With so much in parenting, one of the greatest skills I’m learning is how to manage our expectations. What you can’t see in this picture, is a vacation hit with a 103 degree fever on the first day, a family wedding missed, and many hours spent in bed at a hotel. It’s easy to feel angry, frustrated, and disappointment. But once I came to understand in my mind that these are all just part of our memories, our family story, it somehow melts those expectations away and clears the way to just live as we are, with the highs and the lows, and whatever unfolds. To a full summer ahead, together ❤️
What is the purpose of childhood?
It’s an interesting question and, counterintuitively, one that us parents sometimes forget to ask. Sure, we ask questions centered around our purpose as parents — and those are incredibly important to think about — but the kid-centric question is equally important.
From an evolutionary standpoint, human beings have exceptionally long childhoods. Most species on Planet Earth accelerate to adulthood within a matter of a few short years (or less), but not so for us humans.
Instead, human children remain children for prolonged periods, dependent upon their loving families to nurture them during the baby, toddler, youth, and adolescent years. Our relationship with our children undergoes a profound metamorphosis several times over the course of two decades. We adjust our parenting to meet the growing needs, and independence, of our children.
But again, what is the purpose of this prolonged childhood? Its very length denotes its importance and, yet, we often feel the temptation to race ahead, to accelerate our kids on the path to adulthood. And certainly, one of our roles as parents is to prepare our kids for adulthood.
But, in our view, this role requires a patient reverence for childhood and an embrace of its slow pace. We believe the purpose of childhood is to play; to create; to experiment and take risks within reason and without judgment; to let curiosity spark learning; to test the boundaries of our children’s will, hearts, and minds.
These purposeful pieces of childhood, we hope, will allow our kids to grow in confidence, in compassion, and in love. Rather than short-changing childhood, we lean into it, trust it, and cherish its length.
Because, someday, our kids will be adults. The strong roots of their extended childhood will enable them stand upright in the face of life’s storms; to be strong, resilient, and adaptable during life’s unpredictable journey; and to shine and contribute confidently to this beautiful world.
For a long stretch, whenever you gave our little boy crayons or colored pencils, he’d busy himself drawing designs. Multi-colored, layered, creative designs.
Meanwhile, if you gave his twin sister crayons or colored pencils, she was likely to draw whatever she saw in the world — a smiling face, clouds, flowers, rainbows.
And then, seemingly overnight, our little boy started drawing rocket ships with intricate details, fire jetting out the back, control panels onboard, a moon in the distance. Faces emerged next for him — smiley faces, silly faces. And yes, he still draws designs too.
Evolving and maturing at his own pace, our little boy is unearthing his own unique mode of artistic expression. We never told him to draw a rocket, and we certainly did not pick the day when he jumped from designs to detailed rocket ships. That was up to him. As it should be.
As parents, we joyfully await these leaps, when we see our children maturing before our eyes, learning new skills, testing new boundaries, seemingly all of the sudden.
But these leaps happen in their own time. They cannot be demanded. For kids, there is no command performance.
We provide the loving environment for our children to grow, but like Mother Nature’s nurturing of a springtime flower, we cannot force this sudden burst of becoming. By holding childhood in reverence, we trust that each child’s journey of self-discovery and consciousness will unfold in its own time.
In Waldorf classrooms, teachers practice “holding the question”— that is, holding off on definitively answering the question: “who is this child?” Rather than labeling individual children as the “smart kid,” the “athlete,” the “mischievous kid,” the “artist,” and so on, Waldorf philosophy counsels its educators against putting kids into a defined box too soon.
As parents, we desperately want to answer this question. We lay awake at night, dreaming about who our children will become, dreaming about our adventures together, dreaming about their role in this world. We can dream, of course, but we must also be patient and flexible in our dreams.
Our children will surprise us in ways we cannot foresee, in ways big and small.
For now, it’s enough that our little boy loves to draw designs and rocket ships. He’ll share his next leap when he’s ready. We’ll be waiting, patiently and lovingly.
“Will you play with me?” It’s perhaps the most quintessential question of childhood. And it’s the question our little boy asked his uncle during a recent family gathering.
“Sure! What do you want to play?” came the reply.
An expression spread over our little guy’s face, as if to say, “Oh, wow, I have no idea. I hadn’t got that far yet.” After a pause, he said, “Just run around and play!”
And so they did. Our little girl joined in the fun too, as their uncle chased our kids with bursts of laughter ensuing. Evidently, they decided to roam around and mimic the roars of prehistoric animals, including sabertooth cats and woolly mammoths. They loved every second of it.
Watching my kids chase their uncle, it struck me: this joy just happened spontaneously. It was not planned, researched, or analyzed. It just started with a simple decision: let’s play.
Kids don’t feel the need to have all the answers. Life washes over them, and joy flows naturally.
As grownups, we sometimes forget the wisdom of our youth. We fall into the trap of thinking that, for life to be fruitful, we must plan every hour of every day. Our overreaching minds tell us that we must have all the answers before taking the first step.
To a certain degree, we are right. We have to plan for work and home responsibilities. After all, dinner has never prepared itself.
But we can also embrace the wisdom of our children too. There are moments, everyday, when we can simply play, when we can embrace the present without knowing the future, when we can take the first step in a journey without a specific destination in mind.
If only for a few moments, we too can discover the joy and freedom that our children cherish.
When visiting another’s home, one of the first things I do is spy their book shelf. It’s like a taking a peek inside a friend’s or family member’s soul.
What do they value? What makes them tick? What dreams do they have? The contents of a book shelf can tell you so much, if you look and listen.
And so, we wanted to give you a small look at our book shelves — to show you what touches our hearts, souls, and minds. Our most cherished books include:
“The Wilderness World of John Muir: A Selection from his Collected Work,” edited by Edwin Way Teale. Our copy is flagged and underlined. Muir’s philosophical love prose to nature inspire us to share the natural world with our kids and preserve its beauty.
“The Portable Thoreau,” edited by Carl Bode. Written over 150 years ago, I’m always surprised at how Thoreau’s philosophy of living a simple and meaningful life rings as true as ever today. We can all relate to retreating into the woods, if only for a few hours on a hike, to live deliberately.
“The Last Empty Places: A Past and Present Journey Through the Blank Spots on the American Map,” by Peter Stark. In some ways, Stark is the latest in a long list of nature writers inspired by the words of Thoreau and Muir. In this book, which is equal parts environmental philosophy and exploration, Stark sets off with his family to explore the “empty places” in the US — natural and untouched wonders from Maine to New Mexico to Oregon.
“In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” by Michael Pollan. We love food — not just the necessity of its nourishment, but everything else that comes with it. A gathered table surrounded by friends and family. Its daily rhythms and pauses. Its pleasure and anticipation. And we thank Pollan for being a guide on much of our food journeys.
“Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less,” by Kathy Hisch-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff. If you were to browse the parenting books on our shelves, you will notice a simple theme: play! In this book, the authors provide the scientific underpinnings behind the power of play and remind us to resist the urge to join the “roadrunner society” of faster, better, and more.
“Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life,” by Peter Gray. This book is probably JP’s favorite parenting book. Peppered with personal anecdotes, scientific observations, and even evolutionary biology, Gray’s book pulls at the heart strings while bringing intellectual rigor to the very simple, human, and necessary act of play!
“Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids,” by Kim John Payne. Payne’s message is simple: when we remove clutter and over-stimulation from our kids’ lives, they can just be kids—creative, playful, happy, and confident. (Not bad advice for us grown-ups either!)
“The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own,” by Joshua Becker. Self-described minimalist, Becker shares his story as the classic suburban family inundated by the weight of “too much.” Becker and his family discovered that, as they stripped away the excess, they found more time to pursue those activities that really mattered and enriched their lives.
“The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People,” by Dan Buettner. National Geographic’s Dan Buettner has traveled the world (from Denmark to Costa Rica to Singapore to the U.S.) to study the habits and secrets of happy long-living populations. Buettner provides an inspiring blueprint for how we can organize our lives, our neighborhoods, and our daily activities to find pleasure, purpose, and pride (the three “P’s” of happiness).
“Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman,” by Yvon Chouinard. Patagonia’s iconic founder recounts his story—from selling homemade products out of the back of his van while rock-climbing to building a conscious company that cares for, not just its profits, but its people and the environment too. As business owners, we strive to emulate Patagonia's compassionate and inspiring vision of what a business can and should be.
“Start Something that Matters,” by Blake Mycoskie. TOMS’ founder offers a peek into his successes and failures as an entrepreneur and, along the way, inspires the next generation of creative-minded individuals to start something that matters.
“Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose,” by Tony Hsieh. “Delivering Happiness” is Hsieh’s story as the founder of two highly successful companies, including Zappos. Hsieh is an honest soul who realized that chasing profits, even successfully, would never make him happy; instead, pursuing creative endeavors and genuinely connecting with others are they keys to his contentment.
“The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?”, by Seth Godin. When we need a bit of inspiration and courage, we turn to Seth Godin. A serial entrepreneur himself, Godin so perfectly captures the hopes, dreams, and fears of the entrepreneurial mindset…and reminds us to fly a little higher.
“The Millennial Lawyer: How Your Firm Can Motivate and Retain Young Associates,” by JP Box. Now this is a true fan favorite in our home, so I just had to include it here :)! This is JP’s book (husband and co-founder of Chasing Windmills), published this year!
So there you have it — a peek at some of our cherished books at home! What are yours?
Oh, and a couple of books on our reading list for 2018:
* "Last Child in the Woods," by Richard Louv.
* "There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secret for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)," by Linda Åkeson McGurk.
* "Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town's Secret to Happiness and Excellence," by Karen Krouse.
Kids don’t mean to be so profound, but they just can’t help it. Their youthful wisdom spills out freely and beautifully.
Yesterday, I picked up our kids from kindergarten and benefited from one of those nuggets of wisdom. Sarah is usually the one to pick up our kids from school, but she’s been working like crazy to plan and prepare for this season's holiday markets.
And so, I had the pleasure of picking up the kids from school. When we change our schedules around, however, we first paint mental pictures of the day-to-day routine for our kids. “Tomorrow, Mommy is going to drop you off at school, where you get to play all morning and eat yummy millet rolls, and then Daddy will pick you up,” and so on and so forth. When they know what to expect, they just seem to digest the day better.
And so, when I picked up our kids from kindergarten yesterday, I launched into one of those mental pictures of what the next few unpredictable days would look like. I started with, “All right, for tomorrow…” before my little boy stopped me.
He said, “But Daddy, everyday is today.” I stopped myself and smiled. Yes, it is, little buddy, yes it is.
He is right. We live entirely in the present, but we dwell on the past and plan for the future. As grown-ups, we cannot forget the past or walk blindly into the future. At the same time, however, we must ask ourselves: how much of the present is lost because of worry about what has been and what will be?
For the rest of the day, I tried to embrace my little boy’s mantra of “everyday is today.” I tried to remind myself to be fully present reading stories to our kids and biking around the neighborhood with them.
I allowed myself a glimpse of what it means to be fully present, if only for a few precious moments. Thanks for that gift, buddy.
If you've taken a peak at the look book for our thermal long johns, you might have spotted a few tree stumps adorned in moss and ferns. Well, those tree stumps now reside in our backyard. Our kids love to jump from stump to stump, precariously teetering upon each before they catch their balance.
When we picked up the stumps awhile back, the woodsmith included a few thinly sliced large wooden rings for our kids to play with. He told us that, in a few months, the wooden rings would dry up, crack, and fall apart.
And so, this past weekend, our little boy accidentally dropped one of his wooden rings, and it cracked into two. He quickly looked up, his eyes full of tears, when I said, “Oh wow! Look, you made two pieces now!” It somehow worked. Tears dried up quickly and he excitedly told his sister about his good fortune.
So naturally she took her wooden ring and dropped it in the bark. Nothing happened. So she threw it down hard against the bark. Nothing happened.
I was about to tell her to throw it against the concrete, but I stopped myself. Why should I interject? She and her brother were happily playing together, and no one was asking for my help. So I sat back.
And sure enough, she figured out that her wooden ring would break into many pieces when dropped upon the stone steps leading up to our backdoor. For the next thirty minutes, our kids continued to break apart their little wooden rings, counting how many pieces they each had, and just laughing with each other.
For my part, I rested in the shade of our crab apple tree and just watched them. I marveled at their ability to become so singularly focused on one thing, to lose themselves in an activity with each other, to experience the world without distraction.
Childhood is beautiful and spontaneous. As grown-ups, we organize so much of our lives (oftentimes out of necessity to run our households and businesses), but kids live moment to moment. It’s why they are quick to smile and quick to cry. Their senses and emotions are always engaged.
And I wondered what would’ve happened if I had interjected. Would they have happily played together for the next thirty minutes? I don’t think so.
As parents, we want to be involved in our kids’ lives. But sometimes the best thing we can do is to step back and let them figure things out for themselves. Kids are natural scientists, experimenting each and every day, testing out their worlds to better understand their environments and each other.
It’s a small thing — breaking apart dry cracking wooden rings — but it allowed our kids to practice problem-solving skills and engage each other. I need to remind myself to step back more often and just watch childhood’s magic unfold.
Because I tell you what…it’s pretty great to sit in the shade of that crab apple tree.
Our kids take pleasure in “playing outside until it’s dark,” which is easier to do now that the sun sets so early. Late one afternoon, while playing outside, our little girl looked up at the moon and excitedly said, “Look, it’s half of the moon!”
She was right. And she had just done math, powered by the keen powers of childlike curiosity and observation. We never taught her about the cycles of the moon or explained the concept of fractions.
But we have sliced fruit and vegetables. So, in all likelihood, she applied her knowledge of an apple slice to the moon. That’s a pretty big jump in reasoning for a little kid.
But you know what the most amazing thing is? Our kids — yours, mine, all of ours — make these leaps everyday, oftentimes all on their own. They are little explorers, collecting nuggets of knowledge, feeling the world around them, and trying to make sense of it all.
As parents, we sometimes feel the enormous pressure of having to “educate” our children on every subject under the sun (or moon). We worry about what our children “should know” during a particular stage in development.
But perhaps we shouldn’t put all that pressure on ourselves. Our kids are figuring out this world through play, through curiosity, and through their everyday adventures.
When we talk of adventures, we’re not just talking about epic treks up mountain peaks or long journeys down winding rivers. In all honesty, we’re not quite up for an epic adventure yet with our three-year-old twins.
Instead, we’re talking about the everyday adventures and simple pleasures, like baking gingerbread cookies and delivering two each to the neighbors on our block. Once our kids got over having to part with a few of their precious gingerbread men and women, they got into the spirit of giving. They carefully counted — 1, 2 — and placed the gingerbread cookies into a little bag for each neighbor. With big smiles, they proudly handed each neighbor a little baggie with two gingerbread cookies. Yes, they melt hearts!
For us, it’s not so much about explaining every piece of information to our children. We could’ve explained the concept of giving and being a good neighbor, but the simple act of handing out gingerbread cookies proved much more instructive than words could ever be.
Kids learn through their hands-on experiences and self-discovery. We are the guides, of course, the ones who are there to hug them, pick them up when they tumble, read books at nighttime, and just love and nourish them in every way imaginable. But we don’t need to be a wikipedia page for our kids.
And that’s because kids observe. They pick things up, figure things out, and trust their imagination. They discover something new everyday.
It’s one reason why we’re drawn to merino wool. Our 3-year-olds sleep in their toddler beds on top of their merino wool sheets and snuggling up to their merino companion blankets. They know that merino wool comes from a sheep (Mommy and Daddy love sheep!), but they can’t really imagine the process from shearing a sheep, to knitting the merino fiber, to finishing a garment. There are a few gaps in their knowledge, and that's okay.
But we hope to have made something clear to them: Nature matters. We respect and treasure what nature can provide.
Who knows, maybe our little boy or girl will make another connection down the road. Just as they connected an apple to the moon, perhaps they’ll connect an appreciation for sheep with an appreciation for a redwood forest or a rocky ocean coast. And, no doubt, they’ll continue to surprise us on our everyday adventures.
“Holding the question.” It’s a phrase we recently learned from a Waldorf teacher. And we love the idea behind it.
It’s about waiting to answer the question: who is this person? We ask and answer this question all the time — when we meet a new friend, when we thank a barista for our coffee, and when we gather as a family. We are constantly scanning the world around us and answering the question: who are all these people in and around my life?
In Waldorf schools, “holding the question” is especially important because the same homeroom teacher stays with a group of students from 1st through 8th grade. It’s tempting for that teacher to answer the question — “who is this student of mine?” — in the first few weeks of first grade.
If you think back to your own school days, you know that kids are usually identified quickly. “She’s the smart one.” “He’s the artist.” “She’s the know-it-all.” “He’s the class clown.” “She’s the troublemaker.” “He’s the athlete.”
The concern is, when a teacher answers the question “who is this person” too soon, that teacher limits the student-teacher relationship. Once defined, it’s difficult for the child to shake his or her label, and it’s difficult for the teacher to see that child with fresh eyes.
And that’s why I love the idea of holding the question. It’s about allowing the child to show his parents, his teachers, his family, and his friends exactly who he is becoming, slowly and over time. It’s about being patient and resisting the urge — however good-intentioned — to define a child too soon.
We know that, with our own kids, the temptation to answer the question is strong. We want to know: who is this precious child of ours? What makes him tick? Who will she grow into? All of our hopes and dreams are mashed up into this one question: who are you?
But, perhaps, we can give our children a great gift: holding the question. Perhaps we can let them show us who they are. Perhaps we can give them the space needed to emerge as their own unique individuals.
That doesn’t mean that we aren’t involved in our children’s lives. Far from it, we’re always present to love, embrace, and guide our children. We just don’t have to define them so quickly. They are who they are, nothing more, nothing less. And that’s what we love about them.
Take an activity like finger-painting. Our little boy likes to mash his hands on his paint immediately, smearing all the colors together, and rubbing them onto his paper with his palms. Our little girl picks one color at a time, gently painting with her finger tips instead of her entire hand like her brother.
But what does that say about our kids? Does it have to say anything? We try to hold the question. They are both expressing themselves in their own ways. Their means of expression may change over time, but we hope their curiosity remains. We don’t want to define their artwork and unwittingly limit who we see them as and what they can become.
In a way, our children are the artists of their own lives. We can’t predict what they’ll paint. We’ll let them create something beautiful. And we’ll be there to share in the joy of their own unique journeys.
We first saw it in Outside Magazine: a carriage house, lovingly transformed into a studio apartment, situated on 107 acres of ranch land in Bozeman, Montana, available for booking as an airbnb. The magazine clip promised bubbling creeks, swimming ponds, and pristine land to explore.
Staring at the photo, we dreamed of a few days surrounding by nature’s beauty with our twins. Let’s go there!
We usually spend months ruminating over a potential vacation spot. But, for some reason, we felt compelled to book it the day we saw the carriage house in the magazine. Something about the carriage house and the ranch land spoke to us.
And so, we packed our bags and flew into Bozeman, MT, ready to explore with our kids. On the 30 minute drive from Bozeman’s quaint airport, we passed grass-grazing cows, alpaca, and horses. Our kids looked out their windows, saying, “Oh! Look! Cows, Mama!” and “Daddy, I see horses!”
As we navigated the rolling hills and dirt roads, we approached the carriage house. Oftentimes, we dream of grander things than the reality. But, in this instance, the carriage house and its surroundings blew us away. It was perfect.
After meeting the land’s owners (Mary and Ken), our kids quickly changed into their water shoes and started to wade through ankle-deep water in the nearby creek. They collected rocks in little buckets, splashed us and each other, and played until they started shivering. We headed back into the cabin, gave them a warm bath, and spoiled ourselves with hot cocoa on the picnic table. We filled ourselves with simple pleasures.
Over the next couple of days, we hiked up a hill onto the biggest alfalfa field we’ve ever seen in person, surrounded by mountains; we hiked up to a waterfall; our kiddos made houses “for bunnies” with grass and sticks; we threw stones into a swimming pond; and just followed our kids’ lead. They usually found the good stuff. Kids are natural explorers.
As we packed our bags at the end of our stay, we knew that, someday, we’d be back with our kids.
Our next trip to the carriage house will be different, if only because our kids will be a year or two older. They may return to their old stomping grounds — the creek, the tall grass, and the swimming ponds — but I suspect they’ll find new places to explore too.
And we’ll be with them. Exploring Mary’s and Ken’s ranch land with the fresh eyes of childhood.
For months, our little boy and girl took the same bike route: left at the stop sign near our house, down past the neighbors’ houses, up the winding street, and down the alley back home.
But then, something happened. One day, they didn’twant to turn left at the stop sign. They wanted to cross the street. And so, we did.
Ever since that day, our little bike route has doubled in size. New sidewalks to explore, new neighbors to meet, new trees to rest under.
And that’s how it will happen, I realized. Our little kids will grow up, oftentimes without any overt encouragement from Mommy and Daddy. Their worlds will expand, their confidence will grow, and their independence will emerge.
It’s amazing that, while our kids expand their circles daily, we — the adults — find reasons to contract our own circles. The busy-ness of life threatens to choke our sense of exploration, our sense of adventure. We’re too busy to meet new friends, explore new places, or even try a different route home from work (or so we tell ourselves).
But maybe we should take a cue from our kids. Maybe we should go past the stop sign and see what awaits us. Maybe we’re not done growing either.
It’s cliched, but a big world is out there for us too. We just need to be as courageous as our children.
When we designed our Companion Blanket, we envisioned many uses: the blanket draping over a baby in her car seat, the blanket laying on the floor as a little guy practices rolling over, the blanket snuggling a toddler at night.
But we never envisioned a cape. That credit goes to Kellen, an adventurous little boy who is dearly loved by his talented mother Noel.
We couldn’t have been happier to see Kellen take our Companion Blanket to new heights. Yes, we now offer capes too :).
Kellen’s adventures remind us of our own kids. Their new favorite game is rowing to Buck’s Harbor in their boats. In the classic children’s book “One Morning in Maine,” Buck’s Harbor is the town where Sal, her little sister Jane, and their father go to pick up groceries, repair their boat’s outboard motor, and enjoy ice cream.
Now, our kids don’t have boats. They have white woven baskets that usually hold their stuffed animals and other toys. When they need to hop in the “boat” to go to Buck’s Harbor, they empty the woven baskets, hop in, and start rowing. Somehow, this game entertains them for long stretches.
As parents, we are tempted to buy play boats, capes, and every other toy that could possibly spark their imaginations. But sometimes, if we over-indulge, then we leave nothing left to be imagined.
Don’t get us wrong — our children do not live spartan lives. They have plenty of toys to play with (more than plenty actually). But we do feel tension as parents between too much and too little.
But, in the end, isn’t imagination and creativity and joy what we all hope for? The kind of imagination displayed by Super Kellen flying with his cape and by our kids rowing to Buck’s Harbor to get ice cream.
So thanks, Kellen, for showing us how you adventure. We are humbled and excited to be a part of your flight.
We appreciate technology.
We love the fact that we can work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Everything is everywhere in the ever present Cloud. Our office is anywhere we can imagine, ready to open on our laptops and phones.
But sometimes it's just nice to read a good old-fashioned book. There’s something comforting about the feel and smell of a real book in hand. You can get lost in words and paper without the infinite distractions of a screen. A sense of calm and quiet wash over.
Best of all, books never freeze, never need to update, never fail to download. They are always there, waiting to be read, with a bookmark ready to continue the journey.
I know the time may come when all information will be digital, and when people will think of libraries and bookshops with a nostalgic smile to a time gone by.
But in the meantime, we're going to cherish our books. We won't let them go. They will always be there, ready to carry us away.
And we're pretty glad our kiddos are getting lost with us.
Time to read.
You know what’s tough to do as a parent? Letting the ordinary be extraordinary.
When our children are born, we become shepherds of their lives, subtly and not-so-subtly directing them to the lands of our hopes and dreams. It’s a tremendous gift for us and our children.
But the new job comes with pressure. A lot of it. Even before birth, we begin to put pressure on ourselves to create an optimal environment that sparks our children’s imaginations, fills them with love and curiosity, and promotes their wellbeing.
These are all things that we desperately want to do. And so we ask ourselves constantly, “are we doing enough? Are we doing this right? Should we be doing more? Should we be doing less?” We find no perfect answers, just more questions.
At times, our quest for the extraordinary saps our energy, shakes our confidence, and threatens the joy of parenthood.
But we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. We are enough. We don’t always have to be extraordinary, offer the extraordinary, and demand the extraordinary. Oftentimes, all we really need is to trust the ordinary.
In the picture above, our kids and their Daddy are “camping” underneath a blanket in our bed. Our kids’ imaginations run wild. Sometimes they’re snuggling to stay warm as a storm passes outside; other times they hear birds chirping outside the tent. And sometimes Daddy just tickles everyone because it’s fun!
A few weeks back, we went on our first real camping excursion, not just the make-believe version. In the foothills of Colorado, we pitched a tent, set up four sleeping pads and bags, and prepared two meals — all with two little campers running around the campground.
We had a lot of fun, but it took a lot of effort to pack up the family for a night in the woods. Too much effort to duplicate every weekend or even every month. It was our Super Mommy and Daddy moment. We were proud of ourselves and our kids.
But we can’t always be superheroes. It’s not sustainable. Sometimes we just have to be ordinary.
And you know what’s amazing? Incredible love, laughter, and growth come from the ordinary.
Honestly, our kids have as much fun “camping” under a blanket on our bed as they do in a tent under the stars. We’ll keep doing both because, let’s face it, nothing quite captures the grandeur of nature like nature itself.
Well, except for maybe the imagination of a child. In their little creative minds, the ordinary transforms itself into the extraordinary.
So let's allow our children to shepherd us sometimes, and we might just find ourselves in a dreamland too.
Kids are explorers. From their very first moments on Earth, they explore.
They start small, exploring the crevices of their toes, the little lines on their hands, the smooth cheeks of Mommy and the rougher stubble on Daddy’s face.
With surprising speed, their exploration broadens — to the wooden knot in hardwood floor, the curious objects dangled overhead by a loving big sister.
And soon, they’re moving. Rocking and rolling over onto their tummies; squirming to crawl; and finally taking those first unsteady steps.
Everyday is exploration — of themselves, their family, and their environment.
Exploration starts with a powerful impulse: to say “yes” to new experiences with enthusiasm and free of hesitation.
The impulse to say “yes” persists throughout childhood. When we ask our kids if they’d like to, say, go to Santa Fe with us, they say, “yes!” They have no idea what Santa Fe is, but it’s something new and that’s good enough for them.
Over time, we adults start saying “no” or “maybe” with increasing frequency. We explore less, keeping our worlds smaller and more insular.
Let’s expand our bubbles. Let’s be explorers again. Let’s say “yes” to new experiences.
Let us explore, dream, and discover too.