Raising Citizens of the World

It started when my boys were born, wanting something different for them, but this past weekend confirmed my decision. No more. Enough is enough. I’m done. 

I’m raising citizens of the world.

We started our Saturday morning wondering what we could do with two one year olds when our “small town” city of Austin was currently flooded with millions of show goers visiting us for the SXSW music festival. The thought of manuevering our toddlers through crowds, sitting in traffic, and being bombarded with music virtually everywhere (some soulful, but most is just hectic noise from unexperienced hopefuls). We decided to venture an hour away to San Antonio.

After circling the city blocks a few times looking at parking signs ranging $10-30 (to place your car on top of concrete safely), we found a spot. We stood in line with the crowds to pay for our spot, inhaling car fumes, cigarette smoke, other people’s ill chosen parfumes and deodorants and then began our excursion.

First stop- food. Dining out with twin toddlers is more fun when the ambiance is kid friendly so we chose Rainforest Cafe. Now, I’ll preface this post by saying I loved our day! Every moment watching my children’s faces light up with wonder is worth every harsh moment, but…my worldview shifted drastically on this day.

We walked our babies around the restaurant pointing out the rubber, plastic, and mechanical animals. We faked amusement when the lights flickered and the “thunder” roared from the speakers hidden behind the fake leaves surrounding our table. Then we paid $50+ for a meal of fried, over-processed, preservative laden food, leaving our meals half-eaten because American portion control is lacking. We showed our waiter our rewards card for this restaurant chain. This reward program allows us to get more artificial food when we eat enough of it over time at various locations. I was disgusted by this thought. Then we tipped the waiter because, in America, no matter how bad the service, the waitstaff is entitled to getting tipped. Blech!

Nextstop- downtown. Then, we paid $120 for a wristband that allowed us to get into several of the attractions for one “low” price.  Handing over the credit card made me feel so powerfless. They know they’ve got us because we’re there, we’re consumers, we want to be entertained. Sure, take our money and run.

Again, we had a good time, but is this it? We rode on a manufactured safari car wearing plastic 3D glasses and shot lasers at holographic zombies. I’m humiliated as I write this. We stood in line for 40 minutes for a 4D ride; another simulated experience (monkeys ziplining through the jungle). We walked down a red carpet through an old building looking at celebrities and athletes made of wax. Then, we took our children to a playscape IN a mall and watched them play on trees and ponds made of rubber. We paid $1 for them to ride in circles on painted, fiberglass animals.

After weaving through more crowds, stopping at umpteen million restauramts trying to find a place that could provide a table without making us wait close to an hour for service, we settled on another restaurant with overpriced, artificial food, and terrible service.

I drove home feeling disgusted. Disgusted with myself for participating in these shenanigans; for playing a part in this artificial world. I was disgusted for my children that we had simulated artificial adventures for them. I want more. I want something different.

Lucky for me, my husband felt the same way. As we drove home we began discussing. We’ve made the decision, not lightly mind you, to raise citizens of the world. Sure, we’ll shop at malls from time to time, we’ll even take our boys to amusement parks and local attractions occassionally, but our worldview has changed and we’re going to make a change for something better. It may be now, or it may be when the boys are slightly older, but we will not be raising them in a society driven by consumerism, gluttony, greed, technology, and materialism anymore.

We plan on raising them in the natural world, to appreciate relationships, experiences, and love. We want them to learn by doing, not sitting in a classroom or staring at a screen. We want them to love because they’ve felt nothing but love amd aren’t surrounded by morally compromised people we have to shield them from. We want them to be grateful by living simply and plan on simplifying our lives.

Stay tuned, friends. The Vails are making changes!

That Girl

My Beloved City, Seattle

Whole Heart is based out of Austin; however, we have “girls” all over this great nation! I invited a few of them to tell you why they love their city with their whole heart. Angie’s telling us all about Seattle!

My Beloved City, Seattle
There are so many beautiful things about Seattle. If I didn’t live here, I’d definitely move here. There are way too many things I love about living in Seattle (well I actually live in a suburb of Seattle), but this is still “MY” city that I refer to when talking with others. Let me tell you why I love this great city:

1. COFFEE SHOPS

Yes, it’s true that your big time coffee giant, Starbucks, originated here in the heart of the city, but if you are a Seattleite, you’d prefer a cup of joe from your favorite local coffee shop. Local coffee shops are all the trend these days when you are living in a cold, overcast, sometimes dreary day in Seattle. Going through your favorite drive through coffee stand, or stopping by your favorite cafe is almost a daily habit. My go-to hang out hot spot is The Spotted Cow Cream and Bean. They make their own coffee right in the shop, and the baristas have all crafted their coffee foam art.

The Spotted Cow Cream and Bean

2. BREATHTAKING VIEWS

Wherever you are driving, you are sure to see a beautiful range of mountains in the far off distance, especially on a sunny day. The mountains come alive, almost too picturesque, like a painting before your eyes. Seattle is on the inside of a peninsula, so it is surrounded by water and has lakes galore. The outdoors are nothing short of perfection up here in the PNW (The Pacific Northwest.) This was one of my favorite hikes, called Snow Lake….8 mile round trip and baby Sydney’s first hike when I was at 21 weeks.

Hiking Snow Lake

3. FASHION AT ITS FINEST

Fashion forward Nordstrom started, and evolved, here in Seattle. The flagship store is right in the middle of downtown. The extremes of fashion are quite comical. You have your big time corporate crowd who dress to the nines and are up to date with the latest trends, but then you have your hipster, black rimmed glasses, North Face and Flannel wearing group who are all about the rugged outdoors. Birkenstocks and socks are their style, which just so happen to be the latest fashion sandal trend as well. We’re definitely a laid back city, where you don’t need to dress to impress, but you can still show off your own unique style, and be accepted and embraced as you are.

4.THE 12TH MAN

Yes, all you Aggie fans first coined this term, but Seattle has been proud to become “The 12th Man” for our Superbowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks. I know, I know….what was the call on the 1st yard line? We will NEVER hear the end of how we blew back to back Superbowl Champion titles, but nonetheless we are the BIGGEST football fans in the NFC. It is incredible to be a part of such a supportive city. Anywhere you go during football season, total strangers become your best friends because of our intense passion and love for our Seahawks. The Seattle Sounders and Seattle Mariners also get some love too.

Superbowl Champs
5. THE BEST SUMMERS

It’s true! Seattle has less rainy days in July than Phoenix, and the days last long into the eveningS, well after 10pm on the longest days of the year since we further north above the equator. We have the perfect mix of warm summer days and cool nights, the humidity is so low it’s barely noticeable. To top of it off, we have music festivals, farmers markets, hydroplane races and lots of water to play in. Though this perfect weather only lasts about 4 months out of the year, we truly know how to appreciate it and soak it all up.

What are the best features of your city?