Once upon a time, a woman took a break.
Without the blog the last several weeks, she’s felt such FREEDOM to be fully present in her normal routine days. Perhaps she took some photos here and there, but it was limited. And then they sat on her camera for days without a second glance or edit or thought.
Without the blog the last few weeks, she’s had more ideas of freetext topics. She’s been able to sit and write, without any pressure to “post”, and just therapeutically write.
Without the blog the last few weeks, She’s humbly accepted that her life doesn’t need to be documented. It can simply be remembered.
Without the blog the last few weeks, she’s been consuming many book lists, maxing out her library card, using her evenings to learn and relax and grow, instead of editing and planning and posting.
Without the blog the last few weeks, She’s realized the creative energy it takes to put it all together. And it both energizes and exhausts her.
This is her story of the interim break. It’s a story. (like a book ya’ll). So sit back, grab a drink, and enjoy.
Intro : character development (pun intended)
You see. These two??
Well, they were about to have some changes. BIG changes. Like finally-reading-a-book-other-than-curious-george-changes. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s start with the big people.
The big people who love being parents. But FOR THE LOVE this month was a test of character. When your kid throws books and dents the walls, or kicks their sibling in the face, or throws food, or spits, or screams for 30 minutes in the car (and is it telling that either child could fulfill any of these?!?)…..you kinda just want to throw them across the room. True life people. This is a true tale I’m weaving for ya’ll.
But alas. These big people have other big people in their lives that ground them. That tell them remember the big picture goals. To sympathize, to love despite defiance. To see defiance as a gift of strong character instead of something that needs to be squelched.
And these big people. They have a sitter everyweek. For a couple hours after the little girl goes down to sleep…..they go on a date. Sometimes a date with a small group, or another couple, and sometimes its an errand, or a bike ride, or a classic dinner and a movie. Whatever it is — it is their saving grace and a priority of budget and time and energy. YES.
So the two wobbly-weak-getting-stronger adults in the middle, each holding each other’s hands, and the other stretched out to the kids, is where this adventure begins.
Chapter 1: Wheels a-roll and chains-fall-off
We continue our tale to include the most holy of moments. The moment that everyone cheers. The moment that is a proud bragging moment. The moment that you realize that big-kid has arrived.
NO training wheels. The weeks of running getting their shins scraped up by the pedals has ended. The E has learned the art of balancing. And after about a week, that kid ditched the little bike for one a bit bigger.
With this new development started new adventures. Precisely the desire for this kid to be on wheels of every moment of every day. And we’re not talking about some little circle around the block. We’re talking 5 miles to and from the library on mama days. Miles of bike trails on the Minnesota River Trail and Minnehaha and anywhere else there is a paved track. His feet can’t touch the ground so the big people have to help the starts, but once he starts he doesn’t stop. And the little girl?! Well, she is completely happy to finally have the Burley to herself and sits contently (with snacks of course, ideally puff popcorn) for the ride.
By the way. Kid bikes are not super well made. Perhaps it’s just this one they found on the side of the road for free….but STILL. Half way to that library? Chain off. Miles away from home. What to do? Well that mama rolled up her sleeves and greased up her hands until that dumb thing got back on. The pedals are both half broken off (remind me to tell them to find new ones). The seat is torn, rust blends in with the red, but that boy couldn’t care even a little bit. It moves fast and that’s all he cares.
The parents joy? Extreme. Thrilled. Because the boredom play of cars (as creative as it is), just doesn’t compare to the adult-hobby of biking. And the already love they had for it….it has just been heightened as they do this together.
The amazing thing about this little boy, is not only did he pick up this skill quickly, but he continues to find ways to go beyond that. If there are dotted lines, he will weave between them. If there is a puddle, he’ll ride right through. If there is a narrow dirt trail for “mountain biking” he is all for it. This is going to get fun.
Chapter 2: Finally a New Book
A little boy loved the curious monkey. That monkey got into all sorts of trouble. Often that monkey somehow was rewarded for the trouble he even made himself. Oh those stories definitely demonstrated the process of forgiveness, however a year later, the big people were a bit sick of the monkey and his yellow hat friend.
Entire in the big red dog. Everyone should support their library because library’s are AMAZING. And even better, the little boy took a chance on his mama picking out a Clifford book and how he is hooked. His bin next to his bed has 8 Clifford books checked out. Clifford is odd, but the books are beautiful. And bless you libraries.
And then. In a moment miracles upon miracles. The little boy said YES to Winnie the Pooh. Snuggled in bed with a night light. Black and white sketches of the original book. Listening to a CHAPTER book. With big words and complete sentences. And an overarching theme. ANGELS REJOICE! So super sweet.
Chapter 3: Friends keep us alive
When adults have little children, it’s like a vortex occurs. Can’t describe it any differently, but the life they once knew almost completely disappears. Spit up, poop, whining, bedtimes, puzzles….all the children stuff inevitably starts engulfing the adult life until it snuffs it out.
Unless the adults make “adult” time too.
Enter in friends. Friends with gorgeous comfy homes and healthy hobbies. Friends that love and know and still love. Friends that share and encourage and hope. These people keep us alive. We have several sets of these friends, a few older, a few newer, a few in similar stages, and a few in different stages. A few close by, and a few far away. On a date night last month, they connected with our oldest (most finest) friends over the water with paddles in our hands.
And when with friends in the same stage? It looks like this. The chubby toes and hands reaching out constantly. The casual conversations that go deep quick. And a joy of living in community.
We all want to be pursued. It’s an intense feeling when someone purposely wants to spend time with you. We want to be the ones to get the text or call to hang out. But maybe the people in your life are waiting for the exact same thing. If everyone all waits for someone else to initiate, then nothing will ever happen. Yes, some relationships by nature are a one way pursuit — and often that is OK if certain people need you more than you need them, or visa versa. But hopefully the closest people in your life pursue you equally.
That is how this family stays connected. They try to pursue others, to show them they love them. It requires intense intentionally with keeping the calendar open, understanding friend’s love languages, being open to new friendships, and also prioritizing ones established. It’s the hard-work of adult relationships, but it’s so worth it.
Chapter 4: On just letting the kids explore boundaries
Children have to be taught almost everything. So once they hit age one and they realize they don’t need to be taught but can rather figure things out on their own — this is when parenting gets super annoying. And fun.
One day, a mama looked in the garage. She put on the helmets and said, “Go race!”. And they did. They raced, down a driveway, towards a street, and probably tip over, all for the sake of childhood fun.
Yes. And they are only ages 1 and 3.
These parent’s go-to isn’t to bubble wrap or shield. Instead they tend to let their kids experience. They could list all the reasons why they do this, the pros and the cons….but it’s really not important. The thing they want you to know? It’s worth it. To see them explore, and live bravely, and learn limits….this is empowering.
Chapter 5: On being kind
Racing and bravery. Bikes and Kayaks. Mountains and kitchens. The kids learn and live a lot. The activities sometimes seem out of place or extreme for their ages.
But do not be misled. Because the next 14 days on the calendar have 3 things written down. And 2 of them are the weekly trip to the farmers market.
Despite what you may think, this family has 6 out of 7 nights at home by 5pm. They make and eat dinner around the table everynight. They have almost every weekend wide open — just itching for a phone call 2 days before to check on the weather and find someone to experience life with.
Despite what you think, adventure is demonstrated often yes. But so is hard work. And more importantly respect. And thus kindness. And safety. And love for everyone because Jesus made everyone. There is no “if” or “them”. There is simply God and all the people He made on purpose.
So the racing and band-aids will continue. Probably at higher speeds and velocity. But never mistake that the real life is the life inbetween it all. It’s the thread of a simple truth, Jesus loves everyone, and teaching two young children to live like that is true. That is the goal of parenting these kids.
Chapter 6: On finding it all local
Sometimes it’s fun to hit every festival and crazy thing that goes on in your area. The library has an event everyday. There are 10 free concerts somewhere everynight. Let’s not even add on the movies in the park and special family events.
It’s so tempting to pick it all.
But this family keeps life a bit more casual. With a primarily wide open calendar, last-minute dinner invites (prior to 630pm of course) are perfect and sought out. Weather is assessed and then adventures realized.
Do you realize how much life exists right in your backyard without any sponsor?
For this family, within 20minutes they have an abundace of options. One being the beach.
And of course kayaks.
“Why yes, you can rent a double kayak for $8 for 1 hour, and yes you can put your kids on each of your lap, and yes they’ll probably love it.”
Well, we’re not quite sure if the little girl LOVED it, but it sure was a success! It continues to prove how flexible children are at trying new things. Finding joy in things the big people find joy in. Most days, kids are flooded with “kid” stuff and activities that are brilliant and full of purpose. And they are equally given plenty of “boredom” play to promote individualized creativity. But almost anytime, they are TOTALLY for trying an “Adult” activity. And they’ll probably love it.
Chapter 7: Ev.
The little boy had embraced the nickname Ev for his sister. And this girl really deserves her own chapter.
She has pigtails. And a tender creative spirit that just snuggles right into a shoulder perfectly. She has over twenty toddler words and uses them regularly. And her sass is out of control.
Because the blessing of birth order is that she’s the youngest. But the curse of birth order is that she’s the youngest.
Ethan accidentally knocks her over and she falls fake crying obnoxiously and milks it. Ethan purposely knocks her over and she crawls away crying, but not before she hits and fights him back.
She eats as if she hasn’t eaten all day. Except she has eaten. ALL DAY. She has started matching the chunky puzzles, and I-spy books, and counting. She is entering toddlerhood with joy and attitude and it is hilarious.
Chapter 8: “Ca-ca-ca Cractor” (um, t-t-t Tractor)
The video is three minutes. It really only needed about 30 seconds. But showing the entire longer clips (which was really about 20 minutes of this play), gives a feeling of their relationship. Of complete and utter companionship. That is the point of siblings. Not to be best friends, but people that will stick with you, help you learn, experience the life Jesus wants for each other, with each other.
Chapter 9: The Average is Important
This photo may not mean much to you, but it accidentally captured the beauty of their everyday. Evy eating – check. Ethan on his bike – check. Outside as a family – check. Nothing fancy. The big valley’s and mountains shape our experiences and character for sure. But the mundane creates a deeper layer of character and habits that are unseen and rooted deep. Most of us have these ourselves deep from our childhood, and now this family is starting to create those patterns.
Patterns these parents are developing on purpose for the kids. —
- Everyone is made by God, loved by Jesus, and thus deserves respect.
- Hard work to produce money is both a gift and a choice.
- People will reject you and make bad choices, and you respond with love.
- Big people make parenting mistakes just like kids make mistakes, and ask for forgiveness.
- You must consider another perspective to understand other’s actions and words, and that shows respect.
- Food and water is something everyone needs. So we make healthy choices, we make the food together, show appreciation, and do not waste. No second options. Start with the farmer, be grateful, and share your food with others.
Chapter 10: More than Just Coloring
First, coloring books and crayons are way over priced. Let’s start with that. Second, the ability to google search “motorcycle coloring page” with hundreds of image options to copy and paste onto a Word document and print out — has REVOLUTIONIZED coloring. Woah.
The boy has recently moved onto more detailed coloring. As in in the lines. With purpose. And he’ll do it for an hour before bed in his jammies.
But never one to miss an opportunity to be intentional (when the mama is not too exhausted), she uses it as a time to ask and listen. Mama asks, “what makes you happy” or “sad” or “scared”. Anything that comes up is fair game. Sometimes he asks questions back such as “It’s ok to make bad choices to a bad man….right?”. And that mama, takes a breath and tries to keep the answer pure, truthful, and simple.
It’s more than coloring.
Chapter 11: The Rest of the Summer
This mama hasn’t decided what role the blog will bring this summer. It may be regular some weeks, and random others. It’s a process that requires re-evaluation at least once a year and making sure to prioritize the eternal. How the blog fits into all that, it’s not yet clear. But no worries. They’ll be around. You can count on it!