Muck can be fun!
How often in life, when unexpected muck -- like this smelly tide of red seaweed -- infiltrates a day, do I cringe and get grumpy? Too often! Instead, couldn't I look at the muck as an opportunity? My kids sure do!
When one beach we were headed to for our Sabbath Family Day was closed due to e. coli counts and another proved unavailable due to a full parking lot, we headed to a third one that we sometimes go hiking at, only to find its entire shoreline covered in red mucky seaweed. After a walk and picnic, my kids did not let the red stew of the sea stop them! Nope, they grabbed our strawberry container and used it as a strainer to explore what was new to them. Oh, to see every "problem" as an opportunity the way they sometimes do.
Stretch your comfort zone!
Luke has never been that into sports. However, when Little Sister said she wanted to try soccer this spring, he agreed to try it, too. (We didn't push him to do so, but we did let him know that THIS season was the time to try the sport if he had any interest in it at all, since in the fall he'd age out of the introductory learning league.) Well, try he did. And he LOVED it from Day One.
Likewise, I was a bit reluctant to give soccer a go. Saturdays are precious to me since they are one of the only days all week I can get stuff done around the house without having full responsibility for the kids. Thus, I knew that in signing the kids up for soccer I was signing off on any productivity for Saturday mornings. Daddy would need me at the field with him to help since Jack is getting busier by the day (although still calm for a kid his age) and Luke and Nina would undoubtedly need some help and attention as they tried soccer out. The "sacrifice" of my Saturday mornings was well worth it. Everyone enjoyed the season!
~ 3 ~
Rigidity has no place in a happy home.
Nina's fifth birthday was scheduled to be a full day, so I got up before everyone else in the household to prep the kids' soccer bag, check strawberry picking directions, make breakfast muffins and a cake for a later celebration, etc. However, I had not yet wrapped Nina's gifts.
When the kids got up, Luke, who was eager to give Nina the things he'd helped me pick out for her, suggested that we celebrate her birthday before heading out. Nina excitedly echoed his idea. A breakfast birthday celebration was not in my plan for how to facilitate the day, but it was very clear it was in theirs! I acquiesced, by quickly wrapping Nina's gifts in some scarves that were handy and popping candles into the muffins I had made. Boy, did that make Nina's day!
(And, a good thing, too, because the day continued to throw changes at us. Just as we were headed out the door to a Lowe's Build-and-Grow Clinic that all three kids wanted to go to, Luke asked Daddy and me what was wrong with his finger. Yikes! It was swollen with a free and red tip. That meant a visit to the medical clinic, not the Lowe's one before soccer... Nina later told me the visit was the only "thorn" in her day. However, with a breakfast birthday and soccer and strawberry picking bracketing it, her first day of her fifth year began with more rose petals than thorns, I'd say!)
One recent day, Jack's EI Specialist offered us last-minute tickets to a David Polansky concert, (a local, yet acclaimed children's musician). Although Daddy was busy the evening of the concert, I decided I wanted the kids to experience it. So, I called the local Y, where the concert was to be held, to see if some friends might go with us. (Always good to have other adult eyes when going someplace new with my kids -- especially some place where sensory overload might set in and wreak havoc.) They put our friends on the list and we all met at the concert location.
What a fun time! The concert itself was fabulous and, after it, the kids came home and asked if they could give me a personal concert before bedtime. It was awesome. They used all our instruments and made up their own (like Nina's drum in the picture, which she made from a drawer of her wooden kitchen set, a box and two SmartMax Extreme pieces. Just goes to show how flexibility and improvisation -- both in plans and in play -- bring rich rewards!
Bad day? Jump in!
We were having "one of those" days the other day. Lots was going wrong and attitudes reflected it. they just kept getting worse and worse. Worse, that is, until I agreed to blow up the pool we had bought for Nina's ball pit balls.
Nina, Luke and I took turns blowing it up (and all that breathing sure worked its magic in calming us.) Then, the kids dove in (which admittedly negated the calming effect, but did so with a smile-inducing result!)
Had I said what my habit prompted me to when Nina begged to try out her pool ("No!" or "Later."), we would have missed out on the fun. Sometimes, saying "Yes!" right NOW brings the best consequences. It sure reframed all our brains the other day.
~ 6 ~
Make lemonade and light sabers!
Last Halloween, I ordered discounted glow bracelets to offer as one of the treat selections to costumed kids that came to our door. They did not come in on time. So, I decided to save them for New Year's and Independence Weekend -- two times when our extended family often incorporates glow sticks into our fun.
Well, so much for that. We used some of the glow bracelets over the winter holiday and I thought I'd tucked the rest away sufficiently. However, Nina got into them the other day.
At first, I was chagrined that she had "wasted" the bracelets and precluded the fun we would have with them. then, I realized she had just changed it. I took the "lemons" of our glowing remainder of bracelets and decided to make lemonade with them by tossing them in the tubbie for the kids to enjoy. (We've enjoyed glow stick tubbies before, but had not for a while.)
Enjoy they did! In fact, they even discovered a new way to use them.
Luke and Nina have wanted Star Wars light sabers for months and months, but still have none. They discovered that they could stuff the glow sticks into the turkey basters they play with in the tub in order to make their own glowing tubbie light sabers. Love it! I am continually amazed with the ingenuity God grants children and the timing He offers for me to appreciate it.
~ 7 ~
You know how that peaceful feeling of a moment of quiet in your home can turn into a dummy slap of, "Why didn't I realize they were being too quiet?!?" Well, I thought I was going to experience yet another one of those the other day when I realized that Jack and Nina had quietly disappeared from my presence and were not answering my calls.
Silly me, when I peaked into their room, I did not find the next great disaster that might degenerate into my camera taking a bath. Nope. There was no new art work on walls or bodies. No powder strewn everywhere. No bits of paper cut into shreds all over the place. Nothing broken. Nothing amiss at all, in fact.
Instead, there was Nina "reading" to her baby brother. So sweet. Such a reminder to trust in GOOD. Not everything is drama. All moments can be treasured when their true worth is valued.
In living and learning alongside my children, that is perhaps one of the biggest lessons that I am continually relearning: to think about "whatever is true... noble... pure... lovely... admirable... excellent or praiseworthy." God graces life with so many of these things (even if sometimes we must pull back a cloudy "worldly" veneer to uncover them!)
I am sharing this post at Conversion Diary, a blog that always brings blessings and inspiration!