Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Books on Location

This past weekend I was up in New York with my girls. Molly and I packed a bag of books because we had a plan to visit a bunch of places that are connected to books we have read together. I posted pictures over the weekend to Instagram and Facebook and someone asked if we walk around with a library and just whip out a book and take a picture? 

Not exactly.

Books on Location all started last summer when Molly and I were reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It was all Molly's idea. The story is about a sister and brother that run away and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a few weeks. Molly wanted to go visit the museum and see the things that were mentioned in the book. I did a little research, and over the years, many people have done the same thing to the point that the museum actually made a guide of the museum for kids based off of the book. We went in September of 2013 and had a great day exploring all the things that Molly and I had read about.



Then December came, and we always go to NY for Christmas. Every year, we pick a day to go into the city, we see the tree, pick a few fun things to do, and just enjoy the day together. Molly and I happen to be reading The Cricket in Times Square and I said to her we should bring the book and take a picture with it in Times Square. 

And there you have it. It was the beginning of Books on Location. We don't pick which books we will read based off of whether we can take a picture somewhere, but we have had fun with it this past year.






After reading Escape From Mr. Lemoncelllo's Library, Molly got her own library card. 


During spring break, we drove down to Florida. We had finished reading Because of Winn-Dixie and used google map to find one somewhere in Alabama to get our picture.


In May, Molly and I were in NY because her dance troupe performed on the Intrepid for Fleet Week. We packed a couple of books to take our pictures, The Wizard of Oz in front of Wicked which we had seen a few years ago and Matilda, one of our favorite books and musicals.




But when we finished reading The Wizard of Oz, we also made a trip into DC for the day to see the ruby slippers at the Smithsonian…even though we both now know that the shoes were not ruby in the book.

Notice the shirt she is standing next to in the gift shop…and then notice the shirt she is wearing in the next picture…I'm a softy.



After we walked around the museum for about an hour, we ventured out to the mall. I knew there was a carousel there, and yes we both know that Mary Poppins takes place in London and is actually one of the places that Molly would LOVE to go visit someday, but we settled for a picture by the carousel. There is a carousel scene in a park in the book.


After the carousel ride, we walked down to the White House. Molly and I read When Audrey Met Alice. Audrey's mother is the president and she lives in the White House. She is snooping around one night and finds Alice Roosevelt's diary hidden in the floor boards in a closet. Alice is the oldest of Teddy Roosevelt's kids. The books goes back and forth between present day with Audrey to the past with Alice. Molly and I just fell in love with Alice's spirit. She really was quite the character.



Well, after reading When Audrey Met Alice, we had to make a trip to Teddy Roosevelt's house that just happens to be about half an hour away from my mom's house. This was Alice's house before her father became president. We couldn't go into the house because of renovations, but it is in such a pretty spot and we walked around the grounds, went into the museum, and then walked the nature trail to the bay. 



Then on Sunday, we went into the city. We had it all planned out and our books were in a backpack. 

First stop, the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.


We really had the perfect day, sun was shining, it wasn't too hot or too cold, and Molly was just so excited to spend the morning in the park.





Next stop, the Hans Christian Andersen statue. Molly and I have read a few of his stories. It all started because of the movie Frozen, which is loosely, and I mean loosely, based on his story The Snow Queen. Then we read a few more of his stories and then of course I had to buy the movie, Hans Christian Andersen, with Danny Kaye. Molly has watched it a number of times.





Molly and I haven't read Nightingale's Nest yet. It's a new book and it's on our summer reading list. It is based off of Han Christian Andersen's The Nightingale.


Our last stop in Central Park was to find a place where we thought there should be a statue for James and the Giant Peach.

And as for the enormous peach stone - it was set up permanently in a place of honor in Central Park and became a famous monument. It was also a famous house. And inside the famous house there lives a famous person- 
James Henry Trotter
himself.
Every day of the week, hundreds and hundreds of children from far and near came pouring into the City to see the marvelous peach stone in the Park. 

There really should be a peach stone in Central Park. Molly and I are going to have to write a letter to someone about this.


After all our Central Park visits, we took a cab to Times Square. The book we are reading right now, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When we were in the city a couple of weeks ago for her dance performance, we saw the Wonka section in Toys r Us and knew we would be back with the book.




Our last stop on Saturday was to see Matilda, again. A show based on a book about a girl that loves to read books. Molly knows every lyric to every song, and can sing them with the British accent. Not only is it a great show, it has a great message.

It's about when you think life's not fair, you don't have to sit around and just take it. Do something about it! You are in control of your own story, you get to decide what your story is going to be about. Isn't that great message for little girls, really for us all?





Matilda's mom


Matilda's brother


Matilda's Dad



It reminds me of this saying…


Where will our reading take us next. Well, I'm not sure. We read Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume and it takes place in Tarrytown, NY, right near Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving's house is there, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. We read Double Fudge by Judy Blume and Fudge and his family visit the National Zoo in Washington DC.

Or this is the pond from Stuart Little. We might just have to read that before our next New York City trip.


So many books to read, so many places to visit.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Magical Creek

Can you hear it?

My windows are open and the birds are chirping and singing and are oh, so very busy. We back up to woods and a creek and the birds love it. Under our deck it's like a bird hotel, there are four bird nests, two look like robins nests and the other two look like dove nests. We found a cardinal nest in the bush next to the deck yesterday. A couple of hawks have built a nest high up in the trees and you can see the babies now if you look carefully through the leaves. Every once in a while you can hear their screeching calls. A couple of ducks can be heard quacking as they swim up and down the creek. The other day, Chris had closed our windows. I asked if he was cold and he said, "No, it's just that the birds are too noisy first thing in the morning."






Can you see it?

The canopy of leaves on the trees have filled-in our backyard. New growth is coming in on the bushes, the early spring blossoms have fallen and given way to new leaves while late spring blooms are just emerging. On our way to Ryan's band concert last night, lightning cracking down to earth and provided us with its own show.The light filled the sky. 


Can you feel it?

Yesterday my phone read 94º. I know some people would say that's too hot too fast, but for me, it's better than the 4º back in January. It was a long, cold, snowy, icy winter and the warmth of the sun has felt great. But there is also a feeling in the air that it is coming, it is almost here…summer. The ice cream man has been making his rounds, the boys have been playing basketball out in the cul de sac with friends, laughing and screaming and just plain having a good time. Sometimes a huge manhunt game breaks out. The kids have gotten older and they will get on their scooters and go to all three cul de sacs in our neighborhood knocking on doors to gather as many kids as they can find for the game. Their boundaries have expanded throughout the years as they have grown. Kids could be hiding anywhere and good luck trying to find yours if you need them for dinner or to get in the car for a practice. 

Last week, there was a day that my boys were in the basement playing xbox. I really don't like it, not just because my boys are stationary on the couch, but more because their biggest fights break out while they are playing. They are extremely competitive, they always have been. But as they are getting older, their bodies have gotten bigger, their voices have gotten louder, and their arguments have grown with them, over FAKE basketball games on the xbox. Arguments about cheating, and quitting, and who knows what?!? And who cares? IT'S…NOT…REAL! So during the last fight breakout, I took xbox away from them…again. I've done this before and I know it will happen again. It's hard to do in the winter months when it's freezing outside with snow and ice on the ground, they can only be outside for so long. Taking the electronics away when the weather is nice is so much easier.

For the past few days, the boys have been coming home from school and disappearing for hours. No one has been coming home screaming or fighting. They have just been outside…but not playing basketball. They return after these long disappearances filthy, dirty, covered in mud and sweat…turn on the hose and strip in the laundry room dirty…but getting along and not fighting. I finally asked them, "What are you guys doing?"

"We are down at the creek."

 Now, my kids have past many of hours down by the creek. We have pods of frog eggs and tadpoles in the playhouse in the backyard that have been collected, turtles have come up from the creek into our yard and every time one shows up they always name it Franklin. One turtle actually laid it's eggs in our yard and the kids had us build a cage over the nest to protect it from other animals. Three months later we had baby turtles. In early summer, you can walk down there in the evening with a flashlight and sit to watch the amazing light show of a million fireflies. 

They love playing down by the creek. They get dirty and messy, but isn't that what boys should be doing? I was talking to a friend the other day that has a common area behind her house. It's an open area and her boys will play football or baseball out in the field. She said that she has had older neighbors that have complained about the boys. The boys have been yelled at for climbing the trees. While she was telling me this, I thought about how many people from the generation before me have said things about kids nowadays with all their electronics, and when they were a kid their curfew was when the street light came on, and the hours that they played outside, unscheduled, not at organized activities. But here were boys, just being kids, and getting in trouble for the stuff that this older generation all did in the good old days.

Yesterday, while I was dropping Molly off at dance, the boys came home from school. I walked into an empty house. A bag of popcorn was popped but not eaten.



Backpacks were on the ground, sneakers were kicked off, but no boys. I texted Ryan to see where he was, but then found his phone in his cubby. I then set out to find them. 





They were down by the creek. Ever since they lost xbox, they have been spending all their time down there. What were they doing? So I searched them out.








There they are. 

They were building, they were creating, they were getting along, they were working together. It was like the water in the creek possessed magical powers over my boys. They found wood that people must have discarded in the woods, 2x4's. They were building a fort. They had plans. They want to go to Home Depot to get longer nails, to maybe get a few more pieces of wood. They have plans to find flat rocks at the base of the tree because it is muddy and slippery and they thought if they build a small "patio" creekside, it would help. They built a bridge over the creek so they could cross, tied a rope around two trees to have something to hold on to so they wouldn't fall. 





Can you feel it? 

We had our last CCD class on Monday, Ryan had his last band concert last night, my kids are working through their SOL tests in school, two being taken today. Summer is coming! No schedules, no alarm clocks, no tests, no homework, just good old fashion play outside until your mom calls you home for dinner.  

I took the controllers for xbox so they couldn't play. Maybe I'll conveniently misplace them and not remember where I put them. Would that be such a bad thing? 





Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Sweet Sound of Our Garage Door

Life seems to be returning to normal around here, or at least a new normal for the moment anyway. I am sitting at my desk waiting for the critter control guy to arrive today. We have squirrels trying to make a nest in our attic and birds that have successful done so. Vents have been broken, holes have been gnawed, and they are in the air ducts. Today, everything will be removed and fixed and replaced and sealed.

Shannon is finally starting to feel like herself again, she is on a new school schedule of partial homebound classes and attending classes at school. She has been working almost every minute of the day trying to get herself caught up on 5 weeks of missed school work. She has to-do lists in her room, she has to-do lists taped to a cabinet in the kitchen. She is slowly crossing things off her lists to get caught up.

We also have a new car. Last week was filled with insurance calls, doctor visits, a rental car, and car shopping. For the most part, the accident stuff is behind us.

 Timmy went to the orthopedic yesterday for his knee pain. He went down pretty hard on it last week in a basketball game. The x-rays yesterday showed he might have chipped part of the bone and that he has Osgood-Schlatter Disease, which in mom language, is not a disease but a condition that has to do with growing pains. It's all manageable. And while I was sitting in the doctors office yesterday morning waiting for Timmy to get his x-rays and then to see the doctor, I brought my magazine, Seeing the Everyday. There are no advertisements in this magazine, it is just filled with stories on trying to stay in the moment, appreciating the small stuff, being grateful for the messy bits of life as well as the good stuff. 

Yesterday I read this one story, Garage Door, and I knew EXACTLY what the author was talking about. She wrote about a childhood memory of when her father would return home each night from a long day at work. She would wait in anticipation for the sound of the garage door opening. It was this "loud and often obnoxious" sound of the garage door rising on it's mechanism that triggered "the swells of physical warmth" inside of her. 

Anyone with listening ears could hear our loud door from virtually any room in the house. Like clockwork every evening, as my mother cooked dinner, signaling Dad's imminent arrival, I listened carefully in anticipation of the appointed time, waiting for the garage door to trumpet his homecoming.

I read this and I knew exactly what she was talking about even though I did not have this childhood memory. I grew up on Long Island. The houses in my neighborhood were old and most of them were small, with detached garages in the backyard. If they were attached to the house, I didn't know any neighbors that actually used it for their car. I even had a few neighbors that finished their garages and made them into family rooms. When I was really young, my father had a second job. My brother and I were usually fed and in bed before he came home. No, I do not share this childhood memory, this is my life right now! 

I have often thought of the sound of our own garage door while standing at the kitchen counter preparing dinner for my family. Chris will sometimes call in the late afternoon to find out what is on the schedule, who has what activity and if I need him to go pick someone up on his way home. He will let me know if he has something going on at work and what his estimated time of arrival home. Family dinner has always been a priority for me, but with our crazy schedule of activities, it getting harder and harder. When the kids were younger, their activities were usually right after school. We would be done by six or seven o'clock and then we would have dinner. Now, we have activities anywhere from 4:00 to 10:00 at night. Trying to carve out that niche of time for us to all come together is not easy.

But on those days that we can all eat together, when I am standing at the kitchen counter preparing our meal, putting dinner in the oven, trying to time everything just right, making sure everything is ready at the same time, I cook our meal in anticipation of the sound of the garage door opening. The signal that Dad is home.

A few weeks ago when Shannon was really sick with mono and wasn't eating at the table with us, I think it was Molly that said, "It just feels different when there is one family member missing, it doesn't matter which one, but things are just different." I completely agree with her, but Chris is the glitter of the family. Even if he has had a hard day at work, it is very rare for him to bring that hard day home with him. We sit at the table and tell stories and talk about our day. There is always great anticipation for him to come home. Sometimes he doesn't quite make it in time for dinner and we have to start without him because someone has a practice or game to go to afterwards. There are times we are sitting at the table eating dinner and we hear the rumble of the garage door opening and the kids yell "HIDE!" They disperse in different directions and wait for Chris to walk in the door and jump out to either scare or surprise him. They started doing this when they were little and they still do it today...my not so little kids…and Chris plays along.

The sound of the garage door opening used to just signal Chris' arrival home, but now that the kids are older, they know the code to open the garage door. In the afternoon, I will be in the house busy folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen or sitting at my desk and I will hear the door start rolling upward and know that the boys are home from school. In the evening, I wait to hear it's sound if one of the kids is at an activity and someone else is carpooling. I hear the garage door moving on its track and I know that they have arrived home safely. 

Yesterday, Chris was in Boston for the day. His flight home was delayed because of the rain so he didn't get home until after 11:00. But it is not just me and the kids that anticipate the sound of the garage door. It is our pups as well. They have their own schedule. They get up every morning and go out, they let you know when it's dinner time, they know they get a bone in the evening…and they know Chris is suppose to come home every night as well. If Chris is on travel, those pups sit at the laundry room door waiting for his arrival and if he is late, they think every little sound, every little bump, every car in the cul de sac is Chris. Last night, I picked up Ryan from basketball at 9:30. The garage door opened and the pups were barking thinking we were Chris. Ryan and I walked in and they were still looking to see if Chris was going to walk through the door after us. They know that someone is missing.

It's funny that I read this magazine story this week because this week I've been thinking about the sound of the garage door a lot. Last weekend, Chris and Ryan got in a car accident and even though they are both completely fine and all is good, the sound of our garage door opening has been a bit sweeter each evening when Chris comes home, that loud, rumbly, rolling, mechanical sound is the signal that he is home and he is safe. The accident was bad enough to shake us all up a bit, a reality check that we don't know what each day may bring us, but not bad enough that anyone was really hurt. A blessing!

For many years the garage door opening has been the signal for just Dad's arrival home. But now it also signals me that kids have arrived home from school and sports and activities as they get dropped off from carpools. And soon, one by one, it will signal that they have arrived home safely from driving themselves, a stage of parenthood I'm not ready for!

Some afternoons, it's hard to keep track of where everyone is, and who's coming and who's going, but for now, there is a little bit more fanfare, a little bit more spirit, a little bit more gratefulness when one of my loved ones comes through the door…that rolling rumble of the garage door, well, it just brings a smile to my face. I know that they are home safe.




We decorated the garage door back in December for Chris' birthday.











Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Burdens

Molly and I are still going strong with our Molly and Mommy Mega Mania Miraculous Magical Read Aloud streak. Today is the 206th day of the streak and we have read 13 books together and I don't see it stopping any time soon. Last night we started the fourth Mary Poppins book, Mary Poppins in the Park and then Molly wants me to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  She has a plan.

The last book we finished was A Snicker of Magic and I do have to say, I really love this book. 

Here is the book description on Natalie Lloyd's website.

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart.

It's a great story with lots of colorful characters. One that stood out to me though was Florentine. Florentine carries around her heavy burdens, literally. She walks with a heavy bag that holds all her burdens. In chapter 14 we learn Florentine's story, how when she was a kid the only place she wanted to be was up in a tree and read herself a good story. The story words were the only things that steadied her soul. But then she had to go out into the big wide world to find her own story. But the family had burdens. Florentine's grandmother kept these burdens in a cupboard. She said that the burdens kept the family safe but they also make you heavyhearted. 

Women in this family been carrying those burdens for years. They'll surely keep you safe, that I know. But they make you so heavyhearted that you won't even want to open your eyes some mornings. That's strange magic you're taking with you. Sad magic.

The burdens will keep you safe, but they will make you heavyhearted. 

This idea stayed with me. In the story, the burdens kept them safe when a tornado came through and everything around them was destroyed except for their house. They said it was the magic of the burdens in the cupboard. But then as I continued to read the story to Molly. I kept thinking about why people hold on to their burdens. Do we think they keep us safe in some strange way? Do we use our burdens as an excuse to not move forward? To not find new adventures? To not open our hearts to new people? 

We all have "stuff" that happens to us. And when it does, good or bad, it's how we handle it that counts. We can drag that bag of burdens around with us, slowing us down, making us tired, draining our energy, and making us feel heavyhearted. Or we can chose to look at things differently. 

Chris and Ryan were in a car accident this past weekend. We had driven the day before for 15 hours from Florida on our way home from spring break. The next day we slept in, but if we got the pups from the kennel before 12:00 noon, we didn't have to pay for the next day. Chris left at 11:25. At 11:30, I got a phone call from him to come and get him and Ryan. They had gotten in an accident not even half a mile away from our house. 

"Come and get us. We were in an accident. A pretty bad one, but we are okay. The car is not."

I was there in a heartbeat. Three cars were involved. One of the cars was just sitting at a red light. The woman wasn't even moving when another car came smashing into her. After Chris and Ryan were taken to the hospital in the ambulance, I waited at the corner of the accident. I emptied any important stuff from the van before it was towed away. I waited for the police officer to finish his report. And I processed what just happened and how lucky everyone in the accident was. 

Yesterday a friend sent me a podcast from the Easter sermon from her church. In it, he talks about the challenge flag in football and how this gives a team an opportunity to have the officials review the video of a play from different angles. They take time to review. Different angles give us different perspectives. What one person perceives from where he or she stands, may not be the same from a different angle. After the officials review the video, they usually make an announcement starting with the words, "Upon further review…" 

When Chris had his accident, there were witnesses. Each person had there own perception of what happened. The police officer talked to everyone, gathered their accounts and "upon further review" decided what had happened.

 But as I was waiting for the police officer to give me back my registration and Chris' drivers license, I was talking to the woman who was sitting at the red light when her car was hit. She wasn't even moving when her car got hit. She reminded me of Florentine from A Snicker of Magic. I could almost see her bag of burdens that she was carrying around. I could see it weighing her down. She told me that she was a single mom. That her car was paid off. That she couldn't afford to buy another one. That she didn't go away with her boys on break and that they were going to spend the last two days together but then this happened. I could feel her burdens and I just wanted to help her with them.

 At first review of that day, it sucked! Really! But if you throw the challenge flag out, and ask to take the time to review the situation, it's not that bad.

Upon further review:

1. No one was hurt! I could stop right here on this one, but really, amazingly, no one was hurt.

Upon further review: 

2. Chris could have been driving his new car which would have sucked for him but also, the nose of my van is much lower to the ground than his Jeep and that might of been a lot worse for the guy in the other car. 

Upon further review:

3. Shannon could have been in the car and with her spleen being enlarged from having mono, that could have caused it to rupture.

Upon further review:

4. No one was sitting in the passenger seat of the car Chris hit.

Upon further review:

5. We could have had an accident the day before on our 15 hour trip home from Florida and got stuck somewhere far away from home.

Upon further review:

6. Chris could have been on his way back from getting the dogs instead of on his way to getting them and they would have been thrown around the car and gotten hurt.

We all have our burdens, some of us have more than others. But if we just pause once in a while and look at the situation from different angles, then maybe all those burdens that we are carrying around really aren't so heavy. 

Upon further review…

I'll always think of these words now when I watch a football game with new meaning.

You can listen to the podcast of the sermon here. It's the one from Easter.

And did Florentine ever lay her bag burdens down? Well, I guess you'll just have to read the book.

Molly and I read Because of Winn Dixie right before we read A Snicker of Magic. Dave Matthews is in the movie and at the end of the movie, they are all singing this song. Here's Dave Matthews singing it at a concert.












Monday, April 21, 2014

Control

Con-trol

noun
The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.
synonyms: sway, power, authority, command, dominance, government, mastery, leadership, rule, influence, supremacy, 

verb
Determine the behavior or supervise the running of.
synonyms: be in charge of, run, manage, direct, administer, head, preside over, supervise, superintend, steer.

I'm sitting here this morning on our last day of vacation thinking about this word. I think control is a bit like money, no matter how much you have, you always want more. But the reality of it all is that no matter how much we plan, no matter how much we think about the nitty gritty details of life, things just happen beyond our control. 

At the beginning of this Lenten season, I came across a group on my Facebook newsfeed called 40 bags in 40 days. The goal of the group is to declutter your house during lent; to give up the clutter, if you will, by donating things that you don't use anymore or simply throwing them away. 

I loved this idea. I am one for to-do lists. I get satisfaction in crossing things off the list and tackling the next item right away to get that one crossed off. I wouldn't define myself as a control freak. I have been in other people's houses that no matter the time of day or the day of the week, their houses are always picked up and pristine. That is not my house. It can get pretty messy at times. The worst time of day is when the kids come home from school and the shoes get kicked off and the backpacks get dropped and the sweatshirts are hanging over the banister and the empty juice boxes are left on the counter and oh, those little wrappers for the straws are ALL! OVER! MY! HOUSE! One day, my kids will all be gone and I will still find those little clear straw wrappers in my couch and behind tables and under rugs. Then you add soccer bags and basketball bags and dance bags. But to keep this happy chaos of a life under "control" I do like to have a plan. So I thought this was a good motivator. 40 bags, 40 messes, 40 tasks that needed my attention. I started off strong. I was motivated. I had big messes and little messes around the house. I was still in the middle of painting Ryan's room. All of his stuff was in my room. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says that outer order produces inner calm. I believe that. Whenever I'm surrounded by clutter, I can feel myself getting irritable, my patience declines, I am not at my best.

But then Shannon got sick, and the tasks did not get tackled, Ryan room came to a stand still, he continued to sleep on the couch, and his stuff was all over the floor in my room. Things happen beyond our control.

The other day I was sitting on the beach and there is this immense, vast sky all around me. The beach is one of those places that you get to see so much sky. There are no obstructions of your view, there is only sea and sky in front of you and I find it to be a great place to think. And as I was sitting and thinking and taking in my surroundings, my thoughts start to feel like the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  I noticed that there were no planes in the sky. This reminded me of the days that followed 9/11 when the skies were blue and there were no planes flying for days. This reminded me of all those air traffic controllers that day and how they were able to land thousands of planes in a matter of hours safely. This is one job I wouldn't even want on a good day. The responsibility of thousands of lives in their hands each day to get all those planes off the ground and then back down again is overwhelming to think about. And then this reminded me again of the idea of "control" and how moms are like air traffic controllers. We have to be paying attention all the time. We cannot let down our guard for a moment. We may have a schedule of who's flying in at what time from soccer and who's flying out for basketball and who has a connecting flight from one activity to another and who is flying on a different airline than mine because they got a flight with another mama. The control tower never closes, it is always open. Most days go smoothly. My kids fly in and out and everything is uneventful. But then there are those days that there are mechanical failures; my car needing to be brought in for a second time because it wasn't fixed the first time right before we were traveling 1000+ miles. Or planes that need to land because of a medical emergency; Shannon getting mono. And sometimes there are weather emergencies.

As a mom, I try to set a good example for my children to balance what we can control with planning but also be prepared for the unexpected. Life always gives us things that we didn't plan for, sometimes they are big things, and sometimes they are small things like a change in the weather.

After many hours of planning this trip, researching places to go, trying to figure out our budget and what we could afford, we decided on Seaside, Florida. We've never been here. But we were looking for clear blue waters and warm temperatures. We even looked up the water temperatures for April and found that it was on average a few degrees higher than the Atlantic coast of Florida. 

But it has been a chilly week in Florida. Don't get me wrong, the kids got in the water, we sat on the beach, I read my book, the boys threw the football around, fun was had…but they wanted it to be warmer.

Social media can be used for good, but it can also be bad. Sometimes too much information of what other people are doing can put us in a funk. We start to compare. We had one cold day that we really couldn't go in the water. We still had fun. The kids went rock wall climbing, did a laser tag game, and ran around in blow-up balloons like hamsters. But my kids had there phones in their hands and were telling me of all the places their friends were on break that were so much warmer than where we were. "Mom, (insert friend's name) says its 85 degrees in (everyplace not Seaside)."

Control…we can only control so much in our lives, but we need to be grateful for the things that we have. This is a lesson as an adult that I am constantly aware of as I try to be a good example for my children. At one point, a number of members of my family were sitting on the couch, googling all the other places that were warmer than where we were. While they were doing this though, they were missing out on where they were…we aren't at home, where it is colder, we are in a beautiful house right on the beach with magnificent water to see out any window you look through. They are not living in the moment! 

I was upset by this, after all the preparation and planning to come on this trip, in that moment, I felt that they were ungrateful for the things that they had, but I also thought, all I can do is be the best example to them and hope that with each event, each incident, or happening in our lives, it will eventually sink in that we can plan for some things, but it is how we handle the unexpected things, the things that can throw you off, that that is when our true character shines through. As much as I cannot control the weather, I cannot control how my children feel. Or can I? Control…the power to influence or direct people's behavior. Moms are definitely controller tower operators, I just need to remember to be a positive influence. Most of the time we have sunny, uneventful days that run smoothly and all the planes land safely at the end of the day, but it is those bad weather days that truly test our skills as moms.