Tag Archives: Parenting

Horses, Horses, Horses

When I was a child I loved horses.   Now, not so much.  My daughter loves horses.   I want to warn her that any animal that can’t look you in both eyes at the same time is sure to be untrustworthy.   So far I’ve kept my mouth shut.

As a kid, I read Black Beauty and followed that with a whole series of books about horses and the adventures that they caused.  The most memorable was about a girl who purchased a wild horse at an auction and tamed it herself.   I had visions of becoming a great horse trainer and for a brief period wanted to be a veterinarian.  This was followed by an even briefer period where I wanted to be a pet psychologist.    Think Horse Whisperer.

Just after high school, I talked a friend of mine into doing a trail ride with my boyfriend and I.   The three of us (six if you count the four-legged companions) had a great time walking through the woods, admiring the trees and generally feeling in control.    We came into a large open field.    The two lead horses and presumably their riders thought this was a great time to speed up and gallop across the field.

My horse agreed.

I did not.

The horse won.

I held on for dear life.   Failed.    Thought if I grabbed the horse around its neck I’d have a better shot.  Failed.   Fell forward over the horse.     Horse stepped on my arm.     I lay there staring up at the sky.

I recognize this was not at all this particular horse’s fault.  It was entirely my own incompetence.  In fact, the horse stopped, turned around and came and stood over me sniffing to make sure I was alive.    I think the horse was shocked.

Somewhere on the other side of the field, my boyfriend and my childhood friend both realized I was no longer riding behind them.   They came rushing over.   Once they found out that I hadn’t broken anything and that I was still in fact alive they both tried their hardest not to laugh.     The hoof shaped bruise was purple for several weeks.   The bruise to my ego lasted longer.

I stayed off horses until just about a year ago when my husband and my sister and my daughter all conspired and decided that a horse back ride on the beach was a really good idea.   I rode with my daughter.   We walked the whole time.   I survived.  She loved it.

My daughter recently started preschool.   I asked her a couple days ago what they had done that day.   She said “Mom, it was so exciting, a farmer brought horses and we got to ride them at the preschool. There were two.   We had to take turns.”    I”m thinking “Really?  That’s impressive.  I didn’t know we were at a preschool that included equestrian training.  Wonder why they didn’t get a permission slip.   Good thing none of the kids fell off”.   When my husband got home I asked him if he knew about the horses at school.    He looked at our four-year old and raised his eyebrow.    She laughed and said “Oh Mom, They were pretend horses, but it was a lot of fun.”

This parenting thing is a lot like riding a horse.   Slightly out of control but very exciting.  Hold on baby.




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Have you seen my bulbs?

Daffodils in Ireland

Daffodils in Ireland

I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who gardened.   I’d like to be able to tell people that I love plants.   In reality, I kill house plants.   I have a plant at the office that I literally haven’t watered in years.  I think the lady who cleans my office waters it out of pity.   The one time I tried gardening at our last house was a miserable failure.  I planted bulbs in the fall. Waited expectantly until the spring.   One….count it….one bulb sprouted but did not bloom.   I think this was due to a combination of terrible soil, clay really,  very limited sun due to tall cedar trees, some nasty moles and the very high possibility that I planted the dumb bulbs upside down.   At any rate, it was depressing.

My grandma always gardened.  She had beautiful flowers every year.   When she got older and couldn’t kneel down to garden any more she went to the store, bought plastic flowers and stuck them in the ground.   She told us she didn’t care if people knew the were plastic because they were still colorful.

My dad always gardened.   He grew corn, tomatoes, spaghetti squash and my personal favorite – lemon cucumbers.     I followed him around the garden, listening carefully and helped plant the seeds.   I think maybe the reason it didn’t translate into my being a great gardener is that really I liked the dirt and water equals mud bit more.

My mother-in-law gardens.  In fact, the first time I went to her house I knew I’d love her because she had a garden full of flowers and she cut some to send home with me.   One time, we asked her about a particularly beautiful flower and she said it was a volunteer.   Yup, she didn’t even have to plant the thing.  She’s that good that flowers want to grow in her garden and magically appear.

I’ve decided to try again.   I was given bulbs by several friends for house-warming and birthday presents.  One wise person also gave me a bulb planter.  Every job has a tool and this tool is amazing.   Even I can’t mess this up.  I hope.   By the time I’m done, I’ll have planted 100 or so bulbs.    There is something inherently hopeful about planting bulbs.    It’s about long-term satisfaction.  No short-term gratification with bulbs.    I was out the other day planting, trying to figure out if the bark dust counted as part of the six inches down that bulbs are supposed to be set.   Stepped in a pile of cat poop.   Our pastor raises cows so cow poop has been known to make it into a sermon.  This may be why when I stepped in the cat poop a Bible verse came to mind.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.   Hebrews 12:11

My daughter used to suck her thumb.  First time we took her to the dentist we got an earful about this and were strongly encouraged to help our daughter quit.   Bought the pile of stuff the dentist recommended and started telling the three-year old all about discipline and hanging in there even when its hard.   Took about three months but she did it.   I was very proud.   We took her back to the dentist and they went all out.   Balloons, a certificate, the whole office cheered.   They gave her a very large stuffed duck with a matching baby duck.    Guess what she named them?

Daffodil and Buttercup.

I loved this.   Very cheerful yellow names.   Reminded me that in many areas of life it’s about doing the hard work looking forward to the result.

It’s all about planting bulbs out in the rainy dark with obstacles all around because you trust that in the spring blooms will rise.

What are you planting?


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Fish and Dance

Last week my husband went on a date with another woman.  Well, another girl.  My daughter.  They joined about 30 other dad and daughter couples at a Father Daughter Dance.  He rented a tux.   She had sparkly gems in her hair.  I hope she never forgets it.  I know I won’t.

When I was a little girl, my father took me fishing.   I did not wear sparkly gems.  We tromped through the trees, followed a little creek up river and learned how to drop a line.  My dad put the worm on the hook.  I learned how to gut a fish and cook it on the camp fire.  This was an amazing date.

Little girls do best when they have loving dads.  I am not an expert on child physchology.   I have no scientific data to support any claims.   My entire therory is based on my own experience as a daughter and trying to raise a daughter.   I don’t by any means want to come down on single moms, I know a lot of amazing women who have single handedly raised great kids.  However, I do want to push back on a cultural phenomenen that says that dads are extraneous.  I want to yell at father’s I know who are too busy to pay attention to their little girls.  I want to explain to them that it is vitally imprtant that their daughters feel loved by their fathers.  If they don’t, those girls are sure to listen to whatever tripe the first interested boy dishes out.   If you have a little girl, pick her up and dance.   Or take her fishing.

Want some good news today?   Remember that regardless the type of father you had, that God himself wants you to call Him Father.  I love this verse:

1 John 3:1 (NIV) – “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

Check out this video and remember that God feels exactly the same about you.


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Daffodils and Crayons

Gifts are a tricky thing.

I think I hurt my daughter’s feelings the other day.   We were at a city park and she came running up to give me a daffodil.   I did the responsible parent thing and made her put it down.  I explained all about how flowers in parks have to stay put so everyone can enjoy them.   She really shouldn’t pick flowers in the park.   I’m sure she won’t do it again.

Looking back, I wished I’d smiled and smelled the flower.   I know we don’t fail as parents over one single event and that next time I’ll do better.   I just hope this time isn’t the lesson that sticks with her as she grows.  I hope it doesn’t squelsh the part of her that wants to give good gifts to people she loves.

“There is a longing that everyone shares, parents and children alike, and that is the longing to have something to give that is acceptable to others.” – Fred Rogers

I found this quotation in a book my mom gave me.    Mister Rogers  was a very wise man.   I’m going to schedule some time into my week to sit with my daughter and watch some Mister Rogers.   My favorite episode is the one where he takes his television friends on a tour of the crayon factory.  I love Mister Rogers.  I love crayons.   I love my child.   I love to give good gifts.   I trust she’ll learn this too.

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Hope and Dance

It struck me tonight while I outside washing the one window my husband forgot to do that selling a house stinks.  I was still wearing work clothes crouched down trying to get the window track clean.  What is that nasty stuff that collects in the track?    I heard that newspaper is great to keep streaks away.  No one mentioned that the newspaper also gets very soggy and dyes your hands black.

We’ve had our house on the market for a week.  One person looked at it.   I can tell this is going to be a test in patience and endurance.    I love our house.   This sale is about the kind of life we want to live.   I want to be close to work, church, family and friends.  I don’t want to spend two hours a day in the car.

Having a house on the market is deeply personal.  We’re hoping that random strangers will walk through our house.   I’m hoping that someone will feel comfortable here and want to stay.   I’m afraid they won’t.

It feels remarkably familiar.

Remember what it felt like when Prom was coming and you didn’t have a date?    I remember trying on dresses on the off chance that I had a date when the big night came.   I remember sitting in classes and wondering if anyone thought I was worth a dinner and a ticket.   I remember the sinking feeling when everyone else had plans and I did not.   A friend and I had a complicated and unrealistic plan to convince two boys who rode our bus that they really did want to go to a dance.  It didn’t work.  I remember my wise parents planning a trip for that same weekend so I’d be out of town.    My mother told me not to worry, that I’m just a late bloomer.  Who wants to be late at anything?  Late is not good….right?

I heard about someone yesterday who sold their house in five days.   Part of me strongly dislikes these people.  Part of me wants to be them.  Today my mother today told me not to worry.  Anything worthwhile takes time.   God knows the plans He has for us.   I’m grateful for my mother.

I’m also grateful that I’m no longer an insecure teenager.   I have a cousin who decided she didn’t want a date to Prom.  She and a whole pile of her girlfriends went shopping, found the perfect dresses and went to Prom in a big limo.  Just the girls.  They had a ball.  No worries.   I wish I could go back to that teenager I was.  I wish I could tell her that Prom is not a big deal.   I wish I could tell her to relax and just enjoy her friends.  I plan on telling my daughter this.  I hope she listens.   In the mean time I am going  to keep washing my windows and calling my realtor.   I am going to plan for a move and trust that it will happen.   If it doesn’t, I’m going to trust the One who knew me in high school and knows me now.   I am going to try and model for my daughter what trust looks like.   Thanks Mom.


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I did not take this photo but I love it. It’s a little girl in Gisenyi, Rwanda who has used a crayon to draw on lipstick. My daughter came into my bedroom last night with cherry chapstick smeared all over her upper lip and chin. Her smile looked exactly like the one in this photo.

I love the innocence that is expressed in girls who want to be women.I’d like to hold both of these girls and tell them not to hurry to grow too soon.

I’d like tell my daughter that as she gets older I get to pick what she wears and who she marries. Clearly that is not going to happen and I have to just pray that we build enough character into her when she is small that can carry her through adulthood. I pray that she looks for a husband like her dad and her grandpas. I pray that she learns to think before she speaks and that she learns to trust people…but not trust them too much.

The little girl in Rwanda is harder I think. I hope that she has clean water and enough food. I pray that she gets to finish school and that her innocence is not stolen from her. I pray that both of these precious girls get to be children as long as possible. I pray that they both grow to be Godly women. I hope they both get to show their daughters how to put on lipstick.

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