Spring Break Rears its Ugly Head

Normally during spring break, I take my cues from the culture and I do what everyone else is doing – that is, I look for a way to escape. I plan escapades to Science World, the Aquarium, Seattle or Bellingham across the border. I cram my schedule to the brim – anything to avoid being stuck at home with two stir-crazy kids. I dread spring break and especially this year because it’s a two week break!! I dread the lack of time to myself that I’ll have, I dread hearing them whine and say they are bored, and I dread hearing them argue about who gets to decide what fun thing we’re going to do next.

But this attitude reveals something about the idols of my heart – I’m the one who wants to escape, and I ‘m the one who’s living for comfort (ie complaining that spring break will make be uncomfortable because I’ll have my kids 24/7). I need to stop blaming the school board for making spring break so long, and I need to stop blaming my kids for whining and being bratty – these are attitudes spawned by what they have seen in my own life. The kids will pick up on this cue and idolize fun and comfort as well – which we all know makes for creating bratty, whiney, spoiled kids with an overgrown sense of entitlement.

It’s actually kind of funny. I like to teach my children the first part of Ephesians 6: “ 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

But I forget about the second part…verse 4:

“ 4 Fathers,[b] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

So this year I’ve decided not to think of escape plans, but instead to take charge of the situation and muscle through it – to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” What does this look like?

Well, we are making a ‘time stewardship’ chart and I’m going to help Evan and Ashley learn about time management this spring break. They learned that time is a gift from God, and they learned the meaning of the word ‘stewardship’.  We’re going to set goals for each day, like practicing piano, doing our memory verses, exercising and doing household chores, and we’re also going to schedule in fun things every day. Having the structure of the productive goals is going to teach the children about good stewardship, about rest and work. I told them that God designed us to work and be productive and to enjoy work – and I told them that Adam and Eve were gardeners who really enjoyed gardening and taking care of animals. And that this was fun and fulfilling. In the same way, Evan and Ashley will find their chores fun and fulfilling.

Evan practising letters

An added perk I discovered today – by implementing, this I managed to get the two of them to vacuum and mop the kitchen for me – well more Ashley than Evan. But hey, it’s a start. Together, we are also going to brainstorm fun things that each child wants to do, and the children will have opportunities to choose as the week goes on, but I want to emphasize that I am in charge – I am the authority that God has placed over them, and I will make the final decisions, for their good and because I love them (not just for my own comfort though!!!). This is a first for me. My tendency has always been to run the path of least resistance, going with the flow of culture rather than to resist and push back. So it’ll be a challenge, but I know God’s grace will be more than sufficient.

How do you view days off school for your kids? Leave a comment by clicking below…

This post was originally published March 22, 2011

Philadelphia: Independence Day 2013

Spoiler alert: It’s a Canadian perspective, eh?

The last time I was in the US of A  on Independence day, we were in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2011. I’m sad to say it was slightly anti-climactic. In comparison, 2013 was… a cupcake…literally.

Approaching our hotel in the city on July 3, I already felt my excitement beginning to mount.  South street is a hipster kind of deal, stretching for miles with no grass and lots of cute little townhouse looking colonial buildings squished up together amongst unique boutiques and restaurants.  Our hotel was down the street from a stern and aged ornate kind of city hall, surrounded by antique churches with cemeteries and brick buildings with character, sitting on top of  hidden eighties-style underground malls. Parking is a nightmare. But once parked, we were able to freely explore.

Lesson 1: From now on when I travel to big cities, I will choose hotels in central locations over suburbs  or ‘burrows’ as the east coasters call them.

Then July 4th happened. It  was singularly fascinating. Andrew and the kids partook of the free historical Once Upon a Nation Story-telling Benches tour. I and my sister-in-law went wander-shopping and philly cheese steak hunting.  But the cupcakes!

photo (6)

We stumbled upon 1776 cupcakes that were free and frosted red, white and blue, nestled neatly on a 30 foot L shaped table to resemble a huge Stars and Stripes banner. In the light of my particular love affair with baked goods and party planning, it was intoxicating. I had read online the night before about this nation’s ‘largest street party’, without expecting that we would actually be able to weave our way through the crowds to find it. So I was dizzy with excitement to actually unwittingly stumble upon it and end up being 15th in line, in air conditioning, while the rest of the line, in hundreds, snaked around the block several times in sweltering heat. It would be the cake that fed 2000 people. Historic in a kitchsy Americana Biggest and Best kind of way. So our blind exploring had us line up for half an hour, taking turns to hold the line whilst the other two went for water and bathroom breaks in the Philadelphia Visitor  Center.

Lesson 2: Research and plan for your trip. I know. State the obvious. But I’m not a natural trip planner. And since my sister-in-law and husband are information hound-dogs, I tend to sit back and let them loose. I follow their trail and it usually takes me to good places. But I know if I hadn’t taken that little bit of effort to do a google search or two and click on one or two links, I wouldn’t have known ahead of time what those cupcakes were for and I wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to quickly nab a spot in line. It pays to be informed.