Wonder is not something we have been taught to strive for. It’s not a characteristic like confidence or perseverance that brings outward results. It’s more like thankfulness… It transforms from within and benefits the spirit. Children live in a perpetual state of Wonder and Awe . Everything is new and exciting and buzzing with life.
Today I am so grateful for their example.
They show me how I want to look at the world.
Wonder brings to the surface what I love, what I am excited about, what I am in awe of.
And I am in absolute awe…
of the thunderstorm that shook our house last evening.
of fresh mint, the way it smells.
of my love for this man and that he is mine forever.
of God’s unique design for my life.
of my daughter’s sweet sweet voice.
of my son’s laughter.
of my ability to help people.
of their ability to help me.
of how green and vibrant is the spring grass.
of my best friend and her story.
of my sister and her strength.
of my mother and her courage.
of my resilience.
of my ability to applaud myself for my resilience.
of my man.
of my husband.
of my man.
of my dog’s rough little nose.
of my Savior.
I am in awe and wonder of my existence. and yours.
Brielle starts Kindergarten next Fall and is going to attend an exceptional public school right up the road from us. We moved into this neighborhood specifically to take advantage of this school. But deep down, even though I know by public-school standards this is a “good” school, I still feel reserved.
Because I have a sneaking suspicion that the public school system in America (PLLLLLLEASE forgive my generalization here) caters more to adults than to children.
Could this be true?
Some children board the bus at 7:15 and get off the bus at 3:30.
And then do homework.
Where is the time to be a kid? Where is the time to explore? Where is the time to be bored? Where is the time to take in childhood and just BE?
Are public schools really designed and optimized for CHILDREN? Or is it designed to be exactly what we need to keep our society running and efficient to the highest degree possible.
My brother sent me a video this morning and it has my mind spinning.
American students are bottom-of-the-barrel performers, very sadly.
Finland was right there at the bottom with us until the powers that be started to listen and understand what their children needed. And then they made drastic changes to match their findings.
Their success is nothing short of amazing. And so heartening. I see lots of happy thriving children on the yellow line below.
But look at our poor children.
When I see this graph I don’t lament 29th place because I’m competitive. I lament 29th place because it’s a tragic result of a system that doesn’t seem to be working.
In Finland they have adopted a very short school-week (and no home-work!) And obviously it has turned out to be amazingly successful.
I know what you are thinking: How would we provide after school care for kids if we shorten the school-week?? What about working parents who count on the time their children are at school for WORK?
I don’t know the answer. But I do know we are a resourceful country. These schools are public and they exist because we thought them up. And we can think up a beautiful alternative/addition to what already exists that works so much better. Finland did.
We need something that allows kids to just be kids for far more hours in a week and still allows parents to hold their place in society. It will take some looking into. Some stressing out about. Some caring about.
We can look at Finland’s mighty climb up the hill and LEARN something huge from them. If we just care enough.
The video is 3 minutes long. It’s a Michael Moore video and he’s great, so take the time to watch it!
I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on this!
* A recent study I found said that the US is ranked #16 in the world and 23rd in Math in the world.
** Finland’s ranking is now somewhere in the top 5. My due dilligence was literally a TWO SECOND google search so forgive me if I’m totally off on those numbers.
But it’s life with a twist because there are extra moods and personalities involved.
Some days are HIGH and some days are LOW and some days are just terrifying roller coaster rides with new highs and lows every five minutes.
But my lowest of low days are days where I lack motivation.
Picture a long afternoon stretching into the horizon with piles of laundry, a house that looks like a bomb went off, meal planning and groceries to be tackled, and bad moods all around with no sign of improvement.
It’s just plain old overwhelming. Or underwhelming. Both are equally draining for me.
There’s a class I take on Saturday mornings to “treat” myself after working-out hard all week at the gym.
It’s a Hatha Yoga II class and it’s incredible.
This is a picture of my mat in the studio. I was just brave enough to snap an iPhone pic.. (Look at the sunlight streaming in. It’s so peaceful!)
At the end of the class the instructor (Gina) sprays Lavender Aromatherapy above us as we lay and “rest” under our blankets. I can hear her now, softly walking around our bodies scattered across the floor, “spritz… pad pad pad… spritz” as lavender mist drifts down.
Pretty much heaven.
I leave the class feeling like I’m sleep-walking… Just an all-over, overwhelming sense of relaxation and peace. I try to hold onto that feeling for as long as I can.
The beginning of the class is just as amazing. Gina asks us to find our intention for the class. What we hope to achieve. Then she asks us to dedicate our practice to someone. Or to our ourselves.
I love this concept… and I decided to take it home with me, literally.
Now when I’m having a hard day – when I’m having a hard time finding motivation or purpose – when I can’t find the strength or desire to do all I need to do – when the clock is standing still and Brenden coming home feels like years away – I dedicate my effort and time to someone.
“I dedicate this afternoon to…”
It changes my perspective. Every single thing I do becomes more intentional and joyful. One day I dedicated my afternoon to God. What a strange (amazing) concept! This week I dedicated an afternoon to Brenden. Every piece of clothing I folded, every thing I did that was draining or trying I did for him. And I thought about him, and how much I loved and admired him, and how much he does for US.
This concept and practice has changed my perspective in such an amazing way! It makes me think and look outside of myself and gives me purpose and gratitude when I need it the most.
I’m so grateful for this realization.. and for this powerful new tool in my arsenal!
Today I found myself walking down the road with two fussy kids, headed toward the Downtown Mall. I knew it was a failed mission even before we started. Both kids were crying and wanting to ride in ONE stroller. Brielle was holding her dress up all the way past her underpants because she fell and skinned her knee and it was “blooding.”
Michael wouldn’t let me hold his hand… and I couldn’t hold him in my arms AND push Brielle in the stroller at the same time. It was insanity. At one point I started laughing and couldn’t stop. THIS WAS MY LIFE.
I took the bandaid off my heel (thanks new summer shoes) and put it on Brielle’s “blooding” knee. We somehow made it to the downtown mall and back and no one died. We didn’t have an amazing time.. And that’s okay. WE SURVIVED. And on days like today, that’s a fine goal to reach for.
Days like this cause me to summon a strength deep deep down. I didn’t have it pre-kids. But I have it now.
All moms have it.
It’s that “thing” that helps us do what we can’t do.
It’s that “thing” that keeps us going down the road with two crazy kids, knowing there’s just a lot more crazy to be had wherever we’re going.
It’s that “thing” that keeps us going until bedtime when we are DONE at 3pm.
Thank goodness it’s bedtime! And somehow I miss them already..
It’s a brewery room with legitimate brewery things happening.
And the smell…
Let me tell you.
Malt and Yeast and Warm and Different.
There are no words.
And when I looked down there was THIS on my canvas:
That I created.
As a mom, I facilitiate creativity and fun for my kids all. day. long. So to be able to sit and have that brought to ME is amazing. It’s freeing and fresh and happy. I get to create something NEW and enjoy every moment of it.
Last time we did an art event with Anissa Brenden created “Frank.”
And I created “Sally.”
Two little pigs that never existed before suddenly grace our walls!
Next time with Anissa we’ll do a Mommy and Me art class: JOIN US.
It really is just too much fun.
I’ve never experienced the taste and texture and feel and smell of all these things combined.
Thank you for MY “SOMETHING NEW” friend!!
I can’t wait to create with you again!
A special THANK YOU to Three Notch’d Brewery for hosting us! What an experience!
Follow Anissa at ArtyWithAnissa on Instagram to get notified of her upcoming events!
Sometimes I feel like mom-hood, and maybe parenthood in general, is kind of a cruel joke. It’s just sometimes THAT HARD. We all have “on” days and “off” days and it’s challenging enough to manage without adding two (in my case) additional humans who are having their own days. And their own moods. And their own accompanying attitudes. And sleep depravation. And whining. I mean, I could list list list and then list some more. Sometimes it’s all so overwhelming that when I’m out in public I think “AM I WEARING PANTS?”
The flip side to all this is that because being a mom can be SO STRESSFUL I’m able to feel RELAXED to a level I’ve never known before. Or even knew existed. Take a walk down the driveway with a 100 lb. trash can wheeling behind me: RELAXING.
Sitting in the car while a baby sleeps: (What I’m doing right now.) RELAXING.
Strolling down the grocery store isle without two little mini-mes pushing mini carts behind me: RELAXING.
THEN when I do something relaxing by definition, like take a meditative yoga class or get a massage, I almost cry with joy. It just takes it up to a surreal level. Really. Parenthood (or at least my experience being a stay at home mom) has shown me the absolute euphoria of the most basic and taken for granted pleasures.
I’m so so grateful for this moment! For the moments in-between that I get to relax and find peace. For the chaos that surrounds it all because it means we are all healthy and happy and loud and alive. Here’s to a beautiful Easter weekend. I pray we all can find moments of rest in our busyness and being needed-ness.
A dear friend of mine lost her father recently and her daughter lost her grandfather. Her daughter is one of Brielle’s sweetest little friends. (I’ll call her daughter Penny here, because it’s cute.)
I wanted to tell Brielle the sad news before we saw them again so she could be supportive to Penny if she decided to share it with Brielle. Maybe she would even give Penny a sweet little four year old hug. So I sat down and told Brielle (for the first time) that someone died.
And this is how it unfolded, in true toddler fashion.
Brielle: “oh, that’s not good. Is he okay?”
“No, no he’s not. He died Brielle.”
Brielle: “Oh, that’s not good.”
(Frown with genuine concern) “Can he walk?”
“No he can’t walk, He died honey.”
“Oh that’s not good.” (Frowning and thinking..) “Is he smushed?”
I mean, leave it to a 4 year old to turn a serious conversation like this into some weird hilarious talk. Obviously the only death conversations we have in this house are about bugs. And they usually go like this:
Bug: Don’t kill it!!!!
(Flies out the window or door, even if it’s to certain death in the snow.)
Spider: KILL IT!!!
*squish* “It’s dead!”
So it appears I’ve been avoiding some tough talks in this house. Am I a coward? Probably. Lazy? A little bit. I can’t say I’m excited to field questions about death at bedtime. But this conversation with Brielle has made me think a lot about what I am and and am not allowing into her little head and heart, and why.
I used to cry myself to sleep some nights thinking about my parents dying and I would ask God to “just take us all together in a car accident!” (Yay, right?) The thought of losing my mom or dad paralyzed me.. mostly at night when all I had were my little kid thoughts in the darkness. I’m sure I used to drive my mom crazy with my fear fueled questions. Maybe Brielle will be more logical, more secure, more SOMETHING than I was? Either way I pray I know the responses to some of her fears when/if they arise. For some reason “you won’t care when I’m old and grey as much as you do now.” Just doesn’t seem very comforting. And I worry that’s all I’ll be able to come up with on the spot when I’m TIRED.
Now that I think about it I’m surprised I’ve managed to escape this topic for so long because it’s so engrained in my faith. Christ died on the cross to save us from our sin. We will live life eternal with him after we die. Death death die die. And Hope hope HOPE. I tell her Christ “sacrificed” to save us. Maybe with Easter coming I’ll get more courageous and talk about the death of Christ in more literal terms.. Sort of.
I know in time she will have the sad opportunity to learn more about death. Her great grandmother is in the hospital not doing well. Wow, my last surviving grand-parent. That realization sure puts my age into perspective. Life is so full of bitter-sweet and I pray my daughter will learn how to appreciate both and bear both with Grace and HAPPINESS.
So the day after this serious/hysterical conversation with Brielle we saw our friends. Right before they came in I said “Brielle, remember Penny lost her granddaddy so she might be a little sad today. Make sure you tell her you’re sorry for her loss.”
Brielle looked at me and said “Did her granddaddy get lost?”
And wow, my first blog post was about death!? It can only go up from here right? One can hope!