Sunday, February 27, 2011

"The Most Important Piece of Plastic You'll Ever Own"

Going to the library is a weekly event around here.

(Okay, so it's not been a weekly event around here for the last of January and first of February. Between cold weather and sickness, we haven't made it to our local library every week, but we're getting back on track!)

Since our oldest was three, we have taken him to the library. We started with preschool story times and summer reading program events, and he loved them. Add to that the surprise of checking out books, and he has been hooked ever since!  There is something simply magical about borrowing books. Searching up one row and down another for just the right selections is a treat that we all enjoy. (Plus, I slip a few in there as surprises to find when we get home and snuggle on the couch to read his stack. This serves a few purposes- a fun surprise and to direct him to books I'd like for him to read.)

For a few weeks, I'd been entertaining the idea of him getting his own library card. Having just turned five and being halfway through his kindergarten curriculum, I thought it was time.

As I filled out the necessary paperwork, he chatted excitedly about this new grown-up thing he's being given, and later, the process of finding just the right books has taken on a new and more special meaning. The books (albeit only 2 this first time) will be checked out on his bright, shiny new card.

As he showed yet another librarian his new, white, shiny piece of plastic, she said, "That is the most important piece of plastic you'll ever own."

How right she is.

This is a big step for my little boy on his way to being a man. A library card seems like such a little thing, but it's far more than 'just' a library card. He's learning how to read, but, still, even more than that, he's learning the importance of having a good name, building a reputation of integrity- by taking care of what he's been given and returning it at or before the appointed time.

All this learned in the ownership of a library card- the most important piece of plastic he'll ever own.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Art of Relaxation

For the past year and a half or so, I've been nesting. Cleaning, of course, is part of the process. So is moving furniture around to find just the right 'home.' (By the way, there are hundreds of ways to arrange a room!!!)

But nesting has taken on a whole new meaning for the past eighteen months. It is work, yes, but it is work that has taught me how to relax.

My nesting has grown to include crafts. If you know me, you know I used to be a craft-o-phobe. I used to make fun of the very idea, and if my jabs were directed at you, I apologize. After much reflection, I have come to realize it's because I was afraid of failing.  A first-born, type A, perfectionist personality- yep! That's me. And going out on a limb is not my forte.

Now, true craftspeople will tell you that there is no such thing as failing. It's a learning process- what works, what does not work, what turns out u-g-l-y can be easily fixed by pulling said project apart and beginning again, and that sometimes 'mistakes' turn out to be treasures.

Another lesson I never would have guessed I would learn from crafting is the art of relaxation. Yes, while threading that needle can sometimes be stressful (my eyes just aren't what they used to be), once it's threaded and the project commences there is a sense of relaxation that cannot be described. Relaxing is not my forte (I seem to have a lot of those!), and it is very hard for me to do. Nonetheless, I am learning how to relax even though my hands are busy.

Over the past year and a half, I have learned to love the art of card making. While I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have discovered not only is it a relaxing hobby for me to trim and fold paper, to stamp and to color, but it is a joy to fill in the card with a personal message (a passion of mine since I was a teenager). Knowing that what I am creating with plain white card stock, pretty paper, ink, and double-sided tape will bring joy to someone makes it that much more worthwhile.

And during this process of discovery, I have become a lot less afraid. So what if it turns out not quite right? The recipient won't know, unless it's a glaring error, but even then it gives the gift character. So what if I stayed up all night? A lost good night's sleep is sometimes worth the exchange for time to pursue my new-found passion.

Not only have I found the benefits for myself, but my son is enjoying a more crafty Momma! He is at the age where glue is the greatest invention ever and we are only limited by the supplies in our craft bin and our imaginations!

We have made our own Christmas wrapping paper the past two years. How fun is it for the kitchen floor to be spread with brown packing paper, given paint and brushes,(washable, of course! Momma's not that relaxed!) and given free reign to paint to his heart's content?This memory for the both of us is priceless.

And, just these past few days he has discovered the joy of making cards. The endless combinations with stickers, 'Momma's special stamps', and colorful Valentine's paper have provided hours of endless fun that we have done together. Even his daddy got in on the fun, supervising the stamping when Momma was busy getting dinner on the table.

During these times, he is allowed to be as creative as he can be. He learns that some paper won't fit on the cardstock and needs to be trimmed. He learns how to cut using scissors and how there can be such a thing as too much glue. He learns how to care for another person's belongings. He learns thoughtfulness.

All learned in the creation of a card.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, when it's all said and done these past few nights, the dining table is littered with scraps of paper, empty sticker sheets, and stacks of beautiful creations, and I am not one bit troubled about the 'mess'.

In fact, I am relaxed.