We’re all familiar with the preschool song about twinkling stars in the dark sky… “how I wonder what you are…”
As we’re careening to the end of school, the long stretch of summer prompts us all to wonder a bit more than usual.
WONDER – to think or speculate curiously
My youngest peppers me with questions when we’re out together, asking how things work or pointing out advertising anomalies that don’t make common sense on the surface.
I often stumble through my responses and together we generate a lot of hypotheses, sometimes mutually agreeing to consult Syri in hopes that her lofty British accent will produce a more educated guess.
I love my son’s quirky observations and perpetual curiosity.
WoNdER – to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel
Summer road trips offer families a chance to veer off the beaten path and see some unusual things.
We didn’t necessarily have to understand WHY someone would create such oddities, but we did enjoy wandering about in awe of seeing typical objects accumulated and displayed in some extreme ways.
wonDeR – to doubt
As Moms, we frequently second-guess our day-to-day interactions with our children. We wonder if we’re doing enough. We wonder if we’re doing too much…
I typically can glean some perspective that I didn’t have in the moment. I may realize I need to readjust my expectations or expand the timeframe involved.
The symmetry of nature soothes me as I explore my personal reactions and the unique personality of the child involved. When I see a flower blooming that has just reached its peak, it’s a gentle reminder that my children are blossoming at their own rates as well. Each one is in a different developmental season and I have to nurture in patient, subtle ways, mindful of timing and spacing.
WONder – a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, tinged with admiration
Our breath catches as we see our child cross the stage at graduation. As he is swept up in a week-long chain of celebratory events and inundated by sweet cards of validation from friends, family, and former teachers, something shifts between parent and child.
The child’s effort and determination emerges as the primary focus and our parenting role fades away, providing a backdrop for him to truly shine.
wonder – a miraculous deed or event; remarkable phenomenon
Each experience we’ve woven into our child’s life culminates in a unique blend of teenaged flair.
From the rainy kindergarten zoo field trips to numerous play sessions at the park, and all those family vacations, each contributes to a lifetime sense of curiosity.
It’s fun to see teens begin to seek out adventures on their own, perhaps participating in an overseas exchange program or a church mission trip.
Each new experience stirs up WONDER about other cultures and broadens their outlook a little wider.
As we teeter on the edge of summer, we have the opportunity to ponder a little longer, to question a little deeper… and to marvel at this season of our family’s life a little more intentionally.
To my graduating son, I look at YOU in Wonder.
I will always treasure our shared history fondly, tuck you into my heart tightly, and hold your future loosely.
May your days be full of wonder.
Our turtles have had 3 hatchlings emerge in a 10-day period that we have adopted out to some VERY happy boys.
An exciting adventure is in store for them as they observe turtle behavior and learn how to take care of these little creatures.
Our flighty friend, MamaDuck, has returned to lay her eggs at our house again in some tall feather grass. She picked a much better hiding spot than her previous location of a flowerpot out on the open patio in the midst of all the hustle & bustle of swim season.
I was admiring the symmetry of egg placement and carefully constructed nest when I heard the loud flap of wings as two male ducks arrived. I looked up just in time to see Katie revved up to greet them…
Somehow I managed to capture this sequence of their reactions: MamaDuck taking flight, her peaceful swim disrupted; the male Mallards barely dipping into the water to shoot back up into the air for safety; and our dog, charging merrily at wildlife entering her fenced-in yard. (She had already had a full morning chasing the scent of a rabbit that had been meandering all over the garden, the back and front yard. ) Her eager retriever instinct was in full gear!
During this past weekend of Mother’s Day activities, my husband joked that perhaps I was providing “too nurturing” of a home environment that prompted this explosion of nature going on in our backyard.
My hospitality dwindled when a mama squirrel built her nest IN our attic over the winter. The constant gnawing sounds that awakened us multiple nights in a 3-week period resulted in an unplanned home improvement project directed by a handy neighbor. The squirrel nuisance triggered a stream of workers traipsing through the house, cutting through a closet to get into the space to figure out where the squirrels got in and how to block their access. I’m grateful to be past the phase of activating the “alert” status which brought our neighbor to the door with a head-lamp and a pellet gun. Although he was disappointed he never “got” them, he tapped in to some creative squirrel-proofing that ended with some, um, rather unique Tree Art in our backyard!
Interesting times around here as mothers of all types are nesting, nurturing and launching their babies in different ways!
With graduation season in full swing, a lot of us mommas are in the same boat. Instincts of all kinds are kicking in and our emotions are tightly woven together like that MamaDuck’s nest. I’m not quite ready to unfold all of that yet though…
I’m still soaking in the moments of Mother’s Day weekend, family gathered around the table and my guys making special efforts to cook & clean. Beyond those intentional actions, though, were some of my favorite moments…a son showing up beside me to help plant spring flowers, or offering to make a grocery run and bringing back a smoothie for me, or vacuuming out my messy car.
Spontaneous hugs. A kind gesture. A sneaky smile. These little pauses when I get to capture a one-on-one moment are the snippets I hold onto dearly, tucking them into my heart as I watch these boys mature in their own ways.
Mama Nature has some pretty cool stuff going on this spring.
I’m grateful for the close-up view that helps put things into perspective.
Ordinary days punctuated by extraordinary moments are special gifts to a mother’s heart. I’m treasuring each one and hope you are, too!
Sometimes our days unfold in unexpected ways and we wander aimlessly around, trying to get our bearings.
Today my youngest stayed home with the crud. Again. Those pesky symptoms have lingered long and we’re both tired of this nagging crud that we’re both battling. We’re both off-kilter and perhaps a little cranky.
Like a determined cold front moving in, this ominous cloud of sickness hovered over us and threatened to dampen our spirits. When my “mommy mind” finally acquiesed to the imposing reality, we succumbed to a slower pace for the day.
The grocery list sat on the counter.
Emails built up on my laptop.
Texts chimed on my phone.
We tuned out and continued with our mindless meanderings. One of us embraced the day with his robe gallantly flowing behind him and sporting his bedhead with pride. One of us got restless, seeking to uncover a little productivity amidst all the nurturing efforts. It was so hard to surrender to the imposed slowdown.
My son won the “Lounging Around” award with ease. He did it with gusto (well, after the meds kicked in) and fully hunkered down into a day of recovery rest. It was a reprieve from his usual expectations. He seemed to enjoy plopping down on the couch with minimal purpose, absorbing some quiet activities despite the constant companion of a kleenex box.
By the end of the afternoon, his eyes showed more sparkle and his body posture transformed gradually from a drowsy sloth to a muted version of his typical spunky self. He was steadily regaining his energy level.
As he rebooted, I cratered. The lack of sleep from the night before (peppered by his coughs, snorts and some unmentionable things) finally downshifted me into neutral. Since he had improved, I was able to give myself permission to go offline. (This built-in Mom radar is a tricky one to power down.)
Taking notes from my son’s approach, I gave in to reading a novel I received at Christmas. Somewhere along the way I dozed off and later was awakened by my other boys returning home from school. Since I’m not a natural nap-taker, this caught them both by surprise…and was an acute reminder that they often don’t see me actually Rest.
We rallied through a simple dinner and I pushed through the evening’s activities – – which also unfolded in unexpected ways. (Adulting is hard and apparently nonstop…especially if your husband is away doing army work and you can’t tag team out.)
Therein lies the crux of parenting. We ebb and flow with our kids’ needs, sometimes with cheerful encouragement and other times with begrudging grunts as we’re pulled away from our own agendas.
These overcast days that are mired with grumpy challenges can provide grist for the mill.
Getting nudged off of our usual path can help provide a broader perspective.
Sometimes it takes a “shutdown” of a typical day to remind us about all the ways that we can shine a little brighter the next time a front of disappointment or illness rolls in.
It’s okay to give in to the perks of a sick day — to take a respite from daily chores, to allow some nonessential responsibilities to slide, to nestle in beside your tousled child and indulge in some personal reading.
Wallow a bit together.
Take a nap.
Savor the restorative power of grilled cheese …
When the clouds break and the sickness fades away, that sunshine will seem all the brighter and your own light will shine a little stronger because you’ve weathered the darkness together.
“Let your light shine.” Matthew 5:16
Last weekend our two families had our 17th annual Gingerbread House baking session. Flour floated about in the air and candy sprinkles bounced to the floor as every cookie sheet I own was in action.
This year’s theme was “Jenks Trojans” since this is the one and only year that our combined crew of boys is attending the same school district.
Our boys range from Kindergarten to Senior year, covering the campuses of Elementary, Intermediate, Middle School, and High School. Several of us parents are Jenks Alumni, so it was fun to focus on our alma mater, too…and look through old yearbooks.
The photo of the completed project typically yields satisfied smiles and a well-tended gingerbread village, all neat and tidy. Yet it represents so much more.
We started this tradition when my oldest was 1 and Audra was newly married. An additional 1/2-dozen kids have joined the process since that first Christmas Eve when our only helpers were our reluctant husbands and one very enthusiastic mother-in-law.
We had no Pinterest to consult or Facebook to scroll for ideas. We had a generic gingerbread recipe from an old cookbook of Audra’s and my risky idea that melting granulated sugar until it became searing hot liquid could be the “glue” to fuse gingerbread walls together.
Each year we talk fondly of that first little house with its gaping roof hole and wonky proportions. We wince as we remember burning our fingers repeatedly with that molten sugar. We persevered that first night into the wee morning hours though because we were hopeful of starting a tradition between our two families.
Many versions of the Gingerbread House have been constructed since then, some more elaborate than others. Significant family events have been rolled into these Gingerbread gatherings just as consistently as we have rolled out the dough year after year.
We’ve made our Gingerbread creations in 3 states and 9 different houses. For several years running we added another child to the mix.
We’ve taken turns soothing hurt feelings and nurturing burned fingers. We’ve broken dishes, chipped rolling pins, and even taken a door off its hinges to move a super-sized gingerbread creation to another room. The one constant in all the candy chaos was the fusion of our families through this joint endeavor.
Throughout these annual Gingerbread adventures, cousins have connected in various ways, solidifying their family foundation just as our go-to cement icing strengthens the gingerbread structures firmly into place.
Each year we gather together with only a loose theme in mind and then begin the process of making large batches of gingerbread dough to see what the crew creates.
As ideas unfold, we reminisce about past gingerbread house successes and failures. Everyone seems to have a different “favorite” house based on a fun technique or unusual theme.
Our collective memories merge into heartfelt agreement that the sticky messes, the unforeseen challenges, the countless hours, and architectural frustrations are worth the sweet legacy kneaded into this culinary tradition.
The adults have gradually learned to downshift into more supportive roles, allowing the smaller hands to manipulate the dough into their own unique concoctions.
Although we do like to “ooh” and “aah” over the completed gingerbread display, the true joy of finishing is seeing the individualized inputs synthesized into a cohesive creation.
As the dads set up tripods and arrange wiggly boys for a full team photo, the sugarload effect looms large as we grasp for one last “decent” shot with all eyes open. (Sometimes the photo sessions seems to take as long as the construction phase!) When the crew inevitably collapses into silliness and giggles, we shoo them out the door to run off their pent-up energy.
Each year we take a few moments to cherish the closure of another triumphant gingerbread round, wearily rejoicing and ignoring the crunchiness of my floor.
Here’s to family and GINGERBREAD all the way!
No matter what our age, receiving a “treat” makes us feel special and nudges out of our usual routine.
In a recent whirlwind of activities pushing me about in multiple directions, I’ve been trying to catch my breath to capture the “special” in these busy moments.
As adults, we typically refer to family milestones or significant events as “blessings” from the Lord because that sounds mature and “grown up.,” right?
I wonder if we’d recapture some of that childlike joy if we viewed these as “treats” instead?
I’ve been reflecting on some of the “treats” I’ve received recently in unexpected ways, unwrapping them slowly to savor them a little longer.
I have a new friend who just turned 9 and I was honored to help celebrate her birthday. In a room filled with pink balloons and fun Bible QuiltingTM supplies scattered about, it was a treat to observe young girls engaging with each other in genuine excitement about crafting with scripture. Girlish squeals & endless chatter are not a norm for this Boymom! A peek into this little girl’s world was a delight.
What a joy it’s been to see the Lord unfold our Bible QuiltingTM business/ministry in unexpected ways. Having a front-seat view of mothers and daughters uniting over scripture has been a double-scoop treat for us! I’m grateful to be partnering in this journey with my sister-in-law. The Lord keeps revealing ways he’s knit our paths together for His purpose…a gift that keeps on giving, layer by colorful layer.
My youngest has upped his game on giving me tight hugs at unexpected times. I absorb these squeezes fondly because they keep me connected to him in a special way when pre-adolescent words flop around between us awkwardly sometimes. His playful spirit is a treat amidst all the adulting stuff I have to do.
I was treated to a glimpse of how other teens view my 15-year-old son as a leader and friend by them showing up to put in some hard labor for his Eagle Scout project. As I shoveled and raked beside his friends, I was able to see how they valued his quiet ways and gentle spirit.
I’m grateful for my tenacious husband who plotted over the plan and provided a constant reinforcement for all my son’s endeavors. After 2 Saturdays of our family putting in 12-hour work days, it was a well-deserved treat to see my son’s confident stance and satisfied smile as he overlooked this massive undertaking nearing completion.
And, oh my heart, as I saw my oldest through a photographer’s eyes as she snapped away during his Senior Picture photo shoot last week! All parents of seniors know that our kids are maturing in many ways right before our eyes as they plan their college launch next fall, but it untethers a mother’s heart a bit to see this milestone inch tangibly closer with each shutter click of that professional camera. Click. Click. Click.
What an unexpected treat to view my son from a bystander’s perch as he engaged in witty conversation with a stranger about his future endeavors, allowing snippets of his dreams to fall out loosely between each camera pose. These brief flashes of my soon-to-be-adult-son were quickly scooped up to be cherished with other childhood memories of our firstborn who has carved such a steady path forward.
“Every good and perfect gift is from Above.” James 1:17
As the leaves blush with color and begin to swirl around on our streets, I’m reminded of God’s artistry in nature…how He treats us to something fresh each season. I’m grateful for these interludes of graceful transitions so we’re not thrust immediately into the throes of winter. I love the layering we get to do in the Fall, hopefully nestling warmth and peace into our spirits as well.
🍁🍁🍁Welcome to November, friends! 🍁🍁🍁
Join us as we celebrate #30daysofgratitude in our Ordinary Threads Facebook group. We’ve got friends from across the country that will be sharing a Gratitude each day. Hop on with an encouraging comment (some have admitted they are a little nervous about this venture) or feel free to post about something YOU are grateful for in this season. A treat shared is always sweeter! 😍
(as proven by the stash of Twix & Almond Joys my son setsaside for me from his trick-or-treat stash!)