Friday, October 30, 2009

Stop to Smell the Snowballs

When snow flakes start falling, I immediately rush to an online news site to see if my kids have a snow day. I think I like snow days more than they do. These days are like little forced vacations - valid excuses to spend the day playing with my girls.

This week we had three snow days in a row. We carved out courses for the sled, made snow angels, read umpteen pages of Harry Potter (years two and six), played a dizzying number of games of Memory, found a flag and a map of Gambia for a school report, practiced memorizing the books of the Bible for Sunday school, watched too many movies, made loads of Kinzcash playing Cash Cow, and generally had fun hanging out together.

When I have a hard time slowing down to smell the roses, I can count on the snow to do it for me. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some snow time with your kids too.

Also remember to take time for yourself. I am speaking at an event called Seasons of Parenting. It features four authors speaking on various issues including keeping the spark in your marriage after kids and parenting in blended families. I am speaking on patience in parenting. I would love to see you there, on Thursday, November 12, at 7:00 pm at Kunjani Coffee in Parker. Register by November 5 at Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting Messy With Purpose

Have you ever heard of Kid Concoctions? When I was at the MOPS Convention a few weeks ago, I went to a workshop led by the founders of this ministry that teaches people how to make fun arts and crafts projects at home with their kids.

Something they said during their presentation stuck with me – the pride kids feel in having completed a project is more important than the project itself.

How often I forget the value of the process. I like the example of making a craft. The project may or may not turn out the way I thought it would. It may last a week, a day, or only an hour before finding its way to the trash can. But the memory of creating something together lasts long after the project itself has been thrown away. The skills learned through following directions and seeing a challenge through to the end serve a lifelong purpose. The pride of constructing something tangible that can be shown off to friends or grandparents builds esteem. The value goes on and on.

Sometimes we dread the mess of projects, or we have a long history of failed attempts and we don’t wish to add more. I encourage you to push these issues aside and try again (maybe with a sponge or vacuum nearby).

What personal projects are you putting off because they are too messy, either physically or emotionally? Is there a craft project you can do with your kids this weekend that will remind you of the importance of creating things together?

Friday, October 2, 2009

When Your Core Function Gets Lost In Novelty

“In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” - 2 Chronicles 31:21

Frontier Airlines’ “Woody the Wood Duck” carried me safely to Nashville, Tennessee for the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Convention last week. My kids love the fact that Frontier not only puts animals on their planes, but also names them and has the flight attendants announce to passengers which animal is escorting them to their destination. It is a fun novelty that goes a long way with kids.

Once in Music City, I was blessed with the opportunity to stay in a hotel with a lot of novelties as well. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel was home for five days.

There are several Gaylord hotels around America, and they are absolutely gorgeous. Each is unique in its details, but all boast the trademark Gaylord Atrium, enormous glass domes that allow natural light to nourish acres of live plants inside. Water flows among the trees and flowers in a river that you can actually take a boat ride on. The Gaylord in Dallas has live alligators in one of the ponds, and the hotel in Orlando contains a real sailboat (permanently anchored) that you can board for dinner. With every turn, your senses overflow with rich colors, scents, textures and sounds.

However, when you strip away the novelty of the fine food, the soothing music, and the ducks swimming in the river, you are simply left with a hotel. This is the true function of the facility. Unfortunately, they don’t do a very good job at being a hotel. They excel at creating an enticing atmosphere in the public parts of the hotel, but at the expense of providing an equal experience in the guest rooms. The indoor boat ride loses some of its luster when you can’t get enough towels in your room, or your sheets have holes in them, or room service trays litter the hallways because they don’t get picked up regularly. No one cares about the bells and whistles when the room is dirty or inadequate.

The same is true for our family lives as well. The décor of our homes, the clothes we wear, and the dishes we serve meals on are all appreciated and valued when our families are functioning well. However, if tension, discord or pressure live within our walls, no one really cares if you change out your candles for each season or put new flowers in the pots on your porch. The occupants of a home really only care about how it looks when they first like how it feels.

How is your family feeling? If everyone is happy, getting along well, and growing, then celebrate by getting out some fall décor and announcing the change of season. However, if all is not well, skip the decorating and save your energy and focus for your key function – developing your family.

If you need to let Halloween go unnoticed this year while you strengthen family relationships, don’t worry. Christmas will be here before you know it, and your healthy family will be ready to celebrate.