Finding the Joy in the Simple Life

Yesterday started my seventh week of being furloughed. It also marks the last week of digital learning for our kids. By week’s end, our children can shift into full-on summer mode, not knowing what a summer during a pandemic entails.

They have already hit the mid-summer boredom blues. Understandably they are tired of being cooped up in the house and yard. We are thinking of ways to entertain our kids, and also ourselves while sheltering. What we have come to find is that, sometimes, the simple answer is the best one.

Our first project was to tend to our little slice of land. If we have to stare at it for a while, it might as well look nice. We edged the landscape and laid mulch down in the planting beds. Our 6-year-old, Ben, enjoyed going behind us and disposing of the mulch bags. We finally got around to starting a garden, something we have been talking about doing for years.

When the temperature started to rise, we pulled out the sprinkler. Ben’s face lit up with excitement. Sarah and I stood back and watched him run and jump through the water. The feeling of joy written across his face. It was as if life slowed down, and he was moving at half speed.

During that moment, all of my worries faded away. I was completely in the moment, finding joy in Ben’s happiness. There were no email alerts, no text messages, no miniature screen in my face. I was present.

There were no email alerts, no text messages, no miniature screen in my face. I was present.

My wife and I plan to live more simply moving forward. We are going to re-evaluate everything that we bring in to our daily lives and make sure it is adding value to it. We will make sure we take the time to notice life’s simple pleasures.

Shelter in place

I’m not sure what I expected when I first heard about the Coronavirus outbreak, but I know I wasn’t expecting this. I had not anticipated this outbreak to completely change life as we knew it just a few months ago.

We all had our routines; what we came to expect out of our daily lives. Kiss my wife goodbye before she leaves the house. Drop the kids off at school and then fight through traffic on the way to work. Put in a solid eight hours of work at the office. Return home, eat dinner, get everyone to bed, and start the process over again the next morning.

My morning commute now is a jog up one flight of stairs to my bonus room. Instead of a cubicle, I have a make-shift work station on our old kitchen table that we now use to put puzzles together. My wife is juggling her responsibilities as a teacher to her classroom kids and trying to help our little kindergartener with his daily tasks.

Everyone has had to learn how to adapt to the new normal. The most unsettling part is that no one knows when this will end. How long will we have to shelter in place and social distance ourselves from our families, our communities, and friends?

What I do know is that I am grateful for my family, my home, and my job. I am thankful for the extra time I have with my kids and wife. I pray for the safety of the men and women on the front lines fighting this virus every day. I pray for wisdom for the talented people that are tirelessly searching for a cure and vaccine to help heal the world.

Remote Control Cars

When a rainy day forced us to stay inside, my little guy wanted to play with his remote control cars. We grabbed his cars and started cruising around through the house, eventually winding up in the master bedroom. I saw my camera sitting on top of the dresser and decided to try out some of the video features on it. This video was the result.

Man’s Best Friend

If our dog is supposed to be my best friend, I think Sam missed the memo. Don’t misunderstand me, he likes me, but he loves the kids. The silliness that those three get into is too comical for words.

He is very patient with Ben, even when Ben plops down on him. I’m not sure which one taught the other how to dig, but they both have made their fair share of holes in our backyard. They are two peas in a pod.

His relationship with Gracie is a little different. He likes to be close to her. He sneaks into Gracie’s room every night to sleep. He lays underneath her when she is on the couch.

I guess he feeds off of their personalities. He has been a great addition to our family.

Summer Shenanigans

Sometimes all you need is a water hose to create a memory. Our plants were taking a beating with the dry 90º plus temperatures we’ve been having. We gave our 5-year old the water hose to throw some water on our flowers and shrubs. What started as a chore turned into an opportunity for me and the kids to have a little fun.

From the moment Ben turned the hose on to his sister, the game was on. I originally planned to remain on the sideline until I got sprayed. Sarah came out to see what all the commotion was about and snapped a few pictures. It didn’t take long before we were all dripping wet. It was a lot of fun and something that the kids won’t soon forget.

My Little Helper

Little Ben is a planner. He is always thinking of his next project. We have had a trampoline for several years now, and it is starting to show it’s age. I told Ben that pretty soon we will need to retire the trampoline. His response was, “can we build a swing set?”

He also stipulated that the swing set had to have two swings so “His Gracie” could swing with him. I fired up my computer and started researching how we were going to build this swing set. After getting Ben’s approval, we made the purchase and the parts we on there way to our house.

They arrived on a Monday. As soon as I got home, from work, Ben greeted me at the door. “Come on Daddy… let’s build the swing set.” So off we went to the back yard, box in tow.

I love that he is so hands-on and loves to help build things. It is one of his favorite father and son activities, and of course, one of mine too.

Summer Traditions

Like most families during the summer season, we love going to the beach. Whether it is catching a cruise or spend a week at the Gulf, we always take some time to put our toes in the sand. There is something therapeutic about listening to the ocean and walking the beach.

The summer before Ben was born we, somewhat accidentally, started a summer family tradition. We took Gracie on a cruise and purchased a Christmas ornament. It was a flamingo sitting on a lounge chair. Since then we have purchased ornaments to commemorate our trips.

Does your family have any summer traditions?

My Gracie

Ben loves his big sister. They have been great playmates this summer building forts, reading, cuddling and watching tv and much more. Whenever Ben talks about Gracie he affectionately refers to her as “my Gracie.” She likes it and thinks it’s cute.

My wife and I feel truly blessed that our daughter is so willing to spend time with her little brother, even with their 9 year age gap. It warms my heart to know that they get along so well… most of the time. I often break out my ninja skills and sneak a few pictures as they play. Ben isn’t fond of having his picture taken, so I have to be strategic about it.

Gracie reading Ben a book in their fort.

Play Time

One of the sweetest sounds to hear is my little Ben saying “Daddy, will you play with me?” I can’t say no to his sweet litte face. My beautiful wife grabbed this photo of us as we played trains this past weekend. It means so much to me because I am usually the one behind the camera, so naturally, there aren’t too many photos of me with the kids. Does that happen with your family? Are you the parent that is missing from most of your families photos?