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Kite-ishness

“Let’s go fly a kite. Up to the highest height. Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring. Up to the atmosphere, up where the air is clear, oh! Let’s goooo….fly a kite!”

Ah, yes.  The infamously catchy song at the end of the film version of Mary Poppins.  Once you begin humming it, you won’t be able to stop.  I want you to know it was with a heart of great sacrifice that I was willing to even go there.  I won’t get a wink of sleep tonight.

Having said that, however, I must simply must put forth the reality of the intoxicating nature of a kite.  I have, in fact, always thought so and have been apparently mistaken in my understanding that everyone feels just this way.

I grew up in Wyoming.  That is enough explanation for anyone who has been there or has even passed through certain parts of that state.  They should put up signs that read:

Beware: Winds So Strong They Will Flatten Your Ears, Compress your Eyeballs, And Remove All Visible Hair (Or at least tangle it until you look like Helena Bonham Carter)

It was natural that we should, as adventurous children, take to kite-flying.  The wind was there in abundance and in that pristine high-plains desert, with the sky such a deep blue it defied comprehension, the thrill of feeling that sharp tug and the heart-pounding feel of the power of the skies was enough to make my knees go weak.

The kite became an extension of my arm and it was addicting, that sharp uptake, the gentle tugging to locate the updrafts and then, whooosh.  All I had to do was keep releasing it to it’s destiny up there in the freedom of the blueness, and then I would test it.  Is it firmly up there?  Is the weight right?  Do I need more tail ties?  Most of the time it was perfection and I would crouch and then lay down in the oh-so-soft Kentucky blue grass, all the string out, and just watch the distant dot weave and dodge.

Ever so often, the wind would be too much and the string would go slack after a sharp but gentle snap.  The kite would rise, free, caught up in something much bigger than itself.  I never really felt sad when that happened.  I did, after all, know how to build my own kites, so I would go and make another one and feel satisfied that there were little pieces of my kite genius out there with the rattlesnakes, toads, and sage bushes.

Things have changed.  I am now married with three of my own.  I live in the Midwest.  What they consider wind out here is laughable.  But I am kind and humor them, these Heartland people.

I hadn’t gone kite-flying in years.  And then my love goes and gets two.  Two kites.  I could hardly contain my excitement and jumble of nerves.  We put them together and tried to put them up.  It was supposedly windy on Memorial Day.  Not in my estimation, but I went along so as not to be a spoilsport.

I was feeling sorely disappointed in the lackluster performance of my kite, when my love and our eldest son launched theirs and it went up and up and up, and stayed up.  All the string was out. And then I looked over and felt tears spring to my eyes.  There he was my 7 yr. old lying in the grass, casually holding the handle of the kite, showing off a bit I imagine.  How, I wondered, do children know to do that?  It must be, I decided, part of that “kite-knowingness”.  Laying in the grass is just how it’s supposed to be.

My little Miss and I kept working on getting ours into flight as Little Bear repeatedly asked for milk.  I’m afraid he wasn’t understanding the true import of the event.

Boy, ours simply gave us fits.  We tried everything.  We adjusted the tension, the tail weight, and the angle against the wind.  Glad to say, right as a bit of rain began to fall we experienced take-off.  Such a sense of satisfaction we had as we trudged home, our arms sore and our eyes squinty from staring into the sky.

So, I say with some boldness, take your Wii and your iPods and your high-tech entertainment, World.

I’m stickin’ with my kite any day.

*Note: If you want to make your own kite…

I found a good tutorial here and a neat excerpt from the American Boys Handy Book. Click on the links at the bottom of that page.  There are all kinds of neat-o ideas for creating your own flying experience.

And I so desperately wish I had photos for you, but our camera is causing me fits and it was virtually impossible to shoot good pictures.  There were so many memorable moments for us that all I can say is to seize the day and a  good kite and relish a grand wrestle with the wind.

My Dad actually made this very swing for me when I was 19. He sent it with me when I got married, which I loved. Joshua surprised me the other day by hanging it in a small tree in the backyard. He then made me cover my eyes and did a big unveiling. Bear loves it because it’s just his size. I have a feeling it will be there for a very long time.

Precious little toes, covered in dirt…

Joshua took a picture of Sunday’s blue sky…

…and Bear, with his sister’s artistry on his forehead; a bright, pink Winnie the Pooh stamp. They are actually scattered all over his face, and if you look closely, you’ll see them on his cheek, temple, and forehead. I have no idea where they got the idea, but later on that night, while changing him, I discovered stamps all over his torso, arms, and legs. Is there such a thing as pink ink poisoning? Their creativity knows no bounds, I guess.

I haven’t posted in a few days. Have been very busy trying not to be busy. It really does take a bit of effort for me, but once achieved, it is worth it. Completely and thoroughly worth it.

I suppose that is the main thought behind the title of my blog. Learning to appreciate a slower existence. I know, ‘Stop Lights’ is a strange and somewhat vague blog title, but I honestly couldn’t think of something more appropriate. I want my life and the life I share with others to be a life in the slow lane. Or, at the very least, a life that is periodically there, in the lane where others are honking at you and you are sharing precious road space with old ladies and farmers who don’t know any better. I hope I am beginning to learn something from the slow lane and all those who reside there with a self-assuredness born of the rewards.

Who says I have to run like mad everywhere at once? I realized sometime this fall that it is all about decisions, goals, what I want to be like and how I want to see the world when I am, God willing, very old.

The goals I see as most valuable for me, personally, are the ones that involve a precise weaving of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body. Am I feeding myself and my family well in all the ways that matter? I am sorry to say I am fidgety with slowness. Impatient even. Up until now I have run my life at full-tilt, working hard, busy, always looking to the next thing.

It’s not all bad. I have done a lot of things, seen a lot of successes, some failures, and regrets to be sure. But I’m having the darndest time getting off the treadmill.

I have three very lovely, soft, and precocious mini-humans running about my house. Always full of questions and a natural affinity for the slower life, they constantly challenge me.

“Can you read me a story, Mama?”

“Can you write me a story, Mama?”

“Will you read my story, Mama? Do you like the picture of you? I made it with brown hair and green eyes.”

“Can we start building the tree house, yet?”

“You wanna come see our secret hide-out? Pulleeeeeeeze, Mama?”

“Can I wear your jewelry?”

“Do you like the pillow I sewed?”

“Can I have that bottle? Is it recycling, Mama, if I use the bottle to make a super-duper rocket? Will you help me?”

Ah, yes. The constant reminders of what is important always walking around me and under my feet.

I want to want slow ways. I think I’m on my way, but it has taken a determined stride in another direction to achieve the type of gradual awareness I have now.

Like seeing the little chef in my son and teaching him, coaching him, and letting him try new things so he has a profound sense of accomplishment that has nothing to do with perfection. Watching him carefully heat a skillet, slice a pat of butter and watch it sizzle. The precise crack of an egg, the search for shell pieces, and the ultimate reward of a expertly flipped omelet. I don’t think any omelet I have ever made for myself has tasted anywhere near as good as his do. It must be his 7 yr. old boyishness that lends it that perfect blend of salty and mellow.

Like seeing the girly, artsy side of my daughter and letting her express that even if it means piles and piles of “projects” that seem to fill every drawer in the house. I am beginning to realize there will be a day those projects will be priceless not only to me, but to her. Little stepping stones of success that she can look back and see and appreciate. And she wants to make cheese when she grows up. Just like that. Cheese. At 5 yrs old she knows this. I told her she can only if she promises to send me some every month until I die a happy, cheesy death.

Like our youngest who can set us all to giggling with just one expression and who never holds back a kiss and a snuggle. He also doesn’t hesitate to tell me ‘no’. A firecracker, that one.

So, most days I am still left with that habitual nervousness that asks, Is it safe to cease planning just for a little while? Can I just live today, enjoy today, love today and still be responsible?

Perhaps I need to be asking myself, Is is safe to NOT stop and experience the ‘nows’?

I’m thinking this week will be a bit of an enjoyment of the slow lane. Little posts rendering my determination to experience the whole of something, by recognizing and appreciating the little parts.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday, looking out my window and spied a few flowers in bloom. Upon investigating I ran for some garden shears and a vase and ended up with this little piece of Spring:

Just a bit of post-Mother’s Day cheer.

Happy Monday.

Mom

*an old snapshot of my very own mother…check out those shoes*grin*

Sometimes this day feels a bit unreal for me. I have been a mother for almost eight years, but it still seems so new. I wonder if motherhood will ever get that broken-in, well-worn feeling or if I will always feel a little out of my element. There always seems to be something new to learn, something more to see.

My little ones are continually surprising me with their sharp observations and innocent questions. Somehow, amazingly, they think I have all the answers. I wish I did, but some of my very own kindergarten-mind queries are still floating around in my head after all these years, no closer to being answered than when I asked them. When I became a mother those unanswered questions settled down a bit with the understanding that comes of having them endlessly tossed back at me. I have become very okay with not having all the answers.

And, of course, I now understand my own mother’s wise, but sometimes vague solutions to my childhood problems. She wasn’t stupid, nor was she deliberately trying to be unclear as much as she had also begun to understand that she wasn’t put on this earth to be a walking encyclopedia. She was a guiding hand of reason and discipline as were both my grandmothers each in their own special way.

There were so many times I wanted specifics, but the only answer forthcoming was, “Someday you will understand.” Oh, how that rankled. But, oh how that was so true. Now I do understand. And notwithstanding the frustration I know my children feel when I repeat that little gem to them, I say it nonetheless because I want them to feel the satisfaction of growing older and coming into that wisdom that comes with time and experience and a strong walk with God.

Not all answers are out of our reach, I am glad to say. I do happen to know how to tie a shoe, how to solve a math problem, and why grass is green. I do know that red and blue make purple and how many players are on a volleyball team. I know how to find middle C on a piano and how to write a good ‘thank you’ note. All of these a credit to my own mother and hers before her.

Let’s walk forward as mothers with a lightheartedness borne of time and a sobriety borne of experience, that we may pass it forward to our little ones for their own time to come.

Love them, teach them, lead them. Never give up on them. Guide them in the way everlasting.

So, from me to you, I pray you are having an absolutely wonderful Mother’s Day.

Oh, my. May is here. It really is here. I was wondering come February if May was only a mirage. Alas, it was not. It is very, very real.

May is a lovely month. Full of promise, plans, and school finals. Ah, yes. I’m so glad I’m a grown-up now. No finals. Just Spring Cleaning. And as challenging as Spring Cleaning is for me, I would so much rather have that than finals week. No equivocation on my part.

My summer plans include mostly projects for the house. Last summer was spent almost entirely on heading a fundraiser for an orphanage in Africa and then an offer for me to actually go see it! So I went. To Africa. It still is amazing realizing I was there.

Anyway, last summer from June through August I basically got ready for Africa. You see, our plans were simple to begin with, but some requests were made for us to extend our time there in order to help at the school in Limbe (Cameroon). We agreed and spent three weeks doing teacher’s seminars, children’s clubs, and a weekend women’s conference. That meant our preparation here started in June and culminated the end of August. My little family prayed with me about the opportunity, and the sent me with full blessing, but I know it was such a sacrifice for them as I had to put in long days of writing, doing lesson plans, and compiling supplies for the school and teachers. It was a blessing to go, but I am so thankful my summer seems relatively unencumbered this year.

So, if I may offer an encouragement to all ladies, married, unmarried, children, no children: Embrace this month as a time to make plans, not just for the summer, but for you, your family, and your friends and those around you who simply need your help. Don’t forget those who are most important and make time to build those relationships. Often, they don’t get tended unless we are intentional about it.

Maybe it was the fact that I spent all weekend cleaning, sorting, and cleaning some more.  Maybe it was the knowledge that our neighbors are moving and are having a garage sale this coming weekend.  Or maybe it is what happens naturally when there is an unexpected chunk of time when the only two choices are: 1) watching reruns of Laverne and Shirley, or 2) cleaning out yet another closet.

Lately, weeding out undesirable belongings has won out over L&S.  Hands down.  I know.  Simply amazing, huh?

However, with all this cleaning out, throwing away, giving away, and selling, comes an empty feeling that simply must be filled.

I’m not talking about more stuff, per se.  I’m more thinking about how to make a newly cleaned space feel beautiful again without going out and spending the whole wad and starting that deadly accumulation all over again.

I believe it can be done.  I’m just not always sure how.

That’s where pictures come in.  I love looking for inspiration in pictures.  Whether it be an interesting color or a new arrangement of furniture,  it helps me see my current belongings in a whole new light.

With Mother’s Day coming up, I am looking for inexpensive ideas to dress a semi-alfresco table.  My porch is going to undergo the same clean-up as the rest of the house has, and I want some ideas in place to re-beautify once it is decluttered and ready.

I found the picture below, here.

Don’t you just love it?  They simply pulled some potted plants from the rest of their garden, and, artfully arranged, they work so nicely.

And then there’s this idea.

Isn’t it great?  Perfect for any yard and any budget.  Use different colors, more or less of anything and you have yourself a perfect Mother’s Day space.  Can’t get over the sawhorses.

I don’t have the super wonderful, fancy table and chairs of the first picture, but I do have my plain, white everything that will work I am sure.

So, here’s the deal.  I’m going to go clean, scrounge around, and decorate my “new” screened porch.  When I get it done, I’ll post an inspiration picture of my own so you can tell me how well I did.

Off I go to work a little miracle.  Have an inspired Wednesday.

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