Monday, May 28, 2012


You know how when you have to brake really hard and instinctively your right arm shoots over to the passenger seat to protect the air over there?  Yeah, well my hand reaches over to keep my camera from tumbling to the floor.  Because it's always with me.  To shoot pictures at a stoplight, in my rear view mirror if Georgia is being exceptionally adorable, out the window, of myself, of a random flower bed that I'd like to remember to try and reproduce, of a cool sky, of some crazy weirdo next to me (okay--I've never done that......I should though), or whatever.  It's always there.

I grew up with a mom that would've scaled Niagara Falls or the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde while on family vacations if she'd been allowed to, to get a good picture.  And as much as we frequently acted irritated that she made us try and pet a mountain goat in Glacier National Park so she could get a good shot, or we had to stand in front of a bunch of bats flying out of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico while she shot a roll of film, or she wanted us to get out of our car on the freeway in San Diego to take a picture in front of the bougainvillea that grew along the cement walls, there is nothing like looking through all of our old family photo albums and laughing at the memories.  I always find myself in the spare room at my parents house whenever I'm home flipping through a few of the books.....and now I can show Georgia.

I'm that mom now.  I've inherited this amazing quality from her.  And it's something I believe to be invaluable in cementing a family legacy, memories, traditions, and that all around good-feeling that looking back at the great times that you've all shared brings.  They help some of the difficult days fade away a bit and become the distant, fuzzy thoughts you want them to be.

So, I bring my camera everywhere.  Because you never know when something spectacular is going to happen that you want to weave into the fiber of who you are and who your family is.  When I make my photo albums at the end of the year the pages that hold summer happenings always dominate the book. Summer is ripe with events that need to be memorialized.  And this weekend......we kicked summer off at the beach........with friends........and my camera.

The obvious question here is, "Why the luggage?"  The obvious answer is, "A three year old and all day at the beach."

The inevitable, "Throwing sand is really not cool," discussion.  Take ten. 

I love how busy little girls are at the beach.  They have a lot to accomplish.  Don't get in their way. 

One day, I'm sure of it, I'll get a normal picture of Georgia.  

True to form--the moms always get stuck finishing the sand-castles.  Well.....Rachel did.  I just took pictures. 

Georgia and Fiona told me they were sure there was buried treasure under here.  Get closer girls.  Closer.

So here's my challenge to you.  Take a lot of pictures this summer.  Like an obscene amount.  Dump them onto your computer at the end of each day.  Take ten minutes and quick delete any you don't love on first glance.  But capture those moments.  Those little ones that you'll vaguely remember if you don't have a picture of them.  I promise you, your kids will love those pictures......each and every one of them.....when they're four and thirty four.  Even those things that seem insignificant at the time, like adorable sand-covered three year old feet that track remnants of a fantastically satisfying day into your car......take a picture of them.  

Happy day.  Happy beginning of summer.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

The End in Mind.

It's a common phrase in the work place; plan with the end in mind, begin with the end in mind, work with the end in mind.  But I wonder.

Do we do it enough in parenting?

I think the quick and dirty answer is, "Yes.  Of course we do." 

But do we?  Do we really?

And I'm not talking about sitting down and making a list of everything that you want your child to accomplish by the time they're twenty, what awards and scholarships you hope they're granted, and ultimately what career path they choose.

I'm talking about deciding what kind of individual you want to release to the world at eighteen and what they'll be able to bring to wherever they go in terms of work ethic, intrinsic motivation, judgement, wisdom, compassion, empathy, a moral compass, and an authentic and viable love for people. 

It's very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day consequences, routines, procedures, and conversations.  It's very easy to get upset if our children don't listen to us the first time they're asked because it's an inconvenience, it's irritating, and's not appropriate. 
It's very easy to want our kids to be stars at whatever they do because we believe it will make them well adjusted. 
It's very easy to want our kids to do well in school because we think it means they'll probably be able to get into a good college, and eventually, a great career path. 

But what I'm talking about here is a lot less tactical and a lot more contemplative.

It makes me think about parenting on a deeper level.

  • How will staying consistent on my expectation of looking people in the eye and saying hello contribute to a better grown-up Georgia?
  • Is it that big of a deal if Georgia eats a Fig Newton for breakfast?  Isn't it really the same as a Nutri-grain bar?  I mean.....really.  Long-term what will it mean?  That she likes figs and fiber?  Okay. 
  • What is the significance of teaching Georgia to talk in a quiet voice versus an always-yelling voice?
  • How will I send the message that it is absolutely never okay to grit your teeth and squeeze my neck because you're frustrated?  
  • How do I want Georgia to learn to give to charities and donate her money to important causes once she has some if she never sees me do it or even talk about it?
  • Do I need to care that Georgia would rather watch other kids go down a slide at the park, and cheer them on, than do it herself because she's too timid?  Like really, do I need to get that irritated?
  • Do I need to think about what I praise her for and what doesn't really need to be praised?  Like being a hard worker and kind and enthusiastic over being cute and pretty and smart and funny?  
  • Should I teach Georgia that we need to clean up one mess before making another one because it's how we take care of our things?
  • Should I let her jump on the bed?

And really, you know, these questions don't end.  And everyone will answer them differently based on what kind of person they want to raise--and that's okay.

But what does end, sooner than we'd like it to, is the every day opportunity that we have to pour into our children's lives.  Pour into them the stuff that really matters.  The things that will lend themselves to being a friendly person, a controlled person, a charitable, comfortable with herself, responsible, and motivated person.

I think we need to parent with the end in mind.  We need to concentrate {hard} on how what we enforce, freak out about, pass off, model, obsess over, draw a line in the sand for, and dole out consequences for will lead to a person we know will make a positive contribution to the world around them........or how they won't perhaps.

When I'm carrying Georgia out of a store while she's losing her marbles and then actually carry out the consequence that I told her I was going to carry out--even though she's calmed down by the time we get to the car--I believe that will make her a wiser person.

And when she looks this beautiful, but instead, I tell her that I'm so proud of her for working hard on writing G's and not quitting--I believe that will make her a hard worker.

And when she tells me that she doesn't really want to run and play with the other kids right now, but she wants to stand by me........I'm okay with it.  She might not be this extroverted-out-there kid, but she's loyal--and that's a fabulous character quality.

Everyday I'm getting a little better at REALLY thinking about how 'right now' will look manifested in sixteen or seventeen years.  I'm trying to see beyond just 'getting through the day' (even though that's necessary sometimes) and seeing instead, a grown-up version of my daughter and what I want that to look like.

Sure.  It's fun to live in the moment.....and live for today.......but ultimately........our kids need to be ready for what lies beyond that.  And we have to help them, by parenting with the end in mind.

And on a side-note.........Georgia acquired her first scrapes of the summer tonight..........

After the tears subsided she embraced her new shins and announced, "I want to keep these boo boo's.  They make me look tough."

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

And the weekend was good.

So very good.
It's finally summer here in Michigan.  And we initiated sticky sweaty days, playing in the water, running from one great thing to the next, and Sunday evenings where you lay on the couch in a heap and think, "That was a fantastic weekend."

We did summer things like take our first trip to the farmers market.  We make a pilgrimage there most every Saturday morning in the summer followed up by a trip to Van's pastries for doughnuts and some antiquing on Fulton Street here in Grand Rapids.  The farmers market can be a dangerous place for me.  I'm tempted to buy things I don't even enjoy or know what to do with like, raw honey, organic lamb, kohlrabi, beets, or kale (actually--that one is growing on me) just because it's stacked up in beautiful piles, there's live guitar music, the sun is shining, and the romance of the famers market takes over.  With it being so early in the season there isn't a lot of superfluous produce to tempt me yet--that will come.

Chris is honestly not that irritated with me.....I had only just started taking pictures.  

Georgia found purple basil and because it was so, "beauty-ful," had to have it.  I'll pretty much agree to anything if she'll actually look at me when I'm taking a picture and smile a real smile.  

Cupcakes for breakfast.  Again, the romance of the market....and I'm sure these were free-trade organic cupcakes.  

You can tell it's early in the season........because that up a horrible deal on corn.  Inflation at the farmers market?

I gave Georgia a dollar to put into this guys guitar case.  The first time she attempted it she stood about three feet away from him and flung the dollar into the air so as not to have to get too close to him.  It fluttered to the ground.  It took a couple of times before she'd walk right up and drop her dollar in there.  When she does stuff like this, I see so much of myself in her.  And it makes me smile a little bit.   And think......BE I heard my mom say so many times to me.

Ahhh.....Saltwater sandals.  She had a pair of these as a baby and I remembered to get her another pair this summer.  I may or may not have a pair to match.  And in case I really do have a matching pair I probably found them on Mod Cloth as they'd most likely have had the cheapest ones out there.  I think another color is in Georgia's future.  They are truly the most comfortable sandals for little kids.....and adults.  

From the market we did things like plant flowers and get the beds ready for the summer............

Headed to Georgia's best little friend Fiona's third birthday party........

Seriously---these little cheeks--I could bite them.

And of course, a summer weekend wouldn't be complete without a trampoline jumping session. We introduced Georgia to the sprinkler under the trampoline on Sunday and........she's hooked.

I'm sure there will be a lot more where that came from.  Let the summer weekends begin.  

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