Monday, February 25, 2008

Parental Failure??

I'm not quite sure where our middle child is getting his political influence, but it seems he is supporting McCain. His homeroom teacher is former military, so that could be it. I know it's not coming from his dad because he has yet to declare an allegiance to anyone, plus he doesn't talk politics with them very much. At any rate, I wasn't too disturbed by it at first, although I did give my dear son a few of my own reasons for supporting Obama over McCain, namely immigration, gay rights, and women's issues. However, when I was going thru his weekly papers this morning, I discovered this. Perhaps I will need some help in the future putting him on a different track.

The assignment was to "draw an editorial cartoon featuring a candidate on a view or an issue," and to "write an editorial to go with your cartoon." Here is what he wrote:

"Vote McCain '08 for a kind of Bush again. Are you bummed that Bush can't run? Well don't be! McCain's following in his footsteps. This presidential election has McCain all over it. With your help, he'll get there. So vote McCain for a kind of Bush again."

Big, heavy sigh. Have I failed as a parent??!! Am I raising a Republican? Worse yet, am I raising a Bush supporter? Dear God, please no!!

Seriously, the problem is that with Daniel, once he commits to something, he has a really hard time changing his mind because it's so important to him to be RIGHT. (No snide comments here about apples falling from treese or anything, people...!) Perhaps when Obama wins in November, Daniel will see the proverbial light and straighten himself up. :-) In the meantime, your prayers are appreciated!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

How to Beat the Winter Doldrums

Two adjoining rooms in a NC hotel for two nights - $230
Gas to and from above NC hotel - $100
Two days of skiing / snowboarding, one day in the rain, one day in the springlike weather - $340
Food for two days for five people - $150
Piles of cold, wet clothes and a 4-hour drive home after a full day on the slopes – N/C
Two days away from it ALL, for amazing fun together as a family – Priceless

Those of you who know us know that our family often leads a crazy, mixed-up life. It’s true. Joel is essentially “on call” 24/7, and rare is the 24 hour period when he doesn’t think or do church at all. Granted, my job as a campus minister is not anywhere close to being as demanding as his job as a solo pastor is, but my hours are odd and often prevent us from doing things together as a family that we relied on heavily prior to my graduation—namely worshipping together and eating lunch together afterwards. And in between Tuesday night Bible studies and Sunday morning chaos, I try to find time to sit at my wheel, read to Michael’s 3rd grade class, let the boys have occasional sleepovers, and help Adam with his algebra homework. So our days are full—very full. And our lives are busy—very busy. But one of the very smartest things we, as parents and partners, have done for the last four years is to take the family on a “winter doldrums” getaway trip. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve held onto it like a terrier, refusing to let it go. We save for a few months, chinking away here and there, and put any money we receive at Christmas in our vacation budget. Then we pick a long weekend in late January or early February, avoiding typical holiday weekends, and just let the boys skip school so we can enjoy our time together with little or no crowds. This was a real stretch our first year, back in 2005. We were both in seminary, and our savings had dwindled to very little. But something told me that it would be an important thing to do. And I wanted to let the boys experience snow skiing while they were all still young enough to remain undaunted by the challenge of it. So I looked into our nearby options and settled on Cataloochee ski resort, just outside of Maggie Valley, NC. It was less than four hours from Atlanta, and appeared to have relatively inexpensive weekday rates, with a “kids ski free” option if you stayed at certain hotels. So we booked it.
That January night in 2005, we arrived to temperatures well below freezing, and snow was falling the next day as we skiied. It was a huge success, and was great for our family. Our first ski experience was so successful that we made a return trip to Cataloochee the next year, in 2006. The weather was not quite as cooperative that year, but we still had a great time. The year 2007 had long been set aside as a year for our third trip to Disney World, so we took a break from skiing and headed south for a few days in late January. (NB: We made it a “budget trip” by agreeing to listen to a spiel on Marriott timeshares, which was not as annoying as it might sound.) Again, it was just the thing we needed after Joel’s first full year in solo parish ministry, and I was nearing the home stretch of my time in seminary, eyeing graduation in May.
This year, however, we were all eager to return to the slopes. I had hoped it would be feasible to step it up a bit and ski Snowshoe, WV, but alas, our finances dictated that we should simply return to Cataloochee, and the boys were totally fine with that. So off we went this past Sunday, immediately after Rehoboth’s annual congregational meeting where Joel’s terms of call were reviewed and approved.
We arrived at our hotel Sunday night just in time for the Super Bowl kickoff, so Joel got to watch it in peace & quiet while I took the boys to the indoor pool and hot tub. At the half, we headed up for pj’s , pizza, and tucking in so we would be ready for our first day on the slopes. The weather called for rain, but after a lazy morning, we decided we’d head up the mountain anyway. After all, we’d made the trip so that we could ski, and we decided a bit of rain wasn’t going to stop us. (I must admit, though, that I was a bit sick to my stomach when it began to rain almost immediately after we charged $170 to the credit card, with the big “NO REFUND” sign staring at me.) Joel & Adam were determined to snow board, so they headed off on their own, while Daniel, Michael, & I hit the easy slope to remind our bodies how to ski.
After a few runs together, the boys were doing well enough for me to retreat inside for a cup of coffee. They didn’t seem to mind skiing in the rain. However, had it not been for their sheer happiness, I would have been miserable. (Interesting sidenote: I quickly learned that the Mardi Gras tradition for many N’Awlins Cajuns is to head north for skiing. While the resort was far from crowded, there were definitely more people there this time than either of our other two previous times, and I would say well over half of the folks on the slopes were from the New Orleans area. I loved their Cajun drawl and their genuine friendliness.) I wandered in & out for a couple of hours, depending on how fat the rain drops were, either skiing or taking videos / pictures. Michael gave out around 3PM, so I took him back to the hotel for a warm bath, then went back to pick the others up at 4:30.
After another lazy night of swimming and hot tubbing, we were at it again today. The weather was beautiful--hardly ski weather, though. By the end of the day I had shed everything but my ski pants and my David Lamotte “Change” t-shirt. The good thing about only ever experiencing North Carolina skiing is that the standards for “good skiing” conditions are not terribly high. I, for one, was just glad to be dry! It was a great day, and we stayed on the slopes as long as we could before piling in the car and heading home. Our dinner at Huddle House in Dillsboro, NC was a perfect finish to a great family mini-vacation.
We’re headed south on 441 as I type, listening to music together and just reveling in being together for these last few hours. The madness, the chaos, the busy-ness will start back up tomorrow as Joel & I both prepare for our own Ash Wednesday services, the boys head back to school, and we resume “normal” life once again. And soccer x 3 starts up full force this coming Monday. Ay-yi-yi! But this time…these precious few days with each other, with our only task being to have fun—this time will last us a good, long while. Hopefully until this time next year, when we head to Costa Rica for our biggest family vacation EVER, and one for which we’ve already been planning and saving for more than a year. Joel will turn 40 while we’re there, and I wanted it to be a special celebration for him as well as for us. We’ve been graciously given gratis accommodations at Hacienda Pinilla, and look forward to horseback riding, experiencing the Pacific coast, meeting Costa Rican families, hopefully touring a school or two, and just enjoying the beauty of another country. Until then, we will continue to steal pockets of treasured together time when we can get them. And when we don’t think we can make it another day, we will let our minds take us ahead, on to Costa Rica, and dream of what it will be like to spend not just a few days, but a whole week together, laughing & playing & relaxing, with our only task being to have fun.
The “winter doldrums getaway.” I highly recommend it for every family—but especially for families who are in ministry together. Make it a priority. You will find a million reasons why you can’t do it. “There’s not enough money.” “There’s too much to do!” “The timing just isn’t right!” “The kids have school.” “It’s too hard to plan.” But don’t let the excuses win. Find a way to do it. Make a way to do it. It doesn’t have to be an expensive getaway and trust me…those things to do will still be there when you get back. Also, YOU are the parents, not the school. Those of us in ministry don’t get the luxury of “family weekends” that many folks get. And planning? It doesn’t take much, and it can be part of the fun. Don’t let the excuses win. I know it does amazing things for our family’s health and wellbeing, and I imagine it would be wonderful for yours as well. And by the way, if / when you do it, I’d love for you to write me and tell me all about it.
PS - Pictures and videos will soon follow, I hope!