Pots n Pinwheels

updated 3.24.16

I know they’re just pots, but they do more than hold dirt. They retain memories and are a symbol of intentionality for our family.

6 Easters ago, we set up a scavenger hunt. The final clue led to our neighbor’s trampoline, which we had piled with four giant plastic pots, bags of soil, flats of flowers, gardening gloves, shovels, trowels, and a four unique pinwheels.

Each child thoroughly enjoyed filling their pot with a lower level of rocks, then some dirt and some carefully, some exuberantly, arranging and planting the flowers they had chosen.

We wanted these planters to be a visual reminder of the fact that Jesus died for us, that his body was placed in the ground, but that he rose again and something beautiful came out of that wondrous event.

Two years later as we packed up our belongings to move from Michigan to Georgia, I could not leave those pots. And it was a dilemma because if we wanted the pots, we had to get rid of the flowers.

I came up with a solution that seemed the best thing we could do with both. We unplanted the flowers from the pots and took half to my sister-in-law’s house and planted them in various spots around her garden and planters–hopefully they would be a sweet memory of her nieces and nephews. We watered those plants in tears that day–such a beautiful bittersweet goodbye.

The other half we took to dear friends who had just moved into their new home and added them to what we called a “friendship garden”. It colored up their back yard beautifully and we enjoyed taking a picture of the 6 “friends” in front of their newly planted friendship garden as a sweet memory before saying our goodbyes to them as well.

I emptied the big pots of their dirt and debris, washed and dried them in the sun, then made sure they–along with the pinwheels, gloves, shovels & trowels–made it into the pod for moving.

POTSOnce we unpacked, I thought the pots ought to be used for a bit more than giant baskets in a ball-toss game on the lawn. Our new house needed to look like us.

After cruising all the ads online to find the best prices, we drove to a few places and gathered a handful of plants and a few bags of dirt. We got out the pots, the gardening gloves, shovels, trowels and watering cans and we planted. Once planted, each child proudly placed their pinwheel in their garden then skipped away in glee.

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It’s been 6 years since we started planting flowers for Easter. Two moves later, our kids are still looking forward to the tradition of planting something new and beautiful in their pots.

I know they’re just pots, but I hope they will last forever. That for the Great Scotts–who have more than graduated from being the Scotts Tots–these will be a constant reminder that no matter where we go, we too, are just a vessel for something beautiful that is alive in us because of Him.

 

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Skip n shop–a new gift

As we’ve been thinking more intentionally about our growing children’s birthdays, trifles are just that to them. Although they enjoy unwrapping presents, we found that they often sat on the counter where they were unwrapped gathering dust for a week or more.

Don’t get me wrong, they loved unwrapping and squealing at the surprise inside. But the getting was way more fun than the keeping. Especially the responsibility of having. to. put. them. away. (cue torturous sounding GROAN)

So, as Orange parents trying to be tuned into what our kids REALLY want, we put on our thinking caps.

One day when I was wishing I had a third or fourth ear to listen to everyones’ days all at once on the drive home from school (yet another “gift” we give to our children…more on that one later…) I got an idea.

I ran it by Dan who thought about it for a few minutes–just because making it happen x 4 would mean a little bit of planning in advance and definitely some sacrifice on our parts. But in the end we decided it would be oh so worth it.

10155973_10154104276130161_2068209213174261056_nOur eldest daughter was about to turn 9. One of those “weird” ages…when they’re too old for Barbie, yet too young for things like tattoos or a car. She already has a bike and a scooter, a microphone with a stand and speakers people, about 437 Beanie Boos and an old iPhone that she uses for educational apps at school. What more could this girl want?

This where the plan came into play at just the perfect time. Dan–being the graphic designer–put together an awesome certificate. And not just any certificate…no “free hugs” here, baby!

We weren’t exactly sure how it would go over as we usually wrap the “biggest” or “best” present of the birthday (which is usually from us) in gold wrapping paper. This year, it was gold wrapping paper in the shape of a wonky, origamically challenged envelope…not exactly visually stunning like the large, easy bake oven or Barbie castle boxes of yore.

Our sweet birthday girl opened the envelope as Dan and I held our breath waiting for her reaction.

Granted, she is our drama girl, but her reaction was good. I mean, Oscar nomination good.

She squealed and could NOT stop talking about when we could plan to go, when she could skip school and have us all to herself, where all we could shop and spend her birthday money, where we should go out to eat, what music we would listen to, what she would wear, which Beanie Boo she would bring along with her in which purse. It was game ON, high five, in the bag, best present ever, baby!

Our other kids looked stunned that something in an envelope could be the object of such delight to their sister…and provoke such a sense of envy…they wanted a skip and shop too.

#winning

SKIPANDSHOP We did the same with our next child’s birthday, our younger daughter. She was in. her. glory. until she had purchased the 3 items she wanted to buy, then she simply wanted to go home, assemble and play with her new toys in our presence with no distractions or need to share our attention with other siblings. So. Relaxing. What a gift…not just to her, but we found it has turned out to be a gift to ourselves as well!

#winningagain

Liam Skip and ShopOur firstborn son just turned 11. And he does NOT like getting gift cards or money.  So we were a little nervous that our #winning streak might be interruption on this one. We made sure to purchase gifts in advance that he could unwrap…which was nothing more than copious amounts of Lego sets. All of which he assembled before bedtime on his birthday night.

We had to think a little harder about his “skip n ______” day, but I had my antennae up for just this reason. When he mentioned watching Captain America with a friend this past summer and that a few friends at school had seen the new movie and in a store he pointed out an UnderArmor shirt featuring Captain America and said, “he’s my favorite hero” (<–kid of few words, so when he speaks, we listen), I did the math. He received a “skip n watch” to go see the new Captain America movie in the theater. On a school day.

He expanded the experience by suggesting we get the first Captain America movie from RedBox to get Dan and I up to speed on the good Captain’s origins before we head to the theater to watch the “new” one–knowing my introvert he just doesn’t want to answer all my questions during the movie in the theater, but he also is one for “the whole series”.

#stillwinning

I love how my kids are transitioning from “stuff” to “experiences”–making memories and helping make that really hard-to-get one-on-one time with parents-of-four-kids a reality.

What are some creative ways you do or have heard of to intentionally have fun over time with your kids?

Splitting bananas

Last week I was at my kids’ school helping with an ice cream social. After doing the awkward “who among us here-to-help moms is in charge?” dance, I decided to just put my head down and work at the banana station. Partly because we’ve been watching “Arrested Development” lately and partly because  no one else wanted to open and cut bananas in half “because they would get dirty”…not joking here, folks.

There was another mom who offered to help with the very time-consuming and sticky banana station. She didn’t really talk to me unless it was to ask for more bowls or a trash bag for the peels. During the rush of kids going through the line to get their banana splits, what I think was a neighborhood acquaintance of this other mom said “hello” to her and started offering her pleasantries asking how her husband was and such. I couldn’t hear every word of other mom’s response, but I was hearing enough and filling in the blanks to realize that she was informing neighborhood acquaintance about an impending divorce.

Neighborhood acquaintance asked something to the effect of how the kids were dealing with it, and other mom’s brazen response was “oh, it’s happening right now as we speak. We haven’t told them yet, we’ll tell them as soon as it’s done”.

If my heart could have audibly gasped, you would have heard the most bewildered groan ever. It’s almost Christmas, and you’re going to “surprise” your kids (one of which I gathered was a 3rd grade boy) with this devastating news?

Neighborhood acquaintance must have offered condolences or an “I’m so sorry” of some sort, but other mom next to me simply shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly said, “hey, that’s life”.

That nearly made me scream, it was all I could do to see straight and not lop off my own finger while slicing the bananas from then on. My soul was screaming “NO! It isn’t ‘just life’–to shrug your shoulders like it’s no big deal that you’re breaking up a family. Do you have ANY idea how damaging this is going to be for your kids? I rescued a child from a broken family, and it’s heartbreaking. A child not having a mom AND a dad is NOT how it should be, and it is not what any child wants–especially for Christmas! If there is any way, anything within you that can keep this from happening, why wouldn’t you try? Why are you giving up so easily and playing it off like your car is about to get scratched, when in reality it’s more like you are all about to be in a near-fatal accident?”

Maybe my heart is extra tender right now because my dear friend (who is from a divorced family and STILL dealing with the repercussions of the divorce more than 20 years later, and now her own kids are being affected too) shared recently that one of her neighbors was also throwing in the towel much too quickly and easily on a marriage where kids would pay the consequences, and how despondent she felt knowing what was in store for those kids. Or maybe its because I’m reading Jim Daly’s book “Finding Home” right now, where abandonment and death wreaked havoc on his young life.

I just groaned for the kids. This is going to be a ROUGH life for them. Talk about unfair, and kids having to pay for the sins of their fathers & mothers. Despite not knowing other mom’s name, her life, her situation, her husband, or her kids I was deeply troubled by the two minute exchange I witnessed.

Pouring this out to God in the van as I left the school and holding back tears, I attempted to find something good in this situation. I couldn’t think of much, but here’s what little I could come up with.

I’m thankful that the little boy whose parents are going to surprise him with the news of their divorce is in the same grade as my son. My little boy is intuitive, sensitive, and kind. And if in the future this other little boy ever needs a safe place to be, where the complications of his home life are shut outside the walls so he can just be a kid, then knowing my son is his ticket into our safe and steady home.

As I sit in church and watch baptisms and listen to the stories that led many of the kids to the deep decision they have made to profess their faith in Christ, a surprisingly large number of them stemmed from family trauma and hurt, and the willingness of friends or neighbors to come alongside these kids and fill a void or a bind wound that was dealt them unfairly in their youth.

If there is any consolation and redemption to be had, I desire  and am willing for it to be in my home and on my watch. Maybe I was splitting bananas so my heart would be more open, tender, and aware of the hurts happening all around me and my kids that we can help soothe and bear in the days, weeks, and years ahead right here where God has placed us.