April 2012


It was a very breezy weekend in Atlanta.  The Easter Bunny brought kites for the girls a couple of weeks ago, so they got to try them out.  It was windy enough that it didn’t take much to fly them, but I guess standing there holding a string just isn’t as much fun as running around, so they were running all over the back yard with their kits sailing in the air. 

Amelia was particularly amazed by her kite.  She was running at full speed while making a turn.  Of course she wasn’t looking where she was going… she had her attention completely focused on the princess kite that seemed to defy gravity.  You know where this is going – it was like it was happening in slow motion.  As she ran at full speed with her little head turned back watching her kite, Sara and I yelled at her to watch where she was going.  Paying no attention to us, she ran squarely into the side of the house. 

She wasn’t hurt physically, but she was pretty embarrassed.  She started crying and blaming Sara and I because nothing is ever her fault (wonder where she got that? – must be Sara).

Once again, I learned a lesson from a three year-old.  One step away from the house she was perfectly content as she focused on her beautiful kite sailing through the air, but it all came crashing down on the next step because she was focusing on the wrong thing. 

What kite are you giving all of your attention?  Is it a promotion, retirement, money, or material items?  Whatever it is, it’s alright to take a glimpse at it occasionally, but if you don’t pay attention to the path you are taking to keep it aloft, you may find yourself flat on your back and looking for someone else to blame. 

For Amelia, it was the side of the house that refocused her attention.  For you it could be an anemic family life, a wayward child, failing health, or the draining realization that your life has been completely insignificant because you focused on the wrong thing.  Too many people do things they hate so they can afford to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.  That kind of sounds like a waste, doesn’t it?

So go have some fun and fly your kite, but make sure you know where you’re heading.  It can all come to screeching halt on your very next step.

Advertisements

I spent most of the day Saturday volunteering for a charity called A Soldier’s Child.  This is a wonderful charity that provides birthday gifts for the children of fallen soldiers.  Check out one of their videos here Video or go to their website at http://asoldierschild.org/.

This amazing organization was founded by a very enthusiastic and passionate individual, Daryl Mackin.  Daryl decided to start the nonprofit as he was getting ready to have a birthday party for his own child.  As he was going through the preparations, his thoughts turned to his neighbor – a child who lost his father while serving our country.  This child, Christian, is the boy in the photo at the top of their website.  He was at his father’s memorial when the soldier in the photo presented the folded flag.  Typically, this goes to the spouse.  When the soldier presented the flag, Christian stepped forward.  The soldier looked at the mother and she nodded that it was ok.  When the soldier handed the flag to Christian, this photo was taken.  The photo went on to win an Associated Press award.

Daryl has spent a lot of time with the children of fallen soldiers.  Based on his experience, the majority of them just want to know that their mother or father’s sacrifice is recognized.  They don’t want to hear this from the government or the military; they want to hear it from you and me.  The charity event that we hosted aims to do just that.

I got to spend some time with Daryl during our volunteer event.  By the way, we put $6,000 worth of birthday gifts through a single Wal-Mart register on a Saturday morning!  You don’t have to spend much time with Daryl to know that he is passionate about his mission and has truly listened to his calling in life.  In a world filled with people who have such an overwhelming sense of entitlement, it is comforting to find someone so selfless.  Daryl is a great example for all of us.  He saw a need and put something in motion to fill that need. 

Don’t know of need that you can fill?  Just look a little harder.  Don’t know where to start?  Take the first step however small it may be.  Daryl’s first birthday gift recipient got a present wrapped in duct tape that they couldn’t even open because the tape was too strong.  He now has hundreds of children adopted into his charity and he makes a real difference in the lives of those children.  Don’t have the initiative to start something on your own?  Volunteer for something that is already established.

Saturday was a beautiful spring day and I spent eight hours indoors organizing this event.  At the end of the day, Daryl thanked me for sacrificing my Saturday.  I’ll admit, I didn’t want to spend the whole day inside, but then the absurdity of this comment struck me.  One of my Saturdays is miniscule relative to the sacrifice that the parents of these children made.

 

Olivia is nearing the end of her Kindergarten year.  Soon we will be attending her graduation and getting pre-approved credit card applications for her in the mail.  I knew that she would encounter a diverse group of kids in school and had to trust that our parenting skills could overcome any negative influences she would deal with there.

I feared that those parenting skills would be put to the test last week.  One evening, we were sitting on the porch swing enjoying the unusually warm early spring weather when Olivia informed us, “Hey… I know the F-word.”

We were a little apprehensive and Sara asked her what the F-word was.

“Do we really want to ask that?”  I thought.

Olivia climbed up next to Sara and coyly whispered into her ear, “I’ll spell it.  It’s F…A…R…T.”

Of course when I heard this, I was relieved (no pun intended… ok, maybe it was slightly intended).  I thought my little angel was going to forever tarnish my perception of her but instead she made me erupt with laughter.  I got a pass this time, but I’m sure there will be future instances when I won’t be so fortunate… especially with her little sister.  We’re going to have our hands full there.  In fact, she’ll probably be the kid in school that the other kids were warned about. 

There are still six weeks of kindergarten left, but it looks like we will get through the year relatively unscathed.  No bad habits have emerged that we’re aware of and if Olivia has learned any more offensive words, we haven’t heard them.  In fact, the teachers have told us that Olivia is a great role model and a good influence on her classmates.  As a parent, there are few things that could make me more proud.

Now, if we could just get her little sister to stop dancing naked before she starts school…

This week is Spring Break, so Sara took the girls to Gatlinburg for mini-vacation.  That leaves me home alone.  I’ll be honest – I was really looking forward to some time alone.  Don’t get me wrong; I love my girls, but I also appreciate having some time to work on projects at home without having to stop every fifteen minutes to change the channel, get some milk, or wipe a butt.

Please don’t judge me for being honest.  Any parent out there who says they never wished they could get away from their kids for a couple of days is a liar.  Even the pastor of my church once told me, “There will be times when you will want to throw your children against a wall…”  I guess it’s reassuring to know that everyone experiences this level of frustration.

Sunday was my first day alone as Sara and the kids left after lunch.  After spending a few hours doing some yard work, I grilled some chicken and made some side dishes for dinner.  I used to eat really unhealthy stuff whenever I had a bachelor weekend (meatball subs were my favorite).  Now I get excited because I can eat healthy food without grossing out the kids.  After filling up my plate with grilled chicken, cauliflower, and broccoli, I took it to our back deck to enjoy my dinner al fresco.  As I sat down by myself at the table with four chairs and looked at the empty swings in the back yard, I immediately missed my family. 

“Crap!” I thought.  It hasn’t even been a full day and I can’t enjoy my alone time because I miss my family.  That seems to be how it works with kids.  When you’re with them, you just want be alone for a little bit and when they’re gone, you just want to be with them.  Oh well, I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder.