Thursday, June 28, 2007

Politics As Usual

I'm listening to the PBS Presidential Debate with Democratic candidates. Billed as a forum to address African-American issues - the reality is that the issues are issues that impact America. When you talk about education, justice, health care, out sourcing, HIV-AIDS, am I mistaken to believe this is not isolated to race? 30 second sound bites don't provide enough insight to select a president - but it can make you think about clicking your heels with the background chorus, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home."

Only in our nation can we applaud pithy statements, followed with so little action. Most of the people on the stage are currently in government, making little to no progress, and promising whatever the audience wants to hear. I'm pained when there is little understanding that the African American voters of today are concerned with broad issues that cover more than a perceived need to rescue central city neighborhoods and the working poor. My interests include, but are not limited to, the politics of poverty.

Many of the theoretical middle class with degrees, jobs, health insurance, and private education are still failing to attain the so called American Dream - the idea of having it all is lofty at best. Our presidential election will require all of us to reflect on the values we hold most dear and entrust someone who can lead us into a financial, economic, educational, social & technological revival.

All of that leads me to my current candidate of interest - Barack Obama. Here is my latest feedback to Barack - and the many people I have worked to open their minds to his potential presidency - "WAKE UP." In a Spike Lee movie this irritating message would appear at the very moment of critical reflection. Debate performance matters. All of that energy, turn of phrase power, engaging one liners, sincerity seeping through your bones, and convincing resolve that you deserve a chance has been missing. When you stand next to the other contenders you need to stand out, not disappear. What is happening to that ability to speak audacious hope into the lives of those who have been politically dormant? The time to demonstrate those skills is NOW.

I'm still looking for the candidate the convinces me that they are in this to win it, before the next 8 years are worse than the last. Is that possible? Leadership & Power - not politics as usual, that is my hope. I hope the next debate offers more.

15 Minutes

Christian radio reflected on the mid-year point today, and noted that in 6 months we will be celebrating Christmas. I could be depressed for a myriad of reasons - where did six months go? They asked callers to share their resolutions from January, and then called people who had called into the show that day to check on their progress. Who are you accountable to? Who is calling you to check on your progress?

I heard reflections from the guy who watched too much t.v. - and was now spending more time talking to neighbors and spending time with people. Equally close to home was the woman working to tame her tongue, with slow progress. In the midst of it - I thought about what I could do in 15 minutes that I had been putting off or acting like I was too busy to accomplish. I set the stove timer for 15 minutes and then told my son it was shoe tying time.

15 minutes later, and now Noah can tie his shoes. To prove the point, after our lesson I untied his shoes and sent him off to do his best with no assistance about the "tails of the strings" , "sticky fingers", or proper loops that are smaller than the tails. When we came back, his white tennis shoes were properly tied. No longer a need for big sister, mom, or dad to sigh about the delay in getting dressed or out the door. No more comparison to who learned at age 4 vs. 5, or reflections that I had taught my young cousin (now 22) and not my own kidlet. 15 minutes and we have a success story.

Noah is so proud of himself, and I am too. We all clapped and cheered, and I suggested calling granny - but he just wanted to tell dad. Midyear can also be a motivator, hop to it - there is work to be done.

Thank God for his grace and mercy, too, so we can all be a little easier on ourselves when we fall short of our ultimate goals.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


People complain about Paris. They talk about the attention, the "story", she is on t.v. 24/7, her money, her clothes, family wealth - all of this. Photographers camp out for the money shot and the headlines are unending. Meanwhile, we say shame on Paris.

Shame on us. For reading the articles, buying the magazines, watching her pathetic behavior on t.v., tuning into news we know is not news at all, because we make it possible. What would be the result if people with untold wealth tuned into real life. Oh the possibilities if she used her power for good not evil.

If her drunken stupor resulted in the loss of life for any one of us, maybe our fascination with her would be over. Shame on me too, for even writing about it.

Greetings - beyond Hallmark

What do you do with the cards you get on the holidays or special occasions? How many cards or notes have you gotten over the years - and how do you decide which ones you keep? How many trees have been killed in order to tell you hi, get well, thinking of you, congratulations and best wishes?

I started thinking about this when my husband got two notes within the same week that meant a lot to him. At this stage in his career, confirmation about his ideas and thoughts tend to give him energy and a zest for what he does. He is passionate about community development and neighborhood revitalization, and he translates ideas into actions and plans. 12 years ago a note would not have mattered.

As we got ready for a yard sale recently, I found the cards my co-workers gave to me when I decided to stay home with my first child. It was an easy decision but hard to put into practice - those challenges remain as we try to balance raising a family with professional and financial obligations. It was clear to me that I kept the cards at the time to remind me about my choice and my professional life - sometimes those days seem so far behind. I'm deciding if I'll put them in a scrapbook ,just keep an envelope or release them because our lives are so different now.

I interviewed for Hallmark so I have a lingering fascination with the company. I have fond memories of how they treated their candidates and I'm still aware that the Hallmark brand is one that cherishes things that I find important. The most important lesson for me is that encouragement is so powerful. There are times when I send cards, notes, letters and the like - and wonder if they really matter at all. Then there are other times that people share how powerful a simple gesture was or they let me know that my card is one that they have kept over the years. My cousin Carolyn used to keep my Christmas cards and I always remember wanting to make sure hers arrived on time, because she actually read it and cared. The power of personal touch!

I love email for its quick nature, but I'm not really saving those exchanges as keepsakes. I have cards from my mothers friends, my great grandmother, family members that are no longer with us, friends who have been so important to my life - I have a boat load of physical memories that last longer than the motivation behind the card. I hope in the environment of the everyday "hit send" messages, text messages, and phones on our hips - we don't lose the basic art of touching lives - with keepsakes that last in combination with the way we communicate today.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another Senseless Tragedy ... Jessie Davis

As a native Ohioan & a mother, I am saddened to share that the body of Jessie Davis and baby Chloe was found June 23, 2007. Her family and 2 year old son are dealing with the current tragedy, while learning that the father of the child has been accused of the crime. I happened to listen to an interview of the mother of Officer Cutts' first child, in addition to an interview of Cutts' himself. It was clear that tragedy was in the midst, even the interviews were plain bad and an obvious prediction that nothing good would emerge from these characters. The Davis family has the awesome task of raising a 2 year old that will never fully know his mother and has a suspected killer as a father.

At least one of the articles I read indicated something about the health of the "fetus." At a full 9-months, I believe it safe to say that the baby could have lived if there was any truth to the father that "she died and I panicked." That line of thought isn't worth really continuing as it sounds as off base to type as it was for the accused father to say. If there had been any care and concern for the mother and child, a really bad situation could have still allowed for a phone call, a gesture for help, something. Discussion indicates that his 2 year old witnessed some or all of the entire ordeal.

This is one of those instances when I think - what can we as a community or a society do. Pray is the only thing that resonates. Words really fail me - what else is there to do when evil is clearly demonstrated in a fragile and imperfect world. I used to think I didn't believe in the death penalty, but maybe I rushed to judgment.

The Greatest Gift

I started aimlessly clicking next blog to see what else was out there - I'm not in the mood to write, so I thought I can at least read. When after spending 30 minutes and encountering only a hand full of English sites - I ended my randomness and reflected on my gifts.

At an early age my mother sent me to Spain, in part for the life lesson on a thin dime, and in part - I believe, to separate me from a youth love experience that was heading no where fast. I remember getting my passport and all of the little things to prepare for the trip . It occurs to me in my mini depression of today, that my mother has still not been out of the country and she gave me such a great gift even when she herself had never had the experience.

My hope for my children is that I can unleash a broader sense of the world and help them to achieve whatever they are meant to achieve - without boundaries. Before it is too late, we look up and see that adult life can seem a bit like a cage if we don't seek something different.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

For the Love of Starbucks...Ratatouille

I don't care one iota about what people say. I like my Starbucks. Specifically, although I have no business purchasing $3.80 coffee - a grande, sugar free hazelnut, non-fat latte, with 2 splenda is good for the soul. I think, when made correctly, it has the power to genuinely alter your day. If it has the required service and the atmosphere of making you feel as if it is the most important drink made in the entire day - I save have it. Heck, if you can afford it, and you skipped the 500 calorie cold treat, I say you deserve a prize.

Yesterday, while at Starbucks (armed with a gift card) I encountered Sneak Preview passes for the movie, Ratatouille. I was going to pick up my kids that had been in the care of a good friend, and I was picking up her favorite drink as a way to say thank you. Her drink is an entirely different story - diva at its worst. But she's worth it.

So the passes were an "admit 2 free" for tonight's preview of Ratatouille. Kidlets ages 7, 5 and 3 have been on a roller coaster of "inexpensive" Summer treats, and we've had our good days and our bad. I didn't put my hopes up as there are usually way more passes than seats and although we try hard we are are rarely more than 20 minutes early. It was loosely in the back of my mind but I hadn't even told the kids.

Fast forward to the short version. I had a difficult start to my morning. In the process, I decided to spend $2.00 hard to come by "mommy dollars" on a iced tea at Starbucks. My great hope of the morning was that one of my giftcards had enough to make my purchase a few pennies at best. I hit the JACKPOT! A card with a $16 balance from I don't even know when. I took it as a divine sign.

Armed with renewed energy - we went to library programs, read 10 books, went to Tae Kwon Do, and I packed a bag of snacks, and we headed to the theater. I know they could have easily harassed me about my book bag of a purse - but not a peep. As long as I wasn't taping the movie - I was fine. We arrived in time to get good seats, the kids thoroughly enjoyed the movie, only one bathroom interruption, Lay's baked chip snacks, and......walaa. Reason 456B why I love Starbucks - first, Akeelah and the Bee, now family entertainment for 4 (dad worked late) yippee!!

In case you want to ask about my $3.80 drink, it would have cost $38.00 to take 4 people to an evening movie with snacks and beverages and I am so sure that I came out on top. Now, if you calculate what I have spent in my lifetime on Starbucks, without owning stock - well Ratatouille on you.

A simple tale of a rat who wanted to be a chef, friendship tests, complex worlds, a heartfelt desire to be more, living up to expectations - or the lack thereof in your life, the tagline that "Anyone can be a (you fill in the blank kid lesson)" , and wonderful graphics of Paris that make we want to go even more - priceless. Well, in this case $3.80. Now, I might ask why this animated kids film needed two kissing scenes, but some reviewer will nail them for it. (Please.) Good entertainment, and their brand loyalty is safe on me, at least for the remaining balance of the many cards that are in my home. I am so glad people that love me support my addiction so well...they should be happy to know, upon occasion, it blesses the entire family.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Really Proud is Relative

Awhile ago I blogged about my lack of perfection in baking. And today, the Carnival at Crazy Hip Blog Mamas encouraged us to talk about something we are really proud of. I guess, for me the topics are related. I am proud that we make a big deal out of our children's birthdays - without creating a rival to your next theme park, circus or spoiled extravaganza 101. That, however, doesn't stop me from wondering what happened to the cakes of yesteryear.

This cake came directly from MARSH supermarket, and I simply decorated it myself. I looked at what they had, and I couldn't bring myself to purchase their experiments - I decided I would do my own. My little one wanted a rocket cake, and I delivered (sort of) without the grand entrance of Dora, Diego, Spiderman or some character that I didn't have the energy to purchase. I always think I should create my own character, because surely I need the money more than they do.

Now this one was for a princess visiting our home, as she and her mom blessed us with the chance to share an 8th bday celebration. I have created multi-tier cakes, 3-D cupcakes, and even a Blue's Clues star cake that deserves to be memorialized - but this seemed to just miss the mark for me. I later decided that our love, hospitality, and joy for celebration would have to take precedent over perfection yet again. I'm starting to consider this lack of perfection a trend.

The house that FEMA built.
In this instance we are thankful for survival. A dear friend, with my perfection issues, decided that a gingerbread house "kit" was a good gift for my daughter. Our combined 4 kids were overly eager to make it, after not seeing each other for at least 5 months. In case you can't tell, this house has the longevity of , a FEMA house, and would stand for only long enough for the adults in the house to laugh, the children in the house to cry, and for a few pictures to document our errors. The pride is in the survival here - not in the creation.

All of this goes to my observation that in the love of scrapbooking, many people edit out the most fun activities. I have been guilty of creating shrines that don't quite tell the full truth. It is a rookie mistake. Now I glow with pictures of plants turned over, kids caught in the act of powdering an entire room, and the ugly years. That includes some very awful shots of mommy, that are really only to help me remember to eat my carbs more wisely. I guess I'm just proud that we have all grown to enjoy the journey just a little bit more.

Having 3 children, there are countless jokes about what happens over the years. The first child has everything sterilized, the second child gets spit shined, the third child coasts with fast food and baby wipes. I would like to believe I'm not quite like that, but you see I didn't post the 3 tier princess cake for a 3 year old.

So maybe I'm proud of our evolution as a family.
Our Martha Stewart crafts and over idealized goals have been replaced with ad hoc experiences. You want to make snowmen....okay, but I'm not interested in going outside at 20 below. There are more kind and gentle experiences since we've all begun to learn to relax, take a step back, and enjoy each other on this ride.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The TRUTH about Ruth....

The biblical story of Ruth and Naomi challenges me for a variety of reasons. Many people would assume that they could base my frustration on this life altering relationship between mother and daughter in-law, but it doesn't stop there. I am regularly challenged by the many revelations about her character and the lessons she teaches to women through her story.

A few months ago, a friend and I started reading about various women in the Bible. It was a time for fellowship, reflection on biblical teachings and lots of laughter about our own lives. Suffice it to say, we were both challenged to relate to anyone who followed their mother in law into an unknown land. On some days I think I'm a pretty good catch, but in this area, my husband did not hit the jackpot. If I were to be widowed, well, his mother wouldn't call me "blessed and highly favored" - more than likely I'd be everything but. The reality of my experience only accents how exceptional both of these women are.

Fast forward to the month of June, and now my minister wants to cover the topic of Ruth. I'm thinking to myself, I'm no slacker in this area - I know about her. He has managed to create even more depth and understanding , and I am now clear that what I learned in self study didn't even scratch the surface. Forget how these women were related, this is the story of a friendship that many can only dream about. (Others may share in the real life nightmares of the scenario and friendship too....)

Here's the short version - a man marries, has two sons, they marry, all the men die. If that isn't painful enough, this is a time of famine, and both women have left their culture to marry sons who worship a God they are not familiar with. Naomi (MIL) has such tremendous faith and is so dedicated to her God, the women decide to follow her, even though it seems as if she has nothing. As a wise woman, Naomi offers the young women one last chance to leave, and Orpah does. Ruth sticks with her. (A different tune for I'm gonna stickwithu, hmmm.)

So, here is the challenge. As a woman of faith, how many of us have such a strong relationship with God that we are attracting unlikely women who want to follow our path? When is the last time someone wanted to follow you because your convictions were so strong they saw a better path and a better life ahead. Are you able to ignore your circumstances as they exist right now, because you are secure in what the future will hold. Ruth was no average woman. Neither was Naomi for that matter. I remain in awe of what they had to go through.

From time to time I blog about adult women friendship and the need to mentor. Naomi established herself as the mentorship example when she discreetly taught Ruth how to attract Boaz, without regard for herself and with all the dignity of a mature woman who has lived several seasons of life. And all of this comes about today because I was thinking about the women in my life, and who could I follow from famine to feast - without any idea about the travels and the journey. (How's that for light reflection!)

Ask yourself who is in your life that serves as that type of example for you. Are there any of those women, or are you a "Naomi" leading others because your faith and convictions are so strong.

Here's how my story goes....

I know that there are women who I could follow. I pray that I am, or that I am becoming, someone that many women would follow.

1. I have people in my life who are dedicated to excellence on so many levels, but only a few who would put their needs secondary to mine. Naomi was first and foremost loyal and committed to the future of someone else. In many ways Ruth demonstrates this too. The prospects of Ruth's future were brighter because of her youth - but she was not distracted from the real pursuits of life. How's that for a lesson to teach our daughters, heck, ourselves.

2. Ruth actions were mirrored by her words. She was not only decisive, she spent little time telling the world what she had done to help her mother in law. Can I get a witness for how many times you were happy to receive help, but you didn't want a national broadcast that you needed it. I am thankful for the extension of support services in my life, that don't require accolades or recognition - they just are. Today I wondered, how many people in my life really know what they mean to me, my family, our lives.

3. It takes my pastor to explain how Ruth and Naomi felt at the end of barley season. The entire world was rejoicing, but they had other concerns on their minds. Have you ever been in a situation where it seems like rejoicing is in the air - but you were distracted because of "real life." Their reality was different from that of everyone around them. When barley season ended, so did their understanding of where their next provision would come from. It is one thing to have friends that can party with ya, but how many people are in your circle who can be in the thick of bad times with you. They say bad times don't last...but sometimes the future just doesn't look that bright, in our natural eye.

Who is standing next to you at those times? I am struck by the fact that Ruth and Naomi didn't have a posse...they had a deep friendship, and God. That's it. When you look at it that way, you surely want to pick that other person wisely.

The story of Ruth in the Bible is a short story. That sticks with me because I think you have to study and pursue the lessons, but you don't have all day to learn what they have to teach. When you look at a few chapters of your own life - what story do your relationships and your actions tell? I pray if I'm in a book I get to pick the chapters or write them myself, because there are a myriad of stories I'd just assume skip. Have you ever felt that way - to the next, to the next. Truth is, Ruth has as much to teach women today, as she taught decades ago.

The only question remains...who is listening? I, for one, have an abundance of learning and leading ahead. What do you think about her lessons as they apply to your own life? I started thinking about friendships today, and ultimately, I ended up thinking about the type of example I want to be. I'm glad there is ample training all around me - I've got some growing to do.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good Mommy Blogger

I have spent many months debating when I would completely delete my blog. There are times when I read what I've written and I decided TMI, TMI, TMI. And then...the weirdest thing happened, and I started having lots of visitors. I don't mean more than my usual 2 - hundreds. So, it is quite timely that my circle of buddies at CrazyHipBlogMamas challenged us to explain what makes us good.

My kids think its cool that I write about my experiences, and they no longer look at the computer as my 4th child. They aren't fans of email, but they distinguish between when I write about topics that matter to families, vs. "mommy work" and my professional website. They are so interested in my run ons, that they ask from time to time - "how many people are listening " to what you write. I typically say 2.

However, in recent months I have found hundreds more people visiting. I was happy to say the least, but saddened that they didn't leave comments or just a thought about a particular topic. Imagine my surprise when upon more investigation I found that my mother rants and cute kid pics were not the source of the attention - it was USHER. See, a few weeks ago crazy hip blog mamas got many of us to talking about our confessions- the things we do that we said some years ago, "I will never..." And "my confessions" came with a little picture that gives, well, some visual motivation too. Behold, hundreds of people stumbled upon my thoughts who were intending only to spend time with said R&B star.

Yet, I'm a good mommy blogger because.....

1. Once you are here you'll stay around a bit. Now granted, I have nothing to do with how you found me, but once you are here, you can find humor, essential parenting tips, some spiritual renewal and adult conversations for 2.

2. My kids are interested in what I write about. I'm not up at 2 a.m. in the office, my kids know that I'm writing about our experiences together, and are miffed when politics or business take center stage. They have also been prompted to write more too.

3. I highlight information and blogs that are very interesting, not just my own stuff. A few of my referrals have come from my new blog community, and I'm focused on sharing ideas, interesting people, business, and women who have an authentic voice to share. (I play well with others.) This isn't true for the masses in my experience.

4. My kids are cute. Usher is a fine young man, but I'm grooming two Godly fellas and a Spiritual princess with King Dad who isn't so bad himself most days. Let's hear it for the next generation of life (vs. eye) candy....more than meets the eye, and prepared to change lives.

Lastly, I'm a good mommy blogger because I use words for fuel. My blog often prompts me to action and doesn't just "rant" about other folks. My goal with all of this is to be better tomorrow than I am today. Thanks for sharing the journey. I hope you are prompted to do something, anything, after reading a few of my entries.

And for the 200 Usher fans that stumble upon my site daily, I really do appreciate the 28.9% of you that stay for 15 minutes longer. Surely you can leave me a note and say hi - I appreciate the traffic, although I know its undeserved.

Oh, and the picture is of prince 1 ....I'm starting his fan club early, LOL.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Go Play!

Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. - 1 John 3:16

What are you doing today to bless the life of someone else? Actions speak so much louder than words. "I would rather be fishing" is a sign I remember as a child seeing in many offices, homes and in general. I've seen "I'd rather be playing tennis" and "I'd rather be doing........" something other than what is right in front of us. Today, I encourage parents specifically - adults in general - to love with actions. So there is no long blog post....because I'd rather be living in the moment and making memories. Sometimes we just have to be deliberate about the pace of it all. When is the last time you had someone "love on you." That affectionate term came from a mentor, mom in the church, and friend - and she is wonderful to always remind me that we are made better when we are doing something to bless someone else.

Start blessing.... & Have a blessed day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Mother's Quandry - Genarlow Wilson & The Motherhood Challenge

Genarlow Wilson is a young man, who at age 17 admitted to having sex at a New Year's party with 2 teen girls. The amount of alcohol and marijuana cloud the distinction of what was consensual - both acts were caught on tape. My heart goes out to all the families, including the girls who freely entered those rooms with little thought about the consequences.

As a result of the video tape, Genarlow was found not guilty of the rape charges. However, that tape also showed oral sex with a minor girl, later resulting in his conviction for aggravated child molestation. He is now serving a 10 year sentence, and the Georgia state laws that mandated his sentence have been changed to make what he did a misdemeanor. The reality remains that even the newly changed laws are not designed to be retroactive, and thus his future remains unclear.

Today there is a lot of discussion about the Judge's decision to end his 10 year sentence with time served. You should go to Wilson Appeal web site to learn more about the details - but there is additional information surfacing that his release is being fought. The Attorney General of Georgia has filed an appeal and is challenging the judges decision - keeping the 21 year old in jail for the time being.

Many of the sites and blogs that I read have narrowed this discussion to one about an African-American 17 year old male (at the time of the incident), having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. He refused to take a plea based on his belief that this was all consensual - and the plea would require him to be registered as a sex offender, eliminating any possibility for living with his younger sister in the future. I decided to weigh in on the issue for much different reasons.

Prior to this young man going out that night, his single mother told him not to do anything that would jeapordize his future. She told him, like many moma's do, to use his head while he was out and to be back by curfew. He was a honors student, award winning athlete and homecoming king. I wonder what else a mother is called to do? As parents we try to teach our children right from wrong - and this applies not only to young males, but to the young girls who were drinking in a hotel room with a dozen guys, with overnight bags. In the end, however, our children make choices.

We are called to teach, guide and direct our children. Many of us pray for our children and nurture them in an upbringing that we believe will be the best for them. We endeavor to do all that we can to protect them, keep them safe and secure - but we are not all knowing. We are not with our children 24 hours of every day. We do all that we can, just like our parents and grandparents before us. The challenge here for me is to distinguish criminal behavior from the mistakes of youth.

Having a decent GPA and athletic prowess does not in and of itself make a child a "good kid." What does? Many who have commented on this case have drawn distinctions on ethnic, economic and moral lines - but I believe they are all interconnected. The break down of what we define as acceptable behavior is evidenced in every day society. Recent Indiana coverage about girls being raped at bus stops before and after school has become sadly common place. We are slowly losing our sensitivity to reality of our society.

These children were drinking, staying out all night in some cases at a motel, smoking marijuana, engaging in group/public sexual activity, and being downright foolish. The presence of a video camera accents the lack of intelligence in the room - there was no moral filter for just how wrong this was. Yet, they were children, making the mistakes that many children make. I'm not blogging about presidential behavior - although clearly there should be a link between what we glorify on television, in music, throughout politics and in the world - vs. what we want children to do. We popularize bad behavior and then we are surprised when it becomes the way of the world. I, however, don't believe that this young man should spend 10 years in jail for his bad choices. I believe we have a clear miscarriage of justice.

The facts of the case are pretty clear - he broke the law that was on the books, oral sex with a minor. When does good sense combine with justice to ensure that laws not only exist - but serve our society well?

I can't help but believe we would all be better served taking more time, care and attention raising our children - and building a society that teaches them lessons that are appropriate to their mistakes, without forever altering any potential they have of serving our world in the best possible way. Our government leaders engage in the same activities and barely get a slap on the hand. I can't help but know in my spirit something is painfully wrong with the Attorney General in Georgia - but the thought that this could happen to you, your son, your cousin, your neighbor - ought make us all more engaged, active and responsive to the decision and systems that impact our lives.

A good place to start - more knee mail for us all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

If Adult Women Learned from Our Kids.....

1. We would smile pretty even when we violated every fashion rule.

2. We'd embrace the most basic joys of life together, in packs of 2 - appreciating the friends and the people along the way.

3. We would pose for the moment, vs. letting people catch us off guard. (The 6 year old version of never let them see you sweat!)

4. We would never hide our addictions - whether they be colorful boas or Starbucks.

5. We would never meet a problem that lip gloss and a balloon couldn't handle.

6. We'd take turns being the prettiest girl in the room - always having enough confidence to share the spotlight.

7. We would treasure paperback books and read them over and over again, because the story and the feelings are just that good.

8. Ice cream would remain magical - regardless of calories, cost or corrupt diets.

9. Dressing up wouldn't require credit cards.

10. We'd say exactly what we thought all of the time - and apologize when our mouth got us in trouble....because everything could be solved with a pinky swear, hug and a letter on notebook paper.

To the little girl in all of us .....

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Friendship Reflections

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
~ John F. Kennedy

I had a recent experience that knocked my foundation a bit. I asked a friend to do me a favor that I assumed was no big deal. And in fact, it was a big deal. My foundation was turned on its ear because my vision of friendship is very, very strong. More than that - the more "in fellowship" that I am, the more transparent I tend to be. I make jokes about my circle, and the fact that as a continuous ring it does not increase (the full bodied tea ladies know that not to be true) but can indeed get smaller. I have spent a lifetime examining the experiences of friendship. Until today.

The only person to examine in a friendship looks back at you every morning. What you are willing to do and be is based on who you are, and not on what others do, believe or demonstrate that they are. While I spent a week caught up in the "I can't believe that happened," my life was tremendously blessed, over and over again - by people who were not stuck. I tend to get "stuck." I suppose, in every situation, one can say I totally missed the context clues....or when you see the clues, you can respond, and live. I want to teach my daughter about friendships and about the lessons that I have learned. The first is, believe in yourself, and all else - disappointment included, will just have to follow.

Friendship, in fact, is a great opportunity to experience your strengths and your short comings in living color. For there are people who I would not have depended on if I hadn't realized that this too - is a lesson, to trust yourself. While I observe with curious interest my daughter's ability to learn and grow in friendship - I see that she is teaching me about the lessons as well. One day, in the far far future, I look forward to being her mother and her friend. Today, I focus on gratitude, for all the things that have been added to my life because of friends. And for the many things I have added to the lives I have touched too.

Some of the things I know
I know only because older women have
told me their secrets.
I have lived and am living long
so that
I can tell my secrets to younger women.
That's the reason we women
go on improving.

~ Maya Angelou

Are you telling young women your secrets?
Are they improving because you have shared your lessons, too?

Welcome Summer!

So school is out and the official Summer season has started, regardless of what the calendar says. When I think about all of the real life pressing issues - I think about this moment in time and I know that there is something magical about being a child.

At least....I believe it should be.

The passion with which my children have fun is something new to me. I think I'm more reserved in nature, and even though I thought I knew about fun - I really didn't. My children know about fun!

So, as we embrace that Summer is here and mom has to get in gear...I thought I'd give my top picks for fun on a thin dime with the kidlets.

1. The library! Summer reading programs are a gift to a mom who wants to encourage reading. We have a pretty good library, but more importantly, we have access to several library systems because of the school. Kids read books. Kids get prizes. What an easy way to tie in some good fun with great books - so we have standing weekly dates with our library, a few programs, a few make and take projects and most important - Reading as a family.

2. Free movies! At the main movie theaters there are programs to show PG and PG - 13 movies for free during the week. When we lived in Michigan the day was Wednesday and you had to get there a bit early to guarantee a seat. Here in Indy, yipppppeeeee - 2 days, 2 films a day, and large comfortable theaters to enjoy.

3. The Zoo! We believe in ZOO memberships so that we can explore often. I make it a point to statistically prove that the zoo was a good investment in every season. With the Summer weather and heat, we tend to go early in the day or late in the afternoon, frequent just a few exhibits and play in the play area. The true saver - pack your lunch and snacks! In addition to not being healthy, I'm still trying to see how it cost $45 to feed 4 folks on a day that I was not prepared.

4. The Science Center/Children's Museum - fun, fun, fun! Indoor fun is a must during the summer hot days and allows for recreation and movement, enough to suit all ages. Sometimes I'm creative and come up with special projects and stuff to do - other times I just enjoy the new exhibits. Membership is once again the key!

5. For the last year or so I have had a gym membership to Lifetime Fitness. It is a worthwhile investment because of the child care system (2 hrs./day for each adult) and because of the facilities. In a later post I will talk about the magic of explaining a country club, or lack thereof to a 7 year old, but for now lets just say - this is our country club. Indoor and outdoor pools, exercise equipment, childcare to actual get a workout in, and hours and hours of fun. My reality is - it is only worth the investment when you go and use it. This Summer my commitment is for 3 days a week for the kidlets, and 5 days a week for the moma!

6. Vacation Bible School. I know that when I volunteered at VBS I took my job seriously and worked with the children to have a fun, learning, crafty time with a focus on God. I have seen VBS done really, really well. And....I have seen VBS done really, really bad. My hope is to find a really good one that all the kids will enjoy, and volunteer to help too. (Our church is too new for our own program, I think we partner. Great thing - this is an opportunity to visit other programs and churches.)

7. Park exploration! I know of 3 parks in our community - and there are 15. During this season we can set out to determine which one is our favorite, and pack a picnic lunch and call it a day. It takes us forever to get out of the house, and so when we leave - we are usually gone for the majority of the day. That is .... unless client commitments have to be completed.

8. Plant Paloooza. The most inexpensive projects in the summer can do a world of good for our landscape and my stress level. Dirt, seeds/plants, tools! We've got the making for messy fun.

9. Pen Pal Season. With the traveling and the transition that every season brings, it is a great time to write those you care about and tell them hello. The kids love to get mail, and I explain all of the time that you tend to get more mail when you actually stay in touch with folks. This helps us to stay connected with friends, family and our family elders, too.

10. Play Dates! The only difference here - we are adding a road trip. When we go visit our friends and invite them to visit us, we are banking on kid fun factor - not expensive excursions. I'm not against investing in fun, but the slumber party, stay up late, play all day experience is lost in our over scheduled lives. We can't wait for some of our buddies to visit so they can help us explore how much fun a family can have - intentionally working together.

Now, all of that said.......

Our short list of investments include:
- A water park
- A trip to the beach
- An amusement park
- A state park w/the chance to canoe and hike
- Tennis/Dance Camp!

I'm open for any creative we launch into the season of 24/7 fun!