Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Hurrah

We've just completed a mini-vacation, our last hurrah before preschool and classes and bible studies and other fall what-nots. We spent two nights tenting at Union Reservoir. Our first camping trip as a family! You see, after Anna arrived we limited our camp outs to those with my parents and their RV. After all, grandparents and an RV are handy when kiddos are small and need a lot of stuff and a lot of sleep. Now that the kids are a bit older, we decided to break out the tent and give it a try on our own. I have great memories of camping in a tent trailer with my family when I was a kid, and wanted to expose the kiddos early. I also wanted to camp by a lake, since our Canadian forays involve mountains.

I was nervous about it, but thanks to a good amount of planning and some creative packing we had a lot of fun. Not a lot of sleep, but a lot of fun. Anna loved loved loved being in the water, and could not get enough of the waves on one windy afternoon. Isaac was less enthralled by the whole beach experience. Instead, he was happy to just be outside, running around the camp site kicking his ball and playing cars. We cooked dinners over the campfire, which is what I love to do. Fire roasted food is just sooo yummy. The simple hamburger becomes a different creature when cooked to smoky perfection. Marshmallows were roasted, of course. This is one tradition I can do without. There are few foods I will spit out of my mouth, but the bloated marshmallows is one of them (blue cheese is another, but that's a different story).

Our biggest challenge was settling down Isaac in the evenings. Apparently, running and jumping around in a tent is super-fun and incredibly stimulating when you're two. It is also stimulating when you're four, but four knows when enough is enough. Two just keeps going and going and going until Daddy must speak firmly and said two year collapses in a sad heap and cries himself to sleep. I suppose it didn't help that the tent was rather warm, owing to the unusually hot August we've been experiencing. I am so done with August and 90 degree weather.

One thing we learned is the need for more sleeping mattresses. We cobbled something together for each of us, but let me say that a yoga mat really is not for sleeping on. It just really is not. We also learned that we don't physically have room in the car to camp for more than two nights. At least, not at a beach. Beach stuff takes up some serious room. A good excuse to get a bigger vehicle? Perhaps! Overall, it was a fantastic time. I'm not sure we'll camp at Union Reservoir again - little shade, "generator friendly," and kinda noisy - but I'm looking forward to our next outing. Whenever and wherever that may be.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Still August

What to do with a single small turnip from my CSA? Creamy turnip hash! Too bad no one likes creamy turnip hash.

Observation: Jon's family eats more salad than any family anywhere ever.

What I have learned from musicians in my family: Isaac should avoid trumpet and Anna should avoid clarinet and bassoon. Oboe, harp, piano, and guitar are a go.

What I have recently learned from going on a walk with my children: I should not go on a walk with my children. No, wait. That's too harsh. Rather, here are the conditions under which we shall not walk: (1) with a side-by-side double stroller, (2) when it is too hot and/or too sunny and/or too cold and/or too windy, (3) when someone has the smallest inkling of being tired, (4) when we have a destination in mind, (5) when there is not a fourth person to aid in divide-and-conquer strategies, (6) when I have not packed a six course meal into twelve separate-but-equal containers, (7) when we are not at the zoo.

We went to the zoo and had fun! By which I mean there were no melt downs, animals were viewed, and no children were misplaced at any point. Fluke or result of my new zoo strategy? We'll find out this coming week, as the end of August appears to be a sweet spot for zoo visits. School is in but it's too early for large school groups to begin wandering around. So what is my new strategy? The two main elements are: immediate and large amounts of food upon arrival, and no stroller. The former eliminates constant stopping and rooting for food every 5 minutes, and the latter ensures greater flexibility as I sprint to prevent Isaac from diving into the polar bear enclosure.

My father-in-law is on Facebook. Surely the end is nigh.

Isaac peed on the bathroom rug. And yah, that rug really tied the room together.

Actual rain during an actual afternoon last week. Autumn, you are on the way!

Next time I'm mixing a mojito, I will finish making it before I turn to other things, lest I again dump cornstarch into the concoction.

Starting to think about this year's Christmas country: Tibet. Just thinking. Haven't actually researched anything yet.

Other things of which I'm thinking, but doing very little about: Anna's kindergarten, Halloween costumes, shrubs, reorganizing various drawers and cupboards, swim and piano lessons for Anna. There's a few other things, but it's Sunday so I'm going to go take a nap.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August: The Sunday of Summer

August seems like the last day of a long weekend: sweet and mildly depressing. With schools beginning mid-August in CO (what the #!*@&??), this feeling grows more profound the older my kids become. I don't remember this sensation growing up, I suppose because school ended in June. Thus the beginning of August felt like Saturday night, and the end more like Sunday afternoon. I'll stop the analogy there.
A nice aspect of this month has been visiting with family that have come through our area. Anna and Isaac had loads of time to play with their cousins, and we've been fortunate to have Jon's cousin stay with us for a couple of days and join in the fun. These times remind me why we moved here in the first place, and reinforce our confidence in the decision. Family is so very important.

Sleep is also very important, and we continue to struggle on that front. The party-like atmosphere has made bedtimes even more of a battle, and naps are all over the place when they happen at all. So it's no wonder that the kids spent the last 24 hours fussing and bickering and flat-out fighting. But Isaac's asleep now, and Anna's had a decent rest, so everyone is in better spirits. Even me!

In other news, I'm already debating whether to rejoin our CSA next year. I like the fresh veggies and the variety and the "oh, what's in the box this week?" anticipation. [Kohlrabi! Amazing space alien vegetable!] But in truth it's a lot of effort for very little consumption by anyone other than myself. I do count it a victory that Jon ate a good amount of kale cous cous salad (among his least favourite foods), and even Anna had a helping. I'm alternating weeks with another family, so maybe if we do the same thing next year it will be doable. And maybe the kids will eat more greens as they get older. Maybe even Jon will eat more greens. I am skeptically optimistic.

Kale is not the only thing in season around here: Legos have arrived in our home. For some time Anna had expressed interest in Jon's Star Wars Lego sets so the other day I finally sprang for some pinkish blocks. (Pink to balance out the large number of Star Wars and Halo-themed sets that we already have. And she just likes pink. And why do I feel like I have to justify this, anyway?!) She enjoys creating amazing little structures and houses and castles and vehicles and will sit there for literally one or two hours working on stuff. Nothing else has ever held her attention like that. Pretty cool. So far, no Lego pieces have been spotted in the toddler's mouth, which is even cooler. Now if only it wasn't so horribly expensive.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sleepytime Bird

One of the gadgets my parents own is a record-to-CD converter. You remember records, right? Like CDs, only huge and double sided. I love this device since I'm able to pass on some of my childhood musical memories to my own kids. Like Sesame Street's Sleepytime Bird, Music Machine, Little Marcy (whose voice drives Jon up the wall - tee hee!), and various stories. It was a little weird to find out that we owned about 6 Smurf recordings (but possibly timely, given the recent movie), and even weirder to try to explain to Anna what Smurfs are.
We were listening to one of my newly minted CDs driving home last night, and I found it sweet that Anna fell asleep listening to songs with which I was so familiar. Truth is, we've been using CDs (mostly audible books) a lot to help Anna fall asleep. She seems to be following the same pattern of sleep disturbances that I had as a child, which makes me sad. Sleep and I have never satisfactorily connected, and I really wanted things to be different for Anna. But try as I might to control the "nurture" of things, "nature" is just a little stronger than I in some areas. And so it is that we've had two horrible horrible nights of sleep recently, and there is something a little depressing about starting off the week as a zombie.

On the bright side, we managed to eke out some fun events recently. Jon and I managed to get it together enough to see the latest Harry Potter movie. Against my advice, he mentally tallied up the cost of this movie (which was an IMAX, since that was the only showing that fit our schedule) including babysitter, etc. And it was a whopping $80! No wonder we rarely go out to movies. But I'm glad we did - some movies (like this one, and Super 8 which we saw while in Canada - I just love suspenseful alien movies) really do best on a big screen and the costs are easier to justify. That's what I tell myself, anyway.

We've also done quite a bit of swimming, and I love seeing Anna improve dramatically in this area. She's always been water shy (no water in the face, please!) but is at least tolerating the discomfort more and more. And she adores the pool, so that counts for a lot. Isaac is less comfortable, so taking them both swimming is nearly impossible for one person. I've been lucky to have some help from family and friends on these last trips, and we have one more swim outing planned this week. It will be just me and Anna and I'm glad to get some one-on-one time.

That's it for now. Isaac decided not to nap this afternoon, so I have to do some extra domestic juggling today. Thank goodness for television! I need them distracted while I make a grocery list. Joining a CSA was fun, but requires a little extra time on the planning front.

I'll sign off with this modified quote from Jon. Can you name the movie?
"I must not fear.
Fuss is the mind-killer.
Whining is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my children.
I will permit their fuss to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fuss has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."