Friday, August 22, 2008

Super Surprise Friday

Well, we've got today and one more Friday before our schooling starts, and then it's the end of our Friday surprises. Maybe this will be a summer tradition. Despite some of Lanie's least favorite outings, she has, overall, enjoyed our excursions and treats.

I didn't have anything planned for today. I suppose I can make some mile-high sundaes since I've got all the stuff for it. I thought roasting marshmallows at the fire pit would be nice, but when I suggested it to Shane, he thought Saturday after church would be better. He's beat by Fridays.

Fortunately for all of us, he's taking a few days off next week and we'll be making lots of memories as a well-rested family. And since most schools are starting up around here onTuesday, we'll pretty much have run of the state. So that's nice too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The personality test

I remember a time when I was really second-guessing some career choices I made, and it was keeping me awake very late one night. I worried, fretted, cried and wondered, what am I supposed to be doing with my life? I was lucky, and still am, to have had Shane by my side as I voiced possibly one of my biggest fears, "I don't know where I fit."

And he said, "You fit with me."

You saw that coming, didn't you. Well, his words were like salve on a wound to me. I don't think I'd ever felt more loved, wanted, or even grateful in my life. (Well, not counting becoming a Christian. Or a mom.)

I was at an event recently where, for an ice breaker, they administered a personality test. This test revealed what your color is, your temperament, and gave you a new adjective to describe yourself. There was the type-A "Choleric" (who is also known as The Doer), the "Sanguine" (The Talker), "Melancholic" (The Thinker), and "Phlegmatic" (The Peace-maker). The test was simple. There are four descriptive words per line (40 lines) and you have to choose the one that best describes you per each line. Not who you want to be, but who you are. Some of these were things I didn't want to own up to (you pick for yourself. Given these four adjectives, who would you want to be, or rather, which one are you: unsympathetic, unforgiving, unenthusiastic, undisciplined. Ouch.) Then at the end you go to an answer sheet and find out who you are.

The Cholerics playfully referred to themselves as Bossy. They were also the ones who were running the show that day, and I found it amusing that as they spoke about the topic or themselves, they all squeezed in "I'm a choleric" somewhere in the conversation.

Anyway, I've taken a lot of tests in my life to try to figure out the color of my parachute, my personality, my spiritual gifts, even my heart's desire. But none of these tests ever revealed anything that I didn't know. Not if I really thought about it. And this was no different. I was given a new color, a list of my strengths, and a list of my weaknesses--like I needed that. And I sit here now, looking at this box, summing me up into one title.

"My name is Courtney, and I'm a melancholic ... who suffers from occasional bossiness and indecision." I don't particularly like being bossed around, and I suspect that many of my good friends are phlegmatics.

I googled the test and found one here. If you'd like, share your personality in comments.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Super Surprise Friday

This whole SSF thing seemed like a great idea originally. But so far, and I'm not naming names, of the events that come to mind:

... and then there's today's visit to the Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit. With possibly twenty or more colorful varieties of butterflies. Some friends joined us. I made a picnic lunch for our excursion. And Rice Krispy treats. It looked like it was going to be a great day. Lanie was thrilled to be going (I actually tipped her off ahead of time). Even in line, her enthusiasm was obvious. We all got our hands stamped at the door with the butterfly stamp, naturally. We enter the exhibit: a magical land of flying, floating, skittering butterflies. It was precious. It took Erin a second to catch on, but then she was, cool ... butterflies. It was remarkable.

I have taken Lanie to this exhibit for the past three or four years, and every year it's the same reception: begging, pleading, tears not to enter the butterfly sanctuary. Panicked eyes, drama, and finally, relief when we leave. But today held new promise. We had friends with us. Fearless friends.

About seven minutes into walking around, Lanie starts crowding around me. A couple of whimpers. And then she's ducking and bobbing as the butterflies flit around. Soon, she's screaming. Shrieks of terror. You think I'm exaggerating, but anyone who knows us, knows I'm not. She has had a similar response to dead leaves on the ground, bees, dogs, and even our cat who's just looking at her. You'd have thought we mistakenly entered the vulture exhibit.

I didn't dare tell her a beautiful blue butterfly landed on her back. But she was in such a panic in general, the butterfly wisely moved on. I got some pictures, but none that really conveyed what I'd hoped the day to be. Fortunately, everyone in our group was ready to move on. Kids were hungry and thirsty. Everyone was ready for a change of scenery. We get outside to walk to the car and Lanie's all, "Oh look at that pretty butterfly over there!" Me, scratching my head, huh?

We get the kids in the car and drive to the part of the park where you can picnic because there's no way any of them would have survived the half mile trek to picnicking. There were even questionable moments in the air-conditioned car. I was tempted to run red lights, and there's not a cop or court in America that would convict me of a crime when I explained, "I had four hungry and thirsty kids in the car!"

So after about two hours of exhibiting, picnicking and park playing, our sweaty troop was ready to head home. Some were whiny, some complainy, some frazzled. I laughed out loud when my friend said, "That was a lot of fun!"

I might have to change Super Surprise Friday to Mean Torture Friday. I wonder if that's how Lanie will remember this summer. "The summer Mom made me do all kinds of things I didn't want to do and caused me to have nightmares and a fear of butterflies."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Be happy

We got all kinds of stuff for beginning school at the teacher supply store. Teacher's planner, schoolish room border for our calendar, fun pencils, stickers, a hall pass, and a chores chart.

The chores chart works with a dry-erase marker (not the Sharpie she used when I told her to use the green marker in the drawer. She went to the wrong drawer and marked up her chart in permanent ink. Fortunately, a few squirts of Windex worked it off.) On it is a typical list of chores: make bed, brush teeth, brush hair, bathe, pick up toys ... and be happy.

Be happy.

She checks it off every day. She might not make her bed. Or take a bath. But she remembers, even just for a little while, long enough to mark it down, to be happy. What goes through her mind when she approaches the chart? Is she filled with glee to check off happiness? Is there a special thrill in knowing that she's happy? What is in her heart at that moment?

Be happy, Lanie. When a friend hurts your feelings, find it in yourself to be happy. When someone lets you down, spin the situation and be happy. When you get family food for dinner, be happy. When Erin wants to play with you, be happy. When you're scared, lonely, worried or mad, find a way to turn it around and be happy.

I want you to be a happy kid. And have happy memories. I want you to grow up to be a happy person. A happy wife. A happy mom. A happy whoever-it-is you're supposed to be.

Be happy.

Be happy.

Be happy.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Super Surprise Friday

Erin enjoyed a long playdate with the babysitter. She had a blast.

I took Lanie out for a super surprise trip to the lake. She didn't know what was up, even as we were walking along the trail that led to the pier. Even when she got into the tackle shop where we were going to make our rental, she wasn't sure of the plan. I don't say this to suggest an eager suspense was building in her. I think as each moment passed, she was growing more and more apprehensive. I'm beginning to see, she doesn't like trying new things.

When we got to the dock and were getting our life vests, she starts crying. She wants to go home. Now, SSF is supposed to be a fun thing. But after our last failed SSF breakfast, I decided that since, one day, Lanie won't be the only child along for the fun, she shouldn't be the one calling the shots on the family's behalf. I should. Kidding. I think we should all learn to do something for everyone's enjoyment, even if it isn't our favorite thing to do. We can be flexible. Lanie isn't going to learn flexibility if I run her home everytime she's scared or thinks she doesn't like the plan. And she certainly won't learn what she likes if she isn't exposed to new stuff.

We sat and chatted for a few minutes. I even said a prayer for her to calm her fears, because I think she was just afraid of something new. And then I tried to get her thinking of the paddle boats. They had pink sparkle and purple sparkle boats. We got a purple one.

I actually got her in the boat. And then I paddled us out on the lake. She sat next to me, frowning and arms crossed. I pointed out the ducks and butterflies. We laughed at the ducks with their bottoms in the air. I snapped a few shots. She frowned for all of them, if I ever got her face in them. Mostly, I saw her back.

Halfway through the trip, I caught a smile or two. And when she said something about the next time we come out and ride paddle boats, I thought, score one for Mom! And score one for Lanie, too.

It turned out to be a nice day on the lake.

My legs are sore from paddling, on top Thursday's first day of Couch to 5K. Yeah, sideline people, I did it. Looking forward to Sunday's run.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Super Surprise Friday

I didn't play up the surprise at all today. When our playdate plans cancelled this morning at 8 a.m., I figured that was fine. I did my household chores and our usual routine and just enjoyed being a mom of two. I casually mentioned that I had something in mind for SSF to Lanie and then changed the subject. I e-mailed Shane to see if he'd be interested in it and he was game.

After dinner, after clean up, after playing outside on the swing set, after Lanie changed into her pajamas, I said, "Is everyone ready for Super Surprise Friday?"

Lanie wondered if she needed shoes. And could she wear pajamas? I said yes to both.

Now this was kind of a repeat surprise, but we did it at bedtime (after 8 p.m.), in pajamas (well, Lanie was in p.j.'s), and Shane came along ... so it was changed up enough. We went to Jimmie Cone and got ice cream. Lanie got a strawberry soft serve with rainbow sprinkles, Erin got a vanilla cone, and Shane got something called a Flurry with Heath bar candy bits in it. I just licked Erin's to make sure it didn't melt all over her. It was a fun night.

And now both girls are tucked in and asleep.