Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lake Mayfield Continued

So, we fit it all. Or I should say that Jason fit it all. Our car was absolutely packed to the rims, with each little cranny stuffed with some necessary item. Our first camping trip for the summer was a great success. The kids did great, even when there was a road closed on the scenic route to our destination, adding an hour to our drive last Thursday. Veronica slept great, going to bed and down for a nap each day with hardly a peep.
One of my favorite smiles. But what is also amusing is the mountains of stuff crammed in behind her.
There were some highlights of the trip. First there was a short hike that a lot of us took onto a point going out into the lake. The water and the sky were really breathtaking, the walk was relaxing and my desire to be outside more was renewed.

The boys road their bikes pretty much the entire time we were at our campsites and not eating.
It was such a blessing to have Adrienne with us. She continues to be such a delight, was a complete animal on the intertube behind the boat and a quick helper. We will miss her in the upcoming months, as she leaves today and we won't see her again until Thanksgiving.

Another highlight would be the game my brother, Damian, had us all play. It was boys against girls. The object was to take a mini Oreo cookie and place it on your forehead and then slowly move your face to get the cookie to fall into your mouth without the use of your hands of course.
Well, as handsome as the boys look in these pictures, I won :) I felt so proud after so many months of training to be able to represent all women everywhere in our own camping Olympics and confirm once again that girls rule and boys drool.

Jason and I got to go on a romantic, moonlit walk together. I got to go on a cocktail cruise down the river with my parents, aunts and uncle, soaking up the sun, singing goofy songs and laughing to tears. Our five days at Lake Mayfield went by very quickly. There were many more things that we were going to get to, but time slips by so quickly. In the end, we came home pretty tired and very dirty. While I was sad that our trip was over, at least I came home to pretty much the best shower ever.
Our next trip will be just for two nights, up to Deception Pass on Whidbey Island. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Camping 2012 # 1 - Lake Mayfield

We are heading out camping tomorrow to the Ike Kinswa State Park on Lake Mayfield, which is in southwestern Washington. It is a sign of my preparedness that I have time right now (while I am eating my lunch) to write a blog posting. I have devoted the entire week to getting ready, so I'm in a really good place.

The real test will be tonight and tomorrow morning. The big question as we are packing up the car will be - Will it all fit???

We have the absolute delight of taking Adrienne camping with us this year. If memory is serving correctly, that hasn't happened since before Noah was born. That means we have two extra seats being taken up in the car as well as all of the additional clothes, sleeping bags, etc. No wonder it will be a tight squeeze!

Two Christmases ago, when I was pregnant with Veronica, my parents gave us a car top carrier, which we were in desperate need of. So that will obviously help. But I am definitely looking at each item, wondering if it is really needed and if it can be replaced by something smaller.

We also haven't had a one-year-old camping with us in several years. Last year, we braved taking along a four-month-old, the youngest baby we've ever taken camping. And while it was a success and I was glad we went, hopefully this will be a breeze compared to that. But then again, she's mobile now, so we shall see :)

Here are some of last year's photos from Veronica's first camping trip . . . 

Bath time!

First ride on Papa's boat! She likes it a lot more now.

Hopefully when we return on Monday, we will have some more great photos to share. We have two more camping trips in August, so hopefully this trip will also be a success. Wish us luck!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mini Me

NOTHING prepared me for the yanking of my heartstrings that is caused by Veronica who already seems to want to emulate her mama.

This afternoon, the poor thing had an upset tummy. Dealing with her crankiness while I am cooking can be a challenge, so today I set her up a little cooking station on the floor. She was entertained for quite some time doing just what I was doing.

Then, this evening, she found my cardigan and put it on. It seemed to comfort her because later when I was trying to take it off of her, she was quite perturbed.

While my boys went through phases of being mama's boys, it was never quite this intense. And while I realize that this adoration has an expiration date, right now it seems to only be intensifying further.

While Veronica doesn't realize it, I am very aware that I do not deserve such blind admiration. It was just this morning that I had to apologize to Noah for losing my temper.

But for as long as I can, I'll happily eat it up and ask for seconds :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dizzy Moondancing and Bee-Bo's

Rearranging the Living Room and My Mindset

Today I rearranged the living room once again. It seems that this is a regular happening in our household for many reasons; making room for the Christmas tree, arranging the room for a party, or as in today's circumstances, keeping young ones safe.

Last Christmas, we made a fortress of couches to corner the Christmas tree, blocking it off from Veronica who was crawling at the time. Veronica's birthday is only eight days later than Joshua's, so we had already been through a Christmas six years prior with a baby basically the exact same age. That December, Joshua and I were sitting on the living room floor together and in a blink of an eye, he had pulled the tree down onto both of us. Neither of us was hurt, but six years later I recalled the incident. Thus the couch fortress.

This week, we now have a climber in our house. Veronica and I were in the backyard one evening, enjoying the sunshine. It was so peaceful while she toddled around and I read my book. Then, I looked up to see that she had climbed up the entire slide. Peace evaporated into panic. Holding back a yell, I sneaked up on her and carried her away from the slide.

Yesterday, she learned how to climb onto the couch by herself. We have a split level house, and one of our couches was up against the half wall, with the hard wood stairs lying below just on the other side. I immediately imagined what would happen if I looked away for a moment as Veronica climbed up onto the couch and over the half wall, only to fall down the eight feet or so down the stairs. Time to rearrange again.

This is parenthood; a constant rearranging of our lives for our children. That is not a complaint, but simply a statement. It surely describes much of the phase of parenthood that we are in right now.

This week it also occurred to me that this rearranging will only last so long. Joshua is going into the 2nd grade this year. In just ten years, he will be a senior in high school. Sometime (hopefully) in the few years after that, he will be ready to set out on his own. How strange. Eventually, our house will become more of our own once again. We will gain back bedrooms, get rid of swing sets and only cook, clean and wash clothes for two.

I often wonder why this is God's design for our lives. At times, I feel that it is somewhat of a cruel plan that we may love our children so deeply only to have to let them go, that we may cherish all of our friends and family so much only to someday have to say goodbye. None of us can understand God's reasoning. Of course, all I can do is trust. Yet, I still try to find purpose in all of it.

And the only sense I can make of this process in all of our lives is this: If we never had to say goodbye, if we never had to let go, then it would be even easier to take our loved ones for granted. It is in the growing of our children and in the mortality we all share that we can fully appreciate and cherish our life now.

And if that isn't enough comfort for me, I reflect and look forward to the eternal life we will all share where we will never have to say goodbye.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Breathing Room

I wouldn't say I have claustrophobia, because that isn't it. It's more that I have moments where if one more person touches me, I am going to start screaming. Is this normal?

My mom reassures me that it is. She recalls me as a toddler clinging to her with desperation. She also remembers my younger sister Kristen clutching to her while my brother Jeremy berated her with questions about how electricity and everything else under the sky works. I can relate to that.

Of course I realize that this is a phase of life. There will be a day when I miss little hands in mine; a phase when I long for hugs from my sons who are too embarrassed or difficult to give them; a pivotal moment when I will sit on our couch and a throng of little ones won't battle over the prime space on my lap. This time will come. I wish in knowing that, I would never get irritated with the small hands, arms, legs and feet that grab, clutch, cling, hold, pet and poke me. But alas, I inevitably do.

Yesterday I actually ran away from Veronica. She is the babe who has been most attached to me. After cleaning the house, I needed to shower badly. I often have Veronica shower with me, but not this time. She could sense what was happening and chased me down the hallway. I raced away to close the door behind me, hearing detest and betrayal in her screaming: How could Mommy do this? Of course, Jason was right there to scoop her up and console her.

I also feel myself getting a little territorial of my conversation time with Jason. He is a wonderful father, making sure to really listen to the kids and have in depth conversations about whatever is on their minds. But at the end of the day when he returns home, sometimes I feel like saying, "Hey! I'm the wife! It's my turn to talk!" And occasionally I do say just that!

There have even been times when our family is driving in the car, the children are quiet, Jason begins talking with them and I get irritated! I mean, really, why initiate conversation? Let's enjoy the quiet, for goodness sake. I realize this is unreasonable. I mean, I guess he's allowed to speak to our kids. It has become a joke between he and I: "Do not engage the children!" :)

Tonight, we are removing ourselves from the children in the best way that we can. Adrienne is going to babysit for my brother, Damian's family. The boys will be downstairs watching a movie and eating dinner. If we have to pull out the Baby Einstein for Veronica, so be it.

Motherhood is an all-encompassing, all-consuming role. And of course that is partly what makes it so full of passion, joy and love. But there are times when I don't want to be so consumed.

Sometimes I just need a little breathing room.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Redefining Prayer

When I was younger, I would internally mock the people I encountered who were obviously inspired by nature. It seemed so cheesy to me. It didn't feel real. Growing up in the Northwest, I suppose I have been spoiled by all of the breathtaking scenery I witness everyday. The grass really is greener here! Furthermore, as a girl I could look out the window of my room to see what is now the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden which is just behind my parents' property. Not too shabby!

So in my youth, when someone would be awed by let's say the mountains that I saw every single day, I would internally roll my eyes and mock them in my mind. "Oooooooo. Mountains. They're like really big. And there's like snow on them and stuff. Wooow. Sooooo amazing."
Mount Rainier from northwest
Mount Rainier from northwest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course I wouldn't let any of this show to whomever I was mocking. I would probably just nod and act like I was moved by nature too. But I wasn't. I just didn't get it. And while writing this now, it is occurring to me that I may really have been quite a brat.

I'll even admit that this continued some into adulthood. Early in our relationship, Jason and I would be driving and he would point out a small waterfall while we traveled over Steven's Pass or Mount Rainier on a sunny day. I would shrug my shoulders in response. I'd seen it a million times.

Thank goodness this aloofness toward my surroundings is a part of immaturity that I have grown past. Not only have I grown past this attitude, but I find myself evolving more and more into someone who craves being outdoors, who needs it, who is refreshed and re-energized by it, who finds peace, rest and wonder in it.

Last night, I began the post-children's-bedtime part of my evening sitting on the couch to watch So You Think You Can Dance. As I love dance, it is a show that I would like to get into. But because the actual dancing only takes up like five percent of the show and the rest is commercials and annoying judges, I got bored. I ended up getting on my computer, researching novels I would like to read and putting them on hold with our library--one of my absolute favorite pastimes. But when that was complete, I felt restless. So at about 8:45, I grabbed a blanket, some iced tea, a sliced peach and the book I've been intimidated to really begin, Shantaram. I spent the next hour outside reading.

And at the end of that hour, I found myself collected.

This is noteworthy because for various reasons, I have felt a little out of sorts the past few weeks. This disorientation of my self has been accumulating within me, more and more, so much so that yesterday morning I actually had a small pit beginning to grow in my stomach.

When I begin to feel this way, I often find that I am not spending much time in prayer or reflection. As a cradle Catholic, this brings on guilt. I do not pray a daily rosary. I do not go to daily Mass. I do not read my Bible every day. My mind tells me, "If you were doing those things, you wouldn't be feeling this way!" And while I understand the rosary now and like to pray it sometimes; while I appreciate and love the Mass and find joy in it in a way that I never did in my youth; while I do read my Bible frequently and go to it for answers--none of these things are easily put into my daily routine.

Easily. That is a key word in that sentence. And it is one that brings on guilt. It means that if I really made some of these things a priority, then I would make time for them. But in "making them a priority," I feel that they can often lose their purpose. They simply become something to check off the to-do list, rather than a genuine connection with God.

St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, believed that God is everywhere and in everything. This means that spending time outside, in God's creation, in itself can be a prayer when I am doing it with reflection, purpose and gratitude.

English: Lake Washington, Seattle
English: Lake Washington, Seattle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I can stretch this philosophy further by realizing prayer can also be taking the time to find quiet at the end of the day to read a novel and find God in the prose of my fellow man, last night in the case of Gregory David Roberts' words in Shantaram. By reading with reflection and intention, I can further understand another human's condition, perspective and experience.

During this glorious week of summer in Seattle, I am able to find God all around me--in the waves of Lake Washington, in my vegetable garden, in Veronica's hugs, in my boys' questions, in a great novel and in my backyard.

What better prayer is there than to seek out God in all that we see and do?

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Days

Well, I haven't blogged in about five weeks. Wow! Time goes by fast. Life has been super busy with organizing Vacation Bible School and our week long trip to Lake Chelan with my family, both of which went wonderfully.

It seems that some have missed my blogging, which makes me smile. It is pretty amazing that I can get on the computer and write about whatever is going on with me and people actually like to read it :) Thank you for your encouragement.

I have two updates for my readers . . .

First, we have decided to stay at the homeschooling resource center, Edmonds Heights, that we have already been enrolled in for the past two years. Finalizing this decision was a huge relief to me and I couldn't feel better about it. I realized that the community that we have found at Edmonds Heights is priceless. I mean, if I was actually at home by myself with the children without any other adults all of the time, I might actually go insane. This would not make me a very good teacher, mother or wife, so I figured we should avoid this scenario.

Second, I took Noah back to the eye doctor to make sure that his prescription is correct, which it is. But furthermore, I found out that his eyes have grown a lot stronger in the past couple of months since he got his glasses, so that is another huge relief! Yay Noah!

We got back from our trip to Chelan on Friday and were glad to see that summer has arrived in Seattle. We have spent so much time outside this past weekend and are loving every minute of it.

While our heat wave is nothing compared to what a lot of the country has been experiencing, our split-level house can get pretty warm in the summer time. I have been meal planning this weekend and am happy to be trying several new things for warm weather cooking.

The first thing I must share is that I have learned how to use the pressure cooker that I received for Christmas (about time, right?). Do you know what this means? IT MEANS THAT I BRAISED A WHOLE CHICKEN IN TWENTY MINUTES! That's right - a whole chicken! I didn't have to turn on the oven, and I feel like I have to say it just one more time: I had an entire chicken cooked in just twenty minutes. Much faster. And without the heat that is created when I roast a chicken at 425 degrees for 90 minutes to two hours.
Yummy! This chicken played the main role in two different batches of Chinese Chicken Salad - a great main dish on hot summer days.
My pressure cooker is so large that I could easily fit three whole chickens in it, which I will be trying soon.
The chicken cooked for ten minutes at 15 psi. Now that I am understanding the science better, I am hoping to do some canning later on.

Also, I am replacing my daily Diet Coke habit with Tazo Iced Passion Tea. I make it with a little honey and it is so delicious and so refreshing. I am excited to try and make a light sangria by mixing it with white wine and fruit!

As far as dinners go, we will be using our grill quite a bit in the next week. Some things on the menu are Vegetable Summer Rolls and Chilled Avocado Cucumber Soup, Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad (I will be grilling the romaine too), Lemon Rosemary Lamb Kebabs, Turkey Burgers with Roasted Eggplant Spread, three different types of grilled pizza and Panzanella (Italian bread salad) with Salami. Yum, yum!

I hope you are enjoying summer time as much as we are!

Here's a few photos showing how much we enjoyed our time in Chelan . . .

Love the bee details on the back of this swimsuit

Sandy butt

Where'd it go? Meaning the duck that is running away from the scary toddler.

Veronica found a great pillow - big and soft! :)

Veronica is the easiest 1 year old that I've ever taken to the beach. She was perfectly content to just sit with us on the beach blanket and watch everything going on around her.

Gimme that hat!

Would you like me to pick your nose, Daddy?

Cuddling on the Beach

Decking out the bikes for the parade. Thanks for all the decorations Nana!

One of the biggest, orangest moons I've ever seen, but the picture doesn't show it very well.

Veronica and I dolled up for the holiday

Just chillin'

The boys got to be in the 4th of July parade with their cousins.