In Praise of Playdough and Pausing

How do you nurture your relationships with your loved ones? How does your family bond? What are your favorite ways to hang out with one another?   What are your patterns?

When our whole family wants to spend time together – we head for the woods or the river. Jason – Jack – Will and I may not all agree that hiking is awesome (our sweet Will remains steadfast in his dislike of this particular pastime . . . We love him anyway!) But we all love exploring nature. We all delight in getting outside and feeling the sun on our faces – hearing the wind in our ears and getting a bit or a lot muddy. Nature is good for our souls. Nature is good for our relationships with one another too!

Ohhh! Clue! Thank you Caitlyn!

Thanks to our friend Caitlyn – the McFarlands have discovered the awesomeness that is the board game – Clue! We have had a blast playing Clue! this winter. I won my first game of Clue! on Valentine’s Day and have been wearing my victory like a badge of honor all week! It was Professor Plum with the revolver!?!?!

If I want to spend time with Jason all I need to do is vaguely mention going for a walk and my beloved is all in. Jason and I walk. We walk together. Jason and Kerri walk. We have been walking together for over 30 years now.

Yes – I can match my embroidered jeans to the weather . . .

If I want to spend time with Jack – thrifting is the way to go.   Jack has taught me the joys of exploring Goodwill and especially of Goodwill Bins. Jack knew this way of shopping would appeal to my hippy-dippy – tree hugging heart. (Jack may have heard a few rants from his mom about the damage fast-fashion and over-consumption are doing to our planet over the years . . .) I love rescuing cute clothes at bargain prices. I was already into visible mending and embroidering my jeans. Now I get to do both for far less money. And spending time with Jack – well that is quite simply amazingly awesome!

Will is my sidekick. Will and I spend lots of time just hanging out together. We keep each other company. (I am never – ever – ever lonely!) At 9 – Will still invites me into his world of imagination and fun and creativity.   I am not as good at these things as Will is though. I am too grown-up – and just a bit too orderly and neat and linear. But I try. I really – really do try!

Such thoughtful concentration!

Last night Will invited me to play with playdough with him. I try to remember what an honor it is to be invited to play with playdough or to make a craft or to simply hang out with him.   I try to say “yes!” more than I say “sorry not right now . . .”

I don’t know that I will have many fond memories of doing the dishes or sweeping the floors or staring at my phone. But I know for certain I will treasure my memories of watching my sons create artistic masterpieces at our dining room table over the years. I know I will treasure hanging out with my guys.

A sculptor hard at work!

I love watching Will create and make and design.

What Will makes is such a delightful – glorious reflection of who he is and of his personality. It would never occur to me to make most of what Will decides to make and design!

Will chose to use the bright orange playdough (no surprise there).

Will made a ship with funnels and hatches and all sorts of details.   Will then made a tsunami wave and created a tragic disaster at sea . . .

The ship broke apart and the captain bravely went down with his ship!

(I made hearts – because it was close to Valentine’s Day and I am boring and old and lack imagination . . . sigh.)

When I was on internship – there was a group of ladies in my congregation who did all sorts of things they wished they had done sooner or more often.   They were rebels with a cause.   They were bold ladies who had no problem with being seen and heard. They wore bright colors. They went on adventures. They stopped to smell the roses. They left dirty dishes in the sink at home – if they wanted to. (They never left dirty dishes in the sink at church!)   They tried things they had always wanted to try. They said – YES! when saying YES! sounded like fun. And they said “NO thank you” when that sounded better. They embraced life and living and people.

I think of those ladies often. And I so – I say yes to playdough and to walks and to thrifting and to knitting and to reading and to games of Clue! and to as much joy as I can.   And while I am saying yes – I try really hard to be present. To sink into the moment. To revel in it. To absorb it. To listen and delight. To watch and to chat and chatter. To give thanks.

Life can get so busy. So full.   So noisy. So full of mindless distractions. So full of electronics and updates and demands.

I give thanks for the opportunity to spend a quiet hour with my little guy. To watch and to listen.   To learn and observe. To delight and to give thanks.

(The dishes got done and the laundry . . . Well – the McFarlands all found clean clothing to wear this morning so skipping that load of laundry was fine too!)

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