936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
He warned me as we wiped the boys down of breakfast remains, and dressed them in the same outfits they had been wearing for three days now. I smirked.
We normally reserve Saturday mornings for family time, and this past Saturday was no different. Sipping our coffee that morning, my husband had scanned the internet for anything fun going on around Kansas City. We were in search of something that would equally entertain us, and wear out our two eldest boys, guaranteeing a long nap time for the afternoon.
He happened upon a local festival, and upon pulling into the airport where the activities were taking place, we found my husband’s premonition had been right—there wasn’t much going on. We perused the booths of cheap sunglasses and scented soaps, but really we were just wishing they would move over their plastic white tables so we could get a good look at the airplanes in the hangars.
That would have made a much more interesting festival.
The inflatables were half inflated, not yet ready for our boys and their pent-up energy. The hot air balloon was nowhere to be found. As we made our way to the end of the festival, which took us all of ten minutes, I supposed that if we could just find the Zoo Animal Exhibit, maybe there was some hope yet for this gala.
We rounded some vacant steel benches in front of an empty stage, and finally spotted it, the Zoo mobile. The boys hurriedly rushed to the zoo booth, eagerly searching for animals. I looked left and right, then realized that the animals were sitting right in front of us. On the table. In little plastic containers.
A humongous millipede, and an endangered “mossy” frog.
A bug and a frog.
It was just so spectacular that I failed even to capture a photo.
“We call her Millie”, the Zoologist nodded proudly towards the millipede.
We tried to play it up. And in all honesty, the boys thought it was cool. Our eldest, Zeke, is somewhat obsessed with bugs at this stage in his life. Just a few nights ago, he discovered a millipede in his bed (to my great dismay). He named it “curl”, because it was all curled up into a tight ball. He proceeded to carry “Curl” around all evening, introducing Curl to Daniel Tiger, and playing play doh with him. Fortunately Curl was much smaller than the millipede sitting before us now at the zoo exhibit.
Upon bidding farewell to Millie, we headed back towards the car, dodging a disgruntled clown trying to back his SUV out of the crowd, which consisted of about eight people.
A woman stopped us, she held the hand of her excited granddaughter. “Do you know where the zoo animals are?” she asked. “Yes,”” My husband replied. “Right over there. There is a millipede and a frog.” The woman gave us an amused smile. “Oh… You’re serious?” We nodded.
I swear that every weekend we spend at least 3 hours in our car–sometimes more. This is because we have adopted somewhat of a motto for our weekend ventures, and it goes like this:
Honestly, this never takes us long. We have learned that no matter where we are, there is good and beauty and adventure to be found. Some days it takes the form of a path along a river, sometimes it is a new-to-us enchanted downtown with a charming coffee shop. Sometimes it is an afternoon hike in a park we stumble upon. Sometimes it’s a vintage car show. Sometimes it’s a vacant baseball diamond.
The destination itself doesn’t even have to be all that grand–it is what we make of it. And my four men are teaching me everyday that there is adventure to be found around every corner!
This past Saturday, after the less-than-stellar festival, our “Just drive until we discover something great!” approach to adventure brought us to the opening day of a sporting good store in Kansas.
While driving that morning we had heard on the radio that a new Scheels sporting store was holding its opening day festivities, and they had a big fish tank.
We knew the boys would love to see the fish.
Ok, to be honest, I’m the one who can’t pass up a fish tank.
As we walked into Scheels, my eyes were immediately drawn to the 16,000 gallon saltwater fish aquarium—that you could walk through. Yes, walk through. The boys began to laugh and jump as when they spotted the scuba diver waving hello at them from inside the tank.
Yes–mediocre festival redeemed.
Just beyond the fish tank archway was a ferris wheel. We also found some bowling lanes, where our two-year-old grabbed a mini bowling ball, dropped it (hard) onto the lane, and somehow made a strike.
We could have spent all day there. And between the fish, bowling, indoor playground, and perusing of merchandise, two hours had passed before we realized it. The baby finally began to wail, and we decided (or rather he decided) that it was time to head home. We walked out only $86 poorer, with some new running clothes for me, and my boy smiling ear-to-ear as he walked of the store sporting his first pair of real running shoes.
It was 5pm by the time we arrived home. And those long naps for the boys that we were building up to all morning? They took the form of 30-minute naps on the ride back home.
My to-do list from that morning was beckoning, and I had book deadlines to meet, but I decided to name the day a day of rest (or play), and to leave my work untouched. Because really, while I am writing this book on how to best invest the time we have with our children, how could I pass up an opportunity like this to spend an entire day with my best friend and our three boys?
After all, these are often my favorite kind of adventures–the ones where our only aim is to spend time together and see what we can find!
So, the next time a giant millipede tramples all over your hope for an enchanting morning, follow this one simple rule that has led our family to grand discoveries and adventures: Keep on driving until you find something great!
Sometimes we end up at a sporting good store, more often than not we end up on a hiking trail or at a lake. Wherever the destination, it’s always worth it to step away from responsibilities, deadlines, and piles of laundry and dishes to go and seek out some adventure. Because as long as we get to spend time together, hopping in the car and driving without aim is always a great use of our day!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!