Cutting Your Own Path

What reminds you that winter is over?

For me, it’s when the tulips and daffodils finally bloom. They are at full peak where I live and are a constant reminder that warmer weather is coming. This winter was bitter cold and gray. The sun and blooming colors is doing all of us well. There is nothing better than walking down a path or street that’s bursting with different colors. It’s quite glorious.

My sons know that winter is over when we go outside more, and this year the occasion was marked with their bike riding. My youngest has finally learned how to ride his bike to where he can really enjoy it. It was a struggle for him to learn — getting started was what tripped him up.  Getting started with any new task we are learning can trip us up, right?

I was talking to a friend who is going through a career change. She has struggled with cutting her own path (I think something many of us can relate to). It reminded me of how my son struggled to learn to ride. He convinced himself the path he needed to take to learn to ride was too unfamiliar, would take skills he didn’t have and couldn’t master. He was struggling with unfamiliar domain. I shared with her my passion for teaching my boys how to make their own way in the world and help show them how to cut their own path. It had made me think about how when you navigate something new, it’s like looking at an overgrown path littered with brush that you have to cut away. At first, hacking at the brush can be tough, unfamiliar and even scary, but after a while, you figure out how to do it and start getting better at making a clearing you can pass through.  When you emerge into the clearing you appreciate the path you’ve made and the place you’ve arrived. I’m not planning to take my children to the jungle or give them a machete to clear brush, but I do want them to know that they have it in them to get from the can’t (ride my bike) to the can (I did it!). Much like the seasons. You sometimes have to make your way through until you make it to the other side. It’s worth it, the scenery at the end is incredible.

How are you teaching your child to make their own way?

March Madness

What does March Madness make you think of?

Basketball right? I would agree with that, up until I a few years ago when I realized March is the month where a culmination of things come together: the first flowers of Spring start to bloom, time change (Spring forward), St. Patrick’s Day, and, the NCAA basketball tournaments.

As a parent, this month always seems to go by in a flash. My boys and I were just admiring the first crocuses and daffodils of the season. Every year it seems these flowers come earlier than we expect. We braced ourselves for losing an hour of the day (and how that always seems to throw off our sleep cycle for a week) when the clock jumped an hour forward last night. The kids are excited about it being St. Patrick’s Day later this week. Always a fun day for our family to wear green, dance, be silly (by doing silly dancing in our house), and hope for good luck. And last, but certainly not least, there is the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournaments. It’s not a family affair yet, more of something I like to watch, but my son’s are starting to show some interest in so there is hope it will become one in future years.

Before I know it, March will be over and we’ll be into April with another flurry of events: Easter, Spring Break and dreams of summer will begin.

I’m doing my best to enjoy the ‘madness’ and not let it pass me by. Smell the flowers. Check. Spring forward. Check (I had no choice). 🙂 Dance a silly jig with my kids on St. Patty’s Day. Looking forward to it. And enjoy watching the basketball tournament — Bounce. Bounce. Check.

How are you enjoying March ‘madness’?  What family activities make up your March?

 

 

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?

In Full Bloom

What’s your favorite part about Spring?

Where I live, Spring has arrived. Trees, crocuses, daffodils and many other plants are in bloom. The beauty is so abundant it often takes my breath away. But I know it’s fleeting, and soon the blooms will be gone, replaced by green leaves or flowers that are wilting.

We have one plant in our yard that continues to be the first to let us know Spring is here. It always seems to show it’s buds and blooms before all the other plants. It’s an early bloomer, I suppose. There’s some unspoken comfort I experience when that plant comes to life. That winter, and the harsher conditions that come with us, won’t last forever. It’s like a warm blanket that makes you feel like everything is going to be okay.

My sons often sigh when I point out the beauty around us. Where I live, there is much of it — snow capped mountains in the distance, blooms all around. I never get tired of it. My kids haven’t known any other scenery so they aren’t quite as impressed, though I think  my awe gets them to reconsider how they view what’s around them. At least, I hope it does.

How do you experience Spring? How does your child?

 

Spring Breakin’

How are you recharging your batteries during Spring Break?

I look forward to Spring each year. Not only do we exit the cold weather months, and have all the lovely Spring colors, but it’s the entry point for many of us into vacation time. After many months of working hard, we finally start to think about taking a break; doing something out of the ordinary; maybe even going someplace different or new. There’s something about planning a vacation that’s so much fun–having something to look forward to can do wonders when you are tired or in need of a change from the daily grind.

Camping trips, visits with family, fun with the kids are all on the horizon. I anxiously await when our next trip will be: whether it’s a long weekend or more time away.

How are you and your family breaking away from the ordinary to enjoy yourself?

Spring Chicken

What are your favorite Easter traditions?

I love everything about Easter: the time of year, the colors and blooms; Easter Egg hunts; family time and all that goes with the holiday. What’s funny is that Easter really did spring (or should I say sneak?) up on me this year. With a work schedule that has been abnormally busy, plus traveling, plus working through a bad cold, I noticed I almost let Easter get away from me. Half the joy, in my opinion, is the planning and getting ready for the day.

I may no longer be a Spring chicken, but I feel like a kid at heart. And while I won’t actually hunt the eggs myself on Easter, I sure will enjoy hiding them and watching the kids find them. It’s joy and happiness that comes from being together–I don’t think that gets old at any age.

How are you taping into your inner-child this Easter season? What helps keep you a Spring chicken?

Rock Around the Clock

Springing forward always reminds me how precious time is. When my sons were born, time went from normal spend to slow-motion. Sleepless nights, feeding, clothing and changing seemed like an endless cycle. I couldn’t wait for time to get back to “normal” speed again. What I’ve noticed is the more independent your child becomes, the faster time seems to go. You don’t have to hover over them to get them ready or be beside them each second to know where they are and what they are up to.  My husband and I made this observation the other day, while the kids were busy playing with their toys by themselves and we were having a conversation in the other room. It’s nice, I thought, they are able to do more on their own. And the more they are able to do on their own, the less they will need my assistance. It made me momentarily sad. It reminded me of the precious time I have left with them before they go out and live life on their own.

This realization made for a great ‘live-in-the-moment’ opportunity. As a family, we watched a movie together. During the credits, music played that we couldn’t help, but dance to. It was silly, but exhilarating. While my boys are still relatively young, I won’t always get to do this. It made dancing with them in that moment that much more special. I could have danced all night like that.

How has time changed for you as your child grows? What event(s) helped you to pause and appreciate what was going on in a moment of time?

Spring is in the Air

As I walked out of the house, rushing to get everyone in the car something caught my eye: blossoms on one of our bushes. While I had just been in a hurry to get to my car, I allowed myself a moment to examine the plant more closely. Were there more blooms? Would there be more soon? The one I was looking at was so beautiful.

My children, who I was busy hustling out to the car only moments earlier, noticed that I had stopped. “What is it Mom?” my oldest asked. “Look at this,” I said. Both boys came over to see what I was looking at.

I never tire of the beauty that comes with Spring. Daffodils blooming, tulips starting to grow. The blooms in white, purple, pink and yellow that come to life. For me, it’s a magical time of year. The natural beauty I’m experiencing is both comforting and humbling.  It is so powerful it’s no wonder I felt compelled to have my children experience it with me.

My son’s joined me by the bush. “Oh, there’s a flower,” my son said. “Oh, yea, and there’s another,” my youngest added. They both examined the bush in search of more blooms. It was one of those moments where you’re both present in your surroundings and fully engaged with the people around you–rare and special, in my opinion.

Once we finished examining the plant, we proceeded to the car. “More flowers are coming,” I commented. My son asked, “how do you know?” and while I could have said ‘this is the time of year that plants start to bloom,’ I decided to respond based on how I felt, “I can feel it in the air, can’t you?” My sons nodded in agreement. It made me smile.

How do you experience the beauty of nature with your child? What season is most magical for you?

Let the Sun Shine In

Sun and warmer weather has finally reached the Pacific Northwest. I can see the change in myself, I’m smiling more, I’m happier. I can see the change in others as well. People also seem to be happier, smiling more, are friendlier, and most are making comments along the same lines. Isn’t it beautiful outside? Aren’t you so happy about the sun?

I grew up in the southeast, where sun, warm weather, thunderstorms in the summer and bugs year-round was pretty much guaranteed. I took it for granted when I relocated to the northwest. I wanted to experience all four seasons, meet new people, see new places and do new things. I’ve fallen in love with the northwest, but miss the southeast during long stretches of gray skies, rain, and cooler weather.

I think about my children growing up here and wonder where they will want to live when they are older. Will they want to stay in the northwest or go to a place with a similar climate? Or will they want a change and go somewhere where sun is plentiful?

I’m grateful my boys are several years away from leaving home, and want to make the most of the weather we are experiencing by sharing it with them. Blooming flowers, beautiful colors all around, clear skies, majestic mountains and people, lots of people, with smiles on their faces.  I’m often caught off guard by all the beauty going on around me at once. I continue to think I’ll never get used to this. It feels a little like seeing what’s possible for humankind—beauty for all of us to share in and enjoy together.

The reality is this stretch of beautiful weather will likely be short lived. It will last a week or so if we are lucky. Temperatures will cool and the gray skies will return. Our beautiful weather doesn’t seem to start and stay until around July 4th each year. I’m okay with that though. Stretches like this give me energy and remind me of what’s important, and life’s possibilities.

Let the sun shine in!

Easter Egg Hunt

My kids have really been looking forward to Easter. While I’d love to say its for the religious significance, its really all about the candy for them. They are looking forward to finding their baskets in the morning and doing an Easter Egg hunt later in the day. Easter to them is a day of seeking and finding big and little treasures.

I’m reminded of an Easter when I was a young child. We were in Florida visiting family and there was an Easter Egg hunt out in a large field. We were told there was one giant egg hidden. We figured this giant egg must be made of chocolate and not a hard boiled one, and all of the kids wanted to find it! I was armed with my Easter basket and ready to go. The countdown began–fivefour-three-two-one—GO! I raced alongside my cousins, sisters and friends across the field.

I found lots of eggs, but few ended up in my basket. My problem while I was great at visually finding them, I wasn’t very fast at picking them up, and the eggs kept getting scooped out from underneath me . I think one of my sisters may have just followed me around to get her bounty! I was good at seeking. She was good at securing! I was very frustrated.

I honestly can’t recall if I got any of those decorated hardboiled eggs. I was so disappointed and thought my empty Easter basket was a reflection on what a poor treasure hunter I was. Easter was supposed to be fun, an easy way to get candy, an easy day to feel good about plants blooming, the weather warming and life being good. But I didn’t feel good.  Embarrassed by my results I sulked over to where some of my older cousins were watching us. I’ll never forget the look on their faces. It wasn’t joy in my failure. It wasn’t a smirk or look of shared disappointment. It was empathy. They were looking at me when one said, “Tricia, you’re getting warmer.” I thought getting warmer? what are they talking about? After a few seconds, I understood. They were talking about the Giant Egg!  I walked a few steps forward. “You’re getting warmer,” they said again. I moved forward again, “colder,” I readjusted and went to the right, “warmer,” one more step, “hot!” I lifted a palmetto branch and lo and behold there was the giant egg!  Success, joy and overall happiness came pouring back in.

My cousins never let on that they helped me find the giant egg. Most people at the hunt hadn’t seen what happened. I was asked afterwards, “how did you know it was there?” and “what made you think to look under that palmetto bush, there are so many of them out here?” I just smiled and looked over, ever so subtly at my older cousins. They had my back. They felt for me and wanted me to have success. They encouraged me. But maybe what was most significant about their act was that they loved me. It was a simple gesture, but very powerful. I felt like the richest person there.

What treasures are you seeking this Easter? What treasures are you hoping your children will find?