This found me today. (Find it here.)
The theme of my life lately is this:
When I least expect it (and quite possibly when I need it the most) my kids are teaching me.
Case in point:
The other day, two-year-old Gracie stepped outside the front door and called back to me "Look Mom! A Kangaroo!" At the time I was busying about in the kitchen and, since our little neighborhood in the suburbs of New York is not know for its kangaroo population, I almost didn't stop what I was doing. I almost didn't pay the comment much mind. Almost.
Instead, I stopped. I went over to the door and looked out. Gracie was standing on the front porch pointing up to the clouds. With that wide-eyed expression on her face that kids get. (You know the one.)
When she saw me next to her she cried out again, "A kangaroo! A kangaroo!" And there it was. A kangaroo in the clouds.
Do you ever have those times where you wonder if what you do all day is of great significance in the grand scheme of things? With everyone else rushing around you, hustling, contributing to big things, prioritizing, making plans, taking meetings, moving and shaking, building, reaping rewards. What I do all day may be ordinary, by some standards, but I really like to think that I have always made it one of my top priorities to highlight the extraordinary along the way.
The movers and shakers sometimes balk when I do the stop and smell the roses thing. It slows down the works. Yes, I have been called a daydreamer. Since I was young, actually. And yes, it has been occasionally called to my attention that I, at times, have my head in the clouds.
Well now, apparently, my kids do too.
In fact, just a few minutes ago six-year-old Jack jumped on my lap while I was typing this post and read it to himself. He looked at the picture and said, "I thought it was an "F." No, actually it's a unicorn. Definitely a unicorn."
My children read the clouds and that makes me happy. Taking the time to stop and wonder opens your mind up to all the possibilities out there, big and small. It is a great way to see the world. And I hope they will find that this way of thinking will serve them well as they explore all the opportunities that this world has to offer.
That kangaroo cloud was a reminder to me that the small stuff is big, and the rewards are priceless. And being the person who is there to bear witness to them each day is an honor and a privilege. And stopping to smell the roses is time well spent.
And yet, I know there are those who would say: You got all that from a cloud? Oh, well. So be it.
We crafted some cute little tokens of affection out of clay for Valentine's Day. We plan on passing them out to friends along with some handwritten Valentines.
To make the clay, I modified a recipe from this book:
First, combine 1 cup of cornstarch, 2 cups of baking soda, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Stir over low heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes. Put a tablespoon of water and a few drops of food coloring into each of 3 or 4 bowls. Divide clay into smaller batches. Add each batch of clay to a bowl, and knead it until the color is evenly distributed. Cover each bowl with a damp towel until you are ready to work with the clay.
Then, roll small handfulls of clay into balls, and press them flat into circular pancake-type shapes. Then cut out your hearts with a heart cookie cutter. Gracie was a big fan of the rolling, pressing, and cutting -- perfect jobs for little toddler hands!
Next, press your messages into the clay using small alphabet stamps. This is just where my young speller, Jack, is at right now -- it was the perfect job for him!
Let your clay hearts dry overnight. You can add some color to the conversation using fine-tipped pens. (These pens worked for us.)
Nothing makes me happier than heartfelt sentiments combined with hands-on fun. I hope these will make cute little keepsakes for friends and family -- they were certainly made with love!
Speaking of love, I also LOVE these fruit sticker Valentines! What an awesome (and healthy) way to spread the sweetness!
My little random-number-generators worked hard at helping me with the book giveaway. Jack wrote 70+ numbers on tiny pieces of paper, and Gracie helped to fold them up and put them in her cowboy hat. (As an aside, writing on tiny scraps of paper is a good way to give that helper hand, the one whose job it is to stabilize the paper while you write, a good workout... and folding is a great fine motor activity too!)
Jack chose the number corresponding to this lucky comment:
And Gracie chose the number corresponding to this lucky comment:
I have to say, I was blown away with how sincere and inspiring all of the comments were. Did you get a chance to read them? They could make a book in and of themselves. I have gotten so many new ideas from reading your writing memories, and I can't thank everyone enough for sharing them all. I truly recommend, if you have a quiet moment (and maybe a cup of tea), sit down and read through all the wonderful childhood writing moments that were unforgettable to us as adults. It really speaks to how big of an impact we can have on our kids in the writing realm. Amazing!
Thanks again for sharing your stories. I am reading them to my kids, a few at a time, and they are loving them too!