Finding My Place at Home

This summer passed by in a flash. Before we knew it, school started and we were thrown into a routine. Part of me was so ready to get into this rhythm of schedules and the security of knowing what happens on Tuesday. But part of me mourned the fact that we were out of time for one more camping trip; one last swim at the pool; one more lazy day.

IMG_5895I suppose this is what the changing seasons is – an excitement in the new mingled with disappointment of what is lost.

We had a trip to Yellowstone planned for this weekend. Just one more adventure before the weather turned cold. We’d stay in a little cowboy cabin, head down to Jenny Lake one day and up to Lake Hotel and the Geyser Loop the next. Until we saw the forecast for snow. As much as we love northern Wyoming, I didn’t want to be in a cabin without heat or electricity in the snow and rain.

In so many ways, this is probably a good thing. We just got back from a weekend in Ocean City (where it rained!) and are still settling into a good routine. A laid-back weekend is never a bad thing.

Frank grew up going to Ocean City – it’s part of his family history and it was fun watching the girls create a new generation of memories there. All of the cousins go regularly and love it and it was magical watching our landlocked kids chase the waves, dig in the sand, and eat ice cream right before a greasy dinner. Ask any of Frank’s family for a memory of childhood and most likely Ocean City will play a large part of the story.

In a lot of ways, we want Yellowstone to be similar for our kids. Already, Bea remembers hikes we’ve done and geysers we’ve seen. We want this park to be a place of good family memories, the stuff that starts most of our stories.

Last year, I listened to part of a podcast and the phrase, theology of place was used. I don’t remember the exact point or where the conversation went from there, but that idea stuck with me. It’s the theology of tangible moments; of creating a gritty story that you can run through your fingers. It’s finding God in the routines outside of home; in the stories we tell as a family to our children. It’s this idea that our place matters. The locations in which we choose to spend our time matter.

I love the intentionality behind this theology. That our routines matter and that kids have something to look forward to in their vacations. And yet, life gets busy or things happen and that place may look different.

When I reflect on our weekend in Ocean City, our girls loved the physicality of being next to the ocean, yes. But the loved hanging out with their cousins, playing games, reenacting Moana, waking up together, eating every meal together so much more. I need to remember the point behind the place.

I’m learning to look around right now, in our own home. What are we doing to establish a theology of place routine? I remember that for many, an escape to the mountains or the beach is simply not possible. And yet, this family rhythm is still important. What park do we always visit? What pancakes mark rest and vacation? What simple things do we do to remember our place in this world?

I’m not sure if this is exactly what that podcast meant but for me, theology of place is grounding me home and reminding me that our everyday rhythms are as significant as the vacation routines we’ve established, as well.

Where do you find your rhythms? When you think about theology of place, do you think of your home or a destination?


Living a Content Life

Frank is getting ready to go on a multi-day hike in one of the most beautiful places I know, the Grand Tetons. And, I’m feeling jealousy creep in as the preparations build and the day creeps closer. I want a whole week off of parenting!! When’s it my turn?!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re also definitely in the August part of summertime: Playdates are sparser; School is starting soon; The days feel long and creativity levels are low. Bea is asking when school is starting again more than I’m thinking it – we’re ready for routine and autonomy.

We talked about tiredness and time “off.” Frank made the mistake of wondering if I’d be happier working rather than staying home. I AM HAPPY!!!! I fumed. Can’t you tell?!!!

A friend posted about the distinction between being happy and being content. Beyond the happy moments that make up our days and weeks and years, there is a contentedness that permeates our lives. Even in the midst of wishing for more “me” time or more family time, even in the moments when I’m tired and not particularly happy, I am content.

There’s a deeper feeling, a deeper fulfillment in these years that I’m thankful for. If I relied only on happiness, I think we would have given up. It’s not that we’re not happy, but that word leaves so much to be desired.

So, while I’m not necessarily looking forward to parenting alone; while I’m ready for “my turn” at adventure, I’m content in knowing Frank will come home refreshed. I’m excited for a road trip up to a spot that has so much meaning for our family. And I’m happy that we are on this journey together.

What does the word “happy” mean to you? Are you, by nature, a happy person or does the word content resonate more with you?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “happy.”

Remembering My Season

We’re six weeks into this family of four adventure and things are going well. Elle is transitioning from newborn to baby (how does that happen so quickly?!) and all things considered, this has been a good transition. Elle is a classic easy-going second child – she sleeps well (though I forgot how noisy newborns can be!) and is fairly relaxed in her demeanor.

IMG_8548The weather here is changing, too. We still have warm days, but the nights and early mornings are wonderfully chilly – a reminder that autumn is on its way. Now that the heat of summer has passed and we’re settled as a family, we took last weekend to finish painting our house. We went from a completely white interior to one filled with color. A few rooms have remained purposefully untouched, but every other space has our own colors added to it. Our house feels more like ours and – barring the unforseen – we’re done improving for a while.

Even though I’m technically on maternity leave, Elle and I went to a coffee for the new teachers at the museum last week. It was wonderful getting dressed up and out of the house, even with a baby in tow. I had forgotten how much I love this job and opportunity and how fulfilled I am being at the museum, surrounded by art and thinkers.

It’s been good taking a bit of a blogging break. (I’ve been absolutely loving the Strong Women posts! I hope you’ve been as encouraged as I have!) There have been some discussion groups that I wish I had time for and people are gearing up for the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’ll admit, I was so tempted to join. I love a good challenge, and it would be a wonderful opportunity to build community. I look at other people taking risks and planning things and look at them with a bit of longing – wishing for more time so I could join, too.

IMG_8459And then, I remember my reality. I’m just not in a place to commit to projects or consistent writing, nor do I want to be. I want the freedom to snuggle Elle while Bea naps. Or write or read if they’re both napping. It doesn’t come naturally to me, though, to sit back and allow myself to rest in this moment. Because we’re settling so well and because I have energy, I feel like I should get back to “real life.”

I’m glad autumn is on its way right as I’m feeling the itch to add more to my plate. It’s a tangible reminder of the seasons of life. I’m still in this season of nesting and snuggling and bonding with my newest girl. I’m in a season of playing Chutes and Ladders and imagining and dancing with Bea. I’m in a season of very active mothering, which means remembering to give myself permission to leave things on the back burner. Writing will come when it makes sense; Museum activities will be refreshing when they make sense; Adding more to my plate will come one day.

In the meantime, I need to remember this season and these moments. I already know how quickly these early infant days pass and I want to be present for them, to not wish them away.

So, as the air cools and I look for the first leaves to change, I’m also remembering to stop and rest. To be thankful for this season. To look forward to the next, but not to rush it. And to remember that this season right now is precious.

What type of season are you in? Are you content or do you always look for the next thing?

Parallel Play

While at the park the other day, Bea tried playing with a couple of older girls. At first, they seemed to be having fun digging in the sand and chatting. It worked for a bit, but the older girls had an imaginative game going and Bea just wanted to dig. The girls ended up relocating under a different slide and Bea found a new activity, happily climbing alone.

Content to play alone
Content to play alone

With other two-year-olds, this rule works well: We like being together but are cool doing our own thing. Bea and her small friends will play for hours, sometimes with the same toys, but most often in the same proximity while doing different things. Occasionally, we’ll have an It’s mine! argument, but for the most part, the toddlers are happy on their own.

Mixing developmental levels works for a while, but it seems the older ones get bored and want to play their own games. (Unless they’re much older and then the role of babysitter comes into play.)

Observing the older girls at the park interact was interesting, too. After a while, someone’s feelings got hurt. The others follow, they talk it out, one may say she needs a bit of alone time, and then they continue playing – until the cycle repeats itself.

Watching, I wondered how I could get the attitude of parallel play back in my life. As much as I am grateful for my thoughtful, intentional interactions – both in my community and as I absorb information – I sometimes wish adults could practice the skill of being together without actively interacting.

How can I be content doing my own thing, knowing I’m enjoying myself, without worrying about what others are doing? It reminded me that there will always be a group of people who seem to be having more fun, more meaningful conversations, more adventures than me. In reality, I am happy, connected, and discovering small adventures daily. Why compare?

How can we be content being in proximity, but letting our peers do their own thing. Can we simply be in the moment, without worrying about following the script, being too intentional, or deepening a relationship all the time?

There’s something beautifully simple about digging in the sand next to a new friend, getting up to go down the slide without worrying if they come too, sharing a snack, and repeating the process.

Do you find yourself content in your daily experiences? How can we bring the idea of playing alongside but without comparisons into our interactions?