Archives for August 2006

Kids and Activities

 Amy at Never A Dull Moment! asked me how our family handles kids’ activities. After I got three paragraphs written over at her place, I thought I might as well toss the answer up here too, in case others have had the same question.

We allow our kids one activity per season, besides church stuff (youth group, Sunday School).  For my own sanity, I do not start much extra-curricular stuff til kids are at least 8.  In my experience, 4 year olds don’t get enough out of soccer to warrant all the hassle of being on a team.

Swimming lessons are an exception to that– we do give our kids several years of swimming lessons, usually starting around age 5.  But that is only a 5 week session once a year.   And we do it in the ‘off’ season at an indoor pool–ie, at a time of year when we don’t have baseball or soccer.

Oh, and one more thing about swimming. “Mommy and Me” classes, though fun, rarely teach kids a thing that they couldn’t learn just with you playing casually in the pool with them.  So why waste the time or bust your tail getting to yet another activity?  Just go swim with your toddler!

Sometimes you can help a child satisfy their extracurricular longings with a more casual form of a sport.  One year we got together with two other families and played ‘baseball’ (wiffleball) all together once a week at a local ball field.  

 More recently our bigger kids have attended a casual Saturday evening soccer game where friends all meet at the park at a designated time, team up, and play soccer for a couple hours.

It also pays to be on the lookout for ‘short’ versions of activities that interest your children. 

 Several of my kids enjoy acting.  There is a local music theater group that they have thought of trying out for.  But it involves practices 5 nights a week for several months before each performance.   That is way too intense for our family. 

I have told our kids that they are welcome to try out for this after they have a driver’s license and can drive themselves.   Until then, we allow them to participate in a Missoula Children’s Theater production once a year.   This also is 5 days a week, but for only ONE week, and then there are two performances.   THAT we can handle!

It can be challenging to decide just what is truly worthwhile when it comes to kids’ activities.   There are so many neat opportunities out there.   But guess what?   Having dinner with your own family a few nights a week is also a neat thing.   For our family’s sanity, I am glad we have chosen to go ‘moderate.’

Love Thursday

8 years ago in Korea, the day our son was placed in my arms for good.

Hat tip:

Chookooloonks: could you be loved

At the ripe old age of 39…

After several hours spent painting a bedroom this afternoon, I was scrubbing paint off my feet.  (I’m not the neatest painter, and I live 3/4 of my life barefoot.)  

 “Mommy, your skin is falling off!” said my 4 year old, poking some flaky skin on my heel.  “That’s because you’re so old,” she explained wisely.

Here I was, thinking all I needed was a loofa.

Works For Me – Changes

 *update, below* 

This is harder than I thought it would be, this sending a child off to college, out into the world.

Going days without seeing her face.

 Counting plates over and over at dinnertime, never sure if I actually got it right this time.

Trying to email or call enough to be ‘there’, but not so much as to interfere with this new life she is making for herself.

Hoping she is really doing as well as she seems to be. Hoping the moments of loneliness she must be facing are not too frequent or too overwhelming.

And already feeling the change in our lives. I straightened the living room before she came home, for heaven’s sake. Like she was company. (though not to impress, more to help her weekend feel serene…)

With her gone our family feels off kilter.  I’m already sick of people asking how it feels to have her gone.  I dwell enough on it myself, without everyone reminding me.

Many moments of the day are fine, I must admit.  Though always feeling this gap in our ranks, we are mostly getting along OK.  And having her home this weekend was precious.  I have a new understanding of the blissful smile on my mother’s face when ALL my siblings make it home for Christmas.

I am so proud of her.  I so much want to bravely shoo her off on this adventure so she can unreservedly and joyfully take this opportunity she has worked so hard for.  I don’t want to be a damp clutchy mushball.

But there are moments each day that ache.

So I just have to hold on to the advice that I have given other people.  In the past it’s been a mom with a new baby, or a family adjusting to a newly adopted child, or a new homeschooling mom. 

 But now it’s me, dealing with all the newness of this and so I am giving this advice to myself. And to my precious daughter.

“Get through the first month.  The first month is always the toughest.  After you get through that, things will feel more natural, you’ll get your rhythm, you’ll start to realize you can do this after all.   Don’t panic now, while it’s all so strange.   Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Keep praying.  Trust God.  And give yourself the gift of time.  You’ll make it.”

 I’ll let you know (say, along about October) if this advice works for me.

—–
Update, written in the morning:

Funny how a good nights’ sleep and an email from my daughter can put it all in perspective.  

Turns out her college choir is absolutely awesome– she was over the moon with delight when she emailed me about it last evening. She has a wonderful professor with a passion for music –AND a teaching style similar to her much loved high school choir director.  This is why we’re doing this — to give her a chance to learn and grow and experience life.  

Yeah, I miss her.   But if she learns and thrives while away (and keeps emailing me along the way!) then that makes it all worth while. 

Yikes

We are headed off to a baby shower this evening.  I told my four year old that she needed to pick a cute dress to wear, because she’s going to the shower with me.  

Her eyes widened in alarm.  “A n*ked shower??”

“Huh?”  I was clueless.

She tried again.  “Is it a n*ked shower or do we get to wear clothes?”

I decided now was a dandy moment to teach her there’s a difference between a shower and a ‘shower’.  And she was greatly relieved to hear she would not be attending this particular shower in the buff.

Golden Moments This Weekend

– Going for a walk with my oldest, who was home for the weekend.

-My 4 year old coming in smiling from playing and saying: “My heart is sunny, sunny, sunny!”

-Playing Phase 10 Sunday evening with hubby and most of my kids.

-Saying ‘sweet baby!” to my 21 month old, and having her say back, “Sweet mommy!”

There are lots more moments I could share, I’m sure. But now I am tired (we went wood-hauling today, pix coming.)  I’m off to bed….  

Sunday

Genesis 8:22

My grandchildren

I was informed this afternoon by my 4 year old that my future grandchildren will be named Lacy and Tacy and Fuchsia and Nausea.

 Out of curiosity I asked her whether they would be Black or white.

She rolled her eyes.  “They’re going to be Korean!  Hello!”

Alrighty then.

30 Days Of Nothing

I read an amazing blog post on Intent  – 30 Days of Nothing.  Go read it if you haven’t yet.  Her experiment appeals to me, partly because of my time in Ethiopia.  While there, I was humbled by the poverty I saw.   One of the most indelible images in my mind was of Flip Flop Girl.  It is hard for me to imagine being so poor that I could not buy my child a pair of $2 flip flops. 

My husband and I want our children to grow up thinking of others, not enslaved by the materialistic culture we live in.   But that’s a tall order, made even tougher by the fact that we are not free of it ourselves.

I blogged recently, amazed that Oprah magazine talked about spending $5000 on a fall wardrobe. But guess what? The other day I wandered into Gymboree  ‘just for fun’ (yeah, right..) and left $80 poorer.  If you compare my income to Oprah’s, guess what? Proportionally I probably splurged bigger than she did.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. My intent here is not to be all holy and pious.  I don’t feel jealousy or anger towards people who can afford $5000 for clothing.  And I am not trying to prescribe what YOU do with YOUR money.   That is between you and God.

What I really wonder is, how free am I from materialism?  How tough would it be for me to not buy an item of clothing, or a McDonald’s burger, or a new hair doodad, or, heaven help me, a BOOK, for a month?  (Me and Amazon are TIGHT, baby!) 

If we chose to give this experiment a go, how much money would we have for something worthwhile?   Our adoption agency has a child sponsorship program for children in Ethiopia that is $15 a month.   This helps a family keep their children, helps the children stay in school, helps the children get the health care they need.   $15 a month.

John and I are not sure to what degree we can participate in this experiment, but we are giving it some serious thought.  For our children.   For ourselves.  And maybe even for some child somewhere else.

Afternoon

Great Wall Of Lego Pickles

Kids glowing over awesome Lego creations, fresh pickles gleaming in jars on my counter, and an email from my new college student saying she aced her first math assignment.  (she’ll be home for the weekend in less than 24 hours!) 

Counting my blessings…