Thursday, January 13, 2011

Carefree timelessness...what does that mean?

I found this little phrase in a book titled "The Rhythm of Life. Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose." The author is Matthew Kelly.  I highly recommend this book.  (you can get it used on Amazon) I heard him speak, and his passion for life was so refreshing.  Not far into his book he talks about this "carefree timelessness."  I had never heard of it before, but when I read it it made perfect sense.  Something I believed in all along, but wasn't following like I should.   These are his words-

"Most of us know that the happiest people on the planet are those who are focused on their personal relationships.  Relationships thrive under one condition: carefree timelessness.  Do we gift our relationships with carefree timelessness?...We have to make carefree timelessness a priority.  The nature of carefree timelessness is to be timeless.  You lose track of time. Carefree timelessness is carefree.  It has nothing to achieve other than the enjoyment of each other's company.  Teenagers are experts at this.  How often do parents ask their teenagers when they are going out with friends, "Where are you going?" The children reply, "I don't know!"  Of course, we may consider this an unacceptable answer, but it may well be the truth.  Carefree timelessness.  It is the reason young people fall in love so easily.  The lack of carefree timelessness is the reason the rest of us fall out of love so easily.  Carefree timelessness cause us to fall in love with life and others.  The first thing that you need to do is schedule it.  Now I hear the objection in the back of your mind.  You are thinking,  if I have to schedule it then it is not carefree timelessness. Not so.  Think back to our definition of carefree timelessness, as time spent without an agenda.  I didn't say that it is unscheduled and will happen all on it's own.  We know it won't. We have to schedule it, but we don't have to have an agenda."

I LOVE THIS.  This is where relationships are formed.  Think back to when you were in middle school/high school/college.  At least in my world, my friends were everything to me.  Our friendships were strong-filled with fun, pranks, nothingness, long talks, telephone calls, pouring our hearts out to each other and complaining about homework.  The thing is we really didn't do huge, amazing things.  Friendships were built by talking in the halls, driving along the beach, hanging out at friend's houses...I have thought about what I do with my kids that is carefree.  Um......we were doing a lot of activities, but not a whole lot of nothingness.  We were always thinking of things to do-skiing, tubing, having friends over, jump-time, movies etc.  After reading those words however, Matt and I have been very conscious of "learning to waste time with the people we love."  That means instead of going to a movie, we will stay home and play board games.  Instead of doing one more load of laundry I will have to make myself stop and go jump on the tramp with Charlotte.  Instead of cleaning my kitchen floor yet again, I take time to play hide and go seek with Ashton.  It is Matt taking one of the kids out for hot chocolate.  It is baking a cake with Sam on a Sunday afternoon.  It is having Brandon teach me how to make duct tape wallets.  It is sitting on the floor in Olivia's bathroom and letting her paint my toes. You don't have to talk much or teach something, it's just time together.
It is disheartening to me that it is sometimes so hard to stop.  I generally am not a busy person.  I don't like having a hundred projects hanging over my head, so I don't create any.  But I naturally do have a lot to do because I have 6 children.  My thousand loads of laundry do have to get done.  But once I realized that it would never actually be done, ever, it is easier to leave it for a moment and do it later.  I don't want to just exist in the same house as my kids.  I don't want at the end of the day to say to myself "Did I even play with my kids today? Do a puzzle? (I hate puzzles)  Did I make a memory  instead of just cleaning  house, doing carpools, and helping with homework?  We were together, but there was no carefree. 
It has been a fabulous change.  I still have to work at it, but at least I am more aware of it now. I'm going to attach some pictures that I feel were carefree timelessness at it's best...

 And there you have it...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The little 2 year her.

On why and how we decided to come...

Dear friends,
    We made it!  It was a long trip, but I am happy to report that Charlotte and Ashton only cried once the entire trip over here-a miracle since they basically missed an entire night's sleep, were severely jet lagged, and had to wear the same clothes for 3 days.  
    I'll give a little background info for those who are just hearing about what we are doing.  In Nov. I attended a Power of Mom's retreat (highly recommend it-it was fabulous).  One of the main things that I pulled away from the conference was that we need to be deliberate in the things that we want to teach our children.  I have thought a great deal about what I want to be "deliberate" in as a mother.  There are things that I have always wanted to incorporate into our family, but I never do anything about it. Part of the reason is simply because I have been down in the trenches with babies, nursing, sleep deprivation, and moves.  The other reason is because I have failed to sit down and take a moment to figure out how to implement it.  If we are distracted in the day to day things, we let the long term goals go by the wayside.  

I was reading an article called "How Will You Measure Your Life" by Clayton Christensen in the Harvard Review. These particular lines stood out to me. "If you want your kids to have strong self-esteem and confidence that they can solve hard problems, those qualities won’t magically materialize in high school. You have to design them into your family’s culture—and you have to think about this very early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works"

A little panic set in after I read that because while I still have a lot of little kids, my Samuel will be in High School next year.  Half of his life I have been in bed sick with pregnancies:)  He was amazing through it all, but I realized high school is just around the corner for him.  That is when I took being deliberate seriously and Matt and I came up with our "bucket list" of parenting.  On the top of our list was to have the children see a different side of the world-one that is a polar opposite of their itouch, xbox, homework filled, sport crazed, fast food on every corner life.  Don't get me wrong, we love America, we are so grateful for all the blessings we enjoy, but we just wanted them to see what most of the children in this world live like.

After going through finances, it was a stretch, but we prayed about it and spent a lot of time thinking-weighing the positives and negatives and we decided to book it. 8 tickets to Thailand for almost a month.  I don't know if I would have had the courage to do it except for a lady I met at the conference who sold their house and moved to South America for 8 months with her family. She said it changed their life.

 The children went door to door selling a hand sanitizer that my brother-in-law's company sells and they were able to raise money for the orphans (ownership of the helping the orphans).  We gathered the many donations of items people brought over (thank you!) as well as the money, packed our bags, and we were off.
Korea was beautiful (and freezing)- our bags continued to Phuket, so all we had were what we had on.  It was snowing, but the kids loved the Palace and many outdoor markets. New food, new culture, and definitely new smells.  We had a lot of dry heaving going on.

Yesterday was our first day in the orphanages.  The first one was called "Safe Haven" attached to the women's prison.  They live in 2 rooms that are maybe 12 by 12 and there is no where to play outside. There were about 35 children all lined up in rows eating their lunch of rice and noodles.  There was not an inch to spare in that room.  They were about to take their naps, so we are going back today.  We then drove to the "Holland House" orphanage.  We were very blessed to find it-with the many little roads throughout the city, with no street signs, we had a tender mercy as we ran into a lady that drove us straight there...

This is the part of the story where every wonder of doubt we had over coming and spending the money disappeared into thin air.  I have been up since 3 am thinking about the day we had yesterday.  We walked into the small orphanage and the children were also eating their lunch.  I watched as my children almost instinctively picked a child to sit next to and help feed them their lunch. Sam and Brandon took some of the little boys and played football with them with the BSU football they had brought.  Ashton had no language barrier as he ran around playing with the other 3 and 4 year olds.  Olivia was in her element as the children just wanted to be held and kept jumping in her lap and on her back.  It was a true gift to be there experiencing this with our children.  They loved it.  The workers there who spoke very little English kept saying over and over again-"Children happy. Children happy."  The children in the orphanage giggled and giggled, tackled the boys (they really are the same everywhere), and had such an amazing spirit about them.  There really was a feeling of love there.  They had about 4 workers who you could absolutely feel loved these children.  Though some only had a t-shirt and underwear on with no shoes, they did feel love.

There was one little girl however that I can't get out of my mind.  She is almost 2, but looked malnourished and half her age.  She wouldn't move off of the helper's lap and she cried on and off the whole time we were there.  I can't erase the sadness off her face.  She is the only one who never engaged or even smiled.  Through the broken English we learned that she had only been there 2 days.  Obviously, she was dealing with the sadness of losing her family and being somewhere where she knew no one and missed her family.  I kept thinking of that happening to my little Charlotte.  Alone and confused as to where her family was.  It was truly heartbreaking.  

The children are so BEAUTIFUL.  The Thai people are so gracious and kind.  I had heard and read about how the Thai people loved and revered children, and it was no understatement.   We are off to go back today and bring more items and head to the grocery store to bring food that they had on their list.  They get a little government funding, but desperately need donations to survive.  They had run out of diapers and while we were there 2 of the children had an accident as a puddle formed around where they were sitting.  They were obviously wearing underwear before they were ready due to the lack of diapers.  They were taken to a hose and hosed off and  the floor was wiped down with the clothes they were wearing.  Charlotte then played with the children right over the puddle with no shoes on.  I had to swallow hard as the western part of me came through, but then I realized this was all part of the experience and I embraced it:)    

Some of you have asked if there was anything else you could do or donate.  The answer is yes, yes, yes!  They are desperate for money to buy needed goods.  They also said the children have not been on an outing to beach or aquarium etc. in 6 months-which means they have not left the orphanage.  An outing like that costs about 2000 baht which is about $70.  Anyway, if you would like to help more just let me know.  

We love you all!  I will start posting on my blog, which I never write on, as soon as I can get it back to English.  All the words to make a new post etc are in Thai.  The blog is    

Thanks for all you have done to help!   xoxo Ally and crew   ps-the pictures are from our day in Korea-I left my camera at the orphanage yesterday and I will post some tonight.

Across from the market-irresistable twins!

We got out of our car and I looked through a little barbed wire fence to see 2 little girls walking around in rocks and dirt playing with whatever was on the ground.  Again, they were so happy.  They loved pulling leaves off the plant.  Simple pleasures.  Their father was asleep by them and then came out when we approached.  He was so friendly.  Then the sweet grandma came out and brought a chair with her.  I love how people in other places of the world love to just sit and visit.  I am always amazed how in other countries they love to help and welcome you into their home.  We Americans are a little less inclined to do that.  Something we can work on!

Outdoor Market

We stopped here while the children were napping to find some "lunch"-after looking at these pictures you'll see why all we ended up with were some bananas and Sprite :)


These are some pictures where the children shower everyday.  It is basically a little area where they get hosed off with cold hose water.  Most of them don't cry-they just shiver and do what they are told.  How can I get me some kids like that? Olivia was able to help shampoo them, get them dressed, and brush their hair.  You may have noticed white powder all over their faces.  When they get out of the shower they are given baby powder in their hands and they are to rub it all over their faces.  As much as I can gather from them it is to help them with the sweat.