To the untrained eye it might look like dad is being kind and letting his daughter win. If that is what you are seeing, then look a little closer. Actually what you are seeing is dad lose back-to-back games of Candy Land. The game is all about how the cards are stacked. (or in our case pile up since they are so bent) But, yes, I get it. There is no real skill involved in this game. But is it possible that my 5-year-old daughter actually has skill in this? There is another game she likes to play called Spot It. You spot things on cards and then you get that card. She will win those too. I think I am easily distracted or just too slow.
The other morning she got out Chutes and Ladders. I was making breakfast, so I couldn’t play. That didn’t matter to her. She just grabbed her toy dog, Max, and played with him. She would move him over to the board, spin for him, and then taunt him when he was not winning. Where does she come up with this stuff? I am fairly certain I would have lost that game also.
Kids have a way of slowing life down a bit. They want to stop and look at the caterpillar on the road. They want to slow down so we can look at the deer. They don’t have the same pressures on their time that we do. “Hey, dad, do you want to play Candy Land?” is a hard thing to turn down. And do you know what that does? It allows me to enter her world for just a little bit. The truth is I have things I need to get done. But what is the most important thing right now? I think I need to lose another game of Candy Land.
If you are alive today, you have opportunities to enjoy life. What is the most important thing right now? It might not be what you think it is.
Weeknights can be stressful. It seems like the moment the kids come home from school the universe is set on a collision course with itself. No that doesn’t make sense. They get home and need food because the three block walk from school wipes them out and they must eat right now! Okay, I guess it has more to do with their early lunch time. Hey, let me tell the story. Anyway, then they unpack their backpacks and papers are strewn about. You need to sign this. I need this money for the school activity. Some nights there are sports or other activities. But there is always time for homework and then next best thing, complaining about homework.
School days are full days.
Tonight I was feeling the tension. The kids were fighting. Then a couple of them were playing some random game that involved barking and marbles. No, I did not understand it, but they were getting along. That seemed to be going okay until they broke the glass jar. Then there were tears. In the next room homework was going on. That was no going so well. The way they are teaching math now is like a foreign language to me. My attitude was going south quickly. And then the suggestion: “Let’s play telephone”
How long has it been since I played telephone? I mean that would never have been a suggestion I would have made. Okay. Let’s see what happens. The kids started to come up with their phrases. “The barn is green and yellow.” Then there was something about ice cream and kibbles. We were quickly laughing. It is amazing how quickly the tension was gone. There was no more fighting as the kids now tried to think of fun things to say. Looks like the kids figured out a way to bring some life to the boredom and tension of the evening. My suggestion for you: play a game of telephone and see what happens. Lighten up a bit and mix it up. You will be glad you did. I know I am.
It has been over 6 months since we left the familiar life we had on Cape Cod for a totally new way of life in Southwestern Wisconsin. Let me tell you , it has been a journey. We have found this community to be a huge blessing to us and our kids. We have also had opportunities to meet kids and families in the community that has only proven to make our transition smoother. My kids have developed a working knowledge of crops. “Hey dad, that looks like corn!” or “I think that is soybeans” have become common conversation. When we arrived here they thought that milk was only something that came from the milk store. Now they know what a cow is and will point all of them out when we drive.
This part of Wisconsin is quite scenic and not as flat as most people think. The sunsets are something to enjoy every night and the culture is just more laid back than we had grown accustomed to on Cape Cod. This has made our summer more enjoyable.
Sunset (no filter)
I have been able to fish more than I ever did on Cape Cod and we have actually gone to the beach more also. (ironically) The main reason is that it is much easier to get around.
On the flip side, my kids were not used to severe weather. Tornadoes had become such an obsession for my 7-year-old son that he has checked out every book on tornadoes from the library. I showed him slides from my storm spotting class and he has increased his understanding of things like wall clouds and shelf clouds, among other things. This has been fun to see him develop. That all changed a few weeks back when at 10 pm we were hustling our kids from their beds to the basement as a tornado quickly formed just outside of town. Once the kids stopped crying they decided we needed to move somewhere else. Our tornado chaser in training exclaimed “this is the worst day of my life.” Of course I told him “you are young” We only lost the tree in front of our house, but out of town they had true tornado damage.
We are enjoying summer as much as we can because we know that everyday is one day closer to winter. We went canoeing, went to Lambeau Field for a Packer Clinic for the kids, and played some little league.
But God has been so gracious to us and this is very simply my testimony to that. I know God has plans for our family here as we continue to walk forward and I look forward to seeing how it all plays out. In the mean time we are going to enjoy every day because each day is a gift. Make the most of it!
It has been a while since I have written one of these. We moved to Wisconsin the end of December, which gave us many things to do in a very short time. Moving is a stressful endeavor. Moving in the middle of a school year is difficult. Moving to Wisconsin in winter seems kind of crazy. But since when have things made sense?
I grew up in Wisconsin, but 3 of my 4 kids were born on Cape Cod. That means their idea of winter is snow that melts in two days. That has made for some minor complaining and wondering about the deep freeze and the cold. I have been asked on more than one occasion if we will ever see the grass. The sunsets are beautiful though.
We do have some snow.
The kids do amaze me with what they come up with. My daughter told me one day that she wanted to cut my hair “all by herself” and then ran off to get a knife. One of my boys came home with something that made us smile. His dream is that everyone would read the Bible. How can you not smile?
The kids have been making new friends. Last Sunday after church we went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Somehow we managed to have a whole bunch of young kids with pool sticks running around. Well, actually, they were attempting to play the game. I just stayed out of the way.
As I reflect on the last year, I am amazed at where we are today and especially God’s faithfulness to us. For example, we moved from Cape Cod to Southwest Wisconsin in the winter and had no problems with weather. In fact, the day we unloaded the truck was really warm. It was the last warm day before some very cold weather. I mean it feels a like we have turned the page on a different life. I know that sounds weird, but things are much different here. We are so grateful for how God lead and planted us here.
But for some of us, it will be nice when summer comes.
We went out after dark this past weekend. I guess that is not as dramatic as it sounds seeing as it gets dark at like 4:30. But still it is a big deal to take the family out to dinner and then to a store. The two older boys needed shoes and the younger two needed nothing. So we needed to divide and conquer. I figured since my idea of shoe shopping is not doing it, I would let my wife take care of the shoes and I would chase the other two through the store. It turned into a game of follow the leader.
It was actually quite funny because these two had no agenda. They just wanted to walk the perimeter and see what they saw. They would look at me and say “come on dad.” I followed along and tried to prevent anything from falling off shelves. My daughter would stop and check on random things saying, “oh, cute” as she touched them. Someone had a cart full of baby stuff and she climbed up the side of it and admired their things. When the couple looked at her she said, “hi, I am Claire, this is Siah (Josiah) and that’s daddy.” Then we were off. Kids have a way of finding the toys and so we ended up there.
This is where it became so fun for me to watch. They touched all of the toys and pushed all the buttons. I actually did too. But I loved their enthusiasm as they took things off the shelf and said, “oh, cool” and quickly went to show the other one. They did not ask me to buy anything. They were just excited to be touching toys that they don’t own. It was actually quite the sight. I loved it because they were so simple about it. Everything was amazing, even the toys that I know will break in 30 seconds. They loved them all and had such wonder about it. It was such a calm moment that I stopped to thank God for it. There was no chaos. There was no rushing. There was just enjoying the moment together.
Christmas brings that out of adults too, but it is usually stifled by stress. I know so many people will talk about what it means to enjoy Christmas and remember the birth of Jesus, but the honest truth is that so many people still get roped into the consumer driven Christmas. It is sad, really, because there is so much more to it than presents and credit card debt. Kids teach us things like that as they run around in the dirt or build things out of snow. They show us how this whole “enjoying of life” thing works when they walk through a store with no agenda and showing kindness to random people. (some of them ignoring her) Kids are learning too many negative things from the adult world surrounding Christmas. I think it is time we stop and follow them around for a while. It will give perspective and it will make you get your hands full of paint. It will make you slow down and appreciate an early morning. But, I believe it will also bring back a little of that sparkle that is missing in so many today.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and find that the celebration brings joy, not stress.
We are in the middle of a move to Wisconsin. This has made life a little different. But I thought I would share a few highlights from the past few weeks.
We have been taking various hikes in the park. It involves some exploring and climbing of the hill a few times.
I took a trip to Wisconsin last week to move a few things and I ended up at the Packers game – front row.
I dressed up for the occasion. It was a cold day so the beard was helpful.
The thing on my head is a noodle. I came home with free gifts for my kids.
We have a couple weeks left before we pack up the truck. This makes for some disruption to the normal way things go home. But I leave you with this today because this was something I found one day in my office. It is amazing how something small like this can bring some calm.
What would a week be without the boys putting on strange clothes? I guess it is better than losing their clothes, although that does happen enough also. It seems like we are being influenced by vampires and super heroes. I don’t know which one scares me more.
We have a young boy aspiring to be a super hero or a vampire. I guess it depends on your particular bent. He did wear this outfit to church one day. Enough said.
I do not say “Bleh, bleh, bleh”
If you have ever seen Larry Boy, this will make sense. We have some super suction ears.
Of course today we are going to be building some sort of camo fort. I will keep you posted.