"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another year

Another emphatic "Heck NO, we won't be sending our kids to school!"

Of all the aspects of my life, this is always one area that I just get more sure of, more validated about, and more excited about as time goes on. I am just so thankful for the life we lead. I see the buses, I see the back-to-school sales, I see the backpacks... and I smile and watch another cooking show with Spencer.

Just for fun though, in honor of this time of year....

Monday, August 25, 2008

"The best birthday party EVER"

That's how Paxton described his 8th birthday party this weekend. We had it at an indoor/outdoor amusement place that we'd never been to before - so it wasn't without its moments of confusion - but overall it was a raging success. The kids (and the parents too, the best that I could tell) all had a great time. The party started at 4:00, and we were closing in on 9:30 when we walked with our last guests out to our cars. We were all exhausted the next morning, and Paxton complained that his legs were still sore from all the walking around. A small, small price to pay.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Upside of Anger

Spencer was mad yesterday. Madder than I've seen him in awhile. As a parent, it's hard to see your kids upset in any way, and especially hard when their pressure is coming from within. He wasn't mad at me, wasn't mad at anyone other than himself. It was anger that came from frustration. He'd just completed his swimming lesson, probably his 8th one, and was unhappy with his progress. Spencer's approach to swimming, as it is with many things, is to cautiously put one toe in at a time. He had made huge strides in his comfort in the water, but yesterday he finally admitted to a great frustration over watching Paxton during his lesson. Quite the opposite of Spencer, Paxton has the tendency to - in this case quite literally - dive right in and hope for the best. Both non-swimmers at the beginning of the summer, Paxton is now swimming fairly competently, diving in and out, floating well, treading water, learning the backstroke. Spencer is great at holding his breath, and will try new things when there's a hand to hold.. but is only comfortable when both feet are planted firmly on the bottom of the pool.

I tried my hardest to empathize with him, to reassure him, to point out all the things he knows how to do well that were once difficult for him. But he was really in no mood to be consoled. What he needed was to be angry. And when he was done being angry, he got back in the pool (another advantage to having private lessons in my sister's pool) Pushing past the fear, he held his breath and put his face in again and again - and again - as he tried to swim to me as I sat on the step. Gradually he stepped further and further back, until his little glide forward needed a stroke of the arm, then two, then a kick. He was so determined to do it, he didn't even notice that his feet were finally up off the bottom.

It's new, and it's tentative. But he swims. Sometimes I don't think my heart can hold all the pride I feel for my kids.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Camping on Top of the World

The blame - or the credit, as the case may be - for our most recent vacation lies largely on Mike. It all started when Erika, a casual online acquaintance in Utah, became a good friend. Mike smelt a road trip. We'd never been to Utah, and were needing a vacation. It was all hypothetical at first, but quickly became a reality, especially after his status at work changed and his vacation time doubled. We decided to make it a camping trip. It had been such a long time since we'd gone camping as a family, it is so much cheaper than staying elsewhere, and it is far and way the best way to experience the beauty of the state! We planned it for the week of our 15th anniversary, and it was the perfect way to celebrate.

We got up to Ruby's Campground, at Bryce Canyon, on a Saturday night. The ride was beautiful and uneventful, except for the fact that the Googlemap directions took us an entire hour out of our way. We set up camp, spent way too much money on groceries in the little general store, and got a mediocre night sleep. On Sunday we headed into the canyon for hiking and site-seeing. I don't mean to be a traitor to my state or anything, but I think it's even more awe-inspiring than the Grand Canyon! We took just a short hike, took lots of pictures, and headed back down to civilization. We decided to make the trek to Cedar City so that we could visit a proper store. We'd done a terrible job packing, and had to pick up everything from socks to long pants to sweatshirts for Tegan.

We went into the canyon again on Monday, and stopped at all the trail heads for more hiking and even more pictures. We walked to the little village near our campground on Monday too, had some ice creams, and spent a long time in the rock shop. Paxton was sick on Monday night, so we stayed close to camp that evening and the following morning. Sickness aside, it was actually wonderful to relax. We hung out by the campfire, read books, played games, and otherwise enjoyed each other's company. By Tuesday afternoon, Paxton was well and raring to go again, and he, Spencer, and Everett spent a long time playing with the other kids they'd met around the grounds. We gave up on the air mattresses that night (they weren't holding air, and just didn't work with the baby) and we finally slept a lot better.

By Wednesday we were back to site seeing, and checked out some more of the nearby smaller canyons. We followed a winding dirt road all the way through to Panguitch, where we hit up the little market for more groceries, enjoyed the scenery, and yes.. took more pictures. It rained that afternoon, so we had to hang out in our tent, thankful that it was just for a brief period of time. That night - our last night at that campground - we bundled up in the rain and went to a rodeo. It occurred to me right before the first bull rider came out of the gate that I should warn Everett about what was going to happen, because I didn't want him to be scared when he saw someone falling off. It was completely unnecessary though, as he loved every minute of it, especially "the part when the guy falls off." They all enjoyed watching everything from bull and bronco riding, to steer roping and barrel racing... and we all slept soundly our final night at Ruby's.

Thursday - the fifth day of our trip and our 15th anniversary! - we packed everything up and headed up to meet Erika and her family at Duck Creek. Where Ruby's was proud of its pool and hotel and stores and amenities, Duck Creek was all about the camping, from the large wooded sites, to the deer that ran close enough to practically touch. It was a wonderful place, and we had wonderful company. We spent that first day just enjoying the campground... watching Doug fish in the lake, hiking around the little paths that surrounded the creek, and letting the kids get acquainted. We set up the volleyball net and tossed around Frisbees. We capped off the night by roasting hot dogs and 'smores on the fire, the quintessential camping activity.

The final day of our trip came and went quickly. We came down off the mountain long enough to visit Walmart and Erika's house, where the kids jumped on the trampoline and played XBox. We went on one final little hike, on the Bristlecone Pine Trail. We got back to the campsite that evening to discover that it had down poured in our absence, and everything from our chairs to Tegan's stroller to sweatshirts were waterlogged. We dealt with the wetness - what else could we do? - and enjoyed our last night. We stayed up late chatting and laughing around the fire, and had no less than 3 kids asleep on various laps by the time we decided to pack it in.

We headed back home just a couple of minutes after 12:00 on Saturday. I remember the time because check-out was at noon, and the powers-that-be visited our site at least three times in that last hour to make sure we were going to be leaving on time. Our ride home was long, but smooth, and we still had the energy to make a few more scenic stops on the way.

All-in-all it was an incredible trip, and we're already talking about the next one.

Check out the slideshows!

Ruby's Inn
Hiking in Bryce
Duck Creek

Friday, August 01, 2008

Just because...

My precious boy, enjoying some "girl time" with Anabelle

And my precious girl, enjoying her new car seat:

Baseball and other summer adventures

Once again, time has gotten away from me, and I know that the blogs that have written themselves in my head will never make their way to the computer. But I would be remiss not to at least briefly mention our first-ever family trip to a Diamondbacks game. I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to it. It sounded like a long and tiring day, and I wasn't sure I'd even enjoy watching the game itself. It had been over twenty years since I'd been to one (20 years, could that be possible?) and my only real memories were that of the food and the company, not the game. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found it not only tolerable, but truly, and completely, fun. I actually loved it, which caught me off guard. Despite having lived in New England for over 30 years, I never was, nor I am now, a Red Sox fan. There, I finally said that out loud. But the Diamondbacks, the team that got me to enjoy baseball as an adult, and the team that allowed me to share that enjoyment with my kids, will now forever have my loyalty. The fact that they lost the game in a major upset in the 9th inning? But a minor detail. The whole day was easy and smooth, from parking to finding our seats to getting food. The boys filled up on corn dogs, cotton candy, and soda while they watched the action. Everett's favorite part was joining in on all the chants and cheers. Spencer chatted up the boy sitting next to him, and Paxton stayed pretty transixed on the field the entire game. And Tegan? She stole little catnaps in between staring at the noisy people around her, eating, and sucking on her binky. When the game was over, we stood in the long line so the kids could run the bases. Paxton turned it into a competition and ran at full tilt. Spencer took a leisurely jog, with one hand in his pocket. And Everett ran as fast as he could manage in new flip flops while holding up the back of his too-big shorts. My kids make me smile.

The ballgame was on a Sunday, but our Saturdays for the month of July have been devoted to the Free Sizzlin Summer Saturdays at the Heard Museum (a local Native American history museum) We saw dancing, weaving, and sculpting demonstrations, and the kids did a ton of crafts. It was a lot of fun. Just a few pictures from our last visit...

And sometimes, the bugs you find in the parking lot are the best part of any trip

When we weren't at baseball games or museums ... or movies or swim lessons ... the boys were in Vacation Bible School - twice! The first was a week long program all packed into one crazy fun weekend, and the second went over the course of 4 days. They had a great time, and are still singing the songs they learned.

A busy summer indeed. :)


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