Tuesday, April 22, 2014


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



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, 

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.