10 Things I Learned This Weekend

Eva and I got to spend the weekend visiting some of our closest friends in Northern Virginia and celebrating their son’s third birthday. We had a wonderful time despite bad traffic and a complete lack of nap time TWO DAYS IN A ROW (shudders to think what COULD have happened). We got to see Eva’s great-grandparents and great-uncle, eat cake, watch fireworks, snuggle babies, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

It’s amazing what two days of travel can teach you. Here’s what I learned this weekend:

Lessons Learned:

1. I-95 is a parking lot on Saturdays. Abandon hope after Fredericksburg and go to IKEA at Potomac Mills if you were stupid and kept trying anyway. Next time, leave on Friday.

2. There is something magical about a barely traveled, tree-lined I-85 at twilight. A purple sky and a full moon make up for multiple near-death experiences on I-95.

3. My daughter has two personas. One for people she knows and another for people she doesn’t. The other moms at the party Saturday all commented on how sweet and timid Eva was and I thought (but did not say), “Yeah, that’s not really her at all. She was just taking her time evaluating the situation. There’s no timidity in discernment.” Note to self: always give Eva time to acclimate to her situation.

4. Real friends are incredibly precious. I am so lucky to have had that wonderful woman in my life for nearly a decade. Five hours of driving really shouldn’t stop me from seeing her and her sweet family more often. There are some things time cannot tarnish; a true friendship is one of them.

5. I could hold a sleeping baby forever.

6. Austrian men look good in party hats.

7. Hearing my grandfather tell my daughter how her great-great-grandfather played the organ at York Minster is now one of my sweetest memories. I can only pray Eva remembers, too.

8. Children are simultaneously direct reflections of their parents and wholly independent. It’s truly fascinating to see yourself in your daughter and your best friend in her son, but also know without a doubt that your children are going to make their own decisions, but they’ll be decisions you made once upon a time and it won’t matter that you already lived it. They will feel their own emotions, reactions, and pain and respond exactly the way you would but it doesn’t have anything to do with you. Maybe we take parenting too personally. Maybe it’s ok if Eva makes all the same mistakes I did. It will still be her life, not mine.

9. Birthday cake, fireworks, and complete disregard for appropriate bedtime does not stop 3 and 4 year olds from sleeping like the dead afterwards. Indulging your kids with good things every once in awhile doesn’t hurt.

10. Travel is good for the soul. (Ok, I knew that already but it was nice to be reminded.)

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A Different Kind of Bucket LIst

I’ve been seeing a lot of “bucket list” posts on Pinterest and Facebook…memes, right? And they are typically centered around travel, kissing celebrities or other unlikely events. Now, this is not judgmental or holier-than-thou (single moms are not allowed on the moral high ground and I want to kiss Brad Pitt as much as you do), but my bucket list doesn’t include any of those things. In fact, there are only three things I absolutely want to do before I die.

1. Adopt a Child
I love being a mother more than anything else in the world and any time I think about having more children, adoption seems more likely than carrying another baby. Had I been a slightly different person, Eva could have been adopted and…(sorry, I have to take a moment and thank God He gave me the courage to keep her)…I would love to honor a woman who couldn’t decide to parent her child.

2. Serve in Africa
As much as I know it wasn’t my time to go in 2007, there will come a time when it is. Something in my heart calls me there. (No, it is notto meet a man and produce more genetically-blessed biracial children.) Maybe I’ll adopt from there, maybe I’ll have the chance to rejoin the Peace Corps, maybe I will get to work there, MAYBE I’ll start my own non-profit there–I don’t know yet–but I will serve.

3. Give Abundantly
I was constantly showered with blessings from complete strangers during my pregnancy all the way up to providing a place for me to live rent-free. In my one-day home, there is a bedroom for someone who needs it. What a joy it would be to honor Larry and Linda by giving the way they gave to me.

So, that’s it. The sum total of my life goals. I don’t actually care about how much money I make as long as Eva is provided for. I would love to travel the world but I haven’t been out of the States since 2004 and can still breathe normally. I would like to get married but…yeah, I don’t see that happening at this point and that’s ok. There are plenty of things that would be fun to have in the future–a big house with a big family and a big dog, a big bank account thanks to a big fancy job–but what if none of that happens? Will I consider myself a failure? Nope, I sure won’t. What if for some reason life doesn’t go as I planned (oh, wait…that has never happened anyway) and I don’t even accomplish those three things? Fail then? No way, Jose.

The life you live is greater than the plans you set aside. Trust me.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s popular and trending, I am so guilty of thinking about things that are less than productive: industrial-grade kitchen appliances, hopping on a plane to Vienna at any given moment, how the heck I am going to survive Eva’s teen years (because if I haven’t already mentioned, she started those 9 years early) and so on… But when I stop for a moment and re-center my thoughts on the things that are present and important–Eva is only four, we have immediate needs to fill, I am blessed and already able to give to others–I can take a deep breath, say thank you, and keep on going. Things will happen in their own time.

Today I will focus on today.

At least…that’s my plan…

Happy Saturday!

Open

In classic Wilson decision-making style, we decided to visit the beach over the weekend Saturday morning. We packed haphazardly, hopped in the car, and headed straight for the ocean.

Side Note: My little corner of heaven will be filled with the sounds of crashing waves, rolling winds, Bach’s Suite for Cello in D, and Eva’s baby laughter. I love the ocean.

This morning we got up at 7:00 AM, had breakfast at our favorite spot with our favorite waitress, and got back on the beach by 9:00 AM.

First, we built an epic sand castle.

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The only thing that could have made building this better would be my sister’s help. She should have totally been here instead of plowing through her last month of college.

And then, Eva made a friend.

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This sweet little girl is about a year younger than Eva, had the cutest little Charlotte drawl, and was a doll. They took a couple minutes to warm up to each other but, without even saying hi, they were best friends.

They ran and screamed and dug holes and fetched water back and forth in pails.

They laughed and shared and talked and splashed and played in the mud.

Looked like they had a marvelous time.

It was beautiful watching them. They’d never met before. They kept forgetting each others’ name. But they didn’t disagree, they shared their toys, they compromised. They played well.

Halfway into their playtime, I started to wonder why adults can’t always do that. I hadn’t talked to the little girl’s mom and she hadn’t spoken to me; her mom was sitting in her chair reading while the girls played near our chairs. Eventually, we talked and got to know each other a bit. Their beach house is just around the corner from ours so I hope we run into them again over the summer.

But if it hadn’t been for Eva and her daughter playing together, it would not have even occurred to me to introduce myself or speak to her.

Now, to be fair to myself, I introduce myself to strangers constantly for work (sales) so it’s not like I’m some crazy snob or anything.

Ok, maybe I have some innate snobbery but I am trying to work on it, thanks.

But what I am curious about is how many meaningful interactions we miss out on as adults. Our little girls were so open to each other, so uncomplicated, so ready to be great friends. Granted, their interests are much simpler: play and play and…yeah, that’s it. Just play. Where as adults have a huge range of interests and belief systems. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at people (at least initially) with the hope that there could be a friendship waiting.

I want to be more open. We’ve been back in North Carolina for over two years now and I am just starting to feel some roots taking hold. I blame myself for not getting us out there and finding/making more meaningful connections. But a new church home and some really solid friendships that have grown beautifully in the past year give me a basket of hope that more roots will settle soon.

What kinds of friendship and love can we add to our lives by just being a little bit more open? I am eager I find out.

Wanderlust Ignited

Just found all my picture CDs from my study abroad trip in college. Oh, happy day!