlessly I didn't need to do a thing except show up to turn the computer on.  I remember telling my husband shortly before launching the Gift for Kids program that I would be stoked if at least one family was matched with another.  You know what?  Enough families came forward wanting to bless & were matched with 21 kids who's families are struggling & who admitted it's hard.  A.ma.zing. Some of the names came from the moms themselves & they brokenly shared a bit of their stories with me.  Some of the names came from other people who nominated them (for lack of a better word) because they knew it was hard.

 Now the gifts are starting to trickle in.  I keep thinking how excited I am to have my kids apart of delivering all these gifts to the families who are trying so hard.  So that it would be a good reminder to them to be thankful & to think of others.  But...Let's be real the reminder is for me.  It's so easy to get amnesia about letting people in, about finding joy through being thankful & about thinking of how to love on others. The thing I didn't know when we were on the receiving end was that not only did my family feel the love but those who acted out on the tug of their hearts they got to feel it too. Thankful for these brave families who by letting people in a bit are in turn making all of our Christmas seasons that much brighter.