Tag Archives: family

Growing memories

What’s the best birthday gift you got as a kid? Do you even remember the gifts? I am trying to recall them for myself: lots of barbie dolls and books and cassette tapes (heh-heh, remember those?).
We celebrated our youngest daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend- a time to really hit “pause” and note how truly blessed we are with these amazing little girls. I often think that one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to just stop and really BE here with them – relishing the little moments of each day with the kids and creating memories that will last. Most weeks are just a blur of activity, with the hope that somewhere in there we are managing to teach them some valuable lessons about what’s important in life and how to do things for themselves.

Which brings me back to the birthday gift. Amongst the many sweet and adorable gifts generously given to my daughter, there was one unique and brilliantly simple one: a tree.

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Now I can’t really expect a 4 year old to grasp a tree as the most fun and exciting of all the gifts- but I applaud the givers for succeeding in a gift that will be memorable for sure. In time, we will see it as one that creates memories- as she plays in its shade, climbs its branches, reads her books under it. A gift that will grow as she grows. What a great idea!

Her Aunt wanted to give a gift that would model the importance of sustainability, which is a value we all work hard to instill in these kids- hoping to make it a natural part of their lifestyle as they grow.

We helped her choose a place in the yard for “her” tree, and she danced in the rain as we planted it. I snapped a picture of her next to it- it’s pretty much the same height as she is now- and we made a plan to take a birthday picture each year next to her tree. Creating memories, capturing moments in childhood. I am in love with this gift idea, and wish I would have thought if it years ago- and am thankful to have family as thoughtful as this in my kids lives.

The best part, I think, is that our 8 year old is actually kinda jealous of the tree, and asked for one of her own so she could watch one grow with her. “Plus,” she informed me “trees are really good for us.”

I think just maybe some of the lessons are working.

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My Hero, Daffy Duck.

I was feeling pretty brave, you see… so brave in fact that I finally agreed to let my kids have a big sleepover with their 3 cousins at our house. No big deal, right.  People do this all the time.  My own grandmother had 6 of her own, how hard could this really be?  Heh heh heh…

So…armed with a minivan that will fit 5 kids and a “by the way” warning that a couple of them occasionally get car-sick, we started off with the 45 minute drive back to our house.  It was: too hot, too cold, the music is too loud, are we there yet?, we can’t hear the music, we want ROCK and ROLL!!!!!!!, Puff the Magic Dragon, No No No- ROCK and ROLL MOMMMY!!!!!!!  I blast them with some jazzy swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers- they cover their ears and scream, so I play it just a wee bit louder.  We’re off to a good start.  Are we there YET?  I just keep praying no one gets car-sick.

Here at home, all is well.  The cousins don’t visit very often, so they are pretty excited to check out all the toys, etc.  I’m a little worried because there is one little nephew in the mix, and well… we don’t have little boy stuff… but he seems pretty happy with the massive pile of my daughters’ dinosaur toys. (That’s probably weird that I don’t consider my girls’ dinosaur fascinations to be a boy-thing.)

So with a brief reminder that “Please, we don’t jump off the furniture, okay…” they are ready to go. I remind myself that I’m taking some vacation days next week, and will have time to re-organize and re-clean their bedrooms which I have spent most of my free time this summer organizing and cleaning… it’s all good…

Time to make dinner. This terrifies me.  Really, it’s been the thing I’ve dreaded the most about “The Sleepover” because dinner is not a pleasant occurence in this house.  My kids, normally peaceful, loving, kind and respectful children, become riotous anarchists at the dinner table.  Only at dinner.  Breakfast rocks.  Lunch is easy-peasy.  Dinner is the enemy (but the angst of dinner is really fodder for another post).  I’ve spent the week polling co-workers, grandparents, and my in-laws for dinner ideas.  The result: chicken nuggets, tater tots and corn on the cob… not exactly my idea of health and nutrition … and yet: dinner paradise.  I stand in awe as they all just eat, and eat. No complaints. No throwing food. No crying (Really?!?!? NO CRYING?!?!?). No deliberately spilling glasses of milk, or “accidentally” dropping dinner plates on the floor. I can’t believe my eyes, and I only have to tell my youngest to get back in her chair 3 times… wow.

A few more “please don’t jump off the furnitures” and the evening moves along with the  consistment rumble of a herd of elephants crossing the grasslands, leading the dog to have his longest fit of spastic barking to date. Finally, only a few hours past bedtime, they sleep.

And then they are up and having a screaming pillow fight by 6 a.m. I’ve been laying awake waiting for this.  Coffee. My husband leaves for work. Armed with more coffee, I gently repeat the “please don’t jump off the furniture” request a few more times, but realize they can’t even hear me.  I can’t even hear me.  Breakfast, this should help- until I realize that hubby (the one that just snuck out the door) bought 3 boxes of the most sugar-filled kids cereals he could find. Thanks, dear.

Enter Loony Tunes to the rescue.  It’s amazing to watch as Daffy Duck appears on the screen and they all stop moving.  The pillows drop to the floor. No one is screaming, tickling, jumping, bowling, tackling, or even talking.  Wow! Daffy Duck, huh? Hardly a peep out of them, this is amazing stuff! The classics to the rescue.

One last cup of coffee and we’re off … day 2 of The Sleepover continues.  I’m glad to know I’ve got Mr. Daffy Duck in my back pocket now…just in case!


Like a rock

Wanting to share a memory from childhood with my own children, I took them to spend  the hot hours of the afternoon walking the cool, shady trails running through “Rock City,” an expansive area of quartz conglomerate (also know as pudding stone) that was formed about 320 million years ago during the “Pennsylvanian Period.”  It is truly a sight to behold considering the enormity of the time and natural energy that went in to creating it.

Showing these amazing examples of our earth’s natural history to the kids make me admit with chagrin that I really should have paid a wee bit more attention to my college geology class in order to have better explanations for them to what created these enormous crevices and joints, instead of having to read it off of the tour guide map.  My dear friend, now a geology professor herself, will love reading me finally admit to this.

Still as impressive as it was when I visited here as a kid is Balancing Rock, a 1000 ton boulder resting in balance upon another large rock.  The rocks are cool to the touch despite the heat of the day, and covered in soft mosses and lichen.  You are surrounded by the peaceful sense that there truly are things in this world bigger than you, and that they were here before and they’ll be here after you, and they’ll never care that you didn’t finish that report at work yesterday or that the lawn is overdue for a mowing.  We are tiny in our existence, and yet we make so much noise about it.

The “Indian Stairs,” called that because it is believed they were built by the native Seneca tribe of the area in order to reach the lookout points that lie at the top of these rock formations, where the view goes on for miles and miles.  I had to giggle listening to the kids panting and breathlessly complaining that they would never be able to make it to the top…yeah, I remember thinking that too.

Of course, the kids walked the path too fast and chattered excitedly about heading back to the swimming pool and video games, but at least, for a few moments one afternoon I got them to open their eyes to some of the pretty amazing sights that surround us when you walk outside.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.


Become what you are

I don’t know exactly how this happened, can’t name the precise moment my reality shifted, but I find there is a truth that I can no longer deny.  I am a soccer mom.

It happened in small, seemingly harmless, steps.  1st there was a wedding… years later some kids… years later kids start playing soccer..and then this spring came the minivan.  Tonight, I stand here on the sidelines of the soccer field, and realize that…GULP… I have joined the ranks of the soccer moms.  Is it official?  Is there some sort of secret handshake? Do I get a bumper sticker?  The weird thing is, I don’t FEEL any different.

There was a time  in the long distant past (early 90’s) when my manic panic pink-haired, tattoo sporting, grunge music loving self would have fallen on the floor in fits of utter hysteria at this idea- and yet, here I stand- at the soccer field.  How did this happen? I suspect I cannot possibly be the only one pondering this question, but as I look around I don’t see any other faces sporting my same dazed and confused look.

I feel like yelling “Hey, don’t judge me! I loved Reservoir Dogs and yes, that’s the Pixies you hear playing in my car! I’m still cool, really! Honestly!” but I don’t think that would help my case…. because in fact, I am a mom of a soccer player in a minivan. The facts, as they say, are indisputable.

So, I look at it this way:  either try to hide from it, maybe trade vehicles with my husband and schlep the kids around in his car (balancing all the gear precariously on their heads to fit it all in) … or, embrace it. Take them and all their gear to the games with room to spare, cheer them on from the sidelines, and hell, maybe even get one of those goofy stick-family window stickers for the minivan (“vehicular Facebook” I recently saw a friend of mine term them)…

Life is short. I guess I’ll go with “embrace it” and get on with the day.  Just please don’t tell my former self, she would just die of embarrassment.


I watch WAY too many horror movies.

That’s what I’m thinking as I sit in the car with the doors locked, watching the 2 very large stray dogs sitting on the other side of the door looking in it at me. The kids are in the backseat commenting on how cute the big doggies are and can’t we get out and play with them?   Meanwhile, visions of CUJO are flashing through my brain…

It’s not that I harbor any particular fear of dogs.  We have one, I’ve always had them.  Generally speaking, I like them a lot.  Just not when they are big, and stray, and in my driveway…in the country… with no one else around…  See where I’m going with this?  Come on, you’ve seen the movie too…

After a minute, they get bored and run off,  so I start unloading the kids…and the dogs are back. So back in the car we go, and there we will sit and wait.  I consider who will laugh the least at me when I call them to come and help… I mean, come on, of course they will laugh.  Perhaps I can carry both of the kids across the yard and to the house at the same time…yeah, that won’t slow me down much.  More scenes from CUJO flash through here…   I call my husband to see how much longer exactly it will be before he heads home (it’s only a 40 minute drive for him, after all), and to my great relief find out that he is already on the way and the wait won’t be long.

So, the kids have their books and toys in the back… we don’t have to wait too long… and I just hang in the car, watching the dogs on the other side of my car door and reminding myself that I really do watch way too many horror movies.  Of course, it was also a little funny when our great hero arrived… and the dogs ran to his car door, and he hesitated too- they were pretty BIG dogs after all.


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