Monday, October 24, 2016

The Price of Perfection: Zapping Memories and Family Time

The whole family came out to support my mom and dad.

At the University of Indianapolis football game, they received an award.

Their younger supporters.

Cooper invited a few buddies to celebrate his 10th birthday at Zip City.

The birthday boy requested Marsh cookie cake.

Then, he zipped over the play area:)

His brothers joined him in zipping across the facility.

Pretty good seats at the University of Indianapolis football game (although I did worry about getting a ball to the face:)).

This came in the mail this week!  I'm going back to Boston in 2017!

As I was fiddling with dishes and dinner today, the Pioneer Woman  played in the background.  She was whipping up a cherry pie and fiddling with the pie crust.  Although her crust appeared magazine-perfect, she expressed her displeasure at the pie's perceived imperfections.  As she inspected the crust, she giggled and announced, "Well, my family doesn't expect perfection."

Anyone who sees my home and life would imagine I follow that mantra.  Dust has set up residence on our blinds (something I discovered today), and a sticky, syrup residue is glued onto placemats.  My shirt has peanut butter smattered on the front, a souvenir from this morning's lunchbox assembly line.  The refrigerator desperately needs to be purged of fuzzy-looking, mystery items.

Sometimes, though, I still seek that (unattainable) perfection.  I strive for it despite knowing that seeking perfection comes at a cost, namely zapping my family of meaningful encounters and spontaneous memories.

Take yesterday.

A pile of dirty dishes set next to my kitchen sink.  Their appearance made my sanity start to wane.  I desperately wanted a clean kitchen counter; I truly felt my happiness was tethered to its cleanliness.

While I started to empty the dishwasher and place glasses into their proper places, Cooper asked if I would play Legos with him.

My first thought was to bark "no."  Couldn't he see that dishes sat on the counter?  Didn't he know that crumbs were on the floor?  Who has time to play at a time like this?

Then I thought about how infrequently my nearly ten year old asked me to play.  I remembered how we had several harsh exchanges that day.  I recalled the moments when all I wanted to do was connect with him in ways that didn't involved request to do homework, chores, or timeouts.

I placed the dishrag on the counter.  With my back turned to the stack of dirty dishes, I walked over to my son and found a seat next to him and a big pile of Legos.

My family doesn't expect perfection.

They don't care if the counters sparkle.

I care.

But, I care for my son more.

That means, I walk away from the dishes and pick up the Legos.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Selecting the right pumpkin.

Last week, Chris joined two friends in a hiking excursion in the Grand Canyon.

After Chris emerged from the canyon, he connected with our friends the Brinkruffs (who were also in Arizona for vacation).

Chris came home with about a million of these gorgeous pictures.

Meanwhile, I was tending to the homestead and the boys.  Fall break began, and we made it a staycation.

The weather was absolutely perfect to enjoy a lot of fall activities.

The corn maze seemed daunting, but Caleb led us to the end quickly with his excellent navigation abilities.

I really think he set a course record:)

Selecting the perfect pumpkin was an ordeal.

No caption needed.  He's a one-of-a-kind:)

I joined my parents and sister on a tour of the Indianapolis Airport.  My mom seemed like a natural in the airport fire truck.

Look what we followed in the taxi lane?

Miniature golf with a neighbor kept them busy on another day.

Trying to find his missing miniature golf ball.

As I scanned my Facebook pages, it appeared that everyone in our town is vacationing for Fall Break.  We are not.  With Chris working most days, I have done my best to fill our days with the "need to do" and the "want to do" activities.  

For the "need to do".....We visited the Minute Clinic, and all of us had flu shots (Collin said they hurt less than one of Cooper's "deadly pinches.")  Fall clothes were purchased.  Winter coats were pulled out of basement bins.

For the "want to".....We engaged in a competitive round of miniature golf.  While snuggled under comfy blankets, we watched a zillion movies.  On a rainy day, we visited the movie theater.  Cooper's birthday was celebrated with friends.

One day, we visited Stuckey Farms.  The farm boasts an extensive pumpkin patch and an assortment of fall outdoor activities.  The boys whizzed down the slide built into the hill.  Then, they traveled by tractor to the pumpkin patch acreage.

I let each boy select his own pumpkin.  Most of the boys quickly selected pumpkins from the closest section.  With little thought or conflict, they plucked pumpkins from the vines and carried them to the tractor stop.

Cooper worked differently.  He raced to the back of the fields until he looked like a distant figure on the horizon.  Then, he meandered around the rows, inspecting and interviewing dozens of potential pumpkins.

"Cooper, what are you looking for?" I questioned, frustrated at his extensive search.

"I'm looking for a pumpkin that looks like me," he answered as if this was the most logical way to select a pumpkin.

I've always heard that people pick dogs that look like them, but do people select pumpkins in the same way?

"How can you tell if a pumpkin looks like you," I questioned.

"You just can," he answered, while busying himself with the choices.

After what seemed like eternity, Cooper beamed when he showed me his pumpkin.  It was a bit dirty and misshapen, but sturdy and beautiful all the same.

I didn't see the resemblance between Cooper and his pumpkin.  But, they shared a few common threads.  This was a pumpkin that required work to find, but its specialness made it worth the work.  

Sounds like Cooper. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Vintage 90s

Caleb wearing my high school letter jacket on Throwback Thursday for Homecoming Week.

I had the privilege of celebrating with my mom on her 70th birthday!

Collin's soccer team.  So cute!

Collin's team celebrated their wins in a weekend soccer tournament.

Four inches cut off my hair.  Immediately I felt like I lost a few pounds:)

Last week, the middle school celebrated Homecoming Week.  To commemorate the special week, each day preceding the big football game had a theme.  Thursday was Throwback Thursday in which middle schoolers could wear generational clothes.  Caleb requested to wear my High School letter jacket.

He slid into my jacket, and he noted it was too big for him.  Thanks!

The image of my son parading around in my high school letter jacket was a little too much.

I teased, "I don't think my high school letter jacket is really a 'throwback' item."

He paused and responded, "Mom, the 90s are vintage now."

I think the individual who said "kids make you feel younger" is a liar.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Running Club Finishes

School running club right before these kids ran a 5K race.

Lined up and ready for the start!

Cooper positioned himself by a group of friends.

Running coaches for two local schools.  So grateful to have Nicole to provide advice and support!

Cooper and Collin are all smiles after finishing the Hit the Bricks 5K race.

Just got this picture back from Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary weekend (thanks Mom and Dad).  Might be the Christmas Card photo.

I'm used to crossing race finish lines.  After pounding the pavement for miles, cruising past the finish line induces a euphoric feeling that has no equal.  I've found few experiences in life that compare.

On Saturday, I stood at the finish line with an unobstructed view of the finishers.  I waited for my kids to arrive.  By "my kids," I mean my two sons and the over 30 kids I coached in the elementary running club.  I affectionally call them "my kids," because over the course of six-weeks training they transformed from strangers to dear ones.

Children who rarely left the couch began racking up miles.  I had every sort of runner from kids who enjoyed the shared experience with a friend to those who looked Olympic bound.  I loved the whole spectrum of these runners.  The ones who tried so hard and barely completed a mile were just as precious to me as the ones who breezed through four miles without breaking a sweat.

The Hit the Bricks 5K was their final run.  The kids lined up outside the high school starting line.  Many expressed anxiety.  A few looked concerned.  When the gun went off, they raced past me and disappeared beyond a tree line.

I stood at the finish line facing my own anxiety.  Were they prepared well enough?  Were they doing alright along the course?  The beauty of a 5K race is that time goes quickly.

Around the 20-minute mark, my first runner came into sight.  He was focused as his stride quickened to reach the finish line.  The minute his toe crossed the line, a big smile emerged along his face. But, I think my smile was greater than his.

I got to experience this blessed feeling over 30 more times as I watched kid after glorious kid cross the finish line.  The smiles.  The euphoria.  The pride.  The joy.  These are the feelings that drape the finish line.  My own finishes pale in comparison to the experience of watching these kids.