Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two New Lessons from Triathlons (And One Repeat)

As of Saturday I could not longer be considered a beginner triathlete. In most triathlons there are several categories. There is age group, in which the vast majority of people fall in. There's Clydesdale for men over 200 lbs. There's Athena for women over 150 lbs. And there's beginner for those that have participate in less than 3 triathlons. I participated in my fourth triathlon Saturday, the Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon.

It was a great race. This was easily my best time in each of the three disciplines. Although I fell in terms of my place inside my age group, I finished 9 minutes faster than I finished the same race a year ago. As I have thought about what made me faster this time, I think there are three main things that really helped me along the way.

Familiarity is a great help - the more familiar we are with our surroundings and our situation the better off we'll be. I had been on this course before. I knew what to expect in each of the three areas.

Timing is crucial - In a race in which you are competing for an extended period of time many people need some type of nutritional supplement or energy boost. I have tried several different types, but I have found that more than what you take, when you take it makes a huge difference. I didn't wait until I was hungry or feeling as though I was hitting a wall, but I also didn't take it before I needed to. This allowed my energy to stay up the entire race.

Encouragement along the way - I know I said this in my last post about lessons from my triathlon, but I really think this is the biggest factor for me. First of all, Allison does a great job of maneuvering herself around the course in order to get pictures as well as cheer me on at different stages. She is the biggest help of all. I fully believe that I finish races faster because she is there cheering me on. In this race, however, I had multiple participants give me encouragement as well. With about 1/2 mile to go I stumbled and twisted my ankle. There was at least one person that called me by my number and said something like, "less than 1/2 mile to go. You got it." That was a great help.

What "lessons" have you been learning lately?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story Teller

Many days when I get to school to pick up Cooper either Mr. Ramone or Mrs. Sandra is reading a story to the kids that are still in the class. Today was no different, but when I came in the room Cooper said, "I wanted to read my book to my friends." I didn't really know what he was talking about, but I told him that was okay and watched what was going on. He went to his cubby and got out a folded sheet of paper with several letters on it, a ghost, and a purple piece of paper cut into the shape of a hook. He took all of these items over to Mrs. Sandra and began to tell his story. It was really funny to watch.

Over the last several months we have really started to see Cooper use his imagination a lot more. He plays and makes up stories to go along with his playing much more than he used to. I love to see this and try my best to foster it as much as I can. As I posted last week, I am not the most creative person in the world, but I hope to keep Cooper creative or at least creating. I took this short video of Cooper telling his story.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Break From the Busyness

Last week was a stressful week at the Bussell house. Allison had a trial so things tend to get a little out of sort. Not that things don't get taken care of, but we just are out of our normal routine. She often has to work late during trial and sometimes work at home until it's time for bed. Weekends are also often busy for us. Between hanging out with friends, visiting with family, and other activities we often find ourselves saying "We are doing way too much. We have to stop scheduling so many things to do."

Well, after a long week we didn't have very much scheduled this past weekend. We hung out and watched a movie with Cooper Friday night. Saturday was pretty much a "do what we want" sort of day. We went for a run in the morning, hung around the house during the day, and had some friends over Saturday night for dinner. Sunday we went to church, took a nap, and had dinner at my mom's. As I type this it seems to be a lot, but trust me, it wasn't and it was a perfect weekend to end and otherwise stressful week.

Sunday at
church the message was from Luke 10:38-42. This is the story of Mary and Martha in which Martha is irritated that Mary is sitting listening to Jesus while she is up working. One of the things I wrote down was "Martha allowed service to take away from her worship." If you don't go to ClearView or you missed the service on Sunday, I recommend you listen to the podcast. It was a very good and very challenging message.

How often do we do this? Whether it's in our walk with Christ or in other things in our lives, how often are we more worried about doing than we are about just being? This weekend was a good example of us having some much needed down time from the busyness of life and having time to relax and hang out as a family. It was great! Hopefully that will become more the norm than the exception.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where Does It Go?

Many of you probably saw my post on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend, Cooper got light-up shoes. And let me just say, I don't know if he's ever been more excited about anything we've ever bought him. We were at the park on Sunday after church and he told a boy on the playground, that wasn't with our group and he had never met, about his shoes (and he didn't even have them on). Hilarious!

The other day, while I was making pizza, Cooper took his new shoes off and we had the following conversation:

C: "I really like my shoes."
Me: (Smiling) "I know buddy, I really like them too." (Which really isn't true because I think they're horrible. I do, however, love them for him because he is so proud and excited to have them.)
C: "You really like them?"
Me:"Yes, I like them for you, but I wouldn't like them for me to wear."
C: "Why not?"
Me: "Because grown-ups don't really like to wear light-up shoes."
C: "Why not?"
Me: "That's a good question, buddy."

I have started some version of this post several times. Generally I think about this and start writing about it just after Cooper and I have played army men, pirates, sword fight, or some other creative game that takes a lot of imagination and the willingness and/or ability to think like a kid. It always makes me wonder, "Where does all of our creativity go as we get older?"

Now I realize that not everyone loses their creativity. There are tons of creatives out there. I would be willing to bet, however, their ability to play and pretend like a kid diminishes as they get older just like us non-creative types. Don't get me wrong. I still play with Cooper and try my best to pretend. It is often a struggle for me though. I have a hard time sustaining it. I often want to try to get him to play something else. Something that doesn't force me to use my imagination. Why is that? Why are we taught, as we become adults, to stifle our imagination? To become stuffy and serious all the time.

So far it hasn't gotten easier for me. Almost every time Cooper wants to play something that is pretend I struggle. But I'm still going to try. I'm still going to play pretend games with Cooper and hope that it gets easier before he doesn't want to pretend with me any more. I hope that I don't rub my stuffy adultness off on him so that he thinks it's not fun or cool to pretend. In the meantime, I'm hoping that some of his ability to make a game or something fun out of two sticks and some dirt rubs off on me. Hopefully, as he and I get older I will become more like Rufio and less like Peter. "Bangarang, Peter!"

What was the last pretend game that you played with a child?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Cooperism

So it seems that I may have a series of Cooperisms to post. I've posted several of these in the past, but I may have to make them a regular here on the blog. This was something he said one day last week while my mother-in-law was here visiting.

Cooper: See Ninny, this is the rocking chair.

Ninny: Yeah, but it's not beside the window.

Cooper: That's not what I said. I said the one that's not a rocking chair is by the window. (Looks at me) Ninny was confused.

He says some of the funniest things.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Conversation With Cooper

I am often amazed at some if the things Cooper comes up with. Then I remember what I often tell people when they are surprised at the things kids say or do. "They are people too, just smaller with fewer life experiences."

Sunday we stopped by our favorite I've cream place on the way home from church. Unfortunately, the place doesn't open until 2pm on Sunday and it was only noon. As we discussed our options Cooper didn't really give much input, but later it was obvious he was listening. As we were trying to figure out what to do I jokingly (not totally) complained that I had hoped to get ice cream twice that day because our original plan was to get Menchie's after dinner instead of trip to Glazee after lunch.

After we got home I was sitting in the reading room while Cooper was playing in his room. He came out and stood next to me.

Me: What's up Coop?

Cooper: Nothing. Well, I was thinking maybe we could play in the sprinkler and then go to Sonic for ice cream.

Me: But we're going to Menchie's after dinner.

Cooper: We aren't getting both?

He is so funny. First "I was thinking that..." totally cracked me up. But he was totally listening to Allison and I earlier in the day when I mentioned that I thought we were going to get ice cream twice. I tell you what, nothing gets by that one!

Do you have any funny "isms" that your kids have said recently?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Visit From Friends

We met Jeff and Ashley Beck during Allison's first year of law school. It's hard to believe we've know each other for almost 10 years. We met lots of people while Allison was at UT, but I don't think I can say we met any that mean as much to us as Jeff and Ashley do.

Ashley and her youngest daughter, Camille, flew in on Friday afternoon and left Tuesday afternoon. It was a relatively quick trip, but one that Allison really enjoyed. Because the Becks live in Baton Rouge, we only get to see them once, maybe twice a year. They've made the trip to Tennessee several times and we've made the trip to Louisiana several times.

This visit was similar to most of our visits with the Becks. It was filled with lots of coffee, conversation, and relaxing. I think since Allison and Ashley got out of law school about seven years ago, there has been at least one child that was under one year old at each visit, with the exception of when Ashley and Jeff visited us in Lexington. During that trip Ashley was pregnant with Caroline, their oldest daughter. We visited some of our favorite restaurants, enjoyed a new ice cream shop, and otherwise spent time catching up with Ashley. Unfortunately, Jeff, Caroline, and Charlotte were not able to make it on this trip.

Every time we go to Baton Rouge or they come here we leave the visit wishing they lived closer. We miss hanging out regularly with them as we did while the girls were in law school. We miss mountain bike riding, trips to Starbucks, and visits to P.F. Changs. While we are disappointed to see them go, these trips make us cherish our friendship with the Becks even more and, therefore, really appreciate each time we get to visit.

Thanks for coming Ashley and bringing Miss Camille for Allison to meet her. And thanks Jeff for hanging at the house with the two oldest girls so that Allison and Ashley could have a chance to catch up. You guys are the best!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's Not Just About the Cash

I have been reading a blog written by my Twitter friend, Dustin, for a while. He writes at Abraham Chronicles and I definitely recommend you go over and check his blog out if you have a chance. On Monday he guest posted on The Compelling Parade. It was a great post on following through and it spurred me to make a visit to my homeless friend that sells The Contributor near the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Nashville.

Our post office box is in the post office located in the same building as the Frist. Almost every day there is someone standing outside on the corner selling The Contributor, Nashville's homeless paper. I needed to check our box and this would give me an opportunity to check on my friend, Mike, whom I haven't seen selling papers for several weeks. When I reached the corner I noticed Mike wasn't there, but another person was selling papers. As I walked by I said hello and asked if he'd sold many papers. He said no and told me that it was probably because of the heat.

As I have become accustomed to doing, on my way out of the post office I stopped and started a conversation with him. I asked him some of the usual questions I ask and just generally tried to engage him a little. I learned that he was from Grand Rapids, MI and he came to Nashville because the economy is so bad there he couldn't find work. He's lived here for 7 months and has been living on the street the entire time. I also learned that some vendors can make upwards of $1,000 per month selling the paper. He told me that he could probably get a job at a hotel doing maintenance, but after taxes are taken out he doesn't bring home as much as he can selling the paper. He also asked me if I had seen Mike. This bothers me because the last time I saw Mike he was very down and seemed ready to give up. I hope that isn't the case.

As I was starting to leave I told my new homeless friend that I didn't have any cash or I would buy a paper from him. In response he said, "No problem, it's not just about the cash anyway." Of the 15 minutes or so that I stood and talked to him, this is what keeps coming back to me over and over. "It's not just about the cash." It's about contact and relationships. It's about conversation and community. Sure, they want, and need money, but they also want someone to talk to. Someone to care. Someone to inquire. I don't know if he had talked to anyone at all the other day. I do know that if I would have stayed I probably could've talk to him all afternoon. "It's not just about the cash."

If you see a homeless person and stop to talk to them, what are some of the things you ask them? What are some of the things you avoid saying or asking?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

They're Always Watching

"I've been watching you, dad ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you." This verse really caught my attention yesterday on the way home.

Yesterday Cooper stayed home with Allison, Ashley, and Camille. They spent the day together hanging out and went to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro. When I met them for dinner, as soon as Cooper got out of the car he came over and gave me a big hug. On the way home I heard the song "Watching You" by Rodney Atkins. If you've never heard it, it's about a dad, his son, and the fact that his son is always watching and wants to be just like his dad.

Since then, I have been thinking about that song and how it pertains to me. I have been thinking about the things that Cooper sees me do, or not do, and the impact that those things have on him. I am thankful for the opportunity God has given Allison and I to raise Cooper. At the same time it can sometimes be frightening to know that every decision you make impacts and molds a little life. Am I being the role model that I should be? Am I doing the things God would have me do? Am I spending my time with, and without, Cooper that I need to be doing in order to be the best dad I can be and to ensure Cooper is the best man he can be?

These are just some of the thoughts that have been going through my mind. I think Allison and I are very intentional with Cooper. We try our best to influence him in the best way we know how. My hope is to always be intentional in the way I parent and the things I do with Cooper. From my thoughts to my actions, I want to keep in mind how each of those things affect him and our family as a whole.

What are some of the things you do in order to be intentional with your kids?