Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Training for... Vacation!

We are taking a Big Family Vacation in June.  We haven't done a true Big Family Vacation since we went to Sesame Place and enjoyed the mountains of Pennsylvania back in July of 2008.  We've done weekend trips to places like Holiday World and southern Indiana, Louisville, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati.  But we haven't done a full week, away from the world, total family vacation.

This year, we're tackling the Big One.

Disney World.

And it's time to start training.

Since my wonderful travel agent (Katie at Hi Ho Vacations) has been handling all of the resort and meals and ticket planning, that means I have a different responsibility in getting ready for this trip.

Disney World requires a lot of walking.  You have to walk across the resort to get to the transportation options.  There is walking across the parks.  There is walking to get back to a favorite ride.  Walking back to transportation, walking through the lines, walking to shop, walking to get to a restaurant.  Walking, walking, walking.  We will log thousands of steps each day.

And as a family, we don't really walk that much, honestly.  If we're going to enjoy all that Disney has to offer, we have to log some miles so our bodies can handle the uptick in activity!

I would like to be in better shape.  And I think there are some things I can do on this month leading up to our trip.

1. Make my group exercise classes at the YMCA a priority.  There are only 2 that really fit with my schedule but I need to make sure I am getting to those classes each week.

2. Ride my bike.  I go to a group each Saturday morning at church.  Church is about 5 miles from home.  If I ride my bike to church and home from church, I log 10 miles.

3. Walk.  When the weather cooperates, I need to get the family out for a walk around the block.  No scooters, no bikes.  Walking around the block, maybe even 2 blocks (2 block loop is about 1 mile).  I can also take my family to area nature preserves and walking trails so that we walk more - I will schedule trips to Ritchey Woods and the Monon so we walk more.  We can also walk from our house to a neighborhood park, play there, and then walk home.

Starting this weekend, it's time to get serious about vacation training.  As a family, we have to be ready to be on our feet for extended periods of time.  Otherwise, we will have no energy, need lots of rest, and be cranky by midday while on our trip.  (Note**  Need to do shoe inventory and checks this weekend. If new sneakers are going to be needed, that has to happen now so we have time to walk a lot in the new shoes!)

There is another training that needs to happen.  My kids will be watching more TV and reading more books.  I know this sounds totally opposite of needing to be more active.  But if the characters and rides aren't connected to things they've enjoyed, it won't mean as much.  Starting this weekend, we need to start working our way through the following list:

Finding Nemo - have books and movie
Cinderella - have movie
Beauty and the Beast - have movie and maybe a book
Little Mermaid - have movie and book
Dumbo - have movie
Winnie the Pooh - have movies and books
Monsters Inc. - have movie
Swiss Family Robinson - nothing
Aladdin - have movie
The Muppets - have DVD's of the show and The Muppet Movie
Toy Story - have movies and book
Lion King - have movie
Peter Pan - might have movie?
Mary Poppins - have movie
Alice in Wonderland - might have nothing!
Pirates of the Caribbean  - have movie
Indiana Jones - pretty sure we have the movie
Star Wars - have all the movies and some of the animated stuff
Classic cartoons - Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Daisy, Chip n Dale. - have movies and books
The Incredibles - have movie
Jungle Book - have movie
Pinocchio - have movie
Aristocats - have movie

We obviously won't get all of those in between now and June.  And some things we are more familiar with (Toy Story and Finding Nemo) than others (Chip and Dale, Star Wars, Indiana Jones).  But I figure it's good to have a list...

So we need to get stronger physically and stronger on all things Disney.  We have a little over a month to kick this plan into high gear!!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Down Time

Down time is very important.  But we really don't give ourselves the right kind of down time, do we?

I know that I am very guilty of having a packed schedule and my "down time" being sitting my lazy booty on the couch in front of the TV for 2 hours after the kids are in bed.

But that kind of down time does nothing to really repair my soul or renew my spirit, does it?

There are all different reasons to get away.  We're taking a family vacation in June and going to Disney World - for the first time.  I think there might be a time that I'd want to get away to a spa and focus on foods that nourish my body, treatments that cleanse and awaken my skin, activities that strengthen me.  Someday, I'd love to take a vacation with just my husband.

But what I've been craving most recently is connection to close friends without interruption of kids or job or responsibilities.  I want spiritual retreat - to have quiet time to praise God and silent time to hear Him.  I want connection to women who understand me, compliment me, strengthen me, walk a similar path.  I want laughter, singing, talking, nature, solitude and togetherness.  Sounds complicated, yes?

But it isn't.

A good friend contacted me with an idea - let's rent a cottage or cabin in Brown County or something.  Into nature, away from the world.

I am eager to go.  I am eager to cook with friends.  To sit still.  To soak in a hot tub.  To drink wine.  To walk.  To sing into the trees.  To take photographs.  To talk.  To laugh.  To play games.  To simply... be.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Lay Down Your Burdens

Jesus said... Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I shall give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

Anyone who carries any kind of burden in their hearts can find peace in those words.  Even non-believers can hear those words and find a desire to lay down their burdens and have rest, have peace.

This past weekend, another Walk to Emmaus was held.

Here is the amazing thing about the Walk to Emmaus.  Amazing God things always happen there.  I had my own important experiences and takeaways from my Walk just one year ago.

This weekend experience is hard to put into words.  Even if I were to write out every detail of the agenda, it wouldn't capture the beauty of the weekend and what the experiences mean to the men and women who attend.

Here are things that I hear from people as they complete their weekends -

I was finally able to let go of some big burdens.  Burdens I had been holding on to for years and for comfort and for familiarity.  Burdens that I was scared to let go of.  And as soon as I turned it over to God during my weekend, I felt immense peace and purpose.

I've never felt so loved.  I've never known that so many people could find me worthy of love simply because I exist. I want to live my life to show that I am worthy of that love that comes from God and I want to share it with others.

I was completely overwhelmed with kindness and being taken care of and being in God's presence.

I realize that I've been selfish and I want to put God first so that I can be a better spouse/parent/child.

There are 3 main themes that I hear from people who have gone on a Walk (or similar experience like the Great Banquet or Cursillo) - Priorities, Laying Down of Burdens, Love.

Many people come away from Emmaus with a new or renewed focus on God.  For some, it's the first step in really forming a personal relationship with God.  For some, it's a deepening of an existing relationship.  For some, it's learning about how Christianity works, the foundation, and the drive to learn more.  From there, people want to put their faith first, live it louder, and share God with others.

Emmaus is not therapy or counseling.  It's not a place to go work through addiction, eating disorders, childhood trauma, nasty divorces, mourning, and so on.  But those things come up because those things are real life.  Those things are part of who we are and part of what we carry.  Many of us are hanging on to things that weigh us down, though.  We've "dealt with" those hardships, that trauma, the drama.  But we still hold on to the scars, to the hurts, to the pain.  It comforts us, in some way.  At Emmaus, there are oppostunities to take those burdens to God and to lay them down and leave them.  That's something any of us can do at any time.  But Emmaus is a safe place, a safe environment, and the events that occur help you to better understand what it means to really "let go and let God."

Love will become redefined at Emmaus.  It will be deeper, stronger, wider.  Love will change in you and then flow out of you in a new way.  I became aware of love in a philospohical way but also in a very real and visceral way on my Walk.

If you want to know more, I want to tell you more.  If you want to go on one of these experiences, I want to help you find your way.  For those in the Indianapolis area, the next Walks are in October (Men's Walk is Oct 10-13 and Women's Walk is Oct 17-20).  There is a Chrysalis Flight (the Walk to Emmaus designed for youth) in February of 2014.

Everything Emmaus has to offer is already available through a relationship with God and involvement in a church.  Having faith is the starting point.  There is nothing you gain at Emmaus that isn't already taught and shared.  But taking several days to only focus on God, to only focus on what He wants for you, to truly renew yourself in Him... that's what makes Emmaus such a unique growth experience.


Friday, April 19, 2013


A year ago, I went on a God experience weekend and had an incredible weekend.  I grew in ways I hadn't anticipated and I had some powerful things happen.

Last weekend, my husband went on this same weekend experience.

This weekend, I have a few friends who are there - some experiencing the Walk to Emmaus and some there to work the Walk in various ways.

One of the best things about the Walk to Emmaus weekends that come up is the reminder that it is an awesome and incredible thing to be able to serve the people you love and to love and serve people you don't even know.

There are people who totally do that without God.  I know some of them.

But the majority of atheists and non-believers in a higher power don't seem to have that same sense of selfless and compassionate giving of time, talents, and treasure.

And I know plenty of people who claim to follow Christ who don't serve others without selfish motives.

All of that aside, personally... I just get such a high when I am able to serve others in some way.

Reaching out to a friend and being to find a way to help them through a headache situation.

Reaching out to connect someone who needs help to someone who can help.

Making treats or little gifts just to brighten someone's day.

Remembering to invite someone to lunch.

Dropping a note to someone just to connect and say hello.

Leaving a public note of encouragement or praise on a friend's Facebook page.

Handing a bottle of water to the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign.

Buying socks and distributing them to the homeless.

Responding to my child with patience.

And the really amazing thing is that when I focus myself on serving others and seek to selflessly support and love those around me...

My life is better.

Serving others ends up improving my life.  Serving others improves the life of the person I serve.

What an amazing world this could be if we all focused on serving others just for the sake of making someone else's life better.  What an amazing world this would be if we set aside our own problems and our own little wants and "first world problems" and sought to just love other people, support other people, help other people.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” 
― Barack Obama

“The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace” 
― Mother Teresa


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Ego

I got a nice little reminder that my ego can be my biggest hurdle.

The short story is that Jeff went on a retreat this past weekend.  I had expectations and hopes of what he would get from it.  God had other plans.  I was disappointed and even angry.

Until I got over myself and realized, with the help of friends, that my ego was really getting in my own way.

I didn't intend for it to happen.  I just thought I saw a clear trajectory.  I thought that what I've seen in the past was clearly indicating that there would be some sort of Big Thing that happened and I was certain it was God's plan coming alive.

But I forgot the part where God's plan is already alive and is happening exactly as it should.  His plan, not mine.

Yes, I get excited and eager for the potential that I see... for the changes that I see happening.  And I get ahead of Him.  I want to rush forward to that point where I think things are going to end up.

Again - my ego.  I somehow think that the plan I've come up with in my head is the best and I forget that the things that might really happen could be vastly different than anything I've imagined.

So my focus now is to let go and open myself up again.  I need to keep myself open and seek to be an instrument, not the driver and director.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ending Friendships

I never thought I would have to be "that mom."  I never thought I would have to step in and dictate who my child can be friends with.  But it's come to that.

Teagan has a little friend.  I'll call her Susie.  Susie and Teagan became friends in 1st grade.  They were in the same class and were also in the before/after care program together.

After a few months, things seemed... off.  Susie is a kid with some problems.  Lots of kids have problems but something about it didn't sit well with me.  But we forged on - she and Teagan were friends.

There were some issues in first grade but things seemed better over the summer - the girls were in day camp together.

2nd grade starts and my child's anxiety takes an uptick as the school year progresses.  They aren't in the same class but still see each other in the before/after care program and at recess and in an extracurricular activity.

Things get worse and worse.

As a mom, I try explaining to Teagan that it might be best not to be friends with Susie.  That friends are people you feel good around and who feel good when they're around you.  That isn't the case with her and Susie.

One of the complications is that Susie has made friends with Mary in her class and Susie and Mary will gang up on Teagan on the playground.

Teagan has ended up in a situation where she has dedicated herself to a relationship that leaves her feeling ugly inside which can lead to her being mean and bossy to other kids so she doesn't have close friendships outside of this girl at school.  Her friendship with this girl has ended up isolating her.

As a mom, I've tried encouraging her to connect with other kids.  We talk about kids in her class who are nice and who she enjoys.

After a lovely spring break... and a sick day on Monday...

Teagan started expressing serious anxiety about returning to school.  I think her middle of the night puking on Sunday may have even been related to her anxiety about it.

And after 1 day back and after several run ins with Susie and Mary... Teagan had an absolute meltdown last night.  Screaming, crying, raging, pounding.  All directed at me because I'm safe.

And I drew the line.

She is no longer allowed to be friends with Susie (and by extension, Mary).

She didn't fight me.  She didn't cry or tell me no.

The game plan at this point is a conversation with the head of the before/after care program, a letter to the teacher, an email to the teacher and guidance counselor, a call to the summer day camp so we don't end up in the same camps, a request that they not be in the same class next year.

The before/after care conversation happened this morning and we have their full support.  The head of the program was in complete agreement - and shared that she has also been working to encourage the girls not to spend time together.  Now that mom has laid down the rule, it can be enforced.

I don't know what else to do.  I hate to blame this little girl.  But she has some serious reasons to be angry at the world.  And this girl she's partnered up with has potential for full on bullying, too.

Teagan is one of the smallest kids her age in all her social circles.  All she has to defend herself is her wit, her attitude, and her meanness.  If she's been feeling like she's under attack, tense about this relationship all the time... no wonder she finds it easier to be mean than kind when she's at school.  It's her defense system.

I think I'm doing the right thing.  I posted about it in my mom group and got a lot of support and ideas.  But it's hard.  It's hard to interfere and decide for my daughter that she can't be friends with someone.

My hope is that the lesson she learns from it now will help her to determine how to break off toxic relationships in the future.  My hope is that the actions we take now will help us get through the end of the school year and through the summer.  My hope is I don't have to get even more drastic in my options to keep them separated.

But she's worth it.  Because she's an amazing kid and she's worth anything it takes to keep her safe and happy.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Farmers Markets. Now, Please!

This past weekend, I was able to attend the preview night opening of the Indiana Artisan Marketplace.  I had given away tickets to the event, as well.

I shared an album of pictures on my Facebook page.  Go check it out - you'll see that I was very focused on the food and wine represented at the event.

And then I spent the rest of the weekend wishing I could go back.  But we didn't have time.  And I would have totally overspent.

But it made me realize - I am so ready for our Farmers Markets to start up!!  You might recall that I have a deep fondness for our local market.

Many of these Artisan vendors sell products at local markets.

Broad Ripple Farmers Market - opens May 4

Carmel Farmers Market - opens May 18

Fishers Farmers Market - opens May 25

And there is also the year round option of the Indianapolis City Market.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Conner Prairie

As part of our time off for Spring Break, I took the kids to Conner Prairie for an afternoon.  We are members and it is one of our favorite places to visit.  I was concerned the place might be packed due to spring break.  However, the weather was a bit chilly and I think that kept the crowds away.  Which meant we ended up with a very special visit!

It's always fun to try out the stilts!

The medicines in the doctor's office - neat to see items still used for health today (like chamomile, flax seed, and epsom salt).

I don't know what kind of bird this is but he was loud and pretty!
When we visited the Golden Eagle Inn, there was literally no one else around.  The costumed interpreter must have been super excited to finally have some company - he eagerly asked if the kids wanted to help him make gingersnaps.  He had the dough all ready and showed them how to sprinkle flour on the cutting board and how to roll out the dough and how to use a tin cup to cut out circles.  He would then put the cookies on the griddle over the fire.  The kids worked as a team - and worked very independently once he had shown them what to do.  I just stood back and enjoyed watching.


This calf took a real liking to Teagan's coat - must have been tasty!

2 baby goats played "king of the hill."  The littlest goat won - it was hilarious!

Goat in a tote.

Baby goats - 3 were born one week ago and 1 had been born just days before.

This was Zach's first time being willing to participate in candle making.  We had the station to ourselves so the kids got a great lesson from the worker there and got to work on dipping many many candles!

Cold hands?
Warm fire!

 Visiting the blacksmith was awesome, too.  Again, we were the only ones there for a bit.  So the kids really got some one on one attention from the blacksmith and Teagan knocked my socks off with how smart she was!!  The blacksmith was asking questions and she was using that noggin to figure out the logical answer.  It was great!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve

Spent a lovely bit of time at a local nature preserve.  Eager to go back in a couple of weeks to see how much has changed as spring sets in.

Photo by Teagan

Photo by Teagan

Photo by Zach

Photo by Zach

Photo by Zach

Photo by Zach