Friday, October 22, 2010

Quick Takes, #18

Happy Friday! Hope you've had a great week. We sure have, after all we've been on vacation. As our vacation nears its end, let me share some thoughts from the week...

#1: I need to do a little commercial for Drury Inns and Suites (with the note that I've had a similar experience at Residence Inns). I've found that it's worth our money to stay at this sort of hotel and to pay extra for a suite that has a separate bedroom. What does this get us? A place that feels much more like home than a hotel room...separate space for children to go to sleep early when moms and dads aren't ready...full hot meals for both breakfast and dinner (just that savings makes it worth the difference you pay here!). We've had a great week at our Drury home away from home.

#2: St. Louis, though only a few hours away from home, has been a great vacation spot. And so let me do a commercial for St. Louis and their many family friendly experiences that are FREE! The St. Louis Zoo...yes, free admission. At that price you can even eat lunch inside the zoo. The Science Center...yes, free admission. Lone Elk charge, just a donation box and you get to drive through as elk, deer, and buffalo roam free around you. Grant's Farm...yes, free admission which includes tram ride through the park. The fudge making show at the Fudgery at Union Station is also free (well, at least until you get so tempted that you buy pounds and pounds of fudge!) and lots of fun. This is just the start of the list.

#3: Okay, I suddenly feel like I'm sounding cheap. :) However, those of you who travel with families understand that FREE means a lot. And what it's meant for us is that we can easily say "yes" to things like carousel and train rides...and it's vacation...who doesn't want to say "yes"?

#4: We've hit several other wonderful spots that did charge admission fees, but haven't found anything that wasn't worth it. We've been to places like: The Gateway Arch, The Magic House, and NASCAR Speedpark (an oversized NASCAR arcade). As people who don't live in the big city, it was also great to get our kids exposed to public transportation - thank you, MetroLink.

#5: One of the wonderful things about vacation is that we are moving on a different pace. We haven't been late once this week because we had no schedule. What a gift to just be where we are as long as it is fun. A great example is Turtle Park (yes, just a park with lots of large turtle sculptures to climb on). We just hung out there, climbing and running until we'd met all the turtles and we were done. We didn't leave because it was time to be somewhere else...just because we'd enjoyed the turtles as long as possible.

#6: This week has been exactly what we needed. Just time to be together. I'm really glad, especially as hectic as the last few months have been, that we did this.
#7: One last thing...vacation has been a great time for me to get sucked back in to my kids' view of the world. I've done far more "stopping and smelling the roses" than usual. As I mentioned before some of this inevitably has to do with not being on a schedule, but I'm convinced we can do a little more of it even in our usual busyness. So, my vacation challenge to myself (and to you) is to pay more attention to the things that capture our little ones' attention. It's amazing what we'll find there!
For more Quick here!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Takes, #17

It's been a while since I've done Friday Quick Takes, but thought I'd link up this week. So, here's some of what's going on...some of what I'm wondering about.

1) I am loving fall even as it is just beginning. My smile widens as I look at the thermometer in the mornings and see temperatures in the 30's and 40's. And midday 60's and 70's are lovely.

2) Sarah and I have actually...yes, really and truly...been doing the Couch to 5K program for three weeks! Tonight we'll complete our third week. And, surprisingly, it's really been great. I can't say I'm seeing myself as a runner yet, but I'm enjoying it and the company sure is good (as you can imagine if you read her blog!).

3) I love facebook but sometimes I simply don't get why people post what they do. Enough said!

4) I also don't get why everywhere I look I see people who are overwhelmed by their lives, their schedules, their commitments, their demands...and yet rarely do we (myself included) really do anything to change this crazy culture we've created.

5) Speaking of overwhelmed...we're taking a break and going on vacation next week. Yes, just the four of us...not to visit family or friends...just to be in a different place and spend time together. It will be delightful!

6) As a minister I can't help but wonder how the church could be a help rather than a hindrance to people living in more healthy ways and families and marriages being stronger. Sometimes I'm not so sure that we don't do twice as much that puts more demands on people than we do that helps them find joy.

7) Our grandbaby was over last night. He's now 2 1/2 months old. He loves to smile and laugh. He's turning over from tummy to back. He's just a really good baby. And his two-year-old uncle loves him...last night he was kissing and hugging on the baby as well as playing monster trucks with him. (The four-year-old meanwhile was watching the NASCAR qualifying laps...he's got his priorities!)

Have a great weekend! For more Quick Takes visit Jennifer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Walking Together

I was looking through pictures tonight and came across this one of my boys this spring. When I saw it all I could think was that I'm glad they have each other to walk with through this life. And I'm glad I have always had such wonderful family and friends as well. Who we walk with makes a difference!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Telling Her Story

This is my life fully...playing in the mud by the creek with my oldest. She is a seven-year breast cancer survivor.

Sarah invited me to write a guest post in support of Write Pink's Education Week. In my post, I tell a little bit of my mom's story.

So, I invite you to go on over to Sarah's place or to Bigger Picture Blogs...and not just today when I'm there...keep visiting all month as we work for Breast Cancer awareness, education and prevention.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Can't Stop Thinking About It

Our four-year-old is obsessed with NASCAR. When he isn't checking rankings on the NASCAR website or watching a race or race coverage, he's playing with his NASCAR cars...lining them up, quizzing me on which driver drives which number, commentating make believe crashes when the cars they are driving get a little loose.

Our two-year-old is obsessed with disrupting his brother.

(You see where this is going, don't you?)

This means that while the four-year-old is carefully choreographing a race on our living room race track (otherwise known as a coffee table), the two-year-old sneaks in like an unexpected tornado and changes the choreography.

And guess what?

The four-year-old is not happy! (hear this as an understatement!)

As much as it disturbs me, his reaction is often to strike out in anger by hitting his brother. And my response is always the same, "You can't hit your brother. No matter what he does, hitting is not okay. No matter what."

And I actually believe that.

This is what I can't stop thinking about. As obsessed as the four-year-old is with NASCAR, I'm equally obsessed with this addiction to violence we people seem to have. And I just don't get it.

I don't understand why hitting a child to make them behave makes sense...anytime...although I particularly don't get it when it's used to stop them from being physically violent.

I don't understand why going to war is an appropriate response to an act of violence that took innocent lives and hurt our nation so deeply.

I don't understand why hitting someone who has hit someone we love is an appropriate response.

I don't understand why hitting someone you claim to love is ever okay.

Now please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying I've never felt like hitting or never hit. I have. I know that feeling of wanting to strike out. I know what it is to be so angry that it's hard to imagine other options. I know what it is to feel so out of control that you'll take back control by any means possible, even violence.

My problem is the many ways that we tell each other this is okay. My problem is with the reality that anger can so quickly increase the strength of our violence.

People are taught to spank their children. But what happens when a spanking is too hard and now a child is removed from the home? Or worse yet, when a spanking turns into a shaking or a dropping or a throwing and a child is disabled or dead?

My friend was recently talking about a comment on a blog. The blogger had written about why she stopped spanking her children. The comment responded saying that if spanking was problematic in her house she just wasn't doing it right. My friend's response was this, "All I could think was - if it's so easy to do it wrong, why do it at all?"

And that's what I really find myself struggling with. We justify a certain level of violence.

We tell ourselves we can spank misbehaving children. We set rules (which we may or may not follow) - only spank when you're not angry (of course I'd contend it's hard to hit someone if you're not angry) ... only spank for certain infractions ... only spank at a certain age.

We tell our children not to hit, but if a bully hits them, then we justify their retaliation. Or better yet our kid's dad goes and hits the bully's dad.

We discourage domestic violence, although I wonder if we're really opposed to spouses hitting each other or just opposed to the stigma of getting caught.

We talk about peace, but we're obsessed with war. Just look at the shelves of video games at your local discount center. Just look at our national budget. Just look at the lists and lists of young men and women who have died in war.

We justify a certain level of violence while putting our heads in the sand, pretending that violence doesn't create violence. But it does. One violent act easily becomes two and two easily becomes three. Once we are comfortable with the idea that physical violence is okay, it makes it easier to cross even our well laid out boundaries and limitatons.

When I tell my children that hitting is not okay, no matter what, I mean it. I mean it for them. I mean it for me. The times when I have hit (from the early days of fighting with my sister as a child all the way through adulthood) were wrong. Period. No matter how justified I felt. No matter how many reasons I had. They were wrong. Hitting is not okay.

And I just keep wondering how different our world would more compassionately we would live with and toward each much more understanding we would be...if we would raise a generation - just one generation - who believed this.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blog for Our Breasts

It is October which means that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In light of that I am stepping away from Quick Takes and sharing just a few things that are going on this month.

First, the girls at Bigger Picture Blogs are hosting a month long Breast Cancer Awareness Carnival called "Write Pink." There will be guest posts, the sharing of stories, prompts for the weekly "Bigger Picture Moment" and giveaways over the course of the next 31 days. Make sure to keep visiting them and participate!

Second, Army of Women is hosting a pledge where you can sign up to participate in breast cancer prevention studies as they work to discover more about the cause of breast cancer and how to prevent it.
Their goal is to have 1 million people participate. You could be next. Hop on over and take the pledge...and share the word. Also, check out their brief clip at YouTube.

Meanwhile, as we begin this month, perhaps the most important thing we can do is love well the women in our lives.