"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Friday, December 30, 2016

Getting Outside

Christmas break has meant a hike a day. Our normal family rhythm in the last year has been to hike once a week, usually Sunday afternoons. I cannot tell you how it resorts my head, makes me love my husband again, helps me see that the world is not all bad and totally shifts my pouty little boys from crankhead mode to blissful little outdoor explorers. Its been a really big shift for our family since we moved here to California.

New Year's is coming up and I love me some resolutions, some deep self analysis, some shift and some hard soul work....New Year's is my jam. January is my favorite. Love all that starting over-ness. Once upon a time, I was a lonely resolution maker with a husband who scoffed and thought I was lame and wouldn't have resolved to do anything if you blackmailed him to make him do it. He has totally changed his tune and now we resolve separately, together, silently, out-loud and help each other accomplish, review and remember our resolutions as the year progresses and as we look back on the last year.

One we picked this last year, in our new home state was weekly hikes. And we have been stuck with it. Here we find ourselves with vacation time and what are we doing with it? Hiking more than once a week....we're seriously out on trails for an hour+ every single day. I'm kind of amazed. It feels so good to be outside this much, to be active together, to see the beautiful stuff we are catching. Today when we hiked, we watched a coyote catch mice in a field, found elfin saddle mushrooms, and watched the sunset over the rolling green hills through a lattice of oak trees. The world is incredibly beautiful and it feels so wonderful to be united as a couple in our getting out there in it.

Here are some things to consider as I share our hiking victory:

  • Our kids still complain....every single week. We just go anyway.
  • Sometimes we go while having an argument or with hurt feelings between us as a pair.
  • We have messed up and missed our hikes...we just boomerang back into the habit as soon as we can.
  • It has never been a waste. Its always a total balm.
Get outside.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Am I My Brother's Shopper?

I took the boys shopping today. This is our Dollar Store Christmas outing, to do their one, big, annual shopping extravaganza of giving. They have pocket money that they are allowed to buy things for themselves with throughout the year...but that money is all virtual and deducted and credited to them via little tallies on their Daddy's ever-spooling spreadsheet. Its pretty much all spent on junk food impulse purchases, Super balls and Pokemon cards. This money, is handed to them in cash...they each get five dollars....that's a dollar for each brother and then three other dollars to divide use for other gifts as they see fit (one for Mommy, one for Daddy and one for the family, two gifts for the kids to share and one for the parents, three other gifts the whole family can enjoy together....etc.) I put very few limits on what they buy and we can take as much time as they like in the shopping process. I did tell them no Playdough this year (light gray rental carpets in 80% of the house) and I also put the nix on the idea of giant knife with blood painted on the blade. I did however, allow the purchase of more Nerf action than I have the nerves to really enjoy.

The boys hem and haw, sometimes confer with each other in harried whispers, sometimes ask my advice and sometimes refuse any counsel. After they have selected what they want, I go over their plan with them privately while the siblings look the other way and talk amongst themselves. I ask them to tell me specifically who each gift is for, so that they can be sure they have it all figured out and that there are no double buys or accidental misses. I add no feedback or comments but simply make sure that they are sure they have everything they want to buy. There is no buying for yourself, although you are allowed to tell Mommy in furtive whispers if something catches your eye and is your burning wish for Christmas....it may get passed on to other shoppers who are stuck for ideas.

Once all decisions are made, we take the purchases up front and cash is handed out to each kid (I cover all tax and unexpectedly higher prices) and they wait in line with their things. They are coached through putting their goods on the conveyer, adding the divider between them and the next customer and waiting at the register for the cashier to ask for their money. I have them take the change and ask the cashier to count it back to them for good measure. Then they put their receipt into their own bag, thank the cashier and move over to the door to wait while their siblings complete their purchases.

Its mega fun for the boys to make such big adult purchases and to feel that they have such sacred power to surprise others and bring a gift home of their own choosing. Some years there have been unexpected squeals of joy over the selections once they are unwrapped....I am sometimes astonished at the way a sibling knows just the right thing to delight their brother. Its also such jolly fun to see a kid restrain himself with sighs and wishes from getting a toy he really wants and instead buy one for his brother because he knows his brother would also love it....and then on Christmas morning watch them realize that they bought each other the same longed for item. What a wonderful lesson in giving and the joy that there is in restraint and the deliciousness that there is in allowing space in our lives for other people to be good to us, not only to meet our own needs privately.

So, now we have to put the tree skirt down! Its all wrinkly and I meant to iron it up over the weekend and get it down but I forgot. Now its time to get serious....there are things that have been earnestly wrapped but little boys and labeled with little phonetically spelled tags in determined, wobbly writing. These are worthy presents, every year I'm glad I do this....even when the customers in line behind us are sighing dramatically and looking at their watches, and Pom has crawled under a store display for chocolate santas and pouted that he was going to live there forever. Even then. This, is a great tradition.