I miss the cows.
Not these cows, exactly, but cows like them. See, The Husband and I recently spent an idyllic weekend at the WinShape Retreat Centre in Mount Berry, Ga.
WinShape is the foundation started by S. Truett Cathy (the Chick-Fil-A guy) to "make a difference in the world." They do that through various programs aimed at children, married couples and families, all "set in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by a rolling wonderland of forests, meadows and streams that provide the perfect backdrop to encourage both growth and transformation."
We were at WinShape as guests of All Pro Dad (APD), an organization that helps fathers connect with their kids, becoming better fathers in the process. The Husband has been "team captain" of the APD chapter at our elementary school for a couple years now; APD brought in captains from across the country to meet each other, share ideas and see how we might grow the organization.
In explanation, it sounds a little esoteric, but it was one of the most fun weekends we've had in a long time. It was almost like the APD folks searched their database, decided who would be BFFs and then summoned us all to the Georgia mountains for a few days. Many of us remarked that we didn't seem like strangers at all, but old friends. Shared values will do that.
Part of the wonder of the WinShape Retreat amenities -- This place is the Disneyworld of non-Disney resorts! -- are its facilities. Because the group of buildings once served as the dairy for Berry College (a gorgeous little liberal arts school set on 26,000 acres of nature preserve), visitors sleep, eat and meet in former animal stalls, milking barns and related spaces. They've skillfully decorated the buildings and rooms to retain the charm of the farm; if you could manage to forget the facilities' former use, large photos of Guernsey cows and antique farm implements grace most walls.
And the food! Nightly, we were treated to cookies and milk, icecream floats by the fire pit, specialty coffee drinks, bananas foster and many other delicacies. . . after we'd been offered dessert with dinner. We dined -- very well -- at the only place on earth where you can get Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday. They performed amazingly delicious magic with green beans and even cauliflower.
Admittedly, the goal we were given was lofty: To help make a difference in families by involving and empowering fathers in their children's lives. But in that setting, with that band of visionaries, we caught a glimpse of what we could achieve together.
Monday, January 28, 2013
The trouble with five is that your teeth are never in the right place. They get in the way when you fall; they seem to pull you along toward your brother when he’s ready to throw the Frisbee. They’re hard to brush, too, and Mom’s rarely satisfied that they’re truly clean (even when they are).
The trouble with five is all the energy and excitement. Sometimes there’s just no way to be still, whether you’re trying to get dressed for the day or ride in the car or go to sleep – too many thoughts and “what ifs” swirl around in your head until you can’t help but sing them out (sometimes over and over again).
The trouble with five is that ‘most everything is funny. Even if nobody else thinks so, you just need to laugh out loud (and that’s not always good). Your brother does the goofiest things; your friends make faces and noises in the classroom and your parents say and do things for no other reason than to tickle your funny bone. It usually works.
The trouble with five is that so much of the world is unpronounceable, and the other stuff – the stuff you can pronounce – is on a shelf just a little too high to reach.
The trouble with five is that your teacher is great (kinda like Mom, really), until the day she’s not. But nobody will believe that she’s mean now. The trouble with five is that the little girl who loved you when school started last fall won’t sit beside you now when Mom puts a smoothie in your lunch. And Mom keeps putting smoothies in your lunch!
The trouble with five is that it’s hard work, keeping track of whether you’re supposed to be Ninja Jay or Harry Potter or the Blue Knight when you play Ninjago-Harry Potter-Medieval Times after school. How do you decide if it’s best to use your sword or your light saber? The rules are pretty tricky.
The trouble with five is that there aren’t enough hours in the week to play with Play Doh. Or Legos. Or to paint. Or do puzzles. Or trace with stencils. Or dig in the backyard. Or hunt for rocks to add to your collection. Or learn about the moon.
The trouble with five is that it quickly – too quickly – turns into six.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Why, you may ask, is The Husband up in the neighbor's tree? I'm surprised you had to ask: Didn't everyone's eldest son receive a remote-controlled helicopter for Christmas?
The problem, you see, is that Boy #1 has yet to play with said helicopter. It came with very explicit instructions about its operation -- most importantly that one is not to attempt to fly it if the temperature is below 50 degrees or if there's the slightest bit of wind.
After several failed attempts by The Husband and The Grandfather (that would be my dad, who gifted the helicopter) to fly it a week or so ago, The Husband decided that the time was ripe last weekend. Unfortunately for him, he was mistaken.
Flying was going exceptionally well, I have to admit. I was just getting ready to remark that maybe he shouldn't take it quite so high (in the range of the 2nd story of The House), when the wind took it into our neighbor's tree.
You'd think it would be fairly easy to dislodge a smallish toy from the branches of a barren oak tree. You would be wrong.
One ladder, one long branch lopper, a comforter and several neighbors later. . .
and the heli was back in The Boy's hands. (Mind you, he still hasn't gotten to play with his toy. Ahem.)
I'll leave out the part where The Husband then dropped the lopper, which narrowly missed Boy #2 and caused this writer not a small bout of anxiety.
So. . .more surprises for us. It does, indeed, take a village. I'm just grateful the neighbors were all home to help.