Week #5: Water and Lemonade Stands

Can I just say how much I love summer?  I love swimming with my kids.

IMG_1144Last week Monday my friend invited us over to swim in their lake.  Because we all love the water, we cannot turn that kind of invitation down.  This is the same lake I trained for my triathlon on.

IMG_1150The water and warm temperatures were perfect.  We had hot dogs over the fire afterwards and smores.

On Tuesday my husband had to do a visit in Silverton so we came along.  We swam at the Silverton Reservoir where I also did a few training swims for my triathlon.

IMG_1154Because it is mostly a fishing area, we had to be very careful about fish hooks and glass.  The kids had to swim in their shoes.

IMG_1160There was a little place to jump off the bank into the water.

??????????????????????????????? I even got a training swim in.

I get a little more concerned with swimming with my kids in the open water.  Even thought my oldest is an excellent swimmer for an eight year old, I still have her wear a life jacket.  We’ve had a large number of drownings in the area the past couple weeks.  Many of our lakes and rivers have not warmed up yet and people don’t expect the cold temperatures.  Our swim areas tend to be more rustic and not as user friendly as the Midwest beaches I grew up going to.  You have to be cautious about drop-offs, rocks, and currents.

On Wednesday we met friends at a local park and on Thursday we relaxed at home.  I did not take any pictures those two days.

On Friday the kids had their annual lemonade stand for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

IMG_1181They had it from 4 PM to just after 5 and got lots of customers.  Everyone was coming home from work.  We also made M & M cookies.

IMG_1179I race for Prostate Cancer awareness because my grandpa passed away from it in 1989 when I was in junior high.  My dad is a survivor.

IMG_1183 Friday night we saw the most beautiful sunset.

Saturday was my triathlon. Sunday we had thunderstorms all day.  For us thunderstorms are somewhat of a treat because we rarely get them.  We have had abnormal humidity this summer and high temperatures.  Some complain about the heat, but I kind of like it.  It makes it feel more like summer.

 

 

Week #4 4th of July Week!

It was 4th of July week and it started out with temperatures climbing into the 90’s.  So that meant cooling off at West Bennet Park.

IMG_1099The kids love the spray ground which is located right next to the playground.  So they can easily run back and forth.

IMG_1101Some silly kid (not one of mine) got this bright idea to stick a towel in the drain clogging all the water thus creating a wading pool.  Not a bad idea, really.

IMG_1103The beautiful thing about Oregon summers is that its gets hot, but it doesn’t stay hot all day.  A breeze and cooler temperatures come in the evening.  So the oldest and I drove to Keizer where we biked along one of the few bike paths (we really need more!) in our town.  It’s a small 3-4 mile stretch that goes along the Salem Parkway, but you don’t have to deal with traffic and many intersections.  I love it that we can now bike together.

IMG_1108 On Tuesday we cooled off in the comforts of the library.  They had an afternoon transportation crafts session.  I am really trying to stay on top of summer reading.  I failed the last two summers.  :(

IMG_1111 On Wednesday morning the kids all decided to play My Little Pony together and wanted a group photo of all the ponies.  Two of them are my ponies from when I was little–unfortunately one is tailless.

IMG_1115Somehow Batman and the Joker were included the ponies activities…which works when you have a boy and two girls.  I LOVE watching my kids play together–LOVE listening to them making up stories.

IMG_1116 Yesterday was the 4th of July–one of my favorite holidays.  For the past three years we have gone to the Independence-Monmouth Parade.  We sat closer to Independence like last year.  Thankfully this year they did not run out of candy until they got to us.

IMG_1119 The kids wanted to wear red, white, and blue bandanas.  Which was great because it protected their heads from sunburn.

IMG_1131Our original plan was to go to our friend’s house after the parade and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening there.  They always put on a fabulous 4th of July celebration.  Due to some unfortunate sickness, they had to cancel.  We had friends come to us last minute and we set up the slip and slide.  We had a nice outdoor dinner with them.  Then just our family headed downtown for the fireworks–the first ever 4th of July we all went to a fireworks show as a family.  I had not been to a fireworks show since 2006!  This is a picture of everyone standing for the National Anthem.

IMG_1126We got there early enough so we did not have to fight for parking spaces.  So we had time to read stories.

IMG_1128And play Uno.

IMG_1133And dance to music from a local band.

IMG_1137And enjoy fireworks!!

The kids did fine with the change of plans and all in all had a great 4th of July.

Next week is supposed to be HOT again.  We don’t have as much planned, but I am sure we will find plenty to do to keep us busy.

Proud of her

Kids need individual time with us.  I am not talking about driving them to sports practices and volunteering in their classrooms.  These are good too and of course you are connecting with your child during these events.  I am talking about “one on one” dates with your child.  My dad called them “turns.”  We call them special times out.

In these times your children will open and share things that they would not normally share in the chaos of your day or in front of the whole family around the dinner table.  If we are not intentional about giving our children this time, we miss those special conversations.

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This week I took my oldest for a bike ride along a local bike path.  She could practice shifting gears and getting on and off her bike (which is still a tad too large for her) and I could practice biking in clips.  Afterwards we went to Jamba Juice which is my new favorite restaurant. I could have a peach mango smoothie every single day if they weren’t so expensive.

She told me months ago a girl she knew was being teased because of the way she dresses and wears her hair.  This little girl was told she is not popular enough and needs to try harder.  My oldest told the little girl that she didn’t have to listen to the girl who was teasing.  That she looked great and to simply be herself.  It was in that moment I was proud of her.  It took some trials of her own to understand those truths.

I think it hit a chord with both my husband and I because we remember moments of being the one teased and not feeling “cool enough.”  I don’t think you fully escape that pain, but thankfully you heal and find your confidence.

I know we are nearing the tweenager face and girl drama is going to increase.  I pray that her confidence continues to grow and that she can be a light in her classroom and out on the playground.

 

 

Second week of summer

Week #2 of summer.  The unfortunate thing about this week was my seasonal allergies got so bad that I had a pulsing sinus headache that knocked me out most of Tuesday.  The fortunate thing was the kids are old enough that I could sleep while they played on their own. Especially because I took a Sudafed PM on accident instead of AM…so that pretty knocked me out all afternoon. The kids can work the TV (and they know only 1 hour in the morning), make their own snacks, get their bikes out of the shed, etc.  The husband works next door to our house so he could check in on them every hour and was home for a full hour during lunch. The oldest knows how to use the phone. It was a little anxiety ridden for me at first–“They’re unattended!”  Yet they are 8,6, and 4 now…it’s not like the days of laying on the couch sick letting toddlers run around and hoping nothing gets destroyed.

But that was only one day…one day of an overall pretty good week.

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It is the week before VBS and I am directing again this year.  What seems to be a daunting stressful job for many has become doable…and even fun…for myself.  It took many years of trial and error to get to this point.  While I know I won’t direct forever (I already warned my church this is not a permanent thing!) it has been a great volunteer position for me this year.  Lots of people stepped up.  Because my oldest is doing odd jobs to earn money for her mission trip to Philadelphia this month, she helped me sort volunteer t-shirts, name tags, and helped my friend set up decorations.

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After being sick on Tuesday, I was itching to get out of the house.  The weather was beautiful!  My head still was not quite right in the morning.  By 3 PM I decided to bite the bullet and take the kids biking.  I knew they would go slow and we could take breaks as needed.  It was our first bike ride together on a trail.  My youngest’s bike is not in the greatest condition and the training wheels don’t stay in place so that created a few falls…and stops.  But overall everyone had a great time.

ImageIt is difficult for me to bike with all three of them because I have a racing road bike.  I bike in clips (though I am still a rookie and learning how to do this).  I am too nervous about biking slowly behind them especially when they stop suddenly…not sure I could clip out that fast.  So I wear my 90’s style roller blades…and I still get a good workout too.

ImageBecause I was feeling so much better, I decided to play street hockey Wednesday night.  Some guys from our church started a Wednesday night hockey night in our church parking lot.  I don’t like to play volleyball or basketball–but I won’t turn down a game of hockey…even I have not played since junior high intramurals…and we’re talking over 20 years ago!

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I took the kids to the Public Works Day at the local park.  It is when the Public Works department comes with all their big trucks and educate the children about what they do.  There is also some bike safety education, games, face painting, and free lunch.  My kids went last year and loved it…so we had to go again.

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We have been trying to teach the children about other cultures.  One of the best ways to do that is with food.  The husband made a Korean barbecue and then we had the kids read a website about the country.  We quizzed them about what they learned.

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I am not sure what country we will do next.  Ethiopia?  Indonesia?  Greece?  The kids want to do Mexico, but I would rather do one that is going to be more of a challenge…and different.

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We ended the week by going to Eugene for part of the day.  My friend Linda who was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan was playing in an ultimate frisbee tournament there.  I visited her over Spring Break in May in LA where she currently lives.  This time she got to see the husband again and meet the kids.  We were able to watch her game and go out for pizza…this is a picture from when were in LA together.  I was a dork and left the camera memory card pack home in the PC yet again.

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Now on to VBS week–where our week will be pretty much be VBS and not much more!

First week of summer

First week of Summer 2014 is in the books.  I think it could be called the “Woa–we have all this extra time on our hands, what do we with ourselves?!” week.

ImageWe enjoyed an early Father’s Day dinner at Sonic.  We only go here about once a year (though their milkshake menu tempts me to go more).  There is something fun about eating in the back of the van.  We had just come from Costco hence the giant bottles of detergent.

ImageGot to love the grilled cheese sandwiches.

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And the hot dogs too!

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On Saturday we had a small army of men from our church in our house.  Since we moved into our house I have despised the carpet in the eating area.  It seemed to get more disgusting with time.  The red velvet cake stain would not come out, the cat peed in the corner, the kids tracked mud in this winter–I hate the carpet.  If I were to give any advice to pastor wives out there living in parsonages I would say the following 1) Show love to your Building & Grounds 2)  Advocate for your families’ needs in a kind and gracious way.  Gentle reminders are good, but don’t be pushy.  3)  Be patient.

ImageAnd hooray–hardwood floor.  Someone asked, “Did you cry when they ripped out the carpet?”  I said, “No I cried when we had the carpet.”  The guys did an amazing job and we felt incredibly cared for as friends and a pastor’s family.

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We celebrated the start of summer by going to the drive-in with friends.  I LOVE drive-ins.  I have always had a thing for them.

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The kids love them too!

ImageYesterday we celebrated Father’s Day…

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I have to say that we are loving the down time.  I still cannot gauge if this one needs a nap or not.  I don’t think she can either.  I, myself, don’t take naps anymore except on Sundays…I can’t during the school year as I am working.  I think I took two naps last week mostly because I could.  My rule for when I take a nap–“Don’t wake me up unless–” The kids: “Someone is bleeding.”  The kids have been keeping busy playing baseball in the backyard, picking raspberries, playing Lego Friends and regular legos, coloring, and riding bikes.  We went to the library and the mall last week, but mostly we have enjoyed being home.

 

To the mom with her iphone at the park and the one who leaves it in her pocket…

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There has been debate in “Mom blog world” over using your iphone while your kids are outside playing at the park.  Are you disengaged from them?  Are you not giving them the attention they need and deserve?  Some say yes. Others say, “Get real and stop judging us.”

First of all there is a lot of talk of “It wasn’t that way in my day as a stay-at-home mom.”  That is true.  Before we declare that the moms of the 1970’s and 1980’s were not distracted by technology. some children had moms who watched game shows in the morning and soap operas in the afternoon.  Some children still dealt with moms on the phone.  The phone, however, was attached to the wall with a long (but often not long enough) spiral chord.  My point is that there is, was, and always will be distractions.  Painting the past in beautiful colors and displaying the present as depressing is a temptation but does not always speak the truth.

Is our “mom world” today different and affected by technology?  Of course it is.  Our world moves at a faster pace than it once did.  We feel the need to be “plugged in” often and respond to message as quickly as possible.  Yet that makes us more efficient.  We get more work done in a less amount of time.  I have a small writing job.  My editor lives in Canada, my headquarters are in Michigan, and I communicate with people all over the country.  I can do almost all my work over e-mail and Facebook from the comforts of my living room while my kids play in the backyard.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Moms can plan events with other moms using tools on Facebook.  We can text one another if we have a question about anything.  We can connect with other moms all over the country and even all over the world. It’s convenient, it works for us, and it is a blessing.

However it also distracts us and many of us lack the discipline to “shut it down.”  Throwing it out is not practical.  But if you limit yourself, you realize that you don’t need it as much as you think you do.

We grew up in a world that was more compartmentalized with kids in either public or private school.  The school day is no longer 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM for children who are homeschooled.  Many moms stayed home or had a job outside of the home. Now it is accepted (and easier with technology) to work from home hence the workday is not 9-5 anymore.  Sometimes my work day is in between naps or when the kids are watching a movie or when they are contently playing outside and I can quick send a couple of e-mails.

I think the majority of us function better when we have a schedule and are not juggling ten things.  In this world of diverse options and multiple networking opportunities we have to be more intentional…and sometimes a bit creative with how we schedule our lives.  Are the kids getting enough of us?  Are we spending too much time engaged in technology?  Is the picture of us texting or reading Facebook statuses how our kids picture us spending the majority of our time?  I can’t answer these questions for you. But if we answer these questions with guilt, than maybe we are not prioritizing our schedules the way we should.

Because the mom at the park may very well be surfing Facebook and missing out on her children’s play.  Or maybe she have spent the whole morning with them and is now trying to get caught up on e-mails.  We don’t know.  In this world of technology we don’t know and we should not assume.

All I can say is be the best the mom you can be to your kids.  If that means limiting your screen time, do it.  Don’t worry about the mom sitting next to you that isn’t.

 

Love those Kids Quotes

Before we read our Bible Story as part of our preschool homeschool routine:

Youngest Child:  “Mom, my favorite Bible Story is John the Baptized.”

Me:  “Oh yay because that’s the one I was going to read to you this morning.”

Youngest Child:  “I love John the Baptized because he baptized Jesus.”

Middle Son Holding an 8 1/2 x 11 dry erase board:

Mom this is my ipad.  I am going to go in the family room and play Diner Dash.”

Middle Son in the Library…

Little kid in the library to my son:  “My name is Collin.  I am six years old.  How many are you?”

My son:  “99 dollars.”

As I was cleaning up…

Middle Son:  Mom, you aren’t supposed to hold scissors that way.  You would not get a scissors safety certificate.

After my son colored in my oldest’s notebook…

8 year old:  “Don’t color in my book!  I don’t want all scratches in it when I send it to the publisher.”

Doing Saturday chores with my oldest

8 year old:  How do I get the bucket ready to mop the floor?

Me:  Put a little bit of Pine Sol in the bucket and add water.  You know how to do that, right?

8 year old:  I’m too afraid to add the Pine Sol.

Me:  Why?

8 year old:  What if I drink it?

Me:  Well then don’t drink it.

The “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself Box”

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We said from the very beginning our son has two modes “Off” and “On.” He has a crazy amount of energy. This fall when he started kindergarten, he was not one of those kids who come home tired and exhausted. Some of my friends said their five year olds would take naps every afternoon the first week of school. Not him. We actually had him run laps around the backyard or ride his bike after kindergarten because he was in that mode we refer to “silly crazy.” It really helped utilize his energy and get him to calmer and more focused state.

We live in a very rainy area of the country and we are pretty much stuck inside a good part of the winter. Even though once in awhile I don’t mind the muddy boots, and wet clothes, I needed to find a way to help him find things to do in the house. So we made a “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself Box.” If I see him moping around or getting into things he is not supposed to or reverting to “silly crazy” I ask him to draw something out of the box. Whatever he draws he has to do. I put all kinds of ideas such as “Play restaurant with the play food,” or “Build a train with the folding chairs and ride in it,” or “Practice handwriting for 15 minutes.” I have puzzles and worksheets available he can do. It has worked every single time. Even the day it was pouring rain and he drew “Go outside.” He did not want to go outside and protested profusely. Once he got on the rain boots, rain coat, and went splashing around the backyard–he was content. I told him he had to stay out for at least 15 minutes, but he was outside for at least a half hour.

Such a simple thing–I wish I would have thought of it earlier. It is not a punishment. It is just a tool to help him be more focused.

Wednesday Fast & Pray For Our Kids

My friend’s sister named Kim has an amazing facebook page called His Hands His Feet Today.  Kim and her husband have adopted a total of fourteen children (two are in heaven).  Her facebook page is updated daily and it is full of encouragement, photos, stories, inspiring quotes, Bible verses, and information on adoption.

Kim challenged others to have every Wednesday in 2014 a day to fast and pray for our children.  You don’t have to fast from food–just pick one thing–carbs, snacks, pop, coffee, the TV, Facebook etc.  Kim shares:

If you’ve never fasted before, try just fasting 1 meal. Or snacks. Or coffee/pop. Or facebook. Or carbs. Whatever … just submit yourself of the Lord. Die to yourself/flesh. And let’s build up some spiritual muscles for what lies ahead this year! You’ll be amazed at how badly you’ll want “that thing” (you are fasting) tomorrow. Our flesh can be so strong.

 I chose Facebook because I am for better or for worse (probably mostly worse) on Facebook a lot.  Sometimes for legitimate reasons and communication…but nothing that can’t wait another day.  Facebook is a big distraction for me which is why I have been keeping the computer off a lot weekday mornings and early afternoons. This past Wednesday I subconsciously kept inching my way towards checking Facebook, but stopped myself and prayed for my kids instead.

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On New Years Eve I was sitting in church with all three of my children.  People in the congregation were reflecting on the year.  Earlier that evening, I had been thinking about how we had hoped to have foster children by the holidays 2013 and how God led us away from this.  It is still hard for me.  I think about foster care every single day.  During the service as one woman was sharing a testimony about her daughter I looked at my own three sitting together. I felt like God was saying to me–“These are YOUR kids.  These three I have given you.  Love them.  Teach them.  Help them grow to know ME more.”

I am not saying we should put all our focus on our bio kids and forget about the orphans, foster children, children in need of mentors, etc.  I think many of us can stretch outside of ourselves and love on these children at risk and in great need.  But we have to do what God has asked us to do and WHEN He asks it of us.  For some reason I think God is growing us all so we can become a foster family in the future or else something similar.  Our hearts are willing and we continue to listen to His wisdom and guidance.

Feel free to join me on Wednesdays as we lift our children in prayer.

Post Christmas Happenings

I love Christmas Break.  It takes on a whole new meaning when you have multiple kids in school.  I have greatly enjoyed the last few post Christmas days with my kids.  Sleeping in, a loose schedule, a chance to get caught on projects (the house is REALLY clean!), family game nights, meals out, and new toys to play with.

For New Years Eve we really wanted to get together with friends.  Back when we lived in Michigan we spent almost every single New Years from the time I was a senior in high school until we moved to Oregon with the friends I went to high school with.  Since moving here we have not had a long standing New Years tradition and it gets a little difficult with young children.  We did have a few friends over–kids and all–and everyone stayed up until midnight.  The News Years ball dropping on TV was followed by the neighbors setting off massive amounts of fireworks.  Thankfully everyone slept in until at least 9 AM and the younger two took LONG afternoon naps on New Years Day.  

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I was going to take the kids our local carousel downtown on News Years Day (because it’s free) but the younger two pretty much slept the entire afternoon.  So we made the day after News Years Day a “Mom and Kids Outing Day.”  The library was having free winter crafts stations.  It was nice break doing lots of crafts with them and not being responsible for the supplies…or the clean-up.

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Then we went upstairs to check out more books and do some light reading.  My younger two love these “silly chairs.”

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And even though the carousel was not free on January 2nd we still went to it.  Since I am a sucker for outings, I let the kids ride twice.  My independent youngest does not like Mom standing by her or holding on to her horse anymore. I actually watched the kids from the side for the first time.  I am OK with this as two rides in a row usually makes me a tad queasy.
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After the carousel we went to Starbucks where I was grateful to use my gift card for a java chip frap and let the kids get something from the bakery case.  We saw the most beautiful sunset and I was quickly snapping photos in the parking lot.  I looked over and saw a gentlemen doing the same thing.  When I returned home Facebook was flooded with “sunset pictures.” Some were even on the news and in the local paper. A winter sunset let alone one this beautiful is very rare here in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re used to clouds, rain, and general blah grayness.  Our rainfall has been extremely low this winter and I am hoping that doesn’t mean we make up for it in the spring.
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My oldest got a rubber band bracelet kit for Christmas.  I was eager to make bracelets with her. After about a half hour of trying and my frustration level rising, I decided to put it away.  I can’t sew anything and did not inherit my mom’s amazing seamstress ability.  But I figured I am pretty good at braiding so this shouldn’t be that hard, right? Well after watching a You Tube video over and over this morning, I completed it!  Now I need to teach her how to do it.

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On Monday it’s back to school and back to early mornings and normal bedtimes.  Hopefully normal eating and exercising too–I’ve been a bit of a slacker.  I am grateful for the last two weeks.