The Magic of Nature

How do you experience nature?

My son went with his school on an overnight trip to a school in the woods. The trip had the students staying in lodges and exploring nature, bugs and animals in their natural habitat. My son was mainly nervous about being in a new place without any family members around, but we encouraged him to try to enjoy himself.

It was the first time my husband and I had not had any contact with our son. There was no computers or cellphones for the kids. I was glad the kids were completely unplugged, but as a parent, it was difficult not to know how our son was doing — was he enjoying himself, was he adjusting okay?

He left on a Monday and got back on a Thursday afternoon. We were so glad to see him, and he was glad to be back, but he already missed the camp. His teacher sent us a note warning us to this prior to picking him up. “Your son had a great time on our trip, and shared how sad he was that he was back. He really enjoyed himself there.” When our son got home we asked him to tell us about his trip. “It was great, let me read you from the journal I kept.” I was dumbfounded. I’ve never seen my son so interested in something he was willing to journal about it. I thought, this place must have been something really special. After going through his journal, which consisted of all the magic that this place held — nature trails, a tree house you could climb, water where bugs and fish lived and much more — he told us, “We’re going to visitors day,” and promptly walked to the calendar and wrote it down. It was set in stone, we were going.

Nature can be therapeutic and healing. It can feel connecting and peaceful. It’s wonders can feel magical, and amazing…sometimes hard to believe certain places or things exist. My son’s trip was a good reminder that I could benefit from connecting with nature more. Making time to talk walks, and a hike now and then, can work wonders on my soul. It certainly did so for my son.

How have you experienced the magic of nature? How has your child?

Spring Cleaning

Do you like to clean?

I hate it. I’ve always hated it. My mom had me doing chores to help around the house when I was young. I did it because I was expected to, not because I enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer a clean house. I function much better in order than chaos, but oh, how I do not like to clean. And while I could hire someone to clean my house, I’d still have to straighten up before hand, which in my experience is most of the work is anyways, so paying someone to clean after I’ve straightened up doesn’t seem to make much sense.

The house we live in is a modest size. With a family of four, there is not enough space for all our stuff, and by stuff, I mean: kids artwork (and you all know how that piles up quickly), kids toys (even though we clean out the toys annually), books they’ve outgrown but we haven’t parted with yet, and the list goes on. I attempted when my first son was born to keep my house nice and tidy. I abandoned that (or severely changed my definition of what tidy means) after going back to work. I was just too tired to keep it up, and something had to give. I’ve always had the goal of getting back to the housekeeper I used to be. Thankfully I’ve had several other mothers let me know I’m not alone.

“You’ll get your house back once the kids are out of the house,” one mom shared. Good to hear, I thought, but not sure I want to wait that long.

“It’s nice to have company come over, because it forces you to clean your place,” another shared. This really resonated with me. While I hate to clean I LOVE a clean house. I get a high when my house is nice and presentable. If only I could figure out how to make it last.

We are thinking about doing some work on our house, with the goal of adding some more space, and hopefully storage. In order to prepare for this work, it’s required us to clean-out closets and figure out what stays and what goes. It’s like a regular Spring cleaning on steroids. It’s not fun to do, but boy, does it feel good when it’s done.

How does Spring cleaning make you feel? How do you handle all of the stuff that comes into your house when you become a parent?

So You Think You Can Dance?

How do you stay active?

My youngest son is not interested in athletics at all. We put both he and his older brother in soccer when they were young to learn the skills and how to play the game. My oldest son loved soccer and worked really hard to get good at it. My youngest, well, he would take a nap on the field during the game, over go off to the side and sit down or bounce up and down on the blow-up barriers between the fields. It wasn’t worth it to us (literally and figuratively) to keep him in the sport. We tried others that were offered after school — including riding his bike, golf and tennis to no avail. Our next challenge was to help him figure out what he did like to do.

He showed an interest in cars, art and drama, and we’ve encouraged him in these areas, but we really wanted to find something to would get him more active. It’s not that he has to play a sport, we just want him to move more. My husband took my sons for a run with him to see if that might be a fit, but my son came home and said “no way.” We were starting to get discouraged, but weren’t ready to throw in the towel. Our son had done Wii Dance before and liked it. He came home and showed off some of his moves. My husband and I thought, what about a dance class?  We were fortunate enough to find a class that was nearby and decided to give it a try.

My son was fairly happy to try out the class. He couldn’t wait to show off his moves and learn some new ones, but dance class ended up being more challenging than that. It required you to do stretches at the beginning prior to actually dancing. I had forgotten all about this, it has been decades since I last took a dance class. My son struggled to do the exercises, even making grunts and sighs of anguish during the warm-ups. I kept thinking, please don’t let him try to take a nap in the middle of class, or go off to the side to play. Thankfully he is older now, and was able to keep going with the class, but he did struggle. It was something new. It was hard, as his parent, to watch. I was so proud of him for trying, but felt for him.

I don’t know if dancing is in his future or not, but we’re going to give it another try. We’re hoping with some more classes, he’ll start to see how hard work pays off, and how you can have a lot of fun with it. If he doesn’t, we’ll continue to explore other ways for him to be active.

How do you help your child experience new things? How do you help them be active?

Breaking Out of Your Shell

When was the last time you did something that forced you to break through your comfort zone?

Sometimes in life you’re afforded the opportunity to build up the courage to do something new or uncomfortable, and sometimes you’re forced. Becoming a parent, was by far, one of those experiences that felt forced, though I had tried to prepare. In order to be the mother of my son, I couldn’t just birth him. I had to break through who I was before to become the parent I now was, and learn how to handle all the responsibilities, joys, struggles and growth that go along with it. It felt like I was learning to walk, but with a new pair of legs. It took some getting used to, and at times felt very scary. If I could have crawled back into that protective shell, even for a little while, it would have been tempting.

I was asked to talk during an upcoming Children’s Time about something “egg-related” (keeping with the theme of Spring and Easter). I thought about how we all experience breaking out of our shell. We break out of our first “shell” when we are birthed, and break out of our shell through out life — sometimes by choice, sometimes by need. Every time we do try something new, particularly something hard that doesn’t come easy. We are breaking out of our ever-changing shell.

My youngest son has moments when he can convince himself that he can’t do something — the range is wide and goes from not being able to eat a certain food to not being able to ride on a roller coaster or go down a water slide.  My husband and I will talk to him, encourage him, explain the benefit of trying this new thing. My son will balk, sometimes cry, and reiterate why he can’t do it over and over again. But sometimes, most times, from somewhere inside, he’ll decide he can’t let his fear hold him back. Its often surprising when he moves into this mindset, but also very inspiring. It’s like watching a baby chick decide it’s time to be born, it’s time to experience the world. The joy on his face when he breaks through his shell, and sees he can do something he wasn’t sure he could is like watching him see the world with new eyes each time. It’s priceless.

What shell-breaking moments have you had? How do you help your child break through to become the person they are going to be?