Tortoise and the Wave

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The popular children’s story, Tortoise and the Hare, tells of a race held between an overly-confident hare and a consistent tortoise.  The hare, upon recognizing that he is winning the race, lies down to nap before the finish line.  When the hare awakens, he discovers that the slow, but steady tortoise is inches away from winning the race.  The hare jumps up, and runs towards the finish line in an attempt to reclaim his title as the “fastest.”  In the end, the steady tortoise wins the race – reminding all of us that “slow and steady wins the race.”

I find that I have more in common with the hare than the tortoise.  I want to loose my belly-post-baby-weight today, I want the dishes done, and I want to finish writing that book in the next hour.  I push myself hard and then crash while the slow and steady pull ahead.    I don’t know slow-and-steady, instead I know dash-and-crash.

While sitting on the beach in Hawaii, the waves of the ocean pushed their way slowly up the beach.  With each and every swoop, they inched their way up closer to my sun-burned legs and sandy towel.  Up and back, push and pull, crash and crack. Like the tortoise, the water progressed slowly without a ruler, scale, or calculator.  Even when it didn’t appear to be so, the water succeed because it continued to splash and move.

With four young kids, I often feel that one step towards my goal is five big steps in the opposite direction.  Success hinges upon a completed book, an empty sink, and a happy number on the scale.  I stay up late, wake up early, and try to “squeeze in” as much as I can without depriving my children of my attention.  Dish by dish and word by word, I can put the calculators and rulers away.  It doesn’t matter how much I accomplish in one day, it only matters that I try.   The efforts may not feel big today, but eventually I will reach the finish line – slow and steady.  

True Love and Barf-cicles

Each and every morning my three-year-old rushes into my room with one very important question:

“Can we make Popsicles today?”

And let’s be honest, popsicles in the middle of the winter are not my priority.  It is FREEZING outside.  I am freezing.  I want to take a shower and shave my legs and drink warm cinnamon milk.  Let’s not make Popsicles today.

I take a deep breath and try to plaster a happy-mommy-smile on my face.

Sure kiddo.  Go for it.  I’ll be in the shower.

While I lather, he dreams of frozen cream.  Sometimes he mixes water and chocolate chips in a cup with a spoon and shoves them into the back of the freezer.  Oranges and water were a big hit for a couple days.  Frozen apples didn’t go so well.  I like to think that I am fostering independence and creativity by refusing to assist in his Popsicle parade.  DID I MENTION THAT IT IS SNOWING OUTSIDE?

But hold the phone because he has invented what I like to call the “Barf-cicle.”

Looks yummy… right?

Crushed animal crackers soaked in water, frozen in a cup with a spoon.

When his newest creation had served it’s time in the freezer, my three-year-old instantly fell head over heels.  I’m not kidding.  He marched that Popsicle all around the house with pride echoing in each and every footstep.

I laughed.

And then I cried.  Because being a mom makes me cry about every little thing.

In the book The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coehlo, a man wakes in the middle of the night with his heart pounding.  While sleeping on a rock, his destiny had called to him in his dreams and told him of a treasure waiting for him. The man quickly packed up his belongings and left to begin his search.

The adventure of the quest takes the man across the world, teaches him new skills, and introduces him to amazing people that change his life.  In the end, the man discovers his treasure to be buried under the rock he had dreamt upon many years before.  His treasure had always been waiting for him – right at his beginning.

The adventures of the search taught the man wisdom.  Having combed the earth for his treasure, the man appreciates the wealth and security it provides – so much more.

When my legs are hairy and my kitchen messy, I dream of a treasure.  Sometimes my treasure involves glittery nail polish, silence, and a really good book.  Other times it is fresh air, time to write, and/or a girls night.  Date nights are always a treasure – no doubt about that.

But each and every time I leave to return home, the echoing of eight little legs running toward me with their arms outstretched fills my heart with joy.  Sometimes I need time away to remember that my treasure is right here.   Filling my freezer with barf-cicles and loving me more than I deserve.

Fictional Couples I’d Invite Over for Game Night

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My husband and I love a good game night with friends on a Friday night.  And because some fictional couples are just too much fun to leave on the page, here is my list of fictional characters I’d invite over for game night…

  • Jake and Maggie from HandyMan  – Jake is a handyman with specific instructions from a well-known psychologist for a building remodel.  When Maggie stumbles into the office, she mistakes Jake for the therapist.  With tears falling down her cheeks, Jake fails to “set the record straight.”  Is Jake the right “handyman” for Maggie’s heart? For Jake and Maggie, I’d pull out Settlers of Catan.
  • Matt and Kate from My Stubborn Heart  –  When Kate and her grandmother hire Matt for minor construction work, he falls fast for Kate. Will he have the courage to open his stubborn heart to love and life again?   Bubble Talk might be our choice.
  • Marianne and Phillip from Edenbrooke  – Can you say “hello” to the most wonderful book in the whole wide world?  Phillip has the “hots” for Marianne and he is discretely trying to tell her.  When Marianne’s sister comes to claim Phillip as her own, will Marianne have the strength to fight her sister for the man she loves?  This book is Jane Austen plus so much more.  We’d play the game Clue.
  • Anna and Rupert from A Countess Below the Stairs  –  Anna’s wealth and status have been destroyed by social unrest in Russia.  Rupert, on the other hand, is on the brink of establishing a marriage to save his wealth.  When Anna comes to serve in Rupert’s household, she fails to “blend in.”  Rupert can’t help but fall in love with the new servant in the house.  You should read this book. Chess would be the game of the night.
  • Molly and Baily from Love in the Balance  – “Molly and Baily sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.”   Molly and Baily like each other.  A lot.  They want marriage and babies and a life together but their match is not approved by Molly’s parents.  When a strange man with unlimited financial funds comes to town, will Molly find love and a match worthy of her parents admiration?  Sorry!  all the way.
  • Annalisa and Carl from A Noble Groom –  Annalisa’s – newly pregnant with rent to pay on her land – is spontaneously widowed.  Out of pure survival, her father decides to send a letter to the Old Country requesting a new husband  for his daughter.  When Carl arrives, he is mistaken for the groom requested.  Will the two of them find love before the “requested husband” arrives?  I’m thinking Blokus or SkipBo.
  • Calla Lily and Tuck from The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder – Calla Lily and Tuck were forced apart by family members with “so-called” good intentions.  After spending a lifetime apart, fate brings them together again to find that the love they once felt is still strong.  After years spent apart, they get to try again.  Phase 10.

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The Owl, the Grasshopper, and You…

We have been studying the story of the Owl and the Grasshopper by Aesop this week during our language arts lessons.

In the story, a grasshopper is busily making music in the middle of the day next to the home of a sleeping owl.  The owl, upon awakening, asks the grasshopper to leave.  It is day time and owls sleep during the day.

The grasshopper claims that he has rights to play and ignores the owl’s request.

The owl is a sneaky little fellow.  When the grasshopper begins to play his music, he interrupts the grasshopper with a tale about his special wine sent to him from the gods above.  Rumor has it that Apollo himself drinks the same wine.  Would the grasshopper like to share a drink?  The grasshopper quickly agrees and excitedly jumps to the home of the owl.

When – wack!  The owl pounces upon the grasshopper and eats him right up.

The moral of this story is:  Do not let flattery throw you off your guard against an enemy.

I would like to take it one step further.

Sometimes people have the tendency to look around for outside validation to support who they are and what they should be doing in their lives.  They spend their time strapped to a treadmill, counting calories, and obsessively updating their social media statuses in an attempt to win the flattery of others.  While flattery is nice to receive, it should not dictate lives.

Running around in search of kind words and the “wine of Apollo” is not a happy life to live.  Fragile, insecure, flattery-addicted-hearts are easy to “wack down” with unkind words – intentional or not.  And instead of living a life with purpose, the person looking for flattery will spend their entire life chasing around those compliments instead of fulfilling their life mission and dreams.

In the end, the desire to receive kind words gobbles up a person’s soul.  Dreams should never be sacrificed for a “wine” that doesn’t exist. Do not let flattery throw you off your guard and away from your life dreams.

Building Mighty Hearts

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For the last two years, my oldest has been enrolled at our local public school with his brothers close behind.  The environment has been fabulous with many resources and assistance available.  My head proclaims that “this is good,” while my heart has been arguing that something isn’t quite right.

Like many families, our life revolves around the school schedule.  We roll out of bed to pack lunches, hurry one another out the door to school, showers sometimes happen, and the kitchen is quickly cleaned after my 2nd grader walks out the door.  Mornings evaporate and before I have time to breathe, it’s lunch time.  We eat while  frantically finishing that kindergarten homework that we were unable to finish the night before.  I quickly wipe lunch from kindergarten-boy’s face while carpool waits on the driveway, rush the youngest kids down for a nap, wake them up early to hurry back over to school for pick up, squeeze in a hug and kiss, argue about homework, scramble half a dozen eggs for dinner, more homework, read to the kids if it is a good day, sort laundry, and hop back into bed….

My head says this is good, normal, while my heart screams for something more.  Deep within in the monotony of every day life, I feel paper-like.  Plastic.  Disposable.  Too rushed to sprout into the mother and woman I want to be.  My heart screams for freedom to read to my kids without time restraints, to experience the lights that pop in their eyes when they learn something new, and to dedicate my life to their future in a way that our established schedule will not allow.

I crave the busyness of having my kids at home, their smiles, and their energy all day long.  I want to experience the world in their eyes, introduce them to new ideas, and explore friendships.  I want to talk to them and listen to the melody of their heart.

But… I can’t find the energy to do it all.  I can’t maintain the balancing act of school and the heart.  I am too busy spiraling around with the demands of the world to be the mother I want to be.  Like a puppet called to perform an act that isn’t my own, I zoom around carting my children off while secretly wishing I could stop.  At the end of the day, I want to “hit the pillow” with the knowledge that my children are not strangers to me.

I fully acknowledge that homeschooling isn’t right for everyone.  It hasn’t always been the answer for my family and it may not be our long term goal.  But right now, I am more than excited to slow down and plant the seeds of love within the mighty hearts of my children – “angela style.”