Category Archives: Kids

Girls’ Trip to Valhalla

Saturday was a beautiful day. Not too hot. Sun was shining, there was a slight breeze. Just gorgeous. And the boys were off doing their thing, so we decided to pack lunches and ride our bikes (me on a trike) to Valhalla Park. This is a great local park with a picnic area, playgrounds, and a small lake (aka giant pond) for swimming. Natalie loves to swim so she was more than willing to bike the three miles to get there. Not only that, but she packed our lunches for us!

I let her swim while I sat and relaxed on the shore. We ate our lunches and then she dried off in the sun. It was just a really relaxing day. We had no place to be, no responsibilities to attend to. We just enjoyed the time and each other. It was a lovely day.

Earlier in the week she had asked me if I had a favorite kid, and I told her no, of course not. I loved both of them equally, but sometimes in different ways. However, on this day, our day at the park, I told her that day she was my favorite. And what she said surprised me. She said thank you. Because I think she just needed to hear that encouragement. I think her heart had been doubting a bit because she’s the younger child. Her brother is very active with sports so often it probably feels like he gets more attention. I don’t ever want her to feel like she means less to us. So that’s why this was an important day and an important outing. I plan to make more trips like this with her this summer.

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The Zoo Snooze

You may say I’m crazy, but I spent the night at the zoo last weekend and I LOVED it! This was a really fun event put on by the Girl Scouts and my daughter was super excited to be going. She’s an animal lover right down to her core so this was right up her alley.

We rode down Friday late afternoon to Binder Park Zoo and stayed until Saturday afternoon. It’s only an hour away from us but I don’t think I’ve ever been. After this trip, I’m sure I’ll be back. I was extremely impressed with the staff and the conditions of all the exhibits. None of the animals looked sad, like they sometimes seem to be at the zoo. They all looked happy and relaxed.

We saw SO many animals! Peacocks, a sloth, bears, kangaroos, a snow leopard (if you can find it in the 2nd row photo), goats, red pandas, zebras, and my new favorite: giraffes!! We also saw a lot of other animals I didn’t photograph, like rats, bunnies, doves, tarantulas, turtles, ostriches… the list is longer than my memory.

There were so many great moments throughout this trip but my favorite and most memorable moment had to be watching Natalie feed lettuce to the giraffes. The joy on her face was just priceless! Those giraffes just came right up to us as we all stood on the platform. I couldn’t get over how enormous they were! I mean I know giraffes are tall, that’s kind of their thing, but the heads attached to those long necks were huge! And they were so stinkin’ friendly! All those giggling girls with their arms out and those gentle beasts just came right up to us. Just stunning. I’ll never forget it.

Several times throughout the second day Natalie would tell me how much fun she was having and she would thank me for coming with her, or thank me for letting her come. We walked over 6 miles that second day and there was not one complaint from anyone. And if anyone was going to complain, I would have expected it to be my daughter, but no, she was truly grateful to be there and sharing this experience with me. Neither of us had ever seen a giraffe in person before and we got to share that first together.

These are the moments, folks. Natalie is only 9 once and she’s quickly approaching 10. I’ve got to grab hold of these opportunities while I have them. This was such an incredible adventure for the girls to have and I’m so happy I was there to share in it. Who knows what the future holds but I’m hopeful it’s full of lots more exciting adventures.

With lots of recuperating in between, of course. This momma took a serious nap when she got home!

My son’s 6th grade field trip

Last week was our children’s last week of school. For my son, this was the ending of his first year of middle school. He is no longer a 6th grader, no longer a novice. This was a challenging year for him, as he adjusted to life with a locker combination, waking up ridiculously early, moving from one class to another, and having to keep up with homework assignments and tests from multiple subjects. I’ll be honest, he struggled a lot in the beginning of the year. He has a lot of energy, and he had a hard time focusing. That quality may never change, but he changed nonetheless. He worked extremely hard to manage everything and he ended the year in even better shape than he had expected to. Attending the end of year class trip was an enormous privilege, one that he very well could have lost. But he didn’t! AND, he asked me to be a chaperone on the trip!

We met at the middle school with all the other 6th graders and chaperones to board charter buses for the 2 hour drive west. We were headed for Michigan’s Adventure, an amusement park in Muskegon. Our day at the park was memorable, for sure. Luke rode a few rides, he walked around with some friends while I hung back and read my book. He swam and rode some rides at the water park. We ate Dippin’ Dots (did you know they have a dairy free flavor?)!

One really exciting thing Luke decided to do was ride the RipCord, which is basically a thrill ride where they pull you up super high (180 feet, to be exact), you pull a cord, and then you go flying. It’s insane, and it has always made me really dizzy and freaked out to see people riding this ride. It’s one you have to pay extra for, and I told Luke he would have to pay for it out of his birthday money if he really wanted to go. This kid loves thrill rides. I don’t even think he’s afraid of heights. He paid his money and waited TWO HOURS with no complaints. And as you can see in the photo, he was happy to wait and ready to go. I got the whole thing on video so we could show dad when we got home. It was terrifying and a lot of fun all at the same time.

The amazing part about the whole day for me was that Luke actually wanted me there as a chaperone. Though I could groan at having to walk around all day with a bunch of middle schoolers, I didn’t. Because I know in the coming years he may not want me anywhere near him and his friends. And since I don’t get to bond with him over baseball like his dad does, it was really great to be able to spend this day with him. That, and at the very end of the day, we enjoyed a fresh elephant ear as we hustled back to the buses. He and I share a love for this sinful confection, and we discovered that our favorite parts of the “ear” were opposite (he likes the crispy, I like the doughy) so there wasn’t even any fighting over the last bite.

All in all it was a fantastic day and I hope I never forget it. I am so proud of Luke for all his hard work this year and I look forward to making more good memories with him down the road.

Summer break has begun!!

We started off our summer break with a trip to the dentist yesterday (because I’m the best mom ever) via Spec-tran. Then today we went to Taco Bell via bikes (theirs) and feet (mine). I refused to buy fast food for the kids so they opted to pay for their meals. I was just in it for the miles.

This run went pretty well, considering my recent knee problems. I wore a new knee brace that was surprisingly comfortable to wear. I still had some knee pain beginning in the 4th mile, but the compression from the brace seemed to keep it tolerable. What I noticed in the beginning was that the added support on my right knee seemed to help me lift the left leg when I began to experience a little foot drop. I’m not sure how or why that works but I’m not complaining. The drop foot used to be so much worse and now I barely think about it. I’m just praying my body continues to cooperate as I add on more miles.

I really love that my kids enjoyed riding their bikes while I ran. This will allow us to go to a lot more places around town. They get their fun and I get my training runs. It’s a win-win. Of course the ultimate bonus is that we are spending quality time together.

I am super excited for this summer. Kids are getting bigger, I am getting stronger, it’s gonna be great.

What day is it?

It’s been that kind of week. I’ve been confused about the day all week. But, all for good reason. None of it is because I’m drunk, so I’ve got that going for me. Not being drunk is always a plus.

But also, I’ve just had a lot of great things going on! My son’s baseball season is in full swing (excuse my accidental pun), I was able to visit with several really great friends this past week, and the weather is warming up so we leave the doors and windows open and the breeze and the birds chirping is it’s own kind of intoxicating. Let me just note here how truly grateful I am to be able to hear those things, the breeze and the birds. Cochlear implants for the win.

My son had some friends over for a sleepover last night to celebrate his birthday (he’s 12!!) and that was fun and not terribly crazy. He has some really great friends. It’s funny to think back on previous year’s birthday parties and how much anxiety I felt leading up to each one. Overwhelming anxiety. This time? None. Zilch. Nada. And I don’t know if that’s because the kids are older or if I’m in a better state of mental health but I suspect it’s a bit of both. I know it’s a lot of the latter though, because I can’t even remember the last time I had an anxiety attack. And that there is another reason to be grateful.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Tons. It might not seem like it because it doesn’t always make it here on the blog but my mind is constantly in a state of gathering ideas and formulating posts in my head. I just finished a book about writing by Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, and I’m convinced now more than ever that deep down, I am A Writer. It’s what I long to do, nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I wake up and think, “what did I just dream about? I could write about it.” I want to keep writing, whether anyone is reading or not, because maybe one day I will write something that touches someone in a good way and makes their life a little better than the day before. I can only hope.

So. Today is Saturday. Most of the day has been extremely relaxing. A lot of cleaning up from the slumber party and then just your regular putzing around. I took a wicked nap, ended abruptly by the dog barking her head off when hubby came home from an afternoon at the shooting range. I’m pretty sure I jumped a couple feet straight up from the bed.

I did go for a run yesterday with a friend, but my knee started hurting in the 3rd mile, so I know I still have some healing to do from when I messed it up a week or so ago. I’m pretty confident it’s IT Band Syndrome, but I think it might be a good idea to see a sports therapist to check it out and give me some pointers on my running form. Also, I need more strength training if I’m really going to do this half marathon without damaging myself, so I’m looking at getting back to CrossFit. I had sort of slithered out of going a few months ago so I’m in contact with the trainer to see if she’ll forgive me for going dark on her and let me come back.

Tomorrow is Sunday! Back to church, and this week we’re working in the kids’ church so I get to play with the little ones. I miss hearing the sermons but I do love the babies. I can never understand what they are saying but a couple of them know some basic ASL so that helps a lot.

I was going to sign off but then I was looking through my pictures and see that so much happened and I totally forgot to blog about it! Like the Walk MS, and maybe other things. I’ll get to it. Pinky promise. Let’s talk again soon.

Raising monkeys might actually be easier

I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to ensure my kids are happy. My responsibility is to teach and train. I guide, I offer consequences and discipline, but I am not here to make them feel happy or entertained. So when it breaks my heart to see them upset, I need to put my big girl pants on and remind myself that I AM THE MOTHER.

I need this confidence more than ever as my son is a preteen and is questioning everything. EVERYTHING. Like, “Why do you set limits for us on screen time? And why do I have a bedtime even on the weekends or during spring break? NONE of my friends have these rules at home.”

Today I answered these questions for my son with renewed and miraculous confidence. “Because your brains are still developing and we believe, as your parents, that those limits are good for you. I can’t speak for your friends or even begin to explain why they might not have limits at home, but in our home, this is what we do.” (Also, I’m sure he’s exaggerating or hopefully mistaken, but whatever.)

My husband and I are the people in charge around here. “In charge” is not a role I’m all that great at or comfortable with, but I know I can do it. God allowed us to be parents and He cares about our children way more than we do, so I trust that He will give us the wisdom necessary to train them up right.  I have to trust Him, stand firm in this role, and never stop seeking more wisdom. I must, or the monkeys will take over and then I’ll have no one to feed me or change my diapers when I’m 90.

Family

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve been fighting a respiratory gunk all this week – spring break week for my kiddos – but I’m managing to not let it keep me down. I’ve been able to really enjoy some memorable times with my family that I think are worth mentioning.

Like the other night, when I chatted through Facebook messenger with my little brother. He was up late, per his usual, and he saw I was up too so he started a conversation. This is my dear brother who is 13 years younger, and yet we have a special sort of bond. He came to be part of our family as a 9 month old baby when I was still in school. I don’t remember how old he was when we adopted him, but it doesn’t matter because he was family long before it was court official.

When I was in high school, he was learning to walk and talk and play and the two of us were best buddies. We lost touch over the years but have recently been able to reconnect and it really is a miracle to me that it feels like no time has passed. We still seem to have that connection. So while it wasn’t anything unusual or extraordinary, chatting online with him, it was a memory I’ll cherish. I’m hoping and praying that there are many more opportunities like that for us down the road.

So that was happy family memory #1. Happy family memory #2 is that my mom came to visit from Oklahoma! She flew all the way out here and split her time between her three children: first my younger sister, then me, then my older brother. She was with us for three days and it was really great to have her here sharing life with us. We went roller skating with the kids. I don’t skate, as a rule because my balance is nonexistent, but she went for one round before she discovered it was a lot harder than she remembered. Skating is hard for us old folks, you know.

We also went on a ridiculously long walk to the Mediterranean restaurant up the road, and enjoyed some delicious chicken shawarma and falafel. (I’m sorry Mom, I honestly thought it was only a mile. I should have known better.) I’m just glad we survived the walk and it was still really nice to have that time to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Oh, and lastly was some bowling. We all pretty much suck at bowling except for my mom so of course she kicked our tails. We also did a lot of lounging around in between activities, and that was nice to have her sort of blend into our rhythms. We never know when we’ll be able to visit again so we like to make the most of the time we do get.

We had such a full week it’s hard to believe it’s only Friday and the weekend is just beginning! My big plan for tomorrow is to go for a long run first thing in the morning (so I don’t spend all day making excuses like I did today) and then I don’t know. Kids are still technically on spring break so maybe we’ll find something fun to do. I kicked my son’s tail in Monopoly today, so maybe tomorrow I’ll give him a rematch. Or not. Monopoly is an exhausting game.

Anyhoo, I hope y’all enjoyed your week and have a fabulous weekend! Love on your family today, will you?