August 25, 2014

The Summer Series - Whit Honea

A copy of Whit Honea's book, The Parents' Phrase Book: Hundreds of Easy, Useful Phrases, Scripts, and Techniques for Every Situation, sits on my bedside table. That way, I have quick access when I need it. Which has happened on more than one occasion. And you know what? His stuff is genius!

Whit describes himself on his personal blog as, "a 40-something, middle-class, balding, white guy." I assure you, he is so much more than that. He is a brilliant writer. A devoted husband and father. A loving son and sibling. A caring, involved citizen of the world. A cherished friend. Whit is courageous. Funny. Eloquent. Generous.

I think it's pretty obvious I love this guy! And I'm so honored to have him here to finish off my Summer Series...

Table Talk

The table was a wedding gift from my father. It was heavy and solid, reliable and deep with wood grains blushed and a face full of beauty. We placed it against the wall of our tiny house and stood in the doorway to watch our lives dance fast and foolish around it.

It was covered in one decor and then another. It was moved across town and across the country. It was carried down stairs by strangers and upstairs by others. It gathered family and friends for meals, games, drinks, and late night conversations—and it gathers them still.

There have been times over the years that we have considered alternatives. Styles have changed, space has ebbed and flowed, and our wants that come and go, but the table has remained, varnished with memories and scuffed by the lives that lean heavy upon it.

Chances are if you pressed your ear upon the surface that you would hear a sea of laughter rolling across the waves of days gone by. You would taste the wonder of countless meals and then grow fat and lazy in its comfort. If it could talk we would all be in trouble.

I have sat upon its benches and entertained ghosts in the small, lonesome darkness. My grandparents have rested their elbows around cups of tea and coffee. My wife’s father pressed his wheelchair right against it. My stepmother, the table was from her, too, made toasts to tomorrow, and my mother raised her glass to meet them all and then some. An old dog spent a decade in its shadow guarding our legs and begging for whatever scraps we could spare. It connected all of us, and it remembers those that are gone.

I have watched my children bask there in the warm glow of soft, yellow mornings, a complete breakfast in their bowl and endless crumbs beneath the eaves and everything. I have reprimanded them for the scratches and stains left by careless art and the gentle give of thinly sliced paper—the same scars that we now consider character and wouldn’t remove for anything.

It is more than a piece of furniture. It is a time machine, a scrapbook from whence we came and a place to plan for where it is we’re going. It is history made and the more making of it.

The table still stands, centered between nook and wall, and we sit around it daily. We dine. We talk. We laugh. We fight. We work. We cry. We sit together to ponder the world, and we try to solve its puzzles.

OK, I am totally going to stop reprimanding my daughter for the scratches and stains on our kitchen table. It wasn't a meaningful gift. But we are building memories around that space every day. And I need to remember how much these things will mean to me years from now. Thanks, Whit!

Check out the other Summer Series contributors:

August 22, 2014

Back to school with love

Today, SB will complete her first week of Kindergarten. It's been a good one. She loves her school, her teacher, and has made friends easily.

The new school year has meant some new routines for our family, but so far we have adjusted well.

For the second year we will be using Lunchbox Love® cards. But this time around, we're doing things a little differently. Each night, I select and place a new card at my daughter's setting at the kitchen table. When she comes downstairs for breakfast in the morning, it is waiting for her.

By Wednesday, she was running to the table to see her card.

I'm using the Lunchbox Love® cards this way because:

  • Starts the day off on a positive note - In the weeks leading up to school, my daughter was negative about starting Kindergarten. She had a very poor attitude, and we weren't sure why. I decided to use the cards in the morning as a way to begin our day with a positive message, and maybe a laugh (she loves the jokes). Fortunately, her mood turned around as soon as we attended orientation and she saw her classroom. But I still like starting the day off with some special love.
  • She is learning to read - SB is doing very well with reading, at a very basic level. She is after all just five years old. We read the Lunchbox Love® cards together in the morning as a way to help her learn. She can figure some of it out herself, but not all. I imagine if I put a card in her lunch box, she'd likely give up and set it aside. This way, I know the message has been received.
  • Lunch time is crunch time - Last year in VPK, SB would come home every day with her lunchbox almost full. If she'd eaten anything it all, it was only a few bites. When I'd ask her what she had done during lunch time, she would admit she had spent it chatting with her friends. Of course, she'd be hungry and incredibly grumpy and need food the moment we got home. I did not want this to continue in the new school year. Especially since the day is longer, more is expected of her, and this is her first time eating in a cafeteria. She doesn't need any more distractions at lunch time right now. 

So this new system has been working well for us as SB has headed back to school. The only issue we've run into is that she wants ALL the cards to include a fact or a joke related to animals. She's not interested in anything else.

The girl is all about animals. So maybe Say Please can hook me up with some special animal-themed sets!

SB's school allows parents to join their kids in the cafeteria for lunch. I plan to take full advantage of that this year, since she is still young enough to think it is cool. I went yesterday and SB declared: "Mommy, this is so awesome. We're going to do this once a week. On Mondays. Monday will be our special day."

And on those occasions, I may bring a Lunchbox Love® card along with me. I just wish they didn't eat lunch at 10:50AM...

Disclaimer: As a member of the Lunchbox Love® Mom Panel, I am compensated for promoting the company in a variety of ways, including writing sponsored posts like this one. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. Read my full disclosure policy here.

August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Kindergarten

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