Sunday, December 04, 2016

cheer

Despite not feeling much holiday cheer at all this season, I committed to my usual level of celebratory activities, mostly because the kids shouldn't miss out on a fun Christmas experience just because I'm terrified about the future of democracy. In this spirit of fake it 'til you make it, I broke out the red and green toe polish and put up the decorations and set up the countdown calendars. I took the kids to a reading of the Polar Express and a Christmas concert and a holiday open house. We had pictures done this morning and I ordered our holiday cards. I signed up for two ornament exchanges and scheduled a cookie decorating party for the boys and their playdate friends. My strategy is starting to work - I am feeling some genuine holiday spirit, though admittedly not to the usual levels. But it'll do. And I'll keep trying.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Aftermath

I have so much to say, and yet nothing to say. Not here, anyway. Everything feels tenuous and terrifying. When I stop and consider it all, it's hard to find any hope. The only thing I know is that I want to wrap these children up in any safety I can offer them, to shelter them from all the ugliness scratching at the edges of our lives, to do what I can to carry them whole to the other side of this, whatever shape it takes.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

On being an adventure mom

We spent this weekend camping in Shawnee National Forest, at a campground we visited and liked two years ago. We set out early Saturday morning to repeat the previous trip's hike to a great natural bridge, found the stream crossing a little higher than we wanted to try, and decided to take a longer loop around to approach the bridge from the other side. By MB's apple watch, we hiked five miles. It took four hours. The kids KILLED IT. They were chipper and capable, walked the whole way with only a tiny episode of whining from each at the very end, and generally were enjoyable company. We had the entire trail to ourselves, with the exception of one couple we passed near the end. The landscape was fantastic, the weather was perfect. We were a little too early for fall colors, with the summer lingering so long this year. We had zero network coverage the entire time we were there, and it was great. I read a whole novel on Saturday afternoon. The boys played mostly well together at the campsite, creating a complicated pretend game with small branches standing in as spaceships, scooping hickory nuts and gravel with their toy construction vehicles.

I've been asked a few times for tips on being an adventure mom, so I thought about it some. With the caveat that all this probably depends on your particular brand of children, here's what I think you should consider if you're interested in taking small kids on outdoor adventures:

1. It takes practice. We took Nico camping for the first time when he was 20 months old. Elliott went on his first trip at eight months. My kids have literally been camping their whole lives.

2. If it's not easy at first, it's okay. For the first two years we camped with Nico, bedtimes were miserable. I'd lay in the tent with him for over an hour, missing nearly all the socializing with our grownup friends, waiting for him to stop thrashing and fall asleep. I was often not as patient as I should've been. The whole cycle repeated with Elliott, though I don't remember it lasting as long. This weekend at ages three and six, they fell asleep within ten and twenty minutes of being zipped into their sleeping bags and slept right through the night. If you have tried camping with your little kids and it was really hard, that is normal. Once you can think about it without wanting to drink / cry, try it again. Eventually you'll get there.

3. Have realistic expectations. Two years ago, we camped at this weekend's spot. We went out on a hike with the friends we were camping with, and after an hour and a half, we bailed and went back to the campsite to take naps while our friends kept hiking. This year, I still can't believe it, my little kids hiked five miles. And I had Elliott's carrier in my backpack the whole time in case he couldn't walk the whole way.

4. Take some stuff to keep them busy at the campsite - coloring books or dump trucks or sand pails...something. Let them get filthy if they want to - it's camping. We don't even take showers when we camp for a weekend. Everyone smells; no one cares.

Most of all, you know yourself and you know your kids...my kids and I do best when we are out, away, and gone for most of a day. We don't do well staying in the house for more than half a day. Adventure parenting is totally my jam, and adventure kid-ing is definitely theirs. So, that's what I've got. Maybe it's helpful? I hope so. If not, here are some cute kid photos to make up for it:






He climbed up to get a better look at the sandstone cliffs and whispered to himself, "This is so cool."



We got off-trail and ended up mountain-goating up this steep slope to get back on track. The kids rocked it.











We ended up on top of the natural bridge toward the end of our hike, which was pretty awesome.



My response to this method of descending from the top of the bridge was to blurt out, "Are you KIDDING ME?"
We did not attempt it. Maybe in two more years. Or ten.





Instead, we doubled back and eventually made it to the bottom. It was worth all the walking.










Here are some bonus pumpkin patch photos, also. We visited on the 16th and it was very nice.















Sunday, October 02, 2016

Here we come to a turning of the season

I am annoyed that I let my unintentional hiatus result in an entire skipped month. I'm really tempted to backdate this post so I won't have a gap in my archives later, but I'm going to resist because it's just silly. Since we last met, I have hung out with my delightful baby nephew many times and played two rounds of Pandemic Legacy with his parents. My sister moved to Indianapolis for a new job. We took the kids on our annual amusement park trip, went to a few birthday parties, and planted a butterfly garden. Elliott went back to preschool and started attending the extended-day Lunch Bunch program on Wednesdays. I took on more responsibilities at work and also hired some new part-time staffers. I made hundreds of mini muffins for the kids and about a dozen bowls for the Empty Bowls project. I went on TV twice for work to promote the biggest event that I run every year, and then smashed the previous attendance record for that event last night. I led four Navigators meetings, reaffirming that starting our chapter was one of the best ideas I've ever had. We went camping, and even though it was hot I was glad we went. It feels like we are officially a Camping Family now. We are hoping to camp at least three more weekends before it gets too cold (actually, I'm hoping for four...we'll see). I read a book. I watched some football games and some episodes of Project Runway. I made felt apple slices for a felt food exchange. I made more headway into my decluttering effort. We have been SO busy, mostly with our everyday life stuff. So many muffins to bake and lunches to pack and laundry to wash and floors to sweep, and none of it is bad it's just SO BUSY. I miss writing here when I don't make time, so I'll keep trying to make time. Meanwhile, I expect there will be more of this...which is also fine.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Remembered

I spend lots of idle moments wondering what my boys will remember from their childhoods. While I realize it's unlikely they'll remember all the cool things we endeavor to provide the opportunity for them to do, I know from my own memories of childhood that it's not easy to predict what the brain will decide to hold in its archives. I also hope that even if they can't recall specifics, they'll remember the general feeling of their growing up as a mostly-good one. I wonder, too, what they'll remember about me. I'm sure they'll remember that I yell sometimes (and honestly, I'm okay with that...I want them to know that I'm a real person with real and sometimes big feelings, so that they know it's okay to be real people with real, big feelings themselves). They'll probably remember that I'm a little bit fat and a little bit loud and that I like to listen to music in the car and that I swear and I'm not a good cook. I hope they'll remember that I bake them muffins to eat for breakfast almost every day. That I track down shirts I think they'll like. I hope they recall being asked to clean up their own messes, to use their manners, to try new things and work as a team. I hope, too, that they remember me as a mom who worked and was good at it, and who also volunteered at their schools and didn't forget about crazy sock day.

When they think about me as adults, maybe with their own kids, I'd like it if they remembered how often I loaded up the car with snacks and a change of clothes for everyone, with water shoes and sand pails and tadpole nets, how many times I smeared sunscreen on their little faces and filled up their water bottles and took them out on an adventure. I hope when I'm an old lady I can remember this, too. The smell of their hair in the sun. The freckles on Nico's nose and Elliott's farmer's tan. Rinsing sand off their legs and mud off their shoes. Changing clothes behind bushes and in the back of the car because there was a creek to jump in or a fountain to play in and I didn't say no. How proud I feel when one of them comes running to show me some cool bug or bone or rock that he has found. The two of them whooping with joy on a tire swing or on a boat out on the river. Tumbling home hungry and smelly and thoroughly happy from a long day out and gone. I can't think of any better partners for this journey of a life, no matter what they remember of it later.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fiver

1. While the choices of what NBC shows and when are definitely questionable, I'm grateful that MB stopped on his way home last weekend and bought a digital antenna so I can watch the Olympics. It's nuts that in 2016 there isn't an online purchase option for people who don't have cable. I get that NBC is bound by contracts but it's being shown on broadcast channels. The whole thing is so dumb. They could make SO MUCH MONEY by offering an online access pass for purchase. Because we don't have cable and I only watch after the kids are in bed, I've mostly only seen swimming, beach volleyball, and gymnastics, which are my favorite events anyway. I am SO pleased about the women's gymnastic team. How amazing must it feel for little girls with diverse faces to see ladies who look like them kicking ass and showing class?

2. I was initially super excited to look at the new Cat & Jack stuff at Target, after seeing people enthusing over it on facebook and Twitter. But all the best shirts are only available in the girls' section. Really? I am THRILLED that there are science shirts for girls. I think it's awesome and about time. But I am NOT happy that these great science shirts are only being made for girls. Boys mostly have to make do with dinosaurs (fine), sports (blah), and skateboarding (meh). The line even has a unisex shirt section, which is really nice. Why not put the science shirts in that group? When the "Yay, Science" one comes back in stock online, I'm going to order it for Nico anyway. Damn the man.

3. Nico started first grade on Wednesday. He had been begging to start for several weeks, mostly due to excitement over his new backpack. So far they've only gone over school rules and practiced some coloring and writing of numbers. He's very stoked about having a locker and really wants to go pick out some magnets. It's adorable. His hair was VERY LARGE on the first day...not his best hair moment, but he is still happy with all of it, so I'm going along. When it's all ringlets instead of floof, it is really fabulous. Okay, even when he looks like a tiny mad scientist, it's pretty fabulous.



4. I just finished a book about redwood trees, and it's made me yearn to go back to visit Olympic National Park. It's been ten years since our Seattle trip. I was already feeling wistful about taking another trip there, and reading about the amazing temperate rainforests just strengthened the wanting. I really hope we can take the boys to see the coast redwoods and the Hoh Rainforest...to stand under those trees again and share the awe and the joy with my two little woods wanderers.





5. I'm feeling antsy for fall and for camping. I try to never wish time away, but fall weather can get here any day.




Reading:  Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Playing:  Led Zeppelin IV, per Elliott's near-daily requests for Black Dog, played really really loud