Fathering

The best dad I know is fatherless.  Not by choice, but by circumstance.  His first one exited at age 3, the second one walked out when he was 27.

Chris doesn’t have a dad to talk to on the back porch.  Or join for a “quick” game of golf.  He doesn’t get lectured or advised.  Or even called on his birthday.

He’s leading us. 
Without a guide.

And yet, despite his messed-up models, I can’t think of a better example.

Chris makes the kids’ breakfasts, packs their lunches, and prepares our dinners.
He goes on field trips.  And volunteers for forest days.
He takes out splinters and cleans up spills.
He teaches our kids to wear helmets, jump curbs, to say sorry, to season everything, to use their words, and to notice others.
He listens to their bed-time ramblings and turns up the volume when they start to dance.
He buys them new shoes when his own are beyond worn-out.
He gives.  And gives some more.

When our six-year-old begged for a haircut and our schedule kept conflicting with the barbershop’s, Chris offered to cut it himself.

Mind you, he had never cut hair.  He had never been taught the skills or been given the tools.  He only knew what a good haircut looked like.

After 45 minutes and one major meltdown of “It’s-too-long… I-look-like-a-girl ”Chris went back to the drawing board, er bathroom, and tried again.

Duke loved it.
And I loved him.

Not having a good example does’t mean we’re doomed to the same pattern.  It just means that we have to create our own.

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So, to all the dads who are trying to figure it out,
We Need You.
To the dads who know spending time with the kids is as valuable as spending time at the office,
We Love You.

Keep Fathering.

Beauty

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Before we visited the orchards in Hood River, I never could really imagine the Garden of Eden.  Now, at last, I can.

There were rows upon rows of every fruit tree/bush/vine you could imagine.  Think fifty shades of green, dotted with bright bursts of warm colors.  The kids raced each other in who could pick the most strawberries, while Chris and I wandered Walk-in-the-Clouds-like through the grape vines.
Then, with sheers in hand, we tromped through the flower beds to cut the perfect bouquet.
Days later, our house still smells of peony blossoms – like bath powder and pink cheeks.

And, then the thought struck me:

Do you think flowers know that they’re beautiful?

Or do they have thoughts like…
I wish my stem was thinner.
My leaves are too flabby.
I never looked good in red.
I wish my buds were bigger.
My petals are so wrinkly.
If only I was taller.
The humidity doesn’t help.
Oh goodness, gravity.

It seems silly that they would even question their beauty.  Just as I have never seen a flower that I didn’t love.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the flowers.

That beauty is being exactly who you were created to be.

In the form and shape you were given.

Growing roots and leaning towards the sun.

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Mess

It started as mud pies.  A relatively safe, tidy (as far as dirt goes) kind of playing.  I imagine kids have been making mud pies as long as men have been whistling at women.

Forever.
But, then they wanted to smash the mud pies.  And smear them.
Eloise insisted on making mud soup.  Which led to pouring it over her head.  Which led to her brother doing the same.  Which led to the friends following behind.

What started as simple mud pie turned into a full-body mud bath.

I probably should have stopped them.  The clean-up was annoying.  The water bill will undoubtedly be high.
But.
The laughter was contagious.
The shrieking, hilarious.
And the reactions were priceless.

So many times, I’ve planned on doing ______________, but it suddenly turned into ___________________.

Like when I planned on taking photos and collecting stories of Love’s firsts, but then realized instead of hiding behind others’ stories, I should be telling my own.

There’s nothing wrong with mud pies.
But, I think I’m ready to embrace the mess.
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