A day at the water park

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ben picked a day at the water park over a party for his birthday, so the weekend after we got back from camping, Ben, Mila, Olivia and I spent our Saturday getting wet while Bogdan stayed home with Naomi. It was a bit awkward because Olivia wasn't tall enough to go on most of the slides, but the couple that had no height restriction were exactly the ones she would actually be scared on. There was basically one slide she could go on, so we swam through the river together or stayed in the kiddie area. It was a bummer that she had no one to be with, so she actually got bored! Ben and Mila had a blast, of course, and got their money's worth for sure.

This ride was so high but so fun, and Ben and Mila were brave enough to do it! You basically slide down a steep wall that comes down all the way to the ground, then up onto the other side until you lose momentum and stop at the bottom. When Ben went with me, he flipped out because the rules are the heavier person has to face foward while the lighter one has their back to the slide. So basically, at the initial drop down, it feels like you're free falling backwards. I laughed and laughed at the look on his face and the yelp he gave! And he was telling ME before the ride not to yell!

It was our one and only trip to the water park this year, and we made it count! I of course made it count by coming home with a nasty sunburn because I forgot sunblock, but I'm glad the kids were okay because I put it on them at home.

That boy of ours is such a smart, strong, athletic, witty, know-it-all, creative, bookworm, artist, and creator. He has such a curiosity about life and I know that trait will get him far in life. As long as he has that spark and a desire to learn, anything is possible and attainable. If he's not performing some kind of science experiment or making some kind of weapon, flying object, or shooter, he's outside perfecting his scooter tricks or hanging out with his friends. He's the most well-rounded kid I know, and he basically knows something about everything. He is always telling me fun facts or cool bits of knowledge. He loooves listening to Adventures in Odyssey, and is a proud member of the Odyssey Adventure Club (it's a big deal). He's a great big brother to his sisters, especially that baby sister that demands his attention all the time now. Happy birthday, Bennik! We are so glad you're ours!


Church camp plus a birthday boy

Church camp happened to fall on Ben's birthday this year, so he got to celebrate his 11th year up in the mountains. Him and Mila actually went up a day earlier than the rest of us with their grandparents. I was a bit apprehensive about not seeing Ben until later in the day on his big day, but it actually worked out really well and I'm glad he went early. We took way too long getting ready and getting out of the house, and if he had stayed his birthday would have been spent sitting around at home waiting on us--not fun. This way he got to fish and camp and see his friends until we arrived with his birthday gifts and his bike to make his camping trip complete (our kids love bringing their bikes camping, so it was a must).

He got a good group of kids watching him open his gifts! Who gets presents at camp?! Ben does! He got a smart robot, a knife, a spirograph set, a drone that he got a week early, and shoes that he didn't like and I had to take back. That was probably the first gift ever that one of my kids didn't like.

On our first morning there, we took a walk to the docks and hung out on the windy lake with the kids. Naomi loved playing with another little girl's fishing pole, and I was nervous the whole time, hoping she wouldn't drop it in the water before I could catch it. Cause of course all she wanted to do was put it in the water. Just being on the dock with Naomi made me nervous. She literally had to be within inches of my hands at all times so she wouldn't bolt for the water.

The kids got to try out the paddle boats, and I meant to take one out with Bogdan later on and never got to. Next year it will be top priority!

Blocking her off from one side.

Ben taking his turn on the paddle boat.

She hated the water at first, then started splashing her pudgy little legs around in it once she got used to it.

The games the kids play at camp are always so imaginative and pure and childlike. They love to decorate a little pine tree with "Christmas ornaments," aka pinecones, or load this large rock up with smaller rocks. At one point they had a long line of kids all standing with a rock in their hands, waiting for their turn to add their rock to the pile.

Ben loved to go fishing with whoever was up for taking him, and Naomi was obsessed with taking away everybody's scooter. We came home and I bought her a scooter and I soon realized it wasn't about the scooter. It was just about taking something away from someone.

We organized some fun games for the kids to play, including a relay race, a watermelon eating contest, a gummy bear building contest, and this Alka-Seltzer and Ziploc baggie water fight. Good times.

Ben was Abraham in a skit the kids performed, so he got creative with some brown, hairy fibers he found in the woods. and some duct tape. He walked around like that for a good part of the evening.

Naomi wasn't a fan of the sand, and definitely not of the water, so when we plopped her down she tolerated the sand enough to sit in one spot and play. She didn't budge the whole time we were there one day. I think she was afraid if she moved, we'd force her in the water. Hey, it made it super easy to keep an eye on her--I'll take it! All of us got to jet ski and tube thanks to some generous friends, which was pretty much the highlight of my lake time. I love water sports so much. I honestly feel so free in the water, and doing something active and challenging just feels so good. I forget how good it feels to laugh my head off while being zipped around on the tube, holding on for dear life until you can't do it anymore and get flung into the water, but now I remember!

We ended our trip with a visit to the nearby hot springs. I hadn't been last year because I wasn't about to climb down steep embankments with a two-month-old, but this year we were brave enough to do it with our feisty one-year-old.

After four days of camping (five for Ben and Mila), it was nice to get home, take a long, hot shower, and crawl into our own beds at night. The best.

How do I never have a clue?!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My family threw me a surprise birthday party this year, which I was totally not expecting! I was out of town for my birthday, so I figured that was that. I didn't need a party. I walked into my sister's house thinking we were there for a quick lunch of take-out pizza, and I didn't suspect a thing! They get me every time.

The very flattering blowing photo.

Checking out Adele's kitchen with a slice in her hand. Gotta love it.


I have no words, just love

Okay, maybe I have a few words. :) Naomi was fourteen months here. We were at the lake early Sunday morning for our church's baptism, the sun was shining over the water, and the weather was beautiful. Everyone was dressed so nicely, and Naomi was wearing my favorite dress of hers. (I really, really need to learn to sew clothes because I would LOVE to make another dress just like this. It looks so simple, though I know things always look simpler than they are. Still...I really need to learn to sew dresses and skirts. I digress.) She's still wearing her little red sandals here. Since then she has even outgrown her sandals in the next size up, and it doesn't look like she's slowing down anytime soon. She's currently seventeen months and wearing 3T clothes and size 7 shoes! Growing like a weed, that one.

This Sunday morning we witnessed a member of our church being baptized in the lake, the kids released some balloons up into the sky, and we picked blackberries in the bushes behind us. Running up ahead to get pictures of my clan as we walked back to the car, seeing their faces in my phone's camera...I couldn't help but wonder, how did I get so blessed? Not lucky--blessed. I love my little family with all my being. Watching them grow up, I am also excited for the future, for the people they will become. Seeing Ben nearing his teenage years, there is some anxiety with it for me, but I'm just blessed to be able to witness him becoming who God made him to be. It's really a lot of fun. Just the mix of ages in our family right now is also a lot of fun. Seeing them interact with each other is so gratifying--there's the oldest brother, the baby sister, and two girlies in between who have each other for always. Days like this one confirm it all for me in my heart.


On motherhood

Motherhood. It is such an important job but it masquerades as the most mundane job in the world. If someone asks you what you do, and you say 'architect,' it means something. It has prestige and education and importance to it. But if you say 'mother,' or worse, 'stay-at-home mom', it's like you're saying you've given up. Like you're less of a person for it. I think motherhood needs to be celebrated, esteemed, and cherished. It doesn't necessarily take a lot of book smarts, but it requires so much wisdom if you want to do it right. And it's true, anyone can do it, and there is no test to pass in order to qualify for it, but if done wrong it will create lasting negative consequences in a child's life. It shapes a child even more than fatherhood does just because the mother spends the majority of the day with the child while the father only comes in in the evenings (usually). I love being a stay-at-home mom and being there for every little thing that goes on in my children's lives. I wouldn't want to miss any of it, and I'm thankful that I am able to do it. I can take pride in being the one to teach them how to do things, to teach them how to act and how not to act, to show them what a good life looks like. It's magic when you get to see your child learn something new. You watch that switch turn on in their brain and you know their world just got a little wider.

Many days if you were to ask me what I did that day, I couldn't really tell you. I did...nothing? Most days consist of washing dishes, laundry, cleaning up, changing diapers, changing clothes, brushing hair, making bottles, making lunches, wiping tears, going outside, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, playing, appointments, hugging and kissing and smooshing their little bodies tight against yours for the thousandth time... These things don't seem like some big accomplishment in and of themselves, and they can be very easily looked over. And the next day consists of more of the very same things--it never ends. It's not nothing, however. It's mothering. In amongst the mundane and boring  tasks are the hidden gems that give motherhood its meaningfulness--those moments that make it all worthwhile. If you're not looking for them, even you yourself can overlook in your rush to get everything done and checked off.

One of my biggest challenges is being completely there and available to my children. I am always thinking ahead to the next thing, so I am always in a hurry, always a little frenzied and annoyed about something. It's hard to clear my head and take time to just be, to slow down, to enjoy my children in the stages they are now. It can feel like a waste of time if I'm not cleaning or cooking something. At least this is true for me. While there's no getting around keeping the house (semi) clean and getting that laundry folded, I try to manage my time wisely, be intentional in where I spend my time, and squeeze in some fun activities along the way. I found this list on Lindsay Michael's Instagram page a while back, and copied it down for future reference. The points are so simple but make so much sense. Maybe it'll be helpful to you.

Twelve tips for time management:

  • Plan in detail.
  • Deal with today. 
  • Value each minute. 
  • Keep moving. 
  • Develop routine. 
  • Exercise and diet. 
  • Ask "If my life depended upon doing this task in half the time I allotted, what shortcuts would I take?" Then take them.
  • Use a timer. 
  • Do worst first. 
  • Read word daily. 
  • Say no. 
  • Begin the night before. 

Taken from A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

This day I happened to take my camera out more often than usual and capture some of the things going on around our house. Adele and Naomi were watching Ben flying his new drone in the office.

The babies taking their bottles together.

Another bonding moment, enjoying both of their favorites--baby food pouches.

I asked Mila to take some pictures of Naomi and I because I really don't have many of me and the kids. These are grainy iPhone photos, but the essence is still there, and I love them.

Cuddling and kissing her and making her laugh make my day so much sweeter.

Some pretty artwork I noticed in the laundry room while grabbing another load of clothes to fold.

I say no a lot, but sometimes I say yes. This day was the day I said yes to making fabric fruits and vegetables with the girls. Mila especially was so into it.

While we worked, Naomi was busy climbing furniture. Sitting on the boring floor is just not her style...

Ben made me that paper bamboo plant, and I've had it on my vanity ever since. It's all paper, even the pot, and it's hollow inside though it looks solid. He puts so much time and work into his paper creations, and I love them all. He's so stinkin' talented with his hands!

Those were just some glimpses into this job called motherhood. I want to cherish all of it, and every day I want to do better than the last. I hope my kids know later how seriously I took this job, and how much joy it's brought me.

"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life." 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson