Dear Children, I Want You to Fail. Love, Mom

Note: This post was originally published on For Every Mom. I wanted to post it here first, but apparently after you neglect your blog for 3 months, it breaks! So we had to have it fixed yesterday. Oops.

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Recently Sophie and Joshua have become enamored with cooking shows, so thanks to Netflix and Hulu we’ve been watching Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Master Chef Junior. I’ve never watched these before, but we’re enjoying them, PLUS I’m learning a lot about weird food I’ll never cook.  But, as I’ve watched and bonded with my kids over these shows, I’ve noticed a phrase that the cooking competitors say over and over again. I’ve heard it many times before in all sorts of contexts, but since we’ve been binge-watching these cooking shows, my kids and I have heard these 5 words over and over again a lot recently:

“Failure is not an option.”

And I get it. These competitors came to win, not to mess around. Winning would mean a lot for them both financially and clout-wise for their businesses.

But. I don’t like my kids hearing “Failure is not an option” over and over again. Because the truth is, failure is always an option. It is an option that all of us will have to accept at some point in our lives, willingly or unwillingly. It is a fact of life that we all need to know how to handle so that we don’t fall apart when it becomes our reality (like many of the chefs on Chopped, mere moments after we’ve confidently declared that it is not an option). I’ve been thinking about that phrase often over the past few weeks, and finally, I have to say something about it. So, pardon me while I clear my throat and take a minute to speak to my children about failure.

Dear Joshua, Sophie, and Jonah,

Hey kiddos. I want to tell you a story about your mother. When I was a junior in high school, sweet 17, I was having a pretty great year. I know it’s hard to  imagine, but I was kind of fabulous! I was the lead in the school play and the school musical. I had a solo in the honors choir. My talents were lauded and I loved what I was doing. Soon I would be a senior. The best was yet to come. (Can you imagine me being young and cool? I was, I swear.)

Jenny Annie
Your mother in her glory days. Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

At the beginning of my senior year, I approached the fall play auditions with full confidence in my abilities. I knew what part I wanted and I knew I would get it. My audition and my callback were great. There was no doubt in my mind I would succeed.

Except…I didn’t. As all of us hopefuls gathered after school around the poster in the hallway where the cast list had been posted, I eagerly looked for my name. And I looked. And I looked, and I looked. Eagerness turned to disbelief. Then the tears came. People all around me were as shocked as I was. Looks of pity abounded. I ran away humiliated.

I had failed. And not even at anything hard, kiddos. At something that came easily to me. At something I was good at. I failed big time.

I cried all the way home and all night long. I remember my mom trying to comfort me but I don’t remember what she said. I just remember the humiliation and the hurt. It was my senior year! It was supposed to be my victory lap, and I was out before the race even started. Not only did I not get the part I wanted, and I didn’t get ANY part.

Somehow I moved on—I don’t really remember how. My 18-year-old ego was bruised but I managed to show my face at school despite my failure. My friends avoided the topic, and I tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. But it was there with me, every day.

Soon, however, I had something to distract me from my failure: an accident. In one of those “urban legend” type stories, one of my best friends—a boy—had a pretty bad accident at school in shop class. And after surgeries and a solid 3 weeks of missed school, not to mention trying to study on painkillers, he needed a tutor. I was in all 3 of the required graduation classes with him, and because of my failure to win my coveted spot in the school play, I had lots of free time. Soon I was spending most days after school helping him catch up on his senior year schoolwork.

Also, since he couldn’t drive due to his injury and medications, I started picking him up for school events and soccer games. We were spending a ton of time together, and eventually, about three months after my epic failure, we started dating.
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You’re smart kids, so you’ve probably already figured out that that boy was your father. But what you didn’t know about me and your dad is that our getting together was in large part due to what at the time I considered a huge embarrassing failure. If I had gotten that part in the school play that I wanted SO badly, I would not have been available to help your dad catch up on all his school work and pass those classes he needed to graduate. I wouldn’t have become his driver, his companion, his girlfriend. Maybe God would’ve brought us together some other way, but…maybe not. After all, though I am so glad your dad and I chose each other, I don’t believe that there’s only ONE person in the world out there that you’re destined to marry. Maybe if I’d succeeded instead of failed at that school play audition, we would have remained “just friends.” Maybe I would have gone to college without a boyfriend and met some nice Christian guy there and married him instead. Maybe you kids wouldn’t be here. Maybe I would have missed a life that is so, so, so, much better than a lead role in a high school play.

Since then, I’ve failed many times over, my babies. I’ve failed at jobs, at friendships, and as you know, at countless mom moments. And that’s because, kiddos, failure is ALWAYS an option. But it’s not always a bad thing. It’s only bad if you don’t LEARN from it. In a failure you may feel pain, but you may also learn to empathize. You may be broken, but because you’re broken and desperate, you can experience the glory of being fully dependent on Christ. And you may fail at opportunities you reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want only to be available for ones you’d never dreamed of getting.

Kids, I don’t want you to be afraid of failure because I don’t want you to be afraid to TRY. I’m not looking for perfection from you, my dears, I am looking for effort. Try and care! Succeed and fail! Do it all for the Glory of God and let Him do what He wills with the results. I’m here for you no matter what. You’re loved and cherished and valued no matter what. And if you continue to give your lives to Christ, you really cannot go wrong in your failures or in your wins.

So, darlings, that’s about where I run out of wise words, but I’ll leave you with this:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” —Thomas Edison

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand”.—Proverbs 19:21

I love you guys. Now go out and try some stuff!

Love,

Mom

 

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Deck the Halls With Pasta and Gift Cards!

This post is sponsored by Piada. Naturally, all opinions, bad jokes, puns, and overly-used exclamation points (!!!) are my own.

It’s the moooost wonderful time, of the yeeeeeaaaar! (I really hope you SANG that with me as you read it. If not, please go back and DO IT AGAIN! I’ll wait…good job. Much better.)

Anyhoo. As I was saying, unless you live under a rock, you know that the Christmas season is upon us. More like ALL UP IN OUR FACES. Whew! I am feeling the holiday hustle & bustle already. Tonight is Sophie’s elementary Christmas program and although it’s usually lovely, it’s one of the most difficult nights of our year, getting everyone there and ready on time. Whew. I wish I could pay someone to do it for me and just show up and enjoy the program. (Mom of the year!!) But anyway, I am digressing AGAIN.

One of the most important parts of the holiday season for our family is giving back. We always try to involve our kiddos in the giving to show them how much better it is to give than receive, and that it is important that those who have help care for those who don’t. This year we’ve already participated in two big service events, and now we’re doing something a little different, too—participating in a gift card drive to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital with Piada Italian Street Food.

piada

Have you ever tried Piada? When I saw one open I was a little afraid I would not be able to eat there because of my food allergies, BUT happily I CAN eat their chopped salads and THEY ARE TO DIE FOR. My husband looooooves the Piadas. So let me explain a little about what this restaurant is like if you’ve never been there.

It’s a fast casual, authentic Italian eatery with choices of fresh grill items, sauces, dressings and toppings, which can be added to three main entrees: a Piada, Pasta Bowl or Chopped Salad. Menu items are made-to-order and guests can choose from more than 30 healthy ingredients. Soooo you can really, really, really customize your food!! “Piadas” are like wraps, reimagined—they have a thin crust, made from handmade dough that is freshly baked on a stone grill. Then, the Piada is filled with Italian-inspired ingredients and hand-rolled to perfection.

Related: I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW! We have a Piada conveniently located on the way home from church in Kettering, soooo it’s a favorite place to stop for lunch! But there are actually three Piadas in our area. In addition to the one we frequent, there are locations in Beavercreek and Centerville, too.

Besides the DELICIOUS food, here’s another reason to go to Piada this holiday season. Piada is holding a gift card drive in December benefiting Dayton Children’s Hospital, and it’s a total win-win! Here’s how it works:  Gift cards, of any denomination, will be accepted at all three Piada locations in the Dayton area (Kettering, Centerville and Beavercreek). In exchange, each guest who donates a gift card will receive a free meal at Piada, including Piadas, Pasta Bowls and Chopped Salads.

DID YOU HEAR THAT? You give, you get! Personally, we have had great experiences with Dayton Children’s Hospital in both the ER and with tests our kids have had. I know many other families who have greatly benefited from the great therapies available through Dayton Children’s as well. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know I have beautiful little friend named Joy, and she is literally the poster child for the wonderful care that Dayton Children’s gives!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children's!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children’s!

Additionally, there are many kiddos who have long-term illnesses there, and they and their families will really benefit from this gift card drive! Providing gift cards to in-need patients and their families is the best way to get them exactly what they need this holiday season. In fact, gift cards are at the top of Dayton Children’s Hospital’s wish list and allow kids and families to pick out their own toys and gifts, as well as purchase necessities such as food, clothing, medicine and gasoline. Having a child in the hospital long term is extremely taxing on the emotional, physical, and financial needs of a family, and the gift cards collected at Piada will go a LONG way in soothing some of these difficulties for these precious families this holiday season.

Allright, soooo…what are you waiting for! Get ye to Piada between NOW and December 27th to give give give and eat, eat, eat!

If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments! And stay tuned…we will have a Piada GIVEAWAY coming up later in the month!

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Playing around with Wonder Forge

One of the benefits (to me) of Jenny having a job is that she has no time. (Having a job is tough, yo.) Therefore when Wonder Forge reached out to see if she would do her annual game review, she passed the honors on to me, which is awesome since they have several new Star Wars games out and I have several Star Wars fans at my house!

The first one we checked out was Galaxy Hunt. Sam was pretty pumped.

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This game requires each player to remove a certain piece from the board without causing the spring-loaded bar to move. It’s very easy to play, and requires problem-solving as well as some basic math skills, as each piece is worth positive or negative points.

We also played Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike.

star wars destroyer strike

Here’s the description:
Strategy and suspense collide in the exciting Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike Game. The Star Destroyer Finalizer is out to eliminate the Resistance. Advance your heroes to safety before the starship of the First Order has you in its line of fire. Evade surprise blasts that can happen when you least expect it, and outwit your opponents by bouncing the “laser” blasts off the deflector shield towards them. It’s fast-moving galactic fun for the whole family.

This was also a lot of fun, and Sam loved the lights and sounds. It requires some strategy, which makes it fun for the adults as well as kids. One thing that is a little different is that it’s set up on a track rather than a board. Pretty cool!

Confession time – the thing I liked MOST about these two games is that while they were Star Wars themed, those of us who are a little less, un, well-versed in the Rebel Alliance could play along without any trouble. That’s great for me, because if Star Wars trivia is involved, I can’t hold a candle to Sam or Andy.

Which brings me to…

Star Wars Pictopia

star wars pictopia

Pictopia has been on my “to buy” list for a while now. I have heard nothing but good things about it. The Star Wars version didn’t disappoint! It contains more than 1,000 questions about the planets, ships, villains and heroes, and you can wager different amounts depending on your confidence in your knowledge. (Needless to say, I took the conservative route.) This game is unique in that it combines teamwork with individual play, which puts an interesting twist on it. We liked the game so much that we ordered the Disney version for Kate for Christmas!

Wonder Forge has everything you need to make Christmas break fun! In addition to the Star Wars games, they’ve got a Peanuts Snoopy Flying Ace game, The Good Dinosaur Roarin’ River game, and more. Stay up-to-date on all of their offerings by liking their Facebook page!

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