Monthly Archives: October 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

One of my greatest passions is practicing the Martial Arts.  Soo Bahk Do, a Korean Martial Art founded by the late Hwang Kee, integrates the philosophy, culture, and language of Korea, creating both an academic and physical aspect to the practice.  We are located in all six of the inhabited continents. Come give us a try. It’s definitely addicting!!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/weekly-photo-challenge-foreign/

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It CAN Always Get Worse!

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How was your week? Mine felt unbearably long and there were many times I was sure Friday evening would never arrive – or if it did, I would somehow miss it amid the chaos of life. The proverbial nail was driven into the casket this evening as my six year old spilled his milk on the peanuts I had just spent two hours shelling while our four month old puppy pounced excitedly between his rawhide bone and the sweet, dripping kitchen table unsure which way to run in the 1.5 square feet of space available. Admittedly, bedtime could not come soon enough – if not for the young ones, for me.

OK. It can always get worse. When I’m tempted to feel tapped, I try to remind myself of that fact. For example, Rasputin, the iconic Russian religious advisor to the Romanov family, definitely dealt with greater grievances. Hated by many in a country where he held significant influence and power (not an unusual feat in and of itself), he experienced trials and tribulations beyond what I’d wish on my worst enemy. Rasputin was stabbed, poisoned, shot three times, clubbed, and drowned – and with the exception of the stabbing, it all happened in one evening!

I can’t top that. More importantly I don’t even want to try! Incomplete homework assignments, piles of laundry, sticky floors, dinner dishes, spilled milk, and puppy poo all plague my week, but I can tackle those consistent challenges that attempt to derail my days. And much like Rasputin, I don’t go down without a good fight. But his life, and subsequent death, serve as a stark reminder that it can always get worse!

So how did you say your week went?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

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This picture was taken at Franconia Sculpture Garden in Franconia, MN. I’m a martial arts junkie so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d strike a pose from Jin Do Hyung!  Soo Bahk! 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/weekly-photo-challenge-silhouette/

I’m Normal. What Are You?

After a full day of playing with Legos, Matchbox Cars, Wii, and various outdoor toys, the time had come for Owen’s best friend, Alex, to go home. As we  entered the van for the fourteen mile drive, Alex chose to sit in the far reaches, the very back seat – because providing additional challenges in a conversation can make it extra interesting, right? As I chatted with Alex over the expanse of empty seats, our conversations flowed easily, especially considering Alex is only five years old and doesn’t really know me very well. We were, however, trying our best to listen to each other over the noise of both the engine and the road.

When Alex told me he was learning Spanish, my curiosity was piqued.  See, Alex is Asian – but beyond knowing THAT, I have no idea what Alex’s heritage is, so the following conversation ensued:

Me (trying to peer into the rear view mirror to occasionally establish eye contact):  That’s really cool that you’re learning Spanish, Alex.  What is your ancestry?

Alex (pausing, not quite sure of the meaning of the word):  Ummmm ….. I don’t know.

Me (trying to help him out with both an explanation and a prompt): Ancestry means lineage or where your parents and grandparents came from. Are you Korean?

Alex (quickly): No.

Me: Are you Chinese?

Alex: No.

Me: Are you Vietnamese?

Alex: No.

Me (now floundering as I was running out of options): Japanese?

Alex: No.

[Since Alex was so sure these options were not part of his ancestry, it struck me that Alex might KNOW his ancestry and I need only quit prompting him. So I continued my line of questions in a new manner:]

Me: If none of those are part of your lineage, then what ARE you, Alex?

[Alex’s reply was quick as a wink and sure as a boy could be, causing me to really hear his answer.]

Alex (simply):  I’m normal.

Touche, Alex.

Pause for consideration, Reader. How do you see YOURself? It occurs to me that we all too often view our differences in a manner that set us apart from others, in both a positive and negative manner. If you’re seated across from a potential employer in a job interview, that may be a necessity to secure employment.  More often, however, we need to look for commonalities that enable us to be ONE with each other.  At the tender age of five, Alex seemed to understand that commonalities make for both a confident person and a more peaceful community. Additionally, it is what Christ calls us to do.

1 Cor 12: 24-26:  But God has so composed the body … 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Are you normal, Reader? It IS a more excellent way!

Knee-Jerk Notions

Gorilla Glue is probably one of the best modern-day inventions.  It seems to be an oft-thought of solution for a vast number of situations that occur in our household based upon it’s ability to create a permanent bond between an almost limitless variety of items.

When the top of my coziest slipper found it’s way free of the slipper’s sole last year, my first thought was … Gorilla Glue! Without any hesitation (or much forethought), I placed an ample supply of the product in between the two surfaces of my slipper. My second thought wasn’t far behind … Pressure! Knowing this product worked best under pressure (just like me), I decided to place my foot into the slipper and apply that pressure while I navigated through my Facebook messages that evening.

It worked like a charm. Really, it did. But it did MORE than intended. While it did, in fact, stick the sole to the slipper top, it ALSO stuck my foot to the inside of the slipper proving that this was probably not my most brilliant moment! So what went wrong? As I pried the outer epidermal layers from the skeletal remains of my right foot, I realized that there were definite drawbacks to swift solutions, even when the issue at hand was of minuscule magnitude.

After initiating my knee-jerk notion of using my foot to apply the pressure required of Gorilla Glue, these were the lessons learned:

  • The first solution is not always the best;
  • Some solutions can be more painful than others;
  • Planning for all potential outcomes is always wise.

Often I learn lessons without the loss of body parts. Other times valuable lessons are somewhat elusive, albeit more permanent than Gorilla Glue bonds themselves when they come with a cost. While I quite liked the sole of my foot as it was, I must admit … I enjoyed the softer, callous-free foot while it lasted.

Knee-jerk notion: Could Gorilla Glue double as a spa treatment?

Thinking Outside the (Crayon) Box

Owen, my sweet-as-pie six year-old, loves to be creative so it never surprisesme to find him sitting on the floor surrounded by crayons and paper, sometimes adding scissors and glue to the mix. Recently he invited me to join him as he conceptualized his next great feat of artistic expression. Quite often I look for an out, deferring him to one of his older brothers as a potentially better partner in craft. On this particular day, however, I decided to color with him, elbow to elbow.

Owen: Mommy, want to color with me?

Me: Sure, Honey. Could you bring the paper and crayons to the table please?

[He arrived at the table with the paper and immediately left the room in search of the crayons. It took him longer than usual to return and I will admit, I was growing a bit impatient as I sat there pondering what to make for dinner, thinking about the homework I needed to tackle with his brother, and feeling somewhat dismayed at the depth of debris stuck to my sock from the unswept kitchen floor. After quite some time Owen returned to the table with the crayons and a proclamation.]

Owen: Here are the crayons, Mommy! I broke them all in half so we wouldn’t have to fight over them!

(Sigh. We each took our half-set and began to color, him a bit more contently than me.)

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The first thought to cross my mind as we bumped elbows and noses while we colored was that I would probably only fight to the death over the yellow and pink crayons, at least one color of which he would likely have no interest in using anyway!  The second thought to cross my mind was that we would soon be buying a new box of crayons. Fortunately this was just a small set that needed replacing.

Looking at Owen’s actions in hindsight, a few thoughts pop out beyond the fact that I happen to be bugged by the chaos created by broken crayons. Owen thinks much differently than I do. Given that there is a vast age difference, that doesn’t entirely shock me – but I also see a difference in how he thinks in comparison to how I thought at his age. Growing up in a small town in a one-income household, possessions were both few and treasured. To break something of value intentionally would have been far beyond my comprehension of sanity and respect for personal property!

In that regard, many children today show a lack of appreciation for the items they own. Elaborate gifts for birthdays and Christmas have become the new normal, the expectation rather than the exceptional blessing they should be. Because they happen to be part of the modern day culture, for example, many teens feel that iPhones, game consoles, and cars are inherent to who they are, essential for their happiness, and indispensable in their daily activities. As a result, the value of the expensive toys, iPhones, and game consoles is lost, as broken items are typically tossed rather than repaired. Even those broken crayons have value though. They just await an art project of new proportion and different dimension.

On the other hand, I absolutely applaud my six year-old for his ability to both anticipate a problem and create a solution before coming to the table! Owen saw his limited resources and realized immediately that product distribution might pose a challenge. That showed ingenuity beyond the capability of many adults who are no longer able to think outside the crayon box.

I held my tongue that day deciding instead to instill in his being a sense of harmony as we colored shades of scarlet and tints of teal, creating a masterpiece previously unparalleled in his short history.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/weekly-writing-challenge-a-splash-of-color/

Everybody Shut Up …. Please!

ImageUndoubtedly there’s nothing like a conversation with a young one to completely change your outlook on something, whether of substance or not!  I am blessed daily with comical conversations with my nearly-nine year-old, Aidan, and my soon-to-be-six year-old (tomorrow!), Owen. Today, however, we added to that mix with Owen’s best friend, Alex, as we drove him to our house for a play date. As usual, the backseat conversations did not disappoint.  Need to brighten your day?  Read on!

Alex (to me):  What is your name again?

Me (pretty relaxed with kiddos): You can call me Amy.

Alex: Amy, my family goes out for lunch after church every Sunday.

Me (sensing a HUGE hint in that statement): Oh! Wow! We don’t do that, Alex.

Alex (not skipping a beat):  You could START today!!

Aidan (changing the subject while proudly announcing):  Guess what, Alex? I’m half Hispanic!

[I’m not entirely sure where this came from since his roots hail largely from Germany, Poland, Norway, and Sweden!]

Alex (not to be outdone by Aidan):  Oh yeah? Well I have a friend that is half crazy APE!

[OK. I’m not even going to TRY to top that one!]

Since they were now on a descent-oriented conversation, this followed …

Alex:  Konnichiwa, Owen!

Owen (scratching his cute little head): Wha …. ?

Alex (taking on an air of higher education): It means “shut up”.

Me (trying desperately not to laugh): Ummm …. I don’t think that’s right, Alex. I’m pretty certain that it means “hello” or “good afternoon”.

[Suddenly raucous laughter erupts in the back seat as they all ignore me and start yelling out this newly discovered *command*, Konnichiwa! After a seemingly endless stretch of time, Alex declared that the decibel levels were decidedly deafening!]

Alex (commanding): Everybody … Konnichiwa!!  Please.

[Everybody shut up, please?  Well, at least he was polite about what he THOUGHT he was saying.]

Alex and Owen both attend Kindergarten in the same school district but are in different schools. They share the same crazy Kindergarten schedule …. All-day every other day and alternating Fridays. Believe me, there are days that I’M not sure if he should be attending or not!  Alex, much like our own family, comes from a home where some of the kids have been or are currently being home educated. When the conversation in the car came into more subdued volumes, he began to share more with us.

Alex:  Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I’ll be going to SCHOOL …. REAL school, NOT home school.

[HA!  My 17 year-old, sitting in the front passenger seat, shot me a look from the corner of his eye with a slight smile gracing his face. OK, I’m going to let that one go. After all, it came from a five year-old, right?]

The conversation turned to age when Owen announced that he’d be celebrating his birthday in one day. This often provides for good humor anytime an early elementary child and someone over the ripe age of 20 are involved. Today’s comical conversation was not an exception!

Owen (happily): I’m having a birthday tomorrow, Alex! I’ll be SIX!

Alex (about 5″ taller than Owen): Wow! Tomorrow I will still be FIVE and I think I’ll still be BIGGER than you, Owen!  (continuing on)  My brother is SEVEN already!!

Me: Wow! That’s really OLD!

Aidan (to no one in particular): Well, I’m going to be NINE in a MONTH!

Me (to Alex): And how old is your sister, Hannah, Alex? Is she 12?

Alex (with a slight sound of exasperation in his young voice): No! She’s a TEENAGER!  Isaac, are YOU a teenager yet?

[Evidently all ages from 13-19 are lumped together in one enormously scary category?]

Aidan (nearly nine but still trying to gain ground with Alex): I’m actually 19. I’m just small.

Alex (surprised): Wow! I didn’t know that!

Me (trying to encourage Aidan to come clean with the truth): You’re not 19, Aidan. Please don’t lie.

Aidan (calculatingly):  I’m NOT lying …. I’m tricking.

[Uh huh]

These entertaining exchanges brought us almost all the way home, covering matters at a five year-old level concerning tradition, descent, age, and language! Alas, the entertainment did not stop upon reaching our abode, however. After lunch, Alex was exploring a cheap, and thus broken, airsoft pistol when Isaac told him he could take it home.

Alex (to Isaac, sweetly):  I wish I had a brother like you at home.

[Isaac was momentarily thinking that Alex was a really great kid when Alex interrupted that stream of consciousness with the continuation of his declaration.]

Alex: Because then he would give me all his stuff.

Kids’ voiced-thoughts and conversations can be so awesome. Quite often, we are moving too quickly to actually hear them, however. As busy adults, we just need to slow down to catch the comedy, allowing them to both entertain us with their exchanges and imbue us with their innocence.  Everybody, shut up … please.