Thursday, August 22, 2013

When do you stop feeling like one of them?

Syracuse University was teaming with enthusiasm last night when we walked around after a little fro-yo run with the family. We could hear "lets go ORANGE! lets go ORANGE!" bursting from the hall filled with freshman and their ambivalent parents.

It takes me just a second before I'm wearing a navy Polo shirt dress, with a white trimmed collar and sitting in the gym at my own freshmen orientation. Inconspicuously scanning the crowd, I felt equally out-of-place and sure this was the beginning of the best years of my life. Boy, was I right. The first year was sketchy, but Sophomore year made up for it a 1000x over. (Bowie 4 East Forever!)
And then my 4 year old shouts, "MOM, I HAVE TO PEE!" and I'm jolted from my daydream. On auto-pilot, I escort her in search of a bathroom.

"It's funny", I say to myself, "Look at me! I'm just like one of these students and yet, here I am chasing three children around the campus!" Just a few years ago I was one of them.
Wait. Yes, a few years. No! ELEVEN YEARS since I was a college student! 
"Still," I convince myself, "ditch the kids and I'd blend right in."
And then my 7 year old tells me he wishes he can skip 2nd grade & just go to college and I think, you have a lifetime before college.
11 years.
And it hits me like bricks, I'm just as close to being a college student's parent as I am a college student, myself. 
"One of three days you'll be born and raised and it all comes on without warning."
-John Mayer, Born and Raised
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Couples Getaway Rules | Lake Placid Recommendations

from High Peaks Resort
Lake Placid was the perfect place to celebrate 10 years of marriage last week.  
The perfect blend of adventure & relaxation. It's easy to feel that you've been transported far, far away with the mountain views and the French-speaking folks wandering the village alongside you.

To maximize romance & return relaxed, we tend to follow a few "just the two of you" Rules

1. Detach. Leave every day life behind (resist social media & staying in touch with the outside world).

2. Routine shmootine: dinner reservations at 9pm, midday jacuzzi bath, un-make the bed any time, as many times

3. Go inside together for the littlest of things-pack of gum, coffee run, cash withdrawl. No kids to unbuckle & buckle!
Mirror Lake
4. Separate a bit. Don't make 24/7 togetherness mandatory. Respect the different ways you wish to pass time-sleeping in vs. sunrise jog, reading a book vs. watching ESPN, shopping vs. museums.
5. Download new music to listen to on a drive or wear a new scented lotion. These sounds & scents can trigger memories for years to come.

6. Get yourself dolled up & don't let him see you in the process, like you did while dating. Meet at the restaurant for bonus flirty points. (My husband actually said "whoa!" so convincingly when he saw me that I wondered if I something was wrong with my face. "You're pretty, Tina".  I wasn't wearing anything new, just spent more time & added mystery. Score.)
Mt Jo
7. Steer clear of conversation topics that divide you (in-laws, budget, etc.)

8. Eat slowly, in restaurants with cloth napkins and courses.

9. Indulge thyself. Sleep late, get a blow-out, hire a driver, share an all-appetizer meal, buy the best seats, wear heels or go make-up-free-whichever feels more indulgent.

10. Make eye contact. Listen actively. Hold hands.
High Peaks Byway

Lake Placid recommendations:
High Peaks Resort (Jr Suite Waterfront Collection w/balcony) With or without family, I'd stay here in warmer months for access to the waterfront pool, lake & rental boats (incl.) Reserve an outer room w/balcony in Waterfront collection to maximize privacy. This resort is situated on Mirror Lake & within the town of Lake Placid-guests can walk for meals & shopping. *It was the room that made this place a gem, which is why I'm so specific above. We had a spacious suite w/King bed, jacuzzi tub w/lake view, & private balcony. Some of the property appeared less luxurious.

Big Mountain Deli & Creperie- Yummy breakfast & lunch. Grab a window table.
Smoke Signals-I was taken by the modern-rustic motif & seating overlooking the lake. Upstairs is the live music venue & had large TVs for sports enthusiasts in the bar. Food & service were good.
Lake Placid Brewery-Go for craft beer. Ambiance & food wasn't great or bad.
Maggie's Pub-Lake Placid Lodge. Quite the luxurious lodge, it is inviting & gorgeous. The pub is ambient without feeling stuffy.

*Summer, relatively little effort, big reward category
Mt Jo
Climb Mt Jo. "one of the best views of the high peaks to be attained for such little effort" Read more about this & other 1-2 hr hikes here.
Hike up Cobble Hill. A short, easy hike with two trails to a rewarding summit: steep & short or longer & easier. We did both.
Drive the High Peaks Byway. Route 73 between Lake Placid & Hwy 87

Mirror Lake

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Monday, August 12, 2013

"I know what sex is, mom"

Have you seen this commercial?

The first big one came while we were donating gifts at Christmas time a couple years ago.
I'd always felt uneasy about the Santa thing with my kids.
I cracked that fantasy wide-open at about 5 years old and still experienced the wonder of that magic morning with presents under the tree. We'd decided to let him believe on his own, but to answer his questions honestly as they came.
And then it came:
"Some kids get nothing or very little from their Christmas wish list because their parents don't have the money," I told my charitable givers.
From the back seat, my Kindergartner asked, "Why doesn't Santa bring them the toys? Are they all on the naughty list?"
And I thought that was a loaded question.

Last week, while I was folding laundry he joined me & blurted:
"Mom, I know what sex is. It's when a guy and a girl are naked and kissing and it makes a baby. Right?"
Um..I'm just doing laundry here, a sex chat with my 7 year old wasn't really on the agenda today....or for a few years.

About this time last year I nearly vomited when someone I trusted told him too much about what happens in the porn shop that is near my mother's house. I was outraged that this grown up would flippantly rip his innocence away. Private parts were for peeing & feeding babies as far as he knew and I liked it that way. I certainly don't want him learning the perversions before the intended purposes. 

In keeping with our desire to answer honestly, as we discern that he's mature enough to process, I told him the link between sex and a baby.
Me: "Your body parts are different. At a certain age, a girl has an egg in her body and a boy has sperm and those two things come together through sex to make a baby in the girl's body."
Him: " fertilization?"
Me: "Exactly."
Him: "So that's why a girl can't marry a girl. Because they can't make a baby."

We carried on a bit. By some miracle, I was able to project FAR more coolness with the whole ordeal than was bubbling inside of me. It was a brief conversation. It seemed as normal as talking about snakes or tornadoes-which I much prefer. I'm pretty sure it was immediately followed by something as trivial as "Can I have a cheese stick?"

The information my kids will have to process and the exposure they'll get living in the world today makes my job as a parent feel crucial. I wish to foster a healthy, safe environment for my kids to ask any thing & share any thing. I do not want them to feel duped by my answers should I skirt the issues and they become privy to the truth via peers or media.
God, this job is hard!

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Marriage is a commitment to the in-between

In 10 years, we've moved across the country twice, started a small business, completed a PhD, received bad news at the Dr.'s office, suffered miscarriage and close family loss, bought & sold homes, had 3 children-one we nearly lost in delivery.
Most of our married life has been lived out in unfamiliar states, far from family or friends. We've lived both hand-to-mouth and with ample margin in our budget. It's safe to say we've tested our commitment.

Friends suggest we could write a book about making big decisions and that "if anyone can make it through, we can" referring to the journey we've traveled-both involuntarily and voluntarily. The truth is neither of our parents have stayed the course in marriage, so we had a good idea of what can tear it apart when we began. Figuring out what sustains is new territory.

If asked now, I'd say what sustains is your commitment to the in-between.
Friends and family will be there to celebrate with you and will bring a meal or lend a hand when life isn't so celebratory. But in between its just the two of you.

Each person is sure to grow and change through the years, which makes it all the more tricky.
In spite of the bad & ugly that comes along with growth, each person has to be deeply committed to stay and to support and to love. Sound humanly impossible? Absolutely! 
For us, this is where our individual relationships with Jesus, and devotion to honoring & obeying His commands is crucial. We're both accountable to something higher than our vows for our actions & reactions, for forgiving and apologizing.

Beyond that, it's about the in-between.
In-between degree and job.
In-between pre- and post- baby weight.
In-between diagnosis and recovery.

I love a grand romantic gesture as much as the next gal, and truth-be-told, I'd like both, but it's his thoughtfulness on an ordinary day that woos me most. Bouquets on Valentines Day are wonderful, but without love on any given Wednesday such gifts hardly carry weight. He's most charming when he chooses me over any number of other things clamoring for his attention.

Love is staying committed when the newborn has been home for a couple months and your lifeline is the coffee maker's drip and you've chosen sleep over sex for weeks. 

Love is noticing. 
Love is being first to say "I'm sorry".
Love is extending grace.
Commitment is not letting it get old.
Commitment is not pretending because it's easier than facing it.

When your cup is so empty, you having nothing left to give, & you give something, anything anyway...that's commitment.

Marriage is a promise. A promise to get creative when a date or even flowers aren't in the cards to make your gal feel lovely. A promise to give them no good reason to look elsewhere for flattery and to make them feel noticed. Marriage is a commitment to saying "yes" when you really don't feel like it because you know it's important to your spouse.

Marriage is life-long companionship-be it watching the game or sitting in a hospital room.
The in-between.
That's when I feel married.
That's when I'm glad I'm married.
The in-between.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self...
Love doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first",
Doesn't fly off the handle, 
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others...
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best, 
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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Monday, August 5, 2013

I want to be the babysitter!

I had one goal for this summer break:
To "color outside the lines" with my kids. That is to say-be silly, get out the messy paints, eat french fries for dinner, start a movie at 8, etc. Think again before uttering a reflexive "no". Try my hardest to resist routine-albeit healthy and predictable-for the sake of plain old fun!

Frankly, it seems as if making such a bold request has sabotaged its realization.
My children have bickered & whined far too often to be rewarded. They've make outlandish choices and disobeyed. I've spent a good chunk of time disciplining and refereeing.

I want to be the babysitter!
Without innate investment in them reaching their future potential. No drive toward teaching them responsibility, to make wise choices, or for fostering a familial bond.
Nothing but popsicles and playtime all summer long! 

Truthfully, I stink at spontaneity. The inconveniences often incurred when unprepared sting me. I enjoy laying out options, discerning pros and cons, and deliberating far too long before arriving at best case scenario. To be found guilty of not thinking something through is the ultimate charge. (INFJ, if you're wondering)

I hardly deter from the time-tested routine of our day as much as I would love to be free-flowing.

This is the major attraction of camping: drastically different from home, I'm required to roll with the punches. We swam in our pajamas at the crack of dawn for crying out loud! I allowed the kids to eat gobs of candy and add sugary drops to their recycled water bottles because we were hiking and swimming all day. Certainly, they had meltdowns that I blame directly on lack of routine and nutritious foods, but we survived.
This was my hope for the summer.

On this particular day, my kids had behaved through a Target run and I was feeling especially whimsy.
Me: Kids, let's get an Icee & popcorn combo!
Kids: What? we have to use our allowance? Is it free? Did we get a gift card? 
Me: Nope. It's on me. 
Kids: running, shouting, 'we want an Icee and popcorn' to the lady behind the counter, figuring the probability of revocation dramatically decreases once it's ordered.
It was a grand gesture!
One more month to go.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm thankful for...

I'm thankful for...
1. sleeping with the windows opened; the sound of crickets, the sound of rain
2. $10 off $50 at Famous Footwear stacked with BOGO when your kids are sure to muddy the soles on day 1, but cheap brands don't stand up to their antics. (til 8/14 check it out here)
3. littlest sister doesn't quite get how to drink from a water fountain yet.
4. playdates w/pool owners
5. front tooth missing from his grin. surprises me every time.
6. Phillip Phillips Pandora station (anyone seen him opening for John Mayer? We've got tickets for later this month.)
7. praying friends.
8. their expressions while daddy tells stories at dinner.
9.  Psalm 62:8
Have faith in Him in all circumstances, dear people. 
Open up your heart to Him; 
the True God shelters us in His arms. (the Voice)
10. spontaneous afternoon shared with family, once reserved for holidays. cousins laundry ending up in my loads through the week. thank you, Jesus.

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