Peace in the Maze

The maze begins just to the left!!!

Hubs and I took the kids to Williamsburg for spring break this year. We love the Burg and I am always slightly shocked at how much this town feels like home, as soon as we arrive. The air smells like home. Was it the tulips? Maybe the hyacinth? Maybe it’s The Cheese Shop. (I may have been dreaming of a roast beef sandwich with house dressing prior to our arrival.)

This year we paced ourselves differently.

What a gift!

What a blessing!

To create a general idea of what we’d like to do and then allow the needs of the kids to breathe life into each day was incredible. While I wanted to make time for Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg, I truly let the kids decide what they’d like to explore. The fluidity of this plan was LIBERATING.

By week’s end, the children’s favorite feature was the Hedge Maze behind the Governor’s Palace. They ran and ran and worked to memorize it. The hedges are tall and the kids could not see anything but the path in front of them. They could shout to one another, asking for clues about which way to turn.

How blissful. How peaceful. How present we needed to be to focus on the maze!

I could have followed them into the maze, but realized quickly I would lose them. Their speed and dexterity were just incredible to watch. And I had an easier time seeing everyone from the eagle’s eye view just above the maze.

It’s that just the greatest metaphor for life? It can be easier to guide others when you sit back and watch from a better vantage point. How many times have I dove headfirst into my kids’ problems? Only to get upset right along with them and lose my focus?

The kids invented games in the maze. They established new rules for each journey through. Then they added in a game of tag! It was a-maze-ing. In every sense. I got a little rest on a bench in the shade and I listened to their big plans. I laughed to myself and reminisced about the triathlon we alumni completed before graduation (if we were lucky).

Joy. Joy. Joy.

I’ve never felt more relaxed and grateful during my time on a vacation. I was thankful to have my family around, to experience new things, and to watch the kids love the experience so much. You can bet your bottom we returned to the hedge maze a day later, and more joy ensued.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Staring

Our breakfast nook has a huge French door that I completely hate. It’s drafty because the door is old and I want to change it. We’re not redoing the kitchen any time soon, so it’s something we’ve decided to live with for now.

As is the case with most things I hate or that drive me crazy, there is peace to be found, if I’m willing to stop and wait and watch.

This morning, the sun came out. It’s still pretty cold in our neck of the woods (below 30 degrees in the morning) but the birds were chirping and the sky looked super blue. And all of my kids sat at the breakfast table staring out that huge French door.

I couldn’t help but picture my paternal grandfather (since passed) who used to spend hours sitting in front of his living room windows, in a tan club chair, wearing a man’s white undershirt and slacks. He lived in the Catskills with my grandmother, on a 5 acre parcel of land where he liked to grow vegetables and invite friends to stay.

Much of my childhood, I can only picture the man either outside with a hat or inside, staring at the vast nature in front of him. There were no other houses, buildings, or people visible from his window. He could only see birds, deer, the occasional fox, and lots of butterflies.

This morning, my little family chewed its breakfast in silence. Every little person stared out the window and took in– who knows what. The road below us? The cars traveling to work and school? The birds skipping between branches? The brilliant sky? The swaying trees? The budding leaves on our maple trees?

The what is not so important as the why.

We stare because it is so peaceful. It’s so comforting. It’s so lovely. I hope you can start your day with the same kind of peace. This morning, I was thankful for the peace, the quiet, and the memory of other times when such peace was present: in the Catskills with an old man and his soft but enduring presence.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace.

Peace in Disappointment

Photo by Jan Kopu0159iva on Pexels.com

This past weekend, we took a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo with our kiddos (I can’t believe it’s only 30 minutes away!). It’s a really nice zoo, fairly well maintained, and full of great animals. The weather was sunny and about 50 degrees. There are about four “indoor” exhibit spaces, so we were able to break up the day nicely, warming up when it was needed.

While the day was pretty close to perfect, something else happened at the end of the day that really made an impression on me…. I’m still thinking about it days later, so it seems share-worthy.

LM2 waited patiently all day to see the Reptile House. It’s his favorite. He likes snakes and lizards. The reptile house might be my least favorite, but it’s fun to see him get excited about animals that slither.

This trip, we walked the opposite direction than we usually do, getting to the hippos and zebras first, and then working our way back toward the zoo entrance. This means we saved the reptile house for last. We got there just around 4 p.m., giving us plenty of time before the zoo’s close at 5 p.m. to explore our scaly little friends.

Or so we thought.

Apparently, in the winter months, the zoo closes their indoor exhibits at 4 p.m.

HHUHHHWHATTTT?????

Well, for a six-year-old-snake-lover, this news was close to devastating. There were tears. Many tears.

But you know what? After that we were given an opportunity to teach our kiddos about disappointment and appropriate reactions and how to deal with our feelings.

We hugged. We cried. We calmed down.

We told our little man that sometimes, things happen. Sometimes, we don’t know all the information about a place we’ve visited. Sometimes, life surprises us and it stinks. But we can make our day great or not so great. It’s a choice. Life is a choice. Our reactions are all choices. We can breathe and get calm and realize that disappointment is a fine feeling, but if we let it last longer than it needs to, it will only serve to ruin the day. And it is ultimately our choice how we react and view the day.

LM2 bounced back.

We went home without bribery that we’d “get an ice cream” or “a new toy” or any of the things that might make a person feel better. We talked about the things we loved about the zoo. We promised to go back another time to see the reptiles. We made plans for an awesome dinner and some well-needed rest in the car.

I wanted to break out into a verse or two of “My Favorite Things,” from The Sound of Music. But we didn’t need that. In no time at all, we were ok. And the peace of seeing how well LM2 handled the situation has multiplied every time I think about it. I’m so proud of him.

When we talked about our time at the zoo later in the week, the reptile house came up. The disappointment came up. But it was quickly alleviated with the phrase, “Next time!” and we remembered to focus on the good stuff from our day at the zoo. And that brings upon my heart nothing but peace.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Party Decor

Photo by Natalie on Pexels.com

LM2 turned 6 this year (where did the time go? I don’t know, but I thought I put it in my freezer next to the pistachio ice cream) and with the upcoming birthday, he wanted to decorate the house.

I’m not really into this. Cheap party decor…..hmmm. While I loved decorating my house, I’m not one for clutter. I don’t love hanging things on the windows or the walls. I like my house stark. I like a little echo. Like a museum.

In spite of my personal preferences, LM2 came to me 5 days before his birthday and said, “Mom, can we decorate for my birthday? Please?”

Well, that face. That little, perfect face, you know how this went…

I realize we could have made things to hang on the walls. I could have bought a pack of streamers for $3 and called it a day. But, no. We went to Party City (which seems to have gotten a little facelift!) and I let him choose a theme. Then we went bonkers. We purchased:

  • a birthday sign
  • 12 ceiling danglers
  • a balloon centerpiece
  • a tablecloth
  • cups
  • napkins
  • plates

ALL in Minecraft theme….

This little guy felt like the most spectacularly special guy in creation. And you know what? He just might be. All our kiddos are, aren’t they? Birthday weeks are special. Especially at this age. I can’t tell you how much joy and peace it brought to go a little nutty at the Party City in Exton.

He really wanted a whole bunch of balloons. I tried to explain that when balloons fly away, they end up in an ocean or some other body of water– and that hurts the wildlife. But LM2 had me on this point, too.

“What if we get a balloon, like, on a stick, and then it can’t fly away?”

What happens when you can’t think of a solvent argument for your almost-6-year-old? You buy the balloon on a stick for $2.50.

We giggled and went home and decorated and giggled some more. LM2 enjoyed his decor for the length of the weekend and then he asked if we could hang the decorations in his bedroom. I said yes to that, too. And I reminded myself to remain peaceful about it. Because a little clutter is just fine when it’s someone’s birthday, amiright?

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!